Friday, February 3, 2012

Lions Congregation: Priorities

Welcome once again to the Savanna where the Lions bloggers congregate and ponder the current happenings of the Detroit Lions.  Have a question? Email lionscongrega@yahoo.com 

This week, the panel ponders the following question from Will in Lansing:

Based on their performance last season and available alternatives, who would be your top three or four pending  free agents for the Lions to re-sign? 

Zac of The Sidelion Report

There are three Detroit Lions players whose contracts expired following last season that all need to be brought back: Cliff Avril, Jeff Backus and Stephen Tulloch. Prioritizing that list is a difficult task. I can see how one might put Avril at the top of that list but losing him to free agency might be easier for the team to overcome than the other two. For that reason I'll keep my list at three names and prioritize them all as number one.

Avril plays at the deepest position of the three but is a budding superstar worthy of the lofty sum his new contract will pay him. Jeff Backus has no heir apparent and is still a quality, albeit not Pro Bowl level, left tackle. Stephen Tulloch anchored the center of the Lions defense in a way Lions fans haven't seen since at least Stephen Boyd. Even if the Lions go on to use their first round draft pick on one of these position groups, the Lions will be worse off next year without any of the three.

NetRat of the NetRat Lions Blog

I'm not going to worry about "alternatives" until I know who gets re-signed to their own teams.  The Lions have a large number of free agents and restricted free agents and I think many of them need to be re-signed to compete with this year's crop of draft picks and any trades or other acquisitions the Lions manage to get.  I'll break it down to long term (meaning a critical part of the team and needs a long term contract), short term (meaning depth for another year and yet still important to the team) and finally stay or go (meaning they could be replaced or not, don't care).
 
Long Term
 
Cliff Avril DE UFA
Stephen Tulloch LB UFA
Eric Wright CB UFA
Don Muhlbach C UFA

Short Term
 
Jeff Backus T UFA
Rashied Davis WR UFA
DeAndre Levy LB RFA
Corey Hilliard T RFA
Ben Graham P UFA
Shaun Hill QB UFA
Drew Stanton QB UFA
Stefan Logan WR UFA
Kevin Smith RB UFA
Sammie Lee Hill DT RFA
Ashlee Palmer LB RFA
Andre Fluellen DT UFA
 
Stay or Go
 
Bobby Carpenter LB UFA
Erik Coleman S UFA
Leonard Davis T UFA
Isaiah Ekejiuba LB UFA
Maurice Morris RB UFA
Chris Harris S UFA
Jerome Harrison RB UFA
Brandon McDonald CB UFA
Maurice Stovall WR UFA
 
Obviously they all need to be asking realistic contract dollars to remain in their category.  I do have them listed pretty much in the rank I would look at as well.
 
Joshua DetFan1979 of ROTL

This question made me come to an wonderful, yet entirely alien, concept. The Lions have more than 3 free agents they need to resign - way more.  

Be it starters or depth, the Lions have at least a dozen FA and RFA that they need to bring back. 

While narrowing to three is tough, I decided to focus on three players who have no immediate replacement on the roster, and who would be good to lock up longer term. 

#3 Eric Wright - he was a solid contributor (when healthy) in the backfield.  He's not the "shutdown corner" everyone craves but is rather the type of solid mid-level guy that will make up the roster on a playoff team. If you pay the superstars their money, you need quality starters and depth that are moderately priced for your other positions.  Wright is that kind of guy. Toss in the ridiculous FA contract numbers for top corners and rookie learning curves and Wright becomes a priority signing -- just like Chris Houston last year. 

#2. Stephen Tulloch - while the playoff game against the Saints was his worst of the year by far, he provided a solid, steady, playmaking presence in the middle that has been lacking for quite some time.  Despite the potential, Levy and the platoons of MLB candidates of the prior  couple of years didn't even live up to Paris Lenon level of play. Tulloch should come at a reasonable price and knows the Lions scheme -- and knows its his best chance to be an impact player. 

#1. Cliff Avril - despite what some silly talking heads may say about him being replaceable, Avril has shown improvement each season. He is a skilled, young, versatile pass rusher.  The reason he'll be expensive to sign is that teams will be lining up with bags of money if they let him go. Which they will not.  

Thanks again for reading the Lions Congregation!! Topic or question you'd like to see discussed? Email lionscongregation@yahoo.com


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lions Congregation: Reflections

Welcome once again to the Lions Congregation! Bloggers from across the Savanna congregate to bring you their thoughts on the Lions. Have a question? Email lionscongregation@yahoo.com

Al at The Wayne Fontes Experience

1. What was your favorite game of the season to watch?

I could say it was the win over the Chiefs, as I realized I was watching a playoff contender destroy a 2010 playoff team. I was tempted to say the victory over the Broncos in Denver, just because of the destruction of TEBOW. I could go with one of the ridiculous comeback wins over the Vikings, Cowboys, Panthers and Raiders, and it wouldn't raise anyone's eyebrows. 

But I have to go with the victory over the Chargers, for one reason only. The win clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time in 12 years (though it felt more like 12 decades). The Lions were at home, the offense was clicking, Matthew Stafford was playing the elite QB we all hoped he'd become, the defense had turned things around (for a couple of weeks, anyway) and no one wanted to see them have to win in Green Bay in order to make the playoffs. So going into the game it just felt as if the result was fait accompli. The Lions were going to win.

Despite the Chargers having a talented team, the game wasn't really in question and the team got to celebrate with a formerly suffering, now deliriously happy, fan base. All was well in the world for a few hours. 

You cannot ask from more than that from a victory.

2. What were your 3 favorite plays of the season?

3.  Late in the Chargers win, Cliff Avril picked off Phillip Rivers and strolled into the end zone from 4 yards out for spectacular pick 6. The leaping, one-handed interception set off a huge celebration, as the score essentially cliched a playoff spot.

2.  My favorite offensive play of the season was Calvin Johnson catching a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford with 39 seconds left against the Raiders, finishing off a beyond clutch 98-yard drive. The hopes and dreams of a playoff season were on the line, and the Lions came through in a way we couldn't have imagined a few years ago. All I could do was channel Vin Scully and say, "I can't believe what I just saw!"

1. This is my favorite play of the season, period. The Lions are in Oakland, up by one with under0:20 left. The Raiders are driving, kicker Sebastian Janikowski is warming up his All-Pro leg on the sidelines. Carson Palmer drops back to pass, and every fan on the planet thinks the Raiders will drive deep enough into Lions' territory to give Janikowski a very reasonable shot at a game winning field goal. In Jankowski's case, anything within 55 yards can be considered reasonable. 

But Avril roars in from left end, drops an axe handle on the quarterback (nearly forcing a fumble) and sacks Palmer with 0:13 on the clock. The Raiders run one more play (an incomplete pass) and ultimately settle for a 65 yard field goal attempt, which Ndamukong Suh blocks. Lions win, have a 9-5 record and get an inside track on a playoff spot! 

If Avril doesn't sack Palmer, all sort of bad things happen. Janikowski is likely trying a kick that's at least 10 yards shorter. He doesn't have to drill the ball low to get max distance, making it that much harder to block. With that in mind, odds are he makes the kick, beating the Lions. How does the season plays out if the Lions don't win the game? I'm thinking the season just may have ended badly. But it didn't, much in thanks Avril's game saving sack

NetRat at NetRat Detroit Lions Blog

1. What was your favorite game of the season to watch?

1.  I enjoyed all the Lions games this year.  My favorite though has to be Christmas Eve against the Chargers when they sealed their playoff spot.  Good opponent, pressures on, and the Lions win the game playing hard.  Bodes well for the future.
 
2. What were your 3 favorite plays of the season?

2.  My 3 favorite plays?  Holy cow, that's not an easy question.  Avril's TD was definitely one of them.  Suh just barely getting a piece of the attempted field goal at the end of the Oakland game to save the win (and prevent a record setting field goal for distance) is another.  The rest are all a blur... so many to choose from.  Stafford shattered the TD record by any Lions QB ever, CJ and Pettigrew broke records too, then there's the comebacks and the total destruction of the Bronco's... my 3rd favorite play then has to be a tie between roughly 231 other plays.

Blades Boyd, ROTL Contributor

1. What was your favorite game of the season to watch?

With so many great games this, I'm going to go out of the box here a little and say it was the second Vikings-Lions matchup played at Ford Field. This game had everything from int's returned for TD's, sacks and big plays. But the real reason I choose this game is because it was when I finally began to accept this isn't the "same old lions."  Everything about this game was hinting the lions would blow the big lead and when the Vikes were marching at the end of the game, I was 100% sure the Lions would blow it. When the Lions stopped them and won that game, I had this immense feeling of relief and joy. I was finally able to say, "maybe these aren't the same old Lions!!!" 

2. What were your 3 favorite plays of the season?

2. #3- Bobby Carpenter's pick 6 vs Dallas. Just an unreal play. 

   #2- Titus Young diving grab against the Chiefs. A play that most people might overlook but it was on a 3rd and 24, and Stafford threw a rope to Young who made a diving catch in double coverage for the first down. In only his second game, you could see the potential. I can't wait to see this kid in another two years. He's going to be a good one if he keeps his head on straight.

 #1. Calvin Johnson's catch against Dallas. Don't think I need to say much else.

Joshua, DetFan1979 of ROTL

1. What was your favorite game of the season to watch?

There were so many outstanding games this season that I had a very hard time deciding. There was more exceptional Detroit Lions Football played this season than in the last decade!  I guess, in the end I'll have to go with the Chiefs game early in the season.  

Thinking back to the end of the infamous 0-16 season (0-whatever according to Leslie Frazier) many fans, myself included were calling for Scott Pioli to "save" the franchise.  It was sweet, then, to see the Lions rip apart an inferior opponent -- and knowing that it was the Lions on the path to a future of sustained playoff appearances while the Chiefs were heading back to the drawing board.  How many times had I seen this before -- only it was always the Lions on the losing end.  Not. Any. More. 

It was a great feeling. 

2. What were your 3 favorite plays of the season?

Three? Just three? After this season? Talk about Herculean.  

#3.  Jahvid Best 88 yard touchdown run versus Chicago.  After how many times I've seen plays like that break open a game against the Lions it was beyond satisfying to see the Lions do it for a change. 

#2.  Bobby Carpenter pick-6 versus Dallas.  It was an amazing play just to get the pick, but what was just as impressive was how the rest of the defense suddenly came alive and blocked down on the offense, opening the lane into the end zone.  It was my favorite comeback win of the season (and there were plenty)

#1.  Calvin Johnson's final second TD catch in the Oakland game.  It wasn't so much the play itself as what it embodied. A surgical, determined comeback with time speeding away on the play clock - and closing the deal.  This was no Marcus Pollard slide for a non-TD and yet another moral victory. It was Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson for the win -- and a preview of the bright future of the best WR in football catching passes from one of the best young QB's in the game.  And they are both Detroit Lions!

Conclusion

Thank you once again for joining the Lions Congregation! Normally appearing every Friday this week was late because someone forgot to hit the publish button. See you again on Friday!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lions Congregation: Playoff Wrap Up

Since we have a whole ifseason ahead of us to look back, the congregation is this week taking a look at a couple of questions that kept cropping up about the playoff loss to New Orleans.  Then, we debate reader J. Berger's question of who is our 2011 Lions MVP.  


For those new to this page, the Lions Congregation is a collection of Lions Bloggers (some past, some present) from around the web looking at issues and questions about our Detroit Lions - each from their own unique perspective.  Have a question or topic?  Email the Lions Congregation!


The Panel:


Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience
NetRat of The NetRat Detroit Lions site and blog (also our resident capologist)
Zac of The Sidelion Report
Jeff - Special Guest and founder of the Lions Congregation
Blades Boyd - founding member and resident contrarian at Roar of the Lions
Joshua aka DetFan1979 - Your humble host at Roar of the Lions


Due to some readers who indicated that the congregation answers ran together too easily, I am going to give each author their own section with all three of their answers lumped together this week, versus gathering all the panelists' responses by question.  Please let me know which format you prefer!  


Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience



1. While many have questioned various aspects of coaching in the game, how about Jim Schwartz and his non-challenges? Specifically, the egregious spot on 3rd and 11, as well as whether Brees was stopped by forward progress since he pulled the ball back on his own - and fumbled it while doing so to boot. Should he have challenged either or both of these?

I'm not going to get on Schwartz's case over the use/non-use of challenges. Why? Because the whole damn replay system is broken. Hell, the rules are broken to the point where I don't know what is or isn't a fumble or a touchdown any more. 

How an NFL head coach can and can't use challenges is ridiculous. A play called a touchdown receives an automatic booth review. If the same play isn't called a touchdown, it can't be reviewed without a challenge. Uh...WHAT? That is rule making at it's most, well, idiotic.

NFL coaches shouldn't have to depend upon the whims of the TV networks in order to get a good enough view to determine if a challenge is a good idea. And that's just what happened, especially on the worst spot ever. The refs kept the game moving, not allowing Schwartz time to make an informed decision...or even an educated guess.

Say the play in question was the Saints getting a 1st down, but Schwartz challenging what was a correct spot despite not having concrete evidence to the contrary. We'd be getting out the torches and pitchforks. Do you really want the head coach in a playoff game making half-assed challenges?

Anyone saying Schwartz should have thrown the challenge flag isn't being fair. On the 2 plays mentioned, Schwartz was caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock being a specious challenge system and the hard place incompetent refereeing.

2. How much of an impact do you feel the "inadvertent whistle" negating a fumble return TD was both on the tone and final outcome of the game?

When the play first happened, I was damned upset. How the Saints would have played when 21-7 down would have differed compared to 14-7. The Saints would have been back on their heels. But thinking about it, I don't think the Lions win even if they were given the TD. The Saints are that damn good. The score would have looked a little better in the history books, nothing more. 

If I'm going to throw blame around (and why the Hell not?), once again fingers must be pointed at incompetent refereeing. Why the whistle was blown is beyond me. You would think referees would not blow a play dead if there is any chance the ball could still be in play. In this case, it was cut and dry. There was a very good possibility the ball was live. Yet the refs still blew it...the whistle and the ruling.

3. Who is your 2011 Lions MVP - Stafford, Johnson or Tulloch?

Stephen Tulloch is unquestionably the defensive MVP. The Lions best get him signed to a multi-year deal, post haste. But I digress...

To answer the question; as good as Megatron was, and he was great, Matthew Stafford was better. 

Yes, Calvin Johnson's numbers were All-Pro worthy. But Stafford's numbers were at historic levels. Levels we couldn't have imagined, let alone seen, as Lions fans. Stafford shattered every Lions' single season passing record. He became only the 4th quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 5000 yards. Don't forget leading 4 comebacks from 13 or more points down, something which has never been done in NFL history. 
The Lions made the playoffs because Stafford played at an elite level. Period. If he doesn't, the Lions aren't in 
New Orleans last weekend. 

Give Matthew Stafford the team MVP. 

NetRat of The NetRat Detroit Lions site and blog 

1. While many have questioned various aspects of coaching in the game, how about Jim Schwartz and his non-challenges? Specifically, the egregious spot on 3rd and 11, as well as whether Brees was stopped by forward progress since he pulled the ball back on his own - and fumbled it while doing so to boot. Should he have challenged either or both of these?

I don't know who is in charge of telling the coaching staff to challenge, I assume there is someone who's job it is to quickly check the play for that kind of thing.  We get the benefit of super slow-mo replay and hindsight (as we dwell on things) but with whatever tools the Lions have they might've been unsure at the time if a challenge was winnable or they might have been saving them for something really big later (if needed).  As for the forward progress thing, at the time I thought first down... it was only later that I heard it might not have been.

2. How much of an impact do you feel the "inadvertent whistle" negating a fumble return TD was both on the tone and final outcome of the game?

 The inadvertent whistle was par for the year in officiating.  The Lions were lucky to get possession at all (and then did nothing with it).  I've seen them whistle a play dead and not allow the turnover.  The officiating that affected the game the most were the non-calls on holding by the O-Lines.  When your entire defense is predicated on interior pass rush and the OLine can hold as much as they want you have effectively disabled the defense and made it useless.  Letting the players play backfired for the Lions in that game.

3. From J Berger: Who is your 2011 Lions MVP - Stafford, Johnson or Tulloch?

My vote for the 2011 Lions MVP is Matt Stafford.  Broke the Lions yardage record, TD record, passing attempts record and pass completions record... and is only the 4th QB in the history of the NFL to reach 5,000 yards in a single season.  The Lions have been around a long time and this was a serious uptick in the record books.  This record may or may not ever be broken, but if it is, it'll probably be by Matt Stafford (in some future year).


1. While many have questioned various aspects of coaching in the game, how about Jim Schwartz and his non-challenges? Specifically, the egregious spot on 3rd and 11, as well as whether Brees was stopped by forward progress since he pulled the ball back on his own - and fumbled it while doing so to boot. Should he have challenged either or both of these?

While many have questioned various aspects of coaching in the game, how about Jim Schwartz and his non-challenges? Specifically, the egregious spot on 3rd and 11, as well as whether Brees was stopped by forward progress since he pulled the ball back on his own - and fumbled it while doing so to boot. Should he have challenged either or both of these?

-Since each team get's two maybe it would have been worth challenging either of those plays but I think they would have been low percentage challenges. Certain things have a tendency to be overblown in the wake of a loss and I think that is the case here. With the recent challenge history in mind (Green Bay), I can see why Schwartz would want to hold on to the red flag rather than taking a low percentage flier on a play in the middle of the field.

2. How much of an impact do you feel the "inadvertent whistle" negating a fumble return TD was both on the tone and final outcome of the game?

How much of an impact do you feel the "inadvertent whistle" negating a fumble return TD was both on the tone and final outcome of the game?
-The fan in me hated seeing that opportunity lost as a result of an inadvertent whistle but I don't believe a fumble return for a touchdown would have changed the outcome of the game. There are just too many things the Lions did poorly that they did have control over to lay much blame on the officials; namely, the defense's inability to force a punt. The possibility that it would have changed the tone of the game only holds water if one believes the defense could have gotten a few stops and the Lions could have run the ball effectively. There was no evidence in that game to suggest that either would have happened.

3. From J Berger: Who is your 2011 Lions MVP - Stafford, Johnson or Tulloch?

-It's easily Matthew Stafford. Of the three I immediately boil it down to a choice between Stafford and Johnson and decided based on the "V" in MVP. While Megatron was certainly valuable in terms of the success of the offense, it was Stafford who had the noticeable statistical disparity between wins and losses. To me, the definition of "valuable" ultimately comes down to wins and losses and there was no Lion whose performance determined wins and losses more than Matthew Stafford. Considering the Lions won more than they lost, Stafford gets the nod as team MVP.

Jeff - Special Guest and founder of the Lions Congregation

1. While many have questioned various aspects of coaching in the game, how about Jim Schwartz and his non-challenges? Specifically, the egregious spot on 3rd and 11, as well as whether Brees was stopped by forward progress since he pulled the ball back on his own - and fumbled it while doing so to boot. Should he have challenged either or both of these?

Yes, both of those plays should have been challenged. The Brees first down called back could have been a momentum changer for us. I know he only had two flags but could have used on there for sure.

2. How much of an impact do you feel the "inadvertent whistle" negating a fumble return TD was both on the tone and final outcome of the game?

Huge impact. Lions would have scored on that play, putting them up 21-7. Another momentum changer that could have won us the game. The overall officiating this season was abysmal, many bad calls, no calls and the refs looked like they didn’t know all the rules all season. Didn’t help with the image the Lions were starting to get with the personal fouls and it seemed like they were calling stuff on the Lions and favoring the opposition, not calling same type penalties on them.

3. From J Berger: Who is your 2011 Lions MVP - Stafford, Johnson or Tulloch?

I have to go with Stafford. He played exceptionally well, garnering over 5k yards and setting many Lions records. He definitely played like a franchise QB, just what he was drafted for. Can’t wait to see how improvements made this year helps him in the future. They need to resign CJ badly (PAY THE MAN!) and get other weapons for him. Best and Leshoure coming back and, hopefully, keeping K-Smith will help greatly.

Blades Boyd - founding member & resident contrarian 

1. While many have questioned various aspects of coaching in the game, how about Jim Schwartz and his non-challenges? Specifically, the egregious spot on 3rd and 11, as well as whether Brees was stopped by forward progress since he pulled the ball back on his own - and fumbled it while doing so to boot. Should he have challenged either or both of these?

Let me start by saying even if Schwartz did challenge and win, I don't think it would have mattered. Saints still would have won because they pretty much went for it and got it every time they had a 4th down.

That being said, there is absolutely no doubt those plays should have been challenged and yes Schwartz messes up big time by not doing so. But should he criticized for it??? Not at all. Keep in mind, he's done something that a lot of REALLY good coaches couldn't do (Bobby Ross and Mooch to name a few) and that's get the Lions back to the playoffs and have a winning season. Schwartz will learn from this game and next time, I'm sure you will see a challenge flag tossed on those plays. 

If any coach needs to be questioned it's Gunther Cunningham. I have not liked his play calling all season and he really got exposed the last few weeks. He blitzed a total of four times in the game which result in the Willie Young forced fumble, one incompletion and one hurry. The rest of the game he sat back and while the Saints were in max protection, Breed just picked them apart. Gunther has really showed his age this season and is beginning to get out of touch with the changing NFL. Unfortunately, he's Schwartz's mentor and will be stuck with him for a while. (I wish they'd go after Steve Spagnola)

2. How much of an impact do you feel the "inadvertent whistle" negating a fumble return TD was both on the tone and final outcome of the game?

Like I said before, I don't think any play had a major impact on the game. Say the lions had an extra 14 points in the game, they still lose. Sorry to be that straight forward about it but it is just that simple.

3. From J Berger: Who is your 2011 Lions MVP - Stafford, Johnson or Tulloch?

As good of a season Stafford had, Calvin is the MVP. In my opinion, we probably still would have made the playoffs without Stafford. There isn't a chance we make the playoffs without Calvin. I know some people disagree with me but look at the stats. During the 5-0 run, CJ had a touchdown in every game and close to 100 yards. During the up and down stretch in the middle of the season? Calvin wasn't scoring and was averaging 68.5 yards a game. At the end of the season when we were winning again, he averaged over 100 yards a game and over a TD a game. That in itself proves to me anyway, he should get some votes for league MVP, not just the Lions MVP.

Joshua aka DetFan1979 - Your humble host at Roar of the Lions

1. While many have questioned various aspects of coaching in the game, how about Jim Schwartz and his non-challenges? Specifically, the egregious spot on 3rd and 11, as well as whether Brees was stopped by forward progress since he pulled the ball back on his own - and fumbled it while doing so to boot. Should he have challenged either or both of these?

Based on how the officials were calling the game, I don't think that either call would have been overturned, and obviously neither did Jim Schwartz.  The crew calling the game was "letting 'em play" and those calls were just part of it.  

I will say, that whole attitude cost the Lions ANY chance they had of winning the game against New Orleans.  The Saints defense is based around the blitz -- so not calling offensive holding really had little to no impact on how they played the game. 

For the Lions, however, it was the exact opposite.  They count on the skills and aggressiveness of their front four to create pressure on the quarterback.  That is impossible if the offensive line is allowed to hold as egregiously as it was in that playoff game.  So while the ref's may have been "letting players be players" in this case it created a huge disadvantage for a Lions team that already needed a near perfect game under normal circumstances to pull out a win. 

2. How much of an impact do you feel the "inadvertent whistle" negating a fumble return TD was both on the tone and final outcome of the game?

Crazy enough, this stupid whistle was the ONE time all game the referees did NOT let the players play it out -- and this is the one time in the game it would have been advantage Lions.  

First off, let me be clear: With how the game was being called (see above answer) and how well New Orleans' offense was playing I do not think that this call would have effected the outcome of the game.  

I do, however, feel that it would have dramatically changed the "story" of the game.  Themes coming out of the game are how the Lions didn't turn either turnover into points -- they did, but they were essentially taken away.  I also feel the emotional hit to the Lions defense and corresponding scare and then boost to New Orleans is what allowed the Saints to pull away like they did.  

If the Saints were up by 3 vs 10 later in the game -- or 10 vs 17 -- then Stafford likely doesn't have at least one of the INT's as he was really pressing knowing they didn't have time.  I still think they try the onside just the same, and that the Saints win a shoot out -- it just would have been a much closer shootout that would have answered more questions about the Lions and raised more questions about the Saints.  

As it was, I haven't seen a defense fielded this season that I truly feel would have been able to stop New Orleans on Saturday.  Matthew Stafford was playing at an elite level making some mind boggling throws.  Unfortunately, Drew Brees was playing a level above that whatever you want to call it, and some of his throws were enough to make you hit replay about 5 times on the DVR just to be sure what you were seeing happened.  

3. From J Berger: Who is your 2011 Lions MVP - Stafford, Johnson or Tulloch?

All three of these players certainly had a huge impact on 2011.  The way I look at it is what is the drop-off to that player's backup, and how much would it have effected their win-loss record.  While Tulloch defintely filled the middle far better than anyone we've seen in the last 8 years (Paris Lenon anyone?) I feel like maybe a one game swing without him.  

Calvin Johnson had one of the truly great seasons for a wide receiver in the NFL ever.  Period.  However, he was essentially healthy until the last couple of weeks -- when he still put up over 200 yards/game in the finale and playoffs.  

This brings me to Stafford.  When he was healthy at the start of the season and the end of the season the Lions offense was beyond humming -- it was a finely tuned machine of point scoring on par with Green Bay, New Orleans, and New England.  When his finger was broken mid-season, the whole team became more inconsistent.  

Basically, as goes Stafford so goes the Lions -- for good or ill.  For me, this makes him the MVP even more than his numerous and now well documented records he broke this season.  

Wrap-Up

Thank you for joining us once again!  The Lions Congregation will be posted Friday evenings once again each week.  So join us reading, commenting, or sending us questions to the lionscongregation@yahoo.com -- or hopefully, all three!!

Do you agree with the panelists?  Disagree? Let us know!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Playoff Food

The Next Generation

> My Nephew, DetFan2011, is also excited for the Detroit Lions playoff game tonight!
>