I AM BACK!!!!!

In the past, I tried to do too much with this site with way too little time. Yet, I have been feeling a need to write about the Lions lately. So I have decided to change the Detroit Lions Observer to a few basic things. Writing articles when I feel a need to, keeping track of their wins and losses, and I am still deciding if I will go through and update Ndamukong Suh's Sack List.
Ndamukong Suh's Sack List
Keep track of which quarterbacks Suh has faced and which ones he has taken down.

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8/30/09

Stafford vs Culpepper

The Detroit Lions have a real quarterback battle on their hands and every fan has an opinion on it. So do I and I am going to go into detail about it for one reason. I'm right!

Matthew Stafford - The rookie is the future of the Lions and has shown signs of brilliance during the preseason. He has the ability to throw down field and actually hit his receiver in stride. He has a toughness about him that is willing to stand in and take a hit to make a last second throw. His problem is that he is still a rookie and makes rookie mistakes. Stafford is also prone to bouts of inaccuracy, as we saw in his dismal week-2 in the preseason against the Cleveland Browns.

Daunte Culpepper - He is the veteran quarterback who seems capable of not making the mistakes to kill us. If nothing is open down field, Culpepper will check down to make a short completion. Culpepper has also shown he has the elusiveness that makes him very hard to sack.

So who should be the starter? I have read a lot of comments by Lions fans recently. Let us analyze their reasoning.

"The Lions will not win a lot this season anyway. So we should start Stafford and let him take his lumps and learn." --- Taking a few lumps will do good for any rookie quarterback, but that depends on how many lumps. If he takes a few hits, it will introduce him to the NFL is all, but if he is sacked at record paces like previous quarterbacks? That can ruin a rookie quarterback. The rookie QBs who have been successful in their first season have been set up to succeed. They have good offensive lines and good running games to keep defenses honest. Until the Lions prove they can do that in regular season games, I have to believe that Stafford would lose a lot of confidence after his 20th IT or his 50th sack.

"Culpepper does not complete passes down field." --- What I have seen of Culpepper is more a product of what is given to him. Often the Lions coaches call screens for him. Sometimes he will look down field and when he sees nothing there, he checks down and dumps it off for positive yardage. This is a major reason he is not throwing interceptions while Stafford has 3 in 3 games.

"After watching a second time, I took a closer look at Stafford's incompletions. Two were near miss TDs, two drops (Brown, Jennings), one hail Mary miss (int) and one misread with TE route. It did not have rookie mistakes written all over it. Stafford is ready, there is no reason he should sit." --- In the third game, Stafford did indeed look ready. Have we already forgotten how many he over threw in week two? This shows me he is inconsistent, just like most rookies.

My theory - Consider the Lions fans. They are split on Stafford and Culpepper. Which ever QB starts, if he loses a lot, throws interceptions and such, the fans will start booing and screaming for the other quarterback. Now look at the Lions schedule. The first six games will be tough. They could easily start 0-6. If you start Stafford, and he goes 0-6 while learning, throws interceptions and makes rookie mistakes, the fans will boo and scream for Culpepper. At least the fans who want Culpepper to start will. That can ruin a young quarterbacks psyche. Even one as confident as Stafford. What happens if you start Culpepper?

If Culpepper wins a few games, everyone will be happy and nobody will complain about Stafford sitting and learning for a season. If Culpepper starts off at 0-6, the fans will be screaming for Stafford by the bye-week. The Lions could now trot Stafford out their to the delight of the fans and start him against the Rams. A team the Lions might actually beat. You are now starting Stafford when he actually has a better chance to succeed and build his confidence rather than ruin it.

By starting Stafford, the Lions are putting him and themselves in a position where they have to succeed or they could ruin their future quarterback like they have so many times before. If they start Culpepper, they place themselves and Stafford in a win win situation.

Detroit Lions beat the Colts 18 - 17

The most important thing to remember here is that it is still only a preseason game. The Lions beating the Colts means absolutely nothing. That being said, there are certain things I noticed in this game.

1) The offensive line actually looked good. Several times they opened holes and often they actually moved the trench forward. Yes they made a few stupid, idiotic and ridiculous mistakes like a blow to the head AFTER the play was over and such. Still, all in all, I see a huge improvement over how they played in the last decade.

2) There were two drives where Manning moved the ball with apparent ease to score a touchdown. On both of those drives, the Lions played a soft and non-aggressive zone defense. Like last week, when the Lions blitzed, the looked much better.

3) The offense looks much better with Johnson and Johnson playing.

4) Yes, it is actually possible to over throw Calvin Johnson on a fade route.

5) The biggest improvement from last week to this week is a tie between Stafford and the kick-off coverage unit.

6) Delmas can hit like a mac truck. Now if he can learn when to pull up and just make the tackle.

7) I am already getting tired of Charlie Sanders speaking on the sidelines.

8) Kevin Smith is running much harder this season. He seams harder to tackle but he is still missing that extra gear to break the long ones.

9) I really really hate the zone defense.

8/27/09

Aveion Cason is like Ground Hogs Day

Aveion Cason pulls in the kick-off at the Lions 1 yard line. He breaks to his left and scrambles up to the ten, the fifteen, and is hit at the twenty yard line. .... Sound familiar? It should. Lions fans have been hearing the same thing for a couple of years now. Every game! Every Kick-off return!

The only difference between Cason and Bill Murray in 'Ground Hogs Day' is that Bill Murry was smart enough to start using the repetitions of the same thing happening over and over to his advantage. Cason has made no changes.

It is a very rare thing when Cason makes it past the 20 yard line and when it does happen, it is because of a bad kick that gave him more time. He never makes tacklers miss and he never breaks tackles. Ask yourself... Can you remember the last time Aveion Cason broke away for a long return? To give the guy credit, I will have to say he has done it before. Maybe a couple times. But in all honesty, I cannot remember seeing it happen. So why would the Lions keep using him as their kick returner?

It was to my knowledge that returning kicks was why the Lions drafted Derrick Williams. Yet I have only seen him return punts. Put him in the Kick return spot and let him get some work there. What do the Lions have to lose in doing so? After two years of returning kicks to the twenty, it is not like Cason is going to suddenly figure it all out. So let the rookie get in some work and see if he grows with it at all. He sure couldn't do any worse than Cason. For God's sakes, put my fat carcass in and I can return it to the fifteen at least. I have no doubt that Derrick Williams, with all of his speed, would do as well as Cason.

Mr. Schwartz, if you should somehow find this post and read it. Please pay close attention to this part. I understand that Cason shows speed in practices. I have heard he is one of the faster players on the Lions. But don't let it fool you. The man has no real field vision. He does not make players miss, break to open holes or break tackles. If you keep using him to return kick-offs, he will only do what he has always done in the past. Get tackled at the twenty. You cant win games if you are always starting at your own twenty. Don't be fooled like recent coaches. If Cason has not learned how to break some loose by now, he never will.

Actually if the Lions really cant seem to trust Derrick Williams on Kick-off returns. Why not Felton? He has enough speed to make it back to the twenty and he has the power to break a few tackles now and then. If a player tries to hit him? He will learn it doesn't feel the same as colliding with Aveion Cason. Felton will hurt a lot more and make a tackler think twice about going head on in the future.

Hell, throw in a back up defensive lineman as a kick off returner. Let him run like a wrecking ball and he would still make the twenty. But at least he would make the other players pay for tackling him at the twenty.

Okay, seriously here. I am just making a simple point. I don't care who is put in to return kick-offs. I just don't want to see the same old thing over and over again that I have watched for the last two years. I just don't want to see Cason go down at the twenty yard line every time. I was not a big fan of Ground Hogs Day to begin with. Please don't make me watch it every Sunday.

8/25/09

Advice to Schwartz: Make Decision Soon!

The San Fransisco 49ers got it right. They named Shaun Hill the starting quarterback for the season opener over Alex Smith. I would not even presume to know if Shaun Hill is a better quarterback, but I do know the 49ers were right in one aspect. They named their starter early. Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions need to do the same.

There is an ongoing debate in Detroit about whether it should be the veteran Daunte Culpepper or the 72 million dollar rookie Matthew Stafford. There are plenty of arguments for both sides, but whatever Schwartz is going to decide, he needs to decide soon.

Both Stafford and Culpepper are new to the Lions. Stafford is a rookie and has never played for any NFL team much less the Lions and Culpepper was signed in 2008 and played very little. Two of the three starting receivers for the Lions are new this season. The Lions will likely be playing with a new Tight End as well. The offensive line is now running a power block scheme rather than a zone block. It takes time for all of this to gel together and the quarterback is at the center of that gelling.

The Lions can practice until their faces turn Honolulu Blue, but the practice can only take them so far. Game action is a whole new level. Schwartz has said he might play the starters for a half in the fourth preseason game as well. Very few teams in the NFL if any play their starters much in the fourth preseason game. The Lions however, need that extra work. To keep the quarterback competition going even another week would only harm them. Who ever is going to be the starting quarterback needs time to get used to his receivers and linemen in real game action. One quarter of action each in the last two weeks of the preseason just won't cut it.

Anyone who knows me, knows I think Culpepper should start. If Schwartz comes out and names Stafford the starter, I will be fine with that. Just so long as he names him now and not wait another week before doing it. The quarterback needs more reps with the first team before the season starts, especially if it is Stafford, a rookie.

8/23/09

Detroit Lions lose to Cleveland Browns 27-10

First let me say this right off.... I do not think it was as bad as many believe.

#1 - The Lions first team defense gave up one long drive for a touchdown. After that they settled down and played fairly well. The only other TDs came from the special teams and late in the game against backups.

#2 - Sticking with the defense.... In the first three quarters, the Lions defense blitzed 11 times that I counted. Only once during a blitz did they give up more than a few yards. So when the Lions blitzed, they did well.

#3 - Stafford looked pretty bad this game. Culpepper looked pretty good. Unless Stafford plays lights out over Culpepper in the coming weeks practices, Daunte should be named the starter and play the first half of the third preseason game.

#4 - Special attention needs to be placed on the special teams this week. The coverage unit was down right horrid and the blocking/return unit was almost useless.

#5 - More Special teams.... Aveion Cason should be cut. He rarely returns a ball past the 20 yard line. Too often he seems to dip his head and run into men rather than make them miss. His fumble on the outside run should be the last straw. He does not help the Lions enough to warrant the spot he takes up.

#6 - Keep in mind that many of the Lions playmakers were not playing tonight. None of the three starting receivers and their hopeful star tight end did not play.

#7 - Also keep in mind that this was a preseason game. They mean absolutely nothing. If the Lions were to play great, many fans would say "So what? It was a meaningless preseason game." When they played bad, those same fans are saying... "Same Old Lions! They wont win a game again this year." Schwarts did not prepare the team to win and they did not game plan to win. Special teams showed some large holes and the defense was bad for one series. Now Schwartz knows what he needs to work on next.

8/21/09

Stafford to Start 2nd Preseason Game

Detroit Lions coach, Jim Schwartz has said rookie quarterback, Matthew Stafford will start the second preseason game. Stafford is expected to play into the second quarter then give way to Daunte Culpepper who started the first game.

For now, don't read too much into this news. This decision in no way predicts who will start the first game of the regular season. Schwartz has all along said that he would give his quarterbacks equal chance before making a decision on his starter for the season. With Culpepper starting the first game, it is only right to let Stafford start the second game.

However, it is of utmost importance that Sometime during the next week, Schwartz needs to make his final decision. The third preseason game is usually the dress rehearsal for the starters in the NFL and whoever will be the starting quarterback needs to get more reps in to prepare for the real season. To continue having the two share reps in practice would only hinder the inevitable starter.

A lot of fans are high on Stafford after the first game but it is not rightfully so. Though Stafford did nothing to hurt his chances, he still did not really out play Culpepper. Daunte being the veteran, he should have to be out played by Stafford to lose the starting nod to the rookie. After a record breaking NFL worst season in 2008, Daunte's lack of mistakes would better suit the Lions 2009 season.

If Stafford truly out plays Culpepper in the 2nd game, then he should get the nod, but if Daunte is not out played, he should not be benched. It is as easy as this. If two quarterbacks play evenly, then go with the one who will make less mistakes.

8/20/09

Safety Daniel Bullocks Out for Season

Bullocks hurt his knee and missed the entire 2007 season. He came back in 2008 and recorded 121 tackles. Now he will be out again after injuring the same knee that was hurt in 2007.

The Lions just became a little more thin at safety and I have to believe this could push efforts to turn Anthony Henry into a safety. The problem is the Lions dont have anyone better than Hanry to play cornerback.

8/16/09

The Two Faces of Lions Fans

Many Detroit Lions fans will not like this article. I cannot help that but I will not allow it to keep me from writing it. I will write the truth as I see it and not let it be influenced by opinions. So let me start it if by going for the throat. Many of the Detroit Lions fans are two faced.

I have read articles on Stafford since the Lions first preseason game. I have read the posts by the fans after those articles. I have seen the love of those fans for Matthew Stafford. I have seen some striking similarities between Stafford and Harrington and the fans love one and hate the other for those same similarities.

Let me make this clear. I am not a huge Joey Harrington fan. I once was a supporter of his but now he is done in. I do believe Stafford can be a true star, just like I believed Joey could have under the right circumstances. Yet I hear fans saying things they love about Stafford and they are the same with Harrington who they hated.

Fans loved that Stafford took a hit and jumped back up with a smile, showing he is tough. I remember Joey Harrington's first season and he took a huge hit. He jumped up and patted the player who sacked him on the back of the helmet congratulating him on a good hit.

Stafford went 7 for 14 in his first action. That is only 50%. Fans think he did good because he had a few balls dropped to make his stats look worse than how he played. Yet I do not remember a quarterback on the Lions who had his passes dropped as often as Harrington did.

Both quarterbacks are tough players who can take a hit and bounce back up ready to play. Both players were/are looked at as the savior of the Detroit Lions. Neither player was ever considered a very accurate passer. Both quarterbacks have good size and neither is a scrambler.

The Detroit fans, loved Scott Mitchell when he was throwing for 4,000 yards and it was those same fans who ran him out of town saying he was a bum when the talent around him dropped off the table. It was those same Lions fans who loved Harrington when he took the reins and the same who hated Joey when he couldn't produce with the worst o-line, receivers, and scheme in the NFL. It is those same fans who now love and tout Stafford as the next coming.

As I said, I do believe that Stafford can be a star. I also believe he has a better chance than any of the others ever had for the Lions. He has a great receiver in Calvin Johnson. The best Joey ever had was Roy Williams who the Lions were glad to trade away. Stafford has a good tight end which Joey never had. Stafford has a receiver in Northcutt who will actually go across the middle. Something Joey never had.

If the Lions brass can improve the offensive line enough to protect Stafford as he grows into that star, he may be the best quarterback the Lions ever had. If they do not find a way to protect him however, Stafford faces turning into the next Harrington. If he becomes that star, there will be fans saying "I told you so", and if he fails? It will be those same fans who will chase him out of Detroit saying he is a bum.

Lions Win Preseason Game-1

As expected, Daunte Culpepper took place under center to start the game and did a fine job. Culpepper completed five of six passes for 41 yards. He did not have any touchdowns and did not throw an interception. What impresses me most however is that he only had one pass that was incomplete. The veteran quarterback did not do anything to hurt his chances of starting for the Lions in 2009 and he did not do anything special to gain a lead on Matthew Stafford.

The first overall pick in April's draft, Matthew Stafford, took the ball after that and had a different kind of game. He completed 7 of 14 passes for 114 yards. He threw one touchdown and had one picked off. Though Stafford only had a 50% completion rating, he also had a few of his passes dropped. His touchdown was a perfectly thrown ball where only the receiver could get it, but his interception was a typical rookie mistake when he allowed a blitz to make him throw the ball early and he did not read the defense well. The interception was returned for a touchdown.

Though Culpepper did not do anything great or anything bad, Stafford did both. So from this game alone, the quarterback competition stayed just as tight.

Rookie running back, Aaron Brown, scored a touchdown and Drew Stanton had an 18 yard scramble that set up the game winning field goal.

8/11/09

Ex-Lion Helps the Team He Left On Bad Terms With

Remember Shaun Rogers? How can we not remember him. In his final season with the Lions, he lived up to his nickname, 'Big Baby'. He only played in every other play and left the team on bad terms.

Today Rogers would like to play for the Lions again. Unfortunately it seems he may have burnt that bridge as they have not talked to him when he would fill a void they desperately need to fill. With Grady Jackson signed, the Lions needed another big man to help fill the middle and stop run plays. Shaun Rogers would have fit that bill perfectly. Well, when a bridge burns down there is only one thing to do. Rebuild that bridge, and that seems just what Rogers is trying to do.

Recently the Lions were hoping to sign Rogers friend Shaun Hill. Hill had other offers as well and he wasn't sure what to do. When talking to Rogers for advice, Big Baby played the part of a big man and told his friend to go to Detroit. He said Detroit had some good people and that he should just come here and play ball. Now Shaun Hill is a Detroit Lion and will help dearly in filling that gap in the middle.

8/10/09

Jared Devries Carted Off the Field

The Lions defensive end, Jared Devries was carted off of the field after injuring his Achilles tendon and will miss the entire season.

The defensive line is one of the Detroit Lions weak spots this season and the loss of Devries is a blow they did not need as they try to regain some respect after an 0-16 season.

It is expected that Dwayne White will move over to left end and the Lions will hasten their search for more defensive line help.

8/8/09

Cliff Avril Looks to Have a Breakout Year

In 2008, the Detroit Lions defensive end, Cliff Avril, was a rookie. He ended the season with five sacks, tops for most among rookie defensive ends in the NFL last year. Avril says last season was more about learning for him while this year will be more on polishing things up. This is one reason to believe he will improve in his second year as a pro.

With the Marinelli regime moved on and Jim Schwartz in, Schwartz also brought in Gunther Cunningham to be the Defensive Coordinator. Both of these men are aggressive coaches and have been quoted saying they plan on blitzing about 40% of the time with a variety of blitz schemes. With the opponents offensive line having to worry more about the blitz, it will open things up more often for defensive ends to get free. Another reason to believe Avril will improve in his sophomore year.

If Avril produces well in 2009, he will force offenses to pay more attention to him, which in turn will allow others to break free more often. Sometimes a defensive line can look like it has no talent because it never quite gets to the quarterback. Sometimes all it takes is for one player to step up his game, allowing others to get free and suddenly the whole defensive line looks better. Sometimes a better scheme can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes the fans need a reason to have hope and after the 2008 season, I will take anything that gives me hope. This season I find a lot to give me hope and improvement from Cliff Avril is one amongst many.

8/3/09

Culpepper Practices with First Team Squad

Daunte Culpepper practiced with the first team for the Detroit Lions while Matthew Stafford practiced strictly with the 2nd team only.

This could be a sign that Culpepper has the upper hand early on to be the Lions starting quarterback. Then again, tomorrow we could see Stafford practice with the first team while Daunte works with the 2nd team only. We do not yet know how Jim Schwartz will work things. If Daunte Culpepper continues to work with the first team then I would look at it as a sign of the coaches plans.

8/2/09

A Look at the Detroit Lions

Most anyone would have to look at the Detroit Lions and know they are improved. Not as many have looked over the Lions to see just how much they have improved. In this article I will take a look at each position of the Detroit Lions and give them an improvement grade. The grades are ranked from 0 to 5. I was prepared to give them a negative number if there was any position in which they have gotten worse, but I honestly did not need it.

COACHING

Head Coach - Jim Schwartz - has taken over the reins and is expected to be a huge improvement over Marinelli. How could he not be? He has already said he plans on making the scheme fit the players he has and has emphasized a stronger, more powerful team rather than the smaller speedy team. Until he actually coaches some games as a head coach in the NFL, he will be a question mark, but all in all, he should be a great improvement. Improvement Rating = +5

Offensive Coordinator - Scott Linehan - He was the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings during Culpepper's best seasons, which should tell you one important thing. He likes to take chances with the deep ball. Something the Lions fans have seen very little of in recent years. Improvement Rating = +3

Defensive Coordinator - Gunther Cunningham - Believes in putting pressure on the opposing quarterbacks and has no qualms about blitzing to do so. Has stated that they plan to blitz about 40% of the time this year. Improvement Rating = +5

OFFENSE


Quarterback
- Daunte Culpepper is supposedly finally healthy again but has always been known for fumbling. Matthew Stafford is a great talent but still a rookie. Which ever quarterback starts should be an improvement over last year when it was between a recovering Culpepper and Dan Orlovsky. Both QBs have the ability to throw a good long ball. Improvement Rating = +2

Running Back - Kevin Smith - Had a respectable rookie season even though he was on the Lions when he ran for 976 yards and 8 touchdowns with a 4.1 yards per carry average. The Problem with Kevin Smith is that he seems to lack the extra gear that would make him a threat to break away for long scores. Several times in 2008 I watched him break into open field only to be ran down. His longest carry was 50 yards and it was not a touchdown, which can only mean he was chased down from behind. Other than that one good carry, his longest run was 32 yards. Still, he has a year behind him and might still improve. Improvement Rating = +1

Fullback - Terrelle Smith - Played at Arizona the last two seasons, which to be honest, doesn't say much to me. It is not as if Arizona had a great running game. Right now I do not see this as an improvement or a decline. Improvement Rating = 0

Wide Receiver - Calvin Johnson, Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt - Calvin Johnson is one of the best receivers in the game and may yet become the very best. Bryant Johnson should be a bit of an improvement over Shaun McDonald who only caught 35 passes for 332 yards in 2008. With the Johnson and Johnson tandem on the outsides, and new TE Pettigrew catching passes, Dennis Northcutt should see some open space as the slot receiver. Improvement Rating = +2

Tight End
- Brandon Pettigrew - The 20th pick overall in the 2009 draft, Pettigrew was considered the best tight end coming out of college. He is supposed to have the ability to block as well as catch and it has been a long time since the Lions have had the full package in a single tight end. Improvement Rating = +4

Offensive Line - I have been quoted in the past as saying the same five guys were starting. It has come to my understanding that only four of the five are the same as last year. The new addition is Daniel Loper who has never started a regular season game in four years. The offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL for the last few years running and there has been no improvement when it comes to player additions unless you consider Jon Jansen, but he is here because he wants to prove he still has it. Not because he is still great. There is still the problem of Dominic Raiola seeming to be undersized and pushed backwards on short yardage downs. .... The improvement might come from two things. One would be the emphasis on strength building and the other might be the scheme where the are moving to a power block scheme rather than the zone scheme they used last year. Improvement Rating = +1

DEFENSE

Defensive Tackles - Grady Jackson, Chuck Darby and Landon Cohen - The only real improvement here is the addition of Grady Jackson. The problem is that Jackson is not young anymore and is expected to only play half the downs. Improvement Rating = +1

Defensive Ends
- Dewayne White, Jared Devries, Cliff Avril and Ikaika Alama-Francis - All four of these guys were on the team last year and I am not expecting any great strides with any of them. No more than 4 or 5 sacks can be counted on by any one of them. Though, with the linebackers blitzing more, it may free them up for a few more sacks than in the past. Until that happens, dont count on it. Improvement Rating = 0

Linebackers - Ernie Simms, Julian Peterson and Larry Foote - Ernie Simms is a better linebacker than he showed in 2008. Now that he has some real talent around him, he will be able to show it. The addition of Peterson and Foote turns this unit into one of the better linebacker units in the NFL. Improvement Rating = +5

Cornerbacks - Anthony Henry and Phillip Buchanon - I really want to sit here and say this is a much improved unit. I do believe they are. Yet I cannot help but remember how we all thought Leigh Bodden would be an improvement last year. Now we are glad he is gone. Neither of these new guys are pro-bowlers and until they prove they can cover, I cannot give them an improvement grade. Improvement Rating = 0

Safeties - Daniel Bullocks and Louis Delmas - Bullocks had 94 total tackles in 2008, but he only had 1 pass defended and 1 forced fumble and zero interceptions. It seems all he can do is follow the ball well enough to tackle the guy who has it. The addition of rookie, Louis Delmas, looks to be a good one. I have no heard anything but raving news about this youngster. He was quoted saying he would be the first to pick Stafford off and then in their first practice together he made good on that promise. With the addition of Delmas, I cannot help but see a great improvement over last year. Improvement Rating = 3

Special Teams - Jason Hanson returns for his 18th season as the Lions place kicker and in my opinion he is the greatest kicker to ever play the game. Yes, I know there are others who have better stats, but not many. What puts him above the others in my mind is that he does more than kick the ball. I have not found any statistics on kickers tackling stats, but I have to believe he is among the all time leaders. How many times have we seen the Detroit Lions Special teams fall apart and allow a huge kick return? How many times have we seen Jason Hanson as the last line of defense and watched him come through. What makes him even better is that he does not only try and get in the runners way, but he often drops his pads and sends a shoulder into the runner to tackle him. Many times I have heard others say that kickers are not real football players. Jason Hanson has been the exception to the rule. ...... The Lions return games has been abysmal in recent years. Personally I have always held it against Aveion Cason that he could never get more than a yard or two past the twenty. Recently I have read that the Lions old regime was more worried about not making mistakes rather than gaining yards. The new regime is supposed to be much more aggressive. I still would rather see someone who wont fall from the first arm tackle to touch him but either way, I am expecting a big improvement. They sure cant get any worse. Improvement Rating = 3


The Lions have improved a total of 35 points out of a possible 75 points. Anyone would be extremely hard pressed to find another team in the NFL that has improved this off-season as much as the Detroit Lions have. Do I believe they can duplicate what the Falcons did last year? No. I still do not think they will. Unless the Detroit Lions offensive line suddenly becomes a much improved unit, the Lions will still have a hard time extending drives or having a consistent running game. Without those two things, you just will not make the play-offs. What I do see this year however is a far more competitive team that wins 5 or 6 games. If they Address their offensive line next year, then I can see a playoff season in the near future, but that is next year. This year they will win 5 or 6 at best and only be blown out once or twice.