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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2/19/11

Lions Review 2010 - Wide Receivers

The Detroit Lions receivers are a good group that can become great under the right circumstances. Calvin Johnson had a good season and it was still well below what he is capable of. Burleson is better than his numbers showed us as well. They need two other ingredients to reach their potential. A third member who can contribute and a quarterback who is willing to air it out.

Calvin Johnson:
Roy Williams gave him the nickname of "Megatron" and it was for a good reason. Calvin is arguably the most perfect prototypical receiver in the NFL. At 6'5" and 236 pounds, he has the size to make him a mismatch over almost any defensive back in the league. Calvin has the speed to blow past them, the leaping ability to go over top of them and the hands to fight them for it and come down with it. There is truly not one receiver in the NFL that I would trade him for straight up. There are several others who have better numbers year in and year out, but don't make the mistake of looking at numbers only. Switch them up and Johnson would excel in their situations and they would falter in his.

Taking the risk that I will sound like a broken recording, it was nearly impossibly for Johnson to excel when the quarterback will not throw the ball more than seven yards unless the receiver had nobody even close to him. It is absolutely a crime that he is grabbing less than 80 catches a season. Yes he was targeted a lot, but when most of the attempts are short yardage where linemen can knock down the passes and linebackers can get in the way as well, there will be less completions. Johnson needs to be given the chance to separate from his coverage.

Nate Burleson:
I liked the signing last year and I like it now. Burleson has shown that he has the ability to step it up when the defenses pay too much attention to Calvin Johnson. He is a solid veteran with very good hands and he runs great routes. He has enough speed to make him an inside threat but he is lacking true deep speed.

Nate Burleson did not have one of his best seasons stats wise, but he was always fighting defenses that played in tight, giving him less room to make plays.

Yet it is not the field where Burleson is his most valuable. He is a leader in the locker-room. He showed Calvin Johnson how to have fun again, and that can go a long ways towards keeping Calvin when his contract is up. That can go a long ways towards Calvin being at his best.

When you have a player who helps his team off the field as much as he does on the field, he is a player you try to keep.

(TE) Brandon Pettigrew:
The only thing keeping Pettigrew from being one of the top three tight ends in the NFL is his focus. He has size and speed, and believe it or not, he has great hands. He has the athletic ability to make some of the best catches I have ever seen from a tight end. His problem is focusing on the ball when it hits him in the chest.

When the ball is on target and he has room to run, Pettigrew stops concentrating on the catch, and instead looks to make a play. Most all of his drops came from passes that would be considered by most high school kids as easy to catch. Make the pass difficult and his concentration level jumps and he makes catches that a tight end should not be making.

Little fact: Pettigrew, a tight end, had only 6 fewer catches than Calvin Johnson.

(TE) Tony Scheffler:
Scheffler is a good tight end, but not great. His 55 grabs is nothing for a tight end to be ashamed of. Especially when he is sharing the field with another good tight end. So not only does he lose receptions to the great receivers, but he becomes the second fiddle in the tight end options as well.

If the Lions lost Scheffler, they would not take a very huge hit, but if they have him healthy, he is still a good player to have on the field.

Other Receivers:
Bryant Johnson and Derrick Williams have been nothing more than disappointments. Neither seems able to catch the ball and neither is shifty enough to gain separation and stretch the field. Neither draws enough attention to take pressure off of Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson.

Stefan Logan is a very good player, but he is more of a small shifty, speedy running back than a burner at wide receiver. As a WR, he is too small and can be shoved off of his route to easily. As a RB, he can get lost behind the giant linemen and find room to break away for some yards.

Brian Clark and Alric Arnett? If either left the team would anyone notice?

2011 Outlook:
As many times as the Lions have taken receivers in past drafts, the fans are snake bitten. But don't allow your fears to get in the way of success. If the Lions can get a true speedster who can actually catch the ball in the third round or later? They should do it. They don't want a receiver who would come in as competition to Calvin Johnson as the top dog, but they need a player who can stretch the defense on the other side of the field to pull some attention away from Calvin and the short route receivers. He doesn't have to be a big guy. He has to be fast, quick and have decent hands. The ability to run a few routes would help as well.

If the Lions can find that other speedy wide-out, it would do more than just open up the other receivers. It would force the safeties to take a step back. That in turn can force the linebackers to play a little back to cover the middle of the field. All of that would only open more room for the running backs to do their jobs.

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