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Ndamukong Suh's Sack List
Keep track of which quarterbacks Suh has faced and which ones he has taken down.

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Lions vs Packers Pre-game WK-17

The Lions have not won in Lambeau Field since 1991. he Green Bay Packers have nothing to play for this week and will likely rest their starters. The Lions need a win to wrap up the 5th seed in the play-offs and face the Giants or Cowboys rather than the Saints. Put it all together and you have a blow-out Lions victory and an end to the losing in Green Bay streak right? Yes and No.

I completely expect the Packers starters to get in a few reps to stay in rhythm before leaving the game to their back-ups on Sunday. I don't expect the Lions starters to play a whole bunch longer. It is more important to be healthy going into our first play-off game in over a decade than it is to win in Lambeau and get the fifth seed. Everyone wants the starters to get the win and face the Giants or Cowboys rather than the Saints. Try looking at it in a different perspective. Which would you rather have? A healthy Lions team facing the Saints, or a Lions team without Stafford or Calvin facing the Giants? Yes they have stayed healthy, and the odds they get hurt is not high. This is the play-offs we are talking about. A chance to get to the Superbowl. You Don't Take Chances!!!!

Now I ask you some other questions.
1) Who do you think has the advantage. A virtual rookie in Flynn, or an experienced Shaun Hill?
2) Rest Suh and Vanden Bosch and do you think the Lions D-line depth, with Sammie Lee Hill and Fluellen would not put any pressure on Flynn?
3) Do you like the Lions back-up defensive players more or the Packers back-up defensive players?
4) Rest Pettigrew and Finley, and whose back-up TE is better? Scheffler or Crabtree?
5) Rest Woodson and Houston and whose back-up CBs are better?

I don't know about anyone else, but I like the Lions back-ups better than the Packers back-ups. Green Bay has an awesome offense, but it is dependent on their starters being healthy. The Lions offense can be nearly as awesome, but they are not quite as dependent on starters. More importantly, the Lions defense can be very good and their backup players have gotten a lot of experience and done well. The Packers starting defense is not that good and I would expect their back-ups to be worse. The Lions 2nd string players should be able to beat the Packers 2nd string players.

I fully expect the Packers to take their star players out very early. After they are gone, I would not be surprised to see the Lions star players put up enough quick points to get a one or two touchdown lead. After that, I think it will be back-ups against back-ups, and I have confidence the Lions can sustain a lead if not build on one after that.

One last question. Where would Schwartz take more grief? If he plays back-ups and they lose the fifth seed spot, or if he plays the starters and Stafford gets hurt in a nearly meaningless game?


Stafford Should Be in Pro-Bowl

When the 2012 NFL Pro-bowl rosters were released, there was a glaring mistake in the eyes of many. After Rodgers and Brees as the QBs for the NFC, it had Eli Manning listed and not Matthew Stafford.

Eli Manning has 69 more yards than Stafford, but that is the only statistic that is worth counting where Manning is better. Stafford has 10 more TDs, 2 fewer ITs, and completed 3.4% more of his passes. Stafford has thrown more and completed more and his passer rating is 6.3 better than Manning's. Many fans tend to believe it is just another example of Detroit not getting any respect. Let me assure you, respect has nothing to do with it.

One thing that has played a giant (no pun intended) role in keeping Stafford from being chosen was the broken finger he suffered after the bye-week. With a fractured finger on his throwing hand, Stafford donned a pair of gloves, and with them his accuracy suffered terribly. In the three games in which he wore the gloves, Matthew Stafford threw a total of 9 picks. To give you an understanding of just how bad that is, in the other 13 games in which Stafford did not wear the gloves, he only threw 5 interceptions. Think about that. In 12 games when healthy, Stafford averages only 0.41 picks a game. That is not even 1 turnover 2 two games. When injured, he averaged 3 picks per game. I guarantee you that if Stafford would have had 36 TDs and only 7 or 8 interceptions, he would be in the Pro-bowl.

Yet do we truly know just how good he is? I dare say those numbers are still a little deceiving. In many games this year, the play calling was horrendous and lethargic. The Lions offense often did not get going until after the halftime break. I cannot help but to wonder just what his numbers would be like if Stafford had not broken his finger and had an OC who was aggressive from the start of games.

There is no doubt in my mind that Stafford belongs in the pro-bowl. Other than Rodgers, Brees and Brady, no other QB in the NFL has been better when healthy this year. Even with the injury, no other QB has brought his team from larger deficits this year than Matthew Stafford has.

But there is a bright side to this oversight. Stafford will now have his focus on the Play-offs rather than the Pro-bowl, a game that few watch and means less than a preseason game. Considering the odds that the Lions very well could be facing the New York Giants in the first round, it will make the game that much more interesting as Matthew Stafford will be facing Eli Manning who was voted in ahead of him.


Lions 38 - Chargers 10

The Detroit Lions gave their fans the best present possible on Christmas Eve as they routed the San Diego Chargers 38-10 and cemented their place in the NFL Play-offs for the first time since 1999.

My wife and I were on our way to the Christmas Eve Family dinner and stopped to get a few last minute stocking stuffers. What we had hoped would be a ten minute foray turned into a half hour adventure before we were back in the truck again. That's when it hit me. The Lions had already started!

I turned on the radio, already upset with myself for missing the first ten minutes of the game, and I was just in time to listen to the Lions kick a field goal to go up 10 to nothing. That is when something else hit me. I forgot to set the DVR to record it so I can go over the game later. There would be no need for that.

The offense was sharp from start to finish as Stafford threw for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns. Johnson had gone into his Megatron altar-ego to snatch only 4 catches for 102 yards and a TD. Brandon Pettigrew was a beast as he pulled in 9 receptions for 80 yards and a TD of his own. It seemed as if anything Linehan dialed up was executed flawlessly and he did an outstanding job of dialing in this game.

Everyone talked about how good the Chargers defense was, but the Lions defense showed they were up to the challenge. Though Rivers threw for almost 300 yards, he only had 1 touchdown compared to two interceptions and completed only 52.8% of his attempts. Ryan Mathews ran well as he gained 5.2 yards per carry, but the Lions jumping to a 24-0 lead at half time took him out of the game.

The coaches did a great job. The offense was outstanding. The defense was ferocious. With a chance to cement a spot in the NFL Play-offs, the Lions put together four complete quarters and this time did it against a good team that had been playing at a playoff caliber level. The Detroit Lions just put the NFL on notice. They were not about to back into the play-offs. They were not to be taken lightly. If they do this in the play-offs, they can beat any team they face.

Today I saw the Lions I have been clamoring for all season. Not winning on the big play alone. Not having to come back in the fourth quarter. All year I have argued that the Lions have a good enough team to beat anyone they meet when they put it all together. Here on Christmas Eve, the Lions showed the rest of the world what I knew was there. A great team! Not an improved team. Not a team that was a year or two away from being a contender. But a team that is a contender now and has the ability to knock out its foes rather than take the fight to the last bell.

This was the best Christmas Eve I have seen in many, many years and will be the best Christmas in as long. Merry Christmas Lions fans. You deserve this one!


Lions vs Chargers Pregame

The Detroit Lions have not been to the NFL Playoffs since 1999. Think about that. Almost any kid who has not graduated high-school would have no memory of the Lions in the playoffs. On Christmas Eve, the Lions can cement their spot in the NFL Playoffs by beating the San Diego Chargers.

There is talk that this will be a high scoring shootout and whichever team has the ball last will win. It seems I say this a lot lately, but hogwash! Again, the last thing the Lions want is a shootout because quite frankly, they will not win that way. As potent as their offense is, their offense is not one that can be depended on for a full game. If you have followed my blog this year, or know me personally, you will also know that I have been upset with this very fact all season. Only twice have the Lions offense looked good for an entire game. Twice in 14 games! That is only a 14% chance the offense will put in four solid quarters.

The Chargers have a good duo of running backs and that is the Lions weak spot on defense. Don't get me wrong. Their run defense is nowhere near as bad as most fans (or their stats) makes you believe, but it is still not their strong suit. If the Lions want to win this game, they need to get the Chargers away from running the ball and more into the passing game. As good as Rivers can be, if you want to beat the Chargers, you have to beat them on your own terms. With the Lions, that is putting pressure on the passer, and for obvious reasons, you cannot put pressure on the passer if they are running the ball.

The way to get San Diego passing more is to score early and make them play from behind. So once again, it is extremely important for the Lions offense to get into the end-zone early. If they do not, there is too high of a chance the fans will be forced to sit through another Maalox Fourth Quarter as we watch the game from our knees, praying the Lions can pull out yet another come from behind victory.

The Chargers 7-7 record is deceiving. They have gotten better in recent weeks and are playing at a playoff caliber level. The Detroit Lions have yet to beat a team this year that was playing well. There is absolutely no doubt they have the talent to do so, but these coaches have yet to show they can out-coach the guys on opposing sidelines. Instead, they have been saved by the immense talent making big plays at opportune times. If the Lions want to beat the Chargers, they will need to either, absolutely out-perform them with better talent, or the coaches to have one of their best days. Let's hear it for great talent!

If the Chargers lose, they will be taken out of the play-off hunt. This is a must win for the team. They will definitely be a hungry team. The Lions should be even hungrier! With no playoff appearances in over a decade, they simply cannot afford to lose this game and have to beat the Packers in Green Bay to make the playoffs. They do not want to depend on other teams losing in order to back into the Playoffs. It will be Christmas Eve, and the best present the Detroit Lions can give to their fans (as well as to themselves), is a victory over the Chargers and a trip to the Playoffs!

Merry Christmas to all who read this. Go Lions!


Lions 28 - Raiders 27

The Detroit Lions played the role of the Comeback Cats once again as they overcame a 13 point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Oakland Raiders 28 to 27.

The world seems to be picking up the "Comeback Cats" nickname for the Lions. I cannot help but to equate them to the NFL's version of "Jeckyl & Hyde". The Lions offense seems to be the mild mannered scientist that keeps trying experiments that do nothing but fail. They will continue to run the ball up the middle even though they do not have the power to get any push. The Lions continue to throw passes that have simple routes and get no to few yards. They continue to use Calvin Johnson in a limited role and look to other receivers with less talent. In other words, they continue to enter games and play well below their abilities while depending on the defense to keep things close. Then sometime in the second half the Detroit Lions pull out the secret potion, pinch their noses and take a swallow. That is when the beast comes out. That is what happened again on Sunday in Oakland.

In three and a half quarters of play, the Lions scored two touchdowns. Both on big plays of 39 yards and 51 yards. Other than those two plays, the offense did little. In fact, in the first 3 1/2 quarters (10 drives), the longest drive lasted only 7 plays. It was a disheartening effort as they had 8 dropped passes in that time and it looked like the Lions were going to fall to the Raiders. The Giants had lost. The Bears had lost. Even the Packers lost. The NFL was trying hard to give the Lions every advantage to make the play-offs and Detroit was not taking advantage of it.

With 7:30 left in the fourth quarter, and down by 13 points, the Lions got the ball back at their own 43 yard line, and Mr.Hyde took over. They drove the 57 yards in a ten play drive that was capped off with a three yard pass to Titus Young for a touchdown. The Lions were now down 6 points with less than 5 minutes left, but they had to kick it off to the Raiders.

The Raiders started moving the ball against the Lions defense. They drove to the Lions 48 yard-line and knowing that Janikowski had tied the NFL record with a 63 yard field goal earlier in the season, the Raiders were knocking on the door of field goal range. Then finally, the defense figured out how to stop running back, Michael Bush, and forced a punt. My stomach turned when I watched the punt bounce, and roll to the Lions 2 yard line before being downed.

With only 2:11 left on the clock the Lions had to drive the ball 98 yards to score. But there was hope in the air for they had shown in the prior drive that it was Mr.Hyde on the field now and not the timid Dr.Jeckyl.

Stafford's first pass went incomplete before he connected with Pettigrew for an 8 yarder. On the next play he connected with Burleson for another 8 yards and a first down. With 1:33 left, Stafford completed a 28 yard pass to Calvin Johnson who was having a big game already. That pass gave Johnson 162 yards on 7 catches. That wasn't good enough however, and Stafford decided to make it a career day for Megatron.

Taking the snap, Stafford dropped back, then stepped forward and aired it out. 48 yards down the field, Johnson was running with a defender on each side of him. He suddenly stopped and let them run a couple steps past him as he turned and grabbed the ball while falling to the ground. Two penalties (one for each team), and an incomplete pass later, Calvin Johnson broke to the middle and Stafford rifled one to him for a 6 yard touchdown and the Detroit Lions took the lead.

With :29 seconds left and two Oakland timeouts left, it was still too early to rejoice. It was the Lions defense, turn to look timid as Kevin Boss took in two consecutive passes for 34 yards total. One of them, Alfonso Smith went for a pick and missed, allowing the Raider's tight end to break away for extra yards. However, the Lions did what they do best on defense these days. They made the big play. Avril broke loose and sacked Carson Palmer for the second time and the Lions defense stopped the Raiders at the Detroit 47 yard line and with 4 seconds left, Oakland decided to go for a 64 yard field goal. An NFL record.

And here is where I need to say, I thank God that Ndamukong Suh was back from his suspension. Suh leapt up and got a hand on the kick to send it fluttering of target. Even with the partial block, the kick sailed to the two yard line. Watching the kick, I am a believer that if Suh did not get a piece of it, that ball had enough distance and would have won the game for the Raiders.

In the end, Matthew Stafford had 4 TDs and 391 yards passing, and Megatron had 214 yards on 9 catches and 2 touchdowns. More importantly, the Mr.Hyde persona of the Detroit Lions got another victory and put the Lions 2 games above any competition in the play-off race with 2 games left in the season.


Lions vs Raiders Pre-game

There is something intriguing about the Detroit Lions going to the west coast to play the Oakland Raiders. Two teams that love to get after the opposing quarterbacks and both teams take a lot of penalties. The key however is the ability to get after the quarterbacks.

Last week against the Packers, Carson Palmer threw 4 interceptions. He has 6 of his passes picked off in the last three games. So it is clear that if you put pressure on Palmer, he will make his mistakes. Another thing that is clear is that the Lions are indeed a team that can and will put pressure on him.

People have complained about Ndamukong Suh this year. His 31 tackles and only 3 sacks, after all, are far below his totals as a rookie. The fact is however, stomp aside, Suh is having an outstanding year. Every team knows how good Suh is and they are not going to allow him to just beat up their quarterbacks. So to defend him, they put Suh in a double team on most plays. This double team is effective in that it slows him down enough that either the quarterback has enough time to throw the ball, or someone else on the Lions defensive line gets to the quarterback before Suh does. But if you are wondering how much Suh means to the Lions defense, go back and watch the Vikings game from last week again.

Yes I know the Lions caused fumbles, got sacks and played well, but go look at something in particular. Look at how much pressure the Lions got on the QB up the middle of the line. There really was not much. The Lions were depending on the DE's to get the pressure and Avril and Vanden Bosch came through. But the Detroit defensive Tackles did not do much.

This week Ndamukong Suh will be back from his suspension. After watching his team play without him for two weeks, you know he is hungry to get going again. Believe me, there is little a quarterback likes less than pressure up the middle that keeps him from being able to step up into the pocket.

On the other hand, the Raiders have more sacks than the Lions do, so they are no slouch in getting pressure on the quarterbacks either. The difference is that the Lions protect the ball much better than the Raiders do.

I know it is easy to look at Stafford's stats and see how he has thrown 14 picks this year so far. Not the best stats. But keep in mind that he had a fractured finger on his throwing hand bothering him for a while. In the weeks that was an issue, Stafford threw 9 of his interceptions. Take those away and he has only thrown 5 picks in the other 10 games when he was healthy. So when he is not playing with an injury to his throwing hand, Stafford does not tend to throw interceptions even when he is under a lot of pressure.

Even with Stafford's bad three games, the Lions are a +11 in the turnover ration. The Raiders are a -4. On top of that, the Lions lead the NFL in defensive touchdowns. So with the Raiders propensity for turning it over and knowing they will be facing a very strong pass rush, and Stafford's ability to protect the ball when he is healthy, this looks like a game the Lions should win.


Lions 34 - Vikings 28

What looked to be a route shaping up, as the Lions went into half-time with a 31-14 lead, ended a nail biter that found the Lions escaping with a 34-28 victory on a missed call by the refs.

With a 17 point lead, late in the third quarter, the Vikings quarterback, Christian Ponder was replaced with Joe Webb, then everything began to fall apart. The Lions offense that showed signs of life early in the game could not score a touchdown in the second half. In fact they only managed one field-goal. On the other side of the ball, the Lions defense which had been outstanding most of the game, suddenly could not stop one single player.

The Lions defense intercepted Ponder 3 times and forced two fumbles before Webb took a snap. Two of those turnovers were taken back for defensive touchdowns. The Ponder took over and the Lions defense suddenly looked as if it was in slow motion. Webb would take a snap, then run and leave players wondering how he had simply stepped around them. On one particular play, Webb took off to the right side and went 55 yards without a Lions player ever coming anywhere near him. At least from the televisions perspective, Webb did not look very fast. Often it looked as if he was a big man out for a jog. Yet the Lions defensive players suddenly could not touch him.

After the Lions managed their single field-goal in the second half, Webb directed another drive that went 60 yards on 12 plays for another touchdown. Suddenly the Lions found themselves with only a six point lead. After a six play drive that only accumulated 20 yards, the Lions were forced to punt and count on their defense to stop the Vikings one more time. The Vikings, by the way, answered the call by charging 64 yards on 18 plays that led to the climatic finish.

With Minnesota on the one yard line, first down and nine seconds left on the clock, Webb to the snap and found instant pressure. As he scrambled to his left, DeAndre Levy closed in on him and forced a fumble, but as Webb lost the ball, Levy's hand grabbed his facemask and pulled his head down, keeping him from gaining control of the ball. I watched in shock as players scrambled for a loose ball, waiting for the flag I was sure would come. After all, this is the Lions and the refs rarely miss a chance to flag them for anything minimal much less something so obvious. Then Cliff Avril landed on the ball, time expired and no flag was thrown.

There has been debates on whether the Vikings would have kept possession if the flag had been thrown for the facemask. Many have their own opinions but the one that I have to believe would be that of Mike Pereira the ex-head of officiating who often is called upon to clarify calls on Fox Sports. Though I disagree with his assessment of the Calvin Johnson "Completing the Process" rule in 2010, he still knows the rules better than the fans do. He says that the Vikings would have regained possession and the penalty would have been half the distance to the goal from the place of the fumble, which would have placed the Vikings on the five yard line. Since a game cannot end on a penalty, the Vikings would have been allowed one more play from scrimmage.

Whether they would have scored does not matter. The fact is, the flag was not thrown and the Lions won the game. As much as I will agree that the flag should have been thrown, I will also admit that the Lions have lost their share of games due to penalties being ignored or flags being thrown on phantom fouls at critical points in games. If you follow my blog you would have read articles where I had complained about it happening too often last year. Now it has happened again, but for once the Lions were the team that benefited from the ref's mistake. It is a flaw in the NFL game. Refs are human and will make mistakes. Until the NFL makes penalties reviewable, these things will continue to happen.

If the Lions would have lost the game, the odds of them making the play-offs would have diminished to slightly better than terrible. But the Lions on this day were given a gift. Not only by the refs, but by the Bears and Giants losing as well. The Lions 2011 destiny is now in their own hands and it will be interesting to see what they do with it.


Lions Seem Confused on Intimidation Factor

Coach Jim Schwartz and Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham want a tough team. They want a team that will not take any crap from anyone. They are instilling the wrong attitude on this team.

The Lions should not be looking to be a team that wont back down from anyone. They need to be a smart team. If another player smarts off or shoves you or does whatever he wants to upset you, if you don't back down and get back in his face, you will be the one noticed by the refs. Too often it is the retaliation that is called for a penalty. Logan flipping the ball in the face of an opponent who was mouthing him was a case of "not backing down". Titus Young reaching across a ref to smack an opponent in the head was a case of "not backing down". Brandon Pettigrew shoving a ref who got between him and a player he was having words with was a case of "not backing down". Those were all cases where they should back down!

They need to understand that if you want to intimidate an opponent, you do it with your play, not with your attitude after the whistle. These players should have backed down and then made a great play to make their opponents eat their words. This is football. It is not a tough man contest.

I thought Ndamukong Suh had it figured out when he was being penalized and flagged for fouls he did not do or looked worse than they were. He was saying he did not care. He would continue to play how he plays. That was a good attitude. Continue to play hard and tough from snap to whistle. Be intimidating in your play! Then he crossed the line when he lost his temper and stomped on an opponent. That seems to have started a barrage of penalties that have been stupid plays after the whistle. That made me realize something. Maybe the Lions are getting something confused. I have heard the coaches speak of playing hard from whistle to whistle. Excuse me. That is why they are getting these stupid flags. Instead of playing hard from whistle to whistle, they should be playing hard from SNAP to whistle!

The Lions simply need to get away from worrying about being tough. They need to continue playing hard every play, but they need to forget about being tough. The Detroit Lions have made themselves note worthy. They are valued now by the NFL as a team worth placing on national TV. The Lions as a talent are now respected. It is time to forget about building a reputation and focus on playing good football!


Detroit Has Lions Share of Hope

Many fans will look at the last two losses to the Packers and Saints as evidence the Lions are not ready to be an elite team. Many will say the Lions are too young and undisciplined. I see Superbowl possibilities.

The Lions went into halftime against the Packers down 7-0 before falling apart with stupid penalties. They looked strong against the Saints before that same stupidity came into play at a much higher level. It is the old bit about the glass being half empty or half full all over again.

On one hand, you can look at the stupid penalties and say they just are not mature enough to beat the premier teams right now. You can look at losses to the Falcons and Bears and believe they haven't shown they can hang with a good team much less a great team. If this is the way you see things, then you see the glass half empty.

Then there is the other hand and in this hand we hold a glass that is half full. Without Suh, Delmas or Houston, the Lions played a fairly strong game against the New Orleans Saints. Take away the one touchdown and all of something like 15 yards in that drive from the Packers and the Lions controlled that game in the first half.

Here is how I see the Detroit Lions right now. They have the talent to match up against any team in the NFL. With the team healthy, Linehan calling plays well, and with their heads on straight, they can beat any team they are against. There in lies the problem though. Too often they are not playing with their heads on straight. Too often Linehan does not call a good game plan. So how can you have much hope?

The Lions play a bad Minnesota Vikings team this weekend. Even without Suh, the Lions should be able to beat the Vikings. Then they go to Oakland and play the Raiders, and though that one could be tough, it is winnable. Then the Lions come back home and play the Chargers. Again, that one might be tough, but the Chargers are definitely not as strong as they have been in the past. The regular season will end with the Lions on the road facing the Packers in Green Bay.

If the Lions win three of those games, they should make the play-offs. With Stafford getting healthy again and Suh over the suspension, winning three of the last four is not out of the question. Even if the Lions end at 9-7 by winning only two of the last four games, they still have a chance to make the playoffs. Right now I would place the Lions odds of making the play-offs at about 50-50. So for the fun of it, let us pretend the Lions make the play-offs.

Here is the simple fact. Whether you like the Lions players or not. Whether you like the coaches or not. Whether you think they are too immature or dirty or not! The Lions have a team that can give any team fits on the field. Once they get to the play-offs, there is nothing saying they are not good enough to win. Yes they will need to play level headed. Yes they will need to be healthy. Yes the coaches will have to do their jobs well. But if they all do that, they can beat anyone! Would the Lions be favored to win? Not a chance, and I would say not to bet the farm on them either. But they have the talent to win and if the coaches put them in position to succeed, they can win!

Right now the odds on favorite in the NFC to make the Superbowl is either the Packers or Saints. But if there is a team in the NFL that is primed to be the surprise to upset those two powerhouses, it is the Detroit Lions. Likely they will not, I will admit that much. But there is definitely reason to have hope, for the realm of possibility is not so far fetched with the Lions.

But first things first. First the Lions have to win enough of the last four games to make the play-offs. Right now I think they will. Call me a "Glass is half full" kind of guy.


Lions lose to Saints 17-31

The Detroit Lions went into New Orleans and lost to the Saints, 31 to 17. It was not nearly as bad as the score would make it sound.

Once again the Lions offense came out limp, as it was not until their fourth drive before they gained even 20 yards in a drive. It looked as if Linehan was attempting to do just as I was saying he should not do. He tried to use short passes to move the ball. In the first three drives, Stafford has 4 completions to the running backs and only one to a wide receiver. He also had a few incomplete passes that were screens and dumps. By the time the Lions got the ball for their 4th possession, they were already down 17 to 0.

Then I saw something from Linehan I did not expect. He changed up his play calling! He adapted! In the fourth drive, Stafford has 4 different passes to wide receivers and three of them were for more than 10 yards. The Lions drove down the field for an 80 yard touchdown drive and the game was on.

Unfortunately the idea of playing good offense against a good team must have been too much for some of the Lions players to handle as they inexplicably seemed to cut the oxygen to their brains off and allow their IQ level to bottom out now and then.

More than the great play of Brees, it was stupidity that lost this game. More so than the strange calls by the refs, it was moments where intelligence took a timeout that destroyed the Lions chances. When Titus Young actually reached across a ref to smack an opponent in the head, I sat there with my jaw dropped open trying to understand it. My brain raced a thousand miles a second but I could not come up with a decent explanation other than good ole stupidity! When Pettigrew took it a step farther and actually shoved a ref, I felt like the Aflac Duck listening to Yogi Berra.

As Drew Brees too often found time to throw the ball, or found room to step up into a pocket, I realized how much of a difference Ndamukong Suh makes. Even without the sacks and the tackles, his constant pressure of pushing the middle of the line back towards the quarterback often made things very tough for a quarterback to get comfortable. And I realized how much his stupid act of stomping on an opponent cost the Lions against the Saints.

In the end, the Lions lost in another collapse of gray matter and it would have only been fitting if Schwartz forced them to listen to the Scarecrow sing "If I Only Had a Brain" over and over on their flight home.


Lions vs Saints Pre-game

NOTE* The Lions vs Saints game was moved up to the Sunday Night game and will not be played at the time on their schedules.

Drew Brees is hot right now and the Detroit Lions will be without Ndamukong Suh and may be without Louis Delmas and Chris Houston as well. This is NOT a good recipe!

I have heard it said that the Lions will need to slow things down and use the short pass and run a lot to beat the Saints, by not giving them so many opportunities to score. This is foolish! Let us make that clear right now.

At what point this year have the Detroit Lions offense shown they can be a consistent ground eating offense and win that way? The Lions offense has seldom moved the ball down the field in short gains and ended with a touchdown. Most of their 6 pointers have come via the big play. It may not be the big play that actually scores the touchdown, but there is usually a big play that gets them down the field at some point in the drive.

I am not saying to ignore the run game or not throw short passes. I am just saying that if they get the opportunity to make the big play, they better darn well take it because they wont score much without it! They need to run often. They have a much better running team than given credit for and people would see this if Linehan would learn to use it. They will definitely need to use the short passes as well, but they simply cannot ignore the down field threat! The Lions must go deep sometimes to keep the defense honest and allow their big play talent to do what it does best.

The key to the Lions winning the game is not to use the short pass, run and eat time. The key to this game is for the Lions offense to come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. Score quick, or score slow, it does not matter. Just score early! Let the defense do the good job it often does and get an early lead on the Saints.

Another key to this game is to get to Brees. I don't care how hot he is right now, if you don't give him time to go through his reads, he wont do near as much damage. The Lions shut down Rodgers for the first half because they put pressure on him often. He may not have been sacked much, but he was often throwing earlier than he would have liked. If the Lions offense would have done their job in that game, the outcome would have had a completely different story.

You don't beat the great teams by playing good defense or good offense. You beat them by playing BOTH, good offense AND good defense and knocking them on their heals.

Unfortunately the Detroit Lions will have a harder time doing that this week with the injuries they have. This means that Cunningham will have to make sure he puts as much pressure on Brees as quick as he can. The stories have it the Saints defensive coordinator is one of the most aggressive in the NFL with his blitzing. The Lions will need to take a page from his book. They cannot count on the Defensive line getting all the pressure and the defensive backs covering well on the plays they don't pressure him. The Lions need to get to Brees a lot this game. They will need to bring the blitz as well as their great defensive linemen. Especially without Suh in there.

IF the Lions defense gets to Brees a lot early, and the offense comes out scoring, the Lions can win this game. Unfortunately I just do not have the confidence Linehan will have this offense scoring early. This late in the season, it is time to accept that Linehan lacks the ability to get this offense going out of the gates. I can almost see a replay of the Thanksgiving game as the defense might keep the Saints down but the offense will not take advantage of it. Then in the second half, the defense will grow tired and frustrated and the Saints will start scoring.

Lions 20
Saints 24

NOTE* The Lions vs Saints game was moved up to the Sunday Night game and will not be played at the time on their schedules.


Lions Lose to Packers 27-15

The Green Bay Packers did not beat the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. Let us be clear on this one. The Lions beat themselves!

Let us make another thing clear. Only half of the Lions team came to play on Turkey Day!

The Lions defense was spectacular in the first half. The Packers had the ball 5 different possessions and only one of them ended with points. That 2 play, 13 yard drive came via a Matthew Stafford interception near his own endzone.

Going into the half, the Lions were down 7-0 and the defense had for all practical purposes, shut the Packers high powered offense down. At halftime, Rodgers had only 65 yards passing, and their entire offense only netted 88 yards. Nobody could have asked for more.

Unfortunately, the offense, once again, did not show up. The Lions offense had the ball for 6 possessions in the first half. None ended in points. One drive ended on the second play with an interception that led to the packers only first half score and their last drive only lasted two plays before time ran out. With at least one time-out left and :30 on the clock, the Lions did not even attempt to move the ball down field. They called a short pass to Morris and did not use the timeout, nor did they hurry to the line as they let the clock run down. Then they threw another short pass to Morris and let the clock expire.

The second half came and everything fell apart.

The Packers first drive of the third quarter went 11 plays and 77 yards for a touchdown. The Lions followed that with a decent drive that ended with Matthew Stafford's second pick of the game and Rodgers next pass went 65 yards for another TD. The Lions next drive only lasted two more plays before Stafford threw his 3rd pick of the game and a field goal later the Packers had a 24-0 lead.

It is obvious that the effort by the Lions defense to only see it wasted by an inept offense is getting to them. The Lions defense is showing their frustration and Ndamukong Suh finally snapped as he committed his worst penalty of his career. Though many call him a dirty player, I disagree. He is a rough player but not dirty. Before today, I have yet to see a single play by him that I felt was truly uncalled for and dirty. Today he lost his temper as he was taken to the turf by a GB lineman and he shoved the other players helmet into the turf a few times then stomped on him as he got up.

In the end, the Lions lost the game 15 to 27, but truth be told, it is not the loss that is hard to take. Though I called for a win, for the Lions to lose to the undefeated Packers was not unexpected. What made this game rough was the lack of an offense in the first half for the 9th game in their last 11. What was rough was watching the team shoot itself in the foot repeatedly with penalties at critical times. What made this game hard to watch was the lack of any passes thrown downfield. It seems Linehan just doesn't have the ability to understand that you cannot have a consistent offense if you only throw short passes.

It was a very disheartening showing by an extremely talented team playing far beneath itself. If the NFL was to take the Thanksgiving game away from Detroit, I would not say I can blame them. They are simply too talented to look as bad as they did today. They were undisciplined, and the coaches came in with a horrible game plan. At least on offense.


Lions vs Packers; Thanksgiving Pre-game

It is Thanksgiving. A time to spend with those we love, feast on Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and several other dishes until we are ready to puke. Then we stuff our faces with pie! Then of course, there is Detroit Lions football.

The last time the Lions played a Thanksgiving game that had any more meaning to it than winning on the holiday was 2007. The Lions were 6-4 going into that game and lost 26-37 and went on to win only one more game for the season. The team we lost to? The Green Bay Packers.

The Lions are now 7-3 and for once they play a meaningful game on Thanksgiving and again they play the packers. This time however, the Packers are undefeated and very few believe the Lions will beat them. The Packers are the NFL juggernaut. They have an offense that has scored 355 points this year (37 more points than the second highest scoring team the Saints). They have looked great in each and every game they have played this year.

The Lions on the other hand, have looked great in two games against lesser foes and in the second half of a few other games. Though the Lions are the 3rd highest scoring team (301 pts), they have practically lived off of the big play ability of a few star players. Their offense has struggle mightily at one point or another of most of their games this year. So how can the Lions possibly think of beating the Packers?

Let me tell you. It is not only possible, I think they will do it!

The Packers live off of the pass. Their running game, quite frankly, is no better than the Lions (who also live off the pass). The most efficient way to slow down a great passing attack is by getting pressure on the opposing quarterback. Manning, Brady, Brees, and yes, even Rodgers, have had bad games when their offensive line does not give them enough time to go through their reads. The Lions will bring one of the most ferocious pass rushes in the NFL. The Lions are not so bad at covering the receivers either and this can make a long day for Rodgers.

The goal is not to stop Rodgers and the Packers passing game. That will not be done. The goal is to limit it enough so that the Lions offense can come out on top. I have no doubt the Lions defense can do just that! That is why this game will depend so much on Scott Linehan.

Against the Broncos, Linehan called nearly 40% of the plays with Stafford lining up under center. The Lions controlled that game as the Bronco’s defense never knew what was coming. In Chicago, he called over 90% of the plays in the Shotgun set. The defense knew what was coming too often and jumped routes and destroyed the Lions offense. Last weekend Linehan called plays with Stafford lining up under the center over 50% of the time. Again, the defense looked lost and the Lions moved the ball well.

This is also why it is imperative that Stafford gets off to a quick start. If he falters, and allows the Packers to get off to an early lead of two touchdowns or more, Linehan will all too likely forget the running game and call almost all of the plays in the shotgun formation. This would be disastrous for the Lions. If Stafford plays well from the start and the Lions keep the game close, Linehan will continue to call a variety of plays and the offense will respond.

If the Lions keep it close going into the 4th quarter, the advantage could be for the Lions. The defensive line will continue to be aggressive while the Packers offensive line will grow tired. This is where the Lions will truly have their chance of causing true chaos and stopping Rodgers, giving the Lions offense a chance to take the lead.

In the NFL, the Lions with their explosive offense and their relentless pass rush, are the one team that has the best chance of beating the Packers.

Lions 34 Packers 27


Lions 49 - Panthers 35

The Detroit Lions are at it again. Falling behind in the second quarter 24-7, they played the part of the "Come Back Cats" again beat the Panthers 49 to 35.

Let us face it. The Lions are the NFL's version of Jekyll & Hyde. Entering into games as the meek, skinny, little punk who gets picked on by kids half their size, they somehow transform into the hulking beast and tear those kids and their big brothers into shreds.

Matthew Stafford started the game off throwing two interceptions before finally throwing his first touchdown to Kevin Smith to get the Lions on the board. The ensuing kick-off was returned for 102 yards and a touchdown. Everyone must have thought it was the end of the day. To finally put something together and score a touchdown only to give up a return for a touchdown on the next play? The Lions sails suddenly looked like they had gone limp. The day should have been done.

Not in Detroit. Not in 2011. Not to this team! Stafford went on to throw for four more TD's (5 in all) and 335 yards. Int he Lions first two drives, Stafford had 5 incompletions and two of them for picks. After that, he completed an amazing 25 of his next 28 attempts.

Then there was Kevin Smith. You know him. The guy who couldn't stay healthy, had a promising rookie season and never looked better than average after that? Yeah that guy! He ran for 140 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns, as well as catching 4 passes for another 61 yards and another touchdown.

The most impressive to me however, was Linehan's play calling. Many of the plays had Stafford setting up under center. He used the run very well and he used some imagination. Remember the play calling in Denver? This was far better!

The Lions looked great against a bad Panther's defense and the Lions Defensive line never allowed the rookie QB, Cam Newton, to get comfortable as he threw four interceptions and only passed for 1 TD.


Lions vs Panthers Pre-game WK-11

The Detroit Lions will play two home games in the span of only four days starting this Sunday when they host the Carolina Panthers. Detroit enters the game with a 6-3 record while their opponent hosts a 2-7 record.

Let us be very clear from the start. The Detroit Lions should win this game by at least two touchdowns. But as you must know by now, what the Lions should do and what they actually do can be two completely different things.

Carolina's rookie quarterback, Cam Newton has definitely opened some eyes. Being a rookie QB and at midway through the season to be 7th in the NFL in passing yards, well that can open eyes. On the other hand, yards is not all there is to a quarterback. In nine games, Newton only has 11 touchdown passes and has complimented that with 10 picks. He is an up and coming young quarterback, but he is far from polished.

Another intriguing stat is that Newton has been sacked 12 times in his last 3 games. So the Lions pass rushing defensive line must be drooling with anticipation. But let us face the facts, the Detroit Lions, with 3 losses in their last 4 games, is not a team that is instilling much confidence in their fans lately.

There are a lot of questions around the Lions this Sunday. Are they as bad as they showed in Chicago? Are they as good as they looked in Denver? How is Matthew Stafford's finger, and how will he be with the gloves this week? Will they try throwing another 63 times and ignore the running game again? How good will the defensive line be with Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young hurt?

The Panthers just do not have near the talent that the Lions have on their team. The Lions offense is more explosive and their defense is in a completely different league. Then again, you can say nearly the same thing about the Lions and the Bears and we all saw how that turned out.

Linehan sticks with a nightmare of a scheme and this has allowed teams to stick close. The defensive line tires out some later in games from all of the 3 and outs putting them back on the field so quickly. Even so, the panthers just are not a real match for the Lions.

This is one of those games the Lions are expected to win and they will win it. The question is more about how close they allow the Panthers to make it. Some believe it will be a shootout and a high scoring game. I don't see it. The Lions are not consistent enough to where they have convinced me they can move the ball early and put a team away. The Shotgun scheme Linehan loves so much makes it nearly impossible to have a threatening running game. I see two or three touchdowns for the Lions. Whether it is a blowout or not depends on just how well the Lions defense shuts down the Panthers offense.

Lions 27 - Panthers 17

Yet if the Lions offense sputters again and they lose a close game, it would not complete surprise me.


Are Lions Dirty or Agressive?

There seems to be some confusion about the Lions reputation and what it means. The problem lies in two parts. The difference between Dirty and Aggressive, and which one the Detroit Lions fall into.

It seems the national media is intent on pushing the "Dirty" reputation on the Lions and some of their players. But are they really dirty?

The first thing to do is to come to some kind of conclusion as to just what is actually "Dirty" and what is simply "Aggressive".

If a player reaches out to grab a ball carrier, and his fingers happen to grab a hold of the face mask? That is not dirty. If the ball carrier is already down and a player grabs the face mask and yanks it around? That would be Dirty!

If the whistle is blown and a second later a player hits another player (even the quarterback), that is not truly dirty. In the heat of the moment it may take a second for the whistle to register or he may still have momentum carrying him. But if the whistle blows and a couple of seconds passes and most of the players have stopped playing, then one player lambastes the quarterback? That would be considered dirty!

In the Lions vs Bears game in Chicago, there was a play where Nick Fairley drove the Bears quarterback into the turf. The TV announcers showed the replay and called it a dirty play. I disagree! There was no hit to the head. There was no shot at the knees. It was not even a late hit as Cutler released the ball as Fairley wrapped him up. Ask yourself, if you charged a quarterback who still had the ball and hit him dead straight on, planted your face mask and shoulder against his chest and wrapped your arms around him going full speed. How is it possible to NOT drive him to the turf? Yes there is a rule against it, but that does not make it a "Dirty" tackle! In fact, in 2010, when the Bears Julius Peppers wrapped Stafford up and drove him to the turf and dislocated his shoulder, how was that any different? The only difference was that Cutler was facing Fairley and Stafford was facing away. Yet one is clean and the other is dirty?

As I stated, there is a rule against it. So there is no problem with Fairley being flagged for the hit. But for the annalists to come right out and call it a dirty hit? No! That is an aggressive play and a solid tackle that is flagged. It is far from dirty!

When Stafford was being blocked by D.J.Moore after an interception, Stafford was frustrated. After all, he had his worst game as a pro. He went overboard in grabbing Moore's helmet and pulling him down with him as he fell backwards. It was a play worthy of a flag. It was not a "dirty" play! Stafford's intent was not to cause harm. He was not twisting the helmet or pulling it in any direction that would make one fearful of breaking Moore's neck. Stafford did not even continue to hold the helmet as he went down. He let go of the helmet and let Moore go over him. It was wrong, but it was far from a dirty play. When Stafford was on his knees still, and Moore charged him and tried to lambaste Stafford while he was on his knees? That was not done out of aggression. It was not something he did wrong during a play. It was a move meant to do one thing and one thing only. Knock out the guy he was hitting! THAT was dirty!

What I have seen in the Detroit Lions this year, is tough, rough, and aggressive play. Playing this aggressive will sometimes end in a flag being thrown. But I have seen very little that would be construed as truly dirty! The media should be hyping the Detroit Lions as an up and coming aggressive team. Not as the new "Dirty" team of the NFL. That is a crock!

Then there is a problem with some fans who don't understand the difference between aggressive and dirty. Listening to 97.1 the Ticket on FM radio, there are a couple of guys who love the image the Lions are getting. They refer to the likes of Mean Joe Green with the Steelers in their heydays! They are making the mistake of mixing aggressive with dirty.

If the league saw the Lions as an aggressive team, it would be a great thing. Aggressive, hard hitting teams will make opponents worry about them. "Dirty" teams will make officials worry about them. That is a completely different thing! Suh getting flagged and fined for shoving Cutler down when chasing him down from behind. That comes from being labelled "Dirty". Suh being flagged for a horse collar when replay showed he did nothing more than tackle Barber by his dreadlocks. (which is legal) That comes from the dirty label. When the officials see you as "dirty", they tend to throw flags quicker. They shouldn't, but they do.

Right now, the Detroit Lions are a very aggressive team that is being wrongfully accused as dirty. The media is spreading these untrue accusations and even some players have lied to build upon them.

Recently, Falcons players accused Ndamukong Suh and other Lions players of talking trash to Matt Ryan while he laid on the turf injured after what looked like a broken ankle. Before the game, the two teams got into a scuffle in the corner of an end zone because they both wanted to hold their team meeting in the same place. So imagine that happening. Simply because both teams wanted the same corner, both teams were ready to fight and players got into a scuffle that needed to be separated. With that in mind, does it really make any sense that Ryan (The Falcons franchise QB) would be laying there hurt, the Lions players would be talking trash to him and not one single player on the Falcons would do anything? Yet if you look at video footage, players from both teams stood side by side watching and there were no hostilities. None!

I absolutely love the Lions attitude this year. They do not take any crap from anyone. They are not afraid of any team. They play extremely aggressive from snap to whistle, every play! They are very aggressive! But they are not truly "Dirty"!


Lions Lose to Bears 37-13

On many pass attempts, Matthew Stafford looked like he had less accuracy than Mariah Carey throwing out the first pitch. Calvin Johnson might have been auditioning for the Butterfinger commercial. To make it simple, the play on the field was ugly as the Detroit Lions had their carcasses handed to them by the Chicago Bears in an embarrassing way.

As bad as the players were, the coaches were worse!

It was not until late in the third quarter before Stafford tried to go down field to Megatron. With Stafford's arm and Calvin Johnson's size, speed, jumping ability and hands, how do you wait until the game is out of hand before using that combination down field? In fact, the offensive plays called for so many short passes and screens, Chicago soon caught onto the play calling and started jumping the plays which resulted in a total of four Stafford interceptions.

I have written about it before. The Lions scheme, playing out of the shotgun so much is hurting them. I have told people that if they use the shotgun for more than 70% of the plays, they would likely lose. Today, they used it far more than the 70% of the play calls. The Lions literally lived (or shall I say DIED) out of the Shotgun today.

You can blame the players if you want. But how many times are we going to watch an offense with this much talent look so bad before we stop making excuses for the coaches and scheme?

For the first time in the 2011 season, Matthew Stafford wore gloves. Throughout the game he showed he was not comfortable with them as he continued to flex his hands, and adjust the gloves. Often looking down at them. Yet he continued to wear them. It was clear he could not feel the ball the way he wanted to and that lack of feeling was causing some bad accuracy problems. His passes were often well over players heads or behind them. Yet he continued to wear them. The truth is, it really doesn't matter why he was wearing the gloves. Whether it was his choice because of comfort, or to help him as he may have had an injury problem. it doesn't matter. The fact is, he could not throw with them on. So Schwartz should have laid down the law. Go without the gloves or sit the bench. If Stafford could not throw without them either, then he shouldn't be throwing, because he definitely could not throw with them on!

Gunther Cunningham was the only coach who showed he knows what he is doing. Once again the defense did a great job. The Bears had 14 points from pick sixes and another touchdown on a punt return. That is 21 points. That means they allowed a total of 16 points the entire game and 10 of that came from the Bears having extremely short field after two Lions fumbles.

Yet even Gunther was not flawless. When the Lions needed the ball back fast to get back in the game, they had the Bears at a 3rd and 15. It was time to rush Cutler's throw and cover tight. They allowed 17 yards and a first down because they chose that time to play a zone defense where the WR could simply run between the coverage zones and get the pass. Then the Lions did the same thing again a couple plays later and let Chicago get in field goal range. Gunther has been a good defensive coach, but if he has any flaw, it is the simple fact that he becomes passive when he needs to be aggressive!

The Detroit Lions had two long weeks to plan and get ready for the Bears. Mean while the Bears had a shortened week to prepare for the Lions. Yet it was the Bears who looked like they came into the game prepared and the Lions came in looking like they never even looked at game film. That is simply inexcusable! Yes the players were bad. Almost as if they were not ready to play. The coaches were even worse!


Lions vs Bears Pre-game WK-10

The last time the Lions and Bears met, Detroit handed Chicago a 24-13 loss. The Detroit Lions offense pulled its usual stunt of starting slow and finishing strong. This time the Bears will be playing on a short week as they just finished beating the Eagles on Monday Night Football. The Lions on the other hand will be more rested and healthier than before as they are coming off of their bye-week. There is only one problem. This time they play in Chicago!

Let us make this simple and blunt. If both teams play to their potential, the Lions will come away with a lopsided victory! There are no "if's, Ands, or Buts" about it; the Detroit Lions are the better team and more talented team by far! There is one problem with that. This is the NFL and the best team does not always win.

In almost every facet of the game, the Lions are better. The Lions have scored more TDs, are a better passing team, have a better quarterback, a better receiving group, better Tight Ends, and a better offensive line! On defense the Lions are better than the Bears when it comes to rushing the quarterback, covering the pass, and stopping the run. Yes, you read that right. The Lions have a better run defense than the Bears. Look at the stats and the Bears look better, but look closer and a different picture reveals itself. The Lions give up 27.6 yards per game more than the Bears, but many of those yards have come from 2 or 3 big plays. No running back has yet to beat up on the Lions defense on a consistent basis. They are stopped and shut down and get their yards from one or two big plays. The Bears defense gives up more consistent yardage on the ground and that will hurt a team far more.

The only place the Bears are better than the Lions is in the running game on offense. In some cases, that is enough to give a team the advantage. Not in this case!

Let us look at this game from a logical and strategical point of view. The Lions offense thrives on the passing game. Chicago ranks 26th in pass defense. The Lions should be able to move the ball through the air early and score quick. On the other hand, the Lions defense is ranked #5 against the pass. They also shut down the running game for a large portion of each game until a long one is broken.

I see the game going something like this. Scott Linehan actually shows the ability to learn and continues to mix up the offense like he did against the Broncos. If so, the Lions will move the ball early and score points. With their defense still fresh early on, the Lions defense will not allow the Bears to move the ball very well. Once the Lions have a decent lead, the Bears will be forced to forget the run and lean heavily on the passing game. Which happens to be the Lions strength!

I see only two reasons the Lions should lose this game. 1) The defense screws up early and allows Forte a long run or two and it is the Lions playing catch-up. 2) Linehan forgets to mix things up and calls the shotgun formation for 70+% of their plays!

The Bears are not a bad team, but they are not really good either. The Lions on the other hand are a very good team that has played below its abilities much of the season.

Lions 27
Bears 20


Lions 2011 Mid-Season Grades

The Lions have hit the half way point in the season with a very strong 6-2 record. There has been a lot of good things happening this year for the Lions but there are some problems too. Here is my analysis on how it all shapes up.

Matthew Stafford, has given the fans a bit of a roller coaster ride this year. In the first half of games, he has not looked the best. Often he has come out and looked lost, rushed or rattled. Sometime around half time Stafford seems to break loose and show the fans why he was the Lions number one pick a few years ago.

After 8 games, Stafford has the fifth best quarterback rating, sixth most yards, second most touchdowns and fifth fewest picks. Those are some pretty impressive numbers for a guy who has not played very good almost half the time he has been out there.

For the most part, the Detroit Lions have had very little running game this year. In his 6 games, Jahvid Best only had one good game when he busted out a couple of long runs. After leaving with a concussion, Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams have filled in fairly well, but they simply lack the threat of being dangerous.

Many would give the Running Backs a worse grade than I would, but I dont put all the blame for the lack of running game on them. I think they are in a scheme that has set them up for failure and they have done better than I would expect running out of the shotgun draw so often.

RECEIVER (Grade = B)
Lets face it. If it wasnt for Calvin Johnson destroying his competition, this unit would be under performing in a big way. Megatron has 11 touchdowns in 8 games. If he reproduces his first half stats, he will end up with more than 90 catches, 1600 yards, and over 20 TDs.

On the other hand, Nate Burleson has been a far lesser factor than anyone would have expected. With only 26 receptions for 245 yards and 1 touchdown, I think it is safe to give him a failing grade so far.

Titus Young was injured most of the pre-season and that took its toll. Rookie receivers usually dont have huge first seasons anyway. But he ended the first half on a good note with 4 grabs for 66 yards and his first touchdown of his NFL career.

TIGHT END (Grade = A-)
Let us face it. Pettigrew and Scheffler are a force to recon with. Brandon Pettigrew is on pace for over 80 catches, 600 yards and 4 touchdowns. Scheffler has not gotten nearly as many receptions as his teammate, but he gets them when they count. In the end-zone! With only 9 catches on the year, he has three TDs.

I almost wish I didnt have to include this unit in my assessment, as I know most will not agree with me. Personally I think this unit has done a fine job this year. There has been a few moments in the season where they simply fall apart, but for the most part they have kept Stafford on his feet.

Stafford has been sacked 16 times in 8 games. THe Lions are on pace to give up 5 more sacks than last year. But that is not all on the offensive line. There have been plenty of times when Stafford has held the ball too long, or ran away from a secure pocket and drawn pressure to him. They have been far from great, but they have not been completely horrible either. Like any average to decent line, they will have moments when they collapse.

When it comes to run blocking, they have not been horrible there either. The problem is more on the scheme than anything else. I have seen the O-Line open holes only to see that hole filled with a linebacker. Often they are trying to run block from the shotgun. That is extremely difficult to run block against a full out pass rush.

After 8 games this unit has the Lions ranked 3rd with 24 sacks. They are on pace to get 4 more sacks than they had in 2010.

Some complain the Lions D-Line has given up too many rushing yards. That si not the linemen's fault. Their job is to create havoc on their way to the quarterback and to try and get the RB if he gets the ball. It is the linebackers responsibility to fill the gaps and stop the run on a consistent basis. The Lions D-line has been fearsome to opposing QBs and that is what they are all about.

Ndamukong Suh has gotten some back-lashing for his lack of output. Let me assure you, Suh has been a force far more than his numbers show. Yes he only has 3 sacks and 24 tackles. Both far less than what he would have had last year. But play after play, Suh is doing what his first job is to do. Wreak absolute Chaos in the opposing team's backfield! He is often taking on double and sometimes even triple teams and still forcing his will. He may not be getting the sacks, but he is a major reason the Lions as a team have 24 sacks!

Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy, Justin Durant, and Bobby Carpenter have been very good. Between them, they have 161 tackles in the 8 games and that is not bad! They have done a very good job of covering on passing plays and making tackles. Their only flaw has been in the few break downs on filling gaps or over pursuing. Compared to what we have been seeing at linebacker in recent years, I cant complain a single bit to this crew giving up a big play now and then.

CORNER BACK (Grade = B-)
The Lions are sixth against the pass. That means this unit has been doing a very good job. Chris Houston has far surpassed my expectations for him this year as he has had 4 interceptions for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns. Eric Wright has not been so bad either with 2 picks of his own. The only reason they do not get a higher grade is because their jobs are made so much easier with the pressure the D-line creates.

SAFETY (Grade = B+)
Amari Spievey has been the biggest surprise of the year. Last year this guy could not tackle, used bad angles and simply put, he was terrible as a safety. In 2011, he has done a fine job of run support, and has three picks of his own.

Louis Delmas has as always been strong in run support. He does not sit back waiting for the ball carrier to make a move then try to react to it. He fires himself in like a missle and forces the RB to react to him. His only flaw has been his lacking in pass coverage. Delmas has zero interceptions and only three passes defended.

KICKERS (Grade = B+)
Hanson is not flawless. He simply puts on an air that he can do no wrong. Hanson has converted 17 of his 18 field goal attempts, his only miss being one of his five attempts from 50+ yards out. But as I said, he is not flawless... Even with the new kick-off rules, Jason Hanson has not always been able to kick the ball deep enough into the end-zone that the returner will not try to make the Lions pay.

Donohue has been far from pro-bowl material, but he has been more than solid.

THis has been a problem for the Lions this year. No consistency at all. One play they will cover great and pin their opponent deep. The next play they will allow a returned to run the ball back 50 yards and start their opponents in field goal range. Both Hanson and Donohue have made too many tackles this year and that is unacceptable.

COACHES (Grade = C+)
Cunningham has been very good. He has kept his defense consistent and seldom do they fall apart. His only problem is stubborness. At times when his defense cannot seem to generate enough pressure, he will not go to the blitz enough to make up the difference. He likes to rush with four linemen alone and will not give them help.

Linehan has been just the opposite. When you have as much talent as the Lions have, there simply is no excuse for the offense to come out flat almost every game. He insists on using the shotgun far too much and this only hurts the running game. More importantly however is his absolute refusal to use a lead blocker. I see no reason to never shift a TE inside to act as the fullback in lead blocking situations. Yet Linehan will not think of it. He rushes only one running back and he will live or die by that scheme. Simply put, the Lions offense has scored with top talent in spite of Linehan rather than because of his play calling or scheme.

Jim Schwartz has been decent. Nothing great and nothing bad. He has not shown me where he can out coach his opponent and he sees how bad the Lions offense has been in the first half, and yet he has not forced the issue with Linehan. I have yet to see him stick up for his players when the refs truly screw up a call. He yells from the sideline but then never says anything against the bad calls in public. The way I look at Schwartz, he is a mastermind in the front office type of work, but he has not shown me he is a very good game coach.


Was Vanden Bosch Wrong for Mocking Tebow?

I have heard a great deal about how Detroit Lions defensive end, Kyle Vanden Bosch was wrong to mock Tim Tebow's prayer pose after sacking the young quarterback in Sundays game between the Lions and Broncos. Some say he was just doing what players do by rubbing it in to the opponent. There are however, those Christians out there who believe it was wrong and crossing the line. Here is my take on things....

First off, I will say that I myself happen to be a Christian. I do not, by any means, say I am perfect. I will not even say I am a very good Christian much of the time. I do however, know God and understand what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. I do not bring this up in this blog much because I do not wish to make this blog about God, but about the Detroit Lions. I want my readers to respect me for writing about the subject they wish to read about. In this case, I feel it is important to explain that I am a Christian so you can also understand that I know a little of what I am talking about when it comes to Christianity.

Tim Tebow likes to go to one knee in a quick prayer when he scores a touchdown. I respect him for that. I respect him for not being ashamed to display his belief in the Lord Jesus in front of the world. Some will say that he should keep religion and sports separate. I disagree! He is not shoving anything down any one's throats. He is not forcing anyone to listen to him preach. He scores and he thanks God for it. That is only right! If I am offended by someone of another religion wearing a turban on their head, should I say they shouldn't wear it? No! It is a two second display and he hurts nobody by doing it.

Then comes Sunday afternoon when Kyle Vanden Bosch sacked Tebow and gave the pose their next to the young quarterback on the field. This seems to have outraged many people. Many seem to believe Vanden Bosch was mocking Tebow's beliefs. I disagree!

What those who believe that, forget to acknowledge, is that Tebow's pose has become somewhat of a phenomenon. There is now a sort of game called Tebowing, where people take pictures of themselves in the prayer pose in different locations. In front of different landmarks. Most of these people do not share the same beliefs as Tim Tebow does. If anyone is mocking his beliefs, it would be the thousands who are taking part in that game. What Kyle Vanden Bosch was doing was not mocking Tim Tebow's belief, faith or anything like that. I believe he was mocking that phenomenon known as Tebowing. Vanden Bosch was only having fun in mocking how Tim Tebow has become such a huge icon without ever doing anything in the NFL to deserve it yet.

On 97.1 FM the Ticket, they made the argument that what if a player was a Muslim? Why would it be wrong for Kyle Vanden Bosch to mimic a Muslim in some way but it is okay to mimic a Christian? This argument was flawed from the beginning simply because Kyle was never mocking Tebow's religion to begin with.

As I mentioned. I am a Christian and I cannot tell you how upset I get with the double standards of this world. How you will rarely see anyone make fun of Muslims, Judaism or any other religion, but it is never a problem with any comedian making fun of preachers and priests. I once had a friend who was black. He was my roommate right up until he stole my paycheck, forged my name, cashed it at the party store and split, leaving me with no money and rent to pay. If I was to believe that all black men are thieves because of that, I would be wrong and called a racist. Yet much of the world has no problem with looking at things a few Christians have done and saying all Christians are that way. A few Evangelists get busted with a hooker, or just trying to get rich, and all preachers are like that. This world frowns upon blaming an entire people for the sins of a few.... unless it is Christianity. I hate that double standard!

Yet I look at what Vanden Bosch did and I do not have a problem with it. I who would have no problem cutting into any player, even any Lion, for making fun of Christianity, have no problem with Kyle doing that pose. For no other reason than the fact he was not mocking Christianity, but was mocking the player he sacked. Players on the field are always talking trash. Sometimes they get personal. They talk about each others sisters and mothers. There are however ways to cross the line. One does not use gay slurs, racial remarks or make fun of ones religion. On the other hand, one's hair style, fashion, team name, automobile, bank roll, size, weight, height, sister, mother, father, brother, and pet is fair game. Oh yes, one's touchdown pose is fair game too.

I understand there is a Tebow Love-fest happening in this world. So it is understandable to be upset with another player for mocking your favorite star. Just be upset for the right reasons.


Lions 45 - Broncos 10

The Detroit Lions pounded on the Denver Broncos for a 45-10 win in Denver Colorado. The strange thing is, the game was never as close as the score makes it out to be.

The Broncos drove down the field quickly on their first possession and started the game off with a field goal and a 3-0 lead. After that it was all Lions. 45 unanswered points later, Matthew Stafford was taken out of the game after completing 70% of his 30 attempts for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns. Denver finally scored again once the Lions were in the prevent defense and that was all she wrote.

Maurice Morris ran well again as he gained 58 yards on 13 carries and a TD. Though his longest run from scrimmage was only 12 yards, he was consistent and steady enough to keep Denver's defense honest.

Calvin Johnson was Megatron as always, as he pulled in 6 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. On the other hand, there was a true Titus sighting as the rookie receiver had 4 grabs for 66 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Staffords other TD came in the way of a 1 yard touchdown pass to Tight End Tony Scheffler, who also helped out on another reception that was filled with acrobatics and concentration. Scheffler had to go up for the ball and fight for it and the ball bounced away. Never taking his eyes from the ball, Tony spun, hopped and reached to bring it in off balance, just before taking a big hit.

The offensive line did an admiral job in giving up only 2 sacks and keeping the pressure off of Stafford for most of the game.

The Lions Defense had one of their better games in Detroit history as they truly shut down the Broncos after their first drive right until they went into the prevent defense in the fourth quarter. The Broncos had a total of 195 yards rushing, but the stats are misleading. When you consider that 50 yards of it came in Denver's first drive and another 46 came in their last two drives with the Lions in prevent, it really comes down to the Lions only gave up another 99 yards rushing throughout the entire rest of the game. Mix that with the fact the Lions only allowed 172 passing yards, of which 85 came in those last two drives with the Lions in prevent, well, let me put it this way....

The Broncos had one decent drive to start the game before the Lions put on the clamps. After that first drive, up until the Lions went into the prevent defense, the Broncos had only 73 yards passing and 99 yards rushing.

In the game, the Lions defense sacked Tim Tebow a total of 7 times, recovered 2 fumbles and Chris Houston had one of two Lions defensive touchdowns with his 100 yard interception return.


Lions vs Broncos Pre-game

Let's make this as simple for Lions fans as it can be. There is absolutely NO excuse for the Detroit Lions to lose this game!

The Broncos are putting a young, inexperienced quarterback in Tim Tebow against one of the most feared pass rushes in the NFL. Last week Tebow was sacked 6 times by the Dolphins. Miami, by the way, only had 8 sacks in the previous 5 games. Tebow, right now, is still afraid to throw the pick, so he will hold on to the ball too long, counting on his feet to save him. Last week he only completed 48% of his passes. Did I mention the Dolphins are 18th in the NFL in rushing and have only 2 rushing touchdowns on the year?

Quite frankly, this is not a good offense. Not nearly as good as the Lions offense even in the last two weeks. SO the Dolphins will have to beat us with their defense right? Miami is 21st in the NFL against the pass and 18th against the rush.

Clear cut fact: The Detroit Lions should win this game handily!

But can you trust that?

The Lions have problems of their own. Stafford looks like he4 will play, but how good will he be? He has steadily regressed the last two weeks and now ill be playing on a bum leg. Best will be out for a second week and the Lions will once again depend on Morris and Williams to run the ball. They are serviceable backs, but they simply do not bring the threat to a defense that Jahvid Best does. Burleson and Young have been, well, underwhelming to say the least.

On defense the players have slid back into hitting with shoulders and keeping their arms to their sides rather than wrapping up. This has lead to large gains on plays that should not have gotten away in recent games.

The real problem with the Lions is the coaches right now. Linehan refuses to see that you cannot run consistently from the shotgun draw. However many times it will fail, he will continue to do it. He has lead his offense into 6 terrible first half performances in 7 games. He seems to be dead sent against using any kind of lead blocker to give the running backs room to run. His play calling has been noted as unimaginable and quite frankly, bad, by many fans. If the fans can see what is coming and how to defend it, what makes anyone think the opposing defensive coordinators wont?

I know many fans wont like hearing the bad about the Lions right now, but it simply cannot be ignored. This team has won 5 games strictly attributed to great players making great plays at key moments. They have won, in spite of the coaching, rather than because of it. Those are the simple facts and to ignore them will not change them. Get enough fans complaining about them and maybe they will get loud enough to be heard.

Talent-wise, the Detroit Lions are head and shoulders above the Broncos. They should win this contest by at least two touchdowns. The coaching is very questionable and that gives at least one touchdown back. Maybe an extra field goal as well.

Because the coaches put their players in a position to fail rather than succeed, I will give the Lions a 27-20 victory. I will give them a 60% chance of winning. If for some reason Hill plays most of the game, I will drop that to a 20% chance of winning.


Lions 16 - Falcons 23

I waited a day to write this article in hopes of letting my blood cool and think a little clearer. I have to say, I am still disgusted with the Detroit Lions loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

I am not going to write about the game. I am simply going to analyze what is happening. If you watched the game, you definitely don't want to recap it and if you did not see it, trust me, you don't want to know the details.

Some facts:
In the first two games, the Lions offense had 9 touchdowns. In the last five games the offense has a total of 10 touchdowns.

On the year, the Lions have scored 66 points in the first half, and 128 points in the second half. In the last 5 games? They have scored 26 points in the first half and 93 in the second half. That is just about 3 1/2 times more in the 2nd half than the 1st half.

Well over half of their running plays are draw plays out of the shotgun formation.

After 9 touchdowns in the first 5 games for Calvin Johnson, the Lions have not thrown to his while in the red-zone in the last two games. Both games ended in losses.

Matthew Stafford:
In the preseason Stafford looked like he was as good as Manning and Brady. In the first five games he has looked average in the first half and great in the second half. In the last two games he has looked scared. I know he will not admit it, but he is playing scared. When a QB leaves the pocket (when there is no pressure) and puts himself under pressure, it is a sign of being scared in the pocket. When a QB is throwing off of his back foot, even when he is not pressured, it is a sign of playing scared. When a quarterback rushes his throws without pressure, he is playing scared. When your quarterback goes down in a heap when a passing Defensive End only swipes an arm across him as he is pushed by, he is scared. That is how Matthew Stafford has played the last two games.

Stafford now has to come to some point in his growing up as an NFL quarterback where he either needs to toughen up, or get out. A quarterback simply cannot continue to play scared and succeed. Yes he has taken some hits this season, but in all honesty, I saw as much or more pressure on Harrington and Mitchell before they were ran out of town. What he is going through is nothing unusual for an NFL quarterback. He needs to accept that he will take some licks and put it aside or he needs to find a new career.

Scott Linehan:
I am officially back on the Fire Linehan bandwagon. The man has had two and a half years to get this offense going. Yet with the likes of Stafford, Megatron, Pettigrew, and Best all on one offense, he continues to show nothing as a coordinator. It is simply inexcusable for an offensive coordinator to not get more out of an offense with so much high quality talent. Any grandmother out of the stands can throw darts at the play book and with this kind of talent will still get the big play in here and there. His job is not to win on an occasional big play. His job is to get this offense clicking consistently and put teams away early. Yet he continues to play from behind and to make things worse, the offense has regressed as the season has gone on.

Last year I complained about how unimaginative his play calling was and many agreed with me, but he was given a free pass. With his starting quarterback out and running back playing hurt, it was expected he would dial it back some. This year he has not had that excuse. He has had everyone healthy for the first 7 games and he has not shown he can call a good game. He insists on running up the middle a lot every game, even though the middle of our offensive line is undersized and over powered. To make it worse, most of those run plays come out of the shotgun draw. Five times this year he has faced 2nd and very long or 3rd and very long, and got less than a third of the yards they needed. Once on a 2nd & 28, he called the Shotgun draw with Morris! When he finds a play that works, he rarely uses it again in the game and yet he will use a play that rarely ever works for him over and over. The man simply does not make any sense in his decisions.

The Detroit Lions have as much talent on offense as any team in the NFL outside of the Packers and they are not far from them. It is simply a crime that Linehan cannot get more than he has out of this crew filled to bursting with talent.

Quite frankly, I think the Lions defense is far better than it gets credit for. Yes it has given up some points and lately even some big runs. The fact is, they are a "get after the quarterback" type of defense and though they do not get a lot of sacks, they are rarely giving a quarterback more than 2 seconds to get rid of the ball. If the offense could become more consistent and eat up some time now and then, the defense would get more rest and maybe not give up the long runs as much.

The Refs and the Phantom calls:
Against the 49ers, Gore broke loose for a 55 yard run that sealed the game for them. On that run, the refs completely missed a block in the back that knocked Wright out of Gore's way as he came through the line, and then called Pettigrew on a chop block that the annalists looked at on replay and showed the penalty never really happened.

In this last game against the Falcons, the refs flagged the Lions for three different penalties that never happened. First there was a pass interference when our guy was going for the ball and the receiver was holding him up while the ball flew well out of the end-zone. Uncatchable! Then there was a helmet to helmet call on KVB where on the replay they showed it was questionable if he ever hit Ryans helmet. Then they called a holding play against the Lions and when the TV annalists showed the replay, it was found to be non-existent. Three times in one game the commentators could not find the foul on the replay.

Final Thoughts:
I understand that the L:ions are 5-2 and many did not expect them to do so well. I am not one of the many. I expected 10 wins from the beginning. I saw the talent and believed the Lions were a top 5 team from the start. I see this team and stile believe the Detroit Lions have more talent than any team in the NFL, including the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have a little more talent on offense, but I believe the Lions make up for that with a better defense. So to see a team I believe has so much talent, play so much under their abilities, I find it rather disgusting. Even when the Lions were 5-0 I was bothered by the fact the offense was not showing up in the first half of games. I wrote that if they dont address that, there would come games when they dont get it together in the 2nd half either. Now we have two straight losses for just that reason.

The Lions should be 7-0, and are lucky they are not 3-4 at this time. What makes it even worse is that they will not be firing Linehan any time soon and he will not be letting go of the shotgun as long as Stafford is under center. So dont expect the Lions offense to figure it out any time soon, and until they do, they will lose to the good teams and be lucky to win against teams they should beat.