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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1/30/11

Lions Post 2010 - Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford:
After playing in only three games in 2010 (finishing only one of them), Stafford now has only played in 13 of a possible 32 games in his NFL career. Yet, in these three games this year, he showed us some signs of what kind of quarterback he can become if he can stay healthy. Stafford completed 57 of 96 pass attempts for 535 yards while throwing 6 touchdowns and only one pick. In a 16 game season (if he could stay healthy) that would equal out to be 304 of 512 attempts, 2,853 yards, 32 TDs, and 5 interceptions. The yardage and completion % would only be decent but the 32 TDs to 5 picks would be outstanding. With a full season of staying healthy, he would definitely be a quality starting quarterback and possibly a true star in the future.

Shaun Hill:
Many fans look at the last two victories and think Hill is a good quarterback. I look at the entire season and believe he is not. Don't get me wrong. I believe Hill has the ability to be a solid starting quarterback in the NFL. He can read defenses well, he has decent accuracy and he has a stronger arm than most fans give him credit for. My problem with Shaun Hill is not his talent, but his mentality.

Take a look at his play in most games of 2010. Almost consistently, Hill would come out and throw down field in the first drive and sometimes the second drive as well. Those are the scripted plays the coordinator planned for that opponent specifically. After the first two drives, Hill would become an extremely conservative quarterback. He would only throw down field if the receiver was wide open, refusing to take a chance on a single covered Calvin Johnson. If the receiver was even close to covered, Hill would check down and throw a short pass. It was very rare that Hill would throw the ball more than 10 yards in the air. When the fourth quarter came along and the Lions were behind and forced to go into catch up mode, The defenses would also go into prevent mode and leave the receivers open for short to mid range passes, making sure they didnt get beat deep. With the receiver more open, Hill would start throwing down field again.

If Hill would be more agressive throughout the game, he could be a much more dangerous quarterback, but his conservative play continues to hurt the team rather than help it. If a quarterback will not throw the ball more than seven yards, the defense does not need to fear being beaten deep, so the linebackers and safeties will cheat in and guard against the short routes. With the defense in tight, the running backs have less room to run. Hill has all the ability to be a good QB, but his conservative mentality hurts his offense and for this reason he is the last quarterback I would want to see on the field for the Lions if Stafford gets injured again.

Drew Stanton:
Most fans did not like him. Following the Lions forums, most fans seem to think he was a horrible quarterback. In three starts in 2010, Stanton completed 58% of his passes for 780 yards, 4 TDs and 3 picks. The numbers were nothing more than decent at best, but there are a few things that made him a worthy quarterback on the field. 1)- The biggest compliment I can give him is that he showed he is a gamer. In the Green Bay game, both offenses were horrid. The Lions were down in the 4th quarter and neither team could move the ball. In crunch time, when the game was on the line, Stanton did not give up and he was not overwhelmed. He pulled himself together, made some down field passes, extended the drive with his legs when he needed to and brought the Lions back for a come from behind victory. In his three starts, Stanton had two wins, both voctories coming when he made late drives to win in the last minutes. He is not a star quality quarterback, but he is a QB who, when the game is on the line, he plays at his best. 2)- His legs. Stanton wants to make plays in the air if he can, but when he needs to, he has very good running abilities and is a threat to any defense because of that. 3)- Stanton is not afraid to throw down field. He is not very accurate, but the simple threat that he "will" go deep forces defenses to respect the deeper pass.

Between his willingness to throw deep and his ability to run with the ball, Stanton forces the defense to step back and worry whether he will throw deep, run with the ball or hand it off. Because a defense does not know which is coming, the running backs often have more room to run.

2011 Outlook:
Right now Stafford is the guy. The Lions believe he can come back and stay healthy. After surgery, he very well could do just that. IF he stays healthy there are no worries at quarterback. However, if Stafford falls again, the Lions are once again in trouble. It is questionable whether Stanton will return and Hill (who is already signed) will lose too many games because he is not willing to throw down field enough to be a passing threat. He will allow the opponents to stay in the game rather than put them away.

Because of the questionable health risks of Stafford, the Lions need to prepare for the possibility of life without him. Their best move would be to spend a mid to late round pick in the draft on a QB who has a strong arm, has poise and is accurate but may need some developmental time to reach his potential.

1/2/11

Lions Season Ends With Four Straight Wins

The Detroit Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings 20 - 13 at Ford Field to end the 2010 season on a high note. It was their fourth victory in a row. The first time they have had four wins in a row since 1999.

For the first time in 10 starts, Shaun Hill looked more like the quarterback most fans believed he was supposed to be when the Lions signed him. Going 28 of 39 (71.8%), he threw for 258 yards and a touchdown while turning it over only once. Several times in the game he actually threw down field and several passes were in the middle of the field. Twice he went deep, connecting one as Bryant Johnson laid out to make a great catch along the sideline. For the first time he played like a quarterback out to win a game rather than trying not to lose while hoping someone else will step up and win it.

Late in the fourth quarter, rookie defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh sacked rookie quarterback Joe Webb for his 10th sack on the year. Suh missed the NFL rookie record for a defensive tackle by a half of a sack. Dana Stubblefield recorded 10.5 sacks in his rookie season in 1993.

Nate Burleson stepped in with Calvin Johnson not playing and had a strong game in his place. Burleson had 6 catches for 83 yards and a TD and added a 20 yard run as well. Nate made several good catches when the ball was behind him and was a force turning the ball up field and running after the catch.

All in all, it was a strong game by the entire team and it gave the Lions fans something they have not had in a long time. Ending a season on a high note and a winning streak, giving them strong hopes for the coming season. Hopes created by good play, wins and obvious improvement rather than hopes generated from a desire to see something better than we have seen. True hope! A reason to look forward to the 2011 season.

1/1/11

Lions vs Vikings Pregame Week-17

The Lions have a chance to continue their winning streak and end the season with four straight victories. With the misfortunes of the Vikings in the last few weeks, it would seem the stage is set for that fourth victory. Don't be too sure of it.

The Minnesota Vikings are a team in disarray as they have had the roof on their dome collapse one week, a snow blizzard delay the next weeks game for two days and Brett Favre, Sidney Rice as well as others go down with injuries. Yet they beat the powerhouse Philadelphia Eagles earlier this week on Tuesday night. Yet that also means the Vikings are on a short week while the Lions have had a full week to prepare.

Quarterback Brett Favre is listed as doubtful for the game against the Lions and that is a bad thing for Ndamukong Suh. Suh once said that Favre was the top quarterback on his list that he wanted to sack the most. In their first meeting, Favre was sacked only once and it was not from Suh. This would be his last chance to sack him. Especially since it is believed that Favre truly will retire after this last game of the season.

If Favre really does not play Sunday, Joe Webb will once again be the Vikings starter. Webb had a decent game beating the Eagles last week but he did not face the pressure he will against the Lions defensive line.

Then again, this week the Vikings will be going after Shaun Hill and not Michael Vick. That is a bad thing for the Lions too. Hill is not a quarterback who plays to win. Instead, he plays not to lose and hopes someone else will make the big plays to win it for him. Last week he was lucky the Lions defense stepped up and did just that. We fans need to hope they can do it again.

When it all comes down to it, the Lions are the better team this weekend. If Hill can toss his fears away and play to win, the Lions can beat up the Vikings. If Hill can learn to take some chances going down field, the Lions will win by a good margin. If Hill plays like Hill? The Lions very well could lose. As much as it grinds me to say it, I think Hill will play like Hill. He always does.