Saturday, December 24, 2011

Game 15 San Diego Chargers @ Home

That's a record.

The Detroit Lions MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!!! By defeating the Chargers 38-10 the 10-5 Lions have secured a wildcard spot in the playoffs for the first time since 1999 (when they did the same thing with an 8-8 record).

Matt Stafford was 29 of 36 for 373 yards 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. That was enough to set three new single season Lions quarterback records... most pass attempts in a single season, most pass completions in a single season, most passing yards in a single season. Stafford already set the single season record for touchdowns in one year last week.

Calvin Johnson had 1 TD which ties Cloyce Box (1952) with 15 TDs for a Lions single season wide receiver TD record.

Brandon Pettigrew set the record for most Lions TE receptions in a single season. He already held the record for most receiving yards by a TE but now has both 1st and 2nd place (as far as I can tell from the info I have).

The Lions lead the league in defensive points scored this year if I recall what the announcers said during the game correctly (I haven't been able to verify that online yet). There could be other records broken today as well, I will try to post them when I find out about them down the road.

Speaking of the road, the Lions now travel to Green Bay next week for their final regular season game. It's quite likely that both teams will sit their starters long before half time so it remains to be seen if the Lions depth can win the first game at Lambeau Field since before Jason Hanson was drafted.

The primary goal of that game though will be (for both teams) to come out healthy.

Just noted another record on twitter, attendance at Lions game in 2011 set a record with 509,949 total people attending games. (Via the @DetroitLionsNFL)

There is one more record I would like to see the Lions break this season though, they have won four national championships but since the Super Bowl began they have never played in one. Time to break that record.

Merry Christmas to Lions fans everywhere!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Game 14: Lions at Oakland Raiders


It's been awhile since the Lions had me literally on the edge of my seat at the end of a game. Today's 28-27 win over the Oakland Raiders was just such a game. I would like to thank Suh and his Suh sized thumb for catching a piece of that football while it was on it's way for what would've been an NFL record long field goal (and a win). What a fantastic play.

The Lions were down 14-27 well past the halfway mark of the 4th quarter when another fantastic player took the conservative gloves off and starting driving his team down the field. Stafford ended up 29 of 52 for 391 yards and 4 TD's. That puts him at 33 TD's so far on the year and THAT makes him the quarterback with the most TD's in a season ever for the Detroit Lions (topping the former record holder Scott Mitchell who's 1995 record of 32 is now in 2nd place). Plus there are still 2 more games to play... time to set that bar higher!

Matt Stafford also garnered enough yards to leap Kitna's 2007 yardage record putting him in 3rd place, behind only Kitna's 2006 and Mitchell's 1995 yardage records. My math tells me that Stafford needs only 64 yards to get into 2nd place and 194 yards to take over 1st place. Basically, this means that after next weekends game against the Chargers Matthew Stafford will hold both the yardage and touchdown records for one season for a Lions Quarterback (all time) and he is only 23 years of age. Fantastic!

Several of the receivers dropped passes in the final minutes of the game but eventually the true stars of the game (if not the team) started making the plays needed to score points. Megatron (Calvin Johnson) eventually took over all the clutch duties as he finishes the game with 9 receptions for 214 yards and 2 TD's. Most of those fantastic plays were in the final 5 minutes of the game. It's enough yards to rank 3rd most in Lions franchise history and it was the highest total since Richard Johnson had 248 in 1989. Megatron is only 1 TD behind the record best Wide Receiver in Lions history with the most TDs in a single season (Cloyce Box has 15 and the record he set back in 1952). While CJ may break the single season TD record for a Lions WR he is quite a ways behind the yardage record holder, Herman Moore, who set that bar in 1995 with 1686 yards (CJ is currently at 1335 and is now in 4th place behind Herman Moore, Brett Perriman and Germane Crowell).

Jason Hanson kicked all 4 extra points and didn't get a chance to kick any field goals, but he too set a mega-record when he became only the 6th player in NFL History with 2,000 career points. He is the first player to score 2,000 points with 1 franchise. He is also the only player on the Lions roster originally drafted by the Lions who has had a winning season before this year. The Lions are at 9-5, their first winning season since 1999, and the first winning season for guys like Backus, Raiola, and all the rest. Their first winning season in the NFL, ever. That's MEGA-Fantastic!

The team is also setting records, for example, the Lions are the first team in NFL history to come back and win 4 games when down 13(+) points in 1 season.

By the way, if there are any Lions you'd like to see go to the probowl the voting ends Monday Night (19th of December) at

The Lions now have a 2 game lead over the other teams looking to make the playoffs with the wildcard designation... with only 2 games left they can clinch their spot with one more win. Due to some tiebreaker they have and some they do not they are not yet guaranteed to make the playoffs at 9-7, but they are very very close. If the season ended today they'd have to play their first playoff game in 13 years on the left coast against the San Fransisco 49ers, doesn't that bring back some other 1990ish like memories?

Be that as it may, the next game is in Detroit against the San Diego Chargers who just won a few minutes ago against the Ravens and who are notorious for winning in December, then again, the Lions last regular season game is against the Packers at Lambeau Field, so it's up to the fans to be loud ALL GAME LONG next weekend!!! I don't care what the score is or who did what wrong, the Chargers must be continually harassed by the Detroit Lions Fans all game long. It is CRITICAL!

Let's all give ourselves a Mega-Fantastic Christmas and help the Lions make the playoffs next Saturday!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Game 13 Minnesota Vikings @ Home


Unexpectedly, the Lions whooped on the Vikings 31 - 14 the first half of the game today, only to get whooped 3-14 the second half. Lions do win the game with a final score of 34-28 but it was a near thing. The Lions usually start slow and then pick it up in the 2nd half, it was very timely of the defense to help pad the lead in the first half because the second half wasn't good enough to win the game. The Vikings turnaround began when Ponder was benched for Webb. The Vikings kept attacking the Lions and would've won except for a forced fumble on the final play of the game... a very timely fumble.

All we'll hear about is how the refs missed the facemask penalty that would've voided the fumble and subsequent recovery by the Lions. Never mind all the other missed calls all game long, heck, all season long that hurt the Lions. It just happens that for a change the missed call would've helped the opponent and perhaps allowed them to win the game. You could call it inevitable that sooner or later, one game or another, in one season or another, a timely non-call would help the Lions win a much needed game. Well, most won't think that way but I do. Do I feel bad about it? No, not at all. It wasn't the only missed call of the game that altered the subsequent events for either team, just the most noticeable due to the timing.

The Lions are now 8-5 and in the wildcard hunt. If they win out they are in. If they lose one game they are likely still in due to owning some tie breakers. They could even make it in with only one more win but then would need a lot of help to make it. I'd prefer they not back into the playoffs but keep improving and get in all on their own. It's a very timely point in the season to get better.

Titus Young, he's getting better, managing to lead all the receivers with 87 yards and a TD today. Pettigrew also contributed with 57 yards and a TD. The defense started out the game with style, Avril getting sacks, Alphonso Smith getting interceptions. The Defense wore down as the game went on, especially chasing after Webb, but they just barely did enough to win the game. Matt Stafford? He did a pedestrian 20/29 for 227 yards and 2 TDs, but no interceptions.

It won't be long and I'll be able to post all the Lions records that Matt Stafford broke. He's advancing fast on "most TDs" and should earn "most yards" this season too if he can keep going. That's right, we are seeing a record breaking season by a Lions QB, despite all the miscues. He gets his play improved and he may own these records for decades.

Lions haven't been .500 or better since BM (Before Millen). That's a very long time and it kind of feels good to know that they can not have a losing season this year, but I'm hungry for more.

The Lions travel to the left coast next week to play the Raiders. Suh will be back and hopefully can control his hunger and channel it into great play. Some other injured Lions might be healthy enough to play as well. It's going to be a tough game but I like the matchup and expect another timely win.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Game 12: Lions at New Orlean Saints

Doesn't matter.

I predicted the Lions would lose this game 24-31, I was pretty close, they lost it 17-31. It really doesn't matter that they lost, since I figured the Lions would be 7-5 at this point anyway (which they are) and in the hunt for the wildcard spot (which they are).

There were some things in this game that do matter though, not the least of which is that Stafford is healing up, he played without a glove for the first time in a month and managed 31 of 44 for 408 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. The INT was actually a ball stripped from the hands of the WR who had caught the pass, but that doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter that the Lions were flagged 11 times for 107 yards, what does matter is that nearly half of those were so questionable as to be on the verge of flagrant. It once again affected the mental state of the players who took their frustrations out on opposing players (and in one case the ref) three times which caused 3 of the 11 flags. Somehow the players (and their coaches) need to learn how to twist those emotions into playing harder, not making stupid penalties. If any player should've lost his cool it was Nate Burleson, but he managed to just keep working away eventually leading the team in passing yardage (93 yards total after penalties).

It doesn't matter that Hanson missed a couple of field goals. He goes through this whenever a new holder is on the field, and this makes the 4th holder in less then 4 months.

It doesn't matter that Suh wasn't in the game or that once again a few of the play calls were questionable gambles. The Lions are not yet as polished a team as the Saints. That could change though, fast. Last year the Packers weren't all that polished then right about this time of the year they went on a winning streak that they still haven't broke. It's not too late to turn this around, in fact, this would be the ideal time to do just that.

Time to start playing with a little more discipline, with a little more controlled tenacity, and with some of that "us against the world" teamwork.

All the other teams in the NFC wildcard playoff hunt also lost this weekend, so while it would've been nice to have put a game up on all of them, the Lions at least didn't lose any ground. In the end, this loss didn't matter, but, should they learn from it and improve as a team, it could matter quite a bit... for the good.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Game 11 Green Bay Packers @ Home

Didn't help.

The now 7-4 Lions got whooped on by the now 11-0 Green Bay Packers by a score of 15-27 today during the first game of the Thanksgiving NFL football marathon. In preseason I had predicted the Lions would lose this game 24-31 and last night in my forum I altered my prediction to say the team that scores first would win 31-24. I guess you could say I was fairly close in these predictions but it sure didn't help the Lions playoff hopes by losing a game they failed to be even competitive in.

I suppose you could say the defenses were competitive for a large portion of the first half when the score was 0-0 until the Lions lost their composure. A lot will be said about one specific aspect of the game, that being the actions of Ndamukong Suh, but even before that occurred things weren't going well for the Lions. What Suh did didn't help, that is for sure, getting himself evicted from the game and allowing the Packers to score a TD instead of a field goal after the yardage and automatic first down were tacked on... but what Stafford and company was doing didn't help either.

Suh might think he as just trying to get up off the ground... or perhaps he thought he was trying to shake loose from being grasped by the leg (I can't tell if that was true in the one angle from the video I saw or not) but what it appears to most is that Suh smacked the players head into the ground multiple times and then stomped or kicked the arm of said player on his way away from the pile. The appearance of this act is what drew the flag, it's what got him evicted, it's what will get him fined, and it might get him games (as in more then one game) suspended without pay. This link will explain what I mean:

Suh comments after the act (but before he has seen the film) make me believe he doesn't know what it looks like to everyone watching. He made a rather odd apology to his "true" fans, teammates and his coaches but nothing about the act itself which doesn't help his case any. I'm not sure what it is he thinks happened or did in fact happen, but take it from me, that won't matter now, it's all about the appearance of what happened so unless someone has a different camera angle or someone in that pile was mic'd, this is going to remain a black mark for a very long time on Suh's reputation and it's going to cost him and the team plenty, now and later.

Now prior to the eviction (and after as well) there were many questionable officiating calls which didn't help the attitude of the players (or this fan) at all. By my count nearly a third of the calls were suspect if not outright wrong. That kind of repeated abuse of power will get most any player upset. It's hard to win if you are upset. It's hard to keep your composure if you're upset. I would've loved to speak at length about each penalty but for the first time in ages I failed to record the game so I can't play it back.

Aside from Suh missing over half the game, the yardage and penalty his flag generated, the poor attitude of the players in general for questionable calls, and the yardage those penalties either gave or killed, there were many other parts of this game that didn't help.

It didn't help that Kevin Smith was injured with what looks like a high ankle sprain and was lost for a lot of the game (and probably the next 3 or 4 games as well).

It didn't help that some of the receivers continue to drop the ball at critical times.

It didn't help to have 3 interceptions regardless of who's fault it was.

It didn't help that Stafford mostly threw short passes and for the third week doesn't appear to be fully devoted to the game being played. Has he lost faith in the play calling? His teammates? The officiating? The fans? The work he has to do now that he's not got a separated shoulder? I don't know what it is, but for whatever reason he just doesn't seem to be as engaged or competitive as he should appear. This of course could just be me... until I have more information I'll leave it at that.

Speaking of facts, let's get back to that... Stafford connected on 32 of his 45 passes for 1 TD, 1 two point conversion, and 3 interceptions. He was credited with 276 yards 81 of which went to Maurice Morris the highest receiver of the day by far (all the check downs didn't help the score in my opinion).

Jason Hanson missed a 47 yard field goal but I'm giving him some slack as he's on his 3rd holder in less then 2.5 weeks. The punting game didn't help with field position though, it sure would be nice to get that part of the game fixed.

There were so many injuries to the defensive backs that Rashied Davis WR played DB for a large portion of the game. That didn't help with the score either, though I'm glad he was able to contribute as much as he did. Perhaps it would be smart to have more then 4 CBs active when you play the best O in the league, but that's just me.

The Lions were 2 for 2 in the redzone, it just didn't help that they only visited the redzone twice. I'm not sure how the coaching staff is going to fix this, but they face the Packers again in week 17 at Lambeau Field and if they are able to get themselves 3 more wins before then, they may have a chance at the playoffs (and may end up facing the Packers a third time) so "it" has to be fixed, whatever "it" is.

I would start making these repairs by fixing the things that didn't help this game.

ps. Coaches, Players, anyone else involved, it's a lot easier to win if you are having fun. Figure that small part out and it'll go a long ways too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Game 10 Carolina Panthers @ Home

Record breaking.

The now 7-3 Detroit Lions came from behind to defeat the Carolina Panthers 49-35. Trailing at one point by 17 points early in the game and with a half time score of just 14-27, the Lions managed to come back for the third time this year from 3 scores down to win the game. That kind of come back hasn't happened in a single season in modern NFL history (since there began to be superbowls for example).

Matthew Stafford threw for 335 yards with 5 TDs and 2 INTs completing 28 of 36 throws... and what is truly remarkable, not one of those TD passes was to Calvin Johnson! The 5 TDs went to 5 players though... Burleson, Titus Young, Pettigrew, Scheffler and (drum roll please) Kevin Smith RB. Yes, that Kevin Smith. To go along with his 61 yards receiving, Kevin Smith had 140 yards rushing with two more TDs on only 16 attempts. I think the Lions have found (or re-found if that's a word) their running back.

The Lions generated 495 yards of total offense and allowed the Panthers 409 yards of total offense. This was a good new fashioned shoot out and once the Lions stopped turning the ball over they were able to pound away at the scoreboard and wake the crowd up big time. Hopefully the Lions can skip the slow start next game since it's in only 4 days and against the Green Bay Packers.

Stafford is very quickly closing in on all the Lions passing records. It won't be long until he holds them all, even though this is his only 3rd year in the league (with less then 2 years worth of actual playing time).

I'm looking forward to the nationally televised Thanksgiving Day game this year... there's a chance for the Lions to make another name for themselves by being the team to beat the undefeated Green Bay Packers. They will need to play like they did the 2nd half of this game and not at all like they did last week or in the first quarter this week, but to a man they each know they can do it... they just need to take a deep breath and execute the plays.

If they continue to do that, they will break all kinds of records.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Game 9: Lions at Chicago Bears

Fix it.

The Lions lose this game before my local television station can get away from the Atlanta-New Orleans game that went into overtime. The final score 13-37 (the Lions game, not the Falcons/Saints game which I didn't want to keep watching but had no choice in the matter). The Lions need to figure out what is wrong and fix it.

You wouldn't think the Lions would be the losing team if all I told you about was Cutler. He managed a dismal 9 completions for 123 yards and no touchdowns. No, it wasn't the run game that killed them; Forte had only 64 yards and 1 TD. Obviously the wide receivers also had no touchdowns. So how did the Lions lose? By allowing their new found punter to kick to Hester and by playing their injured QB who threw not one but two pick sixes.

What was wrong with Stafford you ask? All game long everyone questioned why he needed to wear gloves when it wasn't raining, and wasn't cold. I was pretty sure something was up and sure enough, after the game, it was revealed, here's the link:

I think I can safely blame the coaches for playing their QB with the broken finger instead of one of their other QBs who have 10 good digits. I might even find blame for the coaching in having their fresh-off-the-street punter kick to Hester (who also got a TD today). I can't blame the coaches for allowing my local tv channel for not switching to the Lions game when it started, nor for the two fumbles that occurred during that time when I wasn't able to watch the game. But I'm sure if I re-watched the game I could find many more times to blame the coaches for something.

The 6-3 Lions aren't going to be going to the playoffs if they don't fix a few things. The list is short, yet covers a broad spectrum of "team".

Coaching. Fix it.
Quarterback. Fix it.
Kicking/Punting. Fix it.

Can't do much about the weather and since that affects both sides equally I don't even care. Can't do much about the officiating either, which is much worse then the ever changing weather. But the decisions being made by the coaching staff can be improved. The (by appearances) nonchalant acting quarterback (3 weeks now it seems like) can have a fire lit under his back side and his focus improved. I'm also a little tired with the kicking (most should be in the back of the end zone) and by the punting (why did we get rid of Harris again?). Fix it. All of it.

Get these few (but big) things fixed, then you can begin to work on the little things again. You got 7 weeks to win at least 4 games and none of those games will be a cakewalk. The Bears meanwhile, if you look at their schedule, is pretty much the opposite. Time to focus... every snap, every game, make them all count.

Starting with next weeks game and the one that is only 4 days after that on Thanksgiving day. Speaking of that, being that there are 2 games in the next 11 days, wouldn't it have been wise to sit the QB with the broken finger and... oh never mind, already said it. Once again, coaching, fix it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Game 8: Lions at Denver Broncos

What a difference

What a difference a week makes. The Lions took Denver to task (in Denver no less) and won the game decisively 45-10 bringing their record before the bye week to 6-2. For me, I'm just glad it's over, if I had a quarter for every time I heard the words "Tim Tebow" I'd be able to make a house payment.

Matthew Stafford was 21/30 for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. He's still limping (his ankle injury isn't healed up) and it appeared he hurt his hand during the latter part of the game but that didn't stop him from looking much better then the previous couple games. He was sacked twice and hit a number of times more so I'd bet he's looking forward to the time off for the bye week to heal up. Shame the bye week probably won't fix the offensive line which played a little better (or they simply faced a worse defense) then recently.

Speaking of defenses, the Lions defense played much better, sacking TT seven times (I ain't going to type his name no more). He apparently didn't get the memo, or his OC didn't, that the way to beat the lions is to get rid of the ball quick.

While I would love to attribute the win to the Lions playing better, it was more due to the inept Denver O and D. Had Denver played better, the Lions probably still would've won, for they are the more talented team, but it wouldn't have been so lopsided.

Regardless, a win is a win, they all add up the same, and having a win before the bye week makes for a better situation the losing would have.

On special teams, it should be noted that the next Jason Hanson field goal for 50 yards or more will be his 50th such field goal. His one and only field goal today for 50 yards was number 49.

Up after the bye week is the Chicago Bears and a chance for the Lions to get another win adding to their tie breaking situation (which may become very very important at the end of the season). Hopefully the Lions 6 game win streak for away games will continue on. I think the Lions will win it, I just hope the injury situation improves rather then the opposite.

There is one thing that I recalled (and was tweeted repeatedly by others)... the last time the Lions whipped the Broncos to go 6-2 it was 2007 with a score of 44-7, they then went 1-7 the rest of that year then came the 0-16 2008 season. What a difference 4 years make. No one expects anything like 2007 to happen now. Of course, the head coach and offensive coordinator in 2007 for the Lions are now the defensive coordinator and the offensive coordinator in Chicago. Yep, what a difference.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Game 7 Atlanta Falcons @ Home

No Swag

Seven weeks into the 2011 NFL season the Lions find themselves at 5-2 after losing to the Atlanta Falcons 16-23. Once again (for the second home game in a row) the Lions offense appeared lost, bewildered, lacking swag of any kind. The bad news is that it is spreading. The defense appeared to be losing it as well. Oh, and the fans... the Falcons with the exception of a couple plays had it very easy today... no help, no swag.

Stafford was a meager 15 of 32 for 183 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT. Pedestrian. CJ had 115 yards and a touchdown, but the #2 WR Burleson had 1 catch for 1 yard and nothing for Titus Young but missed opportunities. Maurice Morris was the only RB to have any completions with a mere 2 catches for 13 yards. TEs Pettigrew, Heller, and Scheffler combined for 7 completions and 54 yards to complete the anemic passing attack. The run game totaled 104 yards which is actually an improvement but it didn't help in the slightest. Stafford had no swag and I've all but lost hope that the OLine can be anything more then mediocre this season.

The defense seems to be losing ground as well. The DLine didn't pressure as often, the new found ways of allowing big plays to happen is getting old, and probably most importantly, nothing happens when the defense does get a turnover. The momentum just dies.

I could go into how disappointing the special teams play is but that was obvious. Making a joke about hearing a pin drop during at least 2 quarters of play at Ford Field also doesn't seem right.

I guess when things aren't going right everyone loses their swag.

Maybe this upcoming away game against the Denver Bronco's is just what is needed... then again, if the Lions lose to Tim Tebow the chances of finding any swag during the rest of 2011 is very much in doubt. The coaching staff and the players simply can not allow that to happen. Someone needs to figure out what is wrong and right it, and I think now would be a very good time for that to happen.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Game 6 San Francisco 49ers @ Home


The Detroit Lions lose to the San Fransisco 49ers on their home turf with the final score being 19-25. Both teams are now 5-1. Both teams played hard, very hard, and I'm sure the left coast press will state how overwhelming Gore and the 49ers were but I saw the opposite... that being how underwhelming the Lions played.

At first glance the stats show one thing but having watched the game my eyes saw another. I'd almost think the entire team had their gatorade spiked with sleeping pills during half time... or perhaps they were just dehydrated... either way, Matthew Stafford had a very underwhelming day never really finding his "groove" or even some semblance of consistent accuracy while the defense lost about as much enthusiasm to play as the fans did to make noise. Even the play calling was "sleepy" or perhaps "inadequate" would be a better word. I even wondered a couple times whether both Linehan and Stafford weren't suffering from concussions (or perhaps having sympathy symptoms for Scheffler and Durant). The longer the game wore on, the worse the players got... Backus became old and slow, Stafford looked lost or in the wrong time zone, the receivers started playing less sharp, actually, most everyone on the team played less sharp, not to be outdone the officiating got worse, heck by the end of the game Schwartz forgot he was a head coach on television and lost his cool... and I don't really know the reason for any of it. Monday Night Football hangover perhaps? Sounds too easy.

The winning teams' quarterback had a whopping 17 completions for 145 yards 1 TD and 1 INT. The losing teams' quarterback had 28 completions for 298 yards 2 TDs and 0 INTs. Yet Stafford never really strung more then a couple of passes in a row together with any kind of accuracy. Both teams converted only two 3rd downs.

The safety the 49ers defense got was simply a bad play by Stafford and bad play calling by Linehan, but the 49ers defense got the points whereas the Lions defense got none all game, although the Lions defense did create a fumble on the first 49ers offensive play of the game and an interception later on.

The winning team had 15 penalties for 120 yards, the losing team had 6 penalties for 54 yards.

Both teams had 2 TDs but the Lions went for 2 points at the beginning of the 4th quarter and failed to convert. Jason Hanson also missed a 52 yard field goal making his other two while the 49ers made all 3 of theirs.

The Lions time of possession was just over half the game at 30 minutes 21 seconds.

The officiating was questionable on and off all game long but unless the Lions tanked the game due to being upset at the officiating that isn't why they lost.

No, the reason the Lions lost was due to the next two sentences:

1. Stafford was sacked 5 times (and hurried many more) while Smith was sacked only twice.

2. Lions had 66 yards Rushing, the 49ers had 203.

The Lions defense failed to stop the run, being gored by Gore on two huge plays, and they failed to sack Alex Smith. That is what lost the game.

The Lions offense failed to compensate for the underwhelming defensive play by being, well, average. The offensive line was below average as was the quarterback while the rest of the team was at or above average for the most part.

I had expected more from the offense and a lot more from the defense.

Much was made after the game about the pushing match between the head coaches (apparently Harbaugh said something profane and shoved Schwartz) but while newsworthy to others it meant nothing to me and still doesn't.

What concerns me is the inability to stop the run game by the defense, the inability by the offensive line to protect Stafford, the inability to execute the basic plays efficiently when the officiating is suspect, and the team being out coached by the 49ers.

I blame this loss on coaching and age.

Age: I'm just now starting to wonder if Jeff Backus' age isn't catching up with him, he really didn't have the stamina to play the whole game (I think you'll see that his play in the 4th quarter was simply terrible) while at the same time the defensive tackles are relatively young and failed to play the run on the way to the quarterback a few key times.

Coaching: Reinforce the run defense when struggling during the game. Hydrate your players if they are getting sluggish. Settle down your players when the officiating is suspect. Get short yardage fast when backed up into your own endzone. Save the 2 pointers for the last half of the 4th quarter. And finally, FOCUS.

Hydrate, Communicate, and then Celebrate but never lose focus.

When the coaching is underwhelming the players play that way.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Game 5 Chicago Bears @ Home

Good days.

The Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears 24-13 on Monday Night Football to remain undefeated with a 5 and 0 record.

You will probably need to read the above sentence over and over again for it to really sink in. These are good days people. Sure there is room for improvement (individual play wise) but just stop and go read that sentence again. The last time the Lions started 5-0 it was 1956, as in the good OLD days. The good old days I heard about but wasn't alive for. These are the good NEW days. When the Lions can play away, home, national tv, three scores down or what-have-you, and win. Quit worrying about the game ending collapses that have so ruined our minds and enjoy this. We fans are embarking on a football thrill ride and there are no lines to wait in or a curfew. Scary isn't it.

Records were broken tonight. Some I'm sure of, some I haven't researched but believe accurate. Ford Field attendance of 67,861 has to be a record. Jahvid Best's 88 yard run for a TD was something that, believe it or not, Barry Sanders didn't do. I'm not sure when the Lions last had a WR with 9 TDs in 5 games or when they had a QB with a season rating exceeding 100 (after 5 weeks) but they too could be records. And the fans helped with a record too... the most penalties in an NFL game with 26... which included many false starts by the Bears.

All this fun (or damage if you prefer) was done in less then 21 minutes TOP (Time of Possession). That's right, the Bears had the ball nearly twice as much as the Lions in this game.

You could complain about the penalties the Lions had, or how Stafford missed a few open receivers (some he saw and threw towards, others he missed seeing completely), you could complain about all kinds of things if you wanted to... and be accurate... and be wrong, because now is not the time to complain. Now is the time to enjoy knowing the team has room to get better. They are no where near playing a perfect game and can get even better! Will that be the 49ers game? The Thanksgiving day game? When will they put in that perfect game? Time to get your mind geared that way instead of waiting, holding your breath, hoping that the Lions don't "blow it".

I know that some will not go "all in" just yet. That's okay, I'm sure not everyone was happy in the 50's either, but since most of us were raised knowing the 50's was the Lions good old days, it might be worth getting a little enjoyment out of things right now if you can. Many us enjoyed watching Barry Sanders play in the 90's even in the years the Lions had a losing record, this is more then that (sorry Barry). This is a team playing well. Coaching, players, fans all contributing, heck even Barry Sanders was on hand to flip the coin and introduce the game. A mixture of the two previous "good old days" and now the new.

The Lions went 6-0 back in 1956, their sixth victim being the 49ers, who they just happen to play next week. Yep.. Good days... the old ones AND the new ones.

Enjoy it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Game 4 Lions at Dallas Cowboys

More then one.

The Lions played two football games Sunday against Dallas. In the first half they lost 3-20 quite decisively. In the second half the Lions fought for all they were worth and won 31-10, making the final score of the game a Lions victory of 34-30.

The Lions won their second away game in a row today, and won all 3 away games so far this season. Those 3 wins along with the home win a couple of weeks ago puts the Lions tied for 1st place in the NFL at 4-0 along with the Green Bay Packers. It's not unusual to have more then one undefeated team after only 4 weeks of NFL football, but it would have to figure that the Lions best seasonal start since 1980 is a tie with a fellow NFC North team.

The Lions were really getting their butts handed to them in the first half. Stafford was trying way too hard and struggled mightily, as did the OLine, the WRs, basically everyone on the team really. Lucky for them (and us fans) there is more then one half to the game. It was the Lions defense who got the ball rolling so to speak, with two consecutive (as in back-to-back, or more then one) Pick 6s. A pick six being an interception for a touchdown. Those plays took the wind out of the crowd and brought the Lions their much needed kick in the backside. Dallas and their star TE Witten did try to bring the game momentum back to their side, but the Lions were able to crack down just enough to win the day. It is a very good thing that the Lions have more then one playmaker on their team, no one person took control of it, they worked together and got it done.

Stafford didn't crack 50% completions with a 21/43 record, 240 yards, 2 TDs and 1 Int. No one topped 50 yards rushing, no one topped 100 yards receiving. Even the time of possession was subpar at 23:21. But that's not the end of it. Calvin Johnson did get more then one TD again today, bringing his total to 8 TDs in 4 games. His 2 TDs a game means he's on pace for an amazing 32 TD season. Jason Hanson still hasn't missed a field goal or extra point. The coaching staff does not curl up and die during half time but makes functional adjustments that the players follow, the players definitely are imitating the coaching in not giving up.

The Lions are 4-0, I'm 3-1 in my prediction of the Lions season so far, and both records are better then any of my fantasy football teams. I still have time to turn my FFL teams around, after all, if the Lions can come from behind more then once down 3 scores, so can I.

The next game for the Lions is a Monday night game. It's a home game. It's against last year's NFCN division winners. A team that won their first game last year as they defined the Calvin Johnson rule. It's the Bears... coached by a couple of recent former Lions coaches, including the former 0-16 Lions head coach. Does anyone think the Lions won't be playing this one to win?

Hopefully, the Lions won't be trying "too hard" and blow it. Then again, if they do start that way, no matter how far behind they get in the first half, there is more then one half and the Bears won't be safe until the final second expires.

There is even a chance Nick Fairley will get his first plays in the NFL this game. More then one first round defensive tackle on the field for the same team the same night... if this game is as good as I think it will be, perhaps the Lions will get more then one Monday Night game next year.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Game 3 Lions at Minnesota Vikings


The Detroit Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings in the twin cities in overtime 26-23. The Lions are now 3-0 on the year, and have 11 straight wins going back to last year (counting preseason). The last time the Lions won in Minnesota it was 1997. The last time the Lions were 3-0 to start the season it was 1980. 76% of the teams who start 3-0 make the playoffs. Even with all those "records" the Lions were favored to win this game (first time since 1991 the Lions were favored to win in Minnesota). The thing is, they were behind 0-20 at half time. Unexpectedly, they fought back and won it in overtime thanks to Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and of course, Jason Hanson.

There were a number of other unexpected items of note in this game as well. 20 net yards rushing on 19 attempts by the Lions for example. 4 receptions for 51 yards by Titus Young (and 4th best on the team today). 11 receptions and 112 yards by Pettigrew to lead the team. No INTs by McNabb OR Stafford. Just to name a few.

Some things weren't so unexpected. 2 TDs and 108 yards on 7 receptions by Calvin Johnson. Jason Hanson making a 50 yard field goal plus making 3 others, including the game winner. The refs making some questionable calls. Jeff Backus playing poorly against J. Allen when not 100% healthy (but he won't sit it out, no sir).

One of the best new things to expect of the Lions these days is the half time adjustments. For years there weren't any, now there are. They are not only making half time adjustments, but those adjustments are actually working. I applaud the coaching staff for this, big time.

I also congratulate Linehan and Gunther Cunningham for beating their previous teams in back to back weeks.

Next week the Lions head to Dallas to play the Cowboys. I'd hate to feel Romo's ribs after Suh and company get done with him. It will be a challenge for the Lions Linebackers though, playing against Witten, who always plays the Lions tough. Will the Lions be favored for that game? Will they win back to back road games? Can they find a way to win once again? It will likely be another tough match but I do think the Lions could take it.

Let's just say, it wouldn't be unexpected.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Game 2 Kansas City Chiefs @ Home


The 2-0 Lions establish that they will play tough on their home field this year by pounding the Chiefs 48-3; breaking their own point spread record set with a 44-0 win over the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995.

The starters didn't even play half the 4th quarter and one of the touchdowns was scored by Kieland Williams, the number 4 RB on their depth chart. Stafford threw for 294 yards, 4 TDs and had one INT. Burleson led the WRs with 93 yards followed by the rookie, Titus Young, with 89. CJ had only 3 completions for 29 yards, but two of them were TDs. Jahvid Best also had 2 TDs, one rushing and one receiving with 123 all purpose yards. The Lions defense had 6 turnovers on the Chiefs to the Lions giving up 1.

It's also believed that Roary (the Lions mascot) took out Jamaal Charles for the season (ACL) but an MRI will be needed Monday to determine if he is indeed lost for the season. Okay, so Roary didn't actually cause the injury, it occurred as Charles was shoved out of bounds in the middle of the first quarter by a Lions defender, causing Jamaal to fall into Roary, but I'm not sure if that cushioned his fall all that much. The injury appeared to occur on his first step towards the sideline long before the "collision". Still, Roary will make the highlight film for his role.

Next week the Lions play the Minnesota Vikings who lost today to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-24, the team the Lions beat last week. I'm 2-0 in my preseason Lions prediction so far, let's hope I'm wrong about next week's outcome.

Today's 48 points by the Lions were the most by any team this week (barring the outcome of the Sunday night and Monday night games).

It wasn't a perfect game, the Lions still have things to work on, but it was an impressive performance none-the-less.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Game 1 Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Oh so close.

The Lions win their first game of the season, a road game no less, with a score of 27-20, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the win the Lions don't have to worry about a repeat of 2008 (the last time the Lions won all 4 preseason games they went 0-16 in the regular season). This win makes it the 9th game in a row the Lions have won (4 to end last season, all 4 preseason this year, and then today's game). Of course the score makes it look like it was a close game... but was it?

No, it wasn't. At the end of the first quarter the Lions were losing 6-10, but that's only because of special teams and Tampa's defense. There was exactly 4 yards of offense by Tampa in the first quarter. That's total offense. Had Talib not intercepted Stafford's intended throw to Heller the Lions would've appeared to dominate on the scoreboard as much as they did in the stats... until the Lions went into prevent.

Did I ever mention how much I hate the prevent defense?

It was while being in prevent that the Bucs offense scored their first TD, with less then 2 minutes to go in the game. It was also in prevent that the Bucs could've tied it up and took the game to overtime. Luckily, that did not happen.

Stafford threw for 305 yards, 3 TDs, 1 Int and was 24 of 33.

Those kinds of numbers will keep the team in any game. If the defense can keep playing like they did in the first 3 quarters of the Tampa game, the team will win most of those games... depending on how often they go to prevent.

Oh do I hate prevent. I understand you are draining the clock, but all too often it allows an opposing team to get back into the game. Anyway... it worked, this time.

So why did I start this blog entry with the words "oh so close"?

Because, I predicted the Lions would win this game, 27 to 21. One point off. Oh so close.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Detroit Lions 2011 Win/Loss Prediction

The 2011 season is almost upon us, time to look at the Lions schedule and try in advance to determine what the Detroit Lions win/loss situation is like (and of course, to get it utterly wrong, but hey, got to try right?).

Week 1 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Lions allowed Green Bay into the playoffs last year by beating the Bucs, had they lost last year, the Super Bowl champion Packers would've never made the playoffs... and Tampa would have. They are probably looking for some pay back. Unfortunately for them, the Lions are itching to hit someone in the mouth, and the Bucs get to be first up. Lions win 27-21.

Week 2 at home versus the Kansas City Chiefs. The first home game. The Lions and the fans are pumped. The defensive line can win (or lose) this game for the Lions... I think they have it in them to control the game just enough. Lions win 17-14.

Week 3 at the Minnesota Vikings. McNabb is starting to get comfortable and the Lions seem to have troubles winning in the twin cities... the refs help and the slightly overconfident Lions do a belly flop. Lions lose 23-28.

Week 4 at the Dallas Cowboys. The reeling Lions go on the road again to face the still ailing Cowboys. Nothing like a road win to get your confidence back. Lions win 34-20.

Week 5 at home versus the Chicago Bears. On one side you have the 2010 division champs with 2 previous Lions coaches and on the other you have the 3-1 Lions playing at home. Fans can make a difference. Lions win and look good doing it, 27-10.

Week 6 at home versus the San Francisco 49ers. Can the 4-1 Lions take care of their home turf against the 49ers? Yeah, I know, stupid question. Lions win 37-17.

Week 7 at home (again) versus the Atlanta Falcons. Time for another wakeup call. Hard to defend your home turf with that much fire power on the other side. Lions lose 17-28.

Week 8 at the Denver Broncos. The 5-2 Lions go a mile high to catch a buzz. Lions win in another shoot out 28-21.

Week 9 a much needed bye week to heal up.

Week 10 at the Chicago Bears. While the 6-2 Lions are riding confidence the Bears are still trying to figure out why things aren't going better... perhaps it's the coaching? Lions win this one despite the refs 17-14.

Week 11 at home versus the Carolina Panthers. It's the Panthers on the Lions turf... they never stood a chance. Lions win 34-17.

Week 12 at home versus the Green Bay Packers. Sometimes Rodgers just gets hot. Lions lose this one in a dog fight 24-31.

Week 13 at the New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees is just getting warmed up and their defense is really helping them this year. Lions lose 31-24.

Week 14 at home versus the Minnesota Vikings. The 8-4 Lions need to win to have a chance at the playoffs. Luckily, the Vikings are willing to help with turnovers. Lions win 26-17.

Week 15 at the Oakland Raiders. Both teams need to win this one, but a healthier Lions team and a few great special teams plays help a lot. Lions win 28-14.

Week 16 at home versus the San Diego Chargers. Rivers to Gates takes the show. lions lose 21-14.

Week 17 at the Green Bay Packers. The Packers sit a lot of their players, but man, it's COLD outside... Lions shiver all the way home with a score of 10-13.

The Lions take 2nd in the division with an 10-6 record. Is it enough for a wildcard spot? The late night game will determine that, it's no longer in the Lions hands.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

3 weeks ago, I set my estimated depth chart, got 6 wrong

No, the roster isn't done yet. But this is the day I see how my estimated depth chart that I set 3 weeks ago (tomorrow) looks compared to actual.... and this year I was off by 6. (My best is 5).

The obvious one: 3 weeks ago I didn't see Donahue beating out Harris for the punting job... I did see it a week ago but that doesn't count.

Instead of keeping Nathan Vasher they kept Aaron Berry. I kept tossing Aaron into and out of the estimates as I figured maybe they'd be tired of him being always injured and cut him... guess not.

At backup guard and center I had Niswanger and Thomas, they cut them and kept Gandy and Morris. 3 weeks ago I went with reputation... as of yesterday (and even still right now) I don't really see any decent backup guards or centers on the team (or cut from the team). I do not think they are done with this position yet.

They cut Jerome Felton. Saw this one coming a week or two ago when TE Heller was getting reps at FB but that hadn't happened 3 weeks ago when I set my estimated roster. They kept an extra RB in Jerome Harrison.

That's 5.

I really thought they might keep 6 WRs to start the season but Titus Young finally healed up and played... I knew there were a number of maybe's (they were in italics in my estimated depth chart). One of those italicized that I had put down as cut simply due to the numbers was Fluellen... that was the player they kept over WR Derrick Williams.

Final count. 25 O, 25 D, 3 special teams

If they clear waivers, the practice squad will likely have some names on it like LB Cobrani Mixon, WR Nate Hughes, LB Caleb Campbell, TE Joe Jon Finley, QB Zac Robinson, FB Matt Clapp, DT Rob Calloway, S Paul Pratt, S Ricardo Silva and since he already cleared waivers, WR Demario Ballard (assuming all of them qualify to actually be on a practice squad).

That's 10, but they can only sign 8, so at least 2 don't make the practice squad either.

Noon Sunday is when players can be signed to the practice squad, but if we know who the Lions signed by 8pm I'd be surprised... used to be you'd have to wait until the next day so we shall see.

My estimated depth chart every year is at in case you didn't catch that in my previous blog entry.

Time to start working on my cap chart and then finish my estimated win/loss prediction for the Lions.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Preseason Game 4 Lions at Buffalo Bills

Can't wait for the regular season to start.

Unfortunately for 27 current players on the Lions roster, the good feeling ends very soon. Some of them will make the practice squad, a couple will find work on another football team, but the rest are done with NFL football as of now. It's too bad the new CBA didn't include a larger roster limit and an expanded practice squad.

That said, the team is actually shaping up pretty well. There are a number of positions up for grabs and at least 3 times that number of players vying for them. As I watched the 4th preseason game a few things jumped out at me that make me believe I'm not going to beat my final roster prediction record (that I made after preseason game 1, as I've done for years).

I do believe Ryan Donahue has won the punter job over Nick Harris. Matt Clapp has apparently won the fullback job since Jerome Felton has already been cut and I must say, he did pretty well in that 4 minute drill at the end of the game (even if it was against their 4s). I'm not too confident in my choices for backup guard and center and there are some other positions that are highly contested.

Some of those decisions won't be based on this one game, or on all the preseason games, but on the hours and hours of preseason practice and classroom study. So there is still a chance my initial impressions will be right... I'm just not very confident about them right now.

As for the game itself, here are some notes and comments on them....

I like that Stafford and most of the 1s played one series only in this game. I love that they all sat down without injury (as did most of the team in this game I do believe).

Shaun Merriman is good.

Lions O and D playing with confidence, wonder how they’ll respond to negativity... I don't think they'll just fall apart like they did in the 2000's.

Jerome Harrison appears to be learning about the O (finally).

Titus Young needs to learn the proper acting methods after being held (real or not), draw a flag man (he appeared to be interfered with).

Maurice Stovall is making the team (said that many times before), I'm less positive about Rashied Davis though. We shall see.

Wow, 3.5 minutes to go in 1st quarter and we're already seeing Stanton (and the other 3rd stringers). Nice.

I really like the Lions QB depth.

That’s a blow to the head? Wow.

Cameraman needs to work on his ball following skills.

Nice shake-n-bake by Jerome Harrison.

Hughes is like, medium rare… just not quite done, close, but not done enough yet.

Aaron Brown outplayed Jerome Harrison previously, but not this game.

That return by Hughes (fumbled) is the final nail I should think, at least as a return man anyway.

Willie Young showing his stuff… nice component of the team... great depth on the DLine.

Hughes protects that punt return very well, guess he can learn from his mistakes.

Pratt and Silva are almost ready, like Hughes. Years past, these three would automatically make the team… now, not so sure.

Fransisco made a great play defending that pass on 4th down.

QB Robinson starts with 10 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

Tim Toone, Caleb Campbell, JJ Finley, … guys one step behind Hughes, Pratt, Ian Johnson, Mixon and Silva. The former are probably goners, so are the latter, but they are making it interesting... and Silva might make the team while Alphonso Smith is unable to practice (if he qualifies for PUP which I think he does). But if he goes on PUP he can't come off of it until after week 6.

Haven’t seen the Lions players having fun like this in a long long long time.

D Williams hesitates, like he’s waiting to be hit… instead of going full speed ahead.

Clapp has more carries in this one game then Felton in a year I think.

If 1st string OL could block holes like those 4th stringers wow.


Another nice pop by Fransisco, and then another back to back. Where's this guy been hiding out at?

Clapp loses the bandaid on his nose again, blood everywhere… but he’s getting those hard yards.

Nice tackle Caleb Campbell… though it may be your last as a Lion (sorry bud) unless the team keeps you over Hogue (numbers game now).

Lions win 16-6… and all 4 preseason games (gulp).

Well, I'm not sure who the final 53 players will be (or 54 if one goes on PUP) but I do know that not only are we fans ready for regular season, so are the Lions themselves. Since there was no OTAs, no nothing for 5 months this off season, I'm really impressed. All aspects of this team are ready to play and ready to win.

Next weeks' blog entry, my Lions win/loss prediction. Don't forget to enter yours in the win/loss prediction contest at

Monday, August 29, 2011


Tom "Killer" Kowalski

I, ah, have written and re-written this first line more times then I can count. Nothing adequately describes what I want to say. My cyber-buddy Tom "Killer" Kowalski has passed away at the ripe old age of 51 (a mere 3 years my senior). Killer was more then just a cyber-buddy however, I have in fact met him, multiple times. I have read him pretty much daily for nearly 13 years. I have emailed him, twittered to or about him, managed to get him to follow me on twitter, conversed in forums and in chats, even managed to interrupt his rush to get a story out a time or two while attending Lions practices. While I can't say we exchanged Christmas gifts or anything, I can say we knew each other "professionally" and to some extent, personally.

His favorite movie is the Princess Bride. I have found myself watching it multiple times because of that. I have a bookmark, just in case it's needed in a forum or a chat (or an email) ...

If you know twitter you know his @ sign. If you never have been to twitter, try this link!/TomKowalski36 and just read a bit of what you can see on a persons twitter wall.

A new twitter account was created today, just to allow people to post up to 140 characters about the man (that's the maximum characters you can tweet in one tweet)!/RIPTomKowalski

MLive has a large number of tributes and blogs listed with various obits and goodbyes...

None of it seems to be quite enough, like my first line of this blog post I am utterly failing to come up with what is needed.

Perhaps this is why a moment of silence is often best... or perhaps I just need time... like Miracle Max says "You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles."

RIP Killer... and if you happen to get the ear of the big guy, well, first and foremost, don't tick him off and second, put in a good word for the Lions (hey, it can't hurt) and maybe skip the big women joke.

Well, in the immortal words of the man himself... Fellas, guess what time it is...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Preseason Game 3 Lions vs New England Patriots at Home


Once again the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots meet. Once again one team dominates the other. This time in preseason. Except this time, it's the Lions doing the dominating. But it's not just any preseason game, it's the 3rd preseason game, when teams typically give it a trial run for the regular season. Having said that, it is still a preseason game.

The Lions get the ball first. They are playing on offense without Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris, and Mike Bell all at running back… just Aaron Brown, Jerome Harrison and Ian Johnson are suited up to play (need to include Stefan Logan now as well, since he's no longer being considered at wide receiver but rather at running back, which is where I put him 2 weeks ago when I worked up my estimated depth chart).

Now for some notes on the game itself:

The Lions run the No Huddle, drive down the field, with Aaron Brown utilized the most the same as they did Jahvid Best in game 2. Burleson taps his toes in-bounds on terrific catches, same as he did in game 2, but misses the TD catch and the Lions settle for a field goal. It should be noted that the Patriots were missing nearly half their defensive starters though.

The Lions defense makes short work of the Pats O… impressive. (It should be noted the Patriots were playing with most if not all their starting offense).

The Lions get the ball back and that was perhaps the best screen pass (with a fake reverse) that I have ever saw. Several plays later it's TD Burleson, on a rope from Stafford.

Next, the Pats constantly having to do miracle plays on 3rd down this drive to move at all, most teams couldn’t do what they are doing, needing to do, to get first downs, still ends in only a field goal. Lions are up 10-3.

Pats next series ends when Brady has to throw super fast for an incomplete short inaccurate pass… the Lions D is really forcing this team into errors. Again, impressive.

Except for Scheflers horrid EndZone dance, the next Lions drive was a thing of beauty. The team is really coming together and Brady of the Patriots looks HOT! I mean ticked off... real ticked off.

Tom Brady fails to convert on 3rd and 31… me thinks the Lions D is starting to get after Brady a wee bit more then what he’s used to.

Lions starters win 17-3, but as soon as Lions switch to 2nd string D, Brady gets a 44 yard TD making it 17-10. The Lions saw enough about 10 minutes into the second quarter to start sitting their starters (most teams take the starters into the 3rd quarter in this 3rd preseason game). The Patriots are still playing their starters.

Now for a couple of tweets I read...
Al Beaton
And that's it for Stafford. 12-14-200-2 TD-158.3 QB rating. And he very easily could have been 14-14.

@tomecurran: Patriots have no completions to outside receivers, Price, Ocho or Branch so far.

Back to the game notes....
Tom Brady is still in, 1 minute to go in 1st half, Lions have been playing 2nd string on both O and D for almost 4 minutes know… so Silva Intercepts Brady to end their 2 minute drill (full disclosure: I erased the LOL I had typed here in my notes).

Maurice Stovall will most certainly make the team.. great special teams and doing well in the Lions O. (Fairly sure I said it before, but I locked in my estimated Lions Depth Chart on August 15th, it's online, go to for the link to the spreadsheet, info on this is a few blog posts down).

The announcers are now trying to explain away the game, saying Pats D is missing half the starters… (but as I noted, their O is playing more or less intact and they scored 3 points against the Lions 1's).

Shaun Hill to Aaron Brown for a TD… in the Lions 2 minute offense. Great drive, nothing like Brady’s failed attempt.

Brady comes out first series 2nd half, fails to make a 1st down. Wow.

6 minutes into the 3rd quarter and Pats finally put in 2nd string QB. Lions still leading 31-10.

Another tweet...

Greg A. Bedard
The silver lining for Patriots fans is that they obviously didn't game plan for this one. Last week was their dry run.

It's amazing how many are trying to explain away the Patriots failure to look ready to play, but so be it. I stopped taking notes at this point (but have the game Tivo'd just in case for later). The Lions eventually win the game 34-10.

So what do we learn from this game?

First, that the players for the Patriots are going to be severely challenged by their coaching staff in the coming weeks. I wouldn't want to be them.

Second, the Lions are going to be playing with a lot of confidence, I hope they don't start to relax and coast. The Lions coaches have the bigger challenge of keeping the players focused, the Patriots will be very focused for the next couple weeks.

Third, unlike the week before, the Lions starters are looking pretty good... assuming they were indeed doing at least some game planning (and assuming the Patriots actually were as well)... the Lions will be very competitive this year, very very competitive.

Fourth, that 0-16 season (2008), where the Lions won all 4 preseason games still haunts me (and probably you).

If anything dominates my thoughts, it would be that. More so then the Lions dominating the Patriots in preseason.

Preseason Game 2 Lions at Cleveland Browns

Welcome to the Great Lakes Classic!

That's what they call the annual preseason game between the Lions and the Browns. With so many former Browns on the Lions team, I wonder how many players were confused from time to time about which team they were playing for. Not saying anything like that happened, it's just something that crossed my mind while watching the game.

For that matter, there were a lot of things that crossed my mind while finally watching the taped game just now. First was, why didn't I remember to spray my satellite dish with Rain-X before football season got here (so that heavy rains don't affect my signal, forcing me to not watch the taped delay game but catching the tivo'd replay of the game on the NFL network... Rain-X works great for that and snow, if you remember to actually climb up and spray everything down a couple times a year).

The second thing that crossed my mind was why do they tape delay (and/or black out) preseason games. IT's PRE-season for crying out loud.

Then my mind wandered off to why do I watch preseason games and then blog about it. I mean, it's all just base offense and defense. Okay, so it's the only time you can sack or tackle… and it helps get film on players in game conditions... but both sides are only showing things they want all teams to see… things they want other teams to prepare for but are never used… things to practice for yourself no matter who sees it. It's all a part of the big chess game that is football. I suppose if chess was a contact sport I'd be watching that too, be it practice or real games.

Then the game kicks off and my mind quits wandering, for a little while. Here's some of my quick notes... before I finally gave up on it.

1st series, Lions D-Line showing why they are a force… opposing O trying to be quick and making mistakes.. 3 and out.

Tried 3 Jahvid Best running plays in a row, 2 worked, last one was stripped. Nothing he could’ve done really. Bear hug from behind, knees not touching, plenty of time to strip the ball.

Cleveland Browns then march down the field after turnover, with quick plays and spreading the ball around. Appeared to be a lot of cover 2… did I ever mention how much I hate the Tampa 2 style D? But they need to work on it so I guess that is what they are doing (poorly).

Still not one throw, Aaron Brown runs for a 2 yard loss… then a throw (finally) but to Aaron Brown 1st down. End around to Burleson fooled camera and me, nice play and yardage. Run play by Aaron Brown… stuffed. Lot of run work going on. Stafford flushed from pocket, losing yards, throws ball away at last second. Impressive. But then does it again… holding call on Defense saves the punt team from going to work. Very nice catch by Pettigrew for 27 yards. Try to pound it in from 5 yards out… gain 1. Back of the endzone catch by Burleson that was amazing for the TD.

Next Cleveland Browns series wasn’t even aired on the replay I’m watching. Stafford is seeing the field very well. Another amazing catch by Nate Burleson on 3rd down for 30 yards. Run play by Brown goes 5 yards up the middle. Then Stafford miss throws a couple in a row and they have to go with a field goal.

Spievey Safety Blitz was perfect. Couple of defensive holding calls before and after though are helping the Browns. Must say, the tackling looks a lot better then years past. Lions pressure is back and effective. Not sure why they didn’t pressure (blitz) during the Browns first TD drive, but it sure ended this one.

Cleveland Browns come back with their own pressure and end Lions drive with a 3 and out. Delay of game pushes Harris to very back of end zone.. not sure why they allowed that, personnel problems (who needed to be on the field) appears like. After the punt return, the Browns only have to get 21 yards for a TD. One play and it’s a TD (nice job keeping his feet inbounds after review to GET the TD).

11 yards by Heller pass play by Hill. 4 yard run by Harrison. Heller for 7 yards, first down. Harrison doing better then last week, gains 7 on 1st down. Hill, press coverage, sacked after he tried twice to run it (first time for 1 yard). Oline can’t hold off the pressure.

What a sec... Hill is in already? Why am I doing more or less play by play notes when it's all backups all the time now. Back to letting my mind wander while I await the final score (and to see if there's anything worth actually mentioning before I close).

Nope, mind still wandering... looks like I may be correct in believing Stovall will make the final roster... that 81 yard run play by Smith of the Browns was like a bad horror film rerun of the 0-16 season, not sure what went wrong there but something sure went wrong... Lions down 2 scores when Stanton comes in but they don't act or look like a team defeated, playing hard... and finally, the Lions backups and soon-to-be-cut players outplayed the Browns backups and soon-to-be-cut players for the 30-28 win.

What does that tell us? Well, so far we know the Lions have more depth then the Bengals and the Browns. Good to know but not exactly earth shattering news. I suppose you can add that turnovers kill... even if it's backups versus backups.

So once again the Great Lakes Classic Trophy gets to be displayed at the Lions practice facility (they have one from that 0-16 season as well, so be careful celebrating that) and the team prepares for the Patriots next Saturday night (which is tonight as I type this, hate getting behind and being too busy to catch up).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Preseason Game 1 Lions vs Cincinnati Bengals at Home

After nearly five months of no interaction between players and coaches (due to the lockout) I was expecting a few things. More then the normal amount of injuries (which I got these last two weeks) and a ton of rust in the actual games... and that's exactly what I saw in preseason game 1... from the Bengals.

The Lions on the other hand didn't even show the rust you'd normally see in the first preseason game after 5 months of OTAs and organized workouts. Some of that was due to the fact that none of the 2011 draft picks were starting in the first half of the game but I am finding it hard to explain the rest. I'll have to go with good coaches and good players.

There are new kickoff rules in place that give teams like the Lions an advantage. Yes, I said an advantage. While other teams are kneeling it down in the endzone and starting on the 20 yard line, teams with a very good return man will still take it 30 plus yards instead. Just as Stefan Logan did on the opening kickoff. The other advantage goes to teams who have speed on special teams due to all the players having to remain within 5 yards of the kicking LOS (line of scrimmage). If you're a slow team you are going to take another crucial second or two to get up to speed to cover a kick, and that equates to better returns for the opponent. The Lions are very fast covering kicks to go along with their returns.

Sandwiched between Logans first kick return (appearing as if in regular season form) and the kick coverage teams forced fumble and recovery was the Lions offense marching it down the field for a beautiful TD throw by Stafford to CJ. While the Bengals showed plenty of rust, the Lions did not. Hopefully that mismatch continues on into the season and it wasn't just the Bengals making the Lions look good.

The Refs were also a bit rusty, pretty much giving Nate Burleson a TD. It doesn't make up for the one they took away last year against the Bears in regular season, but it was nice to see something go the Lions way just this once.

Once the Bengals spotted the Lions 14 points the Bengals new QB Andy Dalton threw his first NFL pass, completing it perfectly to Chris Houston. The interception by Houston got the defense all riled up, pretty much keeping it that way all game.

It was nice to see the Lions players defending each other, mess with one and boom, they get you back... penalties be damned... the penalty yards were bad, but the desire to play as a team no matter the cost is very very good.

When the backups took to the field they didn't show any rust either. Though I must say there is a lot of room for improvement in the run blocking department, and if Jerome Harrison wants to earn his roster spot he needs to quit dancing and start going north more. His role is not to get a TD on every play. He only has a couple more weeks to show he gets that.

If the Lions decide to keep a dancer/speedster instead of a power runner, then Aaron Brown may just win the job over Bell or Harrison (unless they keep 4 halfbacks).

Hopefully we won't be seeing the Lions quarterbacks somersaulting into the endzone again, though it certainly was entertaining and it got the team further fired up, even if the coaches were cringing.

One note on a specific defensive player; Amari Spievey might just do alright at safety.. wow. He keeps that up and he could make the probowl this year.

I was going to write that Brandon McDonald makes the team at CB... if someone gets injured. But he may end up taking a job away from someone even without injury. Maybe. It'll be interesting to see if he can improve over the next couple of weeks or if that was it.

WR Maurice Stovall could push WR Derrick Wiliams for a job too, but Stanton showed some vet-like moxy going to D-Will a third time after 2 drops in a row for a nice 1st down on the third try.

The field goal as time expires with the clock ticking down from 13 seconds was a big time play. No rust there, heck, most teams couldn't do that at the end of the season.

I'm going to keep my eye on Ian Johnson. He may actually push to make the roster. Not necessarily against the other RBs, but against 37 other guys for the 53rd roster spot. My estimated roster has a few names in italics, those being the players I foresee as competing against each other for the 52nd and 53rd roster spots. Guys like Randy Phillips, Ian Johnson, Cobrani Mixon, Doug Hogue, and others.

An NFL team needs a lot of solid players on the roster to remain in games, but it's the playmakers that can at any moment turn a game around. The Lions may just have enough playmakers on their team now to put games away when they need to. Scattered though the offense, defense, and special teams there are guys who can get the job done. None of them appeared "rusty" from their 5 month break, and that bodes well for the season. Now, are they consistent? Time to prove it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lions Estimated Roster 2011

In only a few weeks the Lions, along with the rest of the NFL teams, will be required to cut their rosters of 90 players down to 53 (in two stages). So who makes the Lions team and why? By the way, I've been doing this for years, the best so far is 48 right and the worst was 43... I plan to hit a new record in accuracy this year.

First, some old business. A couple of posts down ( I made my free agency predictions, before the final CBA ( was ever approved. I listed 6 cornerbacks and 4 linebackers with one of each group as my primary pick and one of each group as my long shot pick. So, how did I do? At cornerback I missed my primary pick when Josh Wilson signed with the Washington Redskins, but just below his name was one Eric Wright. At linebacker my primary pick was Justin Durant... NAILED IT... but not only that, my long shot pick was Stephen Tulloch, nailed THAT ONE too!!! What does this have to do with my estimated Lions roster for 2011? Well, when you look at my depth chart, you will see 3 new starters on it from Free Agency, and all 3 of them were those picks.

Barring injury, I think the Lions are all set with their starters, on offense, defense and special teams (Kicker, Punter and Long Snapper). Now if one of the other players happens to play lights out and takes a job away, so much the better for the team and for us fans. These guys definitely make the team:

Nate Burleson
Jeff Backus
Rob Sims
Dominic Raiola
Stephen Peterman
Gosder Cherilus
Brandon Pettigrew
Calvin Johnson
Matt Stafford
Jerome Felton
Jahvid Best
Cliff Avril
Corey Williams
Ndamukong Suh
Kyle Vanden Bosch
DeAndre Levy
Stephen Tulloch
Justin Durant
Chris Houston
Eric Wright
Amari Spievey
Louis Delmas
Jason Hanson
Nick Harris
Don Muhlbach

There are a number of backups that are near locks to make the roster (again barring injury or trade).

Rashied Davis
Jason Fox
Corey Hilliard
Tony Schefler
Shaun Hill
Lawrence Jackson
Nick Fairley
Sammie Lee Hill
Willie Young
Ashlee Palmer
Isaiah Ekejuba
Bobby Carpenter
John Wendling
Stefan Logan
Will Heller
Titus Young
Drew Stanton
Alphonso Smith

Then there are the few roster spots that are being highly contested, not by just players in their own player group, but by players in other groups as well. The proverbial bottom 10 of the roster.

Guys like Derrick Williams are not only fighting off the other WRs but also the RBs as the team looks at who to keep and who not to (or who to try and trade for more picks next year).

Others who are competing against their own position group as well as the rest of the team include Randy Phillips, Jerome Harrison, Michael Bell, Ian Johnson, Aaron Brown, Doug Hogue, Cobrani Mixon, Maurice Stovall, and Brandon McDonald.

There are also positions that will be filled regardless of other positions, such as backup guard and/or backup center. I've a hunch Niswanger and Thomas take those spots due to flexibility to play either Guard and Tackle or Guard and Center.

It's a lot easier to see all these names on a depth chart/spreadsheet with some color coding and a list of players fighting for roster spots. My sheet is online at and you may enter changes to it then save it to your computer or print it if you wish (you are not allowed to post it online elsewhere, but you may link to it). I love to use it to play "what if" when it comes to making roster predictions. Just some pointers for you, keep the offense and the defense between 24 and 26 players each, along with the kicker, punter and long snapper to make 53 total. The Lions have never gone below 24 players on one side of the ball for more then 2 days (since I've been tracking it).

Oh, and one more piece of old news, KVB re-worked his contract freeing up $2.46 million in salary cap. The Lions are now at approximately $4.612 million under the cap based on the information I currently have.

Time to watch the first pre-season game... then make my final changes to my estimated depth chart before I lock it in to see how I do on final cut-down day. (The only changes I'll be making between Sunday and final cut-down day are for new pick-ups, injuries, and the like).

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lions Salary Cap Situation as of 8-6-2011

Computing the Detroit Lions Salary Cap situation is a combination exercise in accounting and detective work. The Lions themselves divulge absolutely nothing about contract terms so I have to rely on the press (many times the home paper of the player), the players' agent, tweets by the player or his friends, Rotoworld, the NFLPA, and any other source I can find (several of which I am purposely not divulging else risk losing the source). Needless to say, the results are approximate!

One missed roster bonus, one wrong signing bonus guess, heck, one wrong mathematical formula in my spreadsheet, and the numbers are all wrong. If I can get within a half million dollars of the real number, I feel I am being accurate. Also note, players come and go and it can take a week or more to get info... but tonight I think I am caught up as far as roster moves through today (the 6th of August).

Now for some facts. 2009 was the last time teams had a salary cap to contend with. With the new CBA (which I still have only seen a portion of) the 2011 salary cap is $120,375,000. Teams can "borrow" from future cap up to $3 million ($1 million per 5 year or older vet player three times) for a total cap available figure of $123,375,000. If you read much about the salary cap, you may read about a Performance Based Pay salary cap add-on (normally for guys on their first contract who outplay it and that was lost last year) of $3.5 million per team. That amount is already included in the $120,375,000 salary cap figure, without it, the salary cap would've been $116,875,000. There are some credits for signing veteran players, presumably to 1 year contracts and presumably for vet minimum wage (as in the old CBA) but since no one I know has seen that part of the new CBA we can only guess about that. One other note about the total cap available figure, there might be, as it is not verified and no one knows how much if it's true, but there might be credits from 2009 being carried forward into 2011 (Vikings, Lions, and other teams used to work the system to get LTBE bonuses, that is salary cap, moved into future years).

So, assuming the Lions took advantage of borrowing the $3 million cap from the future, assuming they had no LTBE bonuses carrying forward, and assuming that is all there is to know about the matter, then the Lions have a 2011 Salary Cap figure of $123,375,000 to work with.

Next fact, the rookies have a rookie pool, it is part of the overall salary cap (not separate) and the contracts for the rookies must remain under the amounts designated. A month ago I estimated the Lions would have a $4 million rookie pool. Turns out, the rookie pool (first year of all the draft pick contracts) for the Lions in 2011 is exactly $4,062,187. Not only that, but the total of all the contracts for all 4 years must be no more then $22,342,030. In the past there was no set amount for the total of all the rookie draft pick contracts. This explains why the draft picks were able to get signed so quickly this year, everyone already knows what can be spent in the first year and in total for the draft picks, all you can argue over is how much is guaranteed.

My numbers for the Lions draft picks equal exactly $4,062,187 for year 1 and $22,342,030 in total for all 4 years of their contracts. However, I may not have the correct roster bonuses for each player. I do have the correct salary for each player for each year of their contract, and I have all the correct numbers for Fairley's contract, and I have some of the correct information for Young, Hogue, and Culbreath, from which I calculated the numbers for LeShoure (after making a few guesses about roster/workout bonuses for Young, Hogue and Culbreath). In other words, those 5 contracts are correct in total even if a bit off individually.

I have the exact salary numbers for all 90 players on the roster. I do not have the exact signing bonus or roster bonuses for those that have such a thing. I have many, but not all. I guessed on a few. For example, Justin Durant has a 2011 salary of $1 million and a 2012 salary of $1,750,000. I therefor guessed he received a signing bonus of $750,000. Chris Houston has a 2011 salary of $1 million and a 2012 salary of $3 million, so I guess he got a $2 million signing bonus.

Obviously, these guesses could be way off, or real close, or right on.

Knowing this then, I have 90 Salary Cap contracts to work with. At this point in time, only the top 51 contracts count against the cap. If my guesses are close and my math correct, the Lions top 51 contracts add up to $121,597,883.

The way I see it then, the Lions are currently, as of today, $1,777,117 below the cap (okay, I'll say it again, or THEREABOUTS).

On opening day of regular season, all 53 players that make the roster will count, as well as everyone on IR, the practice squad, and any injury settlements from those injured/cut. To determine that though, we'd have to know which 37 players will be cut. I suppose that gives me my subject for my next blog post, my estimated roster.

Some other points for those of you who made it this far... the most expensive contract costing the Lions salary cap in 2011 is $20,310,000 belonging to none other then Matthew Stafford.

Remember, this is the roster and workout bonuses to be paid in 2011, the salary, a percentage of signing bonus (called signing bonus allocation) and any other bonuses likely to be earned (LTBE).

At number 51 we have Aaron Brown at a cap hit of $550,095. The other 49 are scattered inbetween.

The highest cap "hit" who is at risk of being cut? $1,500,000 for Tony Ugoh (I was going to say $2,225,000 for Maurice Morris but he probably already got paid his $100,000 roster bonus and his signing bonus allocation of $500,000 hits the cap whether he makes the team or not).

The player who's cap hit is less then Aaron Brown's yet still most likely to make the team? $375,833 for one Aaron Berry CB.

Remember, these are cap hits, not actual money being paid. What's the difference? I think I'll save that for another day.

note: I reserve the right to be totally wrong with my guesses, my calculation, and my numbers posted.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Free Agency is Almost Here

It was almost 3 months ago since I last posted a blog entry, mainly because I wanted no part in blogging the roller coaster ride known as the 2011 NFL CBA Negotiations (though it didn't stop me from posting it in my forum).

The CBA isn't quite done yet, or at least, neither side has ratified it yet, but that should be coming... perhaps yet this week (likely in fact).

From the sounds of it teams will have a 3 day period in order to re-sign their own free agents if they can. I fully expect the Lions to try and re-sign CB Houston, T Hilliard, DE McBride, OLB Carpenter, QB Stanton, and OLB Palmer among possibly others.

Free Agency is then going to start and the mad dash continues with all 32 teams trying to sign as many as 900 guys to their rosters while fitting under the new and as yet not understood salary cap, possibly even cutting some players to fit the new guys in thus adding to the available free agents.

Like I said in my May 2nd blog entry, the Lions are going to look for players that fit what they are doing and they are only going to sign a guy if they can get him for what they figure he is worth. Plus, the free agent has to be an upgrade (or a potential upgrade) to someone already on the roster. Believe me, the Lions had plenty of time to grade their own guys and all the potential free agents out there. They will provide as many roster spot training camp fights as they can to keep the pressure on everyone to give it their all.

So, the free agent player has to be an upgrade, for the right price, fit under the cap, and fit the scheme... plus Lewand and Mayhew will only have hours to complete the signing or risk losing the player to another team. Should be fun.

With that all said, here are some names and positions the Lions might (and I did just say MIGHT) be looking at...

At Outside Linebacker:
Rocky McIntosh, Redskins. Age: 28
James Anderson, Panthers. Age: 27
Justin Durant, Jaguars. Age: 25
and my looooong shot pick... MLB Stephen Tulloch, Titans. Age: 26 (moving Levy to OLB)

At Cornerback:
Johnathan Joseph, Bengals. Age: 27
Chris Carr, Ravens. Age: 28
Josh Wilson, Ravens. Age: 26
Richard Marshall, Panthers. Age: 26
Eric Wright, Browns. Age: 26
and my looooong shot pick... Nnamdi Asomugha, Raiders. Age: 30

There could be a Safety brought in to compete, maybe a WR, possibly some OLine, but to tell you the truth the Lions are building through the draft so unless they are unable to re-sign some of their own guys I just don't see a lot of FAs being added, not starters anyway. I also don't see the Lions using up what CAP they have left (more on that next blog post) on only one or maybe two guys, hence my long shots above. By the way, the bold names above are my two picks... at this point in time... not counting camp fodder.

Let us not forget, there is an entire slate of UDFA (UnDrafted Free Agents) to pick from as well, I have my eye on a guard with the last name of Mims for the Lions along with some others.

Now that the wait is nearly over we can all take a deep breath and gear up for FA, FFL (if you play), UDFA, Summer Camp and the start of Pre-Season... and do it all in less then 2 weeks!!! Plus, I get to learn a whole new Salary Cap system too. Makes me wish I had got more sleep when I had the chance.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Next Step

Depending on how the free agents rules turn out, and depending on who you listen to, there are between 600 and 900 NFL football players that will be free agents whenever it starts. Yes, it will start. You see, it has to. Those 600 to 900 players do not have a contract or a team to play for. Each one who can find work will find work before the first game of the season is played. The first game of the season can not begin until the new league year begins. When the new league year begins those 600 to 900 guys can begin looking for work.

Now, depending on how long the lockout goes on the more critical it will be for teams to re-sign their own guys, as they know the plays (where guys going to new teams will not). Of course, a few teams have new coaches so re-signing the former players on those teams may not be as critical, and in fact, some of those players may want to follow their old coach if he found work elsewhere as well.

In summary, unless the NFL ceases to exist forever, there will be a new league year, there will be free agency the day the new league year starts, and there will be football again sometime after that.

Now that that's out of the way, the Lions did not fill all their needs in the draft. Most teams (probably all teams) did not fill all their needs in the draft. I believe this will be the first time that following the draft every single free agent will still be available. Usually pre-draft almost all the most coveted players are already signed leaving a (perceived) second tier of talent being available. That is what most fans are used to as well. This year it's different. Teams know exactly what they need to begin the season, so certain players will be fought over in what could be some very large contract wars.

Somehow in the middle of all that, the Lions need to come away with a few players to round off their roster. The pessimistic fans will believe the Lions won't find anyone, won't go after anyone worthy of going after, or that players still do not want to come to Detroit. The optimistic fans will believe that every household named player is an option, will want to play in Detroit, and will do so for a reasonable contract or that the Lions will or should gladly overpay for anyone.

The reality is, the Lions will look for players who fit their schemes (or as they say, fit what they are trying to do), and they will look for players who are likely to be worth what they are asking in terms of a contract. There could be some trades, some players could get claimed off waivers later, and some of the Lions own free agents may decide to stay in Detroit. My feeling is that in free agency the Lions have already identified a few players they would like and will attempt to sign them if they can... but if they can not... they will proceed with pretty much who they have. I also have a hunch that there are at least two players that just happen to fit in at LB and CB who will sign a Lions contract. Who? Why? Can't say... it's a hunch.

In the meantime, all we can do is wait. Wait for the two sides to finish gaining (or losing) their leverage in court to restart the negotiations for a new CBA. In the end, the new league year starts when a new CBA is agreed to or when the courts order them to start it. That order however can not be without rules, rules as to how to handle free agency, minimum wage, and all the rest of the details that have to be resolved before the first contract can be approved at the league office.

How long will we wait? I'd say there is a 5% chance FA starts in May, a 25% chance it starts in June, about a 40% chance it starts in July, I'll go with an 25% chance it starts in August and 5% it starts in September or later.

As for whether free agents will be 4 year players or 6 year players? I'm going 50-50 there.

When you look at free agent lists, remember the Lions aren't going to engage in large bidding wars and whoever they do contact when they are allowed to has to be a player that fits their roster, both in scheme and need. Players that used to play for Gunther or Schwartz might have an edge over guys that have not (and I did say "might"). That's all I got for now, and as usual, I reserve the right to be totally wrong.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Draft 2011, Day 3

The Lions only had 2 picks in the 2011 draft on day 3. Pick #157 in round 5 and #209 in round 7. They did not make any more draft day trades and selected two players to compete for roster spots if and when there is a summer camp.

In the 5th round the selection was Doug Hogue OLB Syracuse. In the 7th round the selection was Johnny Culbreath OG/OT South Carolina State. As with most teams that are not totally devoid of talent, there is no guarantee that any picks in day 3 will make the roster (though round 4 and 5 guys usually get at least a year).

So let's take a look at the two newest Detroit Lions.

Doug Hogue was a former running back that switched to linebacker at the beginning of his Junior year. He's 6'2" tall and weighs 226 pounds. I had him ranked 134 on my big board but other sites have him lower and higher... even with only 2 years at that position. has him ranked as the 13th best OLB in the draft.

A gifted athlete who will need time to develop. He will be competing for a backup LB spot with the Lions.

Johnny Culbreath could end up playing either guard or tackle in the NFL. He's 6'6" tall and weighs in the 310 to 322 range (various sites have different numbers on him). I didn't have him ranked on my big board (400 names), but other boards have him. He's a former wrestler who played left tackle in college.

Positives: Looks like an NFL tackle with thick lower and upper bodies, good height and long arms. Has natural bend, good technique on slide. Owns a strong punch and extends arms to maintain distance with defender, resets hands multiple times. Effective cut blocker on stretch plays and in pass protection. Hits multiple targets on zone blocks and downfield. Plays with real attitude, attacks defenders in the run game and latches on, finishing the play. Team captain in 2010.

Negatives: Overextends in the run game and in pass protection, losing posture and opening himself up to be out-quicked in space. Needs to move his feet after contact because won't dominate with pure strength athleticism as he did against FCS competition.

--Chad Reuter says High school wrestling champion, team captain and four-year starter who looks the part with very good size, long arms and large hands with nice movement skills. However, is raw and unrefined technically. Has a lethargic lower body — is not explosive out of his stance and kickslide needs work. Held his own against Georgia Tech, flashes a mean streak and has moldable tools for a patient position coach to work through mental hurdles.

The Lions will try him out at offensive tackle and guard. There is a chance he makes the roster if he shows anything in camp, but the odds are he'll be a practice squad player the first year.

When free agency starts the Lions can look at signing their undrafted guys, although that could be weeks if not months from now. They scouted roughly 30 people that did not get drafted. Those names can be found on the Lions Contact List that LionHawk puts together and posts in my forum which by the way, contained the names of all 5 of the Lions draft picks... that's right, LionHawk was 5 for 5 this year.

So the Lions finish the draft with 3 players who will definitely see playing time and a couple of projects... they have a little work to do in free agency but if you take a look at it, not all that much.