Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017, Week 17, Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers @ Home (Season finale).


The 9-7 Detroit Lions beat the 7-9 Green Bay Packers 35-11 and the first time they have swept the Packers since 1991. This is the second 9-7 season in a row, but this time it was not enough for them to make the playoffs. How large is that stupid loss to the Steelers now? Or that called TD that wasn't against the Falcons causing 10 seconds to be run off the 8 second game clock when it overturned? Or any other game that could have or should have been a win but was not for whatever reason. So even though it was another winning season the 2017 season can be summed up in one word. Fail.

Matthew Stafford was 20 of 29 (68.97%) for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. This makes his 7th season in a row of exceeding 4,000 yards passing, only Drew Brees has more (11 or 12 I think it is). This was also the only game Stafford ever has had with 3 passes of over 50 yards in it. Proving it could be done if the plays were called and/or attempted, but were not until the playoffs were out of reach. That means too much conservative play calling when it matters. Another data point in that vein is the trick play called for a 2 point conversation which ended up with Tate III throwing a 2 point conversion to Matthew Stafford. Despite all these beautiful records, the offense for the Lions in 2017 has but one grade. Fail.

Hundley was 14 of 24 (58.33%) for 172 yards 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. The Lions defense also allowed 103 yards rushing and recovered 2 fumbles (well, 3 fumbles but one was Agnew recovering his own fumble so I'm not counting that). The Lions defense went from a top 10 defense (primarily from it's run defense at the beginning of the year) to 32nd by year's end. The turning point was exactly due to one player. Ngata. The pro-bowl DT was healthy for the first time as a Lion to start the year and was playing like a pro-bowler, then he got injured and put on IR and the defense never was the same again. How can a defensive coordinator not be able to counter for the loss of one guy in 3/4 of a season? This isn't the first time Austin lost a pro-bowl DT and failed to do anything after that... same thing happened when Suh left the team (they did get Ngata, but he was playing injured the entire year and was not himself). Apparently, and as I have said often, Austin can NOT field a decent defense against a winning team unless he has a pro-bowl and healthy defensive tackle on the team playing the majority of the snaps. So the grade for the 2017 defense? Fail.

I haven't too many complaints about the special teams coach other then why wait until week 17 to do a trick play that helps score points? Was that a head coaching decision or something self inflicted? Special teams won't get a failing grade, but I'm forced to go no more then B+ because of those two questions.

Now after reading my post(s) you might think I want all the coaches canned. But, there are issues with that. You see, new coaches mean new systems, new playbooks to learn, new language, new problems even. The talent may no longer fit. The time for everyone to sign on and be able to execute can often be measured in years not games. I'm not looking forward to a whole new coaching staff, not at all. But, at the same time, the current OL coach was the TE coach until Lombardi was fired then he was moved (and the not so great OL coach at the time was canned along with Lombardi). I don't think he is the answer at OL coach. Cooter is a great QB coach, but he needs training on how to be an OC, and perhaps, maybe, he could be worked with by hiring an assistant with play calling experience to help him learn his position that he was never properly taught. As for the defense, I do not want Austin back unless we have a pair of pro-bowl caliber DTs on the roster. But I don't want a whole new defense either, just a DC who is not afraid to blitz. So perhaps let Austin go and promote one of the assistant coaches to DC, such as the DB coach maybe. Does that mean I want to keep Caldwell? Well, it would make my choices easier, but it's also possible that Quinn will bring in Patrica (the Patriots current DC) as the head coach and he could do the things I suggest above. That is, fire Austin, promote the DB coach to DC. Replace the OL coach. Bring in an assistant to properly train Cooter in the art of play calling... and perhaps just perhaps Patricia won't go for it on 4th down when in field goal range and only 2 points down... maybe he'll take the points and the lead and not lose that game giving the Lions a wildcard game. Perhaps he can even find ways to improve other aspects of the game and win the division, especially in a year in which Rodgers is out for most of it and the other two teams in the division are going to backup QB plans of their own due to injury or ineffectiveness. Anyway, that's my say on the coaching issue at this point in time.

I have a lot more to discuss on the players, and will, but until the coaching decisions are made that can wait... what's the point of replacing half the OL if the OL coach remains. What's the point of getting a top notch RB if the OC always calles run plays on 1st downs and can't call more then 20 run plays a game. What's the point of getting a DT if... oh, well, we need one anyways... but if we need a pro-bowl ready made DT to make Austin's D work it would have to be a very expensive free agent and not just a draft pick. (could or should be both is Austin stays). Anyway, I'll get into player eval and other comments later, after I see what the coaching situation is.

Have a good New Year's everyone, see you on the flip side.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

2017, Week 16, Detroit Lions @ Cincinnati Bengals

It's Official.

The 8-7 Detroit Lions lose to the 6-9 Cincinnati Bengals with a score of 17-26. With the loss the Lions can no longer mathematically make it into the 2017 playoffs. Though the Lions play the Green Bay Packers next week to end the season it's officially the time to begin off season talk. Before we do that let's get to the official numbers for this game.

Matthew Stafford was 19 of 35 (54.29%) for 203 yards a touchdown and an interception. A good part of the incompletions were desparation throws at the end of the game in an attempt to make something happen in the limited time left in the game. Another chunk can be attributed to drops. That's not saying Stafford played well, he's not blameless. Meanwhile Andy Dalton was 27 of 41 (65.85%) for 238 yards also with a touchdown and an interception. The Lions had 87 yards rushing if you combine four different runners, while the Bengals had 142 yards rushing. The Lions had 9 penalties to the Bengals 5. The Lions also lost the time of possession battle, if there was a battle for it that is.

The numbers show once again that the Lions are incapable of stopping the run (even when the starting RB leaves the game early) without a pro-bowl and fully healthy DT in the mix. They also failed to pressure Dalton enough to win the game, as Dalton has proved early in this game and in most games on film that he slightly panics when he's about to get hit. Of course, it's hard to create pressure when your DC refuses to blitz, even when your opponent is starting a new tackle on their OL. The Bengals had no issue blitzing the Lions who were playing without their starting center, starting right guard, and starting right tackle. I would not hesitate to trade the Lions DC for the Bengals DC even up... I'd even spot them the Lions OL coach to sweeten the deal.

The Lions had chances early in the game to put pressure on the Bengals (and many other teams this year) by taking a few calculated chances early in games to pile on the points but as is constantly the case, they don't. The conservative play calling is well beyond stupid, into the area of impossibly idiotic. But I digress. Actually, no, I'm not digressing. Now that the Lions wasted yet another season by not making the playoffs and since we're already into the time we can start talking about the off season then the very first thing that will be talked about the most is if the coaching staff should remain. I think Jim Bob Cooter is a great QB coach. I'm far from impressed with him at OC. I'm far from impressed with Austin at DC. I'm far from impressed with the OL coach. I'm okay with the TE coach and the DB coach. That's about it. The rest haven't shown me anything to make me even comment on them one way or the other. With this much lack of enthusiasm for a coaching staff it makes think there will be changes coming. What exactly those will be I'm not yet certain. I do know that the team in the division who plays its starting QB for the entire year when none of the other teams in the division are able to, you would think said team would practically walk into the playoffs ... instead of failing to even make it into a wildcard slot.

Next week the Lions finish the season at home against a Rodgers-less Packers team who also has failed to make the playoffs. The outcome of the game only affects the draft slot both teams will be in. It's also possibly the last chance for some players to prove they are worthy of remaining on the team just like the coaching staff. Though I'm not sure many fans will be rooting for a win, as a loss improves their draft position and improves the chances the coaching staff getting replaced. I know there will be some fans who won't want to start over with all new coaching philosophies and all new playbooks and all new problems with player fitting systems and so on, and I'm actually one of them... but it's also kind of proven that this coaching staff is not able to get it done so do you fix part of it or start over from scratch? We won't know until it's official, and that's at least a week away yet.

So Merry Christmas Lions fans. Sorry there won't be any presents this year. Older fans are maybe more used to this then other fans, but it still sucks.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

2017, Week 15, Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears @ Home

Catching Up.

The 8-6 Detroit Lions beat the 4-10 Chicago Bears 20-10 on a Saturday Afternoon. You'll note I failed to blog about the Baltimore Ravens loss or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win due to work related issues so now I'm catching up.

Matthew Stafford was 25 of 33 (75.76%) for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns and no interceptions or fumbles. The Lions produced another 91 yards rushing but more importantly the Lions defense held the Bears to 43 yards rushing and also got 3 interceptions on the Bears rookie QB Trubisky, who was 31 of 46 (67.39%) for 314 yards and a touchdown.

The leading receiver for the Lions was TE Eric Ebron (again) who had 5 catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. Marvin Jones Jr had the most yards though, 3 catches for 85 yards. The Lions took the lead with a field goal on the first drive of the game and never lost it. The Bears were the team spending an entire game trying to catch up, which made for a more comfortable job of watching the game (just hours earlier I finally got to watch the Ravens game I had DVR'd, that was not comfortable to watch). The Lions even had some new plays in the Bears game, that worked, and up until the 4th quarter when the defense went into prevent (the dreaded zone defense) the Lions proved they were the better team. Of course, the record says they are even before the kickoff, but with the "any given [Sun]day" and the "that's why they play the games" you just never know for sure.

I could go into all the things the team still does wrong... maybe complain some more about the coaching... even talk about the next off season (including the draft)... but there is still a chance the Lions could make the playoffs so I won't, much. I mean the Lions still would have to win both their next two games AND have a couple of key teams lose one or more games in order to actually make the playoffs, but that is also not new news (or fake news either for that matter).

After the Sunday and Monday games perhaps I can get into more catching up on the playoff picture, if I have the time to do so. If not, the Lions next game is against the Bengals in Cincinnati (the Bengals are currently 5-8) and the Lions will need to play even harder then today to win that game... thing is, the Lions have shown they can... and the Bengals are not playing with a winning record... so most likely the Lions will be favored to win... even if it could end up being another uncomfortable game to watch. Here's hoping the Lions can once again get an early lead then keep it, makes life so much less stressful (except for Bengals fans I suppose). Meanwhile Lions fans need to root for the Panthers, the Falcons, and the Seahawks to lose. An eye must also be kept on the Cowboys and the Packers, but if the Lions win their last two games neither of those two teams can do anything about it, and the Lions play the Packers New Years Eve day.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

2017, Week 12, Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings @ Home on Thanksgiving Day

Now we know.

The 6-5 Detroit Lions lose to the 9-2 Minnesota Vikings 23 to 30 on a otherwise fine Thanksgiving Day afternoon game. The Lions defense has allowed nearly double the rushing yards per contest in the 6 games since Ngata went on IR as they did in the 5 games in which he played. The Lions defense had similar issues the year after the departure of Ndamakung Suh. So now we know that the defensive coordinator is simply unable to field a decent defense unless he has a healthy pro-bowl caliber defensive tackle on the team.

Matthew Stafford was 20 of 35 (57.14%) for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns along with an interception and he lost a fumble as well on a botched hand off early in the game. Case Keenum was allowed to go 21 of 30 (70%) for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. That along with the 136 yards rushing by the Vikings gave them nearly a 10 minute advantage in time of possession. The Lions managed 53 yards rushing. That's somewhere in the area of 3 years now without a 100 yard rushing running back. The OL that was supposed to start for the Lions played for a whole game and a half this year before Swanson was injured in this game. But the revamped OL still does not seem to be able to run or pass block as they should. Still, even with these issues, a Stafford led team has once again been (for the most part) unable to beat a team with a winning record. Of course the mere fact they beat a team alters their win/loss record and makes those at or near .500 fall into the losing record category so I don't hold to this fact very hard. The Lions have 5 games remaining and at this point in time none of the upcoming opponents currently have a winning record. Still, that may not matter, as somehow the Vikings would need to lose 3 games in the next 5 while the Lions win all 5 in order to take the division. The playoff picture is looking very bleak tonight... in case you were wondering... as the Lions do not hold the tie breakers with many of the potential wild card candidates. Regardless of opponents records though, the Lions quite simply need to fix the run game, need to fix the defense (or get a healthy pro-bowl DT for Austin), and need to have some way to beat good defenses... whether that means to make sure Stafford gets plenty of sleep before a game or getting him a lucky rabbits foot or even a better offensive coordinator. I don't know the exact formula to fix things, but now we know that the 2017 team is going to be extremely lucky just to have a post season this year.

Speaking of coaches, who's decision was it go for it on 4th and 8 with nearly 3 minutes to go when you have a time out and the 2 minute warning in your pocket? Considering if they fail to convert the ball it would already be in the Vikings field goal range (as limited as that is) wouldn't it have been better to punt and try to get a 3 and out and after getting the ball back, having it be a first down? The answer is, yes it would. This makes more then once when what I call "stupid coaching tricks" has reared it's ugly head. Kind of up there with nearly 90% of 1st downs being a run play, or failing to get the stop on 3rd and long... over and over and over again.

Anyway, I had high hopes for this team this year and would have still had they beat the Vikings today. That did not happen and the hopes are all but gone. As for the near future, the Ravens have the Monday night game this weekend and then play the Lions 6 days later, while the Lions now have 10 days to get ready for the Ravens. The Ravens are 5-5 at this point in time, so not currently a winning team... that could change Monday night and be padded if the Lions lose to them next Sunday. Longer term, the Lions can't afford to lose even one more game, because as we now know, they could win all 5 remaining games and still not make the playoffs, depending on how the other potential wildcard teams do. Even longer term, the Lions need to seriously evaluate their coordinators and other coaches on the staff, and the roster turnover is quite obviously not yet anywhere near finished, assuming Quinn gets to keep working on the roster.

The Quinn honeymoon is over, and fans once they realize that this season is yet another lost cause will begin to crump about every player and some of the coaches and even some in the front office. Mrs Ford will be another year older and her patience may be either longer or shorter then the fans, that we do not know, not for sure. The only immediate cure for what ails them is to win, every single game, for the rest of however long the year is going to be. I shan't hold my breath.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

2017, Week 11, Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears

Rambling thoughts.

The 6-4 Detroit Lions beat the 3-7 Chicago Bears 27-24. The Lions had a mere 4 point lead at half time, scored two field goals in the 4th quarter, then allowed the Bears to get into field goal range in the final minutes of the game only to have them miss wide (very wide) right their attempt to tie the game (after having scored a TD earlier in the 4th quarter). There was nothing easy about the game but the Lions managed to eek out their third and final divisional away game win of 2017. I can't recall the last time the Lions won all 3 divisional away games in the same year... come to think about it, I don't think they ever have, since it was probably 1991 or before and at that time the Tampa Bay Bucs were also in the Lions division (the old NFC Central).

Matthew Stafford was 21 of 31 (67.74%) for 299 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions, and he gave the Bears great field position for their first touchdown when he fumbled after being hit by the guy who blew right by Zach Zenner early in the game. There was a whopping 65 yards rushing by the Lions offense, but the Lions defense allowed 222 yards rushing. Trubisky went 18 of 30 (60%) for 179 yards and a touchdown. What turned out to be the game winning field goal by Prater was just over 50 yards into the wind and while it went through the uprights nearly dead center it had just barely cleared the bar as it actually hit the padding of the pole that holds the whole thing up in the air... so inches to spare. Hayden scored one of the Lions touchdowns via a fumble recovery of his own. The Lions defense didn't have a lot of luck after that though, creating only one sack and getting no interceptions. Still, they did just enough to help. In fact, one could say all three aspects of the team (offense, defense, and special teams) were helpful in getting the win, and all three were at various times responsible for the problems they had allowing the Bears to nearly beat them.

The next game the Lions play is coming up this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, against the division leading Minnesota Vikings. The Lions have only won 2 games at home (losing 3) so it's not really a home field advantage necessarily but it is the first of their three remaining home games for this year and all 3 of them are against division rivals, so hopefully a home field advantage begins to show its self this week. How they will handle this national game is also hard to predict as they have won 2 of their 3 national games so far this year so no track record to go by there either. Finally, the Vikings have only lost two games so far this year and one of them was to the Lions in week 4. Can they do it again? The Lions have won 3 in a row to keep them in the playoff hunt, but if they want to win the division then beating the Vikings (again) is going to be a very critical part of that.

Enough of my rambling thoughts and hopefully the Lions find a way to stop opposing teams from rambling along with so many yards by the running backs. If they can't, hopefully they can find ways to score enough points to win anyway. My prediction? If the Lions can keep the game close going into the 4th quarter I think they can and will win... I'm just not so sure they can keep it close. I'd love to be confident they will win, but lately their wins seem to be harder to come by. It was nice to see their starting offensive line intact and playing together for the first time this year... more of that could help everything on offense a lot... but the Lions defensive line is not intact nor being especially helpful much of the time, they will have their work cut out for them once again. My final rambling thought is... I hope Lions fans can get loud and remain loud for the entire game. The harder they make it on whomever the Vikings have at QB, the better.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

2017, Week 10, Detroit Lions vs Cleveland Browns @ Home


The 5-4 Detroit Lions beat the 0-9 Cleveland Browns 38-24 in a game that at first was going a little tougher then many expected. In fact the Lions tied the game late in the 3rd quarter before regaining and keeping the lead in the 4th. In the end though, the Lions topped the vegas odds given and won by 14 points to keep them in the playoff race (as the Packers and the Vikings also won their games). To the best of my knowledge the Lions didn't have any major injuries and in fact their left tackle (Decker) managed to play quite a few snaps for the first time this year as he gets back into game shape.

Matthew Stafford was 17 of 26 (65.385%) for 249 yards 3 touchdowns and 1 interception with no fumbles. In fact, no Lion had a fumble but they did manage to cause one, and it was caused and then run back for a touchdown by CB Lawson. Abdullah, Riddick and Stafford tallied up 104 yards on the ground with Abdullah getting the lone rushing touchdown. Touchdown passes were caught by Riddick, Tate and Ebron. Big play Slay had the interception on Kizer, who missed about a quarter of the game after a hit by Diggs (a legal hit) bruised his ribs. Kessler was only 1 of 3 (33.33%) for 5 yards and Kizer was 21 of 37 (56.757%) for 232 yards a touchdown and the interception. The stats make it sound like the Lions easily won the game and excelled in all areas, where in fact it was anyone's game up until the 4th quarter, when the Browns started doing things poorly and the Lions started doing things better (then they had earlier in the game). In the end the Lions won, as they should have, and face the 3-6 Chicago Bears next Sunday before they play the Thanksgiving Day game the following Thursday (against the Minnesota Vikings). Two VERY important games coming up with only 4 days between them.

The Cleveland game showed the Lions still need to work on just about everything from run blocking and pass blocking to reads to routes to retaining focus throughout the game. The defense had good and bad moments and they too have plenty to work on. What was nice though was that many things were worked on during the game and some things were turned around before the game got out of control in the wrong direction. The Browns have a pretty decent defense, a rookie but up and coming quarterback, and what appears to be a pretty decent rookie tight end as well. Despite them being 0-8 (now 0-9) they are not push overs. When it appeared early in the 2nd half that the game might spiral out of control a comment was made in the chat room that the Lions were just protecting their 0-16 season record, was caused me to laugh despite all the errors being made. Some of us didn't quite give up on the Lions as there was plenty of time left plus the Lions are known for doing well in the 4th quarter and unfortunately for Browns' fans the Browns are getting known for losing it later in their games. That's pretty much what happened too, so those of us that didn't give up on the game were rewarded for our patience.

In the end the Lions won, things are still looking okay, and 11 days from now the picture may be clearer or just as foggy as it is now, so patience will be required for at least the time being. I'm not sure if fans can learn to be patient that quickly, so for sanity in the forums and Lions fans stress levels, I'm hopeful the team will be 7-4 before my turkey dinner is over. If so, the entire month of December will be that much more interesting. A month in which children have to learn patience before opening presents might just be what fans need to learn how that works... or not. In fact, probably not, but one can make wishes.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

2017, Week 9, Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers


The 4-4 Detroit Lions handily beat the 4-4 Green Bay Packers in Green Bay 30-17 with 7 of those points recorded in garbage time (yeah, I went there). This marks only the 2nd time the Lions have won in Green Bay in something like 25 years. Also, during the game, the Lions never punted, not even once, and that hasn't happened to the Lions since I was in 3rd grade (think President Nixon and Apollo Space Program) and never once at Lambeau Field by ANY team. In addition to all this, Stafford became only the 4th QB in NFL history to hit 200 touchdown throws before the age of 30... a very major milestone, and not just a Detroit Lions one this time, but an NFL one. Anyway, I have to temper my enjoyment of the win due to the fact that Rodgers is injured and not playing for the Packers. Okay, that was enough tempering, I'm going to enjoy the win instead.

I'm keeping track of the Lions record, their opponents records, and which teams are common opponents to the other NFC North teams all at in case you want to view it in this format.

Matthew Stafford was 26 of 33 (78.79% wow) for 361 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions or fumbles (also wow!). Meanwhile the Packers backup QB Hundley was held to 26 of 38 (68.42% which is too much) for 245 yards and no TDs or INTs (which is both good and bad). The Packers also had 78 yards rushing, which was good for the Lions run defense without Ngata. I realize that Hundley is no Rodgers, but it was nice to see the Lions defense get at least some of their swagger back, even if it may not be enough just yet for later on. I will simply enjoy it when it works out.

The Lions only had 64 yards running the ball so they still can't run block or run for beans (and AA had 2 fumbles, losing one as well, getting himself benched before the end of the game). The Packers had no fumbles lost. In addition to fumbles, Stafford was only sacked one time while Hundley was sacked 3 times and hurried for a few more. Once again, with a different QB the game may have come out a lot closer (or the Lions might have even lost, but they did let up off the gas when in a closer game they might not have). Basically what it comes down to is, enjoy the wins. Sure the Lions had a few "stupid coaching tricks" in this game just like previous games, but not nearly as many, and they weren't nearly as important.

Next week the Lions play the Cleveland Browns at home. The Browns have yet to win a game in 2017. They are 0-8. If ever there were a trap game, this one might be it, but I don't think the Lions will give in to it, so I expect to enjoy their 5th win of the season next Sunday afternoon and would be severely disappointed if that were not to happen.

The Lions still have to play the Bears twice, and the Packers and Vikings again (having won their first game with each) so it is at present a positive thing as far as owning tie breakers go. Not that I'm counting on needing to have a tie breaker just yet. After all, only the Lions have their starting QB playing this year at present, which normally would mean your division is yours to lose, if not for the fact that the Vikings have a 2 game lead on them at present. The Lions are past their hardest part of their schedule, they are 4-4, and things are looking up. I'm just going to have to stop complaining about the coaches and enjoy it... for now.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

2017, Week 8, Pittsburgh Steelers vs Detroit Lions @ Home

Ju Ju'd

What happened to week 6 and week 7 you ask? Well, in week 6 the Lions lost to the Saint in New Orleans by a score of 38-52. Unfortunately due to time constraints I was unable to write up an article about that game (hardly have time to write this one in fact). But had I wrote it there would have been much more talk about the coaching staff, and how they aren't doing their jobs to my satisfaction. Then I'd have gone on about how week 7 is the Lions bye week so perhaps some players can get healthy and perhaps the coaches will take the time to self evaluate and improve their own (and thus the players') performance(s). Then there is tonight's Sunday Night game in which the 3-4 Detroit Lions lose to the 6-2 Pittsburgh Steelers at home by a score of 15-20. Now mind you in the 3rd quarter the Lions had a chance to take the lead by kicking what would amount to a chip shot field goal but instead chose to go for it on 4th down, and failed. Then, a few plays later, Ju Ju Smith-Schuster, the Steelers 20 year old rookie wide receiver, took a short pass 97 yards for a touchdown. The Lions late in the 4th would once again get within 7 yards of the end zone and would once again go for it on 4th down and once again fail to convert. If you're keeping score that's 6 points in field goals not taken in exchange for two failed 4th down attempts. They lost by 5. Now who's decision do you think it was to not take the points? If you want to know why the Lions lost this game (and perhaps the 2 before it as well) then look no further then the HC, OC, and DC. Caldwell, Cooter and Austin (sounds like a bad law firm) have taken poor coaching decisions to a whole new level. More on this later.

Matthew Stafford was 27 of 45 (60%) for 423 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The Lions managed 71 yards rushing. They managed 5 field goals and would easily have had 2 more had the attempt been made. But I digress. Ben Roethlisberger was 17 of 31 (54.84%) for 317 yards a touchdown and an interception. If it weren't for the fact that Ju Ju had a total of 193 yards it would've been a very good defensive stand. But Ju Ju did have 193 yards, with a long of 97 yards, and the game ending first down to run out the clock as well. There were too many times he was wide open, since Bell only had 76 yards rushing it should have been obvious to all concerned that Ben was going to have to throw to move the team down the field, so why was their #2 WR (a 20 year old Rookie in his 8th game of his career) able to get open and make so many yards? Because the defense was wrong, that's why.

If I had the time I'd really lay into the coaching decisions, both in the past couple games and in today's game... but I don't have that kind of time. Overall I thought the offense did fairly well considering the OL has been made up of guys I don't even know (today's right tackle was cut from I think it was Dallas' practice squad a while back for example) and even with the failure to make any TDs did enough to win. Despite Ju Ju's 97 yard pass play the Lions defense also did enough to win. I mean, sure, one more completion on offense or one more pass play defended by the defense might have also won the game, but the decision to not kick two field goals was the defacto reason the Lions lost. It's a stupid reason to lose a winnable game. A reason that I hope does not happen again. Ever. With this coaching staff. It's near unbearable to overcome everything only to have stupid coaching tricks cause the team to lose.

Next week the Lions play in Wisconsin on Monday Night Football against the Rodger's-less Green Bay Packers team. It should be an easy win. Something tells me it will be much more difficult then that. And, if the Lions coaching staff helps too much, could become another heart breaking loss. Here's hoping lessens were learned, of some kind, before it's too late.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

2017, Week 5, Carolina Panthers vs the Detroit Lions @ Home


The 3-2 Detroit Lions lose to the 4-1 Carolina Panthers 24-27 in a lopsided game that was no where near as close as the final score. If you gave out game balls to the losing team the only two guys who would deserve them would be TE Daniel Fells and K Matt Prater, in my opinion. None of the other players stood out and for that matter, neither did any of the coaches. There was so much that went wrong during this game that there isn't much in the line of positives to write about. Very lopsided indeed.

Matthew Stafford was 23 of 35 (65.71%) for 229 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions though he did fumble twice (one recovered by Robinson of the Lions) and Stafford was sacked 6 times. Stafford detractors will be saying that he needs to be more aware of the rush, that he needs to just get rid of the ball instead of taking the sack, and so on. Stafford defenders will be saying that the offensive line needs to pass block better, that the receivers (be they WR, TE or RB) need to get at least some separation to get open, and that the play calling was not conducive to winning the game. I would say that both sides would be right. I understand that Stafford is playing tough, standing tall and trying to give his receivers as much time as he can to get open, desparately trying to win the game. But, he (and his coaching staff) need to admit the OL is not capable of blocking regularly for either the pass or the run and do whatever can be done to mitigate the problem. Be it more roll outs, throwing the ball away instead of taking the sack, re-designing the playbook, or just benching guys for lack of production. Something, anything, as Stafford is getting whomped, he's limping, bleeding, and at times, rushing his throws while at other times taking too long to get rid of the ball. The running backs make a great play then fail the next 6 times (or whatever number it is). The blocking is even more lopsided. In the end Fells caught both touchdowns in what many will call garbage time and Ebron had only 1 catch and many drops, again. Ebron is also not playing like a first round pick. I could go on and on and on about the offense, but, let's look at the other side for a moment.

Cam Newton was 26 of 33 (78.79% which is amazing) for 355 yards 3 touchdowns and no interceptions one fumble (recovered by them) and sacked 3 times. The time of possession was around 35 minutes (to the Lions 25) and the only good stat for the Lions defense is they held the Panthers to just 28 yards rushing (Lions offense had 50 yards rushing). At one point the Panthers had scored 24 unanswered points leaving the Lions to score their only 2 passing touchdowns in the 4th quarter in a failed attempt to come back. The Panthers backup tightend had 5 catches for 175 yards, nearly a team record. The defense will get a pass because they played so well the first 4 games of the season, but really, they don't deserve a pass, they need to find what went wrong and get it fixed or the season will be over before the bye week. Then again, maybe that's just me being upset about the loss and how lopsided the score was until the final minutes.

Now I'm not saying there wasn't a good play here, or a great play there, by the Lions, but there was so many bad plays it kind of ruins the good ones. It is most certainly time for the Lions coaches to figure themselves and their team out, and find ways to have more of the good plays and far fewer of the bad ones... on both sides of the ball. It's time for players to step up or sit down, and no, I'm not actually talking about the quarterback. Even though he does need to be coached about some of the things he is (or is not) doing too. Make Ebron a healthy scratch in favor of playing Fells, that might get his attention. Shuffle the OL if you have to, or find plays they can actually block for, or coach them into doing better, or gee, I just don't know, but any QB who has to play behind this OL is going to need a whole lot of ice if he can even walk after the game no matter who is taking the snaps. Maybe it's the OL coach? Not sure. The WR coach has some work to do too, the WRs are not getting open. Not even getting a step of separation most of the time. Or is it the playbook? The play calling? Not sure on this either, but I do know that something must be done. At the same time the defense who was playing very well needs to get back to doing that, as this game exposed them badly and it can't be something they fall into when you need them to keep the team in the game. No, they shouldn't have to do that by themselves, I just covered that, but until such time as the O does come around the D needs to compensate.

In the end, the game was a Panthers win from the 2nd quarter on, it was completely lopsided despite the final score, and hope for future wins was severely diminished after watching the game. Only Fells and Prater should sleep well and feel good about their game after this.

Next week the Lions play the Saints in New Orleans. If they play like they did today they will lose by 3 or more scores. The bye week is the week after but I suggest they shouldn't wait for that week to fix things, they need to work on it now. I'm sure they are actually, I'm just not sure if they are capable. Probably they are, but forgive me if I have some doubts.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

2017, Week 4, Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings

Just Enough

The 3-1 Detroit Lions defeated the 2-2 Minnesota Vikings 14-7 in a hard fought away game. The offense, defense and special teams did just enough to garner the win. In fact, it could be said that the defense had to do even more then their share in order to make up for some issues elsewhere. The officiating was also fairly relaxed (and no, I'm not complaining). All in all, it's hard to get upset over a win, a tie for the lead in the division, and a team who was only 5 inches (or 3 seconds) away from being 4-0. Let's hope the team does just enough to make the playoffs this year as well. For that matter, more then just enough would be better yet.

Matthew Stafford was 19 of 31 (61.29%) for 209 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Ameer Abdullah rushed for 94 yards (before leaving the game injured in the 4th quarter) and the only touchdown of the game. The offense also managed a 2 point conversion in the 3rd quarter. Neither team scored any points at all in the 1st and 4th quarter. It was pretty much a defensive game on both sides, with the Lions defense notching 4 fumble recoveries (3 of the Vikings fumbles and 1 of Staffords) with no interceptions and 2 sacks. The Vikings did not recover any fumbles and got no interceptions (though it was a close thing a few times) and sacked Stafford 5 times, hurrying him many more times, and hitting him in excess of 15 times. Prater hit 2 of 3 field goals and the Vikings missed their attempts. It wasn't a pretty game, but it was just enough to win.

By the way, their backup QB Keenum was 16 of 30 (53.33%) for 219 yards. The Lions defense held their running game to only 87 yards and one touchdown, but, in a non-contact run their rookie running back Cook went down with a knee injury... word is nearly a complete ACL tear. He'll likely be out for the rest of the year and possibly into next season. Lions played without their 1st round pick (Davis) at MLB and an hodge-podge offensive line that is really having issues run blocking and pass blocking. Not sure what they are good at actually. Getting injured for sure, but one would think they could do at least one type of blocking adequately... then again, the Lions won, their tied for first in the division, and so I guess it was just enough.

Next week the Lions play the Carolina Panthers at home. I have a feeling it'll be another 1 score difference game, just not sure who will be healthy enough to play so I'm also not sure which team will come out on top. The homer pick is the Lions, but my mind is telling me the Panthers just might do just enough to win instead.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

2017, Week 3, Detroit Lions versus Atlanta Falcons @ Home

Wait! What?

The 3-0 2-1 Detroit Lions beat the lose to the 2-1 3-0 Atlanta Falcons at home with a score of 33-30 26-30. In what was ruled as the go ahead Lions touchdown by the officials with 8 seconds on the clock the play went under review and was reversed. THEN the officials ran 10 seconds off the clock because the rule book says they had to. Game over. Instead of the Lions winning the game they were declared the losers.

Now, had Golden Tate III not been touched as he fell to the goal line he could have rolled, crawled, walked, ran or did cartwheels in and still scored the TD. But Golden was touched so when his knee hit the ground the ball was to be spotted where the nose of it was located, which was about 5 inches shy of the goal line. Okay fine, it's 4th down, there is still 8 seconds on the clock, the Lions are 5 inches away from winning... BUT because they have no timeouts left there is a 10 second clock run off (or at least that is how I understand it). 10 from 8 makes negative 2... or game over. Now understand, the Lions did nothing wrong. There was no flag. There was no penalty or other thing to point at the Lions and say "no sir, you are in the wrong". The officials called it a TD. Had they not the Lions had time to re-line up and probably get off one last play to attempt to score, from the 5 inch line. But no, they are forced to have 10 seconds run off the clock. I asked a Hockey "super" fan if Hockey had any such clock depleting rules... he said nope. I asked a basketball fan, nope. I already know there is no clock in baseball, so that's a nope. Thus, the Lions lost their first game of the year against the NFC 2016 Champion team because the officials got the call wrong and due to the rules wouldn't let them try their 4th down attempt. No other major sport in the USA has any such kind of rule of any kind. If ever there was a football version of the definition of the semi-modern phrase of Wait! What? this would be it.

Okay, so now that I clarified my position on that... let's see actual facts. Mathew Stafford was 25 of 45 (55.56%) for 264 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. A respectable but not really great or efficient game set of stats. He did throw off his back foot a couple of times showing poor mechanics (on those couple throws) and he was off on his placement a few times as well. Other then those 4 or 5 (or if pushing it, 6) times, Matthew Stafford did a pretty decent job of running the Lions offense. Not everyone else on the offense even got that close to good (looking at you Ebron, and the OL).

Eric Ebron had a number of drops, at least one of (if not two of) which might have had the Lions scoring the go ahead score before the 8 seconds on the clock thing, and we would still not know about that rule that's in the books. Other players also had issues during the game, even the coaches who took at least a quarter and a half before figuring out they could not run to the left (I had that figured out a week ago and re-iterated it pregame and during the first quarter). Meanwhile, the defense and special teams played a pretty decent game. Not perfect, oh no, they will have plenty of things to talk about in the film review tomorrow. But all in all, the offense lost this game, with help by the coaching staff and the officials and the NFL Rule book. Odd how that always seems to happen to the Lions.

Now I don't want to make this all about the Lions, or the officials, or the rule book, or the coaching staff, as the Falcons played a very VERY good game. Matt Ryan (the QBs were Mathew and Matt, the kickers were Matt and Matt, how's that for odd?) was 24 of 35 (68.57%) for 294 yards with 2 touchdowns but 3 interceptions (further proof of the Lions defense doing well, in the take away department anyway). The Lions had only 71 yards rushing (19 by Stafford) while the Falcons managed 151 yards (not their usual efficient run defense there). Both teams were without some key players, though I'd say the key players on the Lions side were maybe just a bit more key then their opponent. I suppose that can be debated as much as the rule book, so I won't.

What it comes down to is this: The Lions backups on defense are not starting caliber (at this point in time, as in not ready) and the Lions OL was only 40% intact and very subpar. Stafford was not his self and the officials and rule book were their ever over-present selves, as we Lions fans have learned from repeated exposure. I'm sure I'm not the only fan who went Wait! What?! at the end of this game. I'm also sure some are still confused about it. Hopefully someone in the NFL is as well, so yet another rule can be fixed due to the Lions losing because of it.

Okay, so let's say the Lions should have won before the final play that killed the fun... well then, the Lions just went toe to toe with the current NFC Conference Champions and held their own for the most part. Not due to an overpowering offense, nor to a un-duplicate-able (sp?) defense, as the defense has done similar feats already this year. Not even to some fluke plays by special teams. No, the Lions, as a team, competed, very well, for about 59 minutes and some odd seconds. Some would even say 59 minutes and 52 seconds, and I'd have no qualms with that. So despite the loss, despite the way it was lost, I'm at least encouraged by the game being as close as it was. Since the division has suddenly become highly competitive this, if it can continue, just might make a difference before the year is over. Not this game, but the lessons learned from it and continued great play by the team its self.

Next week the Lions go to Minnesota to play the Vikings. I expect the results of that game to be a whole lot better. I don't think the Vikings will be prepared for the "payback" the Lions are going to be willing to give out by then. There is no way this loss will be taken lightly and I expect the team as a whole to respond accordingly. My prediction for next week, Lions 27-Vikings 17.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2017, Week 2, Detroit Lions @ New York Giants

Team win.

The 2-0 Detroit Lions defeated the 0-2 New York Giants with a score of 24-10. After recording the go-ahead score in the first quarter the Lions never once gave up the lead. But, it wasn't all offense. It wasn't all defense. It wasn't all special teams. It was, in just a few words, a Team Win!

Now I realize the defense doesn't have the highest paid player in the NFL on their side, that title belongs to Matthew Stafford. However, in 2017, at present, the Lions have more cap space devoted to defense then offense. That may not be true at any point in the future, or it may be so every year for years to come, but without a verifiable accurate crystal ball, all we can see is THIS year and THIS year the defense tops the offense (in 2017 cap space).

Matthew Stafford was 15 of 21 (ugh) for a 71.429% completion percentage (wow) and a whopping 122 yards (omg) but for 2 TDs and 0 INTs (yippee). All in all, it was a highly productive performance. Despite the poke in the eye and the lack of balanced officiating (yes I went there). I have long believed that a QB who can exceed 65% completions and a 2-to-1 TD-to-INT percentage can be a winning QB in the NFL, and the Lions helped towards proving that tonight.

Now the Lions defense held Eli Manning to 22 of 32 (68.75%) for 239 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT (yeah, about that, see above). The Lions rushed for 138 yards (23 by Stafford for 2nd on the team) and the Giants for a whomping 62 yards total (none by Eli). The leading receiver on both teams were tight ends (Ebron and Engram). That speaks of some pretty good defense by both teams. No one will or can deny that.

The Lions had a punt return (Agnew) for a TD and a FG that just barely bounced off of and over the goal posts. That still gives the Lions offense a 4 point upper hand, then again, the short fields provided by defense and special teams also likely helped the offense... so yes, it was a Team Win!!! And I'm here to tell you, there is nothing wrong with that, especially on the road!

Next week the Lions play the Atlanta Falcons at home, the superbowl losing team from last year. I predicted pre-season they would lose this game, but right now, I'm not quite as confident of that prediction. If I could do it over again I might be inclined to predict the Lions as winning this game, simply because they have some depth, they have a complete team, and they appear to have some players all throughout the roster that can at any given time contribute to the win. That is a recipe for success in the NFL, and I don't want to see it get lopsided. I like the "team win" aspect of the team. I for one don't think the Qb HAS to win it all, all of the time.

To complete my comparisons of the Lions and the Giants, both teams had 50 yards of penalties (though I would agree with Lions fans that this was somewhat lopsided towards the other team). Both teams had a fumble, but only the Lions lost theirs. Both teams made 100% of their field goals and extra points. The Lions did generate an interception whereas the Giants did not. The Giants had 14 first downs compared to the Lions 12. In many ways, the two teams were equal (stat-wise) but at no point were the Lions losing this game, despite being only one score ahead at various times in the game. It was, as I stated before, a team win.

The Bears, Vikings, and Packers have lost their first away games this year, putting the Lions solidly in first place in the division. Various, ah, fans, will say "but" and yet, despite whatever stats can be "qualified" the end result is, the Lions have played a home game and a road game and won them both. They are first in the division, and they do not appear to be any sort of a "push over" type of team at any point in the near future. I'll take a 4th quarter come-from-behind victory such as last week at home, and I'll take a "take charge lead and don't give it up" game on the road, and I won't apologize for either. If you are a fan who still feels the need to peek at the game instead of giving in to the mostly loaded bandwagon, so be it. Myself, I'm enjoying this. It's been almost 20 years (maybe more) since I felt this good about the team, I may not outlive another drought, so I'm going to just enjoy this AS it happens, instead of dreading the next game.

Here's to the Detroit Lions and the home game against the Atlanta Falcons next week (6 days from now). May it prove to be as good as I suspect it will be.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

2017, Week 1, Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions

Defending Their Home.

The 1-0 Detroit Lions beat the 0-1 Arizona Cardinals 35-23 in an error filled but eventful season opening game. While various players on the Lions offense were making errors and trying to get their collective acts together the defense helped keep the game close, despite special teams also contributing to the error factor. The Lions were behind for 3 quarters before their 4th quarter comeback (echoes of 2016 there) and in the end the Lions corrected more and improved enough to defeat the Cardinals.

Mathew Stafford was 29 of 41 (70.73%) for 292 yards with 4 TDs and 1 INT. The Arizona defense is very fast, and quite effective, and the Lions offense was a bit disjointed at first but pulled themselves together little by little to finish strong for the win and some pretty impressive stats, along with the feeling (for most) that they will be competitive this year. The Lions produced 82 yards on the ground while limiting the Cardinals to 45. The Lions defense also held Carson Palmer to 269 yards with 1 TD and 3 INTs allowing him to complete just 56.25% of his passes. Having home field advantage means winning your home games and that is what the Lions did, they defended their home.

Golden Tate injured his fingers and back during the game but continued to play right up until the final drive. Meanwhile, the Cardinals top player David Johnson went to the locker room after around 3 quarters of play for an injured wrist. There were a few other bumps and bruises but I didn't notice any major injuries to either side (unless those injuries turn out to be major). Both teams will have plenty of film to review and see where they need to improve, but it was great to watch them actual improve some things during the game. I even noted their 1st round draft pick Davis (team leading 9 tackles) ask a ref what he did wrong after being flagged late in the game, that's the kind of player you can coach, and his talent is easy for all to see. I'm really looking forward to the next game, which is against the New York Giants on Monday night football.

My prediction? If the Lions can keep the game close and not endure any major injuries they will make the Giants game exciting to watch, since I can't predict that stuff I'll just assume all goes well, and the Lions end up winning 27-24. Of course, the Giants intend to defend their home too so it won't be easy.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Detroit Lions Training Camp 2017, day 3 of open practice, August 2nd

On my 3rd and final day at the Lions training camp I decided to sit in the same location as day 2 hoping they would do more on that side of the field, the used to in order to not tear up any one part of any one field too much, and that did seem to be the case this time as well. Unfortunately, my notes and roster sheets ended up in a car south of Chicago while I drove back to west Michigan arriving very late at night. I had my notes photo'd and emailed to me to complete this blog entry. Now for my camp report...

The first thing I watched was some kick/punt return work. A new body was added to the group, that being #36 Washington. The players working as returners in the various drills were numbers 10; 13; 17; 36 and 39. At one point in the practice the kicker failed to connect with the ball and the players just stood around... then the coach got after ALL of them for not taking off after the holder who still had the ball (and hadn't moved either). That seemed to get them all into the spirit of things.

Another series of special teams practice had multiple things going at the same time. In one part of the field they worked on catching the ball at the same time as 2 blocked 2 in front of the returner. The ball being fired from a jugs (tire) machine over the heads of all sets of players and coaches.

The second group was 3 blocking 3 with just about anyone pretending to be the returner (one of who was Muhlbach). And then yet another group was 2 on 2 doing blocking and gunner practice. While all that was going on further yet behind the jugs machine the QBs were practicing throwing to coaches in various out and in patterns.

Next up were the WRs doing various drills, most of it involving the end zone. Later they were joined by the QBs for more end zone work. The sets were different in that #9 Stafford did a lot of work only with the first 4 or 5 WRs and #14 would work with the rest, with #8 getting almost no snaps. After a number of sets going either up and in, up and out, at the corner pylon or a 1 yard short of EZ and then step in inches from that pylon... only after most of the WRs did this did #8 get a snap or two.

After all that occurred the DBs joined in to defend the various throws in or near the end zone. The defense was doing better defending then the WRs were with actual catches, so once again I'm not entirely sure if the point of the drill was defense, offense, both or what exactly.

About this time the rain clouds started moving in, then lightning to the NE of the fields. I started heading for my car and got on the road just as the skies opened up. So my last day of camp experience was cut about an hour short.

I was there with 2 of my grand kids. My grandson Tom (age 4) apparently has a thing for cheerleaders, especially redheads. Whilst my granddaughter (age 8) taught the cheerleaders one of her own cheers, she was a bigger fan of Roary, the mascot.

The face painting was all free, courtesy of the Lions. So were the various interactive games there. Only the merchandise and food costs anything, as even admission was free.

When my notes arrive back in Michigan next week I may make some more points, and I have a lot more pics to share as well, but without the notebook it's hard to know which pics belong to which notes. My overall impressions of camp where that they were a lot more organized then previous ones (going back to 1998) and the layout of the fans experience was the best to date since the Saginaw days. The food trucks were great, I even escorted (un-officially) Mrs Slay and baby back to the taco truck on day 3. The player I was most interested in was Golladay, and I think he's going to be a great player after his rookie year trial-n-error experience. Who wins kick returner is going to be an interesting fight, as will most positions on the team. Some very good talent will eventually be cut from the Lions roster, I look for some of them to catch up with other teams come September.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Lions Camp 2017, Day 2 Public Access, August 1st

First set in front of me was QB and Centers only. Lots of snaps from under center and shotgun both. The QBs names are known. The 3 centers involved with the set were Swanson, Glasgow, and Leo Koloamatangi. The only centers remaining on the roster.

Saw 76 & 58 without helmets across the way. That's TJ Lang and Paul Worrilow.

Even further off in the distance they were having Kick and Punt Return practice... well, mostly catching the Kick or Punt actually. The significant part of that is who was trying out for the catching. They were #10 Jared Abbrederis, #13 TJ Jones, #16 Jace Billingsley (who had one drop), #17 Keshawn Martin, and #39w Jamal Agnew (the only defensive player trying out). In this limited set the best returners appeared to me to be Keshawn and Jamal, with Jared a close 3rd.

Further North I saw #21 with his helmet on working on his own and trying various spin moves (Ameer Abdullah).

The entire WR corp moved over in front of the stands I was at and practiced various routes that each broke at 3 yards out. First set was out 3 and 90 degrees straight over. Only drop was Abbrederis, but I couldn't tell if it was on him or the coach throwing the ball out. Next set was break 3 yards out then go off at a 45 degree angle... catching the ball over the shoulder. All did well at that one. I thought I was on to something when I noted who went left out of break and who went right, but the very next set they all switched sides, so nothing there. One non-performance note: there are only two Lions wide receivers with a number in the 80's, all the others are from 10 to 19. Most of those with an 80ish number are tight ends. The two in the 80s are #83 WR Dontez Ford and #84 Michael Rector.

During all the sets Golden Tate would throw the ball he just caught to a fan and have him throw it back to him before getting it to the coaches helper to put it back into use for the set. Must be he hasn't been restricted from fan interfacing as of yet.

Next WR set involved the WR catching the pass in what would be over the middle about 5 yards or so deep then trying to split a double tackle (coach on right and left with pads on arms). All WRs did okay on this but Billingsley did have a drop while spinning to make the contact.

Then I looked across the way and saw AA running with the rest of the RBs doing some kind of slot receiver drill. So no longer practicing on his own. I made note that Tion Green flashed (was noticed) in a couple of drills including this one.

The next WR drill was back to running the players in the same order as yesterday, no changes.

Now the QBs who were drilling with only the centers come over and join the WRs for a few sets. First up was two QBs throwing to two WRs at the same time, one WR going right, one going left. Harder then heck to keep track of who did what with this kind of drill. One set was at roughly 25 yards out, one set was at 15 yards or so, then one was at like 45 yards. All the QBs who took the time to set and throw made the passes look easy as can be. At first, #8 wasn't setting his feet and was having trouble but he finally came around. Trouble not in as way off, but still off and not looking fluid.

After those sets the QBs and the WRs go over to in front of the VIP area and join the DBs who were doing drills of some kind way over there. This is kind of normal, having one corp of players practice together then eventually joining up with another corp and growing the size and number of players involved in each drill. By now it's 4:25pm and 87 degrees. I did note that only Stafford worked with the WR and DB combined sets while #14 worked further away throwing to (or handing off to) RBs and they worked with the OL and DL corps. #8 watched with special teams guys.

I think this was actually a DB drill as I saw the ball hit the ground multiple times, but being 120 yards away or so that's just a guess. I did see #24 (Nevin Lawson) knock down #15 Golden Tate fairly hard with they made contact during the play (not intentionally). There was a lot of hard pressing going on by the DBs all drill long.

Another drill appeared to me to be all about the QB making play call changes at the LOS then executing the final play before a timer went off.

The groups split up again and it looked like the back 7 worked against barrels that were in formation with helmets placed on top of the barrels. I've no idea what the drill was all about.

During the 11 on 11 drills I noted that Cole Wick made a nice catch and move to get YACs. He was the only dude big enough for me to notice with the unaided eye from the distance involved. It wasn't just the distance, but the other 68 guys not involved in the set were standing along the sideline which placed them about 70 yards from me all but blocking the view of the practice for a good 10 minutes.

The 7 on 7 drills after that were completely impossible to see from my location.

After that ended there was still about 10 minutes left but they all went into doing stretches and things instead of sets. After that, there was some one on one work from a few, a number of other players went to the sidelines to sign autographs, the rest either continued stretching or went inside.

I caught a pic of the camera booth under one of the 3 hoods they now have with their new HD camera poles:

Since there is no tackling allowed, and the QBs and RBs can't be hit, it's pretty much impossible to tell how the talent looks on defense. For that I can't wait for the Jets pre-season game. The offense might all come together, but since the D can't press it's hard to know how the OL will hold up. Once again, preseason games. So even though they aren't doing anything more then the basics in these public practices at least in just the first couple of days the roster does seem to know what they are supposed to be doing... unlike a couple years ago when it looked completely chaotic.

I have yet to write my final camp blog for day 3, and I need to come up with a means to get the pictures inserted, I will be doing so over the next 72 hours or so.

Training Camp 2017, Day 1 Public Access, July 31st

Okay, a summary and some details of my day at the first open practice.

First, the entire experience has been changed, and almost all of it is better, imo. Instead of the port-a-jons just being at the entrance to the practice field they were spread out all over the public access areas. So too were the bleachers. And upon entry, the cheerleaders. Also retail shops, food trucks, and there was more games too at more then one location. There was a lot less seating on the east side and a lot more seating on the west side of the practice areas. Enough to hold all who want to show up, no one was or will be turned away (unless they try to bring in stuff they aren't supposed to). They had real shuttle buses to the parking areas, not just mostly missing golf cart driving ladies. They even changed the practice jersey's. Every since watching Barry Sanders practice in Saginaw the practice jersey's had a number only on them. This year, first time, the name was also on the back above the number. So much easier not having to look in my printouts to see who is doing what (usually after the day is over).

Second, the practice area is still 3 football fields. Two side by side, one edge-wise at the north end of the first two. I sat on the west side facing out over all 3 fields towards the inside practice building and offices of the Allen Park facility (see pics).

Now, as you can see, it is no easy task watching things on the far fields. The actual practice has the players all over both ends of all three fields. It's completely and utterly impossible to watch all of things happening. The best you can do is watch what's in front and occasionally check out some of the stuff further out.

At the end of practice a few players and others went to the fences on the west, south, and east sides of the fields to sign autographs. My granddaughter got signatures from LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin & C Leo Koloamatangi, then after heading out got one more, from the head coach himself.

The whole thing was about 35 minutes of checking out the exhibits, shops, food and games... then about 1 hour and 50 minutes of actual practice, then about 40 minutes of autographs. Now some notes I took....

The first part of practices usually involve position groups doing some fundamental practice of one kind or another, before things pick up into 7 on 7s and 9 on 9s and so on. So positiuon groups practice notes...

An example of how hard it is to know what they are working on (aside from the distances involved and the multiple things going on)... one of the first things in front of me was a number of wide receivers trying to get out of being double teamed... or was it a bunch of DBs practicing how to double team a single wide receiver? Or was it both at the same time? I watched the whole thing, I can not tell you which it is.

At first I noted Quin and Slay without helmets inbetween two groups basically throwing high balls up for some kind of self practice (interceptions/hands stuff). The whole while they were doing it, about 6 or 7 minutes, Slay was basically jogging in place, Quin was not moving as much.

Most of the guys who are supposedly hurt were either not dressed or dressed but without helmets. Not yet sure if there was a rhyme or reason to it.

Next practice I caught was with all 3 QBs doing a 3 step drop, a lateral move to either direction, then making a 30 yard(ish) throw. I'll just say this part right now instead of repeating it a hundred times... #14 Ruduck appeared to me to be less productive then #8 Kaaya, and #9 Stafford was better then either by miles and miles. But I already know that most won't care how well he or they practice, only how well they play. So I really didn't watch the QBs so much as the rest of the team in this practice.

Next up in front of me were various WR practices, with lots of fundamentals and route tree practices. The ball was thrown by a coach, no QBs near me for any of it, and there was a lot of it. Each WR went through the practice no matter what it was, then a different practice with them would start, 1 snap per WR for each set. I noted that Billingsley appeared to be one of the shortest WRs of the corp. That Golladay one of the tallest, and when running, one of the smoothest. He has long legs and strides really fast. Reminds me of a certain recently retired Lion WR (as far as height and speed goes, no other comparison intended). I say that because as I was noting these things down they ran a set with the WRs high stepping through a rope like ladder layed out on the ground, then after about 12 steps they had to cut left sharply. The only WR to not make that catch was Golladay. I'll probably mention a couple of other drops by others later, but for the most part, there really wasn't that many drops during the entire practice.

During these WR sets every once in awhile Tate III would motion for a fan to throw their personal football out to him on the field, the fan would, then Tate would throw it back, then he'd get back in line for the next set. He was the only player to really interact with fans during practices. Not sure if he'll be called out on it, but that's the kind of stuff he's done every year since the first year he played in Detroit. He's just a really cool player not afraid of the fans and likes to interact with them.

Eventually I realized, that unlike past years when there was no rhyme or reason to the order in which players would run a set, that every practice set had the guys go out in the exact same order. First WR would be Tate, Second would be Jones Jr, Third would be TJ Jones, Fourth would be Billingsley, and Fifth would be Golladay. Every set. All 8 or 10 or 12 of them, however many there were. I didn't write down the rest of the order because by the 5th dude I realized it wasn't a depth chart kind of thing, nor a seniority kind of thing, nor a salary kind of thing, in fact, I have no idea what criteria they used to set the order... I just know they followed that order every set.

Oh, I had made a note at this point that the 2 camera platforms that had been used for the past 19 years of practices were not present, instead were 3 camera poles... with a base station. I got a look inside one of the stations, there was like two 25" tv monitor inside for the camera man to use and a means of directing the cameras on the poles to cover whichever field or part of the field they needed to cover. Looked like hi-def and definitely hi-tech stuff. Other then the portable goal post system, and the one net to catch field goal tries, the camera poles were the tallest objects on the south, east and west sides. The north side has a lot of light poles to light that field for late practices. In this pic is some of the south side objects including one of the camera poles.

For a while I had seen #2 (Redfern) out running 60 or more yards with no helmet (and he's pretty fast too). Later though, I saw him with a helmet on holding for Prater.

I had made a note about there being a come back route set for the WRs, probably because it always upset me the Lions rarely ever use the come back route but they did practice that set with all the WRs this first day out.

I also noted that there was a missed catch in one set but it wasn't a drop, #8 threw it too high. This caused the whole set to be stopped, some coaching was done, then the set continued. First time, only time, I saw that. This was (obviously) after the coaches stopped throwing the balls and the QBs joined in to do the throwing.

Later #8 throw another ball a bit high, but #11 Marvin Jones Jr made a great one handed grab. Shortly after that, not sure who threw it, but Golladay made a great two handed grab on a high ball. Most players wouldn't have been able to reach high enough to get two hands on the ball that play. And later yet Billingsley had a drop, the ball appeared to me to be on target.

That was pretty much it for drops or missed catches but I didn't see all the plays for all the practices obviously. I noted there was a slot route practice for WRs, RBs, and TEs but it was way across the field, so like 130 yards away or so.

All three QBs and various players did a drill of lining up and throwing for several plays then doing a spike to stop the clock. QB #14 either messed it up or the OL did and that series was interrupted.

My notes say that #2 had his helmet on and kicked a 33 yard field goal that not only cleared the goal posts but nearly cleared the net beyond it. Heck of a leg. Later, Prater made a 60 yarder after doing mostly 40 yarders all practice.

Next I noted to myself that #14 needs a lot of work. Not sure what he did to make me write that down.

As the temp hit 88 degrees towards 5pm I realized why these first 3 days were all set to start at 3:30pm... to get the team out in the hottest part of the day. There's no 2-a-days any more, no stamina practices or grueling all day stuff. So coach is using the sun.

Next was the 9 on 9 and 7 on 7 stuff. All of that was done on the east side, in front of the VIP tent, so hard for us non-season-ticket-holders to see clearly. I did notice something new there though. There was a portable stand with about 4 steps up to the landing that was located about 20 yards behind the QBs... on it was a camera man with a portable camera filming the entire set or sets of plays. Never saw a portable stand out on the field before for more film... and I assume it will be used to see who needs what fundamental stuff after watching 9 on 9s. Oh, and the 9 on 9 had refs, with whistles, and down markers on the sidelines. The whole thing.

#87, Fells, is a big boy, easy to see even at 90 yards away.

#38, Tion Green, also flashed a couple of times, caught my untrained eye more then once.

The last practice I caught appeared to be a 1 or 2 minute drill that was to end in a field goal. While they did take the portable field goalposts down there to do this series, the net was not there, the ball would nearly hit the port-a-jons on the SE corner of the spectator area.

All in all, an interesting day, lots of new stuff never seen at a Lions practice before.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 Draft, Day 3, Rounds 4 through 7

In round 4, at overall pick 124, the Detroit Lions select OLB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, from Tennessee. Jalen is just over 6 feet tall, weighing in at 230 pounds and can run the 40 in 4.68 seconds. His RAS score is 4.03 (below average). The low score is likely due to injury, he was unable to complete over half the tasks needed for a complete RAS score.

Ian Wharton has him ranked 131st, Kyle Crabbs has him ranked 74th, Optimum Scouting at 215th, and Joe Marino at 76th. I had him ranked 162nd. The ranking is all over the place due to both injury, and depending on which games were reviewed. At times he plays like a 1st rounder and at other times a little out of control. He'll be working his way into the weakside linebacker position taking over Deandre Levy's position. This also helps determine where the Lions 1st round pick will play. Originally JD (Jarrad Davis) was projected to play either Middle or Weakside Linebacker. Now we can say somewhat confidently that JD will be tried out at Mike (MLB, aka Middle Linebacker).

As for Jalen his injury was a torn labrum in April of 2016 and biceps subluxation in September of 2016 and then he re-aggravated the labrum injury that ended his season. It also prevented him from doing all the drills needed for a complete RAS score. The Lions training room will get him ready for pre-season. For a 4th round pick the Lions have a pretty decent prospect to work with.

Three picks later in round 4, at overall pick 127, the Detroit Lions select TE Michael Roberts from Toledo. Mike is a little over 6 foot 4 inches tall, weighs in at 270 pounds, runs the 40 in 4.86 (a little slow for a TE), but get this, he has 11 1/2" hands. That's Ginormous!!!

My draft guides have him ranked at 163, 203, 75 and 172. I have him ranked at 223 on my board, mostly due to his RAS score of only 3.82 and his lack of overall speed. Mike isn't a complete TE, he can run routes and get open, but his advantages are his height and his huge hands, making catching the ball a simple matter of being fairly close to the ball. He's a good blocker and a big redzone threat. His blocking improved throughout his senior year so hopefully that continues on in the NFL. He'll be a perfect complement to Eric Ebron, who is more of a route runner and slot WR type. I'm going to look forward to seeing how many TDs Michael Roberts will be getting each year. I think this will be a great scoring weapon for the Lions.

In round 5, at overall pick 165, the Detroit Lions select CB Jamal Agnew of SanDiego. Jamal is about 5 foot 9 and a half inches tall, weighing in at 186 pounds (small for a CB). His RAS score wasn't originally calculated as most didn't have them on their draft board. My draft board ended up having 1027 names on it, and Jamal was 578th on it. Since the draft @MathBomb created his RAS card and it stand at 7.53 which is pretty good. If Jamal was taller and weighed about 15 pounds more he'd be elite. As it is, Jamal is very fast, running a 40 in 4.34 seconds. He's not in any of my draft guides as most guides have fewer then 300 players in them. He'll try out for the punt return job with the Lions and a backup slot cornerback position. The best info on him I found was here

In round 6 the Lions had two picks, at overall pick 205 the Detroit Lions select DT Jeremiah Ledbetter of Arkansas. He played DT and DE in college, but at 280 pounds he's a bit too light for DT and a bit too heavy for DE in the NFL. Still, at DT, his RAS score is an impressive 9.05, and once he gains about 10 pounds of NFL weight (meaning muscle mass) he should develop into a very promising Defensive Tackle for the Lions (I don't project him to DE at all). Jeremiah is a bit over 6 foot 3 inches tall and ran the 40 in 4.84 which is good for a DT (not so much for a DE). Only one of my draft guides had him included, ranked at 247 (I have him at 220). Optimum Scouting says "he redshirted his first year and went on to play two seasons including twenty-four and one half tackles for loss as a sophomore, before transferring to Arkansas. Ledbetter was ranked fifteenth in the JUCO top one hundred as a four-star recruit. At Arkansas, Ledbetter became a starter instantly racking up fifty-five tackles with two sacks. As a senior, he started every game en route to forty-nine tackles, seven and a half tackles for loss, and five and a half sacks to lead the team. He earned an invitation to the East-West Shrine game." A year in the NFL Training room and on an NFL diet will hopefully see him bulk up and learn some DT moves, he'll rotate in more and more as his abilities improve. The on-the-job training will take at least a season or more to complete, but as a project, he's a pretty good one.

The second 6th round pick, at overall pick 215, the Detroit Lions selected QB Brad Kaaya of Miami Florida. Brad is just under 6 foot 4 inches tall and weighs in at a meager 214 pounds. In addition to being a bit skinny, his ball velocity was scored at 53mph. There is a chance with some muscle mass and NFL training room time along with some mechanics improvement he might get that up to the minimum 55mph that I look for in all quarterbacks, but he's got a long road ahead of him. Brad won't be unseating Matthew Stafford, ever, but he does have a chance to win the backup QB job over Rudock, depending on how fast he picks up the play book and how well he takes to the coaching he's about to receive. I had Brad Kaaya ranked 133rd and my draft guides have him at 143, 147, 113, and 136. Some of the best said of him is "Accurate passer on short passes that will translate well to West Coast systems. 3-step drops he consistently showed good timing and some anticipation to get the ball out to his receivers. Takes care of the ball well, boasting a high TD-INT ratio. He’s not the type to cost you games." Some of the worst is "Very limited passer, as he lacks the velocity and timing on intermediate passes. Hesitant to attack tight passing windows on a regular basis. Footwork when setting to throw is all over the place. He must be mechanically sound with his physical profile, but too often he’s randomly set away from his target. Struggles to read defenses and pull the trigger. Needs to see it too often. Horrible when pressured. Simply cannot be a viable starter as-is." So yeah, he's a project QB vying for a backup QB role. Quinn will continue to select QBs every or every other year, but I hope some of his future choices can at least hit 55mph or more, so far his choices to date do not.

The 7th rounder, at overall pick 250, the Detroit Lions selected DE Patrick (Pat) O'Connor from Eastern Michigan. Pat is 6 foot and about 4 and a half inches tall weighing in at 277 pounds and ran a 4.84 40 at his pro day. His RAS score is a respectable 6.73. I had Pat ranked at 392, and of my 4 draft guides only Optimum Scouting had him included, ranked at 262. I've not been able to find a draft pofile on Pat anywhere, but due to being drafted he'll be given opportunities to make the final 53 during training camp. If I were Pat I would listen to my coaches, do everything the training staff says to do, and work my butt off, which I think is exactly what he'll do. Whether it'll be enough is anyone's guess, but even if he ends up getting cut he could easily see the practice squad soon after. With the Lions need at LDE he just may make the cut and start getting relief reps, as long as he can improve his burst and moves to free himself up and still be under control to work the run game. All we know for sure is that Quinn didn't want to risk Pat O'connor going to another team as an undrafted player so he pulled the trigger in the 7th round on him.

It should be noted, that all the draft picks selected were on the Contact List those in my forum create each year (a special thank you to Captain for her help) except for JD, the first round pick. The Lions managed to hide their true interest in JD making me believe he was VERY high on their short list for round 1. He may not have been my choice, but I don't have as much information on him as the Lions do, well, same goes for all the players selected though.

The Lions had room on their roster for a number of undrafted players as well. Less the 9 draft picks and the 69 signed players they had room for 12 by my count. Unfortunately you can never be sure if the names associated with a team are accurate until some time later, but here are the potential list of candidates associated with the Lions (as compiled by Tedd from my forum):

Storm Norton, OT, Toledo
Maurice Swain, DT, Auburn
Noel Thomas, WR, UConn
Alex Barrett, DE, San Diego State
Leo Koloamatangi, OL, Hawaii
Michael Rector, WR, Stanford
Des Lawrence, DB, North Carolina
Jeremiah Valoaga, DE, UNLV
Robert Tonyan Jr, WR, Indiana State
Brandon Barnes, TE, Alabama State
Tion Green, RB, Cincinnati
Josh Thornton, CB, Southern Utah
Dontez Ford, WR, Pitt
Nick James, DT, Mississippi State

Those in bold were on the Lions contact list I mentioned earlier. That's 14 names, so it's likely some are invitees to a mini-camp and not actually on the roster just yet. Since most are not on the contact list I believe that they were selected purely based on scouts info, if true, it's nice to see Quinn using pure scouting data to give some players a chance to make the team.

The following is the summary of the draft in case you lost track as I'm prone to do:

1 Jarrad Davis ILB Florida
2 Jalen (Teez) Tabor CB Florida
3 Kenneth (Kenny) Golladay WR Northern Illinois
4 Jalen Reeves-Maybin OLB Tennessee
4 Michael Roberts TE Toledo
5 Jamal Agnew CB San Diego
6 Jeremiah Ledbetter DT Arkansas
6 Brad Kaaya QB Miami (Fla.)
7 Patrick (Pat) O'Connor DE Eastern Michigan

More on the 2017 draft and the 2017 roster will be forthcoming. Thank you.

Friday, April 28, 2017

2017 Draft, Round 2, Pick 53 and Round 3, Pick 85

At overall pick 53, the 21st pick of round 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select CB Jalen (Teez) Tabor from Florida.

At just over 6' tall and 199 pounds, Teez Tabor ran a 40 yard dash in 4.62 seconds. Which is horribly slow for a CB in the NFL. Apparently he ran it with ham string issues, so apparently it doesn't count. Teez also has small hands, measuring in at 8 5/8". To compare, I am 6' tall and weigh in at 200 pounds and my hand size is 10 1/4". I might make the 40 in 5 seconds if a very large bear is chasing me and I have a slight head start. Otherwise, Teez wins, easily.

Problem is, Teez won't be defending me in the NFL. The good news is, his film shows he can defend. Some guys practice well and play poorly, others practice (or test) poorly and play well. Playing well is definitely more important. It just makes one nervous if the player can't do both (play and practice/test well).

Teez has a horrible (due in part to the hamstring) RAS score of 2.59, normally I would yell and scream and complain about this draft pick. Nothing looks great about it other then his, hopefully deserved, self confidence, which is sky high. I'll check out some of my draft guides and post a few tidbits here:

Joe Marino's NDT Scouting Draft Guide says: Summary: Teez Tabor is a reliable cover corner with the ability to mirror down the field. His footwork is smooth, fluid, and patient. His hips are fluid and he remains balanced when he transitions. His best traits are his ball skills, as he displays an advanced skill set in terms of locating the football, driving on it, and disrupting passes at the catch point, often resulting in turnovers. Tabor can break on the ball forward, from the trail, and in zone coverage when reading the quarterback's eyes and attacking the catch radius. Tabor needs to improve his tackling technique and be more assertive pursuing the football, but otherwise is an excellent player that's proven to be difficult to throw against.

Optimum Scouting Guide has him ranked 23rd overall. His profile of Tabor is rather glowing, the main issue is concern about staying with a WR on deep routes. A safety over the top will prevent this from being a major issue, but in a division with Rodgers in Green Bay, you have to be a little concerned at the prospect. Still, he's quick, effective, fluid, all the words you want to hear about a CB in the NFL. I'm paraphrasing here, a lot. But that's what I get from reading the guide.

Tabor is a bit of an off field enigma who has supposedly matured a little recently, but he is still a player who entered the draft early and is likely going to be schooled in the NFL, how he handles that will be telling. How he accepts coaching will determine if he can succeed in the NFL. He is a boom or bust type in my opinion, and there's nothing wrong with that, expecially if he booms.

My biggest issue with the Lions selecting my 51st ranked player at 53 is that my 24th ranked player, CB Chidobe Awuzie, was still available (and eventually selected by the Dallas Cowboys with pick 60). It's assumed that Quinn's ranking is better then mine, but it still makes me nervous, at least a little.

At overall pick 85, the 21st pick in the 3rd round in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Lions had their short list emptied just prior to their pick (my assumption, not inside info). They traded down with the Patriots, obtaining a 4th round pick and moving down 11 picks to the final regular pick in the 3rd round for the Patriots, aka, pick 32 in round 3 (just before the comp picks start). The Lions then selected WR Kenneth (Kenny) Golladay from Northern Illinois. Kenny is 6' 4" tall, weighs in at 218 pounds, and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. His RAS score is 8.22 (elite) and his measureables remind me of Calvin Johnson. In fact, I once read that a WR who is that size and that fast has a 30% chance of being highly successful in the NFL, and there is no other combination of any measurables that gets a higher percentage. Other combinations are lower odds. Now Kenny is not NFL ready out of the box, his small school status means he needs a year (maybe less) of coaching and practice and film to bring him along, but as long as he puts in the work there is no reason at all he can't excel in the NFL. He fits the suit.

Due to being small school, Kenny wasn't in the draft guides, therefor I won't be pasting any synapses from those sources. In fact, I hope to find and post more on this pick later. Despite that, it is entirely possible in the years to come that this pick might end up my most favorite pick of the NFL 2017 Draft.

Look for the Lions to address DE, TE and some other positions tomorrow in day 3 of the draft. I'm looking forward to it myself, obviously.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 Draft, Round 1, Lions at pick 21 select.....

Round 1 of the 2017 Draft.

The Detroits Lions remained at pick 21 despite upwards of 4 teams trying to trade up to their spot and selected LB Jarrad Davis.

Jarrad Davis did not make our "contact list" we compile every year mainly because he wasn't singled out (that we know of) during his pro day or at any other time. and yet over the past week or so his stock rose up to where Quinn seemed to think it should have been to start with. In my top 100 board this year I had him ranked at 32, or as a first round pick, I just didn't put enough into thinking he would be a good option for the Lions at pick 21. Others did, the day of the draft, which was a little bit late for me to jump on board, unfortunately. So I was a bit surprised by the pick. I wasn't the only one I would guess, unless they read this this morning

So, now that I know the pick I get to play catch up. So let's see, Gil Brandt, a former front office guy, had Jarrad Davis ranked 20th overall on his top 150 board. This was April 17th. (scroll down to number 20)

Joe Marino's NDT Scouting report I purchased around April 10th has Jarrad Davis ranked 22 overall.

Kyle Crabb's NDT Scouting report I purchased around April 2nd has Jarrad Davis ranked 56th overall.

Optimum Scouting's report I purchased April 1st has Jarrad Davis ranked 74th overall.

Finally, there was a top 200 board I printed out early March that had Jarrad Davis 90th overall (name not printed).

So, the further back you go the lower the rank... mainly due to everyone overlooking him but revising their boards and finally getting him into round 1 by draft day. It's hard to believe these late risers are really all that some times, but as often as not it's more a case of the writers learning more later and correcting their own board rather then a player actually rising.

You can click on the links above to read those reports, but the only other report that was close to having Davis as a first round pick was Joe Marino's, and that's a pay site, so I'll just post a few tidbits that he wrote here. He scored a 90.04 which is a first round value pick. If I say "sideline to sideline" and "motor always runs hot" that should get you your pros, and "there are times his aggressive demeanor gets the best of him" should get you your cons. With some development Davis could easily become an impact player with the upside to become an enforcer and a field general... more paraphrasing of his words.

Had I read this profile before the draft I would've easily seen how Jarrad would likely be the Lions pick. It explains why none of the trade offers were accepted, and why word got around who the Lions wanted just days (or more like hours) before the draft. I wonder if perhaps Davis wasn't one of the top names on the Lions short list of 1st round picks they wanted. The Lions hid their interest well right up until just before the draft, but it's always hard to totally hide a smart, talented, driven, team leading player from everyone. That he lasted until pick 21 is a minor miracle, but then so was OT Decker last year. Quinn once again impresses.

Some other info I just saw.... Injuries: 2014-Missed last 3 games with torn meniscus. 2015-Suffered a concussion in the bowl game. 2016-Missed 3 games with a sprained ankle. Off-Field: Clean Accolades: 2015-2nd Team All-SEC. 2016-2nd Team All-SEC, Senior Bowl Invite. Other then at times being a little over zealous in chasing down a tackle, his only issue is keeping healthy, hopefully something the Lions can improve upon (both things actually).

In the end the Lions found a great 1st round pick that eluded my attention until the day of the draft. With some coaching and some training room work he could easily become (if he is not already) the best Linebacker on the Lions team. And with luck, will continue to be for the next 5 years or more. My grade? A. Both for hiding the interest and finding the player.