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10/2/12

Lions Lose to Vikings: 20-13

After losing to the Vikings, the Lions are now 1-3 and their season is already on the ropes.

Have you ever been right about something and hated the fact more than if you'd have been wrong? I tried to warn people that the Lions were a deception last year. I tried to tell them that they were not as good as their 10-6 record. Very few agreed with me. Most bought into the "they will be better because of continuity" hype. Now the Lions are 1-3 and proving me right. And I hate htat more than I can put words to.

After giving up a Kick Return and a punt return for a TD each game, for two straight weeks, there are many who are now trying to say the Lions would be 3-1 if the ST could play better. I dont buy it. Let us say that the Kick-off was not returned for a score. Would we still have been kicked off to the next play? No! Minnesota would have had the ball and their offense would have been on the field longer. Which means the Lions offense would have been on the field less.

If you want to see what went wrong, just go read my last weeks article. Or the week before that. Or many of my articles last year and in the off-season. It goes something like this. The offense could not move the ball in the first three quarters. The defense could not stop the pass and made yet another average quarterback look like Joe Montana. The special teams was horrible again. With the team behind in the score, Schwartz was content to run the clock out rather than try to move the ball enough to just get a field goal.  Does all of this sound familiar? Yeah. I thought so!

It is this simple people. The Lions have more talent on the team than all but 2 or 3 teams in the NFL. The problem is the coaches just are not any good! Look at the last three years and try to tell me what Jim Schwartz has done to give you confidence. The only thing I can think of is that he helped Mayhew add some good talent to the team. Good front office job by the coach. That is fine and dandy, but that is why they hired scouts and a GM. The coach is hired to implement his game plan and out smart his opponents. TO get a team ready to play each and every week. So far his game plans have not been good, and I have yet to see him out coach an opponent. The team has had more problems off the field with Schwartz as coach than ever before in my lifetime.

What about Linehan gives you confidence? That Stafford threw for over 5000 yards last year? Well, if so much didnt come against bad teams late in the games to make come-backs, I would agree. But more often than not, he cannot get this offense going until late in the game, and that is usually attributed to the opponent switching to the "Bend but dont break Defense".Which usually means... "Let's see how close we can make this game before time runs out".  Linehan has no idea how to get a running game going, and the only time the Lions have ever shown any ability to run the ball with him as the OC, is when they face very bad run defenses.

Cunningham never shows aggressiveness. For all of his cheap talk about getting to the QB no matter what it takes, he refuses to blitz more than 2 or 3 times a game, and when he does, he rarely disguises it. He continues to use the wide-9 defensive scheme that opens wide holes for the RBs to grab big gains.

Crossman has also been under a lot of fire as the Lions Special Teams Coach. Giving 4 special teams TDs in two weeks is unacceptable! Right now, Crossman is the worst of the four coaches, and that is saying a lot!

The Lions will win a few games at one point this year, and everyone might start believing they are good again. Dont be sucked into it.  I dont believe in making change just for the sake of change, but if the Lions do not make some kind of changes, they will very soon be mathematically out of any play-off hopes. Whether they change coaches, make a big trade to get a good CB or a big Center, or just simply make some real changes to the schemes. But something needs to change or they will have a hard time winning 8 games.

9/28/12

Lions vs Vikings; Pregame

The Detroit Lions will host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and this game is anyone's guess! Yes I know many fans will say the Lions are going to crush them. Let me fill you in a little secret. The Vikings fans are saying they will do the same to us.

On paper, this is the Lions 2nd victory. Looking at the talent level across the board, this is a Detroit win. But if you look at the entire scope of the game, the Lions may be in for some big trouble.

Detroit is 1-2, while the Vikings are 2-1.  Yes the Vikings beat the Jaguars, who pretty much stink, but they also beat the 49ers. Something the Lions could not do. Yet the Lions have lost to the Titans who really are not very good.

You have faith in Stafford and Calvin and the rest do you? You remember the vast amount of points the Lions scored last year and the yards Stafford threw for? Do you remember the Lions offense stumbling along in the first half so often last year too? They are making the same mistakes and this year are not making the great come backs.

The Lions have faced Bradford, Smith, and Locker. Do you list any of them as great QBs? How about really good quarterbacks? I dont. Locker has the ability to become a great QB, but in his first season as a starter, he is decent at best. Yet all three of these QBs have completed over 60% of their passes against the Lions. Ponder this year, has completed 70% of his passes. He will likely only improve that stat against the Lions secondary.

The Lions should win this one. But that will depend solely on the coaches. Linehan will need to have one of his two or three games a year where he actually calls a good game. If he waits until the second half yet again, to get the ball moving down field, the Lions wont come from behind to win. Ponder and company are playing too well right now and the Lions secondary is so scary bad, the Lions could find themselves in a deep hole and not make it back out. But if the Lions try to help their talent deprived secondary too much, Adrian Peterson will have a field day.

Linehan needs to understand that it is the passing game this team is built around. They have needed a good running game in a bad way, but not to run first to set up the pass. They needed a run game to keep defenses honest. To extend drives on 3rd and short. If he tries to be a run first team yet again, with an under powered center and no run blocker, and Stafford continues to throw 3 yard outs and not down field, the Lions will lose this game before they ever get in it.

Lions should win this contest, 30-27, but it would not surprise me if they lose by a touchdown either.

9/23/12

Lions Lose to Titans 40 - 44

The Lions were beat by the Tennessee Titans, 44-41, and the blame filled pie should be cut in many ways.

The Lions tried hard to give the game away in regulation as they took part in an NFL record for having 5 touchdowns of more than 60 yards, scored against them. This is how they happened.....

TD#1 - When the Lions punted the ball, Darius Renaud caught the punt, took two steps back and turned, then he threw the ball three yards back and to the other side of the field where Tommie Campbell was waiting. With no Lions around him, he sprinted 65 yards for an easy touchdown.

TD#2 - Jake Locker passed the ball down field to TE, Jared Cook. After a couple of missed tackles (no shock coming from the Lions defense), he sprinted free for a 61 yard touchdown catch.

TD#3 - After Stafford threw a TD to Burleson, then again to Burleson for the two point conversion, the Lions had a 7 point lead. On the ensuing kickopff, Darius Renaud, who had tossed the ball to his teammate for a TD on a punt, took the ball from 5 yards deep for a 105 yard kickoff return of his own.

TD#4 - Locker threw the ball deep down the left sideline to Nate Washington, who was fairly well covered by Lacey. Unfortunately, Lacey never knew the ball was coming because all he had to do was turn around for an easy pick. Instead, Washinton jumped up and reached over Lacey to catch the ball off the Lions CB's back. By that time it was too late for Lacey to turn around, but that was what he did, and Washington ran away with the ball for a 71 yard touchdown.

TD#5 - Matthew Stafford threw the ball to Brandon Pettigrew for a six yard completion. However, Pettigrew had to turn around for the catch and bobbled it slightly as he was spinning around. As he secured the ball in his hands and was turning around to run, but before he had a chance to tuck the ball in safely, he was hit by two Titan players. Alterraun Verner stripped the ball from Pettigrew's hands and ran it 72 yards for the score.

It seemed at this point, the Lions were doing everything they could to give the game away. Down by 14 points with only 1:16 left in the game, it looked like they did a good job of it. Considering that Stafford had left the game with an injury (no word as to how serious yet), the odds of a come back looked impossible. When the Lions, led by Shaun Hill spent :58 to drive down the field and score a touchdown, leaving them with only 18 seconds left on the clock, it looked like the loss was a lock. Then the Lions kicked the on-side kick and Amari Spievey recovered it at the Titans 45 yard line. With 16 seconds left on the clock and still on the Titans 45 yard line, Shaun Hill threw one up for a hail mary in the endzone. A Titans player won the jump, but rather than slamming the ball to the turf, he tipped it away. Right into the hands of Titus Young, who took a step and dove into the endzone for the score. Hanson kicked the extra point  and in 18 seconds, the Lions scored twice to tie it up.

In overtime, the Lions defense aloud the Titans to once again move the ball down field, but finally got the job done and held them to a 26 yard field goal. The Lions were still alive. Shaun Hill once again under center, moved the Lions from their own 22 yard line, to the Titans 7 yard line. And then the drama continued.

With it being 4th down and 1 to go, at the Titan's 7 yard line, the Lions decided to go for the win. A field goal would have tied it up, but they decided to go for it. Then for some strange reason, Dominic Raiola snapped the ball early and Hill took the ball for the QB Sneak and lost a yard, and the game. And the drama of the game was finished, but the drama off the field was only beginning.

According to Schwartz, the ball was never supposed to be snapped at all. They were meant to have a hard count to draw the defense off-sides, and if they did not jump, Coach Schwartz was going to call a time-out and kick a field goal. He tried taking the blame for not calling time out if he felt the call was not communicated clearly enough. Shaun Hill tried taking the blame because he should have made sure the call was communicated clearly. Raiola would not speak to the media.

There is a lot of blame going around. I have seen people blame Pettigrew for being stripped of the football. I have heard blame directed towards the special teams for giving up two returns for touchdowns. I have heard people blame the secondary because they couldn't cover at all and I have heard blame placed on the D-line for not putting enough pressure on Locker. Schwartz and Hill both admirably blamed themselves while trying to draw eyes away from Raiola. Blame was put on Gunther Cunningham because once again, there were no stunts on the D-line and no blitzes disguised. Plenty blame Linehan because for the third straight game to start the season, he could not get the explosive Lions offense going until the second half.

I say it was a team effort. They tried to give this game away in every faction of the game and in the end, they finally succeeded. They screwed up as a team, and the lost as one. Go team! (Eyes roll sarcastically upwards as that is said.)


9/22/12

A Letter to Linehan

Mr. Linehan

Sometimes in life, we all find ourselves in situations where nothing is going how we expected them to. It is in those trials, when it becomes most important to put our pride aside and listen to what others have to say. Good advice can come from the most unlikeliest sources.

The Lions have supreme talent at QB and at receiver this year. The world expected the Lions offense to be explosive. Yet in the first two games, they have done hardly more than sputter. You have shown a desire to build a running game, and yet the running game has been well below average. I ask you, please put your pride away and listen to what I have to say. Nobody says you have to do what you are told, but it always helps to at least listen with an open ear.

It is obvious that todays NFL is a pass first NFL. However, that does not mean you have to set the team up to pass only. The best running backs in the NFL, even in todays game, still use a lead blocker. Why? Because todays linebackers and safeties are too fast and strong, and they fill holes too well. To have a consistant running game, it is imperative to use a lead blocker. Someone who leads the way into the holes the O-line creates, and blows the linebacker or safety out of the way. Without that, it is too often the case we see for the Lions where our running backs hit a hole and are stopped before they spring free.

Now I understand the Lions do not have a good Fullback on their roster. That does not mean they cant use the lead blocker. Why would it be so hard for someone like Pettigrew to line up as a TE as usual, then move inside to the FB spot to lead block a dozen plays a game? Even when he does shift over to the FB spot, he could still be sent out to catch passes or stay in to block. Would this not help the running game as well as add a new wrinkle for D-Coordinators to worry about?

A few other ideas....

Speaking of Brandon Pettigrew. As good as he is, why does he only catch short to medium route passes? Why is it so rare to see him force the defense back as he runs a deep route down the middle?

When the Lions were bad several years ago, they had one particular play that was very exciting and helped them a lot. All of the receivers would bunch together on the right side of the line. When the ball was snapped, they would all run out and break into different patterns. It was harder for coverage to double up one player, or prepare for how to beat it because nobody knew which receivers would break in which directions and secondaries had a tougher time defending it. With the talent the Lions have, would this not be yet another interesting wrinkle?

As I mentioned about the TE going deep, it makes me wonder, when was the last time we saw a RB run a deeper route? Why not send him through the line to run deep down the middle sometimes? Have him run a deeper post route now and then from the RB position.

I noticed that the most effective run play against the Lions seems to be the Wham play used by SF. I believe the same play was used by other teams against the Lions as well. This play has worked so well in fact, that Gunther Cunningham has not been able to counter it, even with a year to prepare. Can I ask why the Lions offense does not implement this play into their scheme?

All I am saying is that there are many other things an offense can do that can cause havoc for defensive coordinators. It takes a genius to invent things that nobody else has and make them work. It doesnt take more than average intelligence to look at what others do and see what works. But even the mentally challenged can continue to do something that is not working. Lose your pride, use your intelligence, and add some wrinkles into your offense that can mess with defensive coordinators minds.

9/21/12

Lions vs Titans: Pre-game

Well here we are, facing a good team that is not doing so well. A game between two underachieving teams.

I know it is hard to call the Lions underachievers when they are 1-1 and lost to a team that was expected to beat them, but its not who beat them, but how they beat them.  The 49ers did not do anything special to pull out a victory. The Lions simply played bad in every facet of the game. Now they face the Titans and I am not so sure things will get better.

One might expect the Lions to have a field day against the Titans right? After all, shouldn't the Fearsome Four be all over a rookie quarterback? Yet I look at the fact that the Lions have a history of making bad QBs look good. Average quarterbacks continuously complete a high percentage of their passes against the Lions secondary. So far, Jake Locker has completed 66% of his passes against the Patriots and Chargers. They may not have great defenses, but I seriously doubt their secondary is as bad as the Lions. Then again, Locker has only been sacked twice so far. If the Lions D-line can lay the lumber on the rookie a couple times early, maybe they can rattle his cage enough to make some bad passes. But then, dont we hope for that against all quarterbacks?

The fact is, the Lions should be able to beat this team. The Lions have a great D-line that should make Locker very uncomfortable. THey have the talent on offense to destroy defenses. LeShoure will make his debut, though I dont expect that to be as great as many fans do. The problem is, the Lions coaches seem to have no idea how to use the talent they have.

Linehan has one of the most talent passing teams in the NFL, and cant seem to get it going until the fourth quarter when teams play bend but dont break defense. Against a run stop defense in SF, he forced the run, over and over again, with an underpowered Center and no lead blocker. He continually calls short pass plays to the sidelines. In my opinion, he is just not a very good coordinator at all.

Cunningham shows a very vanilla defense. When he does blitz, he rarely hides it. He will show it a lot, than not blitz, but when he actually does blitz, he rarely disguises it. He uses very few stunts on the D-line and just never does anything different.  He had almost a year to find a way to counter the wham play that teams used against them last season to spring their RBs open so successfully. Yet SF used it again with ease and the Lions defense used the same formations and rushes they used last year.

As I pointed out last year, Schwartz has yet to show me he is a good In-Game coach. Sure he is great in the front office duties of the coaching job. He gets great talent to sign and knows talent. But in the game, he is far too often out-coached and I have yet to see him out right out-coach his opponent. Last week, with almost a full minute on the clock, Schwartz was satisfied to run the clock out and go into halftime, down by 8 points. With Staffords arm, and the abilities of these receivers to stretch the field, there is no reason to think they could not get within field goal range inside a minute. Maybe even score a touchdown. To run the clock out is a losers mentality. He was playing "not to fail" rather than to win!  Kneeling before the half is ridiculous. Throw a bomb for God's sakes! Just throw it up there and let the best receiver in the NFL out jump his competition for a completion. If they happen to intercept a deep hail mary, the odds of them returning it are extremely slim. Whoever catches it, is likely going to be tackled right away on that kind of play. But to be happy with running the clock out and not even use your superior talent is a losers mentality.

The Lions should be able to beat the Titans, and I am even going to predict they will. But it is no sure thing. With this coaching staff, and this scheme, I could not count any game a sure win.

Lions 23
Titans 20


9/17/12

Lions Lose to 49ers, 27-19

Many fans might say I am being hard on the Detroit Lions when I say they should be embarrassed. I say it is simple fact. I expected them to lose to the 49ers, but what I did not expect, was that they would be beat in practically every phase of the game.

The Lions star quarterback, Matthew Stafford, who threw for over 5,000 yards and had 41 touchdowns last year, was out shined by Alex Smith, who has never thrown for even 3,200 yards in a season. Stafford was all ove rthe place with his passes, placing the ball behind his receivers, over their heads, and in one case, threw the ball where none of his receivers were within 10 yards of it. For the second game in a row, he did not throw a TD until the last two minutes of the game.

Where Stafford was at his worse was in the way he seemed to revert to the ways of a rookie as he seemed to have eyes for Calvin Johnson and nobody else. Johnson had 8 catches while the next best was Pettigrew with three. A couple of times, Pettigrew was wide open, but Stafford threw to Johnson who was double covered. Burleson and Young had one reception each.

Kevin Smith was back to his own self as he gained only 3.3 yards per carry and never made anyone miss. His longest run was 9 yards.

The offensive line was beat by the 49ers d-line. The Lions great D-line was too often held in check by the San Fran O-line. And as expected, the Lions secondary could not cover for even two seconds.

The Lions defense was supposed to be better against the run this year and showed that against the Rams. Then they gave up 89 yards on just 17 carries to Frank Gore, as well as a touchdown. Gore averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Kendall Hunter averaged 4.6 yards and Mario Manningham ran once for 29 yards.

The very worst of it however, was how badly the Lions were out coached.

The run play that beat the Lions against SF last season was a play they reffered to as the Wham Play. Where an offensive Lineman crossed and took a defensive lineman out from the side to open a hole. Gore had a few long runs on the Lions last year due to that same play. Gunther Cunningham has had a full year to plan for that and when the 49ers used it, it worked again. And again. That is simply inexcusable!

Scott Linehan ran the ball 24 times compared to Stafford passing 32. I can understand that the Lions wanted to establish the run. But to force the issue against a team that is known for not allowing teams to run? Even so, 15 of those 24 run plays came on first down. At one point the Lions had ran 3 times on first down and passed 3 times. Then went on a streak of running the ball on 12 of the next 15 1st down plays.  So now, Linehan was not only trying to force the run against a great run defense, but he was telegraphing it by running on almost every first down. That is terrible play calling and nothing else.

Then to make everything worse, even Jason Hanson missed a 40 yard field goal.

Before the season started, I predicted the Lions would win 9 games and miss the play-offs. I have had a lot of people tell me I was a pessimist. In the last week, leading up to the game, I tried to find reasons the Lions would beat the 49ers and be a better team than I was expecting. Instead, the Detroit Lions proved to me that they were not even up to the level I had given them. If they cannot right this ship, they will not even win 8 games this year.  I believe they will get things straight, but only back to what I had expected before the season.

9/13/12

Lions vs 49ers Pregame

The Detroit Lions go on the road in the 2nd week of the season and will face the San Francisco 49ers at 8:20 PM on Sunday Night Football. And this could get interesting!

Jim Schwartz will tell us the "Hand Shake" from last year is over and done and has no part in this game. The players will say that it means nothing to them this week. Don't you believe it! Schwartz is a fiery guy and has a lot of pride. He was bothered by the way Jim Harbaugh shoved him out of the way at the end of the game last year. There is no way anyone can tell me that Schwartz was not upset over losing to them and that rough dismissal by Harbaugh was seen as rubbing salt in the wounds. What Harbaugh did was unsportssman like, unprofessional, and uncalled for. And Jim Schwartz remembers it clearly.

Some are sick of hearing about the handshake. I see it differently. I see it as the beginning to a beautiful rivalry. And lets face the facts. There is nothing more sacred in sports than a good old fashion rivalry! If it is a rivalry you want, then there is one thing that will feed it beyond any article we write. A Lions victory would fuel it more than anything else. If the 49ers win, they will have won two games in a row and would easily be able to dismiss the Lions as worthy rivals. The Lions fans would hate the 49ers for beating them twice in a row, but it takes two to have a good rivalry. I Lions victory however, would be like a little payback medicine and both teams would be even in the matches. They would be even because the games between the two teams would not count from years before. They werent played between these two coaches.  But the big question is, how can the Lions beat the 49ers?

A tough question. The Lions lost last years match-upin Detroit. This year they play in San Francisco. This has to be an advantage for the 49ers. In the off-season it has been very debatable whether the Lions have improved or gotten worse as they only added depth and watched their secondary get worse. There is no doubt the 49ers have gotten stronger by adding good players and filling holes. The 49ers beat the Packers last week while the Lions barely escaped with a win against the lowly Rams!  All strong points for why the Lions cant beat the 49ers this coming Sunday night! But as they say... "That is why they play the game!" Because however sure you are the Lions will lose to the 49ers, there are actually reasons to believe the Lions can win!

The Lions offense has gotten better! Forget the three picks by Stafford in the first half last week. Stuff happens and that was one of those things you wont see repeated very often. Stafford is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and he has one of the best receivers in the history of the game to throw the ball to. Toss in the likes of Burleson, Young, Broyles, and Pettigrew and the Lions receiving core is about as good as it gets.  Where they have improved however, is the running game. The Lions have actually shown they can run block some. Personally I think it was a bad case of bad D-line that allowed the Lions to run the ball, but it doesnt matter. The fact is, the Lions ran the ball last week, and that means the 49ers defense will have to show it some respect.

More importantly, the reason the Lions can win this game is not the great offense they have, but on the defensive side of the ball. Everyone knows the Lions weakness is in their secondary. A good QB with good WR's will destroy them this year. Thankfully the 49ers do not have the good quarterback. Even if you are a 49ers fan, you have to admit that the 49ers dont look to beat teams with their great passing game. They look to win games with their great defense and their running game! Against the Packers, the 49ers ran the ball 32 times and passed it only 26 times. That plays right into the Lions hands.

Frank Gore ran mad on the Lions in 2011, but Detroit has made some adjustments since then. Last week against the Rams, the Lions never allowed Steven Jackson to break free as they kept him contained all game. They are better against the run this year and Gore will not have the kind of game he had last year. The Lions will force the 49ers to air it out if they want to move the ball. This does two things.

One- It means the Lions terrible secondary will have to play well to keep the 49ers from taking advantage of them. That might be asking a lot.

Two- It means the Lions will come hard after Alex Smith. And this year, Smith will not be facing a team with players like Suh struggling to keep his head on straight, or Fairley hampered by injury. Smith will face a tougher pass rush than last year.

So the question really comes down to this. Who has the better advantage. Alex Smith over the Lions secondary, or Stafford and company over the 49ers secondary? And that my friends is a much closer match than most might be willing to give the Lions credit for.

Do I believe the Lions will win? Honestly? No! But I believe they can win and for these exact reasons. This game is no sure win for the 49ers. It should be a much closer match-up than expected. It might end up being the Lions biggest victory this year.

Lions 27
49ers 30

But don't bet on that!












9/10/12

Detroit Lions Beat the Rams 27-23

One year ago, Matthew Stafford started his first full season as an NFL quarterback, and went on to have one of the best seasons ever for a QB in the NFL. Sunday against the Rams, he threw three picks in the first half (a would be 4th pick bounced off a defenders chest). To be completely honest? Who cares!

Stafford has been an ultimate star for the Lions, so if he has a game once in a while where he throws a few interceptions, so what! He also gathered himself together and had a pretty decent second half and connected with Kevin Smith for the game winning touchdown with only ten seconds left on the clock.

Some may say he had a bad game, but Stafford also completed 66.7% of his passes and threw for 355 yards. If you step back and look at it, Stafford actually had a very good game but simply had a few bad passes mixed in. And of course, the Rams took advantage of those mistakes.

Matthew Stafford is not the only one who had a deceiving game. Many fans are excited over how good the defense did. The defensive line looked great as they were all over the Rams backfield through out the game. However, early in the game, the Rams best offensive lineman went down with an injury. Later in the game, a second lineman left with an injury as well. The Rams were delegated to almost half their line being played by rookies, and other linemen were playing out of position. What I am saying is, do not read too much into a good game for the Lions defensive line, because it would have been absolutely inexcusable for them to not have a good game under those circumstances.

Even with the constant pressure thrown at Bradford all game long, he still completed 68% of his passes. That worries me. Bradford is not yet known for beating teams with his abilities. Yet, if the Rams would have let him throw the ball more, they would have beat the Lions. Instead, he only aired it out 25 times, while the Rams called 27 run plays. The Lions Defensive Line was excellent against the run however, and it was ridiculous that the Rams continued to try and run the ball so much rather than throw the ball more, which is where they were most successful.

On a more personal note, the worst moment of the game for me, happened early on when Stafford threw his first pick in the endzone. It was not so much the interception that hurt, nor was it where it happened. It was more of WHO it was that hurt. Hoping to complete a touchdown pass, Stafford threw to his right, and Janoris Jenkins cut in front of it for the pick. Here we are in the first quarter, of the first game, and Stafford throws his first interception of the year and it happens to be the cornerback the Lions should have drafted with their first round pick. The Lions skipping over him has bothered me since April and it was like salt in the wounds to see him take the first pick.

In the end, the Lions won the game, and that is what is most important. It doesn't matter that it was a near loss to the lowly Rams. It still goes down as a notch in the victory column. But narrowly escaping the Rams while playing in Ford Field, does not give me much hope for the Lions going into San Francisco to play the 49ers next week.

9/7/12

Lions vs Rams Pre-game

As crazy as it sounds, the first game of the season could almost be labeled a "Must Win" for the Lions.

Let us not beat around the bush. The Rams this year, are not a good team. However high some thought of Bradford, he will never be near as good as Stafford is now, much less how good Stafford will be. The Rams lone bright star is their Running Back, Steven Jackson. Stop him and you virtually stop the Rams offense. On the other side of the ball, the Rams defense simply does not have a chance to stop the Lions high powered offense. The Lions will score points. This is not a game the Lions should lose, and a loss here would nearly be an early end to the Lions season.

Yes I know there are sixteen games in a season and one loss is not the end of the world. But one loss can be close to it in the NFL if it happens the right way.

Some say the Lions will win 10 games in 2012. There are many, like me, who predict a step back and a 9-7 season. Whatever you predict, everyone has the Lions beating the Rams. To lose this week, the Lions would be taking a loss where a sure win was expected, and those are not easy to make up for.

The Lions would have a bad loss to start the season and then have to go into San Francisco where they are expected by most to lose. If the Lions start the season off 0-2, I would almost be afraid to read the ensuing articles.

It is a good thing the Lions wont have to worry about that.

Stafford is one of the best QBs in the NFL. I dont care what the experts rank him. He is throwing to the absolute best WR in the NFL in Calvin Johnson. With good WR's like Titus Young, Nate Burleson, and Brandon Pettigrew also roaming the field, their is just too many good receivers for the Rams to cover.  The Lions will be without their only true hope of a good running back this year, with LeShoure serving a two game suspension. They wont need him this week. The Rams defense just isnt good enough to stop the Lions passing game.

If there is a real reason to worry, it would be the Lions defense. I am not a believer that Bradford is good enough to win games that depend on his arm. But then again, he wont face too many secondaries as bad as Detroits.  IF it comes down to a shootout, the Lions should still win, but if there is a way the Rams could possibly pull it out, thats how it would happen. If the Lions secondary cannot even stop Bradford, they will be in for a long year.

I am not even worried about it. Stafford will throw for over 250 yards and two touchdowns, and the Lions will get three sacks to start the season, 1-0.

Lions 27
Rams 17

Detroit Lions 2012 Schedule

REGULAR SEASON
Home ..Sun ..Sep-09..St.Louis Rams.........W 27-23 . . YAHOO BOX
Away ..Sun ..Sep-16..San Francisco 49ers...L 19-27 . . YAHOO BOX
Away ..Sun ..Sep-23..Tennessee Titans......1:00 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Home ..Sun ..Sep-30..Minnesota Vikings.....1:00 PM . . YAHOO BOX
OFF ...Sun ..Oct-07..Bye Week
Away ..Sun ..Oct-14..Philadelphia Eagles...1:00 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Away ..MON ..Oct-22..Chicago Bears.........8:30 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Home ..Sun ..Oct-28..Seattle Seahawks......1:00 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Away ..Sun ..Nov-04..Jacksonville Jaguars..1:00 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Away ..Sun ..Nov-11..Minnesota Vikings.....1:00 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Home ..Sun ..Nov-18..Green Bay Packers.....1:00 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Home ..Thu ..Nov-22..Houston Texans.......12:30 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Home ..Sun ..Dec-02..Indianapolis Colts....1:00 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Away ..Sun ..Dec-09..Green Bay Packers.....8:20 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Away ..Sun ..Dec-16..Arizona Cardinals.....4:05 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Home ..Sat ..Dec-22..Atlanta Falcons.......8:30 PM . . YAHOO BOX
Home ..Sun ..Dec-30..Chicago Bears.........1:00 PM . . YAHOO BOX

8/26/12

Thoughts On Lions 3rd Preseason Game

The Preseason means very little. I am not even going to mention the score because it doesn't mean anything and does not give a lick of information that is useful. In fact, in all honesty, I do not even know the final score because I didnt bother watching the fourth quarter and I dont care about the final score. The preseason is not about winning or losing. It should only be used to evaluate particular players and situations. With the third week of preseason being through, these are my thoughts on the Detroit Lions before the season starts.

No the fourth week does not matter. The starters will play very little and it will only be used by the coaches to help decide on what players will make the team.

The usual stars will still be the usual stars. Stafford has looked sharp. He has been very accurate and for the most part has made great decisions. Calvin Johnson has shown his dominance throughout the preseason. Titus Young is continuing to grow and he and Burleson should be better compliments to Megatron than they were last year. Broyles has looked decent against back-ups, but I would not expect him to be a big part of the passing game this year. Brandon Pettigrew looks like himself as well and will continue to be a large part of the passing game. All-in-all, the Lions passing game will again be one of the best in the NFL.

Running the ball, however, will again be  nearly non-existant. Jahvid Best will likely start on the PUP list and not play til near mid-season, if at all. Mikel LeShoure will be missing the first two weeks with a suspension, and will then become their best running back by default, even though he has had very little game experience. LeShoure will not be this powerhouse that will drag two players for five yards as it seems many fans fantasize about. He will still need a hole to run through, but at 233 pounds, in his limited action, showed he has quick feet. He ran one play where he sidestepped and made a tackler miss him completely and then turned around and ran another defender over on the next play. Smith has already shown he has not become a tough durable running back. Kieland Williams has not shown anything to make him a ray of hope and none of the other RB's have played against first string defenses.

Overall, I expect the Lions offense to look very similar to last year. A high powered passing game with very little running. Very inconsistent. Keep in mind, as good as he was last year, Stafford only completed 63.5% of his passes. That is a good completion rating for a quarterback, but you need to put it in perspective. He will complete a little more than half of his passes. The running game will not be very strong. When an offense can only be counted on to move the ball on 3 to 5 times every 10 plays, they will have a lot of stalled drives.  Thus, like last year, the Lions offense will have a lot of drives die out early and then hit the big play to move them down field and have a chance to score. They will score a lot of points, but those scores will be quicker drives, leaving the defense on the field too long.

Ah yes. The Defense! The rookie CBs in Bentley and Lacey have both had moments of looking good. They have also been beaten at times. However good they may become in the future, they are not Corner Backs a team would prefer to have to count on this year. Unfortunately, they are the best CBs the Lions have outside of Chris Houston, so they will be counted on. Alfonso Smith has looked, quite frankly, terrible in the preseason and does not give me any hope that he has made any strides in improvement. Louis Delmas is injured again and it is possible he may not be ready for the first game. Amari Spievey seems to have regressed as a Safety. This leaves Coleman and Wendling as the Lions starters right now. Both are decent players and can make some plays, but they seem more suited for stopping the run and making big tackles, but not so top notch in coverage duties. The Lions greatest weakness in 2011 was the secondary. However much you believe they addressed this by drafting three CBs in the third round and later, the fact is, those CBs would not even be starting if Wright or Berry were still on the team. So whether you liked Berry and White or not, this unit is still weaker rather than stronger than last year and their play has not proven that different.

The Linebackers in Tulloch, Durant, and Levy are the same as last year. I have not seen where they are playing much better than last year but again, they have not regressed either. Time will tell what kind of difference they will make this year.

The strength of this defense is definitely, once again, the defensive line. Suh, Williams, Hill and Fairley will continue to pressure up the middle, freeing the defensive ends to get face one-on-one coverage and a chance to get to the QB. Unfortunately, Fairley is not looking like the dominant DT so many presumed he would be, so the D-line with him is not really improved over what it was. Avril will be pushed to duplicate last years performance because Willie Young and Lawrence Jackson look like they are getting better.

Unfortunately, the D-line can only do so much and I think the standard fan expects too much from them. Fans get upset when they dont sack every QB four times and crush him as he releases the ball another six, every game. The defensive line will get to the QB's, and will keep a QB from getting comfortable, but the back seven on the Lions defense will also allow WR's to break free early and often, giving the quarterback somewhere to throw the ball.

Overall, the Lions defense will not be shutting opposing offenses down, but on the other hand, they have shown they look better against the run than they did last year. If the Defense stays healthy, they will be a middle of the road to half way decent defense in the NFL. If there are injuries mounting up, they will drop to a bottom feeding unit in the league, as they did late last season.

On the other hand, I have seen the special teams make improvements in the third week of the preseason, as they were pretty dominant against the Raiders. However, I could not make up my mind whether the Lions special teams were playing so great, or Oaklands Special Teams was so bad. I tend to believe the Lions special teams are improved but not great. Still, they will be better than last year and that might make some differences in the win loss record.

My fears for the coming season is that if LeShoure actually shows he can run well, Linehan will once again fall into his rhythm of running the ball on first down nearly every play. Which would nearly counter the improvement of the running game. He needs to be smart and mix things up. He needs to let the great passing game set up the run rather than trying to make the so-so run game set up the passing game.

From the preseason, I have realized the Lions still have not figured out how to blitz very well. I saw one blitz that was well played, when the safety came in on a disguised blitz. Unfortunately there were several other times when the Lions simply had a linebacker or safety jog upt o the line and wait for the ball to be snapped before charging in. This does nothing but let the opposing offensive line know they need to block the extra rusher and thus, the Lions blitz rarely reaches the QB before he gets rid of the ball.

Some fans like to point out the easy games of the schedule and say they are playing an easier schedule. I disagree. Yes the Lions have some bad teams they will be playing, but keep in mind that last year, all ten wins came against teams without winning records.

I would logically expect the Lions (from what I have seen) to win 9 or 10 games this year. With the problems they have and the weaknesses that were not addressed, I think fans who predict 12 wins or more are just the typical fans who always believe their team will be great and refuse to look at the facts.

The Detroit Lions will once again, be a very exciting team to watch, but they will just as likely, not be a Superbowl contender. They could make the play-offs, but I do not expect it this year. I hope for it, but I do not expect it at this time. However, as the real season comes and I see the schemes they use when games count, that opinion could change. Or be enforced.


8/11/12

Bill Bentley has Good First Test

The Lions drafted CB- Bill Bentley, in the third round of April's NFL Draft. Many think he will be the answer to the CB woes opposite Houston. Many think he wont be that good. One thing almost all Lions fans will agree on, is that if he is not, the Detroit Lions might be in trouble for the upcoming season. On Friday night, Bentley had his first test with the Detroit Lions, and passed it with flying colors.

Lions Rookie, Bill Bentley, after his first NFL interception.
Early on, Bentley made a mistake, and was beaten by a step down the left sideline for a long completion. Given, it was a well thrown ball, but it does not change the fact he was beat by a step. Soon after that, the rookie gave the fans a few reasons to have hope.

Bentley had two excellent breaks on passes in the game. Reading the QB, he broke in and beat the WR to short sideline pass and would have had a pick-six, if he would have caught the ball rather than let it bounce off his chest. The other, however, was a very athletic play where he dropped low and took the pass in mid roll before coming up to his feet and running a few yards before tripping up and going down. Later on, Bentley also had a good wrap up tackle in the middle of the field.

SO a day later, there are many fans who believe they saw the bright future with Bentley as the every week starting CB. Even I must admit that I am a little high on the young player. But as hard as it is to do, I must warn you to take this for what it is. A test that the rookie CB passed. He may have aced it, but it was only one test, and a fairly easy one at that.

Keep in mind that Bentley had this good game against the Cleveland Browns. A team with bad receivers and a rookie QB.  A good QB or veteran WR might have written a very different outcome.  Bentley is showing he is willing to gamble and break in on the pass. What would happen if a good quarterback was to pump fake and the WR broke deep with a double move? Bentley may very well then go from being up and coming bright star, to "Oh my God, it's Wright all over again!"

The rookie had an easy test for his first action. He did very well and gave us reasons to hope. Let him pass a few more tests before you are ready to name him the player who must start opposite Chris Houston.

7/25/12

Mayhew and the NFL Drafts: How Good Is He?


In 2009, Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz began drafting for the Detroit Lions. Last year the Lions won 10 games and made the play-offs. But is their drafting a bit misleading?

2009 - The first year was easy for them. They took over a team with no talent and they went into the draft with one goal. Add star athletes, no matter their position. In came Matthew Stafford, Brandon Pettigrew, and Louis Delmas in the first three pick and two rounds. After that, they added DeAndre levy in the third, and Sammie Lee Hill in the fourth. With 10 picks in 2008, 5 of them are starter worthy and still on the team as strong contributors.   Grade = A


2010 - The Draft started off as easy as it gets. It was obvious the Lions had only one choice they could make with their second pick over all. If they would have taken anyone other than Ndomukong Suh, it would have been the worst pick in the draft. Suh was a once in a lifetime player to draft at DT and simply put, a no-brainer. When the Lions moved back into the 2nd round to take Jahvid Best, it was a gutsy move to get a superstar talent at RB. With his concussion suffered the year before, the pick was a little dangerous, but one that was worth doing at the time. In the third, they drafted Amari Spievey, knowing he was not going to be a very good CB. It didnt matter. They had intentions to turn him into a Safety. Spievey has shown some ability but has yet to prove he can be a worthy every day starter. This pick is still questionable. In the 7th round, they added Willie Young, who is turning into a decent contributor and someday may be a solid every down player.

With 2 players (Suh & Young) looking good, 2 players (Best & Speivey) who are questionable, and 2 other players (Fox & Toone) who look to be busts, the Lions draft was not as successful as the previous year. The only reason they get a good grade is because one of their good picks came late in the draft.
Grade = B-


2011 - The drafting of Mayhew and Schwartz took a bit of a down turn with this draft. The Lions defense had a very glaring weakness at CB and there were very good CB's available when their pick came. They ignored need and went with BPA to take Nick Fairley, a Defensive Tackle. With three good DTs on the team already, it was not a needed move and not a pick that would improve the team very much. The only reason they get a pass is because they did get a great talent... supposedly.  In the 2nd round, they took Titus Young, a WR to compliment Calvin Johnson and Burleson. So far this looks like it may have been the best pick of that draft. The Lions moved back into the 2nd round and once again, continued to ignore the weakness on the team at CB and took Mikel LeShoure, another RB.

So far, only Young has shown he can play. Fairley has seen little action due to an injured foot and LeShoure has yet to play due to a serious achilles injury and will miss games this year due to off field problems. The only other picks were LB- Doug Hogue, and OT- Johnny Culbreath, who was recently cut.
Grade = C-

2012 - Once again the Lions most glaring weakness was CB. Once again there were a couple very good CBs available when their pick came. Yet again, the Lions ignored the need. In the first round they took OT-Riley Reiff. Did the Lions need to start addressing the offensive line for the future? Sure. But they needed a CB far more than they needed a Tackle. When the 2nd round came, did they address the CB position? They took a Wide Receiver. With one of the best passing games in the NFL and three good receivers already on the team, they took another WR. That reasoning alone makes this pick very questionable. Add to that, the WR they took, Ryan Broyles, recently suffered a major knee injury and will not even be ready to play when the season starts, and it is not guaranteed he will ever be 100% again, this pick is nearly laughable. After that the Lions drafted three CBs and three LBs. This move screams a couple things to me. They knew very well how importantly they needed to address the secondary before, and chose to ignore it for BPA, and they do not have faith in any of these draft picks to start, otherwise they would not have drafted three of them.

With a slight improvement on the offensive line, they added an injured WR to a good WR crew, and tossed in three CBs and three LBs hoping they get lucky with one of them.
Grade = D-


My Opinion - Mayhew and Schwartz are good at picking talent. There is no doubt they know talent. So when the team was void of any talent, they had an easy time of drafting talent to add to it. Then the team got better and they had to pay some attention to making a good team better. It should have been time to let go of the Best Player Available draft theory and start finding the Best Players that fill Needs. They did not do that and their drafting has steadily gotten worse.  Because of this, the Lions, who won ten games last year, will be entering the new season, not with a better team than last year, and not with the same team, but with a team that is not as good. And they will be facing a tougher schedule.

Schwartz ans Mayhew know talent. What they have not shown however, is the knowledge on how to build a great team. They continue to draft talent and not care about addressing needs. So they continue to build up certain areas of the team while going into new seasons with the weaknesses getting worse.
Mayhew & Schwartz Grade = C


7/22/12

Should Aaron Berry be Cut?

With his second arrest in less than a month's time, that has become the big debate. Should Aaron Berry simply be cut by the Detroit Lions to set an example?

Detroit Lions Aaron Berry Arrested
Should Berry be cut after latest arrest?
Before the Lions make any move, it is important for them to wait out the process. Learn all there is to learn. As crazy as it may sound, there is always a small possibility that Berry may have had a reason to do what he did, or the charges may be bogus to begin with. Since that is unlikely, however, let us pretend the charges are good and Berry is charged with the multiple charges of simple assault, and brandishing a firearm.  What should the Lions do then? As much as it saddens me to say it, the Lions need to cut Aaron Berry, or trade him. In fact, the Lions should come out right away and announce what they will do ahead of time. Come right out and say, "If Berry is found innocent, we will move on, if he is found guilty, he will be cut immediately. We will allow no more of this undisciplined behavior."

In 2011, the media had a field day making the Detroit Lions out to be a bunch of undisciplined neanderthals for their penalties on the field. Players were taking swings at other players, stomping on opponents and even shoving refs. For a time last season, the Lions were about as undisciplined a team as I have ever seen. I believe that a discipline athlete will be a disciplined player. I also believe an undisciplined athlete, will be undisciplined on the field as well. Playing disciplined football is a product of players having their emotions under control, and being accountable for their actions. That mind set starts in the players every day life and is carried onto the field. If they are not accountable for their actions in real life, they will not be accountable for what they do on the field either.

The Lions are often an undisciplined bunch on the field. Whether it comes out in players not sticking to their assignments, to letting themselves get carried away in a play, or taking stupid penalties after the play, they are often undisciplined. If the coaches wish to get that under control, they need to start making the players accountable for their actions off the field as well as on the field.

Aaron Berry is supposed to be fighting for a starting position in the upcoming season. He made a mistake and was arrested for a DUI in the off-season, but that is forgivable. He was apologetic (to a point) and made the statement that we should not judge him from that mistake, but from what he does after that. Well, he was arrested again. Only around a month later. It is time to make him accountable for his actions.

If the Detroit Lions do not discipline him hard enough, it will tell the other players, and the fans, that the players do not have to be accountable for their actions. It will be letting them know that they can do what they want and only get what the NFL dishes out to them. It tells them that they do not need to be disciplined and they do not need to respect the team. It will tell the fans that the Lions are not serious about winning. Because to win in the NFL, it takes discipline as well as talent.

Yet if the Lions were to cut Aaron Berry, what would that say? It would make a statement to the rest of the team that they are now responsible for their actions! It would say that the Lions are serious about becoming a great team on the field as well as on paper. It would tell players that they are representatives of the Detroit Lions, not just their own name, and if they want to play for the Lions, they need to show it in their every day life.

So what if Stafford was to get in trouble? Do we cut him too? Absolutely NOT!  Call it double standards if you wish, but the fact is, the more you bring to the team, the more valuable you are, and the more they can tolerate insolence. Players like Suh, Stafford and Calvin are mega-stars for this team. They have the talent to win games and more importantly to the front office, they bring in fans. People dont buy tickets to go watch Aaron Berry play. They buy them to watch Stafford and the other stars. If the Lions cut Berry, they send a message and it really doesnt cost them much. Berry is not the talent to shut down passing games. He is not the guy who will make the plays to win games on a consistent basis. He is not bringing fans (and their money) into Ford Field. Cutting Berry does minimal damage to the product we go to see. Yet it sets an example to try and stop this foolishness from continuing. In fact, not cutting Berry might be harmful to ticket sales. Like it or not, there are a lot of fans who will be less likely to go to a game if the Lions lose a couple games and field undisciplined players.

The drop off in talent from Berry to the next CB in line is very little. In fact, it might be none at all because he is only supposed to fight for a starting spot. He might not even be the starter. He does not bring in fans. In other words, Berry is expendable. Those are the players you use to set examples and the Detroit Lions, who continue to have a player arrested at almost one a month, desperately needs to set that example.

7/16/12

Are We Too in Love with the Passing Game?

I have heard the same arguments over and over. Today's NFL is a Passing NFL. Teams like the Packers, Patriots and Giants don't have good running games and they win Superbowls. ..... But does that really mean the running game doesn't help?

The Giants had a bad running game if you look at the stats. You know what they did have? A running game that could gain the one or two yards to extend drives. They also had a good defense.

The Packers may not have had the good running game, but they did have a good defense when they won the Superbowl.

Where are the Lions two weakest positions? The Running game and the Defense. Specifically the CBs!

Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards last year. He had one of the best seasons by an NFL quarterback, ever! Calvin Johnson was awesome. Can they repeat that again in 2013? Sure they can. Should we expect it? Absolutely not!

Last year was not a great year. It was an awesome year for the Stafford to Calvin hookup. But realistically, you have to expect they will not be quite as good this year. They will still be great, but it is too much to expect them to put up a top ten season ever in the NFL year after year. Likely, there will be a slight settling back to Earth and we need to be ready for that.

The Lions will be playing a tougher schedule this year. This means that the Lions will have to improve somewhere to have another play-off birth. If they stay the same, and they play a tougher schedule, they will win less games.

Can we expect their defense to be much better?Frankly, I don't see it. They are replacing their second best CB with a 3rd round rookie. They have not made any improvements at Linebacker or Defensive Line. If anything, I see a better chance the Lions defense will not be as good as last year, and that is a scary thing to ponder. If they were to change their scheme away from the Wide-9 Defense except on passing downs, they might be better. I don't see them doing that, and I have not heard anything about them looking to do that.

The running game might be better. They have added Riley Reiff and though I expect rookie mistakes from a rookie lineman, he may help the most in run blocking. Then there is the fact that Jahvid Best and Leshoure will be healthier this year. That might be a stretch however. Can we expect LeShoure to be 100% this year? After his injury, I don't see it. At least not until the second half of the season, if this year, if ever. We all know well that Best could be lost for the season the first time he bumps his head.

Still, we have to be realistic here. The Lions love to use the Shotgun offensive scheme. They will run half of their running plays from the shotgun draw. The other half the running plays will still be from a single back set. Ask yourself, how many running backs, other than Chris Johnson, can you expect to have good years without a lead blocker? Now remind yourself that last year, even Chris Johnson was not great looking.

For the Lions to have a good running game, or even a decent running game, using the single back set and from the shotgun half of the time, they will need a lot to go right. They will need Best to stay healthy all year. They will need some power from LeShoure. They will need Reiff to play well in his first year in the NFL. I just think that would be expecting too much to go perfect.

The Lions one hope is to start using a lead blocker. Best running left or right in a two TE set, does not help the running game much. Any TE on the other side of the line from where he runs would become a moot point. Useless! If they line both TE's on the same side, they telegraph where the running game is going. Especially since the Lions never use misdirection play. No, what they need is for the Lions to open a hole, which it does far more often than we give them credit for, and then for a Fullback to clear the Linebacker or Safety out of the hole to spring the running back free.

Get some semblance of a running game.... a real running game .... and then opposing defenses will have to defend that. In turn it will help the passing game stay open and free. On short yardage downs, with the likes of Calvin Johnson, Burleson, and Pettigrew, the defense will be afraid to sell completely out to stop the run and the better running game could then extend the drive.

A better running game does absolutely NOTHING, other than help the Lions become a better team! Will Stafford throw for another 5'000 yards? Likely not, but it would be better to have 4,000 yards passing and 1,500 yards running, than to have 5'000 yards passing, and 500 rushing.





7/3/12

Are Lions an Undisciplined Team?

With the recent arrest of Aaron Berry, there are once again, ramblings of the Detroit Lions being an undisciplined team. Some place the problems on Schwartz and others put it on Mayhew for drafting these players. A few even blame the leaders of the Lions locker-room for not doing their jobs. I say it is time to take a deep breath and stop worrying about that.

Is it Schwartz, not keeping a disciplined team in order? No! If it was the veterans of the team having these problems, then I might say to look at Schwartz. Its not the veterans. It is the youngest of the players and there is only so much a coach can do to keep tabs on players he is not around in the off-season.

Maybe we should look at Mayhew then. Is he doing his homework on these players before he drafts them? Trust me. Martin Mayhew is doing everything he should be doing. He is not drafting trouble makers. These guys are not going out and shooting guns in nightclubs, getting into brawls, or getting busted for any heavy drugs. They are getting arrested for drinking and driving and having weed on them.

Dont get me wrong. I am not meaning to make out DUI's and Smoking pot as minor things. These are bad things and they should be disciplined for it, but they are also the troubles that come from being irresponsible. Not from having a bad attitude or a criminal mentality.

So what about the leaders of the Locker room? Are they not doing their jobs in leading these young kids? I will answer that with another question. Are these players getting into repeated trouble since they have been on the team? A leader's job is not to hold the younger players hands and walk them around to make sure they do not get into any trouble. They are to be there to guide these kids after they get into trouble so they do not continue to get in trouble. So far, each player that has gotten into trouble, has not done anything else after the veterans have had their talks with them.

The problem here is more of a case that these players are not mature enough yet, to handle themselves with the kind of money they are making. Often, they are players who have never had a lot in their lives and suddenly find themselves with all the money in the world. Then in the off-season, they have all of the time in the world as well. They are young, in excellent health and full of energy, and have the money to find ways to have fun and use up the excess energy. Unfortunately, this often leads to partying. Where partying is involved, there is bound to be a few who drink and drive and a few who smoke weed. Sometimes you will even have a player who thinks he is God's gift and is above the rules, and that attitude amplifies when they are partying.


It is unfortunate that this happens. It is sad that it has happened so much to Lions players this year. It is coincidence that it has happened to the Lions after a season where they went through their share of troubles of undisciplined play on the field. But until it starts happening to the veterans, or these younger players continue to get in trouble multiple times, I will not blame Schwartz, Mayhew or the teams leaders. For now it is a case of young players having too much money, too much time, and not enough maturity.

5/16/12

Keep Hopes in Check for Lions in 2012

From reading articles and posts on forums, I see there are a lot of fans who have high hopes for the Lions in 2012. After all, they did just win 10 games last year didn't they?  The Lions did make the play-offs didn't they? Well some statistics are deceiving, I say. Keep your hopes in check!

Fans are ramped up about adding Reiff onto the offensive line, but they may be expecting too much too soon. It is not often an offensive lineman enters the league and plays great as a rookie. In college they play a lot of games against players that will never make the NFL. Once they take that step to the next level, they learn quickly that they are now facing the best of the best every game. They need time to get up to pace. They need time to develop. They need time to learn the blocking scheme. They need time to get used to the fact that they are no longer the best. Most rookies will be beat more often than we fans want to admit. If Reiff does end up starting, there will be growing pains. There will be a lack of continuity as well. Adding Reiff will be good for the offensive line in the years to come, but for this first year? It may not be all daisies and rainbows.

Though the pick was screamed about when it happened, it seems that most fans are being won over to the drafting of Broyles with the 2nd round pick. I have yet to see an argument that made any real sense for this coming year. All arguments that had solid reasoning were more about in the future when Burleson retires. In fact, the best argument for this year I have seen was that if one of the top three WR's get hurt, the Lions would be better apt to handle it.  To be honest, this does not cause me to believe the Lions are much better this year for it.

In the off-season, the Lions did not add any improvements to their team through free agency. The Lions did not draft any players that help us this year in a position of need.  Basically the Lions will enter the new season with essentially the same team as they ended last year.  Some fans are excited about that. I'm not one of them.

I get so tired of hearing fans mention that the Lions are a good team because they won ten games last year and made the play-offs. Those two points alone, makes most fans believe the Lions will win 10 games again this year and make the play-offs again as well. If the Lions would have beat a few good teams last year, I might join them. If the Lions would have beat just a couple decent teams last year, I would understand it. The fact that the Lions lost to every team they played who ended with a winning record? That tells me one thing. They won 10 games and made the play-offs for one reason and one reason only. They are an average team that played an easy schedule.

The Detroit Lions ended the season with a couple glaring weaknesses. Their secondary was absolutely torched on a consistent basis and they had no running game. In the draft, they passed up on one of the more talented CB's of the last few years in Jenkins because they were not ready to take a chance on his very minor off field baggage. So they took a tackle for the future and a 4th WR who is coming off of a major knee surgery. To my understanding, the Lions weakest run blockers are at Center, and Right Guard. Taking a tackle will not instantly help the running game by much.

Lets take a look at positions and whether they are improved or weaker or staying the same.....

QB - Stafford cannot be expected to be much better than 5,000 yards. He might repeat, but a slight step back to reality is also possible. Improvement is not to be counted on.
STATUS - Not improved!

RB - Best is a major health concern and cannot be counted on to last more than four or five games. Likely, he will not be much improved yet even if he is healthy. Leshoure had a major injury last year. Achilles if memory serves me. He may play this year, but the expectations so many fans have for him to be 100% is not logical. Yes there have been players who come back from the injury. Yes some come back the next year. It is still rare one comes back and is as good as before he had it, and even more rare for that to happen the following year. Let us be frank here. Kevin Smith is not going to be a real asset. He cannot stay healthy for more than a couple games before he is banged up, and when he is healthy he is no better than an average RB in the NFL. He is not fast, does not have good power, and is not overly shifty. He had one good game last year against the worst run defense in the NFL.
 STATUS - Not improved!

WR - Megatron is Megatron. He is the best WR in the NFL. I do not see him improving over what we already saw. Burleson is a long time veteran. What you see from him is the best you will get. A good receiver, but he will not improve. Young may still improve. He should, but it is usually year three a player truly breaks out and this will be his second year. Broyles? Face it, he will not be healthy right away, then he will have a learning curve to overcome. Count on him for 2013, not 2012.  All in all however, I have to state it again. Stafford and this crew passed for over 5,000 yards in 2011. How much improvement can you expect to see over the sixth best passing season ever?
STATUS - Not improved! 

TE - Should lump these guys in with the receivers, because that is all the really are. But it doesn't matter how I see them, Pettigrew, Scheffler, and Heller. Same guys as last year. Great TE's, but still the same ones.
STATUS - Not improved!

OL - Reiff may give them slightly better run blocking, but for his rookie season, he may not be an improvement in pass blocking as he will take a year to develop. (Like most OL's) Backus and Raiola will be another year older. Backus may be ready to start losing his abilities after the chest injury last year at his age. Raiola was already undersized. Getting older sure wont help.
STATUS - Not improved!(Maybe weaker as a whole.)

DL - I said it last year and I will say it again. This unit is already one of the best (if not the best) in the NFL. They are not going to get better!
STATUS - Not improved! 

LB - Same guys as last year. Some late round rookies added to the mix.
STATUS - Not improved!

CB - In 2011, the two best CBs were Houston and Wright. Wright was not very good, and he was still our second best. This unit was bad and needed to be addressed. It wasn't. Some have hopes of Berry breaking out. Until he shows he can do it, that cannot be counted on. The Rookie, Bentley, was a reach by the Lions and at least a round too early. He may learn to play well enough to start someday, but coming from a smaller school, I would be extremely surprised if it is this year.  Oh yeah, Wright left for another team.
STATUS - Weaker!

SAFETY -  Delmas is a good safety. He is who he is. I don't think we will see him grow much better and I don't think he has played over his head.  Spievey on the other hand, might yet surprise people. In 2010 he was horrible as the Lions moved him from CB to Safety and he was already dealing with the learning curve all rookies go through. Last year, he dealt with some injuries and got into some bad habits of throwing shoulder hits and not wrapping up for tackles. This is his third year (common breakout year), and he should be healthy. If he gets away from the bad habit, he could break out as a big improvement.
STATUS - Improved!

Special Teams - Don't expect huge improvements. With the NFL rules, kickers are putting the ball through the end-zone too often for many big returns. They had some bad games last year in coverage and they had some good games. I expect more of the same.
STATUS - Not improved!


Overall - The same coaches who have not shown the ability to adapt. Even Schwartz has said it himself. They don't make adjustments at half time. The great players just come out and make great plays in the second half. Expected to be the same "Wide Nine" Defensive scheme, where the DE's line up wide. This is great for pass rushing and horrible for run stopping. Thus, the huge 50 yard runs against them last year. Very little reason to believe the Lions will leave the Shotgun scheme behind them. The already average or injured RB's will be getting half of their carries from shotgun draw plays and that sets the running game up for failure. I don't care who is on the offensive line.

The Lions might be improved at Safety but will be weaker at CB, so the two wash each other out. Fans have hopes of a rookie Tackle and a rookie WR coming off a bad injury improving the team, but there are reasons to NOT believe they will improve the team as well. 
STATUS - Not improved!

 Basically this team did not improve from last year. So there is no good logical reason to believe they will suddenly start beating the good teams. If they couldn't beat a better than average team in 2011, do we have any real reason to believe they will in 2012? Yet, this year, they will have a tougher schedule.

Most fans seem to believe the Lions will take it up a notch from last year and win more than 10 games, or in the least, win ten games again. But facing the tougher schedule with what is basically the same team, I believe the fans will be in for a let down from their expectations.

You might say "what do you know?" to me right?  Just keep in mind. Last year I called them to win 10 games. The year before, I called them to win 5 or 6 games. I called for 3 or 4 games the year before that. The last time I was more than one game off was in 2008, and I don't believe ANYONE called for 0-16.

If the Lions stick to the same schemes, with these players and coaches, they will not improve on last year, and the schedule will likely take a win away.


4/28/12

Mayhew Shows His Worth in 2012 Draft

In the first two days of the 2012 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions GM, Martin Mayhew, shows his knowledge of how to build a team. And I was less than impressed.

Okay, I guess I can understand the first pick of Reiff. A top ranked Left Tackle who fell into their laps, who can be Backus' replacement when he retires. A solid offensive lineman who can pass block and run block. It was a solid pick. I did not like it!

Even though I can understand the pick, I believe it was the wrong choice. There were plenty of good linemen available still. The draft was deep in the position. There was still a chance of getting one with the second pick. And it was not an emergency to upgrade the position. Let's face the facts here. Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards last year. You just don't do that unless the line is doing a decent job.  Does Reiff improve the unit? Yes. But they could have improved another unit immensely.

With several good linemen still available, there was another position that was in dire need of upgrading and only one top talent left to fill it. This should have been a no brainer pick. The Detroit Lions weakest link in 2011 was the secondary. In the off season, Wright left in free agency, making the secondary even weaker. With Janoris Jenkins still available, he should have been taken without hesitation. But rather than draft a player that would have improved your defense immensely, the Lions drafted one of many offensive linemen who will likely start but not make a huge difference.

Still, I can understand the desire to take a top left tackle, so I will give a little leeway and give this pick a C+.

Then day two rolls around and guess what? CB Janoris Jenkins is still available.  With Mayhew's ability to trade and move up to get players in the last two or three drafts, he needed to do it again and get Jenkins. Adding Jenkins and a top left tackle would have made this draft an instant success. He made no such move and soon Jenkins was taken. When it was the Lions turn to draft, there was another top player available who could have improved the Lions more so than Reiff will. C - Peter Konz would have given the Lions a boost in the running game where Raiola, who is undersized has been lacking. But no, Mayhew had another idea. He drafted WR- Ryan Broyles.

Yes Broyles broke the NCAA record for most receptions, but there were several reasons this was a bad pick.  First off, the Lions did not need another WR. The last I checked, Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards in 2011. That is something like the 6th best passing season ever. Do you truly believe adding another WR will improve that much?  The fact is, adding another WR, no matter how good he is, will not improve the Lions passing game by much. With the Lions, this was a wasted pick. But it doesnt stop there. Broyles is coming off a major knee injury. So the Lions just spent their second round draft pick on a WR (who they did not need) who is coming off of a major knee injury? Seriously? Yes. I am serious! And sad for it too.

For their third and final pick of the two most important days of the draft, the Lions drafted CB- Dwight Bentley. A player who was virtually a no name prospect until he had a good game in the senior bowl. He was considered a timid tackler until he had one good game. And he is only 5' 10" tall. I know, Jenkins was no taller, right? But Jenkins had #1 shutdown corner speed and talent. Bentley has none of that. He will be a success if he is as good as Wright, and that really was not that good.

The Lions, after the first three rounds, ended up with LT-Reiff, injured WR- Broyles, and CB-Bentley. They should have had, CB-Jenkins, C-Konz and anyone else you want to add who was available.

What they should have had and what they ended up with? This shows me one thing. Mayhew does not know how to build a good football team.  In the first few years, he took us from 0-16 to 10-6 and a play-off birth, but the Lions are not a good team. Until they can actually beat a good team, they are not a good team. Right now, they are an average team that had a good year due to a very weak schedule. Not unlike what the KC Chiefs did the year before. Mayhew has added talent to a desecrated team. That is not a big deal. With early draft picks, he has added enough talent to turn the Lions into an average team. But Mayhew and his ridiculous BPA draft strategy has shown me he simply does not know how to take an average team and step it into the good or elite realm.

How can I say that you ask? He has yet to show us a team that can beat good teams, and he insists on drafting players to add depth while ignoring where the Lions are weakest. Last year he could have had a top CB in Jimmy Smith and instead drafted  DT- Nick Fairley, when they were already solid at the position. Once again, this year, he had a chance for a shutdown corner in Jenkins, and again he ignored the position to take an offensive lineman. Then he turned around and took a WR, when the Lions have three good WR's already rather than move up for Jenkins or take Konz who is the best Center in the draft.

Mayhew has failed miserably this year and quite frankly, it does not matter what he does in rounds 4 through 7, this draft gets a low grade. "D". The Lions needed this off season to improve the team. They did not sign one good player in free agency, lost their second best CB and did extremely little to improve the team in the draft. I seriously could not have imagined Mayhew could have done a worse job if he took advice from Millen.

4/22/12

Lions Will Fix Last Years Mistake

In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions drafted Nick Fairley, DT in the first round. Many fans loved it. I still say it was a mistake and this year they will rectify it.

The biggest mistake in the pick of Fairley, was to believe he would be an absolute beast. Rare it is that a player will come out and be a beast. Ndamukong Suh is a beast and possibly the best defensive tackle to come out in decades. He might end up being the best all time when all is said and done. But that is another discussion altogether. When Fairley was drafted, I even heard ramblings about him being nearly as good as Suh. Sorry, I will have to see that to believe it. He had one big year in college, the year after there was a mad rush of players leaving early to beat the rookie salary caps. So a player suddenly having a huge year against what in my opinion was some what watered down talent, is not going to be listed as a beast until he proves it in the NFL.

Yet, even if you think Fairley will be a beast when he stays healthy, it was still a mistake. The Lions had one of the top two or three defensive lines in the NFL before they drafted him. Adding him was adding depth, not making the unit a lot better. There was really good talent in other areas of need still available when they drafted. More precisely, at corner back. As much as the Lions needed to improve the CB spot, they chose to ignore it to draft a one year wonder to add depth to their strongest position.

This Thursday, on April 26th, the Detroit Lions will finally do what they should have done last year. Draft a Cornerback!

The one cornerback they could be drafting is one that will be adding controversy as well as a whole new slue of jokes. Janoris Jenkins. I can hear it now. "Mayhew gets draft advice from Fairley, LeShoure and Culbreath." or "Jenkins should feel right at home." But you know what? If he is available at the 23rd pick in the draft, the Lions will be making a mistake to pass him up.

Jenkins was listed in the same breath as Peterson (who was drafted 6th overall) before last years draft. He is the most talented corner back coming out in the draft this year, hands down!

I know. You have heard that he has had a heard of children with a handful of women. Magic Johnson claims to have slept with a hundred women and that didn't stop him from going down as one of the all time best players in history. As much as I am against the immorality of fathering children with different women, it makes no difference as to whether he will be a great player or not.

I know. He was caught with weed twice inside of three months and was kicked off the University of Florida Football team. If you look into it, you will also find out a few other facts. His father would not let him join the supplemental draft where he would have been an early pick. He gave him the choice of switching colleges, going the military, or driving a truck (which is what his father does). Oh yeah, for him to switch colleges, he would also have to do extensive community service.

Parents who make their kids face consequences for their actions usually do not raise trouble makers. Janoris did not fight with his father over the choices either. He accepted them. He did the community service and even grew to enjoy it. He did not get into any trouble in the following year and he played for a lower level school. His drug tests have come back clean. All of this is evidence of a young athlete who let stardom get to him and made some mistakes. He faced the consequences and all evidence shows he has been humbled and learned from his mistakes.

If Janoris Jenkins is there at #23 overall in Thursdays draft, and the Detroit Lions pass him up, it will be a big mistake. He will fit nearly every draft scheme. At that point, Jenkins will easily be the best talent left on the board, so the Lions will be allowed to draft BPA (Best Player Available), and he will also fill what is arguably the Lions biggest need as well.

If the Detroit Lions draft a Defensive End in the first round, they will continue to pile on to last years mistake. I dont expect this to happen. The Lions will take a Corner Back and that will possibly be Jenkins, and the mistake from the year before will be rectified.

4/6/12

Lions and the Marijuana Incidents

Fairley, Culbreath, LeShoure! They have all been busted with the drug in recent weeks. LeShoure was arrested twice within a month. One has to wonder, are the Detroit Lions even checking their Draft Picks out?

I have heard it all in recent days. Some fans are upset about the situation. Others blow it off and some even say they don't think its bad that the players smoke pot. Let me assure you. It is bad and it is a problem that needs to be dealt with!

Whether you smoke it or not. Whether you think the drug is bad or not or if it should be legalized or not... the fact is, it is against NFL policy and players are in fact suspended for it! For that reason and that reason alone, it is important for players to "Just say no!"

Personally, I believe it shows a lack of intelligence for NFL players to get busted with pot. Here you are, making millions of dollars playing a sport that millions of fans only wish they could play professionally for a quarter the pay, and you cant stay away from smoking pot? I don't care if you are addicted to cocaine, if you have millions riding the line, check yourself in for help! But to take a chance on throwing it all away because you cant stay away from a drug as minor as pot? That is plain ole stupidity at its finest!

The Lions need to start doing their own drug tests and coming down hard on those who fail. Last year the world saw how undisciplined the Lions were on the field. Now they are seeing how undisciplined they are off the field. Now, more than ever, the Detroit Lions need to start laying down the law and get this team disciplined both on and off the field. Until they get that figured out, they will never be more than a middle of the road team.

2/27/12

Should Detroit Lions Pay Up for Cliff Avril?

DE, Cliff Avril wants to be paid like and elite player at his position. The Lions would like to resign him, but should they pay him what he wants?

First let us face some simple facts. If the Lions do not sign Avril, it is very unlikely the player who takes his place will give us 11 sacks. As a pass rusher he is very good and it is not all because of the attention Ndamukong Suh and the other defensive linemen draw. For that reason, the Lions are a better team with Cliff Avril manning the defensive end position than any of the others or even a rookie.

Yet you cannot completely discount the fact that Suh does draw double teams either. This does make Avril's job easier and though another player in his position would likely not get 11 sacks, if they are even decent, they should still get 7 or 8 sacks. If the Lions let Avril move on and replaced him with a player who gets 7 sacks and uses the money saved to add another player who improves another unit, that very well may be the better route.

So it is not simply a question about whether the Lions should sign him for what he wants or let him go. The question is more about, at what point is the money they would save and added to bringing another player in, more valuable than the 4 sacks more that Avril would bring to the table?

The Lions should definitely sign Cliff Avril.... if the price is right. If they cannot get him at a fair value and instead can add the money saved to what they would already offer a top-10 cornerback... well, then I say let Avril walk. The Lions would be better off with Avril than Lawrence Jackson if they cant improve the defensive back positions. Then again, they would be better off with Jackson and a top CB than Avril and what we already have in the defensive backfield.

I like Cliff Avril. I like the Detroit Lions more. The right thing for the Lions to do is to do what actually makes them a better team.

The simple fact is they will not always be able to keep everyone. The better they become, the more players they will be forced to watch walk away because those players want to make more money. Mayhew's job is not to try and keep everyone, but to make the best of every situation. To look over what players they potentially might lose and players they potentially may get and decide which players they can most afford to let walk. The Lions can afford to let Avril walk if he will not settle for less than elite status. They have a lot of depth on the D-line and Avril walking would not be a huge blow. The money can be used to improve other positions. So right now, Avril is the one free agent the Lions have the most freedom to play hardball with. And that is what they should do.

2/18/12

2011 Was a Deceiving Season for the Detroit Lions Offense

The Detroit Lions went 10-6 in their first winning season in forever. They made the play-offs and lost to the New Orleans Saints, who was a front runner to win the Superbowl at the time. Matthew Stafford played a full season and threw for over 5,000 yards. Most fans are happy with how the season went. It seems most fans see a defense that needs to be addressed and are happy with the offense. Most fans are being deceived.

In the ten wins of 2011, how many teams with winning records did the Lions beat? ... None! Not once did they beat a team that was better than average. The average record of the teams they beat? 6-10.

Well maybe the Lions played well and just barely lost to the better teams, right? Not so fast. In the Lions six losses, they were outscored 188 to 121. That averages out to be 31 to 20 per game. And that is including the 41 to 45 debacle in Green Bay to end the season. Take that game away and they were outscored 143 to 80 in the other five games. That averages to be 28 to 16 per game. In fact, the 41 points they scored in Green Bay was the only loss in which they scored more than 19 points. Their lowest opponents score was 23.

Now just stop and think about what this is saying. Look at the entire picture here for the Lions offense. Matthew Stafford had possibly the 5th best season for a quarterback in NFL history. He had the 5th all-time yards, 5th in completions, 3rd in attempts, and 7th all-time in touchdowns. Calvin Johnson's season was the 7th best in yards for a receiver in NFL history and his 16 TD's was 14th best. Brandon Pettigrew had the third most receptions for Tight Ends in 2011. How do you have those kind of players and have such a bad offense every time you play a decent team?

I went through the season looking for how many good solid drives the offense put together for a touchdown. This only includes drives starting in their own territory and the TD did not come on a big play. These are solid, consistent, play by the offense type of drives. There were only 6 games where the Lions had more than 2 good drives. Three times they had less than 2 good drives. A good offense should be able to put together at least two good drives a game.

In a 16 game schedule there are 64 quarters of play. The Lions had 29 quarters (45%) with no touchdowns. They had 13 quarters (20%) where they scored more than 1 TD. A total of 28 TDs. Think on that for a moment.... 56% of the Offense's touchdowns came inside of only 20% of the quarters they played! To put it in perspective, the Lions big time offense did most of their scoring inside of only 13 quarters while that same offense had no touchdowns in 29 quarters. To put it even clearer, they had this inconsistent and bad output on a season they played 10 games against opponents with 8-8 or worse records.

In the large picture, these are not horrible numbers, but they are far from being the numbers of a good offense. The Detroit Lions offense that sports the likes of Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Brandon Pettigrew, surrounded by other good receivers, should be more consistent than this. That offense should not disappear when they face a decent team. They had far too many games where the offense was non-existent for half of the game. 8 games where they only scored 1 TD or less in the entire first half! Why?

The first answer off most fans lips will be there was no running game. And they would be right. But why was there no running game? That is a two part answer.

1) Running Back issues - The Lions RBs were nothing special, and definitely nothing to fear. Maurice Morris looks to have finally hit his end. Smith had one good game against the worst run defense in the NFL, other than that he is mediocre at best. Jahvid Best cannot stay healthy. The truth is, the Lions have average running backs and nothing more. But even with average running backs, they should still have an average running game wouldn't you say? The Lions running game was Horrible with a Capital "H"! That leads to the second part.

2) Scheme - Far too often the RBs were asked to carry the ball on delayed hand-offs as they used the Draw Play out of the shotgun. There will never be a good running game that thrives from the shotgun scheme. But not only did they have to run from the shotgun half the time, but when they were under conventional sets, the running backs never had a lead blocker.

Single back running games are meant for running backs like Barry Sanders or Chris Johnson. They are meant for players that are so quick and shifty and have such good vision the defense cannot pin them down. You put in average to decent running backs in a single back style, and they will not make a good living.

Yet the Lions Offensive Coordinator, Scott Linehan insists on running a shotgun set and even when he comes out of the shotgun, he stays in the single back set. When he wants more blocking, he uses two tight ends. Now that might work to some degree, IF the running plays were called to the outside more often. But to have a two TE set and run inside most of the time where those TE's have no effect? Ridiculous! Then to run inside so often, not only with a single back set and average running backs, but to do it behind an underpowered Center? Pure foolishness.

The Lions offense this season was a big inconsistent problem when you really get down and look past the total points and passing yards. That problem was not due to a lack of talent so much as a coordinator who refused to adapt to what talent he had. He had great passing talent and stuck with that. He had mediocre running talent and was not willing to adapt his scheme to help it.