Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Game 16 - Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings


The Lions finish the season with a 7-9 record after losing to the Minnesota Vikings 13-14. If I read a tweet correctly the Lions held the lead in 13 of 16 games this year in the 4th quarter only to finish below .500 for the 4th time in 5 years with the current coaching staff. I believe it's safe to say some changes will be forthcoming in that regard.

The Owners of the Lions are not changing, and it's a matter of some debate as to how much input the owners have in the hiring and firing at the top of the organization. Yes they have all the big decisions run by them, but the hires and fires should be pretty much decided upon prior to that meeting. I will base my following comments on that assumption.

The President of the Lions should be in charge of making sure the front office does it's job, that Ford Field is run properly, that Allen Park is stocked and utilized correctly, and that all matters promotional, legal and otherwise are done to the owners satisfaction. I am not certain if Lewand has failed in any of these matters, but if the team is organized properly then he should have made the decision on whether to keep Mayhew and others in the front office some time ago. If that decision meets or met with the owners' approval then we should know relatively soon what the outcome was if we don't already know.

The GM (Martin Mayhew) as I previously stated is being criticized by some for the talent on the Lions team. Others applaud him for the same talent. It's difficult to judge him since the 2013 draft may just prove to be his best draft ever. Was it a fluke? Is he learning to do it right finally? Can he do it again and again? If your plan is to build the team through the draft you need to draft very very well. With the Lions cap situation being what it is, the need to build through the draft is pretty much the only avenue open to the team now, so once again I assume things are going as planned (finally). Will Mayhew be replaced? I am uncertain if that change will occur. I am also uncertain if I have a problem with that or not... for I did like the 2013 draft quite a bit and think another like it would certainly help the team greatly. Does Lewand still have confidence in Mayhew? Is he even the one making the decisions at this point in time (he should be, so that he is accountable for the results).

The Head Coach (Jim Schwartz) is on the hot seat, and rightly so. There are some matters that perhaps those below him are not handling correctly but he has the job of correcting those before they become an issue, and that oversight has not occurred. The GM above him should be acquiring the talent, he and his staff should be developing the talent and finding ways to win on game day... putting his roster of players into the best situations to win. There are several trains of thought here too, the lesser is that he IS developing the talent and IS putting the team in the best situation to win but due to lack of talent the players are not getting the job done. The next is that the first time head coach is not developing talent correctly or is actually allowing matters to be such that he is in the way of the talent winning games. Yet another is that the talent is there, is being properly developed, is put in the best situation to win, but is not executing for whatever reason. I find the last to be highly unlikely, nearly as much as the first. To keep his job it would seem to me that the 3rd reason is the only one that works... but there is one more possibility, it's actually in excess of 12 million reasons... that is the amount of his salary that the Lions will reportedly have to pay him to fire him... and that doesn't even count all the other coaches under contract who the new coach may not retain... so the actual cost to the Lions (as in to the Ford's) is many millions of dollars more then $12 million. If Jim Schwartz remains the head coach of the Lions I think you can pretty much count the reasons in dollar bills, if you have a lot of time to do the counting.

The Special Teams coordinator I feel did a pretty good job this year. I hope that no matter what happens he is retained.

Gunther Cunningham, the defensive coordinator, hasn't produced a stellar defense and many question the strict use of the wide 9 defensive scheme... I myself like to see the blitzes and when he does blitz it does seem to work better for the team... but I don't know who is preventing the use of blitzes, or who is forcing them to use blitzes, or why the talent level of the defense hasn't been adequately addressed, or if it has, why it is not producing. Oh, I have many suspicions but nothing definite... and truth to tell, neither does anyone else. Just because we don't know for sure who is forcing what issues and why does not mean we can't have our own likes and dislikes, and I like to attack, I hate cover 2, I hate prevent, and I hate not playing man coverage (allowing for more blitzing). If Gunny is retained I surely hope to see some more permanent changes to the defensive scheme.

The Offensive coordinator (Scott Linehan) appears to be the biggest problem with the team. Many question his play calling, others his scheme, some the lack of his usage of rookies unless forced to, then there are the lack of results. I have issues with all of that and more. Since Linehan is also the QB coach, and since the QB is failing to use correct footwork (more on this in a moment) I have no problem at all saying he has failed as a QB coach. I also hate a scheme (or playbook, or whatever you want to call it) that prevents the WRs from stopping in their routes and heading back towards the QB when he is in trouble. The Lions WRs never ever do this, other teams do it all the time. I can only assume the OC does not allow for this fire drill type of route(s). I also do not approve of running 80% in the shotgun (or more). I have issue with clock management when the team has the lead, and I have issue with the scheme being totally ineffective unless both CJ and Bush (or similar weapons) are healthy and playing. Lastly, I have issue with the Lions never attacking a found weakness during a game, adjusting during the game to players injured or to opposing defenses adjustments. In fact, I have so many issues with Linehan as the OC I truly hope he is unemployed within the next 24 to 48 hours.

The quarterback (Matthew Stafford) is wildly inaccurate. I do not care about his sidearm throws. I do not care about his gunslinger attitude. What irks me to no end is his complete and total irregard for proper footwork. When he steps into his throws, and his feet are more or less pointing towards the WR, he is as accurate as any QB in the NFL. When he overthrows by many feet if you replay in slo-mo and concentrate on his feet you will usually find he is backing up, moving sideways, or has his front foot pointing ANYWHERE but at the intended target. He will never be accurate enough to be an elite QB while doing this. It is his QB coach's responsibility to work with him on this issue, and I'm not talking about one time, but ALL the time, every day, every week, every month, every season. No elite QB ever stops working on his footwork and thus his throwing accuracy. Ball placement is responsible for the loss of many a Lions game in 2012 and 2013, even if not the reason for the loss its'self then surely for the inability of the team to overcome whatever the reason for the loss turned out to be.

The WR corp has issues with drops, and fumbles. I attribute this to frustrated players trying to do too much. I don't know who they are frustrated with though, the QB, the coaching, both, themselves? Whatever the real reason(s) the coaching staff has proven not to be able to fix it (other then benching said problem makers, well, benching most of them but not all of them, another coaching issue I have).

I can go on and on, and I probably will, but until I see what decisions are made as far as retaining coaches and front office personnel in the next few days I won't know if I am wasting my time. I could easily write a very long blog about each brief paragraph from above, so I think I shall save all that for future weeks of blog material.

I'll wrap up this entry with this quick summary, the one change I am most keenly awaiting is the removal of Linehan from the Lions organization. If for any reason Schwartz doesn't do that then he should go forthwith, but after seeing his behavior after regulation time in game 15 I think his time as head coach is likely over with anyway. I assume a new coaching staff will interview all the other existing coaches before dismissing anyone to see who they wish to retain saving the Lions a lot of money and keeping some continuity perhaps speeding up the hoped for turnaround of the team. I can live with the front office for another year but if their 2014 draft isn't as good as or better then 2013 then I feel changes will need to be made there too... if those changes are about to happen now, I pray the new front office is at least as capable as the old one, going backwards now is just too much to take.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 Game 15 - New York Giants @ Home (no longer in playoff contention)

It's over.

The Detroit Lions lost in overtime to the New York Giants 20-23 ending any chance the Lions had at making the playoffs this year. Just a month and a half ago they were sitting at 6-3 with a 75% chance of going into the post season in what appeared to be an easy walk into the playoffs... the words Super Bowl were even mentioned here and there from various people. Those murmurs were quieted, then drowned out, then forgotten completely over the past few weeks. The 7-8 Lions have lost 5 games out of the past 6, 3 of them home games. They do have a few players playing hurt and a couple who missed a game here or there, but for the most part, the Lions are the healthy team in the north, and still they couldn't win their way into the playoffs. There is still one more away game in Minnesota to go, but this season is over.

The offense was playing so bad that coach Jim Schwartz let the clock run out at the end of regulations despite there being 23 seconds on the clock and having 2 timeouts. Plenty of time for up to 4 plays (or more) and to get into field goal range to win the game, instead the Lions ran out the clock to get into overtime. While the crowd reacted (properly I might add) with a chorus of boos, Schwartz appeared to yell back angrily at the fans. An perfect image of a head coach at the end of his ability.

Matt Stafford was a putrid 25 of 42 for 222 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He continually throws off his back foot with his front foot pointing in any which direction and maintains there is nothing wrong with his mechanics. I'm sorry, but when you continually miss receivers who are in excess of 6' 4" tall, sometimes missing them by many feet, when you are sailing your throws, and you are doing it with fair regularity, it's because your mechanics suck.

When your coach fails to take corrective action, or perhaps even fails to note such issues, then it's time for change. The Lions can not trade Matthew Stafford nor can they cut him until sometime after 2015 (probably 2017 at the earliest) due to his extended contract (and corresponding cap hit)... therefor it is mandatory that help be brought in. Coaching help. In addition to the QB play, the offense fails to execute many of the basics on a regular basis... once again pointing to the need for a coaching change. It's possible the Lions won't want to lose out on the millions of dollars (reportedly to exceed $12 million) to fire Schwartz, but if he is kept on then a new offensive coordinator is the very minimum that must occur... but to be honest, after watching this game, I am pretty sure it's over for Schwartz as well.

Assuming the Lions do replace the head coach, every person associated with the team will be evaluated by the new coaching staff as it is built and a great deal of change should be forthcoming. Nothing in the past 50+ years of the franchise suggests the results from this change will be positive, correct, or in any way helpful... but to not make the attempt is just not really an option. I will have to go more into that later, for now, there is still a lame duck game remaining against the Vikings in Minnesota next week. The results of which don't matter, for this season is over, but since the game will be played regardless, I shall predict the Lions lose by 3 scores. I believe a fairly large number of starters will not be playing in the game (due to injury). There is no reason for the guys nursing bad knees to play, the season is over, so be prepared to watch the backups play, and for many, it will be their last game as a Detroit Lion (this goes for players and coaches alike).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013 Game 14 - Baltimore Ravens @ Home (losing the division lead)

All the above.

The Lions lose the Ravens game at home 16-18 and lose control of winning the division by going to 7-7, behind the Bears and Packers. Before this game all they needed to do was win 3 games in a row to finish and no one could take the playoffs away from them, even giving them a home game the first week. Now they need both the Bears and the Packers to lose one game out of the next two and also the Lions need to win their last 2 games to win the division. If they do not win the division they do not make the playoffs. Lions have now lost 4 of their last 5 games.

Stafford was a putrid 18 of 34 for 235 yards 1 TD and 3 INTs. He was highly inaccurate throughout the game, and indeed, throughout the season. When he does throw correctly no one is more accurate, but just about as often he is off, by a few feet in most cases, often with disastrous results. Yes, it's true, his WRs drop passes, more then they should, but even the passes they catch are often bailing Stafford out instead of being on target... so that evens out. (Whether you like to hear that or not). But Stafford was not at fault for losing this game.

The Officiating earns second spot in tonight's blog. Phantom calls before the half allowed the Ravens to get one of their field goals, and another probably cost the Lions 4 points in the 2nd half. There were a couple of none calls that might have helped the Lions late in the game, but the right side line judge was for most of the game very one sided, and he apparently is a Raven's fan (or at least should be, still, if not, the Ravens are now a fan of his). But the officiating was not at fault for losing this game.

The Lions defense allowed 222 yards through the air and another 90 yards on the ground. They gave up 6 field goals (the last one being nearly 61 yards for the lead and eventual win). They did not give up a touchdown though. They in fact held Flacco to fewer yards then Stafford had. However, they created zero turnovers. But the Lions defense was not at fault for losing this game.

The Lions coaching staff had timeouts remaining when the Ravens were held to a 4th down and facing a 61 yard field goal attempt or possibly going for it on 4th down. The Lions did not call a timeout to give them more time in case the field goal was made and allowed time to drain off the clock. I have no issue with that as who's to say the Ravens weren't going to go for it and calling a time out would've allowed them time to think over the play. What I do have a small issue with is some of the plays called prior to the Lions retaking the lead. Scoring from roughly the 24 yard line when they could've gone for a 1st down and drained more clock... I get that it's harder to score the needed TD as you get closer to the goal line but time was as much the enemy as not scoring. Anyway, it wasn't the coaching staff's fault this game was lost.

Various other players messed up here and there throughout the game solidly putting them in the "not helpful" category. Penalties that were legit could've been avoided... tackles missed could've been made... blocks missed shouldn't have been. And so the story goes, but these small additions to the awkward playing style of the Lions was not the reason the game was lost.

No, no the reason the game was lost, the blame can be solidly placed, on ALL THE ABOVE. From coaching to QB play, from offense to defense to special teams to officiating, you can blame all of the above and call it a night.

One could even say (and SHOULD say) that if the Lions don't make the playoffs (and the odds are very bad as of now) that this game wasn't the reason, but any of the close losses during the season that should've been wins putting the Lions out of reach in these last few weeks was the problem. The lack of focus. The penalties. The lack of making the QB better throughout the season (read as no QB coach). Losing the momentum that was there prior to the bye week. On and on and on I could go. The Lions lost this game but more importantly, they lost the probability of making the playoffs not tonight, but over the past 5 weeks, multiple times. You can say it's a team that doesn't know how to be successful, or afraid of success, or lacking discipline, and someone somewhere will say "all the above" and probably not be wrong.

The Lions have 2 games left, they must win both and the Bears and the Packers must each lose one game. The odds are long. I have to believe that the odds of the Lions coaching staff retaining their jobs should they not make the playoffs are equally poor, at least for some of them. After watching this game, after watching this season, and despite how much I despise the hiring process of a new coaching staff along with new schemes, new playbooks, and the general rebuilding that goes on when staff turnover happens... well, I have to join those calling for the coaching staff to be fired. I'm not sure it will happen as Schwartz received an extension not that long ago and firing him might be very expensive, too much for Ford to agree to... but that won't stop me from siding with those that believe this team can not win in (or get to) the playoffs because the coaching staff is having a negative impact on the talent that is on the team. To put it simply, they are not getting the job done!

Someone somewhere is going to tell me that maybe the coaching staff is doing a great job (or they will insist the Lions coaches are definitely doing a great job) and that the record would be much worse if these coaches weren't in place. If that's truly the case (and I do not believe it for a minute) then the talent isn't what we all think it is and therefor the GM should be fired along with others in the front office. Of course, if that happens, the new front office will replace the coaching staff anyway (because that's what new front offices do) and the blame means nothing then anyway.

So whether you think it's bad drafting and/or free agency, or coaching, or the players (which reflects back on the front office), or in most cases, all of the above, you are probably already asking for heads to roll, even though the Lions still have a long shot of making the playoffs (despite the coaching, or the talent, or the front office). I'm there with you, quietly for now, but will get louder in the coming weeks if what happens happens as I suspect it will.

My prediction for next week, a Lions win. A loss takes them out of the playoff picture pretty much completely (if not mathematically) so to drag this out to the last minute of the last quarter of the last game of the season, it is necessary for the Lions to win next week... and that is obviously what will happen, right? Of course it is.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

2013 Game 13 - Detroit Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles (in the snow)


The Detroit Lions go to 7-6 after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 20-34 today. The weather conditions were very poor, by half time there was around 8 inches of snow on the ground and most of the first half was played in white-out conditions. The Lions were up by a score of 8 to 0 at half time and appeared to have control of the game only to see it all go the opposite way in the second half. In fact, the Eagles scored 28 point in the 4th quarter alone. The only bright spot in the whole game was Ross's punt and kick returns for touchdowns, something a Lion hasn't done since the 70's.

Mathew Stafford was 10 of 25 for a 148 yards with no TD's and no INT's. He had 5 fumbles however to go along with 2 from Joique Bell. While Stafford's were bad, Bells probably cost the Lions 2 scores. It was a very poor showing just the same regardless of the weather.

The Lions defense held the Eagles to only 11 completions of their own... which was good. Unfortunately they also allowed 299 yards rushing... which was horrible. How they played so bad as the weather improved is something I don't think I will ever understand. It was simply a very poor showing.

I could spend a great deal of time complaining about the poor coaching, poor officiating, poor ball handling, poor run defense, poor luck, and anything else that was poor, but it just gets so tiring. Tiring to write, tiring to read. So instead, I think I'll just put this game behind and look towards the next one.

The next one being on Monday night football against the Baltimore Ravens. If the good Lions team shows up it could be a very good game and a win for Detroit, but the poor Lions team shows up it's going to be a massacre. So far this year it's been a 50/50 deal as to which team will show up, I'm hopeful the fact it's a national game will keep their collective heads in the game and limit the number of totally stupid issues that keep happening. Going with that line of thinking I shall predict the Lions win this next game by the same score they just lost by, 34-20.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

2013 Game 12 - Green Bay Packers @ home on Thanksgiving Day

What a difference.

The (now) 7-5 Detroit Lions tromped on the (now) 5-6-1 Green Bay Packers with a score of 40-10. After repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot for a quarter and and half the Lions got their collective heads out of their collective backsides and played like everyone knew they could. The Lions went on a rampage scoring 37 unanswered points after getting behind 3-10, what a difference a short week makes.

Matthew Stafford went 22 of 35 for 330 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. The defense held Flynn to 10 of 20 for only 139 yards 0 TDs and 1 INT. Not only that, the defense also held the Packers to 24 yards rushing. The Packers only TD was a fumble recovery for 6 in the 2nd quarter just before Stafford and company woke up and started focusing on playing the game correctly.

The Lions defense even managed to get their first safety of the year. Did I mention the Lions forced two fumbles and recovered them both? No, I probably didn't. I would mention how the Lions blitzed more then I've seen them do all season but I don't want to get anyone's hopes up that that will continue into the future (though I truly hope it does). What a difference it makes.

Lions had 2 fumbles and 2 interceptions before they finally (FINALLY) stopped the bleeding and truly focused in on the game. I have no idea what switch got flipped or by who, but I'm terribly glad it happened. Hopefully whoever responsible can remember how to flip that switch in the future in case it's needed again.

There were many things that made a difference this game, I shall simply list some of them:

1. The Fans didn't sleep through the game, they actually made some noise and tried to be a proper 12th man.
2. The coaching staff actually called more run plays then pass plays, over 40 run plays to 35 passes.
3. The coaching staff actually blitzed the opponent, and the blitz actually got to the QB.
4. Matt Stafford actually completed more then 60% of his passes. Most of them were on target as well.
5. Most passes that could be caught were caught, the number of drops was severally reduced.
6. The officiating was fairly accurate, fair, and didn't interfere with the games outcome.
7. Every member of the team played as if they were totally focused on the game sometime soon AFTER the fumble for a TD in the second quarter.

What a difference every one of the 7 listed items made. The Lions are now alone in 1st place in the division, own the tie breaker with the Bears, and by splitting with the Packers this year no one owns the head-to-head tie breaker there (where as the Packers owned it before this game). When it comes time to determine the division winner at the end of the season these facts could make quite a difference.

The Lions now have 10 long days until they go take on the Philadelphia Eagles, hopefully the momentum from the 2nd half of the Packers game carries over into the Eagles game. Hopefully the Lions do not lose the focus they displayed today, or if they do lose focus I truly hope they are able to find it before it's too late and eek out another road win. Every road game is challenging, and the Lions haven't shown they are consistent yet this year, but it's just possible they can win this game to maintain their lead in the division. My prediction is once again hard to make, but I'll go with a 24-23 score and cross my fingers and toes. Hmmm... I appear to have some kind of optimism again, what a difference a win makes.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

2013 Game 11 - Tamba Bay Buccaneers @ Home


The (now) 6-5 Detroit Lions lost to the (now) 3-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 21-24. The Detroit Lions simply refuse to take ownership of the NFC North by winning their way to division champs. However, the Chicago Bears lost today to the Rams and the Green Bay Packers finished in a tie with the Minnesota Vikings which means the Detroit Lions remain in 1st place anyway. In 4 days the Lions play the Packers on Thanksgiving day, it should be an interesting match-up to say the least. Just about ever fan on the planet now expects the Lions to lose. I am curious to see how they handle the pressure of a nationally televised game.

Matthew Stafford had yet another horrible game, completing 26 of 46 for 297 yards, 3 TDs and 4 INTs. Many of his teammates contributed to the loss, but in my mind, Stafford crumpled under pressure and contributed the most to the loss.

Some fans want to throw the loss onto the feet of the defense, but that same defense held the Bucs to 39 rushing yards (less the negative 17 yards for the QB) and that same QB was held to only 14 completions. The problem is those 14 completions netted 247 yards and 2 TDs... and the Lions defense created zero turnovers once again.

Some fans want to put the blame on the Lions coaching staff, but the only part that I blame them for is failing to help the players handle the pressure of winning.

The momentum from the wins before the bye week is all gone now. The two losses since actually has the fans and the players going in the wrong direction. Many fans have actually given up on the season already, even though the Lions still are 1st in the division. The problem now seems to be that the team (and the fans) don't know how to handle success. The pressure to win, to make the playoffs, is causing the players to bumble and fumble their way through the game, and causing the fans to turn on a dime with every bad play. There was no home field advantage this week. May not be next week either unless the team has some big time plays early in the game and then keeps doing them throughout the day. The players and the coaching staff needs to handle this pressure, otherwise there really is no reason to get to post season as the team won't handle the pressure of the playoffs any better. I haven't exactly got the formula for success at this point, but the players have forgotten how to have fun and just play... they are putting so much pressure on themselves that it's an impossible situation. Hopefully someone of note in that organization figures out that they are putting too much pressure on themselves and gets them to stop, coaching staff and players alike.

Maybe the upcoming nationally televised game will get their collective minds off the playoffs and on to the game itself. It is also possible the added pressure will make them fold like a broken chair. That is why I am anxious to see the next game. It could easily be a turning point in the season, or it could signal the end.

There is a hierarchy in the Lions that has to handle this pressure to win, it starts with Schwartz, goes to Linehan and Cunningham, then quickly goes to Matthew Stafford, followed by Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson and the rest of the team (and let's not forget special teams). Everyone on the team needs to keep their focus under the pressure to win, and enjoying the game again is a large part of that. The same goes for the 12th man, that is to say, the fans who go to the game. Everyone needs to first relax, have fun, and then focus on winning the game helping in any way they can.

I desperately want to predict a win on turkey day, I know the Lions have the talent to win, I'm just not sure that all those who go to Ford Field on Thursday will handle the pressure well enough to win the game. Here's hoping.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

2013 Game 10 - Detroit Lions @ Pittsburgh Steelers


The now 6-4 Detroit Lions lost to the now 4-6 Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 27-37. The Green Bay Packers lost today but the Chicago Bears won, getting them to 6-4 as well. Lions remain at the top of the division by virtue of the head-to-head tie breaker. The cushion the Lions could have enjoyed is now gone after only 1 week.

There were many factors in the game, not the least of which was that it was raining. It was played outside on a grass field. CJ and Bush are playing hurt (and so was Bell by the end of the game). On and on the excuses go. Fact of the matter is, if the Detroit Lions want to win the division and get deep into the playoffs they simply can NOT play like they did today.

Matthew Stafford was only 19 of 46 good for 362 yards 2 TDs and 1 INT. He completed only 3 of his 16 passes in the second half of the game. None of those 3 were to Calvin Johnson. 19 of 46 is a 41% completion percentage, there really is no excuse for that, not even due to the couple of drops that his wide receivers had (which were bad).

The Lions gave the ball away 2 times by fumbling and 1 time by interception. They created no turnovers of their own. This is inexcusable as well. Some are blaming the coaching staff going for a 1st down instead of a field goal as one of the reasons for the loss, but in fact the play worked, it was a first down, the problem was the punter fumbled the ball away instead of simply allowing himself to be tackled. I loved the play myself, just not the execution of it.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 367 yards and 4 touchdowns including two touchdowns in the final 5 minutes. The Steelers scored 37 points. No amount of excuses can make that any better. The Lions defense failed, there was rarely any pressure by the front 4 and there were no blitzes all game long if I recall correctly. You are not going to win jack if you create zero turnovers AND give up 367 yards through the air every game.

Matthew Stafford broke a 55 year old record to become the Lions' all-time leading passer. Yet his accuracy was pretty much horrible during the game (even some of the passes that were completed were really bad throws). As one of the top paid players on the team he needs to help overcome the shortcomings on the rest of the team, not become a part of the problem. No excuses, he failed to do that this game.

It was a team wide loss, you can not possibly assign blame to any one person or group. The running backs were ineffective, the passing game stunk, the receiving was terrible, the tackling was atrocious, there really wasn't anything to be proud of this game by anyone. No excuses, the Lions lost this game and can not allow it to happen like this again or they simply wasted the season. Time for the coaching staff to earn their keep. Time for the team captains to step up and lead. Everyone needs to work harder and do better, inside or outside, rain or shine, on O or on D. It doesn't matter who could be blamed for the loss, it only matters that it doesn't happen again.

Lions have a couple of home games coming up. Against the improving Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then 4 days later on Thanksgiving Day. Mathematically they may not be "must win" games, but in reality, they are. Put in the work now, put in the effort during the games, and keep yourselves under control and focused... win the dang games. No excuses.

My prediction? I'm afraid I can't give one. I have no idea why the team lost focus this game nor do I know what they might do in the next two. I can only hope the home crowd can keep the collective Lions' heads in the game. If the crowd does, if the Lions do [remain focused] then two wins is easy to predict. If not, if the Lions fall to 6-6, we'll be spending the last half of December talking about the upcoming 2014 draft, and probably about who the next set of coaches might be.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

2013 Game 9 - Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears

Wasn't Very Pretty

The 6-3 Detroit Lions won their 2nd game of the season against the 5-4 Chicago Bears 21-19. Since the Packers also lost today that puts the Lions in first place in the division all by themselves, a game ahead of the Packers and two games ahead of the Bears (due to tie-breaker rules). The Lions have never had a solo lead in the division this late in the year since they won the division in 1993. If I wanted to describe the game in 3 words or less, I'd have to simply say "it wasn't pretty".

Calvin Johnson broke Herman Moore's Lions TD record in the game after scoring two touchdowns to bring his total to 63 in 100 games, a full 2 years sooner then it took Herman Moore to get to 62. Matt Stafford was 18 of 35 for 219 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Like I said, it wasn't pretty.

The Lions defense held the Bears to 38 yards rushing, proving once again that they are a run defense to be reckoned with (no team is running wild on them this year, so far). They did allow 312 yards passing between the two Bears' quarterbacks though, there is still work to be done on the pass defense but they did tighten up when the team needed them to the most, and even if it isn't very pretty, at least it got the job done.

Once again my main complaint of the game would be Stafford's ball placement. The Lions nearly lost this one and if they had a lot of people would've come down much harder on Matt for his errant throws. However, at some point near the end of the 3rd quarter (as I was saying in chat once again) you could see the Lions quarterback get into a kind of groove (as they say). You could see his focus improving. Some call it clutch (big talks about that a couple weeks ago in my forum). That ability to focus despite the added pressure of needing to win the game as time runs down. Now the Lions weren't actually behind in the 4th quarter it just felt like they needed more points to win the game, but I could tell that the Lions were going to win at that point in time regardless of the past 3 quarters and regardless of the lead, simply because Stafford suddenly was placing the ball much better. He was focused. He was clutch. It wasn't a pretty game, but it was effective.

The defense was also clutch, as I said. They tightened up just when the team needed them to the most. Despite some mental errors earlier, which were made up for a little later on, the team put in that extra soul searching effort right at the end of the game to prevent a 2 point conversion and an on-sides kick to seal the deal. No, it shouldn't have had to come to that, the Bears were dealing with their own issues (some of which the Lions created)... so what can you say, it wasn't a pretty win, but it was a win, and it propels the Lions into first place in the division holding a crucial tie-breaker and momentum as they continue the 2nd half of the 2013 season.

The next game will be in Pittsburgh against the Steelers, a team who struggled earlier this year but have since starting playing a little better. I predict another close game until the 4th quarter then once again finding the Lions the winner with a score of 26-20. Fair warning, it's not likely to be very pretty either.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

2013 Game 8 - Dallas Cowboys @ Home


The (now) 5-3 Detroit Lions won at home against the (now) 4-4 Dallas Cowboys by a score of 31 to 30. While that line sounds impressive, it doesn't do any justice for describing the actual game that was played. Every week members of my Lions Forum go into the chat-room during the game as we watch it from various locations throughout the world, at the end of the chat this week I pronounced today's game the "Game of the Decade". I've been watching the Lions for 2 1/2 decades and I'm sorry, but these types of games don't happen that often.

I'm also sorry I predicted the Lions would lose this game last week, but as I posted repeatedly in my forum all this last week, the Lions aren't going to win unless certain things happened. One was that Matthew Stafford needed to cut in half his miss-throws. Bad ball placement is (in my opinion) why the Lions are losing the close games (not that other aspects of the team are innocent, not by a long shot). Well, Stafford did indeed cut in half his accuracy issues in this game, and that gave him the one stat he was deficit in, a greater then 62% completion percentage. (I'm not talking the drops, in this or any other game, those happen and Stafford can not control that). Stafford was 33 of 48 for 488 yards 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions (only one of which was on him). Now THOSE are franchise QB numbers!

Calvin Johnson set an NFL regulation yardage record, boasting a total of 329 yards to go along with his TD. I'm sorry Mr. Bryant, but there is now no doubt who is the better WR in this league (as if there were any before).

Another key to the game I was harping on this last week was the lack of balance between run plays and the passing game. Linehan and the Lions did a great job at that in this game, with 143 total yards on the ground (and 3 TDs) run by 4 different players. Including a fake spike as time was ticking down when Stafford went over the top instead for his rushing TD. I'm sorry, but that was just one sweet play (and not called as far as I can tell, Stafford did that one on his own).

The last key to the game was turnovers, I stated that the Lions had to win that particular stat by 1 or more to win the game. Well, the Lions gave up 4 turnovers and got none. If I recall correctly, only 1 time in 55 games has a team in the NFL won the game after giving up 4 or more turnovers. The Lions are the 2nd team in 56 to do so. No, I didn't see that one coming.

What I did see coming was the win. No, not last week when I predicted a loss. No, not during the week leading up to the game as I reiterated my prediction of a loss. No, not even during half time when the Lions were losing 7-10. It was during the 3rd quarter after the 4th turnover when the Lions were still only down 3 and just before the score went to 7-13, I stated more then once as fellow fans were giving up on the game and the season that I first posted that I thought the Lions would win this game. Play after play I simply became more and more confident that the Lions were going to win. I almost gave up shortly after the 2 minute warning at the end of the 4th quarter until I realized that the Cowboys weren't trying super hard to get a first down and the Lions had 2 timeouts remaining. With a minute to go the Lions drove the field for the game winning TD. Why did I believe with all my heart the Lions would win the game when they were pretty much giving the game away? Because they turned over the ball 4 times but were only down 3 points and CJ was ticked off when he fumbled the ball away. I'm sorry, but you don't want to get the Hulk nor Megatron mad. The focus in his eyes and the way the rest of the team had been playing gave me the premonition, the feeling, the Lions would win the game.

I'm sorry for all those fans who left the game early, because you missed one fantastic game, one you would gladly pay to go to again at any time in your life. You'd even be willing to pay more then you did.

I'm sorry for Mr Spurlock who (it would appear) has lost permanently his return job today. I do not believe he will be on the Lions roster come Wednesday.

I'm really sorry for Mr Broyles. Today's injury probably means the end of his NFL career.

Last, I'm sorry for the other teams in the league. The Lions almost went into the bye week having lost a game they would've known they could've won, especially after giving up 4 turnovers. Their mental state after the bye week might have put the team in the basement. Instead, the team has got 2 weeks to let this confidence sink into their systems, the team is going to be very confident going forward and very difficult to stop now.

I think my future predictions will be based more on health then on history. The Lions now know what they are capable of, this is the kind of thing that propels teams into the playoffs. It really does. They are going to annihilate the Bears after the bye week. Sorry Bears fans, but the Lions will win this next game by 3 scores at a minimum.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2013 Game 7 - Cincinnati Bengals @ Home


The Detroit Lions lose this one 24-27 to the visiting Cincinnati Bengals. A week ago, if you recall, I predicted the Lions would lose the Bengals game 24-27. How's that for E.S.P.?

The division is now tied up with a 4-3 record for the Bears and Lions and a 4-2 record for the Packers putting them in first place and the Lions in 2nd due to tie breaker rules.

Matthew Stafford was 28 of 51 for 357 yards and 3 TDs with 0 INTs. Stafford failed to hit the 60% completion percentage that I always say is a requirement for a good chance to win a football game. The team also failed to create any turnovers, another factor that usually only happens to the losing team, but since both teams failed to create any, it was a wash this game (Dalton didn't fail to hit the 60% completion mark however).

With near a minute to go in the game, the Lions had the ball with the score tied 24-24 facing a very long field. I had this premonition if you will that the Lions absolutely no matter what should NOT give the ball back to the Bengals. It was paramount that the Lions drain the clock and if at the end of regulation, with less then 5 seconds left, should the Lions be in field goal range then put it through to win the game... but I felt that under no circumstances should the Bengals have the ball with any time left on the clock. As it turned out, that E.S.P. of mine was absolutely correct. Our rookie punter who was likely nervous and under pressure to belt a great punt shanked it instead, giving the Bengals great field position, 2 completions later it was the Bengals with 4 seconds on the clock who hit the game winning field goal.

Many will blame the punter for the loss, but I have a feeling that even had he hit another 60 yarder the Bengals still would have made the completions necessary to get a game winning field goal. No way to prove that obviously, but my E.S.P. was screaming at me that that would be the result. I felt the way to control the game was to have the ball for the remainder of regulation... not to kneel it, but to use run plays and high percentage passes to try to get in field goal range without getting into a 4th down situation. Worse case, they go into overtime.

If I felt it necessary to place blame for the loss, it wouldn't be the punter, but rather the quarterback and the defense. The quarterback for his lack of accuracy and the defense for it's lack of turnovers. This would be something that could be argued for eternity without ever coming to a consensus, that's the nature of football. I don;'t feel it's necessary to place blame however, I would just hope that the team works on improving accuracy and creating turnovers. All future games pretty much depend on this.

That said, my E.S.P. tells me the only way to win the upcoming Cowboys game is to outscore them (on offense). That is going to require a team effort and a whole lot of focus. It is certainly possible for the Lions to win this game, but with the continued struggles with accuracy I'm inclined to predict another Lions loss of 20-38. Please Detroit Lions, prove me wrong, destroy my E.S.P. sense once and for all. I don't want to be right.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

2013 Game 6 - Detroit Lions @ Cleveland Browns

Good Enough

The Detroit Lions beat the Cleveland Browns on the road 31-17. That brings the Lions up to 4-2, good enough to keep their 1st place division record intact.

Matthew Stafford was 25 of 43 for 248 yards 4 TDs and 1 INT. Weeden 26 of 43 for 292 yards 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Weeden is the older player by far, but with far less experience in the NFL. Many of the stats for the two teams were similar to each other, but once again the Lions won the turnover ratio and that, along with an improved run game, was good enough to win the game.

Undrafted free agent tight end Fauria had a big night. He only had 3 catches for 34 yards but that was good enough for 3 touchdowns. Reggie Bush had 135 all purpose yards with a TD, and the injured Calvin Johnson had 3 receptions for a total of 25 yards and no scores, but his just being in the game was good enough... it kept the Brown's occupied allowing other members of the team to get the job done.

Another interesting stat... Linebacker DeAndre Levy had 2 interceptions this game, 4 on the year, which is a tie for most in the league.

The Lions were the only team to score in the 1st, 3rd and 4th quarters. The Browns only scored in the 2nd quarter. Even though the Lions struggled mightily in the first half, they really turned it around in the second half, and by all accounts following a very good half time speech by MLB Tulloch.

Early on the receivers were experiencing a bad case of the drops, most of them were on said receivers. But a number were still on Stafford, as were some catches that the receivers bailed him out by making difficult catches. Other plays were so far off the mark there was no chance at all. This has been an on going problem this season and unlike last year, it's hard to point at his mechanics as the issue. If you watch the plays in super slo-mo you can see that ball placement is a real struggle much of the time... perhaps it's just getting the timing down... perhaps it's more then that, it's something that will have to be monitored as the season progresses, for now, Stafford has played good enough for a division leading 4-2 record (with a LOT of help from his teammates).

Coming up are two home games in a row against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys. The week after these two games is the Lions bye week. The Cincinnati Bengals are 4-2, 1st in the AFC Northern Division and the Dallas Cowboys are 2-3, 2nd in NFC Eastern Division, but leading the Washington Redskins by 2 scores in the Sunday night game as I type this. It'll take a team effort for the Lions to win either of these games, let's hope the Lions are good enough.

My prediction for next week is a loss to the Bengals, 27-24. At least, that is what my mind says, my heart is screaming that the Lions will win this one by the same score. Should I listen to my mind or my heart? Can the Lions win the turnover battle at home? Perhaps. Sorry Lions fans, but perhaps isn't good enough, I'm going with my brain on this one, Lions lose 27-24.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

2013 Game 5 - Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers


The Detroit Lions lose to the Green Bay Packers 9-22 making it 23 times in a row they lose to the Packers in Wisconsin. To put that in perspective, the last time the Lions won in Wisconsin Mrs. Stafford was still poddy training Mathew Stafford. Saying it's been a long time would not be the least inaccurate.

The Packers were ranked 11th in run defense and 27th in pass defense, yet the Lions made them look nearly impossible to score on. It did not help that Calvin Johnson was not active due to injury this game, Calvin Johnson makes Stafford look accurate (as he would any QB he played with). With Burleson still out due to a broken arm (caused by a wayward pizza box) that left the Lions starting their 3rd, 4th and at times 5th string WRs (the last just signed a week ago). Am I going to blame the WRs for the loss this week? Nope. They ran their routes to the best of their abilities and experience.

The backup wide receivers were not the only options to catch passes, all the tight ends and running backs were available to catch any throws that went their way, and they ARE starters in the league. Tight ends' Pettigrew and Scheffler both had 4 catches for 59 and 55 yards respectively and led the team in yards. RBs Bush and Bell had 4 catches as well for 25 and 30 yards respectively. Durham had 3 catches; Broyles, Ogletree and Edwards had 2 apiece to complete the receiving numbers. Add them all up and Stafford was 25 of 40 for 262 yards with 1 Td and 0 Int's (but with 1 fumble). Most of those numbers coming in the 4th quarter when the Packers went into a prevent defense allowing the Lions to move down the field for their only touchdown. The run game was equally anemic, Bush had 13 carries for 44 yards, Bell 5 for 21. Despite 3.5 to 4 yards per run, the Lions only tried to run on about a third of the offensive plays. It's the coaching staffs job to find matchups and plays that might work with the players they have and the players job to execute those plays. Do I blame the coaching staff for the loss this week? Nope. Oh sure, there appears they could've made other decisions that might (or might not) have worked better, but I'm not convinced in the end that the results would have been significantly different.

There were 3 fumbles all recovered by the team who fumbled, no interceptions by either side, 3rd down efficiency was nearly identical for both teams, the Packers had more penalties, Lions made their only field goal attempt, Packers made all 5 of theirs, both teams had but a single touchdown apiece. Turnovers were non-existent so both teams were pretty much even in all respects with the possible exception of allowing the long play. The longest play the Packers allowed was 25 yards, the Lions allowed an 83 yard TD. Am I going to blame the defense for the loss? Nope. They held the Packers to a single TD on their field even if they did allow 2 big plays during the game (the other being a 67 yard rush by Cobb, yes, a trick play so to speak).

Mathew Stafford was without his #1 and #2 wide receivers and never really made many good throws back to back until the game was out of reach and the Packers went into prevent late in the 4th quarter. His passes were high, low, and behind the intended targets. In a word, he was very inaccurate. More so then a starting QB in the NFL should be. Do I blame Stafford for the loss? Nope. He was still able to complete 60% of his passes despite everything else.

So who do I blame for the loss? That's easy, it was the TEAM. To win on the road in Green Bay you have to play a near perfect game. Coaching has to be near perfect. The routes have to be near perfect. Drops have to be near non-existent. Passes have to be near perfect. Blocking has to be great. Tackling has to be near perfect. Penalties have to be very limited. Pretty much NONE of that happened. It was an utter and complete team loss. To think anything else would be inaccurate.

Now, to fix this, certain players have to get healthy, certain coaches either do better or if the team continues to lose they will be replaced at the end of the season. Those with chances to catch either have to actually make the catch or end up with shorter careers then they would prefer, and the only way they can get better is experience and coaching. But the single biggest thing that would help the team win games is if Matthew Stafford would regain his accuracy and maintain it, regardless of who is playing in the game with him or who his opponent is. I do not blame Stafford for this loss, but I do expect him to play better then he is. The coaching staff NEEDS him to play better then he is or lose their jobs. The receivers need him to be more accurate or their careers are in jeopardy. The entire 2013 season is pretty much at the mercy of Stafford's accuracy now, not in the past or in the future, but right now.

Next week the Lions play in Cleveland against the Browns and the Brown's defense is doing much better then in the past. Following that game the Lions play the Bengals and the Cowboys (who are, as I type this, competing toe-to-toe with the Denver Broncos), the only hope the Lions truly have of winning any of those next 3 games is if Matthew Stafford is MUCH more accurate then he was today. I may not blame him for today, but I am now very concerned about the rest of October. Now is most definitely not the time for Stafford to remain inaccurate.

I am no longer certain what prediction to make for next week... the higher Stafford's completion percentage the higher the likelihood the Lions win. Anything below 60% and the Lions lose. If the team doesn't have a positive turnover ratio they will likely lose. I have to make my prediction on what I think the quarterback for both teams will do accuracy-wise and what the defenses will do turnover-wise. After today I am tempted to go with the Browns 16-12. I want to predict a Lions win 24-17. Splitting the difference and hoping this game left a bad taste in their mouth they want to get rid of, I'll predict the Lions barely win in Cleveland 20-14.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013 Game 4 - Chicago Bears @ Home

In the lead.

The Detroit Lions defeat the Chicago Bears 40-32 to take sole ownership of the division (by tie-breaker rule). Now it'll be a matter if they can hold on to that lead... something they were barely able to do in this game. Leading 37-16 at the start of the 4th quarter the Lions started giving back to the Bears, who scored 16 points to the Lions 3 in the 4th quarter. Granted the Lions lost both their starting cornerbacks by then and had to rely on rookie Darius Slay along with 2nd year players Bill Bentley and Jonte Green... plus the team never really tried to go into any kind of 4 minute offense (or whatever you want to call a clock killing long drive). Still, the lead was sufficient to make it very difficult for the Bears to win and Durham managed to ruin their on-side kick idea while taking a dirty shot in the back for it (and no flag)... something we likely won't hear much about considering the focus on Suh and Fairley by the league instead of true culprits in the game... but I digress.

Matthew Stafford was 23 of 35 for 242 yards 1 touchdown and 1 interception (plus had a QB sneak into the endzone where he lost the ball, recovered it in the air, and still scored a rushing TD all while moving roughly 3 feet forward). Not bad, but not exactly hall-of-fame numbers either. The receiver with the most yards? Durham (the same Durham mentioned above) with 58 yards. The most catches? Brandon Pettigrew with 7 catches on 7 targets for 54 yards. The touchdown belonged to Calvin Johnson who had 4 catches for 44 yards. Reggie Bush had 139 yards on the ground with 18 rushes and a TD. Obviously the offense didn't win the game (not with those numbers).

This game belonged to the defense and special teams. Quin had an interception, Delmas had two. Suh caused a fumble, Fairley ran it in for a TD. Akers was 4 for 4 on field goals, and any punts or kickoffs were well played by my new favorite punter in the league, the Lions 5th round pick, Martin. Tulloch had 10 tackles to lead the defense in that category, and the whole team helped out by making fewer then the normal number of penalties and other self-inflicted mistakes. Sure there were still mistakes, and at times I questioned Linehan's play calls, but in the end the 2-1 Lions took the lead from the division leading 3-0 Bears to tie it up 3-1 and now owning a tie-breaker. Hopefully Houston and Mathis heal up to face the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau field where the Lions haven't won in pretty much forever.

Yeah, that's right, the Lions face the Packers in packerland, and they get to face them the week following their bye week. There is absolutely no way the Lions can win this one, unless, unless they play a near perfect game. Should they win this one, they will have to be taken seriously as playoff contenders. If they lose, they will continue to have to battle for wins, for the lead, and for respect. Sorry Lions fans, I would love to think the Lions can put together a perfect game but I just can not, not at this point in time, so I will have to predict a loss for next week... 28-38.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

2013 Game 3 - Detroit Lions @ Washington Redskins


The Detroit Lions win this one 27-20 in Washington, the first time winning in that city since 1939, a 21-game streak that comes to a halt as the second longest in NFL history. That is 2 years BEFORE Pearl Harbor and the start of the USA's involvement in World War II, a very long time ago.

Mathew Stafford was 25 of 42 for 385 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. The interception came early in the game and the Redskins took it back for a touchdown after Calvin Johnson failed to see the pass coming his way in time to make any kind of play on it. After that score the Redskins only managed to make one other touchdown. There was a second TD called back as the receiver failed to complete the process of the catch (how many times have we heard that one Lion's fans?). There was also a turn-over created by the Lions when Griffen III ran for a 1st down and dove for yards only to lose the ball, however since he was never touched the ball was still live and the Lions recovered. Some call it luck, but it was the defense that caused Griffen to take off in the first place, it was the Lions who recovered it, and it was the Lions closing in that caused him to dive... so I simply say, it was about time something abnormal in a game went the Lions way (instead of the other direction).

In this game, the play calling was better, the players executed better, there were fewer mistakes, and even the officiating crew did a better job then normal. The one negative in the game was the fact that the Lions have lost DE/DT Jason Jones for the season with a knee injury when it buckled as he drove towards the QB (it was not hit in the leg by anyone). That's not to say the Lions were perfect, they still have a ton of things to work on, but overall, the team played a better game... good enough to win in a city they haven't won in in 74 year, two years before my father was born.

In a game that saw the ball going through the air to 8 different receivers, with 4 of those receivers each having a play in excess of 20 yards, things just seemed to flow better then normal. Was it all luck? I don't think so, quite simply, the Lions put enough good plays together in various series to win the game. Something they have had a hard time doing in the past.

It wasn't a blow-out, the Redskins don't have a power house defense to feel all confident over, but the Lions also didn't do enough to lose this time, and that is progress. After all, most of their losses are their own doing. Next week sees the division rival Chicago Bears coming to town in a game that will determine who is in first place in the division, if ever there was a time to get it all together this would be it.

My prediction, assuming they can rebuild the defensive line after Jones' departure, is another close game. I'll predict the Lions over the Bears 31-28. Let's all hope I'm right, this time.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

2013 Game 2 - Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals

Adverse effect.

The Detroit Lions lost to the Arizona Cardinals 21-25 late Sunday afternoon. One would think that if QB Matthew Stafford was 24 for 36 with 278 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs while the Lions defense holds WR Larry Fitzgerald to 2 catches for 33 yards that the Lions dominated the game and won. What they dominated instead was the mistake column having a very adverse effect on the final score.

While the Lions made as many if not more mistakes last week and were able to overcome them, this week was a different tale. Last week RB Reggie Bush dislocates his thumb and pulls a groin muscle but still manages to get nearly 200 combined yards of offense. This week the same Reggie Bush tweaks his knee, gets a brace put on, and goes back in the game to fumble the ball away within yards of the opponents end zone (which they promptly convert into the game winning score). There were plenty of other errors in the game as well including missed field goals, bad officiating, and penalties, any of them could also be said to have been the reason the Lions lost the game. For sure they all in one way or another had an adverse effect on the game. I chose to pick the fumble as the primary culprit is all.

The only thing I'm not sure of is whether to blame the coaching staff for putting Bush back in the game or not, I mean, look at what happened to him last week and what he was able to do after the injuries. Who knew that the knee brace/injury would have such an adverse effect on him this week.

Suffice it to say, it did, the Lions lost, and the Lions themselves are pretty much to blame for it. Overcoming adversity helped them win last week, not overcoming adversity is why the lost this week. It makes one wonder what to believe the future holds in store. If I were optimistic about the team, I'd say they can beat the Redskins on the road next week with a score of (once again) 30-20. If I were pessimistic about the team, I might say something like they will lose 25-38. Since I am neither (due to polar opposite weeks of play) I am going to say the score will be 28-27, and flip a coin on who wins, as luck appears to have a lot to do with the Lions play these days.

I flipped 3 coins at once at and two came up that the Lions would win, so there you go, Lions win it 28-27 next week.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2013 Game 1 - Minnesota Vikings @ Home

Overcoming Adversity

The Detroit Lions won their first game of the regular season at home against the Minnesota Vikings with a score of 34-24 which was slightly better then my prediction. Matthew Stafford was 28 of 43 with 2 TDs and 1 INT. Christian Ponder managed 18 of 28 for 236 yards 1 TD and 3 INTs.

I could write an entire book on all the plays that went wrong, touchdowns that were called back, plays that didn't count, and various other happenings that most teams don't have to deal with in a season, let alone one game. I could also write a pretty lengthy blog on the differences between this team this year compared to previous years. There will be much said about Adrian Peterson running for 78 yards and a touchdown the first time he touched the ball and a combined 15 yards on his next 17 carries. There will be complaints about various players (on both teams) and praise for others. Fantasy league officiandos will be scrambling to make sense of the stats... but if you didn't watch the game you can not completely appreciate just how the Lions overcame adversity.

Now it's totally true that much of what went wrong was entirely due to the Lions themselves (compared to being caused by the Vikings) but in the past any one of the potential turning points in the game would've caused the Lions to go into a tailspin and lose the game. Instead, I saw a team actually do what coaches have harped on about for years, the Lions overcame adversity! Not just once, not twice, but multiple times. And when I say "multiple" I do the word an injustice.

Yes, the improved special teams is going to help the Lions win games this year. Yes, the improved defense will too. For that matter, the improved run game will do amazing things for the offense (as long as Bush and Bell remain healthy). But what I took from the game as being the most beneficial to future success was the fact the team just kept on fighting (and scoring) no matter what went wrong.

Despite mental errors, officiating errors, individual breakdowns, scores being removed from the score board, players losing the results of the plays they just played, the team, as a whole, kept right on fighting for the win. If this becomes "normal" for the team, big things are on the horizon. Overcoming adversity is something we've all heard about for many many years, but this just might be the first time I can fully understand what is meant by it and appreciate just how important it actually is to a team. Of course, if I chose to be cynical, I could have just said the Lions got lucky and if they keep screwing up they will lose a lot this year. I don't think this was just luck. What I saw was effort.

I (we) will find out more next week, when the Lions travel to Arizona to play the Cardinals. My prediction, the Lions overcome the adversity of playing an away game in the September heat of Arizona with a score of 30-20.

A short pre-game Lions note on Game 1 of 2013

Hopefully in a few hours I will be able to write a great blog entry on the Lions-Vikings game, the first of the regular 2013 season. By great I do mean of course, a win. So while I could go into excruciating detail on why I think the defense and special teams will improve greatly from last year, I think I'll just let the game speak for its self, especially since if I'm wrong it would be a complete waste of time. Sound like a cop out? Yeah, well, many fans are holding their breath this year as well, it's not just me. There are reasons to be optimistic, and probably just as many reasons to be pessimistic, so it would seem that most fans this year are completely unwilling to sink a lot of hope into the season before it starts, myself included.

That said, here is my prediction for the game: Vikings 16 Lions 24.

And here, my prediction for the season: 9-7 taking 2nd in the division and drafting 13th. Hopefully this is pessimistic as well and they do better then this.

Friday, September 6, 2013

48 of 53, again.

The final roster included 48 of the players I had projected out of 53, that pretty much seems to be what I end up with every year. Just a quick summary on where I went wrong:

I had WR Willis; G Austin, CB Bartell, S Spievey, K Rugland... all of whom did not make the team.

Instead they kept; WR Durham, G Leroy Harris, S Carey, and then picked up S DeJon Gomes after Owens went on the short term IR. They also kept K Akers but I already realized they would do that after I locked in my depth chart when Akers finally started kicking field goals that were longer then the mid 40 yarders he had been doing all preseason.

Monday, August 26, 2013

No surprises so far by the Detroit Lions as they make their roster cuts.

No surprises.

The Detroit Lions have begun to make their roster cuts as teams are required to be down to 75 players Tuesday. So far, none of the players cut come as a surprise (for those of you who follow my estimated depth chart located at

So how did the Lions get from the draft to their current roster? Here are the roster moves since the draft according to the official Lions website.

5/2/2013 The Detroit Lions have signed the following players: C Skylar Allen, DT Michael Brooks, TE Joseph Fauria, T Austin Holtz, RB Steven Miller, T LaAdrian Waddle

5/3/2013 The Detroit Lions have signed the following players: QB Alex Carder, LB Alex Elkins, LB Jon Morgan, FS Martavius Neloms and WR Cody Wilson

5/10/2013 The Detroit Lions have signed the following 2013 draft picks: DE Ziggy Ansah, CB Darius Slay, G Larry Warford, DE Devin Taylor, P Sam Martin, WR Corey Fuller, RB Theo Riddick, TE Michael Williams and LB Brandon Hepburn

5/13/2013 The Detroit Lions release C Skyler Allen and sign C Darren Keyton.

5/14/2013 The Detroit Lions release RB Devin Moore and sign DE Freddie Bishop.

5/16/2013 The Detroit Lions claim DB DeQuan Menzie off waivers and release DB Conroy Black.

5/28/2013 The Detroit Lions release DT Michael Brooks and WR Chastin West and sign DE Robert Maci and DE Spencer Nealy.

5/29/2013 The Detroit Lions release QB Alex Carder and sign QB Thaddeus Lewis.

5/30/2013 The Detroit Lions sign RB Montell Owens.

6/3/2013 The Detroit Lions release CB Lionel Smith.

6/4/2013 The Detroit Lions release the following players: WR Troy Burrell, TE Nathan Overbay and sign the following players: G Leroy Harris, G Jake Scott and WR Micheal Spurlock

6/5/2013 The Detroit Lions release DE Robert Maci and WR Lance Long, and sign DE Braylon Broughton and WR Matt Willis.

6/17/2013 The Detroit Lions sign TE Matt Veldman and release TE Dominique Curry.

6/24/2013 The Detroit Lions sign DB Chris Hope and release WR Brian Robiskie.

6/26/2013 The Detroit Lions sign DE Israel Idonije and release DE Freddie Bishop.

7/17/2013 The Detroit Lions release RB Jahvid Best.

7/24/2013 The Detroit Lions sign WR Chaz Shilens.

7/25/2013 The Detroit Lions release G Bill Nagy.

8/1/2013 The Detroit Lions release S Ricardo Silva and DT Spencer Nealy and sign S Trevor Coston and DT Xavier Proctor.

8/5/2013 The Detroit Lions sign CB Brandon King and release WR Devin Thomas and LB Alex Elkins.

8/6/2013 The Detroit Lions claim LB Adrian Moten.

8/11/2013 The Detroit Lions release LB Carmen Messina and sign CB Myron Lewis.

8/13/2013 The Detroit Lions have released CB Brandon King and signed CB Conroy Black.

8/16/2013 The Detroit Lions release DB Conroy Black and DE Braylon Broughton and sign DT Justin Bannan and DT John Drew.

8/17/2013 The Detroit Lions release DB Trevor Coston and LB Adrian Moten and sign DB Rashean Mathis and LB Rocky McIntosh.

8/19/2013 The Detroit Lions release T Austin Holtz and WR Mike Thomas and sign T Kevin Haslam and TE Cameron Morrah.

8/20/2013 The Detroit Lions place LB Cory Greenwood on reserve/injured.

8/23/2013 The Detroit Lions release DT John Drew, G Derek Hardman, DB Domonique Johnson, WR Chaz Schilens and DB Ross Weaver.

8/26/2013 The Detroit Lions trade QB Thaddeus Lewis for LB Chris White.

The Lions have a about $5 million in salary cap available and rumor has it they may be looking for help at wide receiver, possibly linebacker, and who knows where else as they scour the waiver wire for cuts by other teams.

Still, the odds of the Lions actually needing someone else's 54th player instead of one of their own out of the 75 they will have after tomorrow are somewhat slim. Unless they can pull off another trade I really don't see all that much help coming and the Lions might be forced to do something I've been complaining about for a long time, they may have to actually develop a player. The coaching staff might have to work a little bit harder to get one of their own up to NFL speed instead of trying to find someone coached up by some other team.

Whether they will or not remains to be seen, one things for sure, even though there have been no surprises so far the likelihood of the Lions getting all the way to week 1 without some kind of surprise is low.

ps. My depth chart is/was locked in prior to the 3rd preseason game, as it is every year, and it wasn't until after that deadline that Akers finally made some kicks over 48 yards, for that reason I had Rugland making the team, I no longer believe that will be the case but we shall see what happens. The only changes I make to my depth chart from the 2nd preseason game to week 1 of the regular season would be due to new players being signed or guys who end up on injured reserve.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Detroit Lions 2013 Draft Results


The 2013 Detroit Lions draft strategy this year appeared to be all about upside. Not so much on what they already did but what they can do for the Detroit Lions in the NFL.

The players selected were all, to a man, your prototypical size, height, weight, speed or whatever measurable you care to use, correct for their position in the Lions schemes used. Failure of a draft pick this year will not be due to a player not having the measurables to do the job.

Every player also appears to have sound mental faculties. None of their profiles even hints at this being all about the paycheck. In fact, it would appear that they are all a little hungry to excel in the sport. Failure of a draft pick this year will not be due to a player not having his mind on football.

Every player appears to be more or less physically fit. Oh sure they may have suffered some bumps or bruises playing football but nothing to suggest any ailment will keep them from competing in training camp.

Every player appears to be lacking the reputation of being a party animal. Something could still come up, they are all 21 to 24 years old after all, but perhaps this draft class will be more or less law abiding citizens.

The Lions drafted 9 players in 2013, their individual measurables are in the post immediately below this one. Many reports have already been written, most of you reading this have read or heard multiple things about each player and everyone who is reading this will either be for, against or neutral on each prospect. I'm not going to try to change your mind, nor am I going to just rehash the same old stuff, but perhaps I can throw a new twist in on each player as I present my own beliefs as it pertains to them being a Detroit Lion.

DE Ezekiel (Ziggy) Ansah will be tried at both the left and right side to determine where he best fits at and so that he is exposed to playing both positions. Ziggy doesn't have a lifetime of football to fall back on so he's got to develop his style as he's being coached and find for himself what works and what does not. His coaches including his present one state he has the best instincts of any player they've seen. I've read that in his scouting profiles quite often as well. This will go a long ways in him seeing snaps this year. A typical drafted DE can take until his 3rd year before he is able to really excel in the NFL. They display an upwards trending curve in results as they learn the NFL version of being a defensive end. Many readers are concerned that Ansah because of his lack of experience will not progress like others do, some are quite adamant that he will fail completely. It is my belief that Ansah will succeed even though he is starting from a lower point in the arc. I believe his upward learning curve will within the same 3 years that others top out be quite extraordinary, passing many of them somewhere in year 2. There really isn't anything to stop him other then experience and that he is about to receive, in large doses. He'll make mistakes, especially early in his career, but if you are waiting for him to fail you may be waiting for a very long time. I wasn't adamant that the Lions draft Ansah, but I really hated the thought of them losing out on his abilities to change the game, and that is exactly what the coaching staff, front office, and even little ole me is looking for, game changers. Should you chose to read only 1 profile on Ansah then I would suggest this one, it pretty much covers everything good and bad. If I'm wrong? If he does in fact fail? Then the Lions will be in need of a new DE, and probably a new front office and a new coaching staff. But no pressure aye Ansah? Just do your thing, you'll fine.

CB Darius Slay was not my favorite draft pick. In fact, there were many who I would rather the Lions had drafted instead. Every scouting report I have ranked him as a 3rd rounder. To me he was a reach. But. He is the exact type of cornerback the Lions covet. Tall, strong, fast (very fast) and capable. He too is green and will require time to be all he can be and I have no reason to suspect he won't achieve becoming a very good corner. Drew Boylhart at the Huddle Report gave him a 2nd round grade and suggested strongly that playing Slay at free Safety would play to his strengths the best and that he could become an all pro safety. That would be fine, the Lions need another top quality safety, but it would appear Drew is the only one who believes that as I could find no one else that says it. Even the NFL must believe that Slay was going to be a top of the 2nd round guy as they had him in the green room during the draft. I was 99% certain the Lions would not draft a cornerback in the 2013 draft so it only took them until the 4th pick in round 2 to make me out a liar. If I'm going to be wrong then please ole football gods let me be so dead wrong that Slay becomes one of the best corners in the NFL. Really, I won't mind. Slay will play special teams and be worked into the defensive backs corp and once he achieves enough points with the coaching staff will likely start opposite Houston (which could easily be by game 1 this year). One or two of the other corners will also see a lot of time as the Lions are in nickel and dime packages (meaning more corners and fewer linebackers) nearly half the time on defense on average. For another look at Slay here's the link to his profile from the same site that I posted on Ansah above:

OG Larry Warford also needs time with the coaching staff and with the guys in the gym. Both of which he'll get. Most of the scouts I know believe that Warford would get drafted in round 2 which is where I had him ranked as well. He's as much a value as Clay was a reach (according to what I researched and to various scouts). He'll win the starting job this year and after the initial errors should grow into a very good to great starting guard for the Lions. I've read conflicting reports as to his ability to stunt and in screens, but I think part of that is due to his conserving energy to finish the game. Once the Lions training staff has his stamina up to par his ability to move around should also increase. He's going to be one tired pup for awhile, but if the training staff is able to do their jobs with him the sky is the limit on what this guy can achieve (as far as what any guard can in fact achieve). He definitely promises to improve the Lions run and passing game by solidifying the middle right of the Lions offensive line. It was the right pick in the right round filling a definite need for the Lions. Most fans would give this single selection an A+ grade even if they disliked one or both of the previous players taken. Warford's scouting report from the same site as above can be found here:

DE Devin Taylor needs good coaching. He was projected to be drafted in round 4 and he was, barely. Physically he can play the position although he's so tall he actually needs to gain another 10 pounds or so of muscle, thus the trainers for the Lions have work to do with this pick as well. I do not believe he'll be starting any time soon but he will be rotated in to create what havoc he can and to gain experience with what snaps he can earn. Once he has had the NFL coaching he needs and the training room time he needs (along with a proper NFL diet) he should begin to show more at defensive end than he has so far. In other words, Devin exemplifies the word "project". But he is a worthy project and he will actually be able to earn snaps during games to help the team and to gain experience, so he's in a pretty good spot to learn. Being he's a 4th round pick there are no expectations for him, thus no pressure, and that will allow him to learn the job at a proper speed. I look forward to watching him improve his game. His profile is found here:

P Sam Martin was selected by the Lions in round 5. I'm sorry, I'm not a proponent of taking punters (or kickers) early in a draft (I apologize to Jason Hanson and his fans and yeah, round 5 isn't all that early, but). He obviously was not the best player available or even in a group of them. He was targeted, plain and simple. But, he may (or should I say most likely will) win the starting punter job so it gives the front office the means to say they drafted 3 (or more) starters in the 2013 draft. Most scouting material doesn't include kickers and punters so providing a link here won't happen. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed with this pick either but who knows, maybe the Lions are now set at punter for the next 15 years, and perhaps he is just slightly better at punting then the next guy. Stay tuned (on the edge of your seat) for more on this as the season progresses.

This was also the round that the Lions traded down in for an extra pick, apparently they had no projects they wanted to draft earlier in round 5 and felt the best way to get value was to trade down, get that extra 6th round pick, and to draft a punter. While I can argue about whether there were any projects to pick from I can't argue with getting value for the pick in whatever way you can.

WR Corey Fuller is in the same boat as the rest of the Lions draft. He fits the part he was drafted to play but is in need of an NFL training staff and NFL coaching. His size and speed suggest the Lions hope he will develop into what they are looking for as their #2 wide receiver opposite Calvin Johnson. That's a tall order for a 6th round pick. As a rule, rookie wide receivers do not produce all that well in the NFL and take a year or more to learn the task. Fuller is a little greener then most but he might be on the same learning curve as other draft picks at this position are, it depends on how hard he works at it. How much playing time he sees this year will depend on his speed of development and how desperate the Lions are for help at wide receiver. I suspect we will see him more and more as the year goes on. His profile can be read here:

RB Theo Riddick was probably at the low end of the scale as far as the measurables go for his position. His height and weight is fine (for what the Lions want) but his speed is not quite there and his hands are a quarter inch too small for me to consider drafting him (and may be why he is noted to have a slight issue with ball security). His time playing wide receiver though will help him to make the team (being versatile) and he may end up winning the job of kick returner (if he can do the job properly). The Lions were looking for a RB to backup Bush if anything goes wrong and despite Riddick's slower speed he can probably handle the duties required given time... if just barely. Perhaps his desire to play will raise his floor and ceiling and provide him (and the Lions) with a good running back to have on the roster. While I won't say that Theo will ever be said to be worth his weight in gold (pause for the old timers to chuckle or roll their eyes) his utility man status should provide him with a comfortable living. But hold on, an utility man such as Theo is should be allowed a 2nd profile link, so here it is:

TE Michael Williams will be filling the Will Heller role on the team. In fact, he's nearly a Will Heller clone, but he'll be playing for a little less then half the money that Heller would get based on his veteran status. This pick is the Lions getting younger at a specific role, the blocking tight end slash full back role who can leak out from time to time to catch a first down pass. Hard to argue the need or the pick, as he was ranked to go nearly a round earlier. His profile is found here:

LB Brandon Hepburn was not predicted to be drafted. Most sites have no profile on him. He was what you would call a "flyer"... that is, a draft pick a team makes near the end of the 7th round when everyone you wanted is pretty much gone. Perhaps there was interest in Brandon from other teams as an undrafted free agent so the Lions chose to draft him instead of waiting, or perhaps he was the top man on their board remaining, or perhaps he was targeted to fill a special teams role. He definitely fits this year's draft motif, that is a raw (read as green) project. Perhaps the best link to put here is one from his local paper I think I shall call him the Professor, Professor Hepburn has a nice ring to it, maybe the nickname will stick.

So there you have it, a tidbit or two on each of the 9 draft picks. Six of which were on the Lions LH List, one they coached at the Sr Bowl and so did not need contact, one they may perhaps have been trying to hide their interest in so didn't make the list (WR Fuller), and then the flyer pick at the end who wasn't on the list either.

The Lions also signed or invited 14 undrafted free agents to the team, 3 of whom were on the LH list and several that I had ranked, 2 with draftable grades. I don't think the Lions are quite done trying to improve their roster so look for some deals in free agency to come (not high priced deals, perhaps some vets with a year or two left in the tank) and perhaps other moves as well. Who knows, they could even try to talk Jeff Backus to come out of retirement for one more go.

The team (Lions front office) has already tried to improve by drafting 9 players with upside, and signing some undrafted guys who also have upside, after selecting and signing a few key players in free agency. Their draft strategy appeared to be more focused (for good or bad we will have to wait to find out) as was their signings in free agency, so perhaps their self-evaluation this off season will produce desirable results. I can neither say I loved this draft nor can I say I hate it, but in analyzing it I can't say I disagree with the direction attempted. I wouldn't necessarily call it a swing for the fences so much as a strategy, to draft guys with the proper measurables for their respective positions with the proper upside for their draft slot. The higher the draft pick, the higher their upside. I can't say for sure, but isn't that what the draft is supposed to be about?

Good luck to the Lions drafted and to those trying out, make us fans proud and we'll make you kings.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The 2013 Detroit Lions Draft Class

2013 Detroit Lions Draft Class

(DE) Ezekiel [Ziggy] Ansah: Round 1, Pick 5, 5th pick overall. Brigham Young. 6’ 5 ¼” 271 lbs 4.63 in the 40 35 1/8" arms, 21 bench reps. Ranked 9th place in my ranking, was on the LH Lions list.

(CB) Darius Slay: Round 2, Pick 4, 36th pick overall. Mississippi State. 5’ 11 7/8” 192 lbs 4.36 in the 40 32 1/4" arms, 35.5" vert. Ranked 65th place in my ranking, was on the LH Lions list.

(OG) Larry Warford: Round 3, Pick 3, 65th pick overall. Kentucky. 6’ 3” 332 lbs 5.58 in the 40 33 3/8" arms, 28 bench reps Ranked 44th place in my ranking, was not on the LH Lions list but was coached by the Lions in the Senior Bowl.

(DE) Devin Taylor: Round 4, Pick 35, 132nd pick overall, comp pick. South Carolina. 6’ 7” 266 lbs 4.72 in the 40 36" arms, 14 bench reps Ranked 101st place in my ranking, was on the LH Lions list.

(P) Sam Martin: Round 5, pick 32, 165th pick overall, traded down with Ravens. Appalachian State. Did not place in my 475 player ranking, was on the LH Lions list.

(WR) Corey Fuller: Round 6, pick 3, 171st overall. Virginia Tech. 6’ 2 ¼” 204 lbs 4.32 in the 40 31.5" vert, 12 bench reps 9 ½” Hands Ranked 192nd place in my ranking, was not on the LH Lions list.

(RB) Theo Riddick: Round 6, pick 31, 199th overall. From Ravens trade. Notre Dame. 5’ 10 1/8th 201 lbs 4.68 in the 40 32" vert, 9'10" broad, 4.40 shuttle, 6.99 3-Cone 8 ¾” Hands Ranked 244th in my ranking, was on the LH Lions list. Plays some WR.

(TE) Michael Williams: Round 7, pick 5, 211th overall. Alabama. 6’ 5 ¾” 269 lbs 5.19 in the 40 25.5" vert, 8'0" broad, 4.90 shuttle Ranked 193rd in my ranking, was on the LH Lions list.

(LB) Brandon Hepburn: Round 7, pick 39, 245th overall, comp pick. Florida A&M. 6’ 2 ½” 240 lbs 4.68 in the 40 32 3/4" arms, 19 bench reps Ranked 420th in my ranking, was not on the LH Lions list.

Rumored undrafted free agents (UDFA):
Alex Carder, QB
John Laub, QB
Steven Miller, RB
Cody Wilson, WR
Travis Tarpley, WR
Joseph Fauria, TE
Allen Skyler, C
Trevor Marrongelli, G
Austin Holtz, OT
LaAdrian Waddle, OT
Michael Brooks, DT
Alex Elkins, LB
Jon Morgan, LB
Martavius Neloms, CB

More to come including my analysis of the draft.

Tryouts Marvin Booker John Laub Trevor Marrongelli UDFA's LaAdrian Waddle Austin Holtz Alex Carder Alex Elkins Jon Morgan Steven Miller Michael Brooks Martavius Neloms Trevor Coston Joseph Fauria Cody Wilson Travis Tarpley Andre Snipes-Booker Allen Skyler The above list is more accurate then the previous one I put in when I made the original blog (updated 4-30-2103)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Detroit Lions 2013 pre-NFL Draft Blog Part II

Many months of work by many people went into preparing for this blog entry. Not in writing it, but in obtaining and organizing the information it contains.

Thousands of hours of work were performed by many people who create NFL Draft Big Boards. These individuals watch film on many players, detailing their pro's and con's, write profiles, give players grades and otherwise rank players. Some are former front office personnel who now do it for various websites or news outlets, some are trained in scouting by the same schools that employed scouts went to, others do it for themselves with no formal training. If I left anyone out I apologize. The end result is, after many hundreds of hours of film study multiple people have rankings of players entering the draft. These are not mock drafts, but big boards, similar to what real NFL front offices create. Some are, of course, better at it then others, and you will find a very wide range of opinions on various players, but in the end many players names end up near the top of the lists and many others closer to the bottom. Some of these boards are free to look at it and others charge for access. I pay for some and visit/read many of the free versions. I do not have formal scout training nor do I study film the way these people do. What I do is take a number of these big boards and average out the rankings of every player creating my own big board... the sites I use are random, I do not pay them for the use of their information nor do I steal it and call it my own.

This year I used the information from 11 sites (kind of like hiring 11 scouts for my front office) and compiled the names and numbers into one big board then sorted it by the average rank of each player. Unlike real NFL front offices with real paid scouts who rank players based on scheme fit and other important factors specific to each team, my information is more generic out of necessity. It took a rather large number of hours to compile this information as well but I'm not complaining, it does however give me a great appreciation for the man hours involved for the 32 front offices in the NFL to prepare for the upcoming draft. My board is not for sale and the entire list of 487 names are for my own personal use during the draft, I have however posted the first 160 names on my website at (equivalent to the first 5 rounds) should you wish to see the results.

At the same time that would be scouts are creating their draft boards a member of my forum that goes by the name of LionHawk scours the internet, radio and press for news and photos of the Lions meeting with various draft prospects. The easy ones, the 30 visits to Allen Park are included, as are any combine interviews, proday interviews, and other major (versus minor) contact the Lions may have had with various players. After many months and hundreds of hours he creates a contact list. In the past, there were drafts where every draft pick the Lions made were on the list. There were a couple years when the Lions were a bit more secretive and got a few prospects that were drafted who were not on the list, but for the most part, every Lions draft pick this year is likely to be somewhere on the LionHawk list, as well as most if not all the undrafted guys they pick up after the draft.

When you go to my website link above and view the top 160 names on my big board you will notice that some of the names are in bold. Those are the players on the LionHawk list. That doesn't mean those not in bold won't be drafted by the Lions, but the odds do favor those that are in bold. The rest of my blog entry here will be using the information from the compiled lists I have made mention of, hopefully it's as accurate as I think it is, it's certainly as accurate as I can possibly make it.

The first thing I notice when studying the combined lists is that even though the Lions have the 5th pick in round 1 they have made contact with a lot of players who ranked between 11 and 24. That tells me they are very hopeful of trading down to the upper middle of round 1. Most fans I have talked with also hope the Lions will trade down in this draft which is obviously the direct opposite of what Mel Kiper recently said the Lions should do. I'm good with that.

So if I combine what I stated in my blog entry Part I with the information above I end up saying that if the Lions don't trade down they will likely select at pick #5 in the draft one of the following players if they are still there:

LT Luke Joeckel
LT Eric Fisher
DE Bjoern Werner (a late addition due to being a late visit to the Lions)
DE Ezekiel Ansah
G Chance Warmack

Now guards very rarely get drafted in the top 15 but it could happen, not the salary cap nor any other factor prevents them from doing so, it's just less likely. I left off the list CB Dee Milliner because as I stated in Part I it is in my opinion that the Lions won't be drafting a CB at all this draft. I also left off Dion Jordan because he does not exactly fit the profile for a 4/3 DE and the Lions don't need a 3/4 OLB. Could they draft him in the hopes he can add 2o pounds without losing speed and play a 4/3 DE? Sure. The odds are against it but they could.

Now if the Lions do trade down a little ways in round 1 a number of names can be added to the prospect list, assuming for a moment that both Ansah and Warmack drop if the Lions don't make them their pick, and assuming the Lions don't trade down too far, the list now looks like this (also keeping in mind my 3 positions from part one of this blog entry; WR, DE, OLine):

DE Bjoern Werner
DE Ezekiel Ansah
G Chance Warmack
DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo
G Jonathan Cooper
T Lane Johnson
WR Cordarelle Patterson
WR Tavon Austin

Out of this list I think Mingo is a long shot for the same reasons as Dion Jordan. I also think Tavon Austin isn't exactly the tall powerful bookend type WR they are looking for to play opposite Calvin Johnson. I didn't even mention S Kenny Vaccaro, OLB Jarvis Jones, TE Tyler Eifert for the reasons given before. When all is said and done, it appears to me that the Lions will be drafting DE Ansah, one of 3 offensive tackles, or one of 2 guards for their first pick, and it may or may not require a trade down to do it. The long shot being WR Cordarelle Patterson.

By now you can see my line of thinking so to quicken up the pace a little, my Lions 2nd pick in the draft comes down to these players:

DE Cornellius (Tank) Carradine
WR Robert Woods
WR Justin Hunter

Or possibly one of the players I mentioned for the first pick if they slide down. They could also trade down, or as has been their M.O. in most Mayhew drafts, trade up, to take another player. The options for their 2nd round pick do appear limited, so either they have someone ranked higher then I do, have other plans then sitting still, or plan to take a position that goes against my thinking (as I said in Part I of this draft blog). It's also obviously possible they had made contact with a player that escaped LionHawk's list, I wouldn't count on that though.

The 3rd draft pick might be made from this list:

C Travis Frederick
WR Aaron Dobson
G/RT Brian Winters
DE/OLB Cornelius Washington
DE William Gholston
DE Devin Taylor

I think I shall wait to see who they do take in round 1 and if they trade down before making any more predictions for the last day of the draft, or perhaps just a day or two to see what feedback I get from this blog entry. I will make up one more list right now though, well three actually, which of these three draft results do you prefer (assuming no trades)?

Draft Results #1: LT Fisher, DE Tank Carradine, WR Aaron Dobson
Draft Results #2: DE Ezekiel Ansah, WR Robert Woods, G/RT Brian Winters
Draft Results #3: G Chance Warmack, WR Justin Hunter, DE/OLB Cornelius Washington

There are obviously many other combinations that are equally good (or bad) options, I just threw 3 out there for discussion sake. I myself am good with either of the first 2 results. What I wouldn't like to see is going off from my calculated thinking and ending up with a draft like this: CB Dee Milliner, LB Manti Te'o, RB Johnathan Franklin... all guys also on the LionHawk list.

For you who don't have the link to my forum and would like it, it can be found here: