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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.