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.

Are you looking for equipment for football? Look no further because Sports Unlimited has everything you need at great prices. Check them out.

7/31/10

Suh Thinks He Is The Best, But Suh Is Not Best

Ndamukong Suh was told he was the best player in the draft. He believes he was the best player in the draft. His agents want him to be paid like the best player in the draft. Yet as camp opened up, it was not Suh who was in camp. It was Best.

I have often told others that talk is cheap. If you want the truth, look at actions. Ndamukong Suh talked a lot about wanting to be in camp on time. As I said, talk is cheap. When you look at Suh's actions, you find another side of the story. When training camp opened, the defensive tackle was not in camp. Instead, his agents are still busy trying to get him paid as if he was the best player taken in the draft. What the agents have wrong is that players are not paid according to who was the best in the draft. They are paid according to when they were drafted. Though I do think Suh was the best player in the 2010 NFL draft, the fact is, he was drafted 2nd, so he should be paid accordingly.

Mean while, another player who in the end could possibly be the best player in the draft, Jahvid Best, has not spoken much. Best let his actions do the talking and when camp began, he was there to practice.

With each day, my respect for Jahvid Best will grow while my respect for Ndamukong Suh will drop. I do not respect good intentions as much as I do action. I certainly do not respect cheap talk as much. I respect a man who does what is right and not one who intends to do what is right but never really gets around to it. I think that most of Detroit's fan base feels the same. As much as the fans want to see a winning team here in Detroit. The comments I have read in other sites tell me that most fans would rather the Lions let Suh sit out the season, possibly lose him to another team in another draft, than to give into his greedy agents demands.

Ndamukong Suh, if you want the fans to love you here in Detroit, you need to prove yourself with action. Not only action on the field but by doing what is right. Sign a good deal, but don't get greedy and get yourself in practice. Detroit fans are finicky. They will lose respect for you if you do not practice hard. They will lose respect if you do not play well. They will lose respect for you if you start holding out after talking about wanting to be signed on time.

7/18/10

A Different Look at Detroit Lions Improvement

Everyone keeps looking at the Lions roster and talking about how improved they are on paper. It is only natural for Detroit fans to try and predict how many wins the Lions should actually get in the upcoming 2010 NFL season. Instead of trying to look at their schedule and predict how many wins they will get, I decided to look at how many wins they would have gotten last year with this years team. The biggest question at this point however, is just how much did they improve?

First lets take a quick look at the offensive line. The line should be improved for a few reasons. One is that Jon Jansen is healthy and ready to play better. Another is the addition of left guard Rob Sims. He will do two things. Improve the run blocking and allow Backus and Raiola to play their own positions. Another reason they should be improved is the addition of Jahvid Best. His speed should force defenses to play more honest rather than pinning their ears back and going after the quarterback every play.

Then as already mentioned, there is the addition of running back Jahvid Best. His speed will help more than the offensive line. There were several times in 2009 when Kevin Smith broke into open territory only to be tackled ten to twenty yards down field. Best should have the speed to turn a couple of those runs into long touchdowns. Turning a 20 yard gain into a 60 yard touchdown can be the difference between a win and a loss all on its own. Along with the score, it can be a complete momentum shifter.

With the improvement of the offensive line and the lightning speed of Jahvid Best, quarterback Matthew Stafford should have every opportunity to improve his play from 2009. On many of his plays, he should have more time to look through his reads and that extra time should give the receivers more chances to break into the open. His natural maturity alone should show improvement in his accuracy and putting touch on the ball as well as reading the defenses.

Another addition not mention very much is receiver Nate Burleson. If he can play up to his abilities, he will take pressure off of Calvin Johnson and give Stafford another target. Along with Burleson, the Lions have also brought in tight-end Tony Scheffler. If Pettigrew is not healthy, Scheffler will take his place without missing a beat, but if Pettigrew comes back healthy, they will play together. This two tight-end scheme will create a lot of mismatches giving the Lions a strong advantage.

As we see, there are a lot of reasons to believe the Detroit Lions offense will be much improved. Is there any reasons to believe they might be worse than last year though? Many fans might point out that left tackle Jeff Backus and center, Dominic Raiola will be another year older and one never knows when they will hit their wall and start getting worse. Though they are getting up there in years for football players, it is the common belief that they should still have another two years in them for offensive linemen. So reasonably speaking, the Lions offense should be much improved with little reason to think they will decline.

Then there is the defense which was the worst in the NFL in 2009 and in my opinion might have been the worst in NFL history. The additions of Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, and Kyle Vanden Bosch should move the Lions defensive line from the worst in the NFL to possibly a top 10 defensive line in the NFL. DeAndre Levy and Louis Delmas will have another year experience. The cornerbacks, Chris Houston, Jonathan Wade, Dre Bly, and Amari Spievey will be a much faster unit and likely a better unit over last years.

The only worry where they might be worse than in 2009 on defense would be with the loss of Ernie Sims who was just starting to come around in the second half of last season. In his place is the fan favorite but still questionable Zack Follett. Follett, known also as the "Pain Train" should put some hurt into opposing quarterbacks, but will sorely be tested when it comes to pass coverage.

All in all however, the Lions defense should be greatly improved over last years catastrophe. They will put a lot more pressure on quarterbacks and that alone will be worth a few points they will take off of the board from opposing scores.

So how would this years team have done in 2009? That would depend on how many points difference you think the two units would have made. Would the new Lions score 3 points per game more than last years team? Maybe 7 points more per game? Do you believe they truly would have scored 13 points more a game? How about the defense? How many less points would they give up? If you think the Lions offense would put up 3 points per game more and their defense would allow 6 points less every game, then that would make it a 9 point difference per game. As little as that sounds, I think that could be a fair opinion. Nine points difference in a game can be a big difference in the NFL. That 9 point change over would have given the Lions 5 wins in 2009.

The following is a list of what the Lions record would have been with each point difference.

3 to 6 pt dif. = 2-wins, 0-ties, 14-losses (same as 2009)
7 point dif. = 2-wins, 2-ties, 12-losses
8 point dif. = 4-wins, 1-tie, 11-losses
9 point dif. = 5-wins, 0-ties, 11-losses
10 point dif. = 5-wins, 1-ties, 10-losses
11 point dif. = 6-wins, 0-ties, 10-losses
12 point dif. = 6-wins, 1-ties, 9-losses
13 point dif. = 7-wins, 0-ties, 9-losses
14 point dif. = 7-wins, 3-ties, 6-losses
15 point dif. = 10-wins, 0-ties, 6-losses

You can see how big of a difference 2 touchdowns makes per game, whether it is the offense scoring more or the defense allowing less scoring. The thing that scares me is that the difference in 9 points would have been 3 games in 2009. None of those would have been again division rivals. Only one of those teams will the Lions play in 2010. The St.Louis Rams!

The closest the Lions came to a division rival in 2009 was 14 points. They did that twice. Once to the Vikings and once to the Bears. In the other game against the Vikings the Lions lost by 17 points. The other three losses were by 22, 24, and 26 points. It is a heart wrenching thought to think that for the Lions to improve enough to even split the games with their division rivals, they would have to improve by 17 points per game. Seventeen points would be enough improvement for the Lions to have had a 10-6 record in 2009. As much as I would like to think it, I just don't see 17 points improvement.

7/12/10

Should Lions Lessen Jason Hanson's Duties?

I still remember the days before Jason Hanson. When the great Eddie Murray was showing his age. When I feared the Lions would have to settle down and become one of the many teams in the NFL with an average kicker. That was about 19 years ago and little did I know, the fellow taking over would be just as good and better. Jason Hanson will be starting his 19th season as a Detroit Lion and contrary to some fans belief, he is still one of the better kickers in the NFL.

In 2009, Hanson made all five of his field goal attempts under 30 yards. Between 30 and 39 yards he made 8 of his 9 attempts. Some fans might see that he only made 7 of his 10 tries between 40 and 49 yards and say he is showing his age. Even more telling would be the fact he only made 1 out of 4 tries over 50 yards. Yet the fact is, twice in his career he had worse stats than last season and it was just the year before last when he was perfect 14 of 14 over 40 yards and 8 of those were over 50 yards.

Could last season have been the point of Hanson's career starting to descend? The fact is, it very well may have been, but one cannot ignore how bad the team was either. If his statistics drop again this season, then it may be time to start looking for4 his replacement, but until then I believe he can still get the job done in Detroit. At least for field goals and extra points. Kick-offs are a totally different situation.

In 2006 and 2007, Hanson had 13 kickoffs end in touch backs in both seasons. In 2008 only 7 of his kick offs were touch backs. In 2009 the number dropped to only 4 touch backs. The steady drop is a tell tale sign that he is no longer getting the air time or the distance out of his kickoffs as he once did. Far too often his kicks are dropping near the ten yard line, allowing opposing kick returners a good position to run with the ball. In a league with the speedy returners like they have in today's NFL, it is even more important to put them back to the goal line if not in the end zone.

Looking at things from this point of view, one has to consider the idea of using a roster spot for a second kicker. A younger kicker with a power leg who has not refined his accuracy. The power kicker would handle kick offs and Hanson would handle field goals and extra points. Still, there is one other aspect that needs to be considered. Jason Hanson helps the Lions in a way that very few kickers do in the NFL.

It is one of my favorite things about Jason Hanson. Even more than his great accuracy through the years, it is his toughness that has made me a real fan of his. So often I have seen the Lions coverage fall apart, leaving Hanson as the lone defender to try and stop a return for a touch down. Most kickers in the league would try to slow the returner down and if possible push him out of bounds. Nor Hanson! Jason Hanson is more in the lines of a real football player as he often drops his pads and throws his shoulder into the runner and tackles the guy. He is not afraid to make real contact and in fact, it even seems as if he looks forward to those chances. As a kicker, his abilities to make open field tackles have saved the Lions from giving up more points than he has caused them to miss with inaccurate kicks. This fact alone makes him worth keeping in kick off duties.

IF Jim Schwartz was to decide to go with a second kicker to handle kick off duties, I would not scream about it. Hanson's stats say that it may very well be time to do something like that. But if Schwartz is fine with the shorter kick offs and keeps Hanson out there, I am still happy to know you can count on him to be that consistent safety net.

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.

7/3/10

Dre Bly a Detroit Lion Once Again

The Detroit Lions have signed cornerback, Dre Bly, to a 2 year contract. A solid move but one to be slightly wary about as well.

Bly should add some solid depth to the defensive backfield and if he ends up starting, his presence still adds depth because one of the cornerbacks who would have been starting will now be depth. As well as depth in talent, he should also add some very needed veteran leadership to the young crew.

The reason I say to be wary is because I go back to the last time he was in Detroit. In a year he was not playing very well himself, and the defensive unit was as bad as the Lions offense, Dre Bly became a cancer in the locker room. Instead of trying to hold the team together and keeping their heads on straight, Bly began pointing fingers at Joey Harrington as the problem.

Now many if not most fans think Joey Harrington was a horrible quarterback. I am a believer that the Lions ruined him rather than helping him grow. If you take any quarterback and expect him to grow with a bad offensive line, a bad and lazy receiving unit, horrible and extremely conservative play calling and absolutely no running game, he is going to fail. Let's face it, Payton Manning would not have excelled in Joey Harrington's predicament. Yet Bly did not point his finger at himself, his bad defensive unit, the offensive line, the lazy play of the receivers, the play calling or anything else. He pointed his finger at Joey Harrington. That is not what a teammate should be doing.

The simple fact is, even if the rest of the team was great and it really was all Harrington's fault, it still would have been wrong to point fingers.

So now what happens if the Lions get off to a slow start? What if, Heaven forbid, the Lions have another 3 win season? Will Dre Bly start pointing his fingers again or will he be a team leader this time? I hope he will be a team leader. If not, I hope Jim Schwartz will be strong enough to put Bly in his place. But whatever happens, the possibility of Dre Bly becoming a cancer in the locker room is something that we must be wary of.