NOTE***

Working a lot of hours every week just to survive, I have little time to spare for my blogs. So I have had to make some decisions as to what I will keep up with and what I will relax on. With the lack of readers I have on this blog, it just does not make sense to continue to put time into writing the articles, keeping the schedule up to date and so on.

I have decided to put more time into finishing my books with the hopes that they will be a source of supplemental income

I apologize to those few who actually read my articles. I hope you will understand. I will continue to write articles now and then, but I will no longer keep up with every game.

My FANTASY BOOKS

The Demon Siege Trilogy

Authors Page
Twitter: @K_J_Ester

(Book-1) Hell in a Storm
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(Book-2) Descent of Darkness
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Ndamukong Suh's Sack List
Keep track of which quarterbacks Suh has faced and which ones he has taken down.

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Lions Team Rankings

OFFENSE . . . . . . . . . . . .DEFENSE
. . . . . . .2011 . 2010 . . . . . .
. . . .2011 . 2010
Points . . . .(xx) .(xx) . Points . .
. . . (xx) .(xx)
Total Yards . (xx) .(xx) . Total Yards
. . .(xx). (xx)
Pass Yards. . (xx) .(xx) . Pass Yards .
. . (xx) .(xx)
Rush Yards . .(xx). (xx). .Rush Yards.
. . .(xx) .(xx)
QB Sacks . . .(xx) .(xx). .QB Sacks . .
. . (xx) .(xx)
Interceptions (xx) .(xx) . Interceptions
. .(xx) .(xx)
Fumbles Lost. (xx) .(xx) . Forced Fumbles
. (xx) .(xx)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .Fumble recovery
.(xx) .(xx)

3/25/10

Thoughts on NFL 2010 Rule Changes

In case you have not read or heard about it. The NFL has voted on implementing new rules. This happens every year, but for once I can see the reasoning behind them.

OVERTIME
In the past, the first team to score any points in overtime won the game. It used to be a pretty even split on whether it was the winner or the loser of the coin toss who won the game. Ever since the NFL moved the kickoffs from the 35 yard line to the 30 yard line, the teams that won the coin toss have won nearly 60% of the games. This has happened because more and more teams are starting with good field position after a kick-off. Too often, those teams only need to drive around 30 yards to be within field goal range.

So new rules have been implemented, but at this time they are only for the post season games. Regular season games will stick with the usual sudden death rules.

New OT Rules goes like this. The first team to receive the ball in overtime has a chance to win the game by scoring a touchdown. However, if they do anything other than score a touchdown, the other team has a chance to receive the ball and win the game. If the first team did not score a TD and after one possession each the game is still tied, then true sudden death rules come back into play.

These rule changes for OT are good because they actually force teams to play some decent football to win the game. If they do not play good enough, they still have a chance to lose to the other team who might actually play good football in overtime.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is one coach who does not like the rule, but in my opinion it was a flawed reasoning. Payton does not like the possible scenario that the first team to receive the ball could drive down to the 2 yard line and have a 4th and 2. The chance of scoring a TD might only be about 40% but the field goal is a chip shot and almost unmissable. But what happens if you take that chip shot and you do miss? Then the other team drives and scores a field goal and wins. He doesn't want to deal with reporters second guessing him saying "why didn't you try for the TD?"

This is flawed for the simple reason that if the kicker is going to miss a field goal from the 2 yard line at that moment, he certainly would have missed from anywhere else on the field at that moment and if the new rule was in place, nothing would have changed. Payton's argument is an argument against traditional sudden death rules as well!

Though this rule is set for play-off games only, there is an expectation that it could be reviewed and expended to the regular season games as well for the upcoming season.

FAIR CATCH
If a punt returner muffs a fair catch, in the past he was allowed to be hit while he was still bobbling the ball. The new rule prohibits any interference from opposing teams players until after the ball touches the ground. This allows him a chance to secure the ball on a bobble before it actually hits the ground. This is only on fair catches.

This rule was obviously put in place to protect a player who is vulnerable. The reason a player calls for a fair catch in the first place is because the other team was not blocked well enough and he does not want a player to take his head off as soon as he touches the ball. So it only makes sense that just because he doesn't make a purely clean catch that he should get his head taken off. I think this is a good rule.

VULNERABLE PLAYER
In the past the NFL had implemented a rule protecting receivers when they were in vulnerable positions. When a receiver would jump up for the ball, he could not protect himself and so it was illegal for a defender to launch himself off of his feet and hit the receiver in the head when he was in a vulnerable position. Now this rule has been broadened to include any ball carrier. Not just receivers. So now, if a running back is stopped by a player holding his ankles for instance, that running back would be defenseless and so a tackler would not be allowed to launch himself and hit that running back in the head or neck area.

This rule might irk a few fans who hate all of the rules to protect players from injuries. I like this rule and I do believe in protecting vulnerable players. This is not a case of over doing things like they do with quarterbacks these days. Hit a QB high? Penalty and fine! Hit a quarterback low? Penalty and fine! It is like Steve Martin in "The Jerk" when he guesses weight in the carnival and he tells someone what they can win. "You can win anything to the left of the teddy bears and to the right of the cotton candy. Anything on this shelf, between those two things but not the ash trays or the belt buckles. Pretty much you can win any of this worthless crap within these two inches, but not the erasers." ... No I don't remember the exact things he said but that is the idea of it. That's what hitting the quarterbacks is like. "You can hit him anywhere above the middle of the thighs and anywhere below the head, but not in the neck. Basically you can hit him anywhere in the numbers on his jersey but you can't leave your feet while doing it."

Personally I hate all the rules protecting the quarterbacks. They aren't protecting them, they are swaddling them. Yet even so, as the game grows faster and bigger, it does become important to protect players from injuries. These are not the 5'10 200 lbs players with a good three layers of fat chasing each other around like in the leather helmet days. These guys are much bigger, much more covered in hard muscle and hitting you with a lot more speed. This causes many more injuries and they are often a lot more serious. SO when a player is in a defensible position, it only makes sense not to kill him.

UMPIRE
Due to the growing concerns of umpires being run over by players because they are stationed in the area of the linebackers, he will now be stationed behind the offensive backfield.

LOSS of HELMETS
When a ball carrier loses his helmet, the NFL feels he is too vulnerable to be injured when tackled. So they are now implementing the college rule stating that when a ball carrier loses his helmet, the play will be whistled dead and the ball will be placed at the point of forward momentum.

FIELD GOALS and EXTRA POINTS
In the past, the rules stated that a defensive player on the line of scrimmage who lines up across from the snapper, must have his helmet outside of the snappers shoulder pads. The new rules states that no player is allowed to line up on the line directly across from the snapper.

This is the one rule that worries me. If the defense has to leave that kind of hole in the middle, could this not open up for fake field goals and allow a sneak up the middle where there is no defender?

DEAD BALL FOUL
If there is a dead ball foul on the last play of the second quarter or the fourth quarter, there will be a 15 yard penalty issued to the kick-off to start the second half or overtime. In the past there was no penalty enforced but players were subject to fines from Roger Goodell.

LAST MINUTE REPLAYS
If the clock is stopped in the last minute of either half for officials to review a play, but the clock would not have stopped if there was no replay, then a ten second run off will be taken from the clock before play is resumed.

I have seen fans complain in forums on this one stating that it is wrong for the officials to stop play then penalize the teams with the ten second run off. This is not the case. If the play would not have been reviewed, the clock would have continued to tick and approximately ten seconds would go by before the teams got lined up again anyway. So it is not a case that they are penalizing teams for stopping the clock to review a play, but they are taking away the advantage teams were gaining by having the clock stopped.

3/23/10

Lions May Not Want to Trade #2 Pick

There is always talk, every year, that the Lions should try and trade their first round pick away to gain more picks. This year with such a deep talent pool in the draft, it is a larger subject that usual. Yet this year might be the one year that it would not make sense.

The Lions own the #2 overall pick in this years draft. By most every account, the Rams who own the first pick overall are expected to draft either DT, Ndamukong Suh or QB, Sam Bradford. What the Rams do should weigh heavily on whether the Lions are willing to trade down.

If the Rams take Bradford, that would leave Suh standing there for the Lions to take. Suh is the most dominant Defensive Tackle to come out of college in a very long time. His talent should take the Lions already solid Defensive Line and make it a great one. That would in turn, immensely improve the Lions defense. Nowhere else in the draft are the Lions going to be able to draft a player who would single-handedly improve their defense to the extreme that Suh would.

Another thought to consider is that more often than not, a rookie needs time to develop. Even the better rookies often need time to get accustomed to the speed and talent level of the NFL. As it stands, the Lions have QB-Matthew Stafford, TE-Brandon Pettigrew, S-Louis Delmas, MLB-DeAndre Levy, and DT-Sammie Lee Hill, all rookies last year as starters on their team. That is already five players who are very young and do not have a lot of experience behind their belts. Even as good as Delmas played, he is still learning. If the Lions do not trade their picks, they would very possibly be adding another 4 or 5 starters who will be rookies. So, as it stands, the Lions could very possibly have 9 to 10 starters with 16 or less games of experience. That is nearly half of the team! Now I am a believer that it is always good to have some good young talent on the team, but to add more than that this soon would be asking for trouble. However good a player is, he usually still benefits from having veterans to help him along. The Lions right now are on the verge of spreading those veterans too thin.

However, if the Rams were to take Ndamukong Suh in the first round, I may have a different opinion. I am not a believer that McCoy is as good as he is touted. His stats in college do not come close to Suh's and then he did not come close to matching Suh in the combine. Other than people touting him because they fell for the hype, I have no reason to really believe he is anything special. So if the Lions cannot get Suh, I am a believer that there is not another player they can draft who will dramatically improve the team. Some may argue S-Eric Berry or CB-Joe Haden. Both are players who would improve the Lions in their prospective positions. Same with LT-Russel Okung. If the Rams take Suh, and the Lions took any one of these players, I would be fine with it. Yet if Suh is not available and then the Lions traded down, they may very well still end up with one of those players as well as the extra pick.

Either way about it the Lions are going to have a very young team. A very inexperienced team. When a team has this many inexperienced players, it is important to add players who will make as big of a difference as possible. Add the surest things you can. If you cannot add a player who will make a huge difference, who you are sure is a sure thing, then you add quantity over quality and hope that some turn out to be good.

3/21/10

Should the Detroit Lions Sign Adam "Pacman" Jones?

Adam "Pacman" Jones has been nothing more than a problem in his NFL career. As talented a cornerback as he is, his off field incidents have been ridiculous. Recently Jones worked out with representatives of five NFL teams present, the Lions being one of them. Should the Lions take a chance on Pacman?

His incidents have ranged from shootings at night clubs to spitting on women to possible dealings with drug dealers. Jones has been suspended by the NFL for a full season before and was not a clean character after he was reinstated. So why would the Lions bother to sign him?

Outside of being a problem child for the NFL, Jones is also a very talented cornerback. This happens to be a position the Lions are desperate to address. Jim Schwartz, the Lions coach was also one of the coaches on the Titans who drafted Jones. Considering that Jones ran a 4.4 40 yard dash at the recent workout, it is obvious he still has the tangibles to be a very good cornerback in the NFL.

So we have a player who the Detroit Lions need in a bad way, but has a serious history of causing trouble. Yet I believe the Lions can address this situation and come out on top. If the Lions were to offer him a one or two year contract with very little money upfront, the contract would only hurt them while he was playing for them. If he finds himself in any real trouble again, they can cut him and not suffer for it. Another thing the Lions could do is give him a somewhat lucrative contract that is based mostly on incentives. This may give him reason to try hard in order to get his money.

Whether the Lions sign Pacman or not, they will likely still draft a Cornerback in the 3rd or 4th round of the draft. Signing Jones would then allow them to bring the rookie CB along rather than throw him right into the kettle. If Jones lasts only 6 to 8 games before getting into trouble, it will still have been an asset to the Lions and the rookie. If he stays clean and straightens out his life, it would be a huge asset to the Lions in coming years.

Make no bones about it. The odds of Jones finally going straight and staying away from trouble are probably slim, but it is not out of the question. I have heard it many times before that the human brain does not fully develop until we are 25 to 28 years old. This is often the reason young adults do make such stupid decisions. Jones is now 26. So it is not unfathomable to think that he could be ready to grow up now. I think it would be in the Lions best interest to sign him and find out. So long as they go about the contract in a wise way.

3/19/10

A Look at the Lions Present Needs 3-19-2010

The Lions have made some big additions in the free agent market and are still looking at players. For the first time in years the fans have hopes of seeing a decent product on the field, but are those hopes justified?

Quarterback
Matthew - Stafford showed some flashes of greatness as a rookie as he hit some deep passes and threw the touchdown with a separated non-throwing shoulder. The young gun slinger also showed plenty of mistakes that comes with a rookie growing into his position. There are two worries on Stafford. One is that he suffered two different injuries in his rookie season making one question if he can hold up to the NFL punishment. Hopefully the Lions will help him out and address the offensive line woes this year. Secondly, Stafford had a problem with accuracy on short routes. With no pressure on him, he often threw behind or over wide open receivers.

Shaun Hill - has been signed to be Stafford's main back-up and it was a good choice by the Lions. Hill is not set up to be a starter a team can count on but he is a veteran who can step in and play fairly well if needed.

Conclusion = This position is set for 2010

Running Back
Kevin Smith - is still recovering from a serious knee injury. It doesn't matter because he was not a good enough starter to begin with. He ran with the speed and mind set of a power runner but was not big enough to break through or carry tacklers.

Maurice Morris - Had a couple of pretty good games in 2009 after Smith went down but he also had a bad game in between those games. Morris is nothing more than an average running back who has never had a very good season in his 7 or 8 year career.

Aaron Brown - Has the speed to break some long ones, but made enough rookie mistakes in 2009 to get into Schwartz doghouse. After Smith went down with injury, it was time to see what Brown could do but he was never given a chance. If Schwartz wasn't willing to see what he had when the season was lost, I do not see him handing over the reigns to start a fresh season.

Conclusion = The Lions have a couple other RBs on their roster, but none who will make any kind of splash. This is one position they really need to address yet.

Receiver
Calvin Johnson - Nicked named "Megatron" for good reason. Standing 6' 5" tall and weighing 236 lbs, Johnson is one of the more imposing WRs in the NFL. However, he has faced double and triple teams most of his career and has played injured much of that time. It was reported that Calvin Johnson has been working with a special trainer to strengthen up the muscles around his joints to help prevent injuries to the knees and elbows and such. If he can find some room and he is healthy, Johnson can be one of the best in the NFL.

Nate Burleson - Signed to replace Bryant Johnson as the guy opposite Calvin Johnson, he should do a better job of taking advantage of the single coverage. He is not overly fast but he has decent speed and is very quick. With sure hands, Burleson plays hard every play.

Derrick Williams - Struggled to pick up the playbook and routes in his rookie season and soon lost some favor with the coaches. With another year to learn it all, one can only hope a light switch turns on in his head and his speed comes in to play more often.

Conclusion = If the Lions can add another solid receiver, it would help but it is a secondary need at this time.

Tight End
Brandon Pettigrew - Was just truly turning things on when he went down with an injury in his rookie year. With a year behind him and his health back, he should be a force at TE for years to come.

Will Heller - Does not have great speed, great hands or exceptional quickness, but he is solid in every area making him a prime second TE to have on the roster.

Conclusion = This position is set for 2010

Offensive Line
After three consecutive seasons of allowing 50+ sacks, they settled down in 2009, sort of, and gave up only 45 sacks.

Jeff Backus (LT) - At the ripe age of 31 years old, Backus actually showed signs of learning how to play in 2009. The first few games were rough for him but then he settled down and his name was rarely called off for penalties or mistakes the rest of the season. Most fans hate Backus but I am of a different opinion. The worst position on the Lions offensive line is right guard and its extremely poor play can make its surrounding players look worse than they are. Backus may not be a great Left Tackle but he is serviceable and could be better if he ever had a good left guard beside him. Unfortunately he may not have many more seasons to get that chance.

Dominic Raiola (C) - Raiola, of an age with Backus, is not so bad at pass blocking. He is quick and it is said that he is very good at reading defenses. He may be but if the players along sidfe of him don't do their job, he will look bad. The problem with Raiola is that he does not have the lower leg power to drive defensive tackles backwards. Instead, he is pushed back himself in short yardage situations.

Dylan Gandy (RG) - Started the last 5 games of 2009 at right guard. At this time it is not known if he will perform well or not as he has not a lot of experience. My belief is that he will be nothing more than an average guard at best.

Gosder Cherilus (RT) - At 6'7" and 325 lbs, Cherilus is a beast on the offensive line. He has talent as his first round draft status in 2008 should suggest. The problem is that he gets caught up mentally. When the Lions are losing, he loses focus and often begins to commit penalties. If he ever matures, he could become a solid figure at the right tackle position.

Conclusion = Left Tackle or Left Guard are immediate positions of need. If the Lions get a left tackle, it is accepted that Backus would move over and play the left guard position. If they get a left guard, Backus would stay where he is. Either way, they need to fill one of those positions immediately and with Backus and Raiola growing older, they will both need to be replaced in the near future.

Defensive Tackle
Sammie Lee Hill - A rookie in 2009, Hill began to play stronger late in the season. Though he is not a huge pass rusher, he will be strong in stuffing the run and filling running lanes. If Hill continues to grow into the position, he could become a solid defensive tackle for many years.

Corey Williams - The Lions got Williams in a trade on the first day of free agency and he may be a very good addition. After two consecutive seasons of 7 sacks with Green Bay, Williams was traded to the Browns who used him as a defensive end. The change to the outside of the line never agreed with him. In Detroit it is expected he will move back to the inside and hopefully return to form.

Conclusion = Andre Fluellen and Landon Cohen are nothing more than back ups. Hill and Williams should be good defensive tackles but while one is a pass rusher the other is a run stuffer and they should compliment each other. This could be a pretty solid unit but nothing for opposing defenses to fear.

Defensive Ends
Cliff Avril - Has fought through injuries as well as lousy talent along side of him and has had 5 and 5.5 sacks the last two seasons respectively. In 2009 he had three of his sacks in the last five games, which could be a sign he was getting things together. It will be interesting to see what he can do with a decent interior to the defensive line to open things up for him some.

Kyle Vanden Bosch - Going into his ninth season, Vanden Bosch is near the end of his career, but the thinking on him is that he has a motor that plays hard every down and he needs a good interior to the defensive line to get him loose. When he had a good line around him a few years ago he had two seasons of 12 sacks each.

Jason Hunter - With 5 sacks in 2009, Hunter showed he does have some talent, but that being his best of 4 seasons doesn't say a lot for him. He is a good enough player to add decent depth to the position.

Conclusion = Vanden Bosch and Avril have some talent, but they are not dominant players. They need the Defensive tackles to create some havoc for them to get open and get to the quarterbacks. The Defensive Line as a whole is a very solid line and far better than any the Lions have fielded in some time now. They are not great though and if the Lions pass up on drafting Ndamukong Suh with the #2 overall pick, the defensive backs will be forced to play much better to make up for the lack of domination in the line.

Linebacker
Julian Peterson - He is getting older but he is still a solid outside linebacker who will only look much better playing behind a strong defensive line. His ability to rush the quarterback makes him a solid asset.

DeAndre Levy - One of the better surprises of the 2009 rookie class, Levy ended the season playing middle linebacker and calling all of the defensive plays on the field. If he continues to grow into his position, he could become one of the better inside linebackers of the NFL.

Ernie Sims - Injured early and seeming a little lost in the new defensive scheme, Sims began picking it up in the latter part of the year. He has decent speed and loves to hit. Sims could still become a very solid outside linebacker with a good supporting cast around him.

Zach Follett - Great on special teams, Follett could yet develop into a very good linebacker. He has the ability to rock a ball carrier out of his shoes; a talent that cannot be ignored if a team wants to place some fear in offenses.

Conclusion = The Lions Linebacker unit is solid and set for 2010

Cornerback
Chris Houston - In three seasons, Houston started 37 of 44 games he played in for the Atlanta Falcons. He is young (25), healthy and has decent size at 5'11". I recently saw a Falcons fan comment in a forum that he is glad to be rid of him because Houston never learned to turn around and face the ball when defending a pass. This would say to me that he was at least with the receiver that he would be in that predicament. Hopefully with new surroundings he can be taught to turn and defend the ball.

Conclusion = As things stand, Houston is the Lions only viable starter at cornerback. It is a position of dire need in the upcoming draft, though as I write this the Lions are looking at Adam Pacman Jones. If they sign him to a one year deal, this could set the starting unit for the upcoming season.

Safety
Louis Delmas - The best rookie of 2009 for the Lions. Delmas ended the season making the secondary call for the defense. He has speed and is not hesitant to charge in and make a tackle rather than shuddle stepping and waiting for the ball carrier to make the first move.

Conclusion = Whoever is the other starting safety on the team now, he can definitely be upgraded. It is not as important to address as the RB, CB or LG, but far more important than other positions.

Overall Conclusion = The one upgrade the Lions can make in the draft is to get Ndamukong Suh. The pressure he would place on a QB would make the rest of the defense much better. The other defensive linemen would have easier times breaking lose. The young CBs would not have to cover nearly as long. The safeties would be freed up to play the ball more rather than worrying about supporting the run quite as often. The Linebackers would have fewer lanes to fill on run plays and have more room to run on blitzes.

After Suh (DT),the Lions must address the running back, Left guard, and Cornerback positions and add a good safety to compliment Delmas if they can. That is five spots that need to be addressed and in a deep draft they should be able to do all five.

3/12/10

Are Lions Setting Up to Draft Suh and Best?

The Detroit Lions have gone a long ways to improving their defensive line for 2010. As it stands, they have a pretty solid line with Hill and Williams in the middle and Vanden Bosch and Avril on the ends. But is a solid defensive line what the Lions are after?

Schwartz has stated that he would like to have a dominant defensive line in Detroit. HE knows that a defense feeds off of its defensive line play. The best defenses in the NFL are defenses with great defensive lines. A pretty solid D-line just isn't good enough. The fact that the Lions released White recently says that they are not set at DT. Schwartz knows that neither Williams or Hill are dominant players in the middle. If the Lions were set at defensive tackle, I don't believe they would have released White. They know that to have a dominant line, they will have to add a dominant defensive tackle. This screams that they will draft Suh if he is still there.

Schwartz has also stated that the running back position needs to be addressed. Kevin Smith was the Lions most talented runner and he simply does not have enough speed. Schwartz has said he wants to be more explosive at the position.

With Thomas Jones available in free agency, the Lions never even looked his way. Even though Jones is 31 years old, he had over 1400 yards last season. Yet they didn't even blink an eye at that? With Tomlinson still out there, the Lions have not even tried to look at him. Though he is older and has not had a big year in the last couple seasons, Tomlinson is still far more explosive than any RB on the Lions present roster. He also scored double digit touchdowns in 2009. So why aren't the Lions interested? I believe it is because they are set to take Jahvid Best in the 2nd round of the draft.

Best is widely regarded as the third best running back in this years crop. In no mock draft that I have seen do they have three running backs going in the 1st round. Almost all of the experts have Spiller and Mathews going in the 1st round and Best still there when the Lions draft at #34 overall. With Best being the 2nd fastest running back in this years draft, he would have that explosiveness that Schwartz wants to see from his running back.

There is another point to consider. The Lions are also needing to address the offensive line as well as the Cornerback positions. Yet both of these positions are deep enough to still get a starter in the 3rd and 4th rounds. However, they will not get another RB with Best's speed if they don't take him in the 2nd round. The draft is also extremely deep at DT but the fact is, you just can't get another player as dominant as Suh after the first round. You might not get a chance at another player as dominant as Suh ever again.

Of course, the Lions being the Lions, it will not surprise me to see them draft completely different, but for my money, the way things stand, I would bet on them drafting Suh or McCoy in the first round, then Best in the 2nd round, knowing they can fill out the LG and CB spots in the following rounds.

3/9/10

Lions Trade for CB Chris Houston

On Monday, the Detroit Lions acquired cornerback, Chris Houston, in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons. For Houston, the Lions gave up a 6th round in this years 2010 draft as well as swapping 5th round picks.

After landing CB - Dunta Robinson, the Falcons made some room by trading Houston. Houston has started 36 of the Falcons last 38 games. Is he a great NFL cornerback? No! But Houston is a viable starter and young enough at 25 years old that he can still get better. If the Lions draft Suh in April's draft, Houston's job will become that much easier.

I saw one post from an Atlanta fan in a forum that eluded to Houston never learning to turn around and face the ball so her didn't get hit with an interference penalty. If this is a problem of his, then I am not worried. For him to get called, he must be covering well enough to stay with the opposing receivers. Besides, sometimes it just takes a new atmosphere and a different coach telling you something for it to finally sink in.

The fact remains.... the Detroit Lions needed to address both CB positions and they started by getting a starter in trade for what is essentially a late round pick. Good trade!

3/7/10

Why The Lions Three Free Agency Signings Was Good

I have heard some grumbling over the Lions signings so far in free agency. So I figured I would explain why I think each of them have been good so far. Much of this will sound redundant from some of my other articles but I felt it would be good to sum it all up in one place.

Lions trade a 5th round pick to the Cleveland Browns for DT - Corey Williams and a 7th round pick. In the 2006 and the 2007 seasons, Williams had 7 sacks each year. That is a couple more sacks than any Lions got last year. Those were the last two years Williams played for the Packers. Then Williams was traded to the Browns who ran a 3-4 defense and moved him to Defensive End, and his production fell off the charts. Keep in mind that even Aaron Kampman's production fell off when the Packers changed to a 3-4 defense. Since Detroit plays a 4-3 defense, it is logical to believe that Williams might return to form. If he does not? The Lions payed very little to get him. Virtually all they did was move from a 5th rounder down to a 7th rounder.

When free agency began at 12:01 AM on March 5th, coach Jim Schwartz was already waiting in the drive way of DE - Kyle Vanden Bosch. Many would have wanted him to go after Kampman, but Vanden Bosch was the right choice. As Schwartz had a history with Vanden Bosch, he was pretty sure he could sign him. The odds of getting Kampman were much lower and if the Lions would have chased Kampman first they might have ended up with neither. It was better to go for the sure thing. Kyle Vanden Bosch is 32 years old. For a running back that would be very worrisome. He is a defensive end. He does not take near as much punishment. In Vanden Bosch's first 3 years with Tennessee, he had 201 tackles and 31 sacks. As the Titans Defensive Tackle play fell, so did Vanden Bosch's. It is evident that Kyle is not a great DE, but he is a good enough DE to put up good numbers if he has a DT who will draw a double team. If the Lions draft Ndamukong Suh and if Williams works out, Vanden Bosch should be a good addition.

Then the Lions signed WR - Nate Burleson. Nate will turn 29 in August and for a WR that is not old. On a bad Seattle team in 2009, Burleson hauled in 63 catches for 812 yards and 3 touchdowns. Only 16 catches and 99 yards less than T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Now playing opposite Calvin Johnson there is no reason he should not duplicate those number. Burleson has good speed and sure hands. He works hard every play. He is a huge up-grade over Bryant Johnson. It sounds like the Lions over paid for him with a 25 million contract and 10 million guaranteed, but most if not all of the guaranteed money will be paid upfront in the 2010 no-cap year. So we are talking about spending another 14 million over the next 4 years? For a decent receiver that is not very expensive.

As some are worried that all of the players are older, it is not a worry to me. There are usually not very many younger players available in free agency and when they are, there is usually a reason for it. Far more often than not, in free agency you will be signing veterans who are in the last few years of their careers, over priced players or stars with baggage. It is rare to get a very good player in his prime who is a hard worker. When one of those are available, they will command top money and choose to go to a better team. Not a team in rebuilding mode.

The only DE I would rather have had over Vanden Bosch would have been Kampman. But as I said, I was glad they went for the sure thing to help the team rather than lose the race for Kampman and miss out on Vanden Bosch as well. Their were not a lot of great DT's in free agency this year that I am aware of. Considering how well Williams played as a DT, and knowing he is a pass rushing DT, makes me all the more glad the Lions got him. He and Suh would wreak havoc in the middle. There were a few top receivers out there, but do you truly believe someone like Brandon Marshall would have been willing to play 2nd fiddle to Calvin Johnson? No, the secret was to find a #2 receiver and the Lions did just that.

If you want young players who can turn into stars, that will come in the draft. If you wanted younger players who were already stars? you were dreaming. The Lions just are not good enough yet to make those want to come to Detroit. The Lions signed good veterans who still have 3 to 5 years left in their careers. They addressed a few of the many holes they had. They set themselves up to put more of a focus on certain positions in the draft.

Detroit Lions Off Season - What's Next?

The Detroit Lions got off to a strong start with the additions of two free agents in Nate Burleson and Kyle Vanden Bosch along with a trade to acquire Corey Williams . So what is next in line for the Lions brass?

According to Tom Kowalski, in an article on Mlive.com, the Lions are backing off of free agency to an extent as they stick to their strategy. Their plan was to sign only players who will be seen as starters for the next several years. That being done, they are now only looking at younger players who might add some competition and may become a starter in the future. What they do not want to do is add stop gap players who will be gone after next year. After the draft, they will look at what positions they did not address and then look to fill them with those stop gap type of veteran players. So which positions will be looked at in the draft now?

1) Cornerback - With the release of Philip Buchanon, the Lions have put themselves in dire straits to address both of the corner back positions. The lack of any starters in that position makes the cornerback one of the most important players to draft early.

2) Defensive Tackle - Though the Lions have signed two defensive linemen, it is still a position that needs to be looked at. Sammie Hill is looked at as a good up and comer but he has yet to prove he can be a true starter. Corey Williams had two consecutive seasons of 7 sacks before being moved to defensive end where he was a sub par player. Now he should be back on the inside but he is still a bit of a question mark. Vanden Bosch may be a very good DE as he was a few years back. He needs the DTs to create some havoc for him to beat his man one-on-one. The Lions would be making a big mistake not to still draft a beast like Ndamukong Suh if he is there.

3) Left Guard - There is no doubt that the Lions need to add a good Left Guard to their offensive line. Some fans believe this is the most important position to address. Unlike many fans, I am not so down on Jeff Backus at Left Tackle anymore. I used to hate him there, but in 2009 he settled down after the first few games and played well the rest of the year. If the Lions add a good solid, steady, left guard, Backus might be fine. If the Lions do not address the Left Guard position however, they will be entering the season with basically the same line that has given up around 200 sacks in the last four years.

4) Running Back - Kevin Smith is recovering from a bad knee injury. Let's face the facts here. Smith was too slow as it was. I don't expect him to get any faster after knee surgery. Even when healthy Smith is not a RB to make a defense worry. Neither is Maurice Morris. Morris has been in the league for 7 or 8 years. If he hasn't had a big year by now he probably isn't going to. However well he played in the last few games last year, he isn't going to do that for a full season. As much as many fans love Aaron Browns speed, he is not an every down back and Schwartz is not going to give him the chance to be one. When Smith went down with an injury and the season was virtually over, that was the time to see what Brown could do. If Schwartz was not willing to find out then, I don't see him wanting to when they are still in the run early on. So the Lions absolutely need a solid RB with enough speed to hit the home runs. Without that, defenses will not respect the Lions running game and they will focus on the pass.

5) Strong Safety - Louis Delmas showed great talent at the Free Safety position, and should even be better in 2010 with another season behind him and a much better defensive line to pressure the opposing quarterbacks. The Lions need to give him a Strong Safety who will be a strong compliment.

Needing to fill six positions with only seven picks is simply asking the Lions to be too successful in their draft. They will need to fill at least one of those positions with a veteran stop gap player. The most prominent players to do that with would be one of the veteran running backs available in free agency. Particularly Thomas Jones and Ladainian Tomlinson.

Originally, Tomlinson stated that he wanted to go to a team who might contend for a ring, but since has recounted a bit and said it is more important to him to get the carries. Most fans and even most experts believe LT is finished as his last two years have not been very good. Nobody wants to consider the fact that the Chargers run blocking was horrible. Don't forget that many thought Sproles would play well and he was no better than LT. The fact that LT had double digit touchdowns in 2009 makes him an interesting addition all on itself. Even if you are not a fan and think he is finished, can you honestly believe he is not a huge upgrade from what the Lions have now?

The most intriguing of the two however would be Thomas Jones. Though he is 31 years of age, he has improved the last three years straight; running for over 1400 yards in 2009. The problem with him however is that he will likely require a much larger salary.

Either one of these backs would be a great upgrade over the Lions current players. They would come with the prestige to draw fans and sell tickets as well as memorabilia. Most importantly though, would be that they would give the Lions a RB that opposing defenses would have to respect.

Another back I can now add to this list would be Justin Fargas as the Raiders have released him earlier today. He would not command the respect which the other two would from opposing defenses, but he would still be a big improvement over the current Lion running backs and he would likely come at a much cheaper price.

So long as one of these players are available, I would expect the Lions to talk to them going into the draft. If one is willing to sign with the Lions, it will be one less position they need to focus on in this years draft.

3/5/10

Lions Start Free Agency Fast

So far, at 12:30 PM on the first day of free agency, the Lions have made three moves. They signed DE - Kyle Vanden Bosch and WR - Nate Burleson. The Lions have also made a trade for DT - Corey Williams.

WR - Nate Burleson is a fast receiver who works and plays hard and has good hands. His addition is a vast improvement over Bryant Johnson last year and should give Stafford another real target to throw too. He may also keep defenses honest enough not to double team Calvin Johnson so often.

DT - Corey Williams was an up and coming defensive tackle, racking up 7 sacks two seasons in a row before he was traded and moved to the outside. He has not been very good on the outside. If Williams can find his old self back on the inside with the Lions and they draft Ndamukong Suh, the two of them will reek havoc in the middle. Something the Lions have not done in several years.

DE - Kyle Vanden Bosch showed decent talent in Tennessee a few years ago, but since has not been much of a force. Many believe his drop in productivity was not on account of a drop in his play but because the Titans no longer had strong play from the defensive tackles. With the addition of Corey Williams and if the Lions draft Suh, this could become one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.

The one question mark in the Lions decision so far is the release of CB - Phillip Buchanon. At this time, this move does not make any sense as Buchanon was the only real starter the Lions had at the cornerback position. With this release the Lions now need to address both of the CB spots on the roster. One can only hope they have a real plan in mind because it is of my opinion that you should never release a player unless you already have someone better or as good to replace him. Not in hopes of finding someone to replace him.

Vanden Bosch over Kampman was Smart Choice

When the NFL free agency opened up at 12:01 AM today, and the Detroit Lions head coach, Jim Schwartz was already sitting in the driveway of Defensive End, Kyle Vanden Bosch. They have since signed him to a 4 year deal. The move to go for Vanden Bosch was a smart move by the Lions brass.

In my personal opinion, Aaron Kampman is the better DE of the two. His stats have shown as much with double digit sacks before moving to the 3-4 defense. But if the Lions would have gone after Kampman first, there was a better chance that he would still have signed with another team and in the mean time, they might have lost there chance with Vanden Bosch. Schwartz has a history with Vanden Bosch from when he was a defensive coordinator for the Titans. He knew there was a much stronger chance of signing Vanden Bosch than Kampman, so he went with the higher chance of making a deal.

It was important for the Lions to sign a defensive end in free agency and it would have been a hard hill to climb if they would not have gotten one. The importance of making a deal made Vanden Bosch the smarter play.

In signing Kyle Vanden Bosch, the Lions will not need to address the DE position in the draft now, allowing them to hit other positions that are in bigger need.

3/4/10

Detroit Cowardly Lion

I love the Lions and I will live and die with them the rest of my life. Yet, as bad as they have been, one has to poke fun rather than lose his mind. So I took a scene from the Wizard of Oz and my friend and I dubbed over top of it. Hope you like it.

Video: Detroit Cowardly Lion

Voices
Cowardly Lion by: Ken Schonmeier
Tin Man by: Ken Schonmeier
Dorothy by: Ken Schonmeier
Scarecrow by: Steve Punturiere
Music by: Steve Punturiere

Free Agency, the Next Step to Lions Respectability

The NFL Free Agency period begins at midnight tonight. It is the next step for the Lions to take toward being respectable. It is an important step and one that will have huge ramifications on the upcoming NFL draft.

The Lions are expected to chase Defensive Ends and Running backs the hardest. In particular, the two defensive ends they are expected to talk to are Aaron Kampman of Green Bay and Kyle Vandan Bosch of Tennessee. If they can land one of these two, it will give them more leeway as to where they spend their upcoming draft picks. Many believe that the Lions might draft a DE in the 2nd or 3rd round. If they land Kampman or Vandan Bosch, they can use that early pick somewhere else.

The Runningback they seem interested in is Thomas Jones. Which to be honest is news to me since I just read something of that nature this morning. Yet this makes great sense. There are a lot of fans who are not real high on Thomas Jones, but you have to step back and look at this. Thomas Jones just might be one of the most under rated players in the league. In Arizona, Jones did not play much and did not play well. When the Bucs got him in 2003, he only got 137 carries but he averaged 4.6 yards per carry. They did not find him worthy and the next season he ended up in Chicago. In 14 games he had 948 yards and the following two seasons he ran for 1,335 yards and 1,210 yards. For some reason that was not good enough and in 2007 Jones started for the New York Jets. In three years there he has ran for 1,119 yards, 1,312 yards, and 1,402 yards. Yet that isn't good enough for them.

Thomas Jones has ran for 5 consecutive seasons of over 1,100 yards. In his last three years he has improve each of those years. Yes he is 31 years old and there is this general belief that a running back suddenly becomes worthless when he hits 30. Well Jones just ran for over 1,400 yards as a 30 year old. Until he actually shows he is slowing down, he is worth having on your team. If you are worried he is not fast enough, don't! In his last two seasons he has 14 carries of 20+ yards and 3 carries of 40+ yards. That is far better than what Kevin Smith has done, or Kevin Jones before him. The best part is that he is durable. Jones has not missed a game in his last four years.

Understandably, Jones is not the long term answer. Still, he is a very good running back who still has a couple years left in him. If the Lions do a good job drafting, they will be much more ready to draft an elite running back in the next couple of years to take over for Jones.

As it stands, there has been plenty of talk that the Lions could draft a RB in the second round and a DE in the 3rd round. If they can address both of those needs in free agency, then both of those rounds can be used for other positions like cornerback, left guard or safety. All things considered, the Lions could add good players at OL, RB, DT, DE, CB, and S. This would be with free agency and only the first four rounds of the draft. Tell me that would not help the Lions move back to respectability!