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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10/31/10

Lions Beat Redskins 37-25

It was a game filled with exciting moments. A game filled with times of aggravation. You will find fans who will sound as if the Lions played awesome and fans who can do nothing but complain about what the Lions did wrong. In the end however, the Detroit Lions beat the Washington Redskins for a second year in a row.

It was Matthew Stafford's first game back and his numbers look pretty good. Throwing for 212 yards and one interception, he also had 4 touchdown passes. Stafford was erratic. He had passes behind his receivers and well over their heads. Twice he tucked the ball down and could have gotten a first down if he would have continued to run but instead he stopped at the line of scrimmage and threw it for an incompletion. He was inaccurate enough that I wonder if he might have taken a step backwards in his development as he looked more like he did last year than he did in the preseason. But in the end, he was accurate when he needed to be and connected for 4 touchdown passes.

Calvin Johnson continued his recent roll of tearing up defenses. With 9 catches and 101 yards, Johnson added another 3 touchdowns to his season totals, bring it to 8 touchdowns for the year. Johnson has now had touchdowns in 4 continuous games in which he has had a total of 7 in that time.

As impressive as Stafford's 4 touchdowns is, or Johnson's 3 receiving touchdowns is, they were not the true stars of the game. The Lions defensive line came off the bye week and simply dominated from start to finish. Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril, and Suh all had two sacks, but it was Ndamukong Suh that topped them both as his 2 sacks brought his total to 6.6 on the year and he added a fumble recovery he returned for a touchdown to put the game away as well.

Suh has been astounding the entire season, on pace to have one of the best seasons ever for a rookie if he was a defensive end. To be a defensive tackle and do what he is doing is simply amazing. It is hard to believe that there were actually Lions fans who wanted them to draft Gerald McCoy over Ndamukong Suh.

For the most part the Lions defense dominated Washington's offense. The Lions offense had its moments of good as well as looking pretty lethargic again. Yet the only reason this game was even close was the terrible play of the Detroit special teams as they could not cover Brandon Banks on returns. Banks had 2 punt returns for over 20 yards and three of his kick returns were for 46 yards, 96 yards for a touchdown, and 27 yards. Due to the lack of coverage skills, the Redskins started far too many drives in Lions territory.

All in all however, it was a good game to start the second half of the season after the bye-week. Stafford made some good plays, the defense looked solid and it gives the fans hope for more wins to come.

Lions vs Redskins Pregame Week-8

If you watch the message boards, you see every outcome for this game. The Lions will crush the Redskins. No, the Redskins will demolish the Lions. The game will be a close one. Here are the facts....

The Lions are favored for only the second time this season. The last time they were favored, they crushed the Rams 44-6.

McNabb has not been exactly lights out this season. With one more interception than he has touchdowns, he has also thrown two interceptions in each of his last two games. McNabb has been sacked 10 times in the last three games as well. These are stats that play heavily into the Lions strong defensive line's favor.

The Lions have played well against several good teams this year while using their back-up quarterback and even their 3rd string quarterback.

The Lions are coming off of a bye week and looking much more healthier for it. Stafford will be back and his strong arm and courage to throw the deep ball should help the Lions offense. Jahvid Best has been hampered by two turf toe injuries and is now feeling a lot stronger with the two week rest. DeAndre Levy is getting healthier but it is not known how close he is to being truly healthy at this time. Not to mention how much a two week rest will help Calvin Johnson with his shoulder injury as well.

Still, it is not all good for the Lions and bad for the Redskins. There are a few points to worry about if you are a Lions fan.

Ryan Torain has had back to back games of over 100 yards.

Washington has won four games this year. Three of which were against Philadelphia, Green Bay and Chicago. Though the Lions should have had a win against Chicago and could have against the other two, they are still three teams that beat the Lions.

The Redskins are in the top ten in the NFL in sacks and it would only take one sack to find the Lions with Stanton as their starting quarterback.

Stafford has not played since the first half of the first game of the season and should be expected to have some rust to shake off. Lions fans need to hope it doesn't take too long and that any mistakes are not too costly as he does shake that rust off.

All in all, this isn't expected to be a blow out of a game. It has the potential to be a landslide victory for either team but if all things even out, so will the score for the most part. Yet I do see the Detroit Lions having a chance to start the second half off with a victory which is direly needed.

Detroit Lions - 34
Washington Redskins - 24

10/28/10

Lions vs Redskins to be Blacked Out

There were still 8,500 tickets available to be sold when the NFL mandated deadline hit today. By NFL rules, the team must sell out its stadium within 72 hours before its game is to start that week. So after going through a bye week in which there was no Detroit Lions game to watch, there will not be a game to watch this week either.

I have been a fan for most of my 44 years of life. Through all of the losing seasons the Detroit Lions have delivered to me, I have been a steady fan. A believer that some day they will be a good team. I wear a Lions hat. Not any hat mind you, but one I had made for me. I have a Detroit Lions coat that I wear every winter. I have Lions stickers on the little side windows of my car. Through a 0-16 game season I supported the Detroit Lions, but I do not go to games. Not because I don't want to go, but simply because I cannot afford it. Because of the automotive engineering industry falling apart, I have been struggling for years to simply survive. Last month we were late on rent and it looks like we will be again this month. We have no idea where the next months rent will come from.

As loyal of a fan as I have been through so many losing seasons, I am now punished because I cannot afford to go to a game? Because the NFL wants to be greedy and get every grimy dollar they can out of the fans, they will punish their most loyal fans who cannot afford to survive much less go to a game.

If an NFL team had a winning history and they did not sell out their games, then I can possibly see them wanting a blackout. But for a team that has won two games in the last two years to black out because the fans are not paying to see them? Ridiculous!

Why can't the NFL be fair with the fans who stand by them to make the NFL the greatest sport on Earth? Obviously the blackout rule should be lifted and done away with, but if they insist on keeping it, why not make a team have to sell a set amount tickets according to how well they played the season before? For instance....

1) All teams MUST sell at least 35,000 tickets to be aired. (If they do not sell at least that many then they should not be a franchise.)
2) For every win a team had the previous season, they should sell another 2,000 tickets, with a 55,000 limit. So a team that won only 2 games would have to sell 39,000 tickets. 4 wins would mean 43,000. A 10 win team will have to sell 55,000 tickets.
3) Any tickets over 55,000 should be considered as extra revenue and the owners can sell them or give them away if they want to make concession revenues.

This kind of system would make the NFL teams responsible for giving their fans a decent product as well as the fans responsible to support their team when it is worthy of support. The simple fact is, if a team has a winning record, it will sell out its stadium. If it still cant sell out, then it needs to be moved to a better place.

When the Lions were in the Silverdome, they were selling out 80,000 seats to get on television and they did it consistently. That was with an average to decent team in its good days. When the Lions are winning even 7 or 8 games a year, they will sell out an 80,000 seat stadium. So now that they are only winning 2 games a year, shouldn't those loyal fans be rewarded with still being able to see them on TV?

I have been as loyal of a fan as any for any team. I have never once said that they will always be bad. I have supported them saying they will turn it around some day. And because my career was ripped out from under my feet and I cannot afford to buy a ticket, I am now being punished.

10/26/10

Could Lions Still Make the Play-offs?

Six games into the season and the Lions have won only one game. It should be easy to assume they have no chance to make the play-offs. Even if they were not mathematically out of it, any Lions fan can tell you they are still out of it. As crazy as it may seem, the Detroit Lions chances of making the play-offs may be better than you know.

First look at the losses the Lions took. In five losses, only once have they lost decisively. The other four losses could easily have gone differently with better play calling, better officiating or simply better play. In those four losses (not including in Minnesota), the Lions have lost by a total of 18 points. That is only an average of 4.5 points a game.

Then you take another closer look at the Lions losses so far this year. By all definitions of the written rules, the Lions actually beat the Bears and that was after Matthew Stafford went down with in injury in the first half. With a back-up, who had not been practicing with the first unit playing half the game, the Lions still should have had a win. Just before the bye-week, the Lions lost to the New York Giants by only 8 points. That came after Shaun Hill went down and they were playing with not only their back-up quarterback, but using Drew Stanton, their third string quarterback. Yet the Lions made it a fairly close game. In another game, the Lions had to play without Nate Burleson as well, allowing the opposing defense to concentrate more on Calvin Johnson.

Even though the Lions have a 1-5 record, they have played much better than that record accounts for while using their second and third string quarterbacks. Not to mention that their rookie running back, Jahvid Best has been playing with two injured toes. Imagine if Best and Stafford were both healthy. With the bye-week rest, both of those players are supposed to come back healthy, giving the Lions offense their healthiest unit since the start of the first game.

So with the bye-week past, the Lions will be much healthier and can be expected to play at a higher level than they have while losing close games to some good teams like the Giants, Eagles and Packers. So it is feasible to believe the Lions could actually start winning now right? Now consider this. The Lions are only 2.5 games behind 1st place in their division.

In a weak NFC North division, the Lions will have rematches with all three of their rivals and this time all three will be in Detroit. Seven of their last ten games will be home games.

Do you really believe the Bears are as good as their record shows? Though the record doesn't show it, the Lions beat the Bears, who have lost three of their last four games. Is it not feasible to think the Lions could make up 2.5 games on the Bears? Especially considering that they will play them at home yet.

What about the Vikings? Yes the Vikings handily beat the Lions, but more than anything that week, the Lions destroyed themselves. Brett Favre has not been very good this year, and their best receiver, Sidney Rice is injured. With Minnesota only one game up on the Lions, and knowing they play each other in Detroit, is it not feasible to see the Lions overcoming that one game deficit?

As things stand, the greatest obstacle for the Lions to overcome would be the Green Bay Packers. Yet just how good are the Packers really? With a healthy team, they won a close game against the Eagles team that the Lions almost beat with a back-up quarterback. The Packers also did not have to face Michael Vick like the Lions had to. The Packers lost to the Bears one week after the Lions had a victory stolen by the refs against them. Make no mistakes about it, the Packers are a good team. They are easily the best team in the division. But it can be argued that with a healthy team, the Lions could catch them.

Don't get me wrong. I am not calling for a play-off birth. I am not saying I believe the Lions will make it to the play-offs much less win a game there. Personally I still maintain they are too young and will make crucial mistakes at critical times. What I am saying however, is that it is not out of the realm of possible for the Lions to make the play-offs. Even with a 1-5 record, there is still reason to believe that the Detroit Lions season is not over.

And that gives the fans a big reason to continue to watch with hope.

10/21/10

Do NFL Refs Hate the Lions

All of my life I have been against blaming losses on bad calls. If you want to win, play better. Six weeks into the NFL 2010 season however, I am starting to wonder if the refs simply do not like the Detroit Lions.

At least three of the losses, I can lay squarely at Scott Linehan's feet for his lack of cajones to call a pass down field. The Lions have taken some injuries and most importantly, the players keep taking senseless penalties at crucial times. Yet there are simply too many bad calls or no-calls by the NFL refs at crucial moments in the games to hold the Lions back.

Everyone knows about the refs taking a game winning touchdown away from Calvin Johnson in Chicago. What made it worse was that they called it a touchdown then went to the replay and took it away after adding interpretation to a rule that is not actually written in the rule.

In Philadelphia, the Eagles had a passing touchdown that should not have been allowed. The receiver and Lions defender were the only two players in the end-zone, so the play should have been clear to every official. I saw it in the live action that the receiver showed off of the Lions defender to gain the separation that allowed him to catch the touchdown pass. It was obvious shoving off, and the announcers even pointed it out, but no flag was thrown. So with seven points the Eagles should not have had, they beat the Lions by a field goal.

In Green Bay, the Lions had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter when Shaun Hill threw a pass to Calvin Johnson on 3rd and long. The Packer's cornerback, Woodson, was shoving on Calvin the entire route and when the ball was thrown, he continued to shove him. When the ball got to Calvin, Woodson was still all over him. I saw it clearly. A bunch of guys on CBS Lions message board saw it and complained. Yet somehow, the refs once again failed to see an obvious penalty that would have given the Lions a 1st down in field goal range. The Lions would have had 4 more downs to move the ball closer for an easier field goal as well as run more time off of the clock. The Lions lost by 2 points.

In New Jersey, playing the Giants, the Lions had a few more bad calls. There was a penalty against Gosder Cherilus for illegal formation and when the announcers looked at the replay, could not see what the penalty was. These were announcers that favored the Giants the entire game mind you, and they did not see what was wrong with the play. On another play, the Giants hit Shaun Hill down below the knees, forcing him to fall forward. Hill landed on his left hand and broke his arm. No call was made. Yet earlier in the year, one of the Lions defensive linemen was on his back and from his back, reached out and grabbed the quarterback by the ankles. He was flagged for hitting the quarterback down low.

I am not even going to mention how the Lions could have won some of these games if not for the bad calls or no-calls by refs. I am simply getting tired of seeing refs ignore blatant penalties on the Lions opponents and call penalties on the Lions that nobody can see. The Detroit Lions players are not playing smart. They are not playing focused with all of the penalties they are wracking up. But the fact is, they are getting too many penalties as it is. They don't need phantom penalties called as well and they don't need their opponents playing on a lopsided field because they don't get called.

10/19/10

Myth: Lions Need to Learn How to Win

The Detroit Lions are a team that needs to learn how to win. I have heard that so many times it makes my ears hurt. The truth is, that is a myth and an excuse. One the Detroit Lions should not be relying on.

The fact is, there is no such thing as "Learning How to Win". You know how to win? Play good and don't let up. The Lions don't need to learn how to win. They need to learn how to play smart! They need to learn how to keep their focus. They need to stop making excuses. They do those things and the winning will come.

The stupid penalty by Cliff Avril Sunday afternoon was due to lack of intelligence and focus. He retaliated! That is neither smart nor keeping focus. The false starts are a lack of focus. They know the snap count. There is no excuse for jumping before that ball is snapped. Off sides penalties can be tolerated to some degree because the defensive line needs to attack and sometimes they need to time the snap to get an advantage. But on 3rd down they need to keep their focus and not jump until the ball is snapped.

The interception on Stanton was due to a lack of focus on Brandon Pettigrew. Yes the ball was a little high, but it was easily catchable. His arms were not even fully extended and it hit him, not in the hands, but in the wrists. His focus was not fully on catching the ball. There is no doubt in my mind that Pettigrew has the athleticism and the hand eye coordination to catch any ball within his reach. Yet he drops them so often it can be nothing more than either bad vision or lack of concentration. This same problem goes for Scheffler, Bryant Johnson and any other receiver who cant seem to hold onto the passes that are good thrown balls.

If the Detroit Lions can learn to keep their focus on what they are supposed to do, they will drastically cut down on their penalties. They will drop fewer passes. They will not retaliate and draw major penalties. Can anyone say that they would not win games if they did those things?

It is not about having to learn to win. It is about keeping your focus and playing smart. Needing to learn how to win is nothing more than an excuse to ease the ire of the fans.

10/18/10

Lions Lose to Giants in Week-5

It looked like it would be another exciting weekend for Detroit Lions fans when in the first drive for New York, the Giants got one first down before Kyle Vanden Bosch sacked Eli Manning. Two plays later the Giants punter mishandled the snap and fumbled the ball. Lawrence Jackson recovered at the Giants 43 yard line.Nine plays and 4 minutes later, Shaun Hill threw a 14 yard touchdown to Nate Burleson.

Then it was mostly down hill from there.

The Giants went on to score the next two touchdowns before the Lions gt another field goal. Then the Giants scored another touchdown to go up 21-10. With 1:20 left in the first half, Shaun Hill was hit low and as he fell forward he landed on his left hand, breaking his arm.

In came Drew Stanton, the Lions 3rd string quarterback. Stanton did a serviceable job, throwing for 222 yards while completing 55.9% of his pass attempts. He had 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

In the end however, the Giants ended up beating the Lions by a score of 28-20, but it was more the Lions beating themselves than the Giants playing so well.

The Lions, who already lead the league with penalties, added 11 more to their total while the Giants only committed 2. Many of the penalties were at crucial moments, giving the Giants a 1st down when it looked like the Lions had stopped them on a 3rd down. Other penalties were plain idiotic, like Cliff Avril losing his head and starting fights.

Offensive Coordinator, Scott Linehan can take some blame as well as he once again fell into his unimaginative play calling. Other than on 3rd and long downs, I do not think Shaun Hill even attempted a pass more than five yards down field. When all of the plays are short, it serves only to bring the defense in tight, then everyone wonders why Jahvid Best has no room to run the ball. Best, by the way, had a total of 16 yards on 12 carries. I lay that at the feet of Linehan for not opening up the offense and forcing the defense to back off a little.

Yet again, in the end, the Lions still had a chance to win.

With all of the penalties, and the lousy play calling, in a game when it seemed the Lions should have been blown out, they were driving in the last minute in an effort to score a touchdown and a two point conversion to send it into overtime. With 7 seconds left, on the Giants 38 yard line, Stanton had Brandon Pettigrew speeding up the middle in a post route. The ball was thrown a little high, but it was definitely catchable, but rather than hauling it in for a reception and a possible touchdown, it went through Pettigrew's hands, only to be picked off by Antrel Rolle to end the game.

Another disheartening loss in a winnable game.

10/16/10

Lions vs Giants Pregame Week-6

All the talk seems to be about the Giants great defensive line. How it had 10 sacks in one game and 13 over the last two. Many have said they think the Lions are in trouble because the quarterbacks will be scrambling for their life all day with the Lions offensive line being so bad. Let me set a few things straight.

First off, the Lions offensive line is not nearly as bad as its reputation. Last year they were horrible. The year before that and before that they were terrible, horrid, dismal, putrid... all those names work fine. This year however, they are not nearly so bad.

A common belief has been that Jeff Backus sucked at Left Tackle and Dominic Raiola was bad at Center. There was an on going debate on whether the problem was that Backus was so horrible or that he and Raiola were compensating for the lack of productivity at left guard. I have argued on Backus' behalf countless times on this subject. Then the first game came along and Backus whiffed on a block that lead to Matthew Stafford being sacked and injured. The cries went out again for Backus' job if not his head.

After five games into the season, the Lions have given up a total of 9 sacks. That is less than 2 sacks a game. That first game was the only game in which they allowed more sacks than the team they played has averaged so far this season. In Green Bay the Lions allowed their worst, 3 sacks, of the season. Green Bay has averaged 4.2 sacks a game so far. That means in the Packers other 4 games they have had 18 sacks. An average of 4.5 sacks. So the fact the Lions only allowed 3 is a good showing by the offensive line. So the Detroit Lions offensive line has been playing very well in pass protection this year.

As for the Giants defensive line, I don't think it is quite as good as the media makes it out to be. The fact is, any team can have a good game and any team can have one of those games where they cant do anything right. That ten sack game for the Giants was both of those. The Giants came in strong and the Bears offensive line just couldn't do anything right that day. Keep in mind that if you take that one big game away, the Giants have a total of 9 sacks in the other 4 games. That is only a 2.25 sacks per game average. That is okay but it is nothing special.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying the Giants defensive line is not a good one. They did get ten sacks in one game and however well things fall into place, you have to still be good to get that. What I am saying is that if you look at the whole picture, rather than just the 10 sack game, the Giants defensive line is only good. Not a great powerhouse line that every team should be in awe of. It would also do some good to remember the Lions have a good defensive line of their own.

What I have come to start dubbing them as the Wrecking Crew, the Lions defensive line is one of the better ones in the NFL. The rookie, Ndamukong Suh, and his veteran partner, Corey Williams, are possibly the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFL. Both have consistently created havoc in the back field of opposing teams each week. They are powerful and explosive, forcing teams to worry about them on every play. Kyle Vanden Busch has been a monster in his own right thus far in the season. Every game he is pressuring the quarterback and often he makes tackles after getting up from the ground and hustling after the ball when most players would have given up. With Sammie Hill, Cliff Avril, Lawrence Jackson and Turk McBride also adding their high octane play, the Wrecking Crew is one to give the Lions a chance each and every week.

The Lions have given up the same amount of sacks as the Giants have given up. Both teams have allowed 9 sacks. The Giants defense has 5 more sacks than the Lions defense has, but if you take away the one big game the Lions defense has been wracking them up just as well.

Both Shaun Hill of the Lions and Eli Manning of the Giants have 8 touchdowns a piece. Eli has one more interception with 8 compared to Hill's 7 picks.

The Giants are 3-1 and though the Lions are 1-4, with a couple of bad calls at critical times in the game called right, the Lions could easily be 3-2 as well.

This game will come down to which quarterback makes the most mistakes and which team has the most penalties. This game very well could come down to whether Calvin Johnson is healthy enough to not only play but contribute. This game could come down to whether the Lions coaches will be aggressive on another team's turf or whether they fall into the conservative approach again.

If the Lions are healthy and the coaches call the game aggressively, I can see the Lions winning this one by a field goal. I also think that might be asking too much.

New York Giants - 24
Detroit Lions - 17

10/14/10

Lions Defense; Is It Aggressive Enough?

The Detroit Lions defense is as good as it has been and better since the turn of the century. In 5 weeks it has accumulated 14 sacks and 7 interceptions. In a 16 game season that would work out to be 44 sacks and 22 interceptions. That is 6 sacks more than their best season in the last decade and only once have they had more interceptions. In 2000 they had 25. The question is, are they being aggressive enough?

The Lions have the 6th most sacks in the NFL right now with 14 total sacks. But of those 14 sacks, 11 of them have come from their defensive line. Two sacks have been wracked up by defensive backs, leaving the linebackers with only 1 sack. Think about that. 79% of their sacks were by their defensive linemen. Of the top 8 teams in sacks, only one team has a higher ratio than the Detroit Lions. 87% of the Eagles 15 sacks have come via the defensive line. Now you can choose to look at that and see how good the Lions defensive line is, but it makes me wonder just how many sacks the Lions would have if they were more aggressive.

Look at the Chargers for instance. San Diego has 18 sacks after five games. Only 3 have come from their defensive line. That means that the linebackers and defensive backs have accumulated 83% of the teams sacks. Imagine if they had the Lions defensive line. Talk about a team that would be laying the pressure on opposing quarterbacks! Now some might say that if the Chargers had the Lions defensive line, that they would not need to blitz so much. My question is, why wouldn't they want more sacks? Every time you put the quarterback on hi back, it is one less time he is throwing down field. The last time I checked, there are greater that he will complete a pass throwing into double coverage than he will when he is sacked.

In my humble opinion, it is nearly a crime that after 5 games, the Lions back 7 defensive players have only 3 total sacks. Of the top 8 teams in the NFL in sacks, only the Eagles are worse in that category. Their back 7 have only 2 sacks. The next closest to the Lions is Tennessee. They have 5 sacks by their back seven.

Julian Peterson is supposed to be a good linebacker for chasing down quarterbacks. Zack Follett is supposed to have the speed to do so. So why are they not doing so? As good as the Lions defensive line is, when they send an extra man, there should be no reason he shouldn't get a hurry on the quarterback if not a hit or sack. The more you pressure a quarterback, the more often he will hurry his throws. The more he hurries his passing, the better chance of an interception.

Yet when all is said and done, the Lions defense is playing well. At the Detroit Lions current pace, they will have 44 sacks and 22 interceptions. In recent years, those numbers would rank approximately 5th best in the NFL in each category. Which is a far cry from the league worst defense the Lions have displayed in recent seasons huh?

10/10/10

Lions Maul Rams in Week-5

38 points the Lions won by. The 44 - 6 victory over the St.Louis Rams was the largest victory margin since 1995 for the Detroit Lions.

The Rams tried a little trickery to start the game off as they went for the on-side kick on the first kick-off of the game. The Lions rookie, Amari Spievey skied for the ball and came down with it. The Lions converted the good field position into only a field goal. For the rest of the first quarter, both teams looked lethargic until Detroit allowed the Rams to drive 62 yards and kick a field goal as the first quarter came to a close to tie the score. The ensuing kick-off to start the 2nd quarter was returned by Logan for 105 yards and a touchdown. After that, other than one more field goal by the Rams, it was all Lions.

Shaun Hill completed 65.6% of his passes for 224 yards and 3 touchdowns to Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, and Brandon Pettigrew. Jahvid Best had 67 yards on 18 carries and added another 4 catches for 37 yards.

Ndamukong Suh tipped one pass up and caught it himself then scrambled across the field while gaining 20 yards. There was one other interception, by Alphonso Smith, who ran it back for 42 yards and a touchdown. Smith also had a fumble recovery.

Even long time veteran, Jason Hanson, got in on the fun by connecting for 3 field goals and 5 extra points.

It was the most exciting Detroit Lions game I have seen in years, but it came at a price. Late in the fourth quarter, Calvin Johnson was slow to get up and once on the sideline, they removed his pads and wrapped his right shoulder. It is not known yet how bad the injury is.

The question is however, are the Lions as good as they played, or did the Rams just play a very bad game? Likely the Rams did play below their abilities, however, the Lions still had to play very well to win so dominantly. A 38 point victory margin is a good example of how improved the Lions are from previous years.

Lions vs Rams Pregame Week-5

They were labeled the worst in the league before the season started. After a couple wins the Rams have shown they are better than most thought. After coming just a little short of winning three of their games, the last being the Packers, the Lions have shown they can compete with even the good teams. Now the Rams and Lions will face off and see who is the better team.

If not for bad play calling, Hill having to come in with little practice time with the first unit and a bad call in the last minute, the Lions would have beaten the Bears. With better play calling, or if the refs would have called the push-off against Philadelphia on one of their touchdowns, the Lions would have beaten the Eagles. If not for a no-call on a pass interference, the Lions could have beaten the Packers. I am not blaming the losses on those things right now, but just pointing out how close the lowly Detroit Lions are to being 3-1. Yet even if they were 3-1, the Rams would be no push over this week.

The Rams have won their games with defense more than anything. If the Lions open their playbook and play like they did against the Packers and not the three previous games, they have the talent to beat the Rams defense. The Rams do not have a cornerback who can match up to Calvin Johnson and the Speed of Jahvid Best will give them fits. Yet even if the Rams focus on those two, they still have two strong pass catching tight ends and Nate Burleson to worry about this week.

The Lions biggest problem is giving up the big plays. However well he has improved, Bradford is still a rookie and will make mistakes if the Lions put enough pressure on him. With the Wrecking Crew the Lions have up front, they have the ability to put a rush on Bradford that he has not seen the likes of yet in the NFL. However, while going after Bradford, the Lions absolutely must keep close tabs on Steven Jackson.

After coming so close to winning three of their four games, this should be the week the Lions bust through that barrier and get their first win. If the Lions do not win this week, they are in for a very very long season indeed. They cannot afford another loss. Especially against a team they should beat.

Detroit Lions 24
St.Louis Rams 13

10/7/10

Millen Not the One to Hate

With this weekend being a match-up of Michigan and Michigan State (Both Undefeated) and Matt Millen being one of the announcers for the game on TV, there seems to be a lot of resurfaced hate for the former Detroit Lions General Manager. But is Matt Millen the one who the fans should be hating?

If someone offered you a job in something you love and offered to pay you extremely well, wouldn't you take it? Of course you would. And so did Matt Millen.

If after a few years you showed that you pretty much had no idea how to do a good job, would you just up and give up the money and quit a job you love? Of course not. You would keep trying to get better at it so long as you loved it.

Now let's say in stead of quitting and rather than your boss firing you, your boss came up and offered you a new contract? Would you turn it down? Of course you would not!

The fact is, no matter how badly it is going, to walk away would be as good as quitting. The last thing any man with any real respect for himself wants, is to be labeled a quitter. Think Bobby Ross. When his name is mentioned, the first thought that pops into my head is no longer "the great coach at Michigan". No. Now it is the coach that quit because he was failing. So why would we expect someone else to do something that none of us would do?

Matt Millen might have been one of the worst GMs of all time in the NFL, if not all sports. He definitely should take some of the blame for ruining the Lions. However, as fans, if you feel you need to hate someone for the shape the Lions were in and their infamous 0-16 season, Matt Millen is the wrong person to hate. After all, he only did what any one of us would do. Accept contracts to run an NFL team and get paid handsomely for it. If you must hate someone, that someone should be Bill Ford Sr.

It was Ford who hired Millen. It was the Fords who went after Millen, not Millen who chased the Fords for a job. It was the Fords who instead of firing him for a bad job, they gave him contract extensions.

We hate Millen for signing a contract that any one of us would love to sign. We hate Millen for drafting horribly, yet after the drafts, not once did the papers ever grade him badly. We hate Millen for signing contract extensions, even though any one of us would have done the same.

The fans of the Detroit Lions need to except the fact that Millen is not the one who deserves the hate. Ford is, if anyone is. Millen only did what any one of us would have done.

As for Millen being an announcer... grow up people. Where did Millen screw up the worst? As a General Manager! In choosing draft picks and knowing how to run a team. He still knows football, he just doesn't know real talent! IF the Lions or one of the Michigan based colleges hired Millen as a scout or coach, then I can see everyone getting upset. To think he cannot talk football just because he sucked as a GM? That is ridiculous. One has nothing to do with the other.

The fact is, it is wrong to hate Millen because he is the wrong person to hate. It is wrong to hate Millen as an announcer, because that is what he was actually good at before the Lions offered him that first dreaded contract. He is back to where he belongs. Announcing games rather than managing the teams.

Lions on Bad Side of Calls

I am not one to blame games on refs. Far more often than not, it is the fans of the losing team that will complain about the calls by the refs. Yet there is definitely a case to be made with the 2010 Detroit Lions.

Everyone already knows all about the ridiculous call in the opening week against the Chicago Bears. Every fan in the NFL and every player will say that Calvin Johnson made that catch and it should be a touchdown. By the written rules, that should have been a touchdown and a win for the Lions. Yet it was due to a strange interpretation of the rule that added meaning to the rule that is not actually written in the rule that turned it into an incompletion. Then the following play their should have been a pass interference call on Chicago and a first and goal situation at the one yard line. After making a ridiculous call to take one touchdown away, the refs made a ridiculous no-call on the pass interference to possibly take another touchdown away. That game can easily be said to have been the refs who took the win away from the Lions.

Then in the very next week, the Lions lost 35 to 32. Only three points. Yet the Lions were winning 17-14 in the second quarter when the Eagles scored a touchdown to take the lead with only 13 seconds left in the first half. So rather than going into the locker room at the half with momentum and feeling good, the Lions went in trailing by 3 points and the momentum shifted over to Philadelphia. That touchdown should never have been! It was obvious on the play that the Eagles receiver pushed off of the Lions defender to get separation. They were the only two payers in the endzone on the play, so there was no chance of the officials not having a clear view. It is a call I have seen Calvin Johnson get called for in the past. Instead of a touchdown giving the Eagles a lead with 13 seconds, it should have been a penalty. That no-call gave the Eagles 7 points (4 more than the Lions lost by), and the momentum coming out of the half time break.

Then last week against the Packers, on 3rd and 9 with 6:43 left in the game, the Lions needed a first down. Down by two points, they needed to move the ball another 7 to 10 yards to get in field goal range for a chance to win. Shaun Hill threw a pass to Calvin Johnson who had a defender draped all over him. The Cornerback was bumping against him throughout the entire route and still was shoving against him when the ball got there and Calvin Johnson could not hang onto it. There was no doubt of the pass interference on that play and yet, again, there was no call. With a 4th and 9, the Lions were forced to punt the ball and the Packers were able to run time out. Another ridiculous no-call by the refs when that very pass interference would have given the Lions a first down inside of field goal range. The worst thing is that this no-call came in a game when the refs called the Lions on 13 penalties and the Packers on only three. They were trigger happy with the flags against the Lions and when Green Bay makes a crucial and blatant penalty that would have let the Lions win the game, the refs kept their hands in their pockets.

Three of the first four games for the Lions ended in losses that could easily be pointed to a particular bad call or no-call by the refs that would have given the Lions a win. Not the simple no-calls where there was a possible interference or holding or something, but blatant penalties that were ignored by the refs. Yet they had the nerve to call Johnson for that ridiculous rule in the first game.

Again I say, the Lions could have won all three of those games in other ways. They made some big mistakes. The took a lot of penalties. The Lions played terrible offense in some games. They had their opportunities and blew it. Yet even with all of their miscues, they should have to lose the games due to their play, not due to refs calling the game wrong.

10/3/10

Lions Lose to Packers in Week-4

After three weeks of showing no offense except at the end of each half, and almost beating, but still losing to lesser teams, the Lions face the Green Bay Packers. I did not hear even one fan say they thought the Lions could beat the Packers. I thought they would be crushed. In the end, it was not the Packers who beat the Lions, but it was the Detroit Lions who beat the Detroit Lions.

In the first half Jahvid Best fell down on a pass route. The pass from Shaun Hill looked like it would have been on the mark, but with Best on the ground, it floated dreadfully into the hands of a Packer. At another point, Jahvid Best fumbled a hand-off. Not the normal fumble you would expect. It looked to be a clean hand-off, but as a defender blitzed past him, it looked like he might have struck Best's arm. The ball shot away from Jahvid Best like it was thrown and fell into the trenches and in the scramble, it was Green Bay who came up with it. On yet another pass play, Best fell down and the ball sailed harmlessly away. Jahvid Best was a part of two turnovers. One lead to a Green Bay Touchdown and the other stopped the Lions from getting at least a field goal. In short.... Jahvid Best had a terrible first half.

But it wasn't just Jahvid Best who hurt the Lions this Sunday. It was the whole team. The Lions had an astounding 13 penalties for 103 yards compared to the Packers 3 penalties for only 31 yards.

Speaking of penalties however, it seems as though the refs are not finished screwing over the Lions in 2010. In the 4th quarter, the Lions needed a first down when Shaun Hill threw a pass to Calvin Johnson. Before the pass was thrown, Johnson had a defender shoving against him. After the pass was thrown, that same defender was still all over him. As Johnson tried to pull in the pass, that defender was still draped all over Johnson. Yet no flag was thrown. Johnson cried for the flag, but the refs turned a blind eye to an obvious pass interference that would have given them a first down and put them in field goal range. A field goal would have given the Lions the lead.

At another point, Shaun Hill scrambled to his left and threw an incompletion in the end-zone. Yet it was obvious to any on lookers that if Hill would have tucked the ball and ran with it, he could have scored the touchdown himself. Yet that is understandable at least. It all happens fast down there in the red zone and by the time he was open to run with it, he had already committed his mind to pass the ball.

So after a game of massive amounts of penalties, players falling down and fumbling, and the refs once again making a mistake that hurt the Lions, the Detroit Lions lost to the great Green Bay Packers 28 to 26.

It was early in the second half when Shaun Hill had a pass intercepted by Charles Woodson, who ran it back for a touchdown. Those 7 points were the only points the Lions defense allowed Green Bay to score in the second half.

It seems the Lions have found a pattern and are holding to it this year. They get screwed over by refs. They fall behind early. They make a great comeback and they somehow find a way to fall short of winning.

In 4 losses thus far in 2010, the Lions have won one game and had it taken away because of the refs, lost two others that they could easily have won and were flat out beaten in only one game. Yet all in all, as much as another loss hurts, none of us thought they would have even competed with the Packers. That the Detroit Lions actually were in the thick of it right to the end, and played so well in the second half, that is far more than we expected to get from them.

Lions vs Packers Pregame Week-4

Though the Packers lost to the Bears last week. A team the Lions actually beat if the real rules were followed. That is the only comparison to be found on why the Lions should beat the Green Bay Packers.

Green Bay is one of the best teams in the NFC if not the NFL. Rodgers is one of the best for getting rid of the ball fast while under pressure. To beat him, you need to get to him real fast and have his receivers as well as his tight end covered until you get to him. This would take the mam-to-man, bump and run defense and a lot of blitzing. The Lions are not known for any of that.

To beat there defense, the Lions would have to take shots down field to stretch the defense. This is another thing the Lions are not doing.

With the way Linehan is calling plays, Schwartz is being conservative, Stafford still out and Best not at full health, the Lions chances of beating the Packers are about as good as the odds of getting me to eat broccoli.

Packers 37 - Lions 13

10/1/10

Calvin Johnson Has Plenty of Heart

I have been hearing a disturbing trend recently. It seems there are a lot of fans saying that Calvin Johnson lacks the heart to be a great NFL receiver. I can assure you this is not true.

We all know he has the skills and body to be one of the very best if not the best receiver in the NFL. At 6'5" tall and 236 pounds, Calvin Johnson is an imposing figure for an NFL wide receiver. He has strong soft hands and a great leaping ability to go up above most if not all defensive players to get the ball. Yet last year, he had only 67 catches for 984 yards and 5 touchdowns. After 3 weeks in the young 2010 season, Calvin only has 14 snags for 141 yards and a single TD. So many fans begin to wonder, if he is so great, where is the production? Since the fans know he has the abilities and the body size, they begin to question his heart.

The problem with Calvin Johnson's heart is not that he lacks any. More than likely it is the product of the Lemming Effect. In case you do not know, a lemming is a small rodent that has a reputation of mass suicide due to one lemming running into a large river and the rest following it. When people follow what others do or say just because others do it, they are often referred to as lemmings. A few people can call into a radio show, or one writer can write that Calvin Johnson lacks heart and back it up with a few misguided stats. Others (the lemmings) will follow that belief rather than think about the logic of it all. The more people who believe and say something, the more people there will be to believe it must be true. This is what has happened to Calvin Johnson's heart. He has never lacked heart, he only had a few people start saying it, then others believed it, then more people believed it just because so many were saying it.

Lets take a look at Calvin Johnson
When he came into the league, as a rookie, he hurt his back. He played with it for most of the year and had 48 catches, 756 yards and 4 touchdowns. In 2007, as a rookie, he had no running backs or good receivers to take any of the pressure away from him.

Then in 2008 he was healthy, had a better understanding of the playbook, and was able to take advantage of John Kitna in his last year with the Lions throwing to him. He ended the season with 78 receptions, 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns. In the last ten years, these are the players who had seasons that were hands down better than Calvin Johnson's sophomore year.

2008 -- Calvin Johnson ----- 78 Catches -- 1,331 Yards -- 12 TDs
2009 -- Andre Johnson ----- 101 Catches -- 1,569 Yards --- 9 TDs
2008 -- Larry Fitzgerald --- 96 Catches -- 1,431 Yards -- 12 TDs
2007 -- Randy Moss --------- 98 Catches -- 1,493 Yards -- 23 TDs
2007 -- Terrell Owens ------ 81 Catches -- 1,355 Yards -- 15 TDs
2007 -- Braylon Edwards ---- 80 Catches -- 1,289 Yards -- 16 TDs
2006 -- Marvin Harrison ---- 95 Catches -- 1,336 Yards -- 12 TDs
2005 -- Steve Smith ------- 103 Catches -- 1,563 Yards -- 12 TDs
2004 -- Mushin Mahhamed ---- 93 Catches -- 1,405 Yards -- 16 TDs
2004 -- Javon Walker ------- 89 Catches -- 1,382 Yards -- 12 TDs
2003 -- Torry Holt -------- 117 Catches -- 1,696 Yards -- 12 TDs
2003 -- Randy Moss -------- 111 Catches -- 1,632 Yards -- 17 TDs
2002 -- Marvin Harrison --- 143 Catches -- 1,722 Yards -- 11 TDs
2001 -- Marvin Harrison --- 109 Catches -- 1,524 Yards -- 15 TDs
2001 -- Terrell Owens - ---- 93 Catches -- 1,412 Yards -- 16 TDs

THere were several others that were great seasons, but they either had less yards or less TDs making it easy to argue that Calvin's year was better, depending on what stat you favor.

So Calvin Johnson had a season that ranked up there with the greats in 2008, his second year. In 2009, Johnson had a bruised thigh and then had a knee injury to slow him down. He had a rookie quarterback or a has been quarterback throwing to him. His running back was the slow falling forward, Kevin Smith. His best receiver to take pressure off of him was Brandon Pettigrew, a rookie tight end! Not to mention that Pettigrew was also a rookie. This year, Stafford went down in the first game and has not returned yet. The play calling has been horrendous and he has not even been a target until they have gone into a two minute drill.

Most of the other great receivers have a lot more to help them out. Moss has Tom Brady throwing to him. Harrison and Wayne had Manning. Walker had Favre. They have great QBs throwing them the ball. They could have a great running back to pull the defense's focus. They may have had great receivers to accommodate them. The most common denominator however is that they are used right. They are thrown to on all sorts of situations. It could be 3rd and 1 or 3rd and 23. It might be the first play of the game or off of play actions. Whether it is a passing situation or a running situation, the great receivers will be thrown to. When they seem covered, they are thrown to because they will make a play. Calvin Johnson does not have any of these luxuries.

In week 1 against the Bears, Calvin made a touchdown catch to win the game. The refs and the NFL misinterpreted the rules by adding meaning that is not stated in the written rule to take that catch away. What they did not take away however, was the fact he made the catch while backwards in the air. I have seen Calvin Johnson make a lot of acrobatic catches. I have seen him go up and become a defender to stop a poorly thrown pass from being picked off. I have seen him have a great season that matches many of the best in the last decade. I can assure you, if Calvin Johnson was lacking heart, we would not have seen those things.

It takes heart to make it to the NFL in the first place. It takes heart to make diving grabs, and acrobatic catches in the NFL. It takes heart to get 1,331 yards in the NFL. It takes heart to pull in 12 TDs in the NFL. You know what else it takes to get 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns in the NFL? Help! That is something Calvin Johnson has not had.

The Detroit Lions running backs do not have much room to run. Calvin Johnson is often double or even triple covered. If you want to pull some of that coverage off of #81, you need to open the running game. If they want to open the running game, they need to start passing down field. The mistake the Lions are making is that they think to throw the ball down field, the receivers need to be open. For most cases, that is right. But not with receivers of Calvin Johnson's caliber! If he is covered or sometimes even double covered, throw him the ball deep still. Send the other receivers deep and throw them the ball. Send the tight ends or running backs deep and throw them the ball! Once you start taking chances down field, the defense will realize it needs to worry about the deep pass. This will open room for the running backs to run. Once the running game is going, the passing game will open up. But it all starts with trusting your receiver to make plays. Either catching the ball or playing defender if he cant catch it.

If you swapped Calvin Johnson with any of those players (ignoring time-lines of course), Those players would have their heart questioned by Lions fans and Calvin Johnson would be considered one of the very best. Johnson does not lack heart. He lacks trust from his coaches and chances when its not a passing situation already, and help from teammates.

Lions Lose to Vikings in Week-3

I apologize for this coming so late. This is seriously the first chance I have had to sit down and write in any of my blogs this week.

The simple fact is, the game against the Vikings was easily the worst in Detroit this year. It could be argued that it was the worst in several years because absolutely everyone believed the Lions would look better than they did.

If I would have told people that the Lions would only allow Favre to get 201 yards and 1 touchdown while throwing 2 interceptions, and Peterson would only get 80 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries against the Lions, nobody would have believed me. Everyone expected Favre and Peterson to have bigger numbers than those. Yet if you take away the one single big play, an 80 yard run for a TD by Peterson, then that is exactly what the Lions did. One mistake play that allowed a long TD. Other than that one play, the Lions defense did a very good job.

The Detroit Lions offense on the other hand, now that was bad. Shaun Hill's stats line was very similar to Brett Favre's. Which is not very good. But the Lions offense lost both Jahvid Best and Nate Burleson for the game.

Once again the Lions play calling was not good. Oh, you might remember two end-arounds and think Linehan was being more imaginative. The problem is one of those was with Calvin Johnson running the ball. Let me tell you now, that play is not going to work. Of anyone you want to hand the ball off to, Calvin Johnson is the last player the Lions should give it to. Think about it and try using some common sense (something Linehan does not seem to have). Who is the most focused on play on the Lions at this time? Calvin Johnson! Almost every play the defenses have double and triple covered him. Take Johnson out of the scheme and you pretty much kill the air game for Detroit. So when Calvin takes off and runs across the backfield and takes a hand-off, what other worldly logic says that the defense might not be ready for him to get the ball? They think they can cover the other receivers one on one. So follow Johnson and make sure he doesn't make a play! Notice that when they used Logan on the End around later on in the game, Logan actually gained 21 yards compared to Johnson's 3. I like that they tried the end-around finally. Now they just have to learn how to use it.

The Lions still have no idea how to use Best. In 7 carries, he had 4 to the left and 3 up the middle. Not one to the right. Not one true play action. Not one single cut back run. Everything is telegraphed to the defense. Nothing to make the defense second guess themselves.

So far in three consecutive losses this season, it has been the Lions offense that has been the biggest problem every game. The offense does not extend drives to take time off the clock. It allows the opposing offense back on the field too quickly, not giving the Lions defense ample rest or better field position to defend. In all three games, the only time the Lions offense has been able to move the ball with any consistency is late in the first half or late in the second half, when they go into a two minute no huddle drive and actually start throwing the ball down field.

Only twice in the game did the Lions have a 3rd down and 2 or less yards to go and used a run play. Once it was for no gain and the other was a 1 yard loss. Yet nearly half of their short yardage plays they will call a run up the middle.

With around 12 to 14 seconds left in the first half, the Lions were trailing 14-7, Schwartz elected to let the clock run down to 3 seconds and kick a field goal from the Minnesota 15 yard line. It was only 2nd down. From the 15 yard line they might have had time to take 2 shots into the end-zone to tie up the game. In the very least they could have taken one shot for the TD and still kicked a field goal if it didn't work. Schwartz would rather take the field goal and stay down by 4 yards than take a chance the Lions offense would screw up and come away with nothing. I have to wonder. Is it a lack of faith in Hill as the quarterback or a lack of faith in Linehan to call a good play?

I still believe the Lions have a team that should beat Minnesota right now. Unfortunately the Lions do not have coaches that can do it.