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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9/29/09

Kevin Smith's Injury Could be Blessing in Disguise

The Detroit Lions running back, Kevin Smith left the game on Sunday with an injured shoulder. Jim Schwartz has recently said that he will stay in full compliance of the leagues injury report rules, but he will not give out one single iota of extra information. This makes me wonder what he would have to hide.

Kevin Smith has looked pretty good at times this seasons as he has pushed for positive yardage consistently. He is stronger than last year and rather than going down when he hits a wall, he has often pushed it as he has fallen forward. Yet, I have to ask myself, how bad would it be for the Lions if Kevin Smith couldn't play? I don't believe for one moment that Maurice Morris is as good as Kevin Smith, but it isn't Morris I would like to see more of. I would be interested to see Aaron Brown get a decent share of touches at the running back position in a game.

If there is one knock on Kevin Smith, it is his lack of top end speed. He does not seem to have the extra gear to take the ball the distance when he does break into the open field. He has strength, shiftiness and decent vision to break into the open once in a while. But when he does break open, he is always dragged down from behind. In all honesty, when he does break into the open field, I still do not jump to my feet with excitement like I used to with Sanders. Simply because I do not believe Smith can turn it into a touchdown unless he is already in the redzone.

Aaron Brown however would be different. Brown has some real speed and if he got into open field, he might actually take one the distance. That long ball threat will excite fans a little more and it will keep defenses a little more honest. Defenses will have to make a little more sure that Brown doesn't get into the open field because he can take one the distance. The more a defense needs to worry about the run, the less that can worry about the pass.

Don't miss-understand me. I like Kevin Smith. I really do! But I just happen to like really fast running backs a little more. If Adrian Peterson wasn't fast enough to score from the other end of the field, would he be a running back defenses schemed against? As shifty as Barry Sanders was, would he have been the star he was if he was not as fast as he was? It is the real speedsters that create the excitement. It is the long ball hitters that worry defenses.

Sure there have been a few power running backs that have put fear into defenses. Jim Brown was one of course. There was Christian Okoye as well. Today there is Brandon Jacobs in New York. The thing that separates those guys from running backs like Kevin Smith are their size. They were big enough that defenses take a beating from trying to tackle them. They carried defensive players five extra yards. Even Billy Simms had that kind of power. Often I saw him drag two or three players an extra five yards before finally falling into the endzone. Kevin Smith is a strong runner, but he does not have that kind of strength.

If Kevin Smith cannot play Sunday, they will likely play Maurice Morris a lot more than Aaron Brown. I think that would be a mistake. With Kevin Smith, the Lions running game was looking okay, but it was not great. Morris would only serve to give the Lions more of the same, only not quite as good as Kevin Smith. If they turned to Brown however, there is an outside chance the running game could be great. All it would take is for Aaron Brown to break free and take one to the house just one time, then the Bears defense would really have to worry about him. One long run from Brown could do more for the Lions than what Morris would do all day.

Make no bones about it, the Lions are not in the position to play it safe. If they wanted to play it safe, they would have started Culpepper to begin the season. Schwartz decided to go with StafFORD because he had the higher upside. If the Lions want to win in Chicago, and Ken Smith can't go, they need to gamble and go with the higher upside again and play Brown. If Kevin Smith cannot play Sunday, then giving the ball to Brown is the only way to turn Smith's injury into a blessing rather than a hinderance.

9/27/09

Detroit Lions Win!!!!

If you haven't heard about it on the radio or television, you read this right. The Detroit Lions beat the Washington Redskins 19 to 14.

After two games of looking abysmal, Mattew StafFORD looked like he was making progress. Completing 21 of his 36 passes, StafFORD threw for 241 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. There were still times he was not playing very well, but he did not give up the ball and he made some good passes as well.

With Ernie Simms out, DeAndre Levy started at linebacker in his place and had a good game. Levy made on great play where he stopped a 4th and one attempt by the Redskins to give the ball back to the Lions.

The fans are happy because their Lions have snapped the horror story of a losing streak. After nineteen straight losses, the Lions finally won.

The Coaches and Players are happy for many of them got their first win as a Lion. They will no longer have to hear the media asking questions about the losing streak.

The fact is though, the Lions won but they are still far from being a good team. We need to hope they can continue to grow and progress until they are a good team.

However, for now we can relax. We can smile and enjoy the week. The Lions have won and we should enjoy it for all we can. The Lions have won!

9/25/09

Lions vs Redskins - Pregame Week-3

Against the Vikings, the Lions showed some defensive improvement, but it was not enough to warrant any hopes of the Lions beating the Redskins in the third week. At 0-2, I see no reason to think the Lions will not just continue to add to the second number of that record.

Many would argue that StafFORD is bound to break out with a decent game sooner or later. The Redskins are not having a real good start to the season. This would seem an opportunity for the Lions to break into the win column. I say to stop and consider it before you think that.

In the first two games, StafFORD has not had a lot of pressure. Only being sacked three times in the first two games, he is on pace for only 24 sacks for the season. Yet the rookie has played like he had players in his face every down. Now he faces the Washington Redskins with Albert Haynesworth in the middle. The Lions are ill equipped to handle a dominant defensive tackle and I would expect StafFORD to finally get a taste of real NFL pressure. With added pressure on him, it can only be expected to see the rookie make more mistakes, so another two interceptions is not that much of a reach.

The Lions best hope of beating the Redskins is with their defense. They need to stop Clinton Portis and pressure Jason Campbell. This week, it is paramount that the Lions put aside their timid defensive scheme and blitz, a lot! Their biggest hope for a win is to force some turnovers and give StafFORD a short field to work with.

Until Gunther Cunningham stands up and shows us the aggressive scheme he has touted, I cannot believe he will. I believe that he might want to but William Clay Ford reins him in as he has done with the last half dozen defensive coordinators. Until Cunningham brings the blitz more than a couple times in a half, I have to believe the Lions will continue to play a timid defensive scheme. As long as they do that, they will have no hope of stopping offenses.

Washington Redskins 17
Detroit Lions 9

9/20/09

Lions Lose to Vikings in Week 2

Once again I did not see much blitzing, but for this one week I will let it slide. The defense did a good job of holding Adrian Peterson, arguably the NFL's best running back down to a minimum. In the end however, it was the Lions who beat themselves more than the Vikings good play.

As the Vikings beat the Lions 27 to 13, if I was to lay the fault at one name, it would have to be coach Jim Schwartz. I think he did a decent job today against Minnesota, but it was his one single decision that cost the Lions the game against the Vikings. It was his decision to start the rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford over Daunte Culpepper.

I have made statements and left comments in MLive.com that it was a mistake to start the rookie when you have a decent to good veteran quarterback you can play. I have stated that there would be a couple games this season that the Lions could win with a veteran quarterback where the rookie will make mistakes and lose it. I feel that is what happened today.

Stafford was 18 of 30 with 152 yards and he threw his first NFL touchdown pass, but in the process, he also tossed another two interceptions. Both of those interceptions can be blamed on nobody else but him as he simply did not read the defense. In both cases, it was Minnesota's linebacker, Chad Greenway who made the interceptions. He did not make a great leaping snag and he did not stay low where Stafford could not see him. In both plays, Greenway was easily visible and in the direct line of his receiver. They were passes that Stafford should never have thrown and I have to believe that Culpepper would not have thrown. Both of those interceptions led to Viking touchdowns, which happens to be the 14 point difference in the game.

There was another play where Bryant Johnson got behind the defense and was wide open with a clear path to the end zone. Stafford threw a high blooper of a pass to him that landed nearly ten yards past Bryant Johnson. There were a few passes that Stafford threw where he looked good. On each of those the commentators made a big deal about how good Stafford's arm is. My thought is this... However great his arm is, and even if he makes a few good passes in the games, they do not make up for the interceptions he is throwing. Jim Schwartz said he was ready to play and that was why he made the rookie the starter over the veteran Daunte Culpepper, even though Culpepper out played Stafford in the preseason. If Stafford is ready to be the starter, he needs to start showing it. If he is going to throw as many awful passes as he is good passes, then he should not be the starter. The rookie needs to put up and show he can do the job. If he cannot, then Schwartz should play the veteran. This is not a game of learning and training. That is what the preseason is all about. The goal of the regular season is to win and if Stafford cannot handle the job yet, let him learn on the sideline and during practices.

Still, believe it or not, I am not upset with this loss. I really never expected them to beat the Vikings anyway. I was very impressed with the play of the defense. Their mistakes were few and if you take the two touchdowns away where Stafford interceptions gave the Vikings a short field, the defense would have held the Vikings to only 13 points.

9/19/09

Detroit Lions Pregame vs Minnesota

Believe it or not, the Detroit Lions actually have a chance to beat the Vikings. It is a small chance but there is the chance, if they play their cards right.

First of all is Adrian Peterson. Everyone knows you will only hold him down if your whole defense happens to have a great week. Everyone also knows the chances of that with the Lions are pretty slim. So Peterson is going to get his yards anyway. He will likely break off a couple long ones and score a couple of times. What the Lions cannot afford to do however, is let Brett Favre have his way with them.

If you can't stop the running game, it is imperative to at least stop the passing game. The only way the Lions can stop Favre is to get a lot of pressure on him. And yes that does mean the blitz! If the Lions can shut down Favre, then that leaves them with only one player to deal with on the Vikings offense and in my book, even if that player is Adrian Peterson, your chances are much higher for success than if both the running back and the quarterback have big days.

When the Lions have the ball, they need to be a little more imaginative. The Lions offense just is not good enough to play straight up front and beat their opponent. They need to put the Vikings defense back on its heels wondering what will come next. They need to use the screens to Kevin Smith (with blockers) more often to help Stafford out a little. A couple of different End Arounds and Reverses can go a long way to helping a struggling offense.

Another very important factor is the offensive line. They need to get off the ball and push the line of scrimmage forward this week. The Lions offensive line was absolutely dominated in week-1 and they cannot allow that to happen again. The problem is that the Lions are not powerful enough in the middle of the offensive line. This is why the Lions need to run through the tackles and not the center and guards. Dominic Raiola, though he is pretty good in pass protection, just doesn't have the strength to get a push up the middle.

Most important this week is that Matt Stafford needs to play like a starter. Schwartz named him the starter because he was supposed to be ready and give the Lions a better chance to succeed. Personally I do not believe this but that is neither here nor there. He is the starter and now he needs to show he can do it. He cannot continue to throw into triple coverage as he did in week-1.

The final thing the Lions need to do to have a chance to beat the Vikings, is to feed some Nitrous Oxide into the visitors locker room. I said it was a slim chance they could win!

Vikings 34 - Lions 20

Stafford will only throw one interception this week.

Gunther Cunningham Needs to Put Up or Shut Up

Gunther Cunningham, the Detroit Lions defensive coordinator said something interesting recently. He said that they tried blitzing in week-1 and it wasn't working so they decided to keep the ball in front of them.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows very well I am extremely pro-blitz. If I ran a team, there would be two rules I would implement. One is that almost every run play would be some form of a play-action. I believe that in doing this, the defenses can never be sure if it is a pass or a run. It makes them pay much closer attention and opens up the defense for more mistakes. Second, I would blitz almost every down. It might come from any one of the linebackers, cornerbacks or even safeties, but it will be coming and the QB will be worried about where it will be coming from. Hell, I might even blitz with the popcorn vendor once in a while.

Anyways, being such a pro-blitzing fan, I have always wanted the Lions to use the blitz much much more than they have. So when the coaches this off-season talked about how they would blitz 40% of the time, you can bet I was paying attention. In the first half, I saw one blitz.

So from what I am gathering from what Gunther said, is that after only one blitz in the first half, and it didn't work, he decided to keep the ball in front of him. So three touchdowns later, when it was obvious playing it safe would not work, instead of giving the blitz more chances, he stuck with the prevent for another three touchdowns!

As much as I hate to say it, I see "lie" all over his excuse. Now he says he plans on being more aggressive against Brett Favre. Should we believe him?

In years gone by, when Brett Favre used to come play in the Silverdome, the Lions actually won some games. In every game the Lions beat Brett Favre, they played aggressive defense and were in his face constantly. Yet, every time the Lions went to Green Bay, they would play passively and be destroyed by Favre. History has proven to me that Favre, like any other quarterback, will make mistakes and become less accurate when he is pressured a lot. So the question now is, will the Lions play aggressive or will the play prevent?

Through the last decade or more, the Lions have been through several defensive coordinators. Every time the Lions get someone new, I hear from others that he is an aggressive coordinator. Yet every one of them have played passive football. In the off-season when Schwartz brought in Gunther, I heard it again. I was told how aggressive Schwartz was and how much Gunther liked to blitz. I wasn't going to believe it. It was a story I have heard too many times and I was tiring of that rerun. Then the off-season came about and I actually began seeing the blitz. Then a few days before the first game against New Orleans, Schwartz said that they had only showed a very vanilla defense and planned to throw the whole book at Drew Brees. He said they were going to go after Brees. As I have already mentioned, they went after him with one blitz in the first half.

Now there is no reason the Lions should not blitz a lot against Minnesota. We have seen what happens when they don't blitz and it was ugly. Both coaches are supposed to favor aggressive schemes. Gunther has said he will be more aggressive against Favre. Now they need to come out of the gates aggressive or they will lose all credibility. If they come out and play the same old prevent defense yet again, there will be no doubt in my mind that it is Old man Ford who runs the team and not the coaches. This many coaches don't go to the same team with aggressive reputations and then play prevent football.

If the Lions do not blitz at least into the double digits, I will personally start the "Fire Ford" campaign. Yes I know he cant be fired, but it will get the point across and link him to Millen at the same time.

9/13/09

Week-1 Lions Lose to Saints

Where does one start? When a team plays as bad as the Detroit Lions did in their first game, where do you even begin to write about them?

Matthew Stafford looked even worse than I had expected he would. Half the time he looked lost and the other half he was very inaccurate. It was a seldom play where Stafford actually threw on target to an open receiver. The highlight of the game for the rookie quarterback was when he connected with Calvin Johnson who after the catch, left the defenders in his wake and ran to the end-zone. The referees however showed how bad they could be and called Calvin Johnson out of bounds at the five, which replay clearly showed was not the case. Unfortunately for Stafford and Johnson both, the play was not reviewable. For the day, Stafford was a paltry 16 of 37 for 205 yards and 3 interceptions.

The Lions defense was far worse than I expected but I place the blame squarely on Gunther Cunninghams shoulders. After a preseason of the Lions blitzing, they blitzed only once in the entire first half and only a few times for the game. Schwartz was quoted recently saying the Lions showed a very vanilla defense in the preseason and they planned on coming at Brees with everything they had. If what they showed in the first game against New Orleans is everything they had, we are in for a very very long season.

Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. To even think for a second that the Lions have the defense to cover the likes of Colston, Henderson, Moore and Bush for more than a second or two is simply ludicrous. To play a passive pass defense against the Saints was nothing less than simple suicide. The only way to stop a passing game like the Saints have is to get to the quarterback. Get to him fast and often. The Detroit fans saw all of last season what happens when you give an NFL quarterback time to find the open receiver. It doesnt work. The Lions defense just isnt good enough to cover for very long. Their only hope was to blitz and blitz and blitz some more. Yet after all of the bravado talk the coaches gave all preseason, they came out and played a pansy defense just like Marinelli did in 2008.

Kevin Smith showed very little of what we expected from him today. Smith is a strong runner and can drag a player forward for a yard or two. He just is not quick enough or fast enough to be considered a true threat to the opponents.

Jason Hanson looked like his old self with a field goal right down the middle. As much as I like the guy, I am beginning to wonder if the Lions need to find someone else to handle Kick-offs. In recent years, Hanson has been dropping his kicks around the 3 to 5 yard line. This too often gives teams a chance to return the kicks into Detroit territory. The Lions need a kicker who can boot the ball into the endzone and force returners to take a knee.

If there was one bright spot that I saw in the first game of the season, it was in the kick and punt returns. Both, Dennis Northcutt on a punt return and Aaron Brown on a kick-off, returned one for some big gains. That is something the Lions fans have not seen in recent years.

The small bright spot was far from enough to brighten any fans heart after this week one debacle. The Detroit Lions showed the same pansy defense as they used last year. If that is all the courage the Lions coaches have then they might as well show up to the next game wearing pink tootoos. Stafford did not show me near enough to warrant him being put in over Daunte Culpepper. In fact he showed me less than any rookie quarterback the Lions have played in my life time. The offensive line was too often pushed backwards. Again, reminescent of 2008.

One cannot help but to fear another winless season after this showing. When the opposing offense moves the ball at will as the Saints did and the Lions offense looks as pathetic as they did, how can anyone think they can even beat the Rams? And to think this is only the first week. If the coaches dont take a heavy dose of courage pills, how can we believe next week will be any better?

9/12/09

Lions vs Saints - Pregame

Half the city of Detroit is excited to see Matthew Stafford start his first game. The other half is just excited to see their beloved Lions. The question on everyone's mind is, how will they fare against the New Orleans Saints?

When the Detroit Lions have the ball

The offensive line will be crucial, not only in protecting the rookie quarterback, but more so in the running game. Kevin Smith is not the scamp back that will bounce around and find his own holes. His progress will depend heavily on the men in front to get some push and open holes. In the preseason the offensive line looked good in the running game, but this is not the preseason anymore.

The Saints defense will pay most attention to Calvin Johnson, so Matthew Stafford needs to look to Bryant Johnson, Dennis Northcutt and Brandon Pettigrew early. If he hits his secondary receivers and Kevin Smith gets some openings, the Saints will be force to leave Calvin in one on one coverage and then Stafford will hit him deep.

Stafford will quickly find that the speed of the game will be another notch faster than it was in the preseason. It will take him time to adjust and by the time he does, it may be too late.

When Saints have the ball

Gunther Cunningham has said the Lions ran a very vanilla defense in the preseason. He plans on coming after Brees with the whole scheme and a lot of new looks on the blitz. It will be critical for the Lions to get to Brees fast. The Saints have one of the best passing games in the NFL and the Lions new defensive backs come with big question marks. The weak point on the Lions defense is the defensive line and its lack of ability to push the pocket. The Lions will have to blitz and blitz a lot.

The good thing is I believe the Lions defense is much improved in stopping the running game. The extremely fast running back might still find the occasional break down and take one the length of the field, but for the most part the Lions don't seem like they will give up 5 yards every carry.

Conclusion

If the Lions can get to Brees early and often, they may have a chance to be in the game in the fourth quarter. After that, anything can happen. Unfortunately, Brees is too good to hold back for long and he will break loose for some long passes against the Lions. Matthew Stafford will be a bit shell shocked in his first game and we might see something close to his third preseason game where he threw the ball over everyone's heads.

Final Score

Saints - 27
Lions - 17

9/9/09

Lions Defense Ready for Drew Brees

“He’s not going to know what we are going to do, and I think that gives us an advantage,” Schwartz said. “There’s not tape from last year on this group, and what we did in the preseason is not what we are going to do at the Superdome. He’s not going to be sure what he’s going to be seeing, and that will help us.”

Schwartz went on to talk about how in the preseason, they showed a very vanilla defensive scheme and in the first week they will come and hit Brees with the whole thing.

I look back at the preseason and to be honest, I did not think the defense looked all so bad. There were a few drives where the opposing offenses moved the ball at ease, but there were more drives that the Lions defense either made the other teams punt or kick field goals.

I happen to be a bit of a geek when it comes to the Lions. When I watch the games, I take notes for when I write my article. One thing I have kept track of each game was the blitzing of the Lions defense. In every game, the Lions defense blitzed ten times or more during the first half alone. During those blitzes, only twice did the Lions give up more than three to five yards. Most of the blitzes did a good job of putting pressure on the quarterback or stopping the run. The Lions were not spectacular during the blitzes, but they were pretty decent. Yet they only ran a few man coverage plays, and only showed a few different blitzes.

Forgive me for this moment of dreaming, but wouldn't it be nice to see the Lions go after Brees with a variety of blitzes and actually keep him under pressure on Sunday? Wouldn't it be exciting if the Lions entered the 4th quarter and still in the game? Think about it. If the Lions are still in the game in the fourth quarter, against one of the NFL's most high powered offenses, that would be speaking volumes for how far this Lions defense has come from 2008.

Yet I cannot help but to be worried. In 2008, the Lions blitzed continuously during the preseason and finished 4-0. Yet with all of that success, when the regular season started, the Lions rarely went after the QB with a blitz. Now here we are and the Lions went 3-1 and blitzed a lot. I cannot help but to be worried that come Sunday when the games really count, the Lions will forget how to blitz and go back to the bend but don't break pansy and gutless defensive scheme.

As the first game draws nearer, I cannot help but to wonder. Will Jim Schwartz be a Kitten, or will he be a true Lion? Will he play pansy ball or will he play aggressive NFL style football? I believe this coach will be different than the others. I believe that Schwartz will be a Lion!

Let us pray that I am right.

9/7/09

Stafford Named Starter - Choice Wreaks of William Clay Ford

Look back at other quarterbacks who started in their rookie season. What do they all have in common? None of them had a decent veteran quarterback for the coach to have put in ahead of them.

Look back at the history of rookie quarterbacks who came out of college early. They usually fail.

What do Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and other rookie quarterbacks who have succeeded have in common? They each had a good running game to keep defenses honest. They each have had good offensive lines to protect them.

Now let us look at Matthew Stafford's situation as the rookie quarterback for the Detroit Lions....

Although the Lions running game has looked good in the preseason, remember, it is just preseason. It has been years since the Lions have shown any real semblance of a running game to make defenses honest. Sure Kevin Smith looked good last year, but he did not put fear into any defense. They do not fear that he has the speed to break the long ones, so they set up to stop the pass more and blitz the quarterback. That is a huge mark against Stafford being successful.

Pass protection... Laughable. For the most part, this same offensive line has given up over 50 sacks for three seasons in a row. In the last game, they broke down completely twice in the first half alone, allowing Stafford to be sacked hard both times. If they do that four times a game, that will be a pace of 64 sacks aloud. Not only is this a huge mark against Stafford being successful, it could ruin him.

Veteran quarterback ahead of him.... Culpepper. In the preseason, Daunte Culpepper completed 22 of 34 passes (64.7%) for 194 yards. He threw 1 touchdown and had no interceptions and was sacked only once. Culpepper has a history of throwing for over 4000 yards when he had a top receiver to throw to and is in great shape this year.

Rookie, Matthew Stafford completed 30 of 55 passes (54.5%) for 389 yards. He threw one touchdown and had three interceptions and was sacked 3 times.

Culpepper's 89.6 QB rating is far better than Stafford's 52.8 rating. The veteran Daunte Culpepper has looked by far the better, more sure, most accurate and game manager of the two quarterbacks.

Back in April, most of the fans wanted either the offensive lineman, Jason Smith or linebacker Aaron Curry. Most all of those fans would have been happy with either of the two over Stafford. They understood that cliches have a lot of truth to them. "Defense wins championships" for one and the other... "The games are won in the trenches". Both cliches are very popular for a reason. They are true. The fans finally understood this and when the Lions ignored a plea from Curry that he would play for less money and instead selected Matthew Stafford again, another cliche came to life. "Ford loves the sexy pick to sell tickets."

All preseason long, the Lions have had a quarterback battle going. Schwartz has said it over and over. He will play the quarterback that gives him the best chance to win. He will play the better of the two. Anyone who watched the games and the stats, could see that Culpepper was the obvious better of the two. He out played Stafford and didn't make mistakes. Culpepper would obviously give the Lions a better chance to win. So can someone please explain why the rookie, Matthew Stafford was selected to start the 2009 season?

The answer is just as obvious. "For loves the sexy pick." Ford does not know a football from the bulging tip of his nose. Ford would not know what a winning NFL game plan was if he found himself wiping with one. What Ford does know however, is business, and that is all the Detroit Lions are to him. A business! He cares not for winning. At least not nearly as much as he does for filling seats, and Ford knows that the exciting quarterback will fill the seats early on. What he does not know is that when that rookie starts losing, those seats wont stay filled. But Ford also knows the fans (not all of them but most of them. Enough anyway) are stupid enough to fall for this long enough that next year he can make another sexy pick and fill the seats again. Just like he did when he selected the high profile offensive player over the great defensive player or offensive lineman for the last decade.

The choice of Stafford over Culpepper simply wreaks of the Ford decision. It is not about winning. It is about selling tickets. It is about filling seats now because the season is only 16 weeks long and the now will last that long. if the Detroit Lions main objective was to erase the putrid scent of the 0-16 season, they would want to win more games. That would call for the veteran to play. That is NOT what William Clay Ford cares about though. He wants to fill seats far more than he wants to win. So the high profile "sexy" choice of the rookie quarterback is chosen in stead.

When will Ford finally learn that a winning product would fill the seats and sell more merchandise than any one rookie ever would?

9/4/09

Offensive Line gives Mixed Messages

In the Lions last preseason game, the offensive line showed a lot of promise, and yet gave reasons for the fans to worry.

Continuously the offensive line out muscled the Buffalo Bills at the line of scrimmage. Over and over the running backs had positive gains due to the line moving the trench forward or simply opening holes. On one particular play, Cason took a hand-off up the left side and as he broke through the line, he was stood up straight by a defender. The Lions offensive line did not give up though and during the ensuing pile up, the Detroit Line moved that pile forward for ten yards before Cason was finally dragged down. In the power running game, the Lions line looked good. Maybe even better than good. Their pass protection however had mixed reviews.

Stafford often had time to throw and on one occasion, he had too much time as he let his eyes lock onto Calvin Johnson for too long before throwing the ball, allowing the defense to read his eyes and move accordingly. Luckily for Stafford, defensive players often do not have great hands and the ball slipped through the defenders fingers. The problem was that the offensive line too often broke down. Stafford only dropped back for 11 pass plays and twice he took sacks. On one his arm was hit just before he was and he lost the fumble.

That is two sacks the line gave up in one half of play. That would add up to 64 sacks in a full season. What makes this worse is that these were not sacks that can be blamed on Stafford for holding onto the ball for too long. These are sacks where the line caved in and the defense was upon Stafford too fast for any quarterback to do much more than get hit. That kind of break down twice in one half is much too often. Especially when the Lions had a strong running game going, making it hard for the Buffalo defense to just come after Stafford alone.

Even with the break downs however, the Detroit Lions offensive line looked much improved to what we watched in 2008. They look primed to open a lot of room for Kevin Jones and to actually move the ball occasionally on short yardage situations. The Line should also give the quarterback more time far more often than it has in the past. Whoever starts for the Lions at quarterback, can expect a chance to have a good season. But only if they are tough enough to take the hits.

9/3/09

Stafford Looks Good in Lions Last Preseason Game

In his one half of play in the Detroit Lions last preseason game, rookie Matthew Stafford looked good. Though his numbers were nothing good to look at, his level of play was nice.

Stafford completed 5 of his 9 pass attempts for 81 yards. He had one interception and no touchdowns. Stafford also had one run for 7 yards.

To look at the numbers, you might roll your eyes and think he did not have a good game. What the stats don't show is that his one interception came on a play where the receiver fell down, giving the defensive player free access to the pick. The stats also do not show the touchdown that he did throw to Calvin Johnson in his first drive, but was called back due to a holding penalty on #70 Daniel Loper.

In that first drive, Stafford threw a bullet down the right sideline, just out of reach of the defense to hit Calvin Johnson who was knocked out of bounds. His next pass found Johnson again on a timing play where he threw the ball before Johnson even turned around. It was then that Matthew Stafford let another pass loose to the end zone. The ball floated just over the defenders and Johnson again pulled it in for the touchdown that was called back because of the holding penalty.

That seemed to be the end of Stafford looking like a star however. He was almost picked on another pass where he had his eyes locked on Calvin Johnson as the star receiver ran across the field, allowing two defenders to close in for what should have been an interception if the pass would not have gone through the defensive players hands.

Though the rookie got away with one there, it was made up later when he threw the ball to the left side and his receiver fell down allowing the defense to intercept it and return the ball down the sideline. It looked like it would be returned for a touchdown but Stafford did a good job of getting there to make the tackle.

Matthew Stafford did look good but the offensive line showed why the Lions might be smart to let him learn on the bench for a season. Twice in the first half, Stafford took sacks because the offensive line had breakdowns. The line did look very good for most of the half, but it is those breakdowns that gives one reason to fear. They were not sacks where a player gets a hand on him and slowly drags him down. One sack rode Stafford over ten yards backwards by a couple players before he went down hard and on the other, Stafford had his arm hit as he cocked it back to make the pass, which concluded in a lost fumble.

Two sacks may not sound like much to worry about, but consider the facts that it was only one half and he only attempted 9 other passes. If he was to get sacked 4 times a game, he would be dropped for an amazing 64 times in a season. That is not something you want your quarterback of the future to go through. That is something that can ruin any rookie quarterback, however confident or tough he may be to start.