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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5/5/10

Ernie Harwell 1918 - 2010

It is a sad time as the world has lost one of its best. As great a Sportscaster as Ernie Harwell was, he was even a better person. We will miss him. We will remember him. We will hold him dear. Forever he will be with us in each of our memories. In each of our hearts.

The Lord has taken the greatest voice of Detroit Baseball home. He lived a long life. A full life. Maybe not full of adventure and excitement, but one full with giving others a warm welcome, a voice of comfort and heart of contentment. Whether you knew him in person or simply remember him from listening to the Tigers play on the radio, you were better for hearing Ernie Harwell speak.

For the last twenty four hours since learning of Ernie Harwell's passing, I have listened to countless stories about personal experiences with him. Every story had a special feeling about it. A sense of honesty, caring and gentleness. Not once have I ever heard one person say anything bad about him. Not once have I ever heard one story that portrayed Ernie Harwell as anything other than a truly genuine and caring individual.

Harwell was not one of those athletes who would give God glory for something then turn around and get in trouble. He did not push his beliefs on others, but he was never shy about bringing up God. When Harwell brought the Lord into his conversation, it was always genuine.

I heard on the news earlier, about a woman who has a facebook page started where she is trying to start a movement to change the name of Comerica park. She wants to change the name to "Ernie Harwell Stadium". Now, I don't believe for a moment this will ever happen. Comerica has too much money wrapped up into having their name up there. I don't believe any of the big banks in America care enough about one man or one town to be willing to give that up. But I will also say that there has never been, nor will their ever be another person who would be more deserving than Ernie Harwell to have the stadium named after him. Personally, I would much rather call it Ernie Harwell Stadium than Comerica Park. I wish it could happen.

I would like to end this with a prayer. Maybe not quite the prayer you might expect at this time, but a prayer I believe Ernie Harwell would appreciate....

Dear God, Our Heavenly Father. You have taken a wonderful soul into your home. I do not pray now for Ernie's soul as I do believe that he could be in no better hands than yours and thus he needs no prayers. Instead Father, I pray for his wife Lulu and his children, that you will give them peace in their loss. Father I pray that all of us who heard him on the radio or knew him personally will see him for who he was. A warm-hearted man who cared for others around him. A man who took joy in giving others pleasure. I pray that you will open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to know the same love, patience and joy as he had. That others will use him as an example of what a man, a husband and a Christian should be. That his love for others will not end with his passing but his passing will help us to remember to love others. To lead others to the same joy in life that his life had found. The joy of knowing you Father and knowing your son Jesus. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

5/3/10

What Can Detroit Lions Fans Expect?

The 2010 NFL draft has come and gone and the Detroit Lions have not made any recent free agent signings that are worth mentioning. The Lions are expected to still make some moves before the season starts, but we have to remember, that is not guaranteed. So what if the Lions were to enter the season with the team they have intact? What should the fans expect from them in the upcoming season?

The first step to predicting how they will do would be to look at the players involved and how much they have improved in each position, if at all. For each position I will give a grade for the 2009 season and a grade for what I expect for the 2010 season.

Quarterback - The first mistake Schwartz made in the 2009 season was to have a battle between Culpepper and Stafford. The only purpose it served was to take snaps away from the rookie, whom I believe Schwartz was planning on starting all along. This year Stafford will get all of the starting reps and be more prepared for it. Having a season under his belt will help as well. Will he improve on his accuracy and touch?
2009 Grade = D
2010 Grade = C

Running Back - Last year the Lions had Kevin Smith who could not run people over or run past them. When he went down, the running game actually improved with Maurice Morris. That only shows just how dismal the running game was. This year the Lions drafted Jahvid Best with their second pick in the first round. Best has elite speed and great ability to change directions and make plays happen. He is by far the best chance the Lions have had for a play maker at RB since Barry Sanders retired.
2009 Grade = C-
2010 Grade = B+

Receiver - In 2009 the Lions had Calvin Johnson and a few players who jogged around with no idea how to get open or catch a ball. This year the Lions have Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, who should be much better at getting open and is known for his sure hands.
2009 Grade = D+
2010 Grade = B-

Tight End - Brandon Pettigrew looked to be finally catching on in 2009 when he went down with an injury. He is expected to be ready for the upcoming season, but the Lions have also added a pass catching TE in Tony Scheffler who will do two major things for the Lions. Give them insurance in case Pettigrew has a set back or give them a great two tight end set if Pettigrew is healthy. In a two tight end set, with two good receivers on the outsides, it will be very hard for defenses to cover as well as it should help with run blocking to open holes for the speedy Jahvid Best.
2009 Grade = C
2010 Grade = B+

Offensive Line - To many fans disappointment, the Lions will once again return with 4 of the same 5 starters from last year. The fans have complained that the offensive line is the weakest link on the Lions. There are actually some good reasons to think that might not be true this year even though they only made one change.
1) The Lions defense has been so horrible that the Lions were falling behind quickly ever game. Defenses were able to pin their ears back and go after the quarterback, which makes it much harder for O-lines to block against. This fact was only made more evident because the Lions did not have a RB who could make a defense pay if he got by them.
2) With slow running backs and only one good receiver on the offense, defenses felt free to blitz more often.
3) The weakest link on the O-line was Left Guard. The offensive line needs to play as a unit more than any other unit on the team. When one player breaks down, it often causes the players next to him to break down as well. With Left Guard falling apart so often, it would effect both the Left Tackle and the Center. That is 60% of the line.
The Lions have more speed at RB, a better Defense and have added a new Left Guard in Rob Sims. I would not expect the offensive line to be one of the better in the NFL but it still should be much better than it looked in 2009.
2009 Grade = D-
2010 Grade = C

Offense 2009 GPA = 1.34
Offense 2010 GPA = 2.66

Defensive Line - In 2009 this was by far the weakest link on the entire Detroit Lions team. They rarely put any pressure on the opposing QB and far too often left too many holes for linebackers to fill on run plays. QBs usually had anywhere from 4 to 7 seconds to find an open receiver. The D-line was the main point of focus in this off season and draft. In the first day of free agency the Lions added Kyle Vanden Bosch who had double digit sacks two years in a row before, and shortly after they traded for DT Corey Williams. Williams was an up and coming beast at DT before he was moved to DE and failed to live up to expectations. The Lions will have him back in the 4-3 defense at DT and expect him to return to form. Then in the draft, the Lions used their #2 overall pick on another DT Ndamukong Suh who is highly considered to be the best DT to come out of college in over a decade and maybe ever. These additions along with the return of Sammie Lee Hill who was coming on strong at the end of last year and Devries and Avril at DE should make the Lions D-line on of the better lines in the NFL.
2009 Grade = E
2010 Grade = A-

Linebacker - Gone is Larry Foote and Ernie Sims. The Lions have not added any linebackers who are expected to replace them. The replacements will come from within the existing team. This might just be a very good thing. Replacing Foote at MLB is DeAndre Levy who actually already took over the position last season when Foote was injured. As a rookie, Levy called all of the defensive plays in the last weeks of the season and looked like a veteran doing it. Replacing Sims at this time looks to be a fan favorite, Zack Follett. Follett has speed and can hit like a truck. He has the mentality to charge in and make the crushing blow while wrapping his arms around the ball carrier rather than just driving a shoulder into the runner and expecting him to fall over. The only questionable problem for him will be his pass covering abilities. But then, those were the same problems that Sims had. Still, they will be playing behind a much improved D-line and they should look improved for it.
2009 Grade = C-
2010 Grade = B

Cornerback - As always, every bad team in sports has to have their fall guys. Last years was Anthony Henry and Phillip Buchanon. Often I heard about how bad the Lions corners were. How they were not able to cover anyone. Anyone remember Leigh Bodden? He had 6 interceptions with the Browns before coming to Detroit where he had only one. Everyone said he could not cover and he ended up on New England and intercepted 5 passes. Lets make one thing clear. Deion Sanders in his prime would not be able to cover a decent receiver for 6 or 7 seconds without being beaten on most of the plays. The Lions never placed any pressure on the QBs and that forced Bodden, Henry and Buchanon to cover for far too long. They are not Deion Sanders so of course they will get beaten after that long. Well to replace them in the 2010 season the Lions got Chris Houston from Atlanta and drafted Amari Spievey. This new improved defensive line should put plenty of pressure on the opposing QB, so I am expecting these CBs to look a lot better.
2009 Grade = D-
2010 Grade = B-

Safeties - Louis Delmas played better than most expected him to in 2009 and by the years end, was making all of the secondary play calls for the Lions defense. Ko Simpson was injured most of last year and is back to claim his starting spot in 2010. Personally, I do not see him as an improvement. In the games I have seen him play, I felt he looked like a hesitant tackler, allowing RBs to make their move before trying to adjust rather than charging in and taking them down. As with the cornerbacks and linebackers, the better D-line should make these guys look better.
2009 Grade = C+
2010 Grade = B-


Defense 2009 GPA = 1.17
Defense 2010 GPA = 3.03

On paper, the Lions are set to be a much improved team going into the 2010 season. They should be able to keep themselves competitive against any opponent. So now we go on to look at their upcoming schedule (pronounced with a SK in my home) and see how they compare.

WK-01 at Chicago - The Bears under achieved last season and should be a little better this year. The problem is they have forgotten how to use Forte and they are not strong in WR while their defense is not like it used to be.
Outcome - Flip a coin

WK-02 vs Philadelphia - With McNabb gone to Washington, the Eagles will likely not be quite as good as in the past. Without Westbrook, they will have even less of an offense. This game being in Detroit, I will give it a break even chance.
Outcome - Flip a coin

WK-03 at Minnesota - Most expect Favre to come back and play. He wont want to hang it up with the big mistake in the playoffs being his last play. With him back, the Vikings are still a better team than the Lions. Especially in Minnesota.
Outcome - Loss

WK-04 at Green Bay - The only thing keeping the Packers from being the best team in the NFC may have been their offensive line. When OT Bryan Bulaga fell to them in the first round, they got a lot better. Even without him however, they are still far better than the Lions at this stage. In Green Bay, the Lions chances of a victory are nearly zilch.
Outcome - Loss

WK-05 vs St.Louis - Finally the Lions have an opponent they should be favored over to win. The Rams were worse than the Lions last year and it is still too early for Bradford to come into his own. The Lions have improved far more than the Rams have in the last year.
Outcome - Win

WK-06 at NY Giants - They got their easy week out of the way and its back into the frying pan for the Lions. The Lions have improved a lot but Superbowl contenders they are not. The Giants are.
Outcome - Loss

WK-07 Bye Week (Record 2-4) Coin flips will give them one win and one loss.

WK-08 vs Washington - The Redskins were better than the Lions last year, even if the Lions did beat them. They have added a probowl caliber QB and improved their RBs. The Lions have improved more than the Redskins have in the last year.
Outcome - Flip a coin

WK-09 vs NY Jets - Lets face it. Mark Sanchez looked more accurate than Stafford did last year. They have a better defense. For now, the Jets are still a better team.
Outcome - Loss

WK-10 at Buffalo - Both teams have added top RBs in the draft. I cannot help myself here. I am just not impressed with the Bills.
Outcome - Win

WK-11 at Dallas - The Lions have improved greatly, for a large part thanks to Dallas. Now it looks as if Dallas is realizing its mistake with Roy Williams. Yet, as much as it pains me to say this, I think the Lions are still one more season away from being better than the Cowboys.
Outcome - Loss

WK-12 vs New England - Brady and Moss or Stafford and Johnson? At this point in their careers, its easily Brady and Moss.
Outcome - Loss

WK-13 vs Chicago - I gave it a flip of the coin earlier. This time they are in Detroit. The Lions will have a slight edge.
Outcome - Win

WK-14 vs Green Bay - The Packers were far better than the Lions in Green Bay and they will still be a lot better in Detroit.
Outcome - Loss

WK-15 at Tampa Bay - The Bucs are one team that just seems to be spinning their tires rather than getting any better. Thankfully the Lions tires have finally found some traction.
Outcome - Win

WK-16 at Miami - The Dolphins are running into troubles. Ricky Williams is planning on retiring after next year and Brown is getting in trouble. One just gets the feeling that Miami is in a slow decline now, but still dangerous for another year.
Outcome - Flip a coin

WK-17 vs Minnesota - The Lions will give them a fight here in Detroit, but it will still come down to who is QB for the Vikings. Favre will still beat Stafford.
Outcome - Loss

Final Record = 6 wins 10 losses

Personal opinion = I think that when it comes down to it, the Lions will lose more of the fifty fifty games than they will win. As it stands, Detroit has 8 starters with 16 or less games of experience. That will still call for plenty of rookie type of mistakes.

My estimate will be 5 wins and 11 losses, but we will see if any more veteran players are signed.