I AM BACK!!!!!

In the past, I tried to do too much with this site with way too little time. Yet, I have been feeling a need to write about the Lions lately. So I have decided to change the Detroit Lions Observer to a few basic things. Writing articles when I feel a need to, keeping track of their wins and losses, and I am still deciding if I will go through and update Ndamukong Suh's Sack List.
Ndamukong Suh's Sack List
Keep track of which quarterbacks Suh has faced and which ones he has taken down.

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Showing posts with label 2009 Opinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2009 Opinion. Show all posts


My Thoughts on the Detroit Lions

2008 was the worst season I have ever been through as a Detroit Lions fan. Of course that statement holds true for most all Lions fans. The problem is that this season might be worse!

The Lions hit a record low last year going winless for the first time for any team in the NFL. It was a disappointing and discouraging year as we watched the worst football team in NFL history. But last year we all knew the talent was desolate. We all knew that the Lions as a team were at an all time low. This year was supposed to be different!

Jim Schwartz took over a the coach. Gunthar Cunningham was the new defensive coordinator. Together they were supposed to build a much better tam and show a much more aggressive style of play. In came Larry Foote, Julian Peterson and Grady Jackson. They drafted a young hitting talent in Louis Delmas. They signed two new cornerbacks. On the offensive side of the ball, they drafted what is supposed to be the Lions future star at quarterback and Tight End. This year was supposed to be different!

So where is that difference? When a team as bad as the St.Louis Rams comes into Detroit and the Lions still lose, is this improvement? Are the multitude of dropped passes any different? Are the collage of missed tackles on each play anything new? The horrible accuracy by a quarterback, is that new? The stupid penalties and bad offensive line play, is that something we have never seen? Other than all of the new names on the roster, where is the difference?

How can a team look so much better on paper, be just as bad as the worst team in NFL history? How is it possible the Lions have not improved? Over 2009, don't they improve by simple default? So they won a game this year. You know what? That doesn't mean they are better! That only means one of their opponents finally had a horrible day!

When will the Lions finally get a clue as to how to put a real NFL team together? When Barry Sanders was here, the Lions still sucked! They weren't a good team. They just won some games because they had arguably the best running back of all time. Sure Sanders had some awesome years, but it wasn't because he had a great offensive line blocking for him. In fact he did not even have a decent line in front of him. That is why Barry was as well known for his one or two yard losses as he was for his 80 yard touchdowns. Because the line sucked and far too often he was hit as he took the hand off. Barry retired early because he was sick of the Lions losing ways.

Year after year the Lions place an emphasis on improving the running game. Every coach says the same thing. They will emphasize the running game. Yet no coach is willing to do what it takes to have a good running game. Get a decent offensive line!

Here are two extremely common yet very very accurate cliches in the NFL. ... "The game is won in the trenches" and "Defense wins Championships"! Oh how about, "You build a team from the inside, out!" I have debated many times before that if you give me an average quarterback with a great offensive line, I will beat a team with the best quarterback in the NFL history who has a bad line. So can someone please tell me why the Lions continue to draft high profile players like quarterbacks, Running Backs and Receivers?

If the Lions are improved, they need to start showing it. They do not get a free pass because they are using a rookie QB. They shouldn't have drafted him in the first place! If he is not ready, they should play another QB! It is time for our rookies to begin showing us why they were drafted so high! Delmas needs to wrap up on his tackles. Pettigrew needs to get open and catch some passes. Stafford needs to become much more accurate! If they cannot start showing they are a better team, the Schwartz needs to go. Even after only one year. Yes I agree a coach needs three years to put his team together with a scheme of his own. But when you come to a team as bad as the Lions and add so much more talent and get the same results, that is inexcusable!


Future Goals for the Lions

Once the trade market opens up again, when free agency begins and in the next draft, the Lions need to have a plan. They need to pin point specific weaknesses and address them. The Detroit Lions have a lot of weaknesses to address, we all understand that. Someone just needs to tell them that and get them to actually address those issues.

#1 ... Offensive line. Specifically the left tackle where Jeff Backus continues to falter. So far, after 6 games into the 2009 season, here are some statistics according to CBS2Chicago. With three penalties, Backus has more than any other one offensive line-man on the Lions. He has two false starts and one holding penalty. Even though that is the worst on the Lions, that doesn't seem all so bad. Here is the telling stat however. In six games, Jeff Backus has allowed 5.5 sacks. The next worse is Gosder Cherilus with 2.75 sacks. Only half of what Backus has allowed. He is easily the worst lineman on the Lions offensive line and he is supposed to be protecting our quarterbacks blind side.

#2 ... Defensive Line. At times this season the defensive line has looked okay. Other times they couldn't put pressure on a Powder Puff quarterback. They absolutely need the big powerhouse who will reek havoc in the middle and a true speedster to close in on the opposing quarterbacks from the outside. You simply cannot win in the NFL if you do not pressure the opposing quarterback.

#3 ... Corner Back. It has been a very long time since the Lions had any resemblance of a true shut down corner. If in next years draft there is a true shut down corner back, the Lions need to take him. Even if it is their first round pick. If you can take an opponents best receiver out of the game, it makes the rest of the defense's job far easier.

#4 ... Running Back. Yes, Kevin Smith is a hard runner. Yes a lot of fans like him. Yes he ran for almost a 1000 yards as a rookie on a winless team. No he is not a star caliber running back to make opposing defenses fear him. Good offenses have running backs who can take one to the house if he gets in the open field. Kevin Smith is a running back who runs like a talented full back. If you want a power runner, you need a big bodied runner like Michael Turner or Brandon Jacobs. 211 lbs power running backs just do not put the fear of God into opposing defenses. This is the only high profile position I would understand the Lions using a first round draft pick on in April of 2010. If they can get a RB the likes of Tomlinson or Adrian Peterson, I think they should do it before even considering the other more important issues.

Whatever they do with the first round pick, the Lions cannot afford to let free-agency and the second round draft go by without addressing the Left Tackle position. Not if they want to keep Stafford alive.


Lions Fans Often See what They Want to See

Human nature. It is human nature to survive. It is human nature to learn. It is the nature of learning that curses the fans of the Detroit Lions.

If a child touches matches and you ignore it, he will sooner or later burn himself. If you slap his hand when he touches them, once, twice or a dozen times (depending on how intelligent the kid is), he will learn not to touch those matches. When the Lions lose as often as the Lions have, the fans learn to expect it. When the Lions play bad football for as long as they have, the fans learn to focus on the bad football. I saw evidence of this since last Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.

Culpepper has not started a single regular season game this year. He comes in against the defending Superbowl Champs. Almost immediately in the game, he loses his star receiver Calvin Johnson to an injury. Let's face it, the guy was up against some pretty harsh circumstances for his first game since the preseason. Yet Culpepper threw for almost 300 yards, 62% completion, a TD and scrambled for two big first downs to keep drives going.

Daunte Culpepper did an admiral job under those circumstances and yet, throughout the week I have heard far more complaining than I have heard praises for the veteran quarterback. People want to point out his mistakes. That he had an interception and an intentional grounding called on him. It doesn't matter that the intentional grounding was nothing more than him trying to throw it away and would have been legal if he would have gotten the ball three more yards down field. The fans still say it was a stupid play. It doesn't matter that his interception came while he was scrambling for his life and he overthrew a wide open receiver. The fans want to say it was a stupid play on his part. Not a bad throw, but a stupid play. If he would have thrown the one another three plays, the fans would have said he did what he should have done. If he would have hit that receiver, the fans would have said it was a great play then forgot about it. We don't remember the good but we look for the bad.

The Lions got called for a personal foul for hitting the QB low. Replay showed it was an awful call by the refs. Rather than the Lions having the ball after an interception, the Steelers got it back plus a first down, plus an additional 15 yards. They scored a TD they should never have had. Take that away and the defending champions only scored 21 points against the Lions defense. Yet I have not heard anyone saying how well they played. I hear how the Lions could not tackle again.

Every team except for Jacksonville scored last weekend. How could that be? If other teams always played perfect, they would shut their opponents out. So how come even all of the great teams of the NFL were scored upon? How did Philadelphia give up 14 points to Tampa bay? How did Minnesota allow the lowly Rams to score 10 points? How is it the great New York Jets defense gave up 31 points? Could it be that maybe they don't play perfect every play? Could it be that they miss tackles sometimes and miss coverage sometimes?

The fact is, every defense, even the great ones will mess up sometimes. They all let teams score on them. The Steelers offense is no push over. They can run and they can pass. The Steelers are a very good team in the NFL and look how much they crushed the Lions by. Eight points! And seven of those came from a lousy call by the refs.

The Lions played a pretty good game Sunday against the defending Superbowl Champions. They played pretty darn good on offense and defense. Under the circumstances, Culpepper played very good. Far better I think than most of us thought he would in that situation.

Lions fans need to shed the losing mentality just as much as the team does. If they play really bad, the fans need to let them know it by screaming out about it. But when the Lions play a decent game, win or lose, the fans should acknowledge that as well. Last weeks loss aside, I saw a much improved Lions team on the field from what I saw last year. If they continue to improve, the fans will have a much brighter future ahead of them.


Kevin Smith's Injury Could be Blessing in Disguise

The Detroit Lions running back, Kevin Smith left the game on Sunday with an injured shoulder. Jim Schwartz has recently said that he will stay in full compliance of the leagues injury report rules, but he will not give out one single iota of extra information. This makes me wonder what he would have to hide.

Kevin Smith has looked pretty good at times this seasons as he has pushed for positive yardage consistently. He is stronger than last year and rather than going down when he hits a wall, he has often pushed it as he has fallen forward. Yet, I have to ask myself, how bad would it be for the Lions if Kevin Smith couldn't play? I don't believe for one moment that Maurice Morris is as good as Kevin Smith, but it isn't Morris I would like to see more of. I would be interested to see Aaron Brown get a decent share of touches at the running back position in a game.

If there is one knock on Kevin Smith, it is his lack of top end speed. He does not seem to have the extra gear to take the ball the distance when he does break into the open field. He has strength, shiftiness and decent vision to break into the open once in a while. But when he does break open, he is always dragged down from behind. In all honesty, when he does break into the open field, I still do not jump to my feet with excitement like I used to with Sanders. Simply because I do not believe Smith can turn it into a touchdown unless he is already in the redzone.

Aaron Brown however would be different. Brown has some real speed and if he got into open field, he might actually take one the distance. That long ball threat will excite fans a little more and it will keep defenses a little more honest. Defenses will have to make a little more sure that Brown doesn't get into the open field because he can take one the distance. The more a defense needs to worry about the run, the less that can worry about the pass.

Don't miss-understand me. I like Kevin Smith. I really do! But I just happen to like really fast running backs a little more. If Adrian Peterson wasn't fast enough to score from the other end of the field, would he be a running back defenses schemed against? As shifty as Barry Sanders was, would he have been the star he was if he was not as fast as he was? It is the real speedsters that create the excitement. It is the long ball hitters that worry defenses.

Sure there have been a few power running backs that have put fear into defenses. Jim Brown was one of course. There was Christian Okoye as well. Today there is Brandon Jacobs in New York. The thing that separates those guys from running backs like Kevin Smith are their size. They were big enough that defenses take a beating from trying to tackle them. They carried defensive players five extra yards. Even Billy Simms had that kind of power. Often I saw him drag two or three players an extra five yards before finally falling into the endzone. Kevin Smith is a strong runner, but he does not have that kind of strength.

If Kevin Smith cannot play Sunday, they will likely play Maurice Morris a lot more than Aaron Brown. I think that would be a mistake. With Kevin Smith, the Lions running game was looking okay, but it was not great. Morris would only serve to give the Lions more of the same, only not quite as good as Kevin Smith. If they turned to Brown however, there is an outside chance the running game could be great. All it would take is for Aaron Brown to break free and take one to the house just one time, then the Bears defense would really have to worry about him. One long run from Brown could do more for the Lions than what Morris would do all day.

Make no bones about it, the Lions are not in the position to play it safe. If they wanted to play it safe, they would have started Culpepper to begin the season. Schwartz decided to go with StafFORD because he had the higher upside. If the Lions want to win in Chicago, and Ken Smith can't go, they need to gamble and go with the higher upside again and play Brown. If Kevin Smith cannot play Sunday, then giving the ball to Brown is the only way to turn Smith's injury into a blessing rather than a hinderance.


Gunther Cunningham Needs to Put Up or Shut Up

Gunther Cunningham, the Detroit Lions defensive coordinator said something interesting recently. He said that they tried blitzing in week-1 and it wasn't working so they decided to keep the ball in front of them.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows very well I am extremely pro-blitz. If I ran a team, there would be two rules I would implement. One is that almost every run play would be some form of a play-action. I believe that in doing this, the defenses can never be sure if it is a pass or a run. It makes them pay much closer attention and opens up the defense for more mistakes. Second, I would blitz almost every down. It might come from any one of the linebackers, cornerbacks or even safeties, but it will be coming and the QB will be worried about where it will be coming from. Hell, I might even blitz with the popcorn vendor once in a while.

Anyways, being such a pro-blitzing fan, I have always wanted the Lions to use the blitz much much more than they have. So when the coaches this off-season talked about how they would blitz 40% of the time, you can bet I was paying attention. In the first half, I saw one blitz.

So from what I am gathering from what Gunther said, is that after only one blitz in the first half, and it didn't work, he decided to keep the ball in front of him. So three touchdowns later, when it was obvious playing it safe would not work, instead of giving the blitz more chances, he stuck with the prevent for another three touchdowns!

As much as I hate to say it, I see "lie" all over his excuse. Now he says he plans on being more aggressive against Brett Favre. Should we believe him?

In years gone by, when Brett Favre used to come play in the Silverdome, the Lions actually won some games. In every game the Lions beat Brett Favre, they played aggressive defense and were in his face constantly. Yet, every time the Lions went to Green Bay, they would play passively and be destroyed by Favre. History has proven to me that Favre, like any other quarterback, will make mistakes and become less accurate when he is pressured a lot. So the question now is, will the Lions play aggressive or will the play prevent?

Through the last decade or more, the Lions have been through several defensive coordinators. Every time the Lions get someone new, I hear from others that he is an aggressive coordinator. Yet every one of them have played passive football. In the off-season when Schwartz brought in Gunther, I heard it again. I was told how aggressive Schwartz was and how much Gunther liked to blitz. I wasn't going to believe it. It was a story I have heard too many times and I was tiring of that rerun. Then the off-season came about and I actually began seeing the blitz. Then a few days before the first game against New Orleans, Schwartz said that they had only showed a very vanilla defense and planned to throw the whole book at Drew Brees. He said they were going to go after Brees. As I have already mentioned, they went after him with one blitz in the first half.

Now there is no reason the Lions should not blitz a lot against Minnesota. We have seen what happens when they don't blitz and it was ugly. Both coaches are supposed to favor aggressive schemes. Gunther has said he will be more aggressive against Favre. Now they need to come out of the gates aggressive or they will lose all credibility. If they come out and play the same old prevent defense yet again, there will be no doubt in my mind that it is Old man Ford who runs the team and not the coaches. This many coaches don't go to the same team with aggressive reputations and then play prevent football.

If the Lions do not blitz at least into the double digits, I will personally start the "Fire Ford" campaign. Yes I know he cant be fired, but it will get the point across and link him to Millen at the same time.


Stafford Named Starter - Choice Wreaks of William Clay Ford

Look back at other quarterbacks who started in their rookie season. What do they all have in common? None of them had a decent veteran quarterback for the coach to have put in ahead of them.

Look back at the history of rookie quarterbacks who came out of college early. They usually fail.

What do Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and other rookie quarterbacks who have succeeded have in common? They each had a good running game to keep defenses honest. They each have had good offensive lines to protect them.

Now let us look at Matthew Stafford's situation as the rookie quarterback for the Detroit Lions....

Although the Lions running game has looked good in the preseason, remember, it is just preseason. It has been years since the Lions have shown any real semblance of a running game to make defenses honest. Sure Kevin Smith looked good last year, but he did not put fear into any defense. They do not fear that he has the speed to break the long ones, so they set up to stop the pass more and blitz the quarterback. That is a huge mark against Stafford being successful.

Pass protection... Laughable. For the most part, this same offensive line has given up over 50 sacks for three seasons in a row. In the last game, they broke down completely twice in the first half alone, allowing Stafford to be sacked hard both times. If they do that four times a game, that will be a pace of 64 sacks aloud. Not only is this a huge mark against Stafford being successful, it could ruin him.

Veteran quarterback ahead of him.... Culpepper. In the preseason, Daunte Culpepper completed 22 of 34 passes (64.7%) for 194 yards. He threw 1 touchdown and had no interceptions and was sacked only once. Culpepper has a history of throwing for over 4000 yards when he had a top receiver to throw to and is in great shape this year.

Rookie, Matthew Stafford completed 30 of 55 passes (54.5%) for 389 yards. He threw one touchdown and had three interceptions and was sacked 3 times.

Culpepper's 89.6 QB rating is far better than Stafford's 52.8 rating. The veteran Daunte Culpepper has looked by far the better, more sure, most accurate and game manager of the two quarterbacks.

Back in April, most of the fans wanted either the offensive lineman, Jason Smith or linebacker Aaron Curry. Most all of those fans would have been happy with either of the two over Stafford. They understood that cliches have a lot of truth to them. "Defense wins championships" for one and the other... "The games are won in the trenches". Both cliches are very popular for a reason. They are true. The fans finally understood this and when the Lions ignored a plea from Curry that he would play for less money and instead selected Matthew Stafford again, another cliche came to life. "Ford loves the sexy pick to sell tickets."

All preseason long, the Lions have had a quarterback battle going. Schwartz has said it over and over. He will play the quarterback that gives him the best chance to win. He will play the better of the two. Anyone who watched the games and the stats, could see that Culpepper was the obvious better of the two. He out played Stafford and didn't make mistakes. Culpepper would obviously give the Lions a better chance to win. So can someone please explain why the rookie, Matthew Stafford was selected to start the 2009 season?

The answer is just as obvious. "For loves the sexy pick." Ford does not know a football from the bulging tip of his nose. Ford would not know what a winning NFL game plan was if he found himself wiping with one. What Ford does know however, is business, and that is all the Detroit Lions are to him. A business! He cares not for winning. At least not nearly as much as he does for filling seats, and Ford knows that the exciting quarterback will fill the seats early on. What he does not know is that when that rookie starts losing, those seats wont stay filled. But Ford also knows the fans (not all of them but most of them. Enough anyway) are stupid enough to fall for this long enough that next year he can make another sexy pick and fill the seats again. Just like he did when he selected the high profile offensive player over the great defensive player or offensive lineman for the last decade.

The choice of Stafford over Culpepper simply wreaks of the Ford decision. It is not about winning. It is about selling tickets. It is about filling seats now because the season is only 16 weeks long and the now will last that long. if the Detroit Lions main objective was to erase the putrid scent of the 0-16 season, they would want to win more games. That would call for the veteran to play. That is NOT what William Clay Ford cares about though. He wants to fill seats far more than he wants to win. So the high profile "sexy" choice of the rookie quarterback is chosen in stead.

When will Ford finally learn that a winning product would fill the seats and sell more merchandise than any one rookie ever would?


Offensive Line gives Mixed Messages

In the Lions last preseason game, the offensive line showed a lot of promise, and yet gave reasons for the fans to worry.

Continuously the offensive line out muscled the Buffalo Bills at the line of scrimmage. Over and over the running backs had positive gains due to the line moving the trench forward or simply opening holes. On one particular play, Cason took a hand-off up the left side and as he broke through the line, he was stood up straight by a defender. The Lions offensive line did not give up though and during the ensuing pile up, the Detroit Line moved that pile forward for ten yards before Cason was finally dragged down. In the power running game, the Lions line looked good. Maybe even better than good. Their pass protection however had mixed reviews.

Stafford often had time to throw and on one occasion, he had too much time as he let his eyes lock onto Calvin Johnson for too long before throwing the ball, allowing the defense to read his eyes and move accordingly. Luckily for Stafford, defensive players often do not have great hands and the ball slipped through the defenders fingers. The problem was that the offensive line too often broke down. Stafford only dropped back for 11 pass plays and twice he took sacks. On one his arm was hit just before he was and he lost the fumble.

That is two sacks the line gave up in one half of play. That would add up to 64 sacks in a full season. What makes this worse is that these were not sacks that can be blamed on Stafford for holding onto the ball for too long. These are sacks where the line caved in and the defense was upon Stafford too fast for any quarterback to do much more than get hit. That kind of break down twice in one half is much too often. Especially when the Lions had a strong running game going, making it hard for the Buffalo defense to just come after Stafford alone.

Even with the break downs however, the Detroit Lions offensive line looked much improved to what we watched in 2008. They look primed to open a lot of room for Kevin Jones and to actually move the ball occasionally on short yardage situations. The Line should also give the quarterback more time far more often than it has in the past. Whoever starts for the Lions at quarterback, can expect a chance to have a good season. But only if they are tough enough to take the hits.


Stafford vs Culpepper

The Detroit Lions have a real quarterback battle on their hands and every fan has an opinion on it. So do I and I am going to go into detail about it for one reason. I'm right!

Matthew Stafford - The rookie is the future of the Lions and has shown signs of brilliance during the preseason. He has the ability to throw down field and actually hit his receiver in stride. He has a toughness about him that is willing to stand in and take a hit to make a last second throw. His problem is that he is still a rookie and makes rookie mistakes. Stafford is also prone to bouts of inaccuracy, as we saw in his dismal week-2 in the preseason against the Cleveland Browns.

Daunte Culpepper - He is the veteran quarterback who seems capable of not making the mistakes to kill us. If nothing is open down field, Culpepper will check down to make a short completion. Culpepper has also shown he has the elusiveness that makes him very hard to sack.

So who should be the starter? I have read a lot of comments by Lions fans recently. Let us analyze their reasoning.

"The Lions will not win a lot this season anyway. So we should start Stafford and let him take his lumps and learn." --- Taking a few lumps will do good for any rookie quarterback, but that depends on how many lumps. If he takes a few hits, it will introduce him to the NFL is all, but if he is sacked at record paces like previous quarterbacks? That can ruin a rookie quarterback. The rookie QBs who have been successful in their first season have been set up to succeed. They have good offensive lines and good running games to keep defenses honest. Until the Lions prove they can do that in regular season games, I have to believe that Stafford would lose a lot of confidence after his 20th IT or his 50th sack.

"Culpepper does not complete passes down field." --- What I have seen of Culpepper is more a product of what is given to him. Often the Lions coaches call screens for him. Sometimes he will look down field and when he sees nothing there, he checks down and dumps it off for positive yardage. This is a major reason he is not throwing interceptions while Stafford has 3 in 3 games.

"After watching a second time, I took a closer look at Stafford's incompletions. Two were near miss TDs, two drops (Brown, Jennings), one hail Mary miss (int) and one misread with TE route. It did not have rookie mistakes written all over it. Stafford is ready, there is no reason he should sit." --- In the third game, Stafford did indeed look ready. Have we already forgotten how many he over threw in week two? This shows me he is inconsistent, just like most rookies.

My theory - Consider the Lions fans. They are split on Stafford and Culpepper. Which ever QB starts, if he loses a lot, throws interceptions and such, the fans will start booing and screaming for the other quarterback. Now look at the Lions schedule. The first six games will be tough. They could easily start 0-6. If you start Stafford, and he goes 0-6 while learning, throws interceptions and makes rookie mistakes, the fans will boo and scream for Culpepper. At least the fans who want Culpepper to start will. That can ruin a young quarterbacks psyche. Even one as confident as Stafford. What happens if you start Culpepper?

If Culpepper wins a few games, everyone will be happy and nobody will complain about Stafford sitting and learning for a season. If Culpepper starts off at 0-6, the fans will be screaming for Stafford by the bye-week. The Lions could now trot Stafford out their to the delight of the fans and start him against the Rams. A team the Lions might actually beat. You are now starting Stafford when he actually has a better chance to succeed and build his confidence rather than ruin it.

By starting Stafford, the Lions are putting him and themselves in a position where they have to succeed or they could ruin their future quarterback like they have so many times before. If they start Culpepper, they place themselves and Stafford in a win win situation.


Advice to Schwartz: Make Decision Soon!

The San Fransisco 49ers got it right. They named Shaun Hill the starting quarterback for the season opener over Alex Smith. I would not even presume to know if Shaun Hill is a better quarterback, but I do know the 49ers were right in one aspect. They named their starter early. Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions need to do the same.

There is an ongoing debate in Detroit about whether it should be the veteran Daunte Culpepper or the 72 million dollar rookie Matthew Stafford. There are plenty of arguments for both sides, but whatever Schwartz is going to decide, he needs to decide soon.

Both Stafford and Culpepper are new to the Lions. Stafford is a rookie and has never played for any NFL team much less the Lions and Culpepper was signed in 2008 and played very little. Two of the three starting receivers for the Lions are new this season. The Lions will likely be playing with a new Tight End as well. The offensive line is now running a power block scheme rather than a zone block. It takes time for all of this to gel together and the quarterback is at the center of that gelling.

The Lions can practice until their faces turn Honolulu Blue, but the practice can only take them so far. Game action is a whole new level. Schwartz has said he might play the starters for a half in the fourth preseason game as well. Very few teams in the NFL if any play their starters much in the fourth preseason game. The Lions however, need that extra work. To keep the quarterback competition going even another week would only harm them. Who ever is going to be the starting quarterback needs time to get used to his receivers and linemen in real game action. One quarter of action each in the last two weeks of the preseason just won't cut it.

Anyone who knows me, knows I think Culpepper should start. If Schwartz comes out and names Stafford the starter, I will be fine with that. Just so long as he names him now and not wait another week before doing it. The quarterback needs more reps with the first team before the season starts, especially if it is Stafford, a rookie.


The Two Faces of Lions Fans

Many Detroit Lions fans will not like this article. I cannot help that but I will not allow it to keep me from writing it. I will write the truth as I see it and not let it be influenced by opinions. So let me start it if by going for the throat. Many of the Detroit Lions fans are two faced.

I have read articles on Stafford since the Lions first preseason game. I have read the posts by the fans after those articles. I have seen the love of those fans for Matthew Stafford. I have seen some striking similarities between Stafford and Harrington and the fans love one and hate the other for those same similarities.

Let me make this clear. I am not a huge Joey Harrington fan. I once was a supporter of his but now he is done in. I do believe Stafford can be a true star, just like I believed Joey could have under the right circumstances. Yet I hear fans saying things they love about Stafford and they are the same with Harrington who they hated.

Fans loved that Stafford took a hit and jumped back up with a smile, showing he is tough. I remember Joey Harrington's first season and he took a huge hit. He jumped up and patted the player who sacked him on the back of the helmet congratulating him on a good hit.

Stafford went 7 for 14 in his first action. That is only 50%. Fans think he did good because he had a few balls dropped to make his stats look worse than how he played. Yet I do not remember a quarterback on the Lions who had his passes dropped as often as Harrington did.

Both quarterbacks are tough players who can take a hit and bounce back up ready to play. Both players were/are looked at as the savior of the Detroit Lions. Neither player was ever considered a very accurate passer. Both quarterbacks have good size and neither is a scrambler.

The Detroit fans, loved Scott Mitchell when he was throwing for 4,000 yards and it was those same fans who ran him out of town saying he was a bum when the talent around him dropped off the table. It was those same Lions fans who loved Harrington when he took the reins and the same who hated Joey when he couldn't produce with the worst o-line, receivers, and scheme in the NFL. It is those same fans who now love and tout Stafford as the next coming.

As I said, I do believe that Stafford can be a star. I also believe he has a better chance than any of the others ever had for the Lions. He has a great receiver in Calvin Johnson. The best Joey ever had was Roy Williams who the Lions were glad to trade away. Stafford has a good tight end which Joey never had. Stafford has a receiver in Northcutt who will actually go across the middle. Something Joey never had.

If the Lions brass can improve the offensive line enough to protect Stafford as he grows into that star, he may be the best quarterback the Lions ever had. If they do not find a way to protect him however, Stafford faces turning into the next Harrington. If he becomes that star, there will be fans saying "I told you so", and if he fails? It will be those same fans who will chase him out of Detroit saying he is a bum.


A Look at the Detroit Lions

Most anyone would have to look at the Detroit Lions and know they are improved. Not as many have looked over the Lions to see just how much they have improved. In this article I will take a look at each position of the Detroit Lions and give them an improvement grade. The grades are ranked from 0 to 5. I was prepared to give them a negative number if there was any position in which they have gotten worse, but I honestly did not need it.


Head Coach - Jim Schwartz - has taken over the reins and is expected to be a huge improvement over Marinelli. How could he not be? He has already said he plans on making the scheme fit the players he has and has emphasized a stronger, more powerful team rather than the smaller speedy team. Until he actually coaches some games as a head coach in the NFL, he will be a question mark, but all in all, he should be a great improvement. Improvement Rating = +5

Offensive Coordinator - Scott Linehan - He was the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings during Culpepper's best seasons, which should tell you one important thing. He likes to take chances with the deep ball. Something the Lions fans have seen very little of in recent years. Improvement Rating = +3

Defensive Coordinator - Gunther Cunningham - Believes in putting pressure on the opposing quarterbacks and has no qualms about blitzing to do so. Has stated that they plan to blitz about 40% of the time this year. Improvement Rating = +5


- Daunte Culpepper is supposedly finally healthy again but has always been known for fumbling. Matthew Stafford is a great talent but still a rookie. Which ever quarterback starts should be an improvement over last year when it was between a recovering Culpepper and Dan Orlovsky. Both QBs have the ability to throw a good long ball. Improvement Rating = +2

Running Back - Kevin Smith - Had a respectable rookie season even though he was on the Lions when he ran for 976 yards and 8 touchdowns with a 4.1 yards per carry average. The Problem with Kevin Smith is that he seems to lack the extra gear that would make him a threat to break away for long scores. Several times in 2008 I watched him break into open field only to be ran down. His longest carry was 50 yards and it was not a touchdown, which can only mean he was chased down from behind. Other than that one good carry, his longest run was 32 yards. Still, he has a year behind him and might still improve. Improvement Rating = +1

Fullback - Terrelle Smith - Played at Arizona the last two seasons, which to be honest, doesn't say much to me. It is not as if Arizona had a great running game. Right now I do not see this as an improvement or a decline. Improvement Rating = 0

Wide Receiver - Calvin Johnson, Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt - Calvin Johnson is one of the best receivers in the game and may yet become the very best. Bryant Johnson should be a bit of an improvement over Shaun McDonald who only caught 35 passes for 332 yards in 2008. With the Johnson and Johnson tandem on the outsides, and new TE Pettigrew catching passes, Dennis Northcutt should see some open space as the slot receiver. Improvement Rating = +2

Tight End
- Brandon Pettigrew - The 20th pick overall in the 2009 draft, Pettigrew was considered the best tight end coming out of college. He is supposed to have the ability to block as well as catch and it has been a long time since the Lions have had the full package in a single tight end. Improvement Rating = +4

Offensive Line - I have been quoted in the past as saying the same five guys were starting. It has come to my understanding that only four of the five are the same as last year. The new addition is Daniel Loper who has never started a regular season game in four years. The offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL for the last few years running and there has been no improvement when it comes to player additions unless you consider Jon Jansen, but he is here because he wants to prove he still has it. Not because he is still great. There is still the problem of Dominic Raiola seeming to be undersized and pushed backwards on short yardage downs. .... The improvement might come from two things. One would be the emphasis on strength building and the other might be the scheme where the are moving to a power block scheme rather than the zone scheme they used last year. Improvement Rating = +1


Defensive Tackles - Grady Jackson, Chuck Darby and Landon Cohen - The only real improvement here is the addition of Grady Jackson. The problem is that Jackson is not young anymore and is expected to only play half the downs. Improvement Rating = +1

Defensive Ends
- Dewayne White, Jared Devries, Cliff Avril and Ikaika Alama-Francis - All four of these guys were on the team last year and I am not expecting any great strides with any of them. No more than 4 or 5 sacks can be counted on by any one of them. Though, with the linebackers blitzing more, it may free them up for a few more sacks than in the past. Until that happens, dont count on it. Improvement Rating = 0

Linebackers - Ernie Simms, Julian Peterson and Larry Foote - Ernie Simms is a better linebacker than he showed in 2008. Now that he has some real talent around him, he will be able to show it. The addition of Peterson and Foote turns this unit into one of the better linebacker units in the NFL. Improvement Rating = +5

Cornerbacks - Anthony Henry and Phillip Buchanon - I really want to sit here and say this is a much improved unit. I do believe they are. Yet I cannot help but remember how we all thought Leigh Bodden would be an improvement last year. Now we are glad he is gone. Neither of these new guys are pro-bowlers and until they prove they can cover, I cannot give them an improvement grade. Improvement Rating = 0

Safeties - Daniel Bullocks and Louis Delmas - Bullocks had 94 total tackles in 2008, but he only had 1 pass defended and 1 forced fumble and zero interceptions. It seems all he can do is follow the ball well enough to tackle the guy who has it. The addition of rookie, Louis Delmas, looks to be a good one. I have no heard anything but raving news about this youngster. He was quoted saying he would be the first to pick Stafford off and then in their first practice together he made good on that promise. With the addition of Delmas, I cannot help but see a great improvement over last year. Improvement Rating = 3

Special Teams - Jason Hanson returns for his 18th season as the Lions place kicker and in my opinion he is the greatest kicker to ever play the game. Yes, I know there are others who have better stats, but not many. What puts him above the others in my mind is that he does more than kick the ball. I have not found any statistics on kickers tackling stats, but I have to believe he is among the all time leaders. How many times have we seen the Detroit Lions Special teams fall apart and allow a huge kick return? How many times have we seen Jason Hanson as the last line of defense and watched him come through. What makes him even better is that he does not only try and get in the runners way, but he often drops his pads and sends a shoulder into the runner to tackle him. Many times I have heard others say that kickers are not real football players. Jason Hanson has been the exception to the rule. ...... The Lions return games has been abysmal in recent years. Personally I have always held it against Aveion Cason that he could never get more than a yard or two past the twenty. Recently I have read that the Lions old regime was more worried about not making mistakes rather than gaining yards. The new regime is supposed to be much more aggressive. I still would rather see someone who wont fall from the first arm tackle to touch him but either way, I am expecting a big improvement. They sure cant get any worse. Improvement Rating = 3

The Lions have improved a total of 35 points out of a possible 75 points. Anyone would be extremely hard pressed to find another team in the NFL that has improved this off-season as much as the Detroit Lions have. Do I believe they can duplicate what the Falcons did last year? No. I still do not think they will. Unless the Detroit Lions offensive line suddenly becomes a much improved unit, the Lions will still have a hard time extending drives or having a consistent running game. Without those two things, you just will not make the play-offs. What I do see this year however is a far more competitive team that wins 5 or 6 games. If they Address their offensive line next year, then I can see a playoff season in the near future, but that is next year. This year they will win 5 or 6 at best and only be blown out once or twice.


Even Hope for the Lions shows an Improvement

In years gone by, I had always believed the Detroit Lions were only a couple of good players away from being a true contender. For the last 2 or 3 years, I have not had that belief. It is clear that the last decade has watched this franchise slowly degrade until last year there was simply nothing left.

This year is different. There is something about this team that excites me. Maybe I see some real possibilities, or maybe I am just excited to see the Lions regain mediocrity. Whatever it is, I am excited for the season to start.

I have been getting a bit frustrated by seeing comments from others who do not know the Lions saying they will be the worst team in the league again. A part of me wants to scream at them. "Have you not seen anything going on in the off-season in Detroit?"

One comment I saw said... "The Lions will be the worst team once again. Even with the addition of Foote, they have a long long ways to go." .... Excuse me? With the addition of Foote? What about Jullian Peterson? Phillip Buchanon? Anthony Henry? How about Grady Jackson? Anyone ever hear of him? Louis Delmas as well. Though he is a rookie, I have heard nothing but outstanding comments about the kid. Then of course, Stafford and Pettigrew, they wont improve the team at all, right? In fact, is there another team in the NFL that has improved on paper near as much as the Lions have in this off-season?

No, I dont believe the Lions are on their way to the Superbowl this year. I dont even believe they will make the play-offs. I do however, believe the Detroit Lions will gain some respect in 2009 as a team that is up and coming and not to be taken lightly.

Whether it is Daunte Culpepper or Matthew Stafford who lines up behind center, I am intrigued to see how they perform. I want to see if Pettigrew is as good as people keep saying. I am not so convinced that he is as good as I hear, but I am in the least, looking forward to seeing for myself. I cannot wait to see how this revamped defense plays and I am absolutely excited at the prospect of the Lions defense blitzing 40% of the time.

Though I have had times of being excited in recent years, I have not felt this excited to start a season since... well last year when they went 4-0 in the pre-season. But other than that brief time, I havent been this excited since Barry Sanders was playing.

If there is any silver lining to going 0-16, it is that even the prospect of gaining some respect again gives one a thrill.


Detroit Lions Defense May Be Fantasy Sleeper

We have all seen the change over on the Lions defense. The addition of Grady Jackson at defensive tackle will help immensely. Julian Peterson and Larry Foote being added next to Ernie Sims will give the Lions one of the better Linebacker crews in the NFL. There is no doubt that Anthony Henry and Phillip Buchanan will be an improved cornerback duo. Rookie Louis Delmas may be the best safety the Lions have had in recent years.

Now on top of the huge personnel improvements, the Detroit Lions new Defensive Coordinator plans to blitz about 40% of the time. Imagine that!

Remember last years preseason? Remember the Lions blitzing continuously and practically mugging the opponents quarterbacks? Remember the Lions defense knocking Chad Johnson out of the game because Palmer threw the ball too high while being hit? Remember the Lions defense looking like a havoc machine for all four games? That's what you get from blitzing!

Remember the Lions blitzing all of the time in the regular season? No? That's because they didn't! They very rarely blitzed in the regular season.

Remember the Lions defense harassing the quarterbacks every game? No? That is because they didn't harass any quarterbacks in the regular season. They gave every quarterback 5 or 6 seconds to find an open receiver. They gave every receiver 5 or 6 seconds to break free.

Remember the... oh what the heck, we don't want to remember the 2008 Detroit Lions defense at all! The defense that looked menacing in the preseason became the worst defense I have ever seen in the regular season. They were the same players, so what happened? They did not blitz in the regular season.

2009 is here and they have far better players. Best of all, the Detroit Lions have a coach and offensive coordinator who actually has some guts. They plan to blitz about 40% of the time. Do not let the 2008 defense scare you away. The difference between this years group of battle ready killers is so far from last years Pansy ass nose picking sissies will be like night and day.

Don't believe me? That is fine. Just do yourself a favor. Keep your eye on them as the season starts. If you play fantasy football, there is a very good chance you will be picking the Detroit Lions Defense up off of waivers in week two or three.


Scattered Thoughts on the Lions

It is mid July and nothing is happening in the NFL. There is no news on the Lions that we dont already know. They are not practicing and the media does not bother with them. We are so close to the Detroit Lions season and still so far away. I hate this time of the year.

The Lions and I have completely different views on how the team should be handled. Every year they draft the opposite player of who I want them to draft. Every season their scheme is opposite of what I would like to see. I wanted to draft Quentin Jammer and they take Joey Harrington. I want Jason Smith and they draft Matthew Stafford. I want them to blitz a lot and they play panzy football. I wanted Scott Pioli to be the new GM and Ford retains Martin Mayhew. ...... I could look at this in one of two ways. 1) I really don't know anything about football that I am always wrong. 2) The Lions never listen to me and they ended up with a historical 0-16 season and a decade since their last winning season. Personally I prefer to believe in the latter.

Though there is a good chance Stafford will play this year and maybe even start the season, I still say they should hold him back a year. I still say the Detroit Lions should have drafted Jason Smith to boost their offensive line. Then they could have made a run to sign Michael Vick. Dog Fighting problems in his past or not, he is a proven star at the quarterback position and I would far prefer a proven star over any unproven rookie.

I do hope that finally this time the Lions coaches have enough courage to blitz a lot. Get in the QB's face enough and the QB makes mistakes. Any quarterback will. Even Manning and Brady and Favre.

I wish I could afford to go to a couple games this season rather than watch them all on tv. However, I will have a DVR this year and that is good for reviewing the game before I write my articles.

I miss Barry Sanders. We still lost a lot with him but at least he made the game exciting. Which by the way, proves that one man cannot carry an NFL team. If Barry couldn't carry the Lions to a Superbowl, nobody can!

The Detroit Lions have to win a Superbowl someday.... don't they?

The Lions need cheerleaders!

Who am I kidding? The Lions need a hell of a lot more than just Cheerleaders!

Can someone tell me again why the Lions did away with the Run-N-Shoot offense?

The new logo does look better. I would have liked to see a complete rework, but it still looks better than it did.

The Detroit Lions need to hire new people to design their clothing. As much as I love the Lions, I have never seen a Lions hat that I liked. There are very few jackets or shirts I feel look good. ..... Correction.... there is one Lions hat I do like. It is the hat I designed and had made.

Notice how it is a soft cap rather than the stiff cap that real ball players would never wear. The Lions symbol is small and on the classy side unlike the normal Lions hats where Bubbles the Lions covers three quarters of the hat or more. Also notice the hat itself is a regular denim color and not the Lions standard Honolulu blue. Don't get me wrong, I like the Honolulu blue, but just not on clothing. Its not a good color for clothing and definitely not good looking on hats.

If any of the Lions personnel department should happen to read this.... If you like the hat, I am in need of a job. If you wont let me direct the team, I can help design Lion paraphernalia.


A Lions Fan's Dream

The Dream - The Detroit Lions break their huddle and move to the line of scrimmage as the flashes from cameras continuously pop from the sidelines and stands. Matthew Stafford steps up behind Raiola. A quick glance at the clock shows him the twenty eight seconds left in the game. He can barely keep the smile from his face. A look to both sides lets him know that everyone is in their place and shouts the cadence.

"Hut!" The call was to snap the ball on one and as he shouts the word, Dominic Raiola slaps the leather football into Stafford's hands. The linemen collide together with hardly an effort and he drops to one knee.

The whistles blow and the clock continues to run down. The linemen jump for joy and the first player there to give Stafford a hug is Calvin Johnson, his megatron arms practically engulfing the young quarterback as they shout their joy in unison.

We stare at our television sets for a short time in disbelief. Our eyes fill with tears and we fight the lump that swells in our throats as it all sinks in. The Detroit Lions have just won the Superbowl!

Car horns are honking from outside as others step out and scream with joy. Many of us still just sit there in silence. Sit there and let it all soak in deeper. Our beloved Lions have won the Superbowl.

If we died right then, we would die happy. The happiest many of us have ever been in our lives. All of the shame we face each morning as the bills pile up because we have no job is forgotten for the time being. There is no heart break and loneliness. No problems with spouses. All of our troubles can be put away, for the moment the world is a perfect place. The Detroit Lions have just won the Superbowl.

So many have said it would never happen but some of us always believed it could. For those of us, there is a deeper satisfaction. The victory holds a special place in our hearts that could never be experienced by the many who had given up on the team completely.

The Tigers have won the world Series and it was awesome. The Red Wings have won the Stanley Cup enough times and that is magnificent. The Pistons have won the Championship and how great those were. So many great moments in Detroit history, but all of them together could not compare to this one moment. The Detroit Lions have won the Superbowl.

Reality - So many times I have heard others say.."the Lions have always sucked and they always will." or "They will never win anything." For so many seasons I have suffered the heartbreak of futility as the Lions again and again fail to play good football. I was a fan back when Billy Sims blew out his knee as he dove over the offensive line. I cannot remember if he scored or got a first down but I remember the loss of hope when his career was over.

I was a fan when they drafted Barry Sanders. Oh how great Barry Sanders truly was could never be known by most of the NFL fans who did not watch him every game. I was a fan in Barry Sander's 3rd season in 1991, when the Lions started the season off with a 45-0 loss to the Washington Redskins. I was a fan when in the same season, the Lions won twelve games and ended the regular season in first place in the NFC Central. I was a fan as they beat the hated Dallas Cowboys in Detroit's only playoff victory since 1957. I was a fan as the Lions lost in the NFC championship game 41-10, again to the Redskins.

I was a fan when Barry Sanders retired unexpectedly after only ten seasons only 1,457 yards shy of breaking the All-time rushing record. I have been a Lions fan through all of the futile ten seasons since Barry retired. I was a fan through the shameful 0-16 season last year.

I have been a fan through so much heartache and have felt so little joy in return. And I have never once believed the Lions would not someday be a great team. Some day that dream will come true. Some day I will experience that joy. I know it wont be this coming season, but some day it will happen. I do believe that, and I do believe it will not be in the too far distant future.


Lions Defense - To Blitz or Not to Blitz?

Everyone remembers the Detroit Lions 2008 pre-season right? When the Lions went 4-0 and pretty much dominated the other teams with their defense? Not just the back-ups either. The defense pounded on the other teams starting quarterbacks as well. If nobody noticed, there was a major difference between the pre-season defense and the Lions regular season defense. It was the scheme!

In the pre-season, the Lions blitzed almost continuously and it caused havoc for the opposing quarterbacks. When the regular season started and the games counted, Marrinelli lost his courage and the Lions rarely blitzed. In the few games where the Lions defense looked good for portions of the games during the season? They were blitzing.

I have heard the arguments enough times. The Lions don’t have the talent to blitz, right? Wrong! The lack of talent on the Lions defense in 2008 was why they needed to blitz and blitz a lot! The truth of the matter was, they did not have enough talent to play normal defense. They could not pressure the quarterback using just the defensive line. Opposing quarterbacks sat in the pocket for far too long, just waiting for a receiver to get open. The Lions defensive backs were not good enough to cover for more than 2 or 3 seconds tops. The Lions complete lack of talent in 2008 made it impossible to win games by playing conservative defense. If you cannot pressure the quarterback and you cannot cover the receivers, you WILL lose.

That is why bad defenses should blitz. Get pressure on the quarterback. Make him get rid of the ball early often enough and he will make mistakes. Will you get burned if you blitz a lot? Sometimes you will, absolutely. But ask yourself this…. How often did the Lions get burnt when they did not blitz? A lot! If you will get beat a lot when not blitzing, what do you have to lose by blitzing? Nothing.

It has always been argued that if you blitz too often, you will get burnt. The truth of the matter is, it is only the good defenses that don’t need to blitz. They have the talent to cover receivers. They have the talent where their defensive line can pressure the quarterback. They get it done without the blitz. If you want to win in the NFL, you need to pressure the quarterback. If your D-line is not good enough to get it done, you have to find a way to get it done. That is why they blitz. That is why the Lions need to blitz.

Mark my word… If the Lions blitz a lot in 2009, they will win 6 or more games. If they play a conservative defense again, they will win no more than 4 games at best.


Improved Detroit Lions Defense Gets No Respect

Will the Detroit Lions Defense be much improved in 2009? Many of the experts from fantasy football sites don't believe so.

I have my own Fantasy Football blog called NFL Fantasy Guide. I was looking at defenses today to put out my Fantasy Defense Rankings. I was comparing what other sites ranked the defenses and I noticed something glaring. Of the three sites I looked at, the best ranking the Detroit Lions defense got was 29th. Are they truly going to be that bad again this year?

I am sorry, but I think this is a case of the experts not looking close enough. They have no respect for the Lions and rightfully so I suppose, so they just tend to rank them near the bottom. Yet if you truly look at it all, do you really place them that low?

The Detroit Lions have added a new Safety, two new starting cornerbacks, two new starting linebackers, and a good defensive tackle. That is over half of the starting defense that is new and for the most part, much improved.

With the additions of Larry Foote and Julian Peterson, to team up with Ernie Simms, the Lions linebacker crew went from one of the worst in the NFL to one of the best. That alone makes them better than a jump from 32nd to 29th only. Adding Grady Jackson in the middle of the defensive line will help them immensely when it comes to stopping the run. Though he has yet to play a down in the NFL, I do believe Louis Delmas will be a great improvement at Safety. The strength training the coaches have implemented will help as well. Every bit of improvement in the offense will help sustain more drives and keep the defense rested. That will help the defense's ranking.

Please don't get me wrong here. I have no false perception that the Lions defense will be a top defense in the NFL in 2009. I do not believe they will even be a top-15 defense. But looking at the improvements they have made, shouldn't they still be better than 29th? Don't forget, that 29 rank was the best of the three. The other two were 31st and 32nd. Seriously?

Larry Foote was the starting middle linebacker for the Superbowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers last season. They didn't just let him go... he left Pittsburgh and signed with Detroit for less money than he was offered from other teams, just because he is from the area and actually wants to play for Detroit. There is nobody who does not think Peterson will still be a very good linebacker. Grady Jackson will only play about half the downs. That is half a season more with a very good defensive tackle than the Lions had last year. Delmas has done nothing but draw rave reviews from everyone in the off-season workouts. In fact, in his first practice, he told Stafford he would be the first to pick off one of Stafford's passes. He made good on that promise.

For logical purposes and trying to keep my head grounded, I ended up ranking the Lions defense 25th overall. To be honest, I would not be surprised in the least if they ended the season ranked 20th overall, but I would at least expect 25th.


Reasons why the Detroit Lions can win in 2009

The average fan out there wants to say the Detroit Lions will win 4 games tops in 2009. There are a few who are posting in forums that the Lions will make the playoffs, but their only legitimate reasoning is looking at the Falcons and Dolphins feats. So what are some real reasons why the Lions can win?

Before I continue, I want to remind you that I myself believe they are in for a 4 to 6 win season. But trying this time to see the team through an optimistic view, I will explain how it is possible they could win 8 or 9 games this season.

Five times in 2008, the Lions actually held the lead at one point in the 4th quarter of games. Believe it or not, there were 8 different games in which the Lions were within one score of taking the lead during the 4th quarter. Eight games in which decent play in the fourth quarter could have given them the win. Anyone who knows football knows that one score between two teams is not the greatest of differences.

The Lions come into the 2009 season with a nearly complete overhaul of the defense. Adding Peterson and Foote gives them one of the best linebacker crews in the NFL. Two veteran cornerbacks will be an improvement over last years players. The addition of Grady Jackson will help them immensely, at least on running plays. In 2008 teams moved the ball on the Detroit Lions at will. It will be a different scenario in 2009.

Many fans would want me to list Matthew Stafford on offense but I wont. At this time, I do not see the Lions using him right away and maybe not for the season. I very well may be wrong but until he trots out on the field, I will stick with my belief. This point goes to, believe it or not, the offensive line. I have been hard on them and rightly so this off-season. Actually I have been hard on the )-line since 1992 but that is a different story. 150 sacks they have allowed in the last three seasons. Never have they given us confidence they could push the line of scrimmage on short yardage plays. So why do I lift them as a reason the Lions can win this season? First there is Gosder Cherilus. As the season suffered on in 2008, Gosder actually improved. With another off-season behind him, I am expecting him to be a good lineman. The other reason is the new coaching staff. They have emphasized training for strength in the off-season. Improved strength might actually give them the ability to move the line once in a while when they need it.

In aquiring WR- Northcutt and drafting WR- Williams the Lions have shown they are looking to improve the return game. The Detroit Lions punt and kick-off returners have been horrible in the past few years. If they can improve that they will put themselves in a much better place to win games.

The Lions have some star worthy veterans who signed on for less money than they could have gotten elsewhere. Why? Because they wanted to be a part of turning the Lions around. They have players who WANT to be there. This will create a much better locker room atmosphere.

Five reason the Detroit Lions can turn it around in 2009. There is not one particular reason that makes them a winning team, but if you add these five reasons together, it makes one believe that yes, it is possible for them to win this season. Time will tell.