Jets vs. Lions: Scouting the enemy

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 24: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions looks on during a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on August 24, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 24: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions looks on during a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on August 24, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

As the New York Jets prepare for their season opener on Monday Night Football against the Detroit Lions, Luis Tirado Jr. of The Jet Press sits with Steven Mullenax of SideLion Report to scout the enemy.

Week 1 of the regular season has the New York Jets hit the road straight to the Motor City. Best of all, it’ll be a Monday Night Football matchup against the Detroit Lions. The Lions are coming off a 9-7 season that saw them just miss the NFL Playoffs. The Jets, on the other hand, are coming off their second straight 5-11 season on the outside looking in.

Both teams look a lot different than last season with a lot on the line to start the year with a big win under the primetime lights. Steven Mullenax, Site Expert of SideLionReport, reached out to me to sit down and discuss what should be a very good game between two teams with a lot to prove this upcoming season.

Here is our sit down conversation in which I asked him five questions heading into Monday night’s Jets vs. Lions Week 1 matchup:

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LTJ: What was the biggest upgrade the Lions made this offseason to bolster their team?

SM: It is undoubtedly to their running back position. In free agency, the Lions signed three-time Super Bowl champion LeGarrette Blount. His presence should help Detroit in the short yardage game, an area they really struggled with last season.

Then the Lions used their top two draft selections on Arkansas center Frank Ragnow and Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson. Ragnow figures to start at left guard but gives the team versatility along their O-line. He played so well this offseason, some believe he could be general manager Bob Quinn’s best first round pick ever. Johnson showed to be a dynamic running back in the preseason and has impressed early.

LTJ: Does quarterback Matthew Stafford have a better supporting cast this time around to get back into being a winning team?

SM: With the addition of Ragnow, Blount, and Johnson, I’d have to say yes. But what may be more important for Stafford’s success is the fact new head coach Matt Patricia opted to keep offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter on his staff. Cooter’s presence along with the same cast of talented wide receivers leaves the passing game in the Motor City virtually unchanged. And since the Lions’ passing attack ranked sixth in the NFL last season, that’s a good thing.

LTJ: The Jets offensive line has a lot of inconsistency, which defender on the Lions should fans worry about the most?

SM: The obvious answer is defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who was able to produce 12.0 sacks last season despite dealing with nagging injuries. But look for linebacker Devon Kennard to make some noise as well. The former New York Giant racked up 4.0 sacks last season and I believe the Lions like his ability as a disrupter and pass rusher. Look for Kennard to flash a few times in this upcoming Monday night matchup.

LTJ: As a Lions fan, where do you see the Jets at the current moment? Playoff contender or still a team that is a few years away from competing?

SM: With an unproven rookie quarterback under center and coming off two back-to-back 5-11 seasons, I believe everyone outside of Jets’ fans sees New York as a rebuilding team. Although they certainly possess some talented players, there seems to be many more questions than answers at this point. And sharing the division with the New England Patriots does them no favors.

Must Read. Jets vs. Lions Week 1: Top 5 players to watch

LTJ: Final score and prediction?

SM: The Detroit Lions come into Monday night’s contest posting a lackluster preseason performance. Yet, I still believe the New York Jets have even more to prove. Although a starting Sam Darnold could be the difference-maker, I’m not sure the rookie quarterback has the supporting cast to pull out a victory on the road in his regular season debut. Despite Detroit’s numerous issues, I still see them winning this one at home, 27-16.