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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?

Talent?

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.