As the Eagles look to rebound this week against the Lions, I was able to ask Zac Snyder, of SideLionReport.com, a number of questions about his boys. There are plenty of story lines in Detroit this week, so I made sure to touch on the Calvin Johnson non-touchdown and how the team will be without Matthew Stafford. Enjoy!
BirdsFan: I have to ask. What are your thoughts on the Calvin Johnson reception that wasn’t a reception?
SideLionReport: Beginning a season with a legitimate sense of optimism for the first time in a decade like this is disheartening and just another kick in the groin for Lions fans. Reading and listening to the various opinions and takes on the play is even more maddening as we are left to debate the application of rules, the difference between a catch and a completion, something called “the process of a catch”, and various other nonsense to justify a ruling that is in clear opposition to what rational human beings would expect. It is quite telling that nearly every internet poll I have seen, Lions or Bears or otherwise, votes the play a catch by a nine-to-one margin. Whether the problem lies with the interpretation or the rule itself is largely irrelevant to me; the NFL should be embarrassed that the play did not result in a touchdown.
BF: How did Shaun Hill look when coming in for Matthew Stafford? Are you confident in him?
SLR: The offense did not do much with Shaun Hill at the helm, although they were not exactly humming along before Matthew Stafford exited the game. Both first half touchdowns were scored after turnovers so the offense was more opportunistic than anything else. Hill doesn’t possess the physical tools of a Matthew Stafford, but he is a quality backup that has a career 10-6 record as a spot starter. Matthew Stafford was certainly one of the big reasons Lions fans came into the season with high hopes for the offense, but he was not the only reason. I am somewhat comfortable with Hill because of the guys that will surround him. Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Jahvid Best all have big parts to play in determining how much of a drop-off will occur with Hill in the game.
BF: Jahvid Best scored twice against the Bears but only had 20 yards rushing. What are your impressions of Best after his first regular season game?
SLR: I am still very high on Jahvid Best. The numbers he put up in week one were not impressive but those of us that watched what he did in the preseason are not concerned about him. Preseason production does not mean anything in the grand scheme of things but we saw him do things as a running back that we have not seen in Detroit since a certain guy that wore number 20 danced around the field. The Bears defensive line dominated the Lions offensive line and Best had a hard time finding any running room. Considering none of the Lions other backs had success, I place much more blame on the offensive line than on Jahvid Best.
BF: Where did the Lions struggle the most against the Bears and did it surprise you?
SLR: The entire offense struggled against the Bears and it was surprising to me. No one would mistake the Lions offensive line for one of the league’s best but they were horrible last week. Jahvid Best showed explosive big gain ability in the preseason but had to deal with a multitude of Bears in the backfield last Sunday. The inability to run the ball made down field opportunities in the passing game few and far between.
BF: As a Lions fan, would you rather play against Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick? Why?
SLR: I would rather see Kevin Kolb and not just because of his terrible performance against the Packers last week. The Lions will have a hard enough time defending any passing attack and the added threat of Vick’s running ability scares me. Kolb would be much more likely to hang around the pocket which gives the Lions defensive line, the strength of their defense, a chance to have an impact on the game. Kyle Vanden Bosch has been a monster for the Lions but I would much rather see him coming off the edge and crushing Kevin Kolb than having to charge down the field to lay a hit on Vick.
BF: Where do you see the Lions having an advantage on offense? On defense?
SLR: The Lions have the personnel to create some mismatches in the passing game. Tony Scheffler is a tight end in the mold of Dallas Clark that can line up on the line or split out wide. The same can be said for Pettigrew although he is not as effective as a receiver. The Lions can use this to their advantage to run the ball when Scheffler is matched with a smaller man and pass the ball when covered with a linebacker. The more production the Lions can get out of guys like Scheffler and Nate Burleson means more big play opportunities for Calvin Johnson.
The Lions defensive line has quickly become a legitimate force. Bringing in Ndamukong Suh certainly helps but shrewd additions of Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch along with the development of young players like Cliff Avril and Sammie Hill has made for a strong unit with depth. Sammie Hill is the third defensive tackle but played very well when given the opportunity last week against Chicago. If the Eagles choose not to use short passes to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly then the Lions defensive line has a chance to cause a lot of disruption.
BF: Where do you see the Eagles having an advantage on offense? On defense?
SLR: The Lions are going to give up a lot of yards through the air all season long. The Lions secondary will be at a disadvantage this Sunday and every Sunday after that.
The Eagles will have an advantage up front defensively based on the way the Lions offensive line played last week. I have always loved watching their attacking style of defense and the Lions had some problems picking up the Bears blitzes. It could be a big day for the Eagles defense if they find themselves in the Lions’ backfield as often as the Bears did last week.
BF: Give me a score prediction.
SLR: Eagles fans might hate to hear that Detroiters think this is a winnable game for the Lions, but I will take the Eagles by a score of 27-20.