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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Game 3 - 2010 @ Minnesota Vikings

Mistakes.

This game was just filled with mistakes. Mistakes by nearly every player on the team (from Hanson to Hill, Pettigrew to well, yeah, pretty much every player on the team); from the Lions coaching staff; from the officiating crew; even from the Vikings (just not as many as the other three).

It was like the Lions were a team that was recently near the bottom of the league and only just begun to climb... while the Vikings were a Favre INT away from the superbowl. Actually, it was like that because that is what it is. The difference being the Vikings are by no means playing at the level they were playing at last year. The Lions on the other hand, are playing their backup QB and a bunch of defensive guys that almost everyone on the planet knows will be replaced next year (assuming another great draft).

The backup QB explains some of the offensive woes, but not all of them. Pettigrew still needs to catch the ball, as do ALL the other wide receivers, when they get their hands on it. A WR hint if you will: Do NOT start your run until you have actually CAUGHT the ball... stupid mistake. CJ needs to do more to get open all on his own instead of counting on others to do it for him. Lots of offensive mistakes, way too many for an offense that is supposed to be nearly "built".

Best needs to be healthy as the backup RB isn't nearly as good (regardless of name). No, Best being injured isn't a mistake, just another issue to overcome but it is a reason why other RBs are on the field but the play calling didn't change. The play calling needs to open up as playing "safe" isn't going to get'er done. The only way to beat Favre (hasn't changed since 1993 really) is to pressure him, hit him hard, hurry him and trap him in the pocket. The Lions managed only a small handful of this in this game. I believe more could've been done (yes, at risk of less so-called coverage downfield).

Jason Hanson isn't helping build confidence with this coaching staff. Whiffing the catch doesn't either if you are a return man (and it's your main job). Mistakes on special teams another no excuse issue.

Now defense, they actually have reasons for some mistakes. The Lions are not finished building the defense yet... and many young non-household names have starting jobs that could be theirs to keep IF they would only seize the moment. They are not. Some may not get many more chances (like CC Brown for example). Others will get more chances but had better start improving. Overall though, even if mistakes are expected on the defense, there were too many of them to overcome.

The officiating crew needs to know that throwing or fumbling a ball behind the QB is a live ball regardless of what you want to call it. Some officials need to get mandatory eye exams as well... other plays were often quite questionable if not outright mistakes.

I am not upset... I really don't care if the Lions make 7 wins like I predicted or only 5 wins and get a better draft spot. I would like some entertaining games to watch though... this was not one of them. Too many mistakes by players, coaches and officials.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Game 2 -2010 Home Opener Philadelphia Eagles

Objects in your rear view mirror might be closer then they appear.

Lions lose this one 32 to 35. Sounds like a close game and in many ways it was, but in others it was not. Lions went from being 2 scores ahead to being 3 scores behind but were able to come back with plays that include a 2 point conversion and an on-side kick.

Both teams had 13 passing first downs. Both teams averaged 7.3 yards per pass play. Both teams were 3 for 3 in the red zone. Both teams had 9 penalties. Even time of possession was close (29:08 to 30:52).

Lions had more total yardage but Hill also threw 2 interceptions while the Lions defense didn't have any (but did drop a couple that would've been).

I suppose the most interesting play (or couple plays) was when the Lions turned it over on downs instead of kicking a 49 yard field goal. Coach must not have the same trust in Hanson as previous coaches. They tried twice to get the yard they needed and they even added a new twist to things by playing Suh at fullback. Unfortunately the pile didn't move at all and neither the 3rd or 4th down gained an inch. If I had a chance to discuss this with coach Schwartz, I would say that first of all coach, if it's under 55 yards Hanson kicks (unless you need 7 and not 3) especially at home. Secondly coach, the problem never was the fullback. It's always been the center. If you want to use Suh on offense that's great... can he hike the ball? If so, THAT'S where you need to put him. Now I'm not saying that Raiola can't play center (in this scheme) but he does have one horribly obvious deficit, and that is he has zero power to move a pile. So you were close coach... putting Suh in the game to help move the LOS was a great idea, you just had him playing the wrong position.

The Bears killed the Cowboys today, so last week wasn't just the Lions playing poorly (though there was a lot to fix). A lot of the issues from last week were obviously worked on and some things were improved, but there is more to go even still. Next weeks game will probably not look pretty either, but at least the opponent is going to have to respect the Lions somewhat. Meanwhile the team can continue to fix what shows up, continue to learn and improve, and they should continue to entertain with some interesting plays throughout each game. They have talent, here and there, and the team itself is getting closer to a playoff team with every week of work they put in. That's what goes into building a team.

The results of this game certainly were closer then even I had expected. Possibly closer then most fans expected (especially during the 3rd quarter). Wins are what counts though... most fans don't want moral victories or to hear about improvement... just wins. The Lions will win games this year and games like this one show me they are closer to doing just that. It may not be next week exactly... but the Lions are indeed closer (to winning) then they appear.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Game 1 -2010 at the Chicago Bears

Sick. I'm just sick. The Lions have had calls go against them before but that may have been one of the worst I've ever seen. Heck, the Lions usually have at least one questionable call that goes against them per game, but none of them compares to this one. You can shout B.S. You can have a heart attack yelling at the t.v. You can even vow to never watch a football game again... nothing will make you feel better about this. That can't happen. It's capital S, I, C, K. SICK!

Calvin Johnson catches what was probably the game winning touchdown in the final seconds, has the ball secured one handed as he's knocked to the ground, gets both feet and his tush inbounds on the ground, and as the ball still firmly in his hand hits the ground he obviously flicks his thumb and finger to release the ball and celebrate his TD catch. The refs converge to call it incomplete. Booth review, even using super slo-mo, can't apparently see the hand motion to release the ball, and instead, using the rule that a WR must retain possession all through the process of catching the ball, upholds the ruling on the field. Two throws later, the Lions run out of downs and chances and time and so lose the game 14-19.




What's worse. Matt Stafford injured his knee and both shoulders while taking a sack and stood around the entire 2nd half in a double shoulder brace on the sidelines. He looked like I feel. Sick.

The game statistically was all Bears. The Bears had scored a field goal early in the game. Yet the Lions led the game for almost all of it after scoring two touchdowns. There was a couple of brain farts there at the end of the first half that allowed the Bears to score 10 points in under a minute. (That's also when Backus missed the one block that allowed the defender by at full speed to injure Stafford). The Lions carried the 1 point lead all the way until the final minutes of the 4th quarter, when various Lions players came down once again with a bad case of the brain farts. The Bears score a TD and miss the 2 point conversion. Unfortunately, the brain fart illness was contageous, and the refs caught it. Sick.

The player who let me down the most? Nate Burleson (2 drops).

The player who will be blamed for a lot but played fairly well for most of the game? Jeff Backus.

The player who surprised me with great play? The entire defense for most of the game. (there were many many defensive stops that NO ONE thought the Lions would manage to do)

The coach who surprised me the most? Marinelli (he called some great d)

The forums can complain about the conservative play calling for the Lions or about the OLine, or about the refs, but the only thing they will be right about is the refs. The Lions had the game won. Even with the all the brain fart illnesses being passed from one player to another and back again, the Lions won the game. Until the refs made us all... SICK.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Last night before a new season begins.

The team is undefeated. The Fantasty Football team as well. Things are looking great... for one more day. After that, who knows. Educated guesses, that's all we have at the moment. Keeping that in mind, here is my Lions prediction for the 2010 season.

Sunday, September 12 at Chicago Bears. Some teams are well prepared to start the season, for other teams it's a little more of a work in progress. Nearly a quarter of all the points the Bears scored in 2009 (for the whole season) came against the Lions in the two games they played them. Should the Lions have won those two games, their records would've been nearly identical. With a new OC in Chicago, a complicated system to learn, and a new DC as well, I predict that the Lions for a change (and with a new improved DLine) will be the more prepared team and thus break their road losing streak in week 1. Winner: Lions 30-20. 1-0

Sunday, September 19 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES. The Eagles have a new QB, a new RB, and various other roster changes. They are still going to be a force in the game though. Can the Lions win in week 2 via a shootout? The game will come down to the defense (all things being equal). Winner: Eagles 38-24. 1-1

Sunday, September 26 at Minnesota Vikings. The only way the Lions win this one is if Suh and company put the SWAK on Bret Favre (Suh Williams Avril KVB) he either has to be feeling his age and then some all game or go into involuntary retirement. With that bum ankle, I think I shall take the Lions this year. Winner: Lions 17-14. 2-1

Sunday, October 3 at Green Bay Packers. I fully expect the Packers to win the division. Their D was really catching on to the coaching at the end of last year and their offense is near enough to unstoppable. This one will get ugly. Winner: Packers 34-17. 2-2

Sunday, October 10 ST. LOUIS RAMS. The Rams are going to be fighting for the worst team in the league once again this year. This game will only help them achieve that milestone. Winner: Lions 21-10. 3-2

Sunday, October 17 at New York Giants. This game will look like the Eagles game... but with different names on the jerseys. Winner: Giants 27-17. 3-3

Sunday, October 24 *** BYE WEEK *** Jack Williams starts practicing at Nickel CB.

Sunday, October 31 WASHINGTON REDSKINS. The Redskins have their own problems and are desparate for a road win. Maybe next time. Winner: Lions 20-10. 4-3

Sunday, November 7 NEW YORK JETS. Jets are going to make it to the superbowl, according to their coach. While the Lions might have the better O (or at least one as good as theirs) the Defense takes over this game... just not the Lions defense. Winner: Jets 23-9. 4-4

Sunday, November 14 at Buffalo Bills. This game should be an easy win for the Lions, but it won't be that easy. After a full hour of hard play they do manage to squeek out the win... making the entire game harder then it needed to be. Winner: Lions 21-20. 5-4

Sunday, November 21 at Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys WRs & TEs will destroy the Lions defensive confidence, leaving the coaches scratching their heads, and it couldn't have happened at a worse time. Winner: Cowboys 27-13. 5-5

Thursday, November 25 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS. Thanksgiving against Tom Brady on a short week after losing big time to the Cowboys the week before (the score was closer then the game) makes for a bad day (with good food). Winner: Patriots 27-13. (sound familiar?) 5-6

Sunday, December 5 CHICAGO BEARS. Bears fans are talking about who their next head coach will be. The team is turning on themselves and the coaching staff. But they still have to play the game. With the redzone acting like a demonic 12th player the Lions gain back a little confidence. Winner: Lions 19-12. 6-6

Sunday, December 12 GREEN BAY PACKERS. The confidence from last week is gone in a flash when the Packers jaggernaut comes to town. Does no good to stop the run game with a passing game like that. Winner: Packers 28-16. 6-7

Sunday, December 19 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Back on the seesaw of emotions the Lions bounce back to give Tampa a great game on their own turf. Going into prevent nearly allows them back in the game at the end. Winner: Lions 17-16. 7-7

Sunday, December 26 at Miami Dolphins. Getting another week in Florida doesn't seem to help the Lions like it does other snowbirds. Lions play like they were hung over from Christmas. The overly optimistic Lions fans who were talking about a wildcard spot just yesterday (as their Christmas present) have joined the rest of the fans in talking 2011 draft. Winner: Dolphins 24-13. 7-8

Sunday, January 2 MINNESOTA VIKINGS. Had the Vikings played better earlier in the season they might be sitting their starters this game... but they didn't so they won't. In a last ditch effort to make the playoffs they really attack the Lions who have a few key injuries of their own to contend with. Playing for your pride versus a play off spot just isn't the same. Winner: Vikings 31-16. 7-9

So there you have it, the entirely plausible and thus entirely unlikely to happen, 2010 season. With talk of the 2011 season not happening, no free agency, and a mid 1st round draft pick Lions fans are left to argue amongst themselves about every aspect of every game that was lost so that blame can be assigned to someone for the team not making the playoffs after being in contention for a wildcard right up until Christmas. Never mind the improvement that took place in 2010 nor the fact the Lions actually did better then expected. Those voices get drowned out.

As for the fantasy football team... well, let's just say Christmas was very good this year (it's my blog, what did you expect me to say?).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Post Cut Down Day

It's been a little over 24 hours since the Lions and the other 31 NFL teams had to get their rosters down to 53 men. Those cut go on waivers and can be claimed by teams based on how they did last year... the Lions ranked 2nd (worst). Basically, anyone the Lions want they can put a claim in for and as long as the Rams don't also pick the guy the Lions will get him. Trick is, for every player claimed one would have to be cut (and that player goes on waivers until 24 hours later).

So, what happened to the Lions roster today?

First, they cut Dennis Northcutt and claimed on waivers Former Packers TE/LB Spencer Havner. He was actually claimed by three teams -- Detroit, Seattle, Tennessee. The Lions were awarded the claim.

Havner is a backup TE and backup LB. Kind of a jack-of-all-trades. Northcutt made the team due to his punt return abilities (in my opinion) but last nights' trade for Alphonso Smith made him expendable (Alphonso can also return punts).

As TimT in my forum posted. Think of Havner as the 7th LB / 4th TE / 2nd FB. Or, an HB that can cover the linebacker position in an emergency.

The Lions also cut LB Rocky Boiman.

Lions claimed former Steelers WR/KR Stefan Logan

As was tweeted by RyanJSteck...
Stefan Logan averaged 26.7yds on KR (55 rtns 1,466yds) -- & 9.3yds on PR (30 rtns 280 yds) in all 16 games with the Steelers last season.

Now I may have the order of the cuts backwards, but this is the order things were divulged so I stuck with it.

What does the trade for Smith and todays' waiver claims of Havner and especially Logan mean? The Lions are working on improving special teams and bottom of the roster depth. Not in a small way either. They actually have a legitimate kick returner and guys who will help the team win.

I managed to get something right... the Lions put in two waiver claims (I blogged that last night). I also got it totally wrong... the Lions put in two claims, they were for a TE and WR, not two defensive guys - though one can play LB in a pinch.

I also now have to rearrange my bottom of the roster now... the next to go if defense is probably DB Wendling... if offense, it would appear that WR Derrick Williams may be the most expendable or as an alternate RB Maurice Morris.

The Lions probably aren't done yet either. There are those players cut to make room for waiver pickups today that they might claim someone from... and as far as aged veterans go, anytime after game 1 they may be picked up since at that time their entire years' salary won't be guaranteed.

Other teams are already making their lists of vets they plan to acquire after game 1, you can bet the Lions have a list to consider as well. The game against Chicago will determine if anyone is expendable for one of those on that list.

.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Final 53 correction

One correction to DE spot.

That makes 9 wrong with 4 that weren't on the team when I locked it down.

Almost missed Mr Jackson ending up in Mr Hunters place.

Final 53

I had locked in my estimated depth chart before the first pre-season game. I got 8 wrong this year (5 wrong being my record a few years back). 3 of the 8 weren't on the team when I locked it in. I feel pretty good about that considering everything.

http://www.thenetrat.com/2010DepthChart.xls

Now, there are a number of players sitting on the roster who shouldn't get too comfortable... because there are roughly 680 players from the other 31 teams who have hit the waiver wire and the Lions have 2nd dibs. They will quite likely put in a couple three claims.

My biggest surprise cut? Dre Bly followed by Jansen.

My biggest surprise keeper? Wendling followed by Northcutt.

Waiver claim information should come in after 6pm on Sunday. I'll put myself down for 2 players claimed... both on defense. Now we'll see how that turns out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Preseason thoughts

Here is a great read on the thinking a team goes through this time of year (well, these few days between Sunday and this Friday night anyway).

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d81a1e654/printable/its-complicated-how-to-get-to-the-final-53man-roster

I can't believe the 4th game of the preseason is upon us already. It's crazy I can't find the time to review the game tapes (well DVDs) I made of the first 3 preseason games and blog about them in detail. Circumstances this year just haven't been favorable for that though, I guess I'll just have to admit it... that I won't be able to find the time to do a thorough job of it.

In looking over my estimated depth chart I can see some things that are likely to be wrong... I made the changes because of IR or PUP or waived/injured but there are more I'd make right now if I could. Mike Moore (who didn't heal fast enough) and Tim Toone will both likely be cut and signed to the practice squad if they pass waivers (and they may not, not with the Rams fishing). Ramirez and Clark both will likely make the final cut, or Ramirez and Northcutt will. I'd probably take Hilliard over Jansen at this point as well. There is even a small chance that DeDe Dorsey makes it over either Morris or Smith... though I think that somewhat less likely.

On defense I would obviously replace Hunter with another choice, probably Landon Cohen due to special teams. Linebacker is going to look different then what I have... especially with the newest addition to the team. Even the secondary may be different then what I had since Spievey was moved to Safety after I locked in the depth chart.

After the 2nd preseason game there was a great deal of talk in the forums about the new backup kicker and how Jason needed to retire. But the guy was kicking in Denver where the air does indeed make a difference based on what I saw in game 3... and on top of that, the guy never kicked a field goal over 30 yards... I don't even know if he can. It's defintely premature to be retiring Hanson and keeping the newbie... it's just not going to happen.

I'll see what I can add to this Friday night before the final cut down date. Perhaps I'll even have a couple hours to review my DVDs. Stranger things have happened.