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Even Hope for the Lions shows an Improvement

In years gone by, I had always believed the Detroit Lions were only a couple of good players away from being a true contender. For the last 2 or 3 years, I have not had that belief. It is clear that the last decade has watched this franchise slowly degrade until last year there was simply nothing left.

This year is different. There is something about this team that excites me. Maybe I see some real possibilities, or maybe I am just excited to see the Lions regain mediocrity. Whatever it is, I am excited for the season to start.

I have been getting a bit frustrated by seeing comments from others who do not know the Lions saying they will be the worst team in the league again. A part of me wants to scream at them. "Have you not seen anything going on in the off-season in Detroit?"

One comment I saw said... "The Lions will be the worst team once again. Even with the addition of Foote, they have a long long ways to go." .... Excuse me? With the addition of Foote? What about Jullian Peterson? Phillip Buchanon? Anthony Henry? How about Grady Jackson? Anyone ever hear of him? Louis Delmas as well. Though he is a rookie, I have heard nothing but outstanding comments about the kid. Then of course, Stafford and Pettigrew, they wont improve the team at all, right? In fact, is there another team in the NFL that has improved on paper near as much as the Lions have in this off-season?

No, I dont believe the Lions are on their way to the Superbowl this year. I dont even believe they will make the play-offs. I do however, believe the Detroit Lions will gain some respect in 2009 as a team that is up and coming and not to be taken lightly.

Whether it is Daunte Culpepper or Matthew Stafford who lines up behind center, I am intrigued to see how they perform. I want to see if Pettigrew is as good as people keep saying. I am not so convinced that he is as good as I hear, but I am in the least, looking forward to seeing for myself. I cannot wait to see how this revamped defense plays and I am absolutely excited at the prospect of the Lions defense blitzing 40% of the time.

Though I have had times of being excited in recent years, I have not felt this excited to start a season since... well last year when they went 4-0 in the pre-season. But other than that brief time, I havent been this excited since Barry Sanders was playing.

If there is any silver lining to going 0-16, it is that even the prospect of gaining some respect again gives one a thrill.


Detroit Lions Defense May Be Fantasy Sleeper

We have all seen the change over on the Lions defense. The addition of Grady Jackson at defensive tackle will help immensely. Julian Peterson and Larry Foote being added next to Ernie Sims will give the Lions one of the better Linebacker crews in the NFL. There is no doubt that Anthony Henry and Phillip Buchanan will be an improved cornerback duo. Rookie Louis Delmas may be the best safety the Lions have had in recent years.

Now on top of the huge personnel improvements, the Detroit Lions new Defensive Coordinator plans to blitz about 40% of the time. Imagine that!

Remember last years preseason? Remember the Lions blitzing continuously and practically mugging the opponents quarterbacks? Remember the Lions defense knocking Chad Johnson out of the game because Palmer threw the ball too high while being hit? Remember the Lions defense looking like a havoc machine for all four games? That's what you get from blitzing!

Remember the Lions blitzing all of the time in the regular season? No? That's because they didn't! They very rarely blitzed in the regular season.

Remember the Lions defense harassing the quarterbacks every game? No? That is because they didn't harass any quarterbacks in the regular season. They gave every quarterback 5 or 6 seconds to find an open receiver. They gave every receiver 5 or 6 seconds to break free.

Remember the... oh what the heck, we don't want to remember the 2008 Detroit Lions defense at all! The defense that looked menacing in the preseason became the worst defense I have ever seen in the regular season. They were the same players, so what happened? They did not blitz in the regular season.

2009 is here and they have far better players. Best of all, the Detroit Lions have a coach and offensive coordinator who actually has some guts. They plan to blitz about 40% of the time. Do not let the 2008 defense scare you away. The difference between this years group of battle ready killers is so far from last years Pansy ass nose picking sissies will be like night and day.

Don't believe me? That is fine. Just do yourself a favor. Keep your eye on them as the season starts. If you play fantasy football, there is a very good chance you will be picking the Detroit Lions Defense up off of waivers in week two or three.


Lions Trade Ronald Curry

The Detroit Lions have traded Ronald Curry away to the St.Louis Rams before he ever played a down for them. In return, the Lions receive a Defensive Tackle, Orien Harris.

Last year was the 26 year old's first season and he played in 14 games. His 4 solo and 8 assisted tackles is not a lot to speak of. Yet, even with his lack of experience and production, this is a good trade for the Lions. They need some size in the middle of the defensive line and Harris is a 300-pounder.

This trade also clears up the Lions receiver position a little more. With Calvin Johnson obviously slated as the #1 receiver, it now looks as if Bryant Johnson will play the other side and Dennis Northcutt, whom the Lions got from the Jaguars will play the slot receiver. The only question remaining on the receiving corps is if the rookie Derrick Williams can break into the mix.


Scattered Thoughts on the Lions

It is mid July and nothing is happening in the NFL. There is no news on the Lions that we dont already know. They are not practicing and the media does not bother with them. We are so close to the Detroit Lions season and still so far away. I hate this time of the year.

The Lions and I have completely different views on how the team should be handled. Every year they draft the opposite player of who I want them to draft. Every season their scheme is opposite of what I would like to see. I wanted to draft Quentin Jammer and they take Joey Harrington. I want Jason Smith and they draft Matthew Stafford. I want them to blitz a lot and they play panzy football. I wanted Scott Pioli to be the new GM and Ford retains Martin Mayhew. ...... I could look at this in one of two ways. 1) I really don't know anything about football that I am always wrong. 2) The Lions never listen to me and they ended up with a historical 0-16 season and a decade since their last winning season. Personally I prefer to believe in the latter.

Though there is a good chance Stafford will play this year and maybe even start the season, I still say they should hold him back a year. I still say the Detroit Lions should have drafted Jason Smith to boost their offensive line. Then they could have made a run to sign Michael Vick. Dog Fighting problems in his past or not, he is a proven star at the quarterback position and I would far prefer a proven star over any unproven rookie.

I do hope that finally this time the Lions coaches have enough courage to blitz a lot. Get in the QB's face enough and the QB makes mistakes. Any quarterback will. Even Manning and Brady and Favre.

I wish I could afford to go to a couple games this season rather than watch them all on tv. However, I will have a DVR this year and that is good for reviewing the game before I write my articles.

I miss Barry Sanders. We still lost a lot with him but at least he made the game exciting. Which by the way, proves that one man cannot carry an NFL team. If Barry couldn't carry the Lions to a Superbowl, nobody can!

The Detroit Lions have to win a Superbowl someday.... don't they?

The Lions need cheerleaders!

Who am I kidding? The Lions need a hell of a lot more than just Cheerleaders!

Can someone tell me again why the Lions did away with the Run-N-Shoot offense?

The new logo does look better. I would have liked to see a complete rework, but it still looks better than it did.

The Detroit Lions need to hire new people to design their clothing. As much as I love the Lions, I have never seen a Lions hat that I liked. There are very few jackets or shirts I feel look good. ..... Correction.... there is one Lions hat I do like. It is the hat I designed and had made.

Notice how it is a soft cap rather than the stiff cap that real ball players would never wear. The Lions symbol is small and on the classy side unlike the normal Lions hats where Bubbles the Lions covers three quarters of the hat or more. Also notice the hat itself is a regular denim color and not the Lions standard Honolulu blue. Don't get me wrong, I like the Honolulu blue, but just not on clothing. Its not a good color for clothing and definitely not good looking on hats.

If any of the Lions personnel department should happen to read this.... If you like the hat, I am in need of a job. If you wont let me direct the team, I can help design Lion paraphernalia.


NFL Films Senior Producer likes Matthew Stafford

NFL Films Senior Producer Greg Cosell has been watching the same films coaches watch for 30 years. In a recent article in Yahoo Sports, he was asked the question..."Who do you favor in the Matthew Stafford vs. Mark Sanchez debate?" Many a Lions fan will be glad to hear his answer. Matthew Stafford.

In film he has watched, he says Stafford is a 'Wow' Thrower and has the ability to throw with timing and anticipation. Another point he makes of the Detroit Lions rookie quarterback is that he has good poise, saying that Stafford's line at Georgia was poor and he was good at throwing good passes with bodies all around him. God knows this should come in handy with the Lions!

I still do not believe the Lions should play Stafford this season and they should in the least wait for the second half of the season, but if he does play, he may make it interesting.

If you would like to read the article, you can do so here.


A Lions Fan's Dream

The Dream - The Detroit Lions break their huddle and move to the line of scrimmage as the flashes from cameras continuously pop from the sidelines and stands. Matthew Stafford steps up behind Raiola. A quick glance at the clock shows him the twenty eight seconds left in the game. He can barely keep the smile from his face. A look to both sides lets him know that everyone is in their place and shouts the cadence.

"Hut!" The call was to snap the ball on one and as he shouts the word, Dominic Raiola slaps the leather football into Stafford's hands. The linemen collide together with hardly an effort and he drops to one knee.

The whistles blow and the clock continues to run down. The linemen jump for joy and the first player there to give Stafford a hug is Calvin Johnson, his megatron arms practically engulfing the young quarterback as they shout their joy in unison.

We stare at our television sets for a short time in disbelief. Our eyes fill with tears and we fight the lump that swells in our throats as it all sinks in. The Detroit Lions have just won the Superbowl!

Car horns are honking from outside as others step out and scream with joy. Many of us still just sit there in silence. Sit there and let it all soak in deeper. Our beloved Lions have won the Superbowl.

If we died right then, we would die happy. The happiest many of us have ever been in our lives. All of the shame we face each morning as the bills pile up because we have no job is forgotten for the time being. There is no heart break and loneliness. No problems with spouses. All of our troubles can be put away, for the moment the world is a perfect place. The Detroit Lions have just won the Superbowl.

So many have said it would never happen but some of us always believed it could. For those of us, there is a deeper satisfaction. The victory holds a special place in our hearts that could never be experienced by the many who had given up on the team completely.

The Tigers have won the world Series and it was awesome. The Red Wings have won the Stanley Cup enough times and that is magnificent. The Pistons have won the Championship and how great those were. So many great moments in Detroit history, but all of them together could not compare to this one moment. The Detroit Lions have won the Superbowl.

Reality - So many times I have heard others say.."the Lions have always sucked and they always will." or "They will never win anything." For so many seasons I have suffered the heartbreak of futility as the Lions again and again fail to play good football. I was a fan back when Billy Sims blew out his knee as he dove over the offensive line. I cannot remember if he scored or got a first down but I remember the loss of hope when his career was over.

I was a fan when they drafted Barry Sanders. Oh how great Barry Sanders truly was could never be known by most of the NFL fans who did not watch him every game. I was a fan in Barry Sander's 3rd season in 1991, when the Lions started the season off with a 45-0 loss to the Washington Redskins. I was a fan when in the same season, the Lions won twelve games and ended the regular season in first place in the NFC Central. I was a fan as they beat the hated Dallas Cowboys in Detroit's only playoff victory since 1957. I was a fan as the Lions lost in the NFC championship game 41-10, again to the Redskins.

I was a fan when Barry Sanders retired unexpectedly after only ten seasons only 1,457 yards shy of breaking the All-time rushing record. I have been a Lions fan through all of the futile ten seasons since Barry retired. I was a fan through the shameful 0-16 season last year.

I have been a fan through so much heartache and have felt so little joy in return. And I have never once believed the Lions would not someday be a great team. Some day that dream will come true. Some day I will experience that joy. I know it wont be this coming season, but some day it will happen. I do believe that, and I do believe it will not be in the too far distant future.


Lions Defense - To Blitz or Not to Blitz?

Everyone remembers the Detroit Lions 2008 pre-season right? When the Lions went 4-0 and pretty much dominated the other teams with their defense? Not just the back-ups either. The defense pounded on the other teams starting quarterbacks as well. If nobody noticed, there was a major difference between the pre-season defense and the Lions regular season defense. It was the scheme!

In the pre-season, the Lions blitzed almost continuously and it caused havoc for the opposing quarterbacks. When the regular season started and the games counted, Marrinelli lost his courage and the Lions rarely blitzed. In the few games where the Lions defense looked good for portions of the games during the season? They were blitzing.

I have heard the arguments enough times. The Lions don’t have the talent to blitz, right? Wrong! The lack of talent on the Lions defense in 2008 was why they needed to blitz and blitz a lot! The truth of the matter was, they did not have enough talent to play normal defense. They could not pressure the quarterback using just the defensive line. Opposing quarterbacks sat in the pocket for far too long, just waiting for a receiver to get open. The Lions defensive backs were not good enough to cover for more than 2 or 3 seconds tops. The Lions complete lack of talent in 2008 made it impossible to win games by playing conservative defense. If you cannot pressure the quarterback and you cannot cover the receivers, you WILL lose.

That is why bad defenses should blitz. Get pressure on the quarterback. Make him get rid of the ball early often enough and he will make mistakes. Will you get burned if you blitz a lot? Sometimes you will, absolutely. But ask yourself this…. How often did the Lions get burnt when they did not blitz? A lot! If you will get beat a lot when not blitzing, what do you have to lose by blitzing? Nothing.

It has always been argued that if you blitz too often, you will get burnt. The truth of the matter is, it is only the good defenses that don’t need to blitz. They have the talent to cover receivers. They have the talent where their defensive line can pressure the quarterback. They get it done without the blitz. If you want to win in the NFL, you need to pressure the quarterback. If your D-line is not good enough to get it done, you have to find a way to get it done. That is why they blitz. That is why the Lions need to blitz.

Mark my word… If the Lions blitz a lot in 2009, they will win 6 or more games. If they play a conservative defense again, they will win no more than 4 games at best.


Improved Detroit Lions Defense Gets No Respect

Will the Detroit Lions Defense be much improved in 2009? Many of the experts from fantasy football sites don't believe so.

I have my own Fantasy Football blog called NFL Fantasy Guide. I was looking at defenses today to put out my Fantasy Defense Rankings. I was comparing what other sites ranked the defenses and I noticed something glaring. Of the three sites I looked at, the best ranking the Detroit Lions defense got was 29th. Are they truly going to be that bad again this year?

I am sorry, but I think this is a case of the experts not looking close enough. They have no respect for the Lions and rightfully so I suppose, so they just tend to rank them near the bottom. Yet if you truly look at it all, do you really place them that low?

The Detroit Lions have added a new Safety, two new starting cornerbacks, two new starting linebackers, and a good defensive tackle. That is over half of the starting defense that is new and for the most part, much improved.

With the additions of Larry Foote and Julian Peterson, to team up with Ernie Simms, the Lions linebacker crew went from one of the worst in the NFL to one of the best. That alone makes them better than a jump from 32nd to 29th only. Adding Grady Jackson in the middle of the defensive line will help them immensely when it comes to stopping the run. Though he has yet to play a down in the NFL, I do believe Louis Delmas will be a great improvement at Safety. The strength training the coaches have implemented will help as well. Every bit of improvement in the offense will help sustain more drives and keep the defense rested. That will help the defense's ranking.

Please don't get me wrong here. I have no false perception that the Lions defense will be a top defense in the NFL in 2009. I do not believe they will even be a top-15 defense. But looking at the improvements they have made, shouldn't they still be better than 29th? Don't forget, that 29 rank was the best of the three. The other two were 31st and 32nd. Seriously?

Larry Foote was the starting middle linebacker for the Superbowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers last season. They didn't just let him go... he left Pittsburgh and signed with Detroit for less money than he was offered from other teams, just because he is from the area and actually wants to play for Detroit. There is nobody who does not think Peterson will still be a very good linebacker. Grady Jackson will only play about half the downs. That is half a season more with a very good defensive tackle than the Lions had last year. Delmas has done nothing but draw rave reviews from everyone in the off-season workouts. In fact, in his first practice, he told Stafford he would be the first to pick off one of Stafford's passes. He made good on that promise.

For logical purposes and trying to keep my head grounded, I ended up ranking the Lions defense 25th overall. To be honest, I would not be surprised in the least if they ended the season ranked 20th overall, but I would at least expect 25th.


Detroit Lions most Important Game of 2009 - Minnesota?

The most important game of the Detroit Lions 2009 season will be played in week 2 on September 20th at home against Minnesota!

It has been one year, six months and sixteen days. That translates to 18 months and 16 days! That is 563 days we have now gone since seeing a Detroit Lions victory in a game that counts. And win or lose, I cannot wait until September 13th when the Lions play again. It will be another 72 days before that games gets here. That will make it 635 days at that point.

Then I look at the Detroit Lions 2009 schedule and what do I see? The first game of the regular season is against New Orleans. From reading the forums, I realize there are a lot of overly excited and optimistic fans who think the Lions will make it to the play-offs, but in all reality they likely wont do that. In fact I just don't see them beating the Saints. That means it could end up being 642 days between Detroit Lions victories!

Finally! Finally on September 20th the Lions play Minnesota at home. This is the first game of the 2009 season that I see the Lions actually being able to win. A full 642 days after their last victory, this is the first game I seeing them winning.

In both games against the Vikings in 2008, the Lions almost won. As bad as the Lions were, they were a near match for the Vikings in both games. The Lions are, on paper, a vastly improved team in 2009. They should be able to win this game. Pardon my french but, "They sure as hell better!" Because if they do not, it could be a long time coming.

Look at the Lions games following the week 2 game against Minnesota. At home against Washington, in Chicago, at home against the Steelers, in Green Bay and a Bye-week. That is another five weeks (35 days) plus another 7 days before they finally play the Rams at home on November 1st. That would make it possibly 684 days between Lions victories.

Now I understand that many fans would say the Lions can win any of those games. Yes they could, but in all honesty, the odds are against that. Washington has made a habit of pummelling the Lions ever since the first week of the 1991 season when they beat the Lions 45-0. The Lions notoriously play bad in both Chicago and in Green Bay. I doubt anyone thinks the Lions will beat the Steelers. As great as it would be to see a little revenge for the Red Wings loss to the Penguins, I doubt anyone truly believes the Lions are better than the Steelers. Lets face one fact that all of us have to agree on. The Lions cant win during a bye-week!

If the Lions lose to Minnesota, they risk a strong chance of starting the 2009 season off with an 0-6 record. The losing feelings will sink into them and make it that much harder to win against the Rams. The Lions do not need to make it any more difficult to get a win.

So mark your calenders folks. September 20th that stadium needs to be sold out with rowdy fans. We need to cheer the Lions on and hope they take some energy from the fans. Because if the Lions lose to Minnesota, it could easily be another 42 days before they get a win. And haven't we gone long enough all ready?