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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7/9/10

Much of Lions Hopes Depend on Nate Burleson

With players like Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh getting so much attention, it is Nate Burleson who may be the Detroit Lions key to success.

After seven years in the NFL, Nate Burleson has only had decently solid seasons. And never two in a row. In 2004, his second season, Burleson caught 68 passes for 1,006 yards and 9 touchdowns. In 2007, he brought in 50 catches for 694 yards and 9 touchdowns. Then again in 2009, he snatched 63 catches for 812 yards but only 3 touchdowns. Those three seasons total 181 receptions, 2,512 yards and 21 TDs. His other 4 seasons in the pro's total up to only 82 catches, 1,035 yards, and 6 touchdowns. From looking at his numbers, it is easy to see why there would be some huge question marks on how much Nate Burleson will help the Detroit Lions. Yet, depend on him they will.

In his three seasons, Calvin Johnson has put up some respectable numbers, but everyone and anyone who has any eye for talent can see that he has only tapped a very limited supply in his talent reservoir. Johnson is simply to large (6'5", 235 lbs), too fast and has too good of hands to be so limited as he has been. The reason for this is because the Lions have had no running game for opposing defenses to respect and no other receiver to make teams pay for double teaming Johnson. So every year, Calvin Johnson has had to face constant double teams and sometimes triple teams.

Now the Lions have the speedy running back in Jahvid Best, but if they cannot learn to complete more passes, there will not be enough room for Best to break free and use that speed. If he cannot make defenses pay for doubling up on Johnson, then they will continue to do so. This is where Nate Burleson becomes so important.

If Burleson can get open enough to give Matthew Stafford a dependable receiver to throw to down field, defenses will no longer be able to double team Johnson as well as cheat in on Best. Defenses will be forced to either allow Calvin Johnson some one-on-one coverage to beat or Jahvid Best more room to run. Teams simply cannot cheat on all three of these players and still have one player covering the tight ends. And the Lions now have two very good tight ends.

There is no doubt that Nate Burleson has the size, speed, and the sure hands to make defenses pay for leaving him in one-on-one coverages. The only questions will be if he has the desire to play hard and if he can stay healthy. Considering that his first three years in the NFL were on the Vikings (pre-Favre days) and his last four seasons were spent with the Seahawks, it is understandable why he has not had big seasons every year. Now Burleson will have the advantage of single coverages on a team with a quarterback who has a very strong arm. Now Burleson will be given the ultimate situation to succeed in. If he does succeed, he will open up other avenues for the Lions offense. If he does not succeed, however, the Lions will face the same problems they have faced for several years. No open receivers for the quarterback to throw the ball to, and defenses geared to go after the QB hard because the running back will have no place to run to.

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