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A Letter to Mr. Ford

Dear Mr. Ford

There is a very common belief that you do not care about what the fans think. So writing this letter would be senseless. However, I am writing this letter anyway under the belief that if you actually do end up reading it, that act alone would show you do care and therefore be proving the fans wrong.

I have been a Detroit Lions fan for a long time now. I have lived and died through the Billy Simms era and the Barry Sanders era. I have agonized through the many losing seasons through the last few decades. During these times, I like any fan have always had my opinions on what the Lions need to do to become good. Unlike most fans, I have never seen my beliefs put into gear.

The closest I have ever come to seeing it was in 1997 when Barry Sanders ran for over 2000 yards. I remember a game when Sanders broke away for two touchdown runs of 80 yards each and both of those runs came behind Juan Roque. It was the only game I remember with or without Barry where the Lions offensive line opened up gaping holes for Barry to run through. Soon after however, Roque hurt his knee and was never the same. Thus ended the beginning of my vision for the Lions.

You see Mr. Ford, my vision for the Lions is to have a powerful offensive line and a great defense. Yet the Lions never seem to have either. When was the last time the Lions had a top five defense? When was the last time they had a great offensive line? Many have argued that the Lions had a good line with Barry Sanders because of how many yards he gained. I believe that Barry ran behind a terrible line. It was rare that Sanders had a huge hole to run through. I often saw Emmitt Smith run through holes that you could drive a freighter through, but rarely did Barry get anything close to that. Far, far more often, Barry was tackled for a one yard loss because he was hit as he took the hand-off. A good line would not have had that happen nearly so often.

With a great offensive line, a team can sustain drives far more often, keeping their defense off the field and fresh. It is rare that I see the Lion push for a first down in short yardage situations. A top offensive line will protect the quarterback and give him time to find receivers. We ran Scott Mitchell and Joey Harrington out of Detroit because they never had 2 seconds to throw. Will Stafford be next?

I have argued many times that if you gave me a great offensive line and a great defense with the worst quarterback in the NFL, I could beat a team with the best quarterback and a bad line and defense. Baltimore once won the Superbowl because they had a great offensive line and great running game as well as a great defense. They won the Superbowl with Trent Dilfer! Evidence that backs up my beliefs. Look at Green bay this season. Great quarterback with a lousy line and average defense. They are not going to make the play-offs.

Please Mr. Ford. I beg you to either hand the Lions off to your son, sell the team or finally address the team in a different way. Please do not draft anymore high profile position players. We do not need another quarterback. The Lions do not need to address the running back or wide receivers. They need offensive and defensive linemen!

Consider two very famous cliches in the NFL. "You build a team from the inside out" and "The games are won in the trenches". There are reasons these sayings are so famous. They are right! The best teams open holes for their running backs and protect their quarterback. The best teams can pressure the quarterbacks with just their defensive linemen. The best teams control the trenches.

I have heard many say the Lions need to address the cornerbacks and safety. This is a mistake. The only reason our defensive backs look so bad is because the line puts no pressure on the quarterbacks. The worst QB in the NFL will look like a star if he has all day to throw. As we have seen this year as most of the QB's have completed near 75% of their passes against the Lions.

Please MR. Ford, forget the rest of the team for one off-season and focus on the trenches. The only other position the Lions can truly upgrade would be running back. Only because Kevin Smith is not fast enough to be a real threat. But I would rather have him behind a great line than Adrian Peterson behind a bad line.

That is my vision for the Lions. A team that controls the trenches. That has been my vision my entire life as a Lions fan. It is a vision I have yet to see filled. Isn't it time to do things right?

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