1) What are the core reasons your team is 0-2 to start this season?
I could give you a full laundry list of reasons, but let me break it down by each side of the ball. On offense, the offensive line has completely lived up to its name: offensive. There is no cohesion among linemen, and each player is consistently losing one-on-one battles right now. As a result, Matthew Stafford has been pummeled and the Lions' run game is non-existent. On defense, there's a lot going on. Detroit lost their two top defensive players from 2014 (Ndamukong Suh to Miami, DeAndre Levy to injury). Additionally, aging players like Stephen Tulloch (30), James Ihedigbo (31) and Rasheen Mathis (35) all seemed to have taken big steps back this year.
2) If Stafford has to sit this one out (which may be a good thing for his health against this defense), who is his backup and what did you guys learn about him in the preseason?
Run first, pass second, says Kubiak
Despite little success running the ball the last two games, the Denver Broncos aren't suddenly going back to 50 passes a game. But like everything else with this offense, "it's a work in progress."
I have a very hard time believing Stafford will sit out this week's game, but if he does, it will be Dan Orlovksy behind center. Jim Caldwell brought Orlovsky back to Detroit when the Lions hired him in 2014. Orlovsky will forever be known in Detroit as the guy who did this (fun fact: the Lions lost that game by 2). Detroit fans already know what they have in Orlovksy: a quarterback who can manage a game okay, but won't bring any spark to the offense. The best thing I can really say about him is he is familiar with the coaching staff.
3) Your team has had a formidable defense for years. Can you tell us about a player or two who is underrated or unknown outside of Detroit that makes that machine hum?
In the past few years, Detroit's had been defined by the play of their defensive line. But with Suh, Nick Fairley, C.J. Mosely, and George Johnson all gone from last year, the Lions are still searching for that player to step up. One candidate is defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker, an under-the-radar signing this offseason. Walker hasn't exploded onto the seen quite yet, but he's shown flashes of being quite disruptive.
Outside of the line, look out for Darius Slay. Slay is on the verge of becoming a shutdown cornerback, and he's already promised to ask Peyton Manning for his autograph if he picks him off Sunday night.
4) Ameer Abdullah looked pretty darn awesome to me. If he's given the touches, what does Denver need to do to keep him contained?
The best way to stop Abdullah is to meet him in the backfield. If you give him the opportunity to make the first cut, he may be gone. Luckily for the Broncos, teams haven't had trouble breaking through the Lions offensive line yet. Abdullah only has 13 carries on the season, mostly because the Lions have been forced to abandon the run.
5) What's the keys to the game for Detroit and what do you predict the final score to be?
The keys for Detroit are to get the running game going on offense and hold Peyton to field goals on defense. If the Lions maintain a rushing attack, it gives Stafford the opportunity to stay clean in the pocket with players like DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller gunning for him. A balanced attack is key to both protecting the quarterback and keeping Manning off the field. Defensively, the Lions will have to find a way to generate pressure and force Manning into a mistake or two. With the Lions currently lacking a true pass-rusher, expect to see a fair amount of blitzes on Sunday night.
As for a score prediction, you'll have to wait until my preview comes out on Friday. But here's a hint: this is what I said about the Lions after their most recent loss: "I'm really, really trying to dig deep to find a silver lining in this game, but it just isn't there."
Thanks Jeremy for your time and well reasoned answers. Head over to check out my responses and talk football with our worthy opponents. As always we hope for a great game and no injuries for either team. See you on Sunday!