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?