Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The day after….

The Lions fired head coach Rod Marinelli, his son-in-law and defensive coordinator Joe Barry, Barry’s father, and a few other position coaches, the day after officially becoming the worst team in NFL history. They demoted Colletto from offensive coordinator to offensive line coach, and promoted Martin Mayhew to GM and Tom Lewand to President. Now Lewand and Mayhew are looking for a personnel guy to work under Mayhew, and a new head coach who can then start shaping his coaching staff. Since guys like Pioli of the New England Patriots already hold a position equal to what the Lions are looking for, he and guys in the same position as he may not be hired away by the Lions… so one would assume they are looking at assistant personnel directors of other teams to hire in as personnel director and assistant GM (General Manager).

Mr. Ford Sr did not look outside the organization for a new front office, did not seek advice from the NFL (or if he did, he’s not saying), and saved a ton of cash by not brooming out the entire front office (most of whom are still under contract). Many say that is crazy after going 0-16 and with the need to completely revamp the entire team, some are taking either Lewand’s or Mayhew’s side (or both) and believing that it will work. I am torn.

{carefully gets up on the fence, notes it’s not as easy as it used to be}

First, there’s Tom Lewand. He’s handling the business/legal side of the operation. He was Ford Jr’s man in a manner of speaking, and had to earn Ford Sr’s trust, which he obviously has done. The only way that a new CEO/President was coming in to replace Matt Millen was if Ford Sr. distrusted Lewand and went outside the team to secure a new, hopefully experienced executive to take over the whole thing. Many have reservations about Tom Lewand, but he is now the top dog, there is no longer anywhere to hide and no one to hide behind, so we shall see how well he functions at his new position of power with the Detroit Lions.

Second, there’s Martin Mayhew. He’s handling the “football side” of the Lions now as the designated General Manager. He got the job without having to interview, without having to go up against other candidates, and there are a large number of people who do not approve of this. However, he would’ve been one of the interviewees should it have gone that way, and apparently he has presented a detailed plan to Ford Sr on how to build AND maintain a good football team. There has been a lot of mention of this plan, and how good it is, but so far I haven’t actually seen it. Perhaps it’s top secret. Anyway, he’s the guy now on the football side, and he and Lewand will be making the decisions, including when to bow to Ford Sr’s wishes, and they are now going to proceed to hire someone to run the scouting department. Their selection should shine some light on how good or bad they will be at their new jobs. One thing they do have going for them is their decision to fire the previous head coach and other coaching moves. There was a lot of worry that most of them would be retained, even after going 0-16. Between that move and the trade they got for Roy Williams there is some room for optimism… cautious as it may be.

Mayhew is a lawyer. He has helped Lewand with contracts, even getting some reluctant players to sign when talks broke down, but he is more then that. He worked in the personnel department for the Redskins long before working in Detroit, and he is a former player. In fact, he has a superbowl ring from his days as a cornerback for the Redskin, the year was 1991, the team they beat to get into the superbowl was none other then the Detroit Lions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NFL_playoffs,_1991-92

Even with those positives, neither man has ever run a draft, ever hired a head coach, or for that matter, ever been in the top ranks of a successful team. They are… inexperienced. Now, all good options that Ford Sr passed up were once inexperienced as well, so that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is worrisome. The Lions could’ve used some previously successful experienced people to turn this around, it might have sat better with the fans, the media, and the others on the team. Instead we now have to wait, to see if these guys can put together a team that can succeed.

I shall sit up here on my fence, watching. Day one was a good start, let’s see what the coming days have in store for us. (note: I did not get to see the press conference day 2 so I have no opinion on how that turned out).

If nothing else, you could say that Mayhew owes us one for 1991.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Game 16 Analysis.

The Lions have done the impossible… or at least, the improbable. They stole the record made by the Tampa Bay Bucs in 1976 (32 years ago) by going an entire season without a win. They were able to beat the Bucs record due to the fact that the Lions lost all 16 games while the Bucs played and lost 14 games, that being the total number of games in a season back then. So, unless the NFL increases the number of games in a season again, the Lions will forever hold the record, and perhaps will anyway, as it's excessively difficult to lose an entire season's worth of games. Especially after being the only team in the NFL to win all 4 of the preseason games. A feat that may never be topped… ever… in not only our lifetime but in anyone else's lifetime as well. Wow. Way to go team!

Team being the word here. It was the team who failed to garner a win this year… that includes every scout, every coach, every player and everyone else involved with the team. Anyone on the team who tries to blame anyone else had better been upset all year long with every move made. Of course, that kind of leadership is rewarded by getting fired, getting cut, getting traded, or put on IR (injured reserve).

So, what happens to everyone when the team goes 0-16 for the year? Well, if it was the teams' first year, you might get a second chance. But if it were the 8th year of the front office and the 3rd year of the head coach then in 31 out of 32 teams everyone would get fired. Monday. Time to start over. But the 32nd team is the Detroit Lions owned by William Ford Sr. Thus, Monday could just be another day instead.

I guess in some perverse way that makes sense, after all, the odds of losing all 16 games in one year are about the same as the odds of the employees remaining on the job after their team goes 0-16.

Okay, let's just cross our fingers and see what Monday brings, shall we (and cross anything else you have as well, just for extra luck).

Now to the game. The lions actually had a small chance of pulling this one off… except for the coaches who don't know how to win, and the players who were coached by them being the same. I mean, if you have two star players in CJ and Kevin Smith, and one is on the sidelines, then everyone including my dog knew the defense was going after the one left on the field. But did they call plays to anyone else during those times? No, only when they were both on the field and could've helped make a play.

The final two minutes of the first half were such a poor handling of the clock that I'm still dumbfounded. I can't even explain what happened without my blood pressure rising, and I thought I was numb to anything the OC could do by now.

The defense did great when they brought pressure, all kinds of good things happened. But then the coaching started getting conservative again; as if giving the 8th best QB in the league more time was a great idea. Boy, was I surprised when the Lions defense then got burned (that was sarcasm by the way, I think I heard my dog even say they got to stop giving that QB all that time, but it may have just been the wind).

Anyway, not to be outdone, the special teams had to go special ed.

Oh well, as of right now Paris Lenon is without a contract, let's keep it that way shall we? There are also a number of other players that need to go, including most of the former Tampa Bay Bucs players that were brought in this off season… hmmm… Bucs players and coaches… this team took away the Bucs losing record… coincidence? Yeah, it was, but of the stupid kind.

So in the future I will explore the players who are gone, should go, need to be upgraded, etc etc etc, and if everyone continues praying really really hard, perhaps discussions on new coaches as well.

Happy Holidays everyone, and please do try to get beyond this day, the worst day ever to be a Lions fan, a day that will live in infamy.
(Infamy: disgrace, dishonor, shame, etc).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Game 15 Analysis (and the coaching staff and draft pick status)

Game 15 Analysis

Lions have lost 15 in a row this year (so far) and many more if you go back into last season. They haven't won at Lambeau Field since 1991 ( a very good year by Lions standards ). With the final game of this season at Green Bay it's nearly a lock that the Lions go 0-16. The only way that won't happen is if the defense somehow can stop the Packers (or more likely, the Packers offense stops themselves) and CJ and Kevin Smith can put the team on their shoulders and carry them to a win… this is assuming the wonderous coaching staff actually attempts to get them both the ball as much as possible… at least 80% of the plays needs to go to one of those two players for the Lions to have a chance of winning and keeping themselves out of the record books for decades to come.

The Lions (Mr Ford Sr actually) have announced that both Lewand and Mayhew will both be employed by the Lions next year. This stunning announcement came just after the completion of the 0-15 record but was made previous to the start of the game as I understand it. http://www.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/2008/12/ford_new_hire_might_not_fill_t.html

That being the case, then there isn't any chance of the Lions operation being turned over to someone who will then have total control. Control would be advocated before the hire due to Ford Sr's demands that Lewand and Mayhew be kept. That also doesn't bode well for a complete revamp of the scouting department or any other group of people that Ford Sr likes. Production does not seem to be a requirement for employment, only your likeability by Ford Sr. There is still a bit over a week to go, and Ford Sr's reluctance to state that Marinelli is definitely coming back like he did say about Lewand and Mayhew is telling (to me at least). I can think of no candidate that would share power instead of total control, and for some, they wouldn't even be able to be hired as it would not constitute a promotion, but I can think of a coach or two that might like to have "some" power as well as be the head coach. Perhaps that is the direction Ford Sr has plans to go in.

Finally, since Ford Sr appears that he is going to keep a hand in things I am calling it tonight, the Lions will draft a QB with the first overall pick which they also earned today (the first overall pick that is, no team can go 1-15 to tie them even). All that remains now is to see who the coaching staff will be and which of the two QBs will be taken at first overall… and that may depend more on their agents then on the Lions (first one to agree to a contract wins unless they both do).

That's the way I see it, at least, at this point in time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Game 13 and 14 analysis (combined)

I was finally able to watch both games 13 and 14. I must say, even though there were mistakes made, and the Lions lost both times, those two games at least looked like NFL games. Aside from the coaching, which is still not helping (as I've stated repeatedly before) there were a few observations that I'll bring up know.

DT Cody is playing a little better, and that could be because he's working more now that Redding is gone... or it could be because this is a contract year for him and he has finally decided to try to earn some money. I don't think the Lions should re-sign him, and certainly not for a long term contract that is very expensive, but for depth purposes if he's cheap enough, they might bring him back for another camp. I do believe that Fluellen could beat him out of the starting job though (with better coaches/scheme) so I'm not sure they "have" to re-sign him... just if he's cheap he should see another camp.

DT Cohen looks like he may be able to start at DT next year. I don't any drop off to him (and his inexperience) from Darby... in fact... it could be argued that Cohen should be starting and not Darby. Here's another player the coaches didn't start soon enough, good thing they were forced to or he may still not be seeing the field.

LB Lenon. He has got to go. Well, he is a free agent, but if the Lions re-sign him I may scream. If he's announced the starter next year I WILL scream!

The OLine is playing a little better... or... defenses aren't testing them as much lately as they feel they can win at will against the Lions... you decide.

RB Kevin Smith is proving a true value pick, as I knew he would. Good job Kevin!

The new WR they picked up recently is one tough dude. I'd like to see him next year with a full camp to help out the suddenly depleted WR corp (what once was the best in the NFL by some reports).

That's about all I'm going to throw out there at this time. I am a bit anxious to see how Orlovsky does against the Saints, a team who has struggled on the road this year. If the Lions can get the few who show up to make some noise then it could get interesting... but there will be a lot of empty seats and if there is no noise you can bet the visiting team won't be struggling much.

Time for the coaching staff to adapt during the game and not play it safe. And by this I mean don't script the "risky" moves, get a feel for the game as it is playing out and adapt. If, as I suspect, they are unable to do it, even this once when it's needed the most, then the end of the season should see many empty boxes headed to Allen Park without delay.

Perhaps we fans could all stop by and drop off a few empty boxes... I think we could amass enough of them in just a few hours to handle the job. Much better then a Millen Man March or wearing orange if you ask me.

So spread the word.... take your load of empty boxes to Allen Park the Monday following the last game of the year, drop them off as close as the guards will let you, and make a good showing of it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Game 13 and 14 analysis' are coming soon

I have both games on DVR, it's just a matter of having time to watch them, and I refuse to analyze a game I haven't watched from beginning to end... at least once.

I apologize for the delay, without going into details let's just say that I was medically unable to watch week 13 at the time, and that created a back log of work making me miss week 14 as well. I did manage parts of several quarters, as well as the finishes, but I wish to watch the entire games before commenting on them.

Meanwhile, allow me to relay a conversation I had with my step daughter. She had asked how the Lions were doing (and strangely enough, the same question about the Titans) while at a family Christmas dinner. I attribute the Titans question to something she heard on the news.

Anyway, she said the Lions must have won a game because she remembered going out with her friends and they were happy because the Lions had won a game. I suggested that was probably in August, preseason, when they in fact won all four games. She agreed, that was probably it. She then asked how they could win all 4 preseason games and then proceed to lose 14 games in a row in the regular season. My reply went something like this...

First, in preseason, you play 80 guys in an attempt to find the 53 you want to keep on your roster for the regular season. There is no game planning, just base offense and defense and seeing what works. The Lions were able to do this as well (and in fact better) then anyone else they played. But, when the regular season got here, they are unable to change what they do during the game. The coaches, they need to see the film, they end up fixing the problems from the last game but are not capable of fixing anything during a game. They are always a week behind. That is what position coaches do... but that is not what good head coaches and coordinators do. They are not able to do what good coaches do, and that is fix their plans, make changes, as the game progresses. They are thus easily defeated.

Second, these same coaches, they do not trust rookie players. They always play a vet if they can even if he's not that good because they have no film on the rookies. A few plays or a few games is not enough information. They do not take chances on players, just as they do not take chances during the game. Even the risks they DO take are calculated, in advance, and are not adapted to game situations. I used the example of the Vikings game (which I have not seen but read about)... how it was determined, days in advance, that the Lions would go for it on 4th down if past the 50 yard line. It "appeared" like a risky play call... but it was pre-planned. Calculated. Controlled utterly. Likely with no adaptation whatsoever based on actual game situations. Such as... the score. How well the offense was playing and their defense at the time. Who was injured, either team. Time remaining on the clock, who had the lead, by how much, etc. This is not the same as taking a chance during the game spontaneously. Based on current immediate info! So the coaches even calculate, well in advance of the game, what risks they are willing to take.

I explained, how when we shoot pool, how once in a while, you just know when you have to take a chance in order to win, and when not to so you don't lose. That the Lions' coaches do not do that. And so, they lose. They will always lose.

She got it.

Now, will Mr Ford, will he get it?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Game 12 Analysis.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

We should be giving thanks to be able to watch the Lions on this day, 75 years running. There's been a lot of talk lately that the Lions should lose that privilege. This is crazy talk! Once gone, they will never get it back. So what if the rest of the country sees them play one game a year… they can deal with it! If you don't want to watch them, fine, don't. The rest of us do not want to lose the tradition, not now, not later, not ever.

Now, speaking of losing, that's what Marinelli and crew do best. And they did, again. I was predicting single digits for the Lions and at least 50 for the Titans. It was close to that but I'm not patting myself on the back, just pointing out that 'yes, the Lions and their coaches ARE that bad'.

I keep seeing people who want the entire roster replaced. First, that's not actually possible or practical, and second, it's not the roster as much as how they are being used. Now had they said all of the former Tampa players need to go, then to that I could agree… and it shows yet another reason why the coaching staff needs to go… they brought in those guys to "show" the younger guys how it's done… well, it's not the young guys' that are the problem, it never was, it's the coaching. So while the head coach and his robots continue to pound their head against the wall over and over again, the rest of us realize that doing so is merely insane.

Well, perhaps Mr. Ford doesn't view it as insane, but the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Now, in fairness, other then maybe Kippy Brown, there really isn't anyone on the team to take over if Marinelli were to be fired, and the coordinators are a major part of the problem so it's not like replacing one guy will fix anything, so I can understand it if Marinelli is allowed to continue coaching for 4 more miserable and long weeks. I can. I wish it weren't that way, but wishing doesn't fix anything.

However, once the Lions finish this season at 1-15 if they are lucky, 0-16 if the Vikings don't crash and burn all on their own, then it is most assuredly time to fire them all and start over. I truly hope that Mr. Ford isn't also insane, continuing things the way they are, and I truly hope he also actually works hard at getting a real genuine CEO/GM on board. Though I must admit I am concerned with his track record on that score.

So go get some leftovers, be thankful that the tradition of the Lions playing on Thanksgiving Day is still in existence after 75 years, and get geared up for what looks like might be a very active off season.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Game 11 Analysis.

11 games, 11 losses. The blogs are getting harder to write. Perhaps I should just copy/paste a previous one. Nah, that would be taking the easy way out… don't want to be accused of coasting, of not trying, of unwilling to work hard, or of giving up. I'll save those accusations for various other people (some of who just might be getting their paychecks from the Detroit Lions).

Since I've harped on coaching a lot of late, I'll save that for later and start off on some players this week.

First. Paris Lenon. Where to begin? He's a free agent at the end of the year. I would think he would find it hard to earn a roster spot on most teams yet the Lions insist on starting him over Dizon who they drafted to replace him. Oops, there I go, turning it into a coaching thing. Sorry. My bad.

Second. Raiola. Didn't start again, and even though his replacement made a few mistakes early, I can't really say I've missed him. In fact, with the cap savings that would occur if he were cut or traded, the next front office should do just that. Replace him with an expensive but worthwhile free agent, like Jason Brown of the Ravens. At least two thirds to one half of the cap hit would be covered by Raiola's savings. A very affordable upgrade to the Oline (and a possible extra draft pick for a defensive player).

Third. Backus. Who once again has proven he should not be the starting LT for the Lions. With there being several LTs ranked very high in the coming draft, there is no reason not to (finally) replace Mr. Backus with a genuine pro-bowl potential caliber, LT. Plus, if you can find a dance partner, maybe you could trade him for an extra draft pick as well… for yet another defensive player.

(notice, these last two player complaints are front office complaints, not coaching… I am at least trying, no? yes.)

Fourth. Cason. Is he a better return guy then Middleton? Yeah. Barely. Is he a better running back then Smith? NO! Play Smith, not Cason. (Darn it! Went all coaching again! My bad).

Fifth. Avril. He has potential. I think. It's hard to tell for sure, but for now, I'm going with potential.

Sixth. Fluellen. Same thing.

Seventh. McDonald. A great slot receiver. But as a possession 2nd receiver? Not so much. Especially since he is getting more looks then the star (or potential star) wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Why isn't CJ getting more looks? Is it the play calling? The quarterback? The scheme? Don't just use him as a decoy, throw to him already!

I'm not sure if this last was a player complaint or a coaching one, if coaching, my bad.

Okay, I can't take it any more. Enough with the players. Some of them are showing signs of quitting on the team, I just think it's because it's becoming painfully obvious these coaches and their schemes are next to useless as they are being coached.

Why can't these coaches remain aggressive all game long? Why is that such a difficult concept? When they blitz often they get stops, burned once in a while, but stops. When they don't, they just get burnt. When they throw deep or even to a covered CJ the offense puts up points. When they don't, they stop scoring for the most part. It must not be showing on film because they are not getting it. They get a lead and they immediately revert back to tentative, to cautious, to losing.

Here's what they need to do. On offense, 2 of every 6 plays goes to CJ. 3 of every 6 plays goes to Smith. The other play out of every 6 gets spread over the rest of the team. In no particular order, and in unpredictable but simple enough ways. On defense, blitz. You have to. You can NOT play zone nearly every play, even with a lead. Get over it and blitz. At least try to win.

And since I'm in such an advice-giving mood, I've decided to write Marinelli's press conference answers for him. For every question asked, simply answer "My Bad". Because, near as I can tell, every wrongly used player, every wrong play called, every wrong player played, and every play lacking in aggression is indeed 'your bad'.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Game 10 Analysis.

Game 10 Analysis

The Lions have fallen to 0-10. I'm afraid that they will actually go 0-16 this season, a horrible record to hold that can never be broken unless the league expands beyond 16 games per season. On the bright side though, you would think that 0-16 would all but guarantee a total rebuild, from the talent scouts to the front office to the coaching staff. This is, of course, not a 100% certainty. There is always the owner who is often portrayed as being afraid to make changes. Heck, even the fans are afraid of change to some extent, after all, the last time a major change took place Matt Millen was hired.

There are many other things I am afraid of. For example:

I'm afraid that playing without Raiola is a good thing. For the first time since Millen took over the team the Lions were able to execute a quarterback sneak. Had Raiola been playing, as he has for 8 years, those 3rd or 4th and long 1's would not have been converted, as they have not for all those years. If ever there was proof that the Lions need to make a change at center this should have been it.

I'm afraid that Backus has played well enough the last 4 games (out of over a hundred) to continue to keep his roster spot. I personally would still trade him this off season, but I'm afraid that may not happen if he keeps it up (as I wait for him to revert to his old self again).

I'm afraid that Standeford looked like the best WR out there today… mainly because he was missing most of the season and hasn't had the desire to win coached out of him. That is, of course, stretching it a bit, since Calvin Johnson did some pretty good run blocks and such, but I'm not stretching it by that much.

I'm afraid the Lions have finally, after more then half a season, figured out that Kevin Smith is the better starting running back. Too bad they couldn't have been a little quicker on the uptake.

I'm afraid that after a few series that the DT Darby has completely exhausted his strength even worse then Rogers did when he manned the position.

I'm afraid the Lions are once again showing their bias to play vets over rookies, as they kept Smith in at DE despite his inability to stop the run, over the rookie Avril who should be getting experience as a (hopefully) future DE for the team, something that Smith is not. Why the Lions are afraid to play rookies is beyond me. But they are, no one can deny it.

I'm afraid the Lions have finally shown what is wrong with the team. Why it is they don't win. It's even something I've touched on before. It all boils down to this… they play afraid. They are afraid to make mistakes. That is what the coaches are telling the players, and if we listen, to us fans… limit mistakes and you can win. They want perfect execution like in practice. They don't know why it doesn't translate into the games. Many, inside and outside the team, think it's all talent. The players can't stop themselves from making mistakes. First one, then another. Every play, someone, somewhere, makes a mistake (or nearly every play, some actually go okay). But why is this so?


No… it comes from being timid. From being afraid to make mistakes. To not challenge the other team at any time for fear that you will make a mistake. If you do not take some chances in the NFL you can not win, and the Lions can not win. Far be it for Marinelli and crew to take a chance. Not on rookies, not on plays, and most certainly not in practice. Mistakes are evil. They are to be avoided at all costs. And while that is somewhat true, you can't have your entire team playing afraid all the time. You can not be that cautious from the beginning to the end. You will never win.

A little over 4 minutes to play, you're behind, your defense sucks, and you punt the ball on 4th down? Why? Because the coach is afraid of turning the ball over in their own territory. Well, let me tell you what, punting the ball away will not win you the game. Some may see that as a coach taking a chance, I see it as a coach being afraid. It's got to be getting to the players… having a coach afraid to do anything challenging.

It all comes down to the ultra conservative nature of the head coach and his hirelings. They have all the players playing timid, playing afraid, and when that happens, when the other team knows you won't do anything "crazy", they aren't afraid of you.

That is why the Lions will go 0-16 this year. There is no team afraid of the Lions, there is only Lions afraid of themselves.

Maybe Marinelli could ask the wizard for some courage.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Game 9 Analysis

Game 9 goes down in the books as another blow out. The Lions are looking more and more like they will be the first team to go 0-16 in a regular season. Jacksonville got beat by the Bengals to end Cincinnati's attempt at the worst record ever, but the Lions press on, allowing Jacksonville to look like an all pro team, to stay in the running.

I will say this right now, when you are 0-9 and looking at 0-16 in your third year of your tenure there is NO WAY the coaching staff should be allowed to come back for a 4th year. True, they can't get any worse, but the years it'll take to get back to winning need not be wasted on this staff… they've already proven they can not get it done.

The Lions were forced to play some of the younger guys, literally forced to, and those players with next to no experience did no worse then the "vets". Did they make mistakes? Yes. They are supposed to (or at least, expected to) where as the vets are not, therefor it is obvious to anyone who is not a Lions coach that these "vets" should not be starters, but backups at best.

This next draft is extremely critical to getting the Lions back on track. But to allow the same front office to choose the picks (sans one guy) and to allow the same coaching staff to not play the picks (as they have shown they are exceedingly likely to do) would be a tragedy… in a comedy of tragedies that are the current Detroit Lions.

The offense is in a shambles. Colletto is clueless and needs to go, now, promote Kippy Brown and have done with it.

The defense is even in worse shape. Barry is either following exactly what Marinelli wants, and thus both should go, or Barry is just incapable of being a DC, in which case he should go now. Replace Barry with whichever coach on the team has spoken up about the horrid coaching, I'm sure there is at least one, and let him change things up. What, he's going to allow the team to get blown out? Be worse then the 32nd ranked defense? Get real. This poor excuse for a coaching staff is done. It's over. There is no need to keep them, there is no need to allow them to further damage the confidence of the players. Anyone who tells me it's talent is also not paying attention. Regardless of what talent the Lions have they have proven, repeatedly, that they do not know what to do with it. Sure, there are players who need to be replaced, and many of them will be replaced by the players already on the roster, it's just that THESE coaches will not play them now, and when they do play them, they alter nothing to take advantage of anyone's strengths or cover for their weaknesses. They will do the same thing next year, sitting the newbies and playing the "vets". Get rid of these coaches now, there is absolutely no reason, not one reason, to keep them on the team… other then the one fact that the new GM/CEO can be the hero for firing them all.

When you can replace practically anyone on the team with practically anyone else and see no appreciable difference in the results you have to suspect the schemes and the coaching. You simply can not allow "talent" as an excuse or, as THEE excuse.

It may sound like I'm being hypocritical about the front office, saying it's not the talent and putting it on the coaching and schemes yet still wanting the front office replaced, but I am not. For you see, it's the front office who is not making any coaching changes. They keep replacing players on the roster, but making no changes where it counts. That's all the evidence I need to convey that the whole thing, from front office to coaching to schemes to scouts to certain players, need to go.

Get a real front office, real scouting department, real coaching staff with real schemes they can implement and know how to alter to fit both the talent they have and the talent they need to acquire and actually play. That is all they (Ford Sr and Ford Jr) should focus on from here on out. The resumes of the existing staff have been proven to be incomplete, and the revised versions prove they are not employable.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Game 8 Analysis

Game number 8 in week number 9 of the 2008 NFL season and the Lions FINALLY are playing like I thought they would at the beginning of the season. Namely, close games. It was this hard fought close game type play that I was expecting for the entire season that had me predicting 7-9 in preseason. Of course, back then, I totally misunderstood just how totally inept the coaching staff truly was.

I expected a certain amount of ineptness from Colletto… and I haven't been let down there at all… but I did expect the defense to improve. Alas, it remains the 32nd defense and that remains the problem. On the positive side, there is only 8 more games to go (I hope that remains a positive side… you'll see why I say that further below).

Other positives I saw included the play of Kevin Smith, the willingness of Orlovsky to try downfield, and at times, some great individual effort by most of the players.

Of course, all that was negated by the coaching staff playing Rudi Johnson over Kevin Smith for at least half the game; Orlovsky's untimely interceptions and missed plays (actually, to be expected from a 4th game starter imho); and horrid individual mistakes by many of the players. I won't go into great detail about the poor officiating and the terrible field they played on. Nor will I pick on Raiola for bobbing his head like one of those bobble-head toys just prior to every snap throughout most of this game after not doing so for the previous game.

Still, if you're coached poorly you play poorly. That's always been a factor in sports.

I think it's safe to say that Colletto will never be an OC in the NFL again after this stint. That Marinelli won't be a head coach again in the NFL. That his son-in-law will be lucky to work in the NFL at all. And that the roster is in dire need of fresh talent and much better coaching.

That brings me to the front office. Who reportedly have signed Dante Culpepper to a two year contract. This only a few days after "accidentally" saying that the coaches don't want to put in Stanton less he embarrass himself. Stanton was either a Martz pick or a Millen pick (or both) and either Colletto or Mayhew doesn't want him (or both) as they distance themselves further from the previous staff. That's my take anyway. I'm starting to get the feeling that Mr Ford Sr is going to keep the Lewand/Mayhew front office for one year (and they will keep the current coaching staff for one more year) just to see if they can finish what they started. Of course, the rest of us are still waiting for them to actually start… but that doesn't appear to worry the Lions organization. If this were to happen I may have to take happy meds before every game next year just to watch them play (as I fear many already are for this season).

The Lions are getting closer though they still have many things to clean up. They are finally competing somewhat. But this is mid-season of year 3 with Marinelli, not year 1, and you just can't blame it all on Millen. Not even the talent on the roster. The entire front office helped Millen get to this point. That needs to be remembered as the season winds down to its sad ugly finish.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Game 7 Analysis

Perfection. The Lions coaches demand perfect execution during practice. They are striving to get the players to carry those "habits" over into the game. They thoroughly believe that if the players execute perfectly every snap the Lions will win.

Reality. Nobody is perfect. It is not possible to execute perfectly under the best of circumstances all of the time. Making allowances for that and overcoming imperfection by various means begets great coaching (and thus schemes as well).

The Lions are now 0-7. That is reality. Another is that the players are, from simple observation, not going to execute plays perfectly. Not consistently. Maybe not even more then half the time. That last part being a fluid percentage that can change each week or even each quarter of every game. The final reality is that the coaches are not able to overcome this disparity. They do not give in to reality and prepare for imperfection.

Oh, they are trying, albeit imperfectly. They have dummied down the plays. And then went on to dummy them down some more. Believing that getting perfect execution is more important then overcoming reality. The problem is, the coaches have dummied down the game plan so much that they have taken away the ability of guys who are capable of more.

Mike Martz used to challenge even the best player with plays and calls that made players try their hardest. They may fail, but they were allowed to try. He was stubborn that way. But he faced realities and attempted to do what worked at the same time continually challenging the players to make plays. It wasn't close to a perfect system, and despite some success with it, is no more (in Detroit).

Marinelli removes as much risk as humanly possible in an effort to get the most players to execute plays perfectly. In so doing, he is NOT challenging the best players to play better, he is reducing them down to mediocrity by trying to get them AND all the lesser players to execute plays perfectly. He is stubborn that way. The words "the greater the risk the greater the reward" don't exist in the Marinelli game plan. This is all evident from the lack of big play attempts, the lack of willingness to play rookies, the lack of allowing young guys to make mistakes and learn from them without getting benched, even the lack of risky play calling such as no huddle and blitzing (which they are trying to do but even that must be perfect or they don't call it again, regardless of partial success).

Do I blame the coaching for the current standings? Yes, I do. Sure the players need to make the plays, but the coaching is taking away so much from those who could help out the lesser members of the team, that it really isn't going to happen. Like a governor on an engine, the coaches are limiting the entire team by playing down to the lowest player.

Some individual notes then. Raiola rarely (if even at all) bobbed his head just prior to the snap this game. The defense didn't have that tip off to go after Orlovsky and the pass rush was rather weak against the Lions because of it. Unfortunately, both the QB and the OC were playing as if there WAS a heavy pass rush as in the past. They did not adapt to the current reality. The dump offs and the lack of big plays all comes down to the dummy downed play calling and the history of defenders past. So even though Raiola didn't bob his head on nearly every snap this game, he affected the play calling due to prior play… and this situational change was not corrected in game. A side note: This is another factor that drive me nuts… the coaches (and thus the players) can't adjust during the game without hard film analysis after the fact. They are always playing in the past.

The wide receivers still have no faith in Colletto. They are not vocal like Roy was, but the lack of attention and focus is evident in the passes dropped. Have we fans seen this before? When the players lack confidence in the plays they lose focus, and drop catch after catch.

Kevin Smith is a much better running back then Rudi Johnson is, at least, right now in this scheme with these coaches he is. Problem is, he is not perfect. He can not be trusted to execute perfectly. Perhaps his practice habits aren't perfect. I'm not sure why the coaches ignore reality and start Rudi. But they do.

The defense once again looked lost. I guess out of the 26 guys they kept on defense they can't find 11 perfect players. The coaches will continue to try different configurations of starters but you would think that sooner or later the reality would sink in and they would take the stops off and allow the players to play. I'm not going to hold my breath though, for that would be much too radical, way too imperfect.

9 more games. My reality is, just 9 more excruciating games. And then the imperfect coaches who demand perfection at the cost of winning will be gone. I wonder, will the next coaching staff fall into yet another extreme that even I haven't thought up yet? I suppose anything is possible.

Maybe it's just me. I scream at the blog and operating software for not being perfect, knowing full well that no Microsoft product would ever get released if kept until it was.

Then I realize, Bill Gates plays in the imperfect word, he takes chances, he wins more then he loses. Even if things are not perfect. Marinelli and company need to face reality, those that exist after the fact, those that occur during the game, and take a few chances, if they ever want to win.

The game analysis will be delayed today

just as I was about to publish it I see "Internet Explorer has caused a page fault error and must close" and then "POOF" it was gone. There are times when I truly do hate Bill Gates and his software that doesn't work perfectly all the time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Game 6 Analysis

Another interesting week in Lions land. Roy Williams (and the Lions 2009 7th round draft pick) gets traded to Dallas for their 1st, 3rd and 6th round draft picks in 2009. Then, 5 minutes after the trade deadline Kitna gets put on IR. Then today the Lions once again manage to spot the opponent 21 points and fail to overcome themselves to win the game making them 0-6 so far this season. So what does all this mean?

First, it means that Roy Williams and Jon Kitna won't need to worry about Colletto's offense (or lack thereof) any more. The two were the most outspoken about the offense and now both won't be anywhere near the field (though Kitna is still under contract for 2009, his future is probably dependant on what happens with the front office and coaching staff).

Second, it freed up a lot of cap space. Dallas is now responsible for the remaining 11 weeks of Roy's pay. The Lions made some roster moves with minimum wage guys and are in a better spot then they were before the trade (cap wise). Plus, the 2009 draft will be the best since Y2K or even earlier... since there will be no Millen involved and there will be those extra picks. Plus, there is no one deserving of the franchise tag who will be a free agent in 2009.

Third, it gives valuable experience and evaluation time to the other QBs on the team, and forces Marinelli to play someone other then Kitna after the 0-5 start. I expect within a few weeks that Stanton will get some playing time, even if it's only after the defense gives up another 21 easy points and Orlovsky isn't having any success catching up.

So... do I agree with the moves? I was not for trading Roy, but he wasn't let go for chunk change either. Not that it was a block buster trade (as in two first rounders or a starter and a first rounder, etc). It was okay, not great, but not bad. I can not argue with the decision to accept the offer.

Putting Kitna on IR was not actually a genuine medical decision in my opinion. I don't know if Colletto/Marinelli did it because of his outspoken dislike for the coorindators' scheme... or the front office did it to prevent Colletto/Marinelli from playing the vet over the youth. Kitna, even injured, would've helped the rookie QB (whichever one it was that was playing) from the bench as the #3 QB, so it was a rather drastic move in my opinion.

Okay, now the game against the Texans. The defense didn't play man as much this week, and they didn't have successful blitzes either. They played like they did for the first 4 weeks, and ended up with a score similar to those same weeks. I was afraid they wouldn't stick with the attacking man defense, and they didn't. Maybe they'll learn from this (like they should've learned from last week) or maybe they won't, either way, I have to mark it down as another example of why this coaching staff needs to go.

On offense, I thought Orlovsky did alright for his second start. He didn't go deep enough, but then the blocking is still a joke and the plays to go downfield probably weren't being called. CJ isn't being used correctly, he needs distance to get up to speed, and that means either long slants or deep balls, and it's not happening. The O-Line still can't run block consistantly. False Start Foster can't keep his head in the game. Raiola is giving away the snap count every play by bobbing his head. And Colletto has still not installed a hurry up offense they can use when time is of the essence. That last being another negative mark in the "do we keep these coaches" column. It was refreshing to see some of the youth in the game for a change, and I suppose I would be wrong to assume the front office demanded it of the coaching staff since I have no proof that is the case, but it sure seems like Marinelli just won't play someone and let them make their mistakes and learn without being forced to due to injury or for some other overriding reason. Therefor, I am guessing, pure 100% guessing, that maybe playing the youth was not entirely his idea.

So, what do I take from this game? That I've seen no reason, not one single reason, to keep this coaching staff for next year. In fact, I still maintain that Kippy Brown should be the OC and that Colletto should either be demoted or fired immediately this year, but since the last two players who seemed to think the same thing are no longer on the 53 man roster, I don't want to risk my "12th man on the field" existance (so to speak) suggesting too loudly that Colletto be removed from coordinator duties.

One last note, the refs didn't give this game away, but they sure did blow some more calls. I'm not impressed with them at all, especially after replays. Terrible terrible officiating.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Game 5 Analysis

The curse of Bobby Lane may have ended, but the curse of bad officiating has not. I don't think I've ever seen so many blatantly bad calls (or lack of calls) in my entire life. Were the officials the difference in this one game? Yes, I dare say, they most certainly were. The Lions are not good enough to overcome that kind of thing.

Still, this game was interesting. Orlovsky may not be the next Peyton Manning, but he did okay for his first start... except for that bonehead safety when he stepped out of the back of the endzone. Then again, starting from the 1 yard line and having Colletto call 3 pass plays in a row (one of which CJ could maybe have tried a touch harder to catch) didn't help.

The defense played much much better. Of course they did so only when they were playing man and blitzing. Every time they played a zone (Tampa Two) defense they got yards gained on them. But for most of the game they blitzed and played man and they did tremendously better. Proving my point, it's not ALL on the talent and the players, it IS INDEED the scheme and the coaching as well !!!

Speaking of talent, Lenon still doesn't have much. He really and truly needs to backup Dizon (who got a few bad calls on special teams he shouldn't have gotten). Last week he ducked on a pass that just cleared his head as he was blitzing the QB and this week he was out of position a few key times as well. Not saying Dizon will play better, but even if he's only "just as good" he has much more upside, and when you are sitting at 0-5 you need upside, lots and lots of it.

It did appear the Lions were replacing guys who were struggling for a change. Too bad the coach will not replace ANY player who is struggling, just those he's not too keen on to begin with (or so it would seem).

Colletto and the offense are still a joke. The occasional good block is almost always wiped out by a penalty or sack in the same series of plays sooner or later. Less drops this week so maybe the WRs were a bit more focused... probably trying to help the newbie QB... but I do not believe for a second they have a shred of confidence in Colletto's ability to be the OC. I can't say as I blame them.

Sooner or later they need to play Cohen, Fluellen, and 5-0, as well as Stanton, to see what they have for next year, as DLine and QB will need addressing next year. But with some decent coaching and schemes (as in no! T2 or Colletto O), and with 4 Olinemen and 2 linebackers, this team could actually do something worthwhile on Sundays.

That being said, the Lions need to worry about the next game and it will be most interesting to me to see if Barry / Marinelli will continue to play the much more successful man coverage or if they will try to force feed the T2 to the team once again. As for Colletto, I pretty much figure the offense is a lost cause (as the WRs do) but who knows, maybe someone {cough Kippy Brown cough} can influence him somehow and ... oh man, what am I thinking, Marinelli isn't going to go there, he's put all his and Millen's faith into Colletto after firing Martz. That did succeed in getting rid of Millen however, so if he wants to get himself fired as well, keep up the good work.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Game 4 Analysis

There is only 1 more day until the curse of Bobby Lane ends http://www.curseofbobbylayne.com/ and last week Ford Sr ended the curse of Matt Millen by firing him (or he was asked to step down, not sure how it actually went down). But neither thing was enough to get the Lions to play even half way decently following their bye week. Despite all that has happened, had the Lions won today they'd only be 1 game out of first place in the mighty NFC North. But instead, Orton had a career day (that sure does happen a lot this year during Lions games) and the Lions managed to score only 1 TD before losing 34-7.

What was even worse then the play on the field was the body language of the players during the game. There was a very brief upsurge in energy when the offense went to 4 wide and got play calls that Kitna, Roy and others actually believe in... only to drain away within a few plays. Bodden looked like he was being forced to play in an ugly dress and Redding continually tried to get the Bears fans to get loud when the Lions defense was on the field. (Apparently he didn't recognise all the Bears jerseys in the seats).

The wonderous OC Colletto has totally lost the skilled players on offense. The equally wonderous DC Barry is losing the D players in chunks, and the STC Kwam looks as lost as ever (to be fair, I truly think that he was born that way, but I can not be certain). The best plays on the field involved Avril, or Kevin Smith, or Felton. Does that mean the head coach (and lead idiot in this group of idiots) will play the rest of the rookies next week? No, probably not.

The Lions have lost 11 of their last 12 games (stretching back to last year) and they are still playing 6 of their front seven from last year on defense. They recognized a need, drafted for it, and then proceeded to not play them except grudgingly. Well, that has to stop! If you are not capable of recognizing that fact then do a Bobby Ross and go home.

So here are my suggestions for next week. First, demote Colletto. He is a barely adequate (at the extreme most) offensive line coach. Promote Kippy to OC. Tell Jefferson he needs to have extra study sesssions with the WRs all week (until they learn the plays). Open up the offense so that the players start to believe again. Promote Stanton to #2 QB, give him the last half of the blow out games (all of which might be blow outs depending on what actually changes). Do not inactivate Cohen, Fluellen or Dizon next week. Play them. In fact, Start Them! If they mess up too much, then sit them for stretches at a time. But get them reps in the game and see if they truly are worse then the starters (note: it would be VERY hard to be worse then the starters). Inactivate Moore, Cody, and McDonald or Furrey (you need Middelton for returns, but you only need one slot WR, especially if you can't ever do anything on offense).

Then, blitz more. You don't like to Blitz? Tough! You're a lame duck coach with no chance of ever getting a gig like this again for the rest of your life. Blitz. Attack. Do what you are not doing because what you are doing sucks.

If you're just going to keep pounding your rock you are just going to keep sucking on Sundays (and I'm not talking ice cream here). Change it up. Now. Or forever wish you had done something else.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Game 3 Analysis

Can we now put the Mike Martz hatred to rest? We all know J.T. O'Sullivan is not a better QB then Kitna, but it is quite evident now who is the better OC (as if I haven't been saying that all year long). Remember, San Fran is a worse team then the Lions the past couple years. They have a new OC and new QB. Atlanta had a new front office, new QB, new lots of things. Green Bay had a new QB. The Lions have no excuses at all for the coaching or the lack of talent on the field. None. You can not come up with a single one that will hold water.

The wide receivers to a man can no longer catch. Kitna no longer is as accurate. Why? Because they've lost interest. They do not like the play calling. They do not believe the coaches. If you don't see it you will, as they continue to self destruct. Remember, this is the EASY part of the schedule. That was said all off season. So is it going to get worse? Yep.


Unless the players are suddenly going to start buying into what the coaches are saying. That is, assuming that what the coaches are saying is even close to being correct. Barry may very well have the worst defense in the league for the 2nd year in a row. They are horrid. And for some insane reason they will not play the newcomers... sure they aren't seasoned vets. But they have energy. They still beleive in the coaches. What will happen if they play? The Lions lose? Ha! They are anyway. Play Dizon until he messes up so much you have to play Lenon instead. Play Cohen until you can't take it any more then put Cody or Darby or whoever back in. Try them THEN decide if they can't do it.

The offense has zero faith in the defense and are in zero agreement with the offensive play calling. At this point, as things stand right now, the Lions will not win a game in 2008. The coaches now have an uphill battle this next two weeks. Can they get through to the players?


If they do, the Lions might maybe win 5 games this year. If they don't. One win would be a minor miracle.

Will it get better next year? No. It won't.

It is time. Time to ask for Millen's resignation. Time to hire a for real, honest to god, front office experienced CEO (who is probably right now the 2nd in command to a real CEO). Someone already high up in a successful organization... like the Cowboys, or the Patriots. Someone who can come in and clean house... from the lousy scouting department to the lousy cap managers to the terrible disconnected PR people... to the head coach. Time for said new head coach to hire real coorindators, for offense, for defense, for special teams.

The cupboard is not bare. There are a few decent players on the team actually worth keeping. But, like Miami, or Atlanta, it is time to start over with real staff.

So Mr Ford, ask for Millen's resignation. Let all know you have an opening. Then inform the coaching staff to play the new talent so they gain experience and can be properly evaluated by the next coaching staff. Save us a year's worth of time by doing this... and then look at all the options and get a real true blue (and silver) CEO who can turn this embarrasment around.

No one is going to blame you for doing it. They already are blaming you for not doing it earlier. Do the right thing. Do it now. Get rid of Millen.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Game 2 Analysis

What a game!

Lions defense started out giving up score after score, again, allowing a 21 to 0 score. But the Lions (FINALLY!) started playing more of the "new talent", namely Cherilus, Dizon (some), Alma-Francis (some), and a little Pearson now and then... and caught up then passed the Packers with a small lead mid-way through the 4th quarter. So, do they try to drain the clock and go with run plays? No. Then the defense allows another field goal so that the Packers take the lead. So again, do the Lions take a time consuming trip down the field to score a game winning field goal? Nope. They try to pick on the wounded CB Woodson, who has enough pain killer to keep a horse running on two legs, and Kitna loses his patience (or concentration, or both) and throws a pick for a TD.

Down 2 scores Kitna truly blows it by throwing yet another TD ... and eventually doing it again when it no longer mattered any more.

Did Kitna lose the game? Yep. Sure did.


The defense can not be excused for the 24 points before the interceptions. The coaching staff can not be excused for failing to protect the lead and drain the clock with plays called for that specific purpose.

So, keep playing the new talent, and thank you ever so much for getting Middleton back on the team... but learn when to hurry up, when to spread out the offense, when to call the run and the short safe passes to drain the clock... and it wouldn't hurt to learn how to settle down your QB when he gets flustered either.

So, blame Kitna, I am... but don't let the defense or the coaches off the hook.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Game 1 Analysis.

Okay, I skipped the blog updates all summer as I was trying to avoid my being so negative, but now that game 1 is out of the way I don't find a reason to continue to avoid it.

I wasn't happy about the cuts, but was happy about the Rudi Johnson and Nece pickups. Though I think cutting Gardner and keeping Cannon would've been the smarter choice. I didn't like that they cut all the returners, but the new guy, Thomas, may have a future in it IF he quits hesitating and just goes full bore, thinking and cutting while on the fly. I didn't like the loss of Buster Davis, or going into the season with the exact same starting Linebackers, they are just too important in the T2 defense to stop the run. I didn't like keeping 11 dlinemen... there was no need, 3 of them will be inactive every week anyway... most likely. I didn't like only having 4 WRs and 4 TEs. I also HATE that the rookies they do keep aren't being promoted to starter status over the ineffective starters. Despite what they think, the problems on offense was not Martz and the problems on defense was not all S. Rogers.

Okay, so Game 1. Did they mix the run and pass effectively? No. Was it because of the running backs? No. Was it the 4 tight ends on the roster? Nope. Was it the play calling? Nope. It was the inability of the offensive line to block. Period. Same problem as last year. And what do you know, the starting line is the exact same starting line as last year. Golly. Hard to figure out why they can't run.

Smith is a keeper though, did you see him throw his body in a fake at the goal line so that Kitna could complete an easy pass to Fitz? Wow. Rudi is no slouch either, he just needs time (lots of it) to learn the plays. That is normal and another small complaint I had to those who were okay with keeping two RBs and hoping the Lions would pick up another or suggesting they must be planning it, as if the Lions could know that a worthy one would be available and would actually sign with them.

The Falcons completed 9 passes. That's it. That's all they needed anyway though. Those quick passes into the middle will be a problem all year with the current LB corp (just like last year). But the Falcons scoring that many points using the run is inexcusable. The tackling was terrible. The run fits were a joke. The dline, despite keeping 11 on the roster, sucked. The linebackers, despite keeping the "vets" over any rookies, sucked. And playing Fisher over Bodden is STUPID.

Kitna, not wanting to be left out, managed to add a number of dumb plays in the 3rd quarter to the film. Raoila started bobbing his head just before every snap again. The blocking by the offensive tackles was amazingly ineffective, despite keeping 4 TEs on the roster to help them. The play calling was suspect at first, and didn't matter later on. No sense of urgency when behind in the late 3rd quarter. No hurry up offense. No help from any of the coordinators (that's offense, defense and special teams). And a head coach that will "fix it" after seeing the film. Well, you were supposed to "fix it" before the season started, and you could always try "fixing it" during the game too, it's not unheard of.

So, the plusses? The RB and WR positions aren't bad. One TE is capable of staying healthy and not bad. The guys on the bench are well rested. That's about it I think. Oh, Jason and Nick are still good kickers. Okay, that's it for the positives.

Can they win the 7 games I predicted they would come away with this season? It won't be easy, since this was one of the 7 games I predicted they'd win. Next week is a very good Favreless GB team. I don't go much for the QB being the bigger half of the team, and I don't think that highly of Favre, so I think that Green Bay is still likely the division dominating team (with the Vikings coming in 2nd) but it is a home game and maybe, just maybe, they'll try harder to tackle after a solid week of getting yelled at by the so far terrible coaching staff.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NetRat’s draft analysis.

Prior to the draft, back in mid-March, I updated my estimated Lions roster to reflect the changes that occurred in free agency and identified 8 “needs” the Lions had to address.

The link to that page is http://www.thenetrat.com/2008%20Depth%20Chart.xls

There you will see that the first three needs were starters at running back, middle linebacker, and defensive end. The next was a starter at right tackle who could eventually push Backus for the left tackle position. Number 5 was a defensive tackle to push Cody for his job and play in the DT rotation (and contribute in that role). The 6th need was a fullback to work with Bradley but the guy would have to take Fitzsimmons job to make the roster. The 7th was someone to challenge Cason for the punt or kick returner job. And finally, a cornerback to challenge last years backups for a job.

Most people agreed with my assessments at the time, maybe not in the order I presented them, but the general needs were pretty much agreed upon, not just by forumites but by the various “professionals” in the field of football.

So the draft begins. The Lions had visited with 50 guys prior to the draft (either at pro-days, at the combine, or invited them to Allen Park). The list (created by LionHawkeye of Mlive.com Lions forum) can be found in my blog at http://thenetrat.blogspot.com/
(where this analysis will also be posted for future reference just like last year’s draft analysis is). The name of the 50th player on this list was not added because prior to the draft it could not be verified…. a WR named Moore. (post-draft we find he met for a long time with Lions officials at his pro day).

The Lions had a list of first round prospects they wanted to draft, ranked in order of desire on their draft board (what their ranks were we will never ever know for sure). DE Derrick Harvey… gone. LB Keith Rivers… gone. MLB Jerod Mayo… gone. OT Chris Williams… gone. Then at pick 15 the Lions are sitting there with the next guy on their board Gosder Cherilus (the Lions rank heavily in favor of hard working, non-stop motor type guys… which makes their board look different then many other teams’ boards… then again, every team ranks heavily in favor of something or other, no two teams are alike). They manage to move down just 2 picks and gain 10 spots in round 3 AND a 5th round pick. With no more trades and the ever increasing threat that Cherilus could be taken by another team, the Lions draft him. Was it a reach? Many think so, but the reality is, another team WAS going to draft Cherilus in round one and the Lions next pick was at #45… Cherilus certainly was not going to make it to that pick. Was it the best player available at the time? Some do not think so, but the Lions ranking is different then “some” others, to them it was the best player available. Cherilus has a very nasty attitude on the football field, takes it personally upon himself to safe guard the QB, and will not quit on a play, ever. I say it was a good pick and the O-Line will be better for it (though Foster may not say the same).

Cross need #4 off my list.
Round 2, the Lions planned on taking any one of a number of players here and they had met many offensive tackles who were likely to be taken in this round but with Cherilus already drafted the need for OT drops those names down the list… they had expected to take Mayo in the first round and there are only 5 linebackers left on their board they have an interest in, most of whom are projects and would not be of immediate help. When the Lions draft LB Jordon Dizon he was one of the best players on their board and he was the player they felt could start this year. It was the right pick. Cross need #3 off my list.

Round 3, the lions made some moves to target guys on their board they wanted. You can’t say they reached for any of them since they meant to move to those spots to take those guys. Right or wrong. The first choice is RB Kevin Smith. This guy was only sixty some yards short of breaking Barry Sanders college single season yardage record. He did break Marcus Allen’s carries record by a good margin. He has great vision, great balance, has a little bit of an ego (very un-Barry like) and has produced results repeatedly. He is likely to be a very special addition to the team. A great pick and cross need #1 off my list.

The further drafting of DT Andre Fluellen and LB/DE Cliff Avril takes care of needs 2 and 5. They still have to challenge vets for jobs and win them. But these two are both high motor, hard working football players. I do not expect them to have any trouble unseating the vets in front of them (who really haven’t produced squat).

The Lions continue with 2 picks in both rounds 5 and 7. The FB Jerome Felton will challenge Fitzsimmons for FB and probably win. The return guy Moore can play WR or RB as well as return kicks. He could take a roster spot away from either Ellis or Cason, depending on how well he does and how poorly the previous return guys do this preseason (one of them is likely to stay as a backup returner should Felton make the team). Needs 6 and 7, off the list. (notice the list says draft someone to challenge them, not necessarily to win the job outright or have the position given to them). The final round brought in another DT Landon Cohen who at least make the practice squad if not the team and a special teams demon and Safety Caleb Campbell who’s services may be needed in Detroit after Pearson recent legal trouble. Campbell will also try to take away the backup SSLB spot from either Lenon or Lewis. He may or may not make the team but he is going to be given a number of chances to do just that.

The Lions didn’t do anything for the backup CB position (my 8th listed need) but I think all things considered I can live with that. My overall grade for this draft is an A-

They got real football players who have produced results. They will work hard for the team and their teammates. They all have a chance to make the team and contribute THIS year. They addressed the first 7 and my 8 listed needs. They did not reach into another round for a player… and they managed a few trades that worked perfectly for them every time. A blue chip draft for a team who didn’t draft in the top 10 finally this year. I applaud them all for getting it right. Now it’s up to the players to win those jobs and play.

Monday, April 21, 2008

LionHawkeye's list of players the Lions have shown an interest in:

If The player has a star by their name I am still trying to verify source of contact with team. Otherwise the player has met with GM, Coach, Pro day Scout, Combine Interview, or had a Draft Visit with the Lions.
0. Jake Long OT Michigan

1. Keith Rivers OLB USC

2. Derrick Harvey DE FLA

3. Chris Williams OT Vandy

4. Rashard Mendenhall RB ILL

5. Jerod Mayo ILB TENN

6. Jonathan Stewert RB ORE

7. Brandon Albert OG/OT Virginia

8. Felix Jones RB ARK

9. Leodis McKelvin CB Troy


10. Gosder Cherilus OT Boston Coll

11. Curtis Lofton ILB Oklahoma

12. Antoine Cason CB Arizona *

13. Carl Nicks OT Nebraska

14. Chris Johnson RB ECU

15. Jamaal Charles RB Texas

16. Cliff Avril DE Purdue

17. Anthony Collins OT Kansas

18. Xavier Adibi LB Virginia Tech *

19. Bruce Davis DE UCLA


20. Geno Hayes LB Florida State

21. Kendall Langford DE Hampton

22. Letroy Guion DT Florida State

23. Jordon Dizon LB Colorado

24. Kevin Smith RB Central Florida

25. Andre Fluellen DE Florida State

26. Matt Forte RB Tulane

27. Jason Jones DT/DE Eastern Michigan


28. Johnny Dingle DE West Virginia

29. Jo-Lonn Dunbar LB Boston College

30. Darius Reynaud WR West Virginia

31. Jeremy Geathers DE UNLV

32. Bryan Smith DE Mcneese State

33. William Hayes DE Winston Salem State


34. Joey Haynos TE Maryland *

35. Caleb Campbell S Army

36. Hilee Taylor LB North Carolina

37. Tim Hightower RB Richmond

38. Adrian Smith RB Bethel College

39. Landon Cohen DT Ohio

40. Nick Cleaver TE New Mexico State

41. Shawn McMackin OL Hofstra

42. Justin Tryon CB Arizona State


43. Jerome Felton RB Furman

44. Jayson Foster RB Georgia Southern

45. Cory Boyd RB South Carolina

46. Dan Ziedman P Idaho State

47. Kalvin Mcrae RB Ohio *

48. Marcus Buggs OLB Vanderbilt

49. Brian Johnson DE Gardner Webb

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Some draft thoughts.

LB. The Lions "could" start the season with Lewis at SSLB and Lenon at MLB, similar to last year. They want to and need to upgrade at least one of those positions, but, Marinelli tends to not start rookies at key positions. Thus, I truly believe they will draft a LB that can start at SSLB assuming he can beat out Lewis for that job, then he will get moved to MLB next year. I truly believe that Lenon IS the MLB this year unless the draft pick is stellar and beats Lenon out (moving Lenon to SSLB). Mayo, Rivers and Connor seem to have "it" but I am not ready to bet the farm on that just yet.

DE. The Lions "could" play White, Smith, 5-0 and DeVries but that combo didn't get a decent pass rush at all last year. A pass rush is CRITICAL to this defense. Fixing the LB and CB spots won't matter if there is no pass rush. Again, Marinelli has a tendency to not start rookies, and rookie DEs tend to not be dominate their first year. I'm looking for a ready made immediate starter like Harvey, Gholston or Long... or someone who will be lucky to be activated and rotate in this year.

RB. Calhoun and Cason as depth behind Bell is a horrid thought. The lions must MUST get another RB and the guy HAS TO beat out either Calhoun or Cason for a job... then preferably be able to take the job away from Bell as well. Rookies can play RB fairly well (except for blitz pickups usually) and of any draft pick I would think the RB has the best chance of actually becoming a starter.

RT. The Lions are set at Guard. A drafted guard has almost no chance of making the roster. They like Raoila. They love Backus. That leaves RT. They have Foster and Scott. They may not play a rookie here anyway. The Oline is pretty much set (in the Lions' eyes, not mine) but they will get a tackle for depth and we can only hope the guy can earn a starting job sometime this year.

DT. I do not see a solid DT group on the team. I truly feel they need to draft a decent DT who can first make the team, then make the active roster for the games, then help in the rotation.

I see no reason to draft a TE, Guard, Center, WR, S or CB unless the guy has a reasonable chance of taking a roster spot away from someone who is more or less nearly guaranteed to make the team. That last WR or CB spot who can be the return guy does have some potential, and I hope they do try to go that route.

LB, DE, RB, RT, DT and a return guy. Potentially 2 starters (RB and Return guy) potentially 2 rotate in (DE, DT) and the LB will need to be VERY good to see the field (barring injuries).

I'm not trying to be "down" on the Lions. This is truly how I see it.

Friday, January 4, 2008

They fired Martz?!?!?!? And promoted who?!?!?

I can understand wanting to keep the system. I really can.

I can understand that it's not likely anyone can do this system as well as Martz has.

I can understand not going outside the team for an OC if they don't want to give someone a long term contract (which be a requisite from higher up, it would have to be, Marinelli certainly didn't decide this part of it).

I can understand covering up for a guy's inadequacies by promoting a 2nd guy to help out in some manner. I mean, you got to cover as many bases as you can if you are stuck.

I can NOT understand firing Martz (or coming to an agreement on it) in the first place unless the team is rebelling against him... and if the "team" is primarily Backus and Raoila (it sure aint' Kitna, Roy or McDonald) and I find out ever that it was, I may go totally phycho. In fact, for my sanity, I better never find out any of this had anything to do with Backus and Raoila (for they should be gone, not Martz).

I can not understand promoting the inexperienced in the NFL bad college OC to the Lions OC and not promoting the experienced NFL OC, unless his job is actually ABOVE OC.

I can not understand why they, or anyone else, thinks that any of this is a good idea.

I also, for the life of me, can NOT understand why Kwam is still a Lions coach.