NOTE***

Working a lot of hours every week just to survive, I have little time to spare for my blogs. So I have had to make some decisions as to what I will keep up with and what I will relax on. With the lack of readers I have on this blog, it just does not make sense to continue to put time into writing the articles, keeping the schedule up to date and so on.

I have decided to put more time into finishing my books with the hopes that they will be a source of supplemental income

I apologize to those few who actually read my articles. I hope you will understand. I will continue to write articles now and then, but I will no longer keep up with every game.

My FANTASY BOOKS

The Demon Siege Trilogy

Authors Page
Twitter: @K_J_Ester

(Book-1) Hell in a Storm
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(Book-2) Descent of Darkness
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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 Team Rankings

OFFENSE . . . . . . . . . . . .DEFENSE
. . . . . . .2011 . 2010 . . . . . .
. . . .2011 . 2010
Points . . . .(xx) .(xx) . Points . .
. . . (xx) .(xx)
Total Yards . (xx) .(xx) . Total Yards
. . .(xx). (xx)
Pass Yards. . (xx) .(xx) . Pass Yards .
. . (xx) .(xx)
Rush Yards . .(xx). (xx). .Rush Yards.
. . .(xx) .(xx)
QB Sacks . . .(xx) .(xx). .QB Sacks . .
. . (xx) .(xx)
Interceptions (xx) .(xx) . Interceptions
. .(xx) .(xx)
Fumbles Lost. (xx) .(xx) . Forced Fumbles
. (xx) .(xx)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .Fumble recovery
.(xx) .(xx)

11/24/11

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.

11/23/11

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

11/21/11

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.

11/18/11

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.

11/15/11

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"!

11/13/11

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!

11/11/11

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

11/3/11

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.

QUARTERBACK (Grade = B+)
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.

RUNNING BACK (Grade = C-)
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.

OFFENSIVE LINE (Grade = C )
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.

DEFENSIVE LINE (Grade = A )
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!

LINEBACKER (Grade = B )
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.

SPECIAL TEAMS COVERAGE (Grade = D )
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.