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The Detroit Lions Begin a New Era

The Detroit Lions have ended the Jim Schwartz Era and have moved into the Jim Caldwell Era. With the changing of the guard, a new dawn of hope has risen with it.

Anyone who knows me, understands that I was no big fan of Jim Schwartz or Scott Linehan. I did not like their schemes. I did not like their play calling. Though many fans like to blame the players, often Matthew Stafford for the collapse in the second half of last year, I believe it should be lain directly at the feet of bad coaching. As I have always said, when one or two players fall apart, you blame those players and correct them. But when an entire team falls apart, you have to look at the coaches.

In the first half of 2013, the Detroit Lions had a strong winning record and looked to be a shoe in for the play-offs. Then they collapsed. Matthew Stafford did not collapse. Reggie Bush did not collapse. Brandon Pettigrew did not collapse. The entire team collapsed. Stafford threw a lot of interceptions, players fumbled the ball, players were dropping passes.  The defense could not hold leads in the fourth quarter. Even Calvin Johnson, who I think is the best WR to ever play the game was dropping passes.

So how can the coaches cause such a collapse you ask? The answer is in two cases of interviews with opposing players after the games last year. Not once, but twice, a player made reference to the Detroit Lions making it easy for them to come back and beat the Lions because the Lions were calling the same plays all season long and all game long. In other words, because the coaches refused to make any adjustments, the opponents began reading the plays on the field.

Now anyone who has played a lot of sports or coached sports, knows that when a player tries to do too much, they tend to make mistakes.  For many years Jeff Backus was hated in Detroit because the fans thought he was terrible. Then the Lions finally added Rob Sims at Left Guard and closed the revolving door at that position. From that point until he retired, Backus was one of the best Left Tackles in the game. Why? Because when the player next to him was a bad player, he tried to make up for it by doing too much. He couldnt just play his position, but he had to try to worry about helping the Left Guard as well. In the 2013 collapse, that was what happened. WRs were covered a lot tighter. Tacklers were getting to players too quickly. They never caught the ball with room to make a move before getting hit. Often, Calvin was getting hit before he got the ball. Since Stafford had to throw through a tighter window, he tended to fire the ball harder to zip it in there. This made it harder for players to grab. Because he was trying to make plays he shouldnt have because he was pressing too hard, many of his passes went errant. The entire team started trying to do too much and they made mistakes because of it. And that is why they collapsed, and that is why I blame the coaches.  By refusing to make adjustments, the coaches put the players in a place to fail rather than to succeed.

So in comes Caldwell and his crew. From everything I have read and heard, this will be a completely different Lions team taking the field. This will be a team much closer to the team I have been asking for.

I cried to use a real Fullback (Something Linehan never used), and Lombardi plans to use one. 

I screamed for the Lions to blitz a lot. Austin will be blitzing. A lot!

I said they needed to play man coverage and not the zone. Austin will be playing a lot of Man Press coverage.

I said the Lions needed to call plays that kept the opponent guessing and Caldwell has said he will show multiple schemes on defense and offense.

The New Detroit Lions will be using almost everything I have been screaming to get for years now. I believe they have one of the most talented clubs in the NFL, and they just needed good coaches to put them in a place to succeed. I believe they have that now. I think we will see a new Lions team that will be one of the better teams in the NFL. The better be! Because if they have a bad year, I am going to look like a total fool for all the screaming I have done for the last three or four years.


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.