Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Detroit Lions final 53 for 2015

So we now have the Detroit Lions final 53 for the 2015 season... or do we? I mean, one day after the final cut down day the 3rd round draft pick CB Alex Carter was placed on Injured Reserve with the option to return (in 8 weeks) and then Jermelle Cudjo was re-signed. So what happens next?

First it should be noted that Cudjo knew he would be re-signed the next day but kept it quiet, and the Lions had to wait the one day to put Carter on "IR to return" as you can't do that before the day after final cut down day. It was planned, from start to finish. Tuesday the Lions finished creating their 10 man practice squad, signing the following players:

Braxston Cave C
Kerry Hyder DT
Isaiah Johnson S
Andrew Peacock WR
Casey Pierce TE
Larry Webster DE
George Winn RB
Ricky Stanzi QB
Jean-Baptiste CB
Saalim Abdul Hakim WR/KR/PR

But it was not easy for the Lions to choose who would stay and who would go, some players who may not have stayed did so due to others on the team being injured, and once those guys are healed up and playing the players kept for depth may suddenly find themselves out of work. The practice squad is also going to turn over, a lot, between now and the end of the season. Every player who is not the starter in week 1 needs to keep working, hard, and not give up impressing the coaches as they are all still on the never ending job interview that is the NFL roster.

For today though, we can take a snap shot of the team, of the roster, and see how it compares to what was expected. Me, I create a very public estimated depth chart (see link to the right) and lock it in just prior to the 3rd pre-season game, every year. My best year was last year with 49 right. This year I once again got 48 right, I believe that makes it 4 out of the last 5 years of being at 48 right. Locking it in prior to week 3 gives me a disadvantage though, I didn't get to see Philip Hunt's great games, nor did I know about the severity of Warford's and Reid's injuries. The trade for Tim Wright had just happened but I didn't trust that Tim Wright would show anything in the time given to warrant he make the roster. There are quite a few things that may have made me change my way of thinking had I waited, but to do so makes me the same as everyone else who does an estimated depth chart, and I want to base it on more then the last two pre-season games. I want to base it somewhat on what I see in practices, on special teams, on how the coaches behave towards certain players (like I knew that Broyle's was toast) and how the front office brings in players (showing me the lack of interest in KR Jeremy Ross) and so forth.

So where did I go wrong? Well, I'll just copy and paste a couple paragraphs from my forum:

They kept WR Lance Moore over WR Greg Salas (Salas went to IR on cut down day, no way to account for that)
They kept Tim Wright over Joseph Fauria (late trade, and Brindza made the Bucs roster over the former Bronco's kicker they had signed)
They kept LT Corey Robinson over FB Emil Igwenagu (and Robinson did nothing until a bit in game 3 and a lot in game 4, late bloomer)
They kept Phillip Hunt over Cudjo (I had assumed after game 3 they'd keep Hunt over Tapp, they kept both Tapp and Hunt)
They kept Van Noy over QB Kellen Moore (I assumed before game 3 they'd put Van Noy on IR, instead he started practicing right after it).

I think they made an error in keeping Tapp over Cudjo, other then that I can understand and appreciate all their moves they made. One extra note; OT Mike Williams made the Patriots final 53 roster, already said Brindza made his roster over a vet, and Seisay went to IR with an injury for his new team.

I wasn't too far off, considering I didn't wait for kick off of week 3 pre-season.

What's next? The Lions need to decide who will do kick offs and punt returns, and as guys get healed up while others get injured you can expect some more roster moves. Guys like Hunt, Cudjo, and Tapp are still competing for their jobs. So is Tim Wright, Lance Moore, and a few others. There is no time to slack off, no time to relax, no point in which any of these guys can say with certainty they won't be the next guy cut. It would be like working in a job where your fellow employees get pink slips each week and you would never know if this week was your week to get yours. Hard to concentrate... huh? Especially when it all might not have anything to do with your ability but who else on the team gets injured. So here's to health, for a healthy team tends to be a successful team.

Since we don't know who will heal up, who will get hurt, or what new plans the Lions will make as it concerns the roster, we need to look towards the next thing on the agenda. No, not game 1 of the regular season. Next up is the day when all NFL teams have to be under the salary cap not with the current top 51 player rule, but with the full 53 plus injured reserve plus practice squad. At the moment the Lions have 6 on IR costing the cap $3.54 million... and those 10 guys on the practice squad are costing the cap at least $897,600... and some of those guys cut created dead cap space that also has to be accounted for, to the tune of $556,630. So what's the issue? The Lions didn't have $5 million in cap space to spare to cover all of these things. It'll be what happens next, addressing this cap issue, via injury settlements (and losing the players rights) or contract re-structures, or other cuts. Stay tuned.

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