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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bye Week

Just some odds and ends (this entry may get edited/added to over the next few days).

First, my prediction as posted in my forum for those who haven't visited there.

Lions Prediction Contest
« Thread Started on Sept 13, 2009, 11:57am »

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The deadline is in 1 hour and a couple minutes. Since I won't have the entries up until after the game sometime, I wanted to post my entry here before the game so no one calls "shennanigans" on me.

6-10
4th in Division
13th Draft Pick

This part isn't required, but here is my line of thinking....

Games they win are:

Home
Redskins
Rams
Browns

Away
Vikings
Bengals
49'ers

That's 1-5 at the bye week, a long start but a nice 5-5 finish.


I am 5 for 5 so far, of course, predicting the Lions to lose hasn't been that difficult this decade. Still, IF Stafford gets healthy I am staying with my 6 wins prediction... but I might change which games if I had the chance to do so. My expectations are based on my belief that a team starting so many rookies would get better after a rocky start as the year goes on. The rocky start was exactly as I figured, now we'll see if my assumption that they will learn from it and take off on a 5-5 "rampage" will hold.

Second. Even though Stafford has a long way to go (as a rookie he should) I must admit he is proving to be much better this year then I had ever expected. The offense isn't the same without him.

Third. The defense misses Sammie Hill. He and Levy are two D guys that are also proving to be much better in their rookie year then I (or probably anyone) had expected.

Fourth. I expect that the 2010 draft will be heavily debated (again) in most Lions forums. Even though I would love to take a dominate left tackle with the 1st round pick, it's looking more and more like the Lions will (and should) go either DE or CB... and DT has to be thrown in there as well. I'm not talking the "rest of the draft", just their first pick, which at this time I still think will not be in the top 10 (most will not agree with me there, so be it).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Game 6 - 2009 @ Green Bay

Oopsie.

The Lions lose 0-26 at Lambeau Field, for the 18th year in a row. That's right, the Lions have lost every single year in Green Bay since the year before Jason Hanson was drafted (that is to say, Hanson has NEVER seen the Lions win in Green Bay since he's been on the team).

In watching the game, I don't think I could point to a player who didn't make a mistake. I'm not so sure I could point to a coach either. They ALL made at least one mistake.

That's a lot of mistakes.

Good thing it's a bye week. Coaches can do some film work. Players can do some sole searching. The team can get ready for the "rest of the season". And, to top it off, they start out against the Rams when they come back from the bye.

Yeah, they win that game! (I have been predicting that since August of course, just like I predicted this loss).

The Lions lost by 26 points, but the Giants lost by 21, so it's not the end of the world (unless you have a lot of Lions and Giants players on your FFL team).

The only thing that totally surprised me is that Stanton looks just a touch better then Culpepper. There just might be a small adjustment to the depth chart after the bye... assuming that Stafford is healed up enough by then to play. I'm not sure, not positive that is, that I would want Culpepper to back up Stafford while Stanton holds the clipboard... and that I would've never ever thought I would say. Congrats to Stanton, sorry about your mistake(s), especially that red zone one.

Those inactive players... well, they are very important to the success of the team. Each and every one of them. There is no depth behind those guys. Meanwhile, the secondary is filling in the blanks on their resume for next year... mostly blanks... but hey, there's always invisible ink... and 10 more games to play... so get your collective heads out of your collective behinds and play like your career depends on it.... because, in total and complete truth, IT DOES!!!

My only thinking throughout this game was how ruthless the coaches (and front office) are... and you sorry S.O.B.'s are going to pay for those horrid mistakes. Each and every one of you.... and the team will be a little better for it. So thank you... for proving the various points, about who can be upgraded and all that.

The trade deadline is fast approaching, anyone who finds themself still on the team has 10 games to prove they are better then the street guys (who may be coming in very very soon). This is it. This may very well be your last hurrah! Take the time off to contemplate your career, and if you do get the chance to play again, do not blow it. You won't like what happens if you blow it again.

Okay, so what's next? Well, as I said since August, and still say now (assuming Stafford is the starting QB) the Lions will win 5 of the next 10 games. They will win the games they are supposed to win, plus one more. They will give all of us a little hope for next year. The coaches will sort more out this bye week. Etc etc etc.

Look, I said it would be 1-5 at the bye. I said the forum was going to go nuts with that. I said that it's part of playing rookies who are learning under fire. And I said you could expect all these things that have happened.

If I am right. If the roster does have some talent as I believe it does. If I continue to support the coaches as I am willing to do. If I believe what I saw preseason and assumed would happen, then I have no reason not to continue with my prediction. That remains a 6-10 season, with 5 of those wins after the bye (so far I'm batting a thousand).

So, they have a bye week to get things sorted out, and they beat the Rams next game. Until that doesn't happen I'm fine with things as they are. I mean that, 100%. This is EXACTLY how I saw things playing out this far into the season. How can I be upset about that? I can not. I laughed a lot, but I am not upset. A little (okay, a lot) surprised about how Culpepper has done, and how much better Stanton has looked, but not upset or angry.

Now, if the Lions lose to the Rams... well, NetRat is not pleasant to be around if he gets angry. The Lions will win the next game, and 5 of the next 10.

That, or the NetRat made an Oopsie.... and that just isn't going to happen.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Game 5 - 2009 Steelers @ Home

Almost. The Lions almost won this one. They still made mistakes and they still need more confidence but the Lions almost beat the superbowl champions from last year. A team that plays a 3-4 defense, a defense the Lions have shown to have problems with in preseason. A defense they will face again next week.

The Lions almost had a home game. Thousands of seats were waving a yellow towel because Lions fans didn’t buy tickets, Steelers fans did. Counting the season ticket holders that didn’t show up, the Steelers fans almost outnumbered the Lions fans.

Calvin Johnson almost helped the team. But a knee injury put him on the sidelines near the beginning of the game and he never returned.

The defense and special teams almost helped the offense out. There was better field position, there were some stops. Both were almost playing as well as the opposition.

Stafford almost was able to play. His injury kept him as the reserve QB, but he is almost healed up.

Culpepper almost played okay. At times the plays were good, or smart, or showed that he isn’t totally washed up. At other times you wonder if the sack was his fault or the fault of his teammates. Still, he almost led the team to a win.

Coaching was suspicious at times, but fantastic at others. The team as a whole was almost very competitive, almost for the entire game. No third quarter collapses, no head scratching play calls, not too many things to really complain about, not really. Almost well played.

I for one am pleased to see the growth of the “rest of the team”. With Stafford out the whole game, and with CJ out for most of it, the players who did play played well for the most part. Room for growth? Sure. That is to be expected (as I’ve said before). In fact, this loss was my prediction as well (I’m now 5 for 5). A great road game next week isn’t too likely either, but a competitive one is possible. I expect a loss next week, then after the bye week, a win against the Rams. I’d settle for being almost right though, if the Lions are able to pull off a win at Lambeau Field.

The team is almost there. After the bye week I still predict a 5-5 season. This game was part of the growth to get them to that point. As will be the next one. The fans will almost be happy with a 6-10 season if the team does show improvement, the improvement that I have been predicting.

So yes, the Lions lost and are now at 1-4, but they are improving. The are almost there, almost ready to compete at a true NFL level. Almost going to be able to do it every week, not just a few times a year. There are a few players that will need to be "upgraded", but we all knew that. There will be more mistakes made, but we all know that as well. Can I really truly be happy about this game even though they lost? Yeah, almost. As long as it means they will be better later. As long as they are improving. As long as there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Then yes, I can be okay with them losing the game. Almost.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Game 4 - 2009 @ Chicago

Tough game. The Lions lost the game (as predicted by yours truly) after being tied at half time. The second half kick off that was returned for a TD by Chicago seemed to have a very negative affect on the entire team. I guess they just aren't mentally tough enough (yet).

There is a certain lack of confidence that shows through when things go wrong and unless something big and good happens soon after then the team tanks even harder. That too is more or less predictable. That is why it'll be hard to win until they play some teams that are also lacking in confidence (such as Washington last week and the Rams after the bye week). It'll take time for the coaching staff to build up team confidence, in the meantime there are some things I noticed that will help out the coaching staff, and some that will hurt.

Matt Stafford proved it's not a fluke. He can indeed drive the offense down the field on a time consuming series of plays that result in a score. More then once during the same game even. Considering it was merely his 4th NFL start in his first year in the league, that is really quite remarkable. Yes, he still makes rookie mistakes (there is a limit to miracles after all) but it bodes well for the future of the team.

The run defense isn't horrible. They've pretty much contained AP, Portis, and Forte (except for one or two big plays) which is no easy task. Compared to last year when teams could run at will it is a very big improvement. If they can continue to improve there (by eliminating those big plays) and also work some on the pass defense the games will get easier to win.

Special teams looked like special ed in this game, I don't know if that was due to the injured players who were out or if they simply forgot how to play. I predict there will be ton of special teams work this week (not really stretching my neck out there am I). They don't need to be the best in the league, but they do need to be better then what they were in this game.

Pettigrew needs to work on his focus. Too many dropped balls. Same goes for Aaron Brown in the return game who bobbles the ball nearly every time. Kevin Smith needs to get healthy (or healthier), he has heart but his production was just not there today. CJ, Stafford, and a few others were hit pretty hard in this game. Chicago was the team playing "tough" not the Lions. Chicago was the team inflicting pain. That too seemed to sap the Lions mental toughness.

If they can heal up, work on special teams a ton, keep with the decent run defense and learn to have a little fun during the game the competitiveness will show itself... and once that happens, the confidence will build and the wins will come.

Time to get tough... both mentally and physically... enjoy the match and feel good about how hard you fought, win or lose.