Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!

Welcome to 2009, and goodbye to a 2008 that I'm sure couldn't be over soon enough for our favorite Football Lions of Detroit.

As referenced by Mark in AZ, here is a nice piece by NetRat on his thoughts regarding Mayhew and the transition. As my regular readers know, NetRat is a Lions capologist and I utlize his knowledge quite often regarding contracts, cap hits, etc.

so I'm sure you'll be hearing his name this Ifseason as we look at the rosters (both Lions and otherwise) an heading into the draft. I'm still staying pretty mum on the Lions assistant GM search, as I'm not even familiar with all the VP's of player personnel in the league -- much less their highly talented assistants looking for promotion -- which are who the Lions are pursuing. I'm guessing they are looking at teams with a record of good FA and Draft picks. Who? I have no idea. We'll have to wait and see.

As for the coaching front, I'm beginning to think it would be easier to list who the Lions aren't interviewing! They are meeting with virtually every top coaching candidate, and I swear they want to somehow interview every coordinator/former coordinator in the league worth his salt, and then still interview other former HC, as well as some outside shots.

I respect their thoroughness, and we'll again have to wait and see how that turns out before we know what type of team the Lions are really going to be building in 2009 and beyond.

Because of this, barring any news on the hiring front, I'm going begin this ifseason by looking at the current Lions roster, who is/isn't under contract -- and who I think should come back depending on what type of coach the Lions hire.

Don't worry, there will be plenty of time for Draft Scenarios, what-if trade scenarios, FA scenarios, etc over the next 8 months. Welcome back to the Lions' prime time season: The Ifseason!

Go Lions!! Go Chargers!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boo-Hoo, picked Mayhew - Lets Move On

Interesting article by Killer this morning on Mlive. It states that Mayhew presented a plan to WCF on how things should be run, and how to turn things around. I'm wondering if it was Matt Millen's original plan that he outlined oh those so many years ago with the words "actually do it this time" scrawled across the top in red crayon. Seriously though, he had a good presser today, and sounded a lot more straightforward. Pardon the reference to past Lions blunders, but he has "set the bar" so to speak.

My LaMe moniker was not meant to be a jab at Mayhew so much as it was at Mr. Ford. I included an article at the time Millen was fired where Mayhew was listed as one of the top 4 GM candidates in the league by Bill Polian (Colts GM). the point I was trying to make was that if your organization has that many problems, why not at least LOOK at what is out there?

That all being said, it's time to move on and accept the fact that Martin Mayhew is the new GM. And, in typical sunny DF79 fashion, I'm going to look on the bright side and say he'll do at least well enough to get the Lions into the middle of the pack again, and maybe even a playoff game by 2012. I agree with a fellow on the last article that we need to look at it from the point of view of another team: If you were say, a Browns fan and they hired Mayhew -- who is young but a man who Bill Polian says is a good propect, how would you feel? (After all, the Lions may have gone 0-16, but at least they didn't go SIX games in a row without an offensive TD!)

I still want to see who they bring in to handle scouting/pro-personnel. It was kind of a quiet move that they removed their top remaining personnel guy, and have yet to replace him. That is who they are looking to hire right now. That alone tells me that they are at least moving in a *gasp* logical direction since neither Mayhew nor Lewand have extensive player personnel backgrounds. To be looking for a premier personnel guy right now is what they should be doing. Kudos.

I've seen Tom Heckert, the Eagles GM (someone I mentioned before) mentioned as someone the Lions want. Remember, Andy Reid essentially has final say on personnel in Philly, and he is getting pressured out there. Reid is closing in on the backside of his coaching days, and when he goes Heckert is likely to go too. Jeff Laurie of the Eagles prefers a style where the coach make the decisions.

All the being said, not sure if he'd like to move to the Lions, that's for sure. While he would be under Mayhew, it's obvious Mayhew wants to bring in someone to handle personnel so that he can concentrate on the big picture. He would be the Scott Pioli of the Lions.

He would also need a coach that would work well with him -- someone like, say, Steve Spagnuolo? who came from Philly and essentially runs a similar pressure style defense that the Eagles do?

They are also interviewing a lot of other coordinators/former coordinators for their first coaching interviews. I'm not big on McDaniels or Garrett for different reasons. Dallas has seriously underperformed with much more talented group overall. Meanwhile, former New England assistants (two of whom are currently unemployed, and one who is close) haven't exactly been doing well once they leave New England.

So while I took the opportunity for venting yesterday -- that was yesterday. The Ifseason is upon us, and that my friends is a time of hope.

First up on the platter for me before seeing who they keep/don't keep personnel wise and who they go after in FA (no big names, I'm pretty sure Mayhew isn't going to make that Millen mistake.) are two things:

1. Who they hire as their new personnel guru
2. Who the new head coach and his coordinators end up being.

There has been speculation for some time that there were those in the organization who didn't agree with the big FA contracts and loads of guaranteed money that Millen kept handing out. For yet another object lesson in how well this works, look at the 2008 NY Jets. They are stuck with a $160 million in guaranteed money spending spree they won't soon be free of. And all they have to show for it is an at the end future HOF QB and some aging Olinemen, and an aging Dlineman who really showed their age as the season wore on. The teams that have had success have been careful to draft replacements for players on the roster early, so as not to be held hostage to FA. This also helps conserve cap space to keep those special players who cannot easily be replaced. Just look at the colts and Cato June, Jason Davids, Jake Scott, Tony Ugoh, Edgerrin James, Dwight Freeney just to name a few in the various categories.

So I am willing to give Mayhew my optimism (even if it be tempered until he does what he has promised -- and shows us his plan via his actions, not his words).

So far, there is reason to believe that he and Lewand are focused in on the right kinds of things. They brought in Culpepper for what, half a season at veteran minimum with an option for a second year at veteran backup money? The Roy trade, while a product of "want" on Dallas' part, was also played as well is it possibly could have been played by the Lions. Much better by far than trades of Shaun Rogers and Dre Bly. (labeling someone a cancer, making it obvious you're not going to keep them publicly, and THEN trying to trade them isn't exactly a great strategy for getting value. )

I like Chief's slogan on the last blog, although it is a bit long for me. How about just "Lions fine in 2009!"

I'm sure we can all cheer and hope for that, and not be disappointed in the least.

BTW - you are now all rooting for San Diego go to the Superbowl, as it will increase the draft position Detroit got from the Roy Williams trade from #20 in round one to #19, and #18 in round 3 to #17 (82 to 81 overall). what most news outlets are missing is that the 5 9-7 teams cycle through the picks as far as draft order due to an obscure tie-breaking formula. Dallas was 4th worst of the 5.

Lions have cap space next season to sign those two first rounders, keep the guys from the current squad they want to lock into extensions (Daniel Bullocks and Keith Smith come to mind off the top of my head. Re-Signing DanO would be fine with me too since it would indicate no rookie saviour QB in round one. With the defense that Detroit doesn't have, that is not the way to go!)

Lions fine in 2009! Hello Ifseason!! Go Chargers!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The LaMe Regime takes over...

No more M&M jokes. Millen went earlier in the season, and now Marinelli has been let go. Unfortunately, just as Killer Kowalksi predicted earlier in the season around the trade deadline, Lewand and Mayhew have been retained as President and GM, respectively. But not respectfully, that's for sure!!

My new name for this incoming regime is LAME (Lewand And Mayhew Entourage) until proven otherwise. I'm an optimist, but even I'm having some trouble with this one. Sure, Bill Polian said Mayhew seemed like an up-and comer in GM circles. But another first time GM? One who learned under Matt "I built 0-16" Millen?

There is no talk at this time of looking for a GM. Nor will we likely see any -- Ford has made his decision, without even taking the time to look at what is out there. Status Quo.

I'll try to keep up to date, and give you my thoughts on what is going on. Say what you will about Killer, but he was the first to call this one months ago to much derision -- and it turns out he was right. Dave Birkett has a more comprehensive listing of who was kept/canned along with Marinelli. It appears they also canned the assitant of pro-personnel. (which has been edited into the stories from earlier, and is included in this short Freep blurb)

LAME will have to start moving quickly, as there are a lot of new GM candidates and HC interviewing going on right now. I'm curious as to what direction they will go in as I haven't a clue. Unfortunately, I don't think they do either.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Detroit Lions sign Owen S. Ixteen to Lifetime Deal

It finally happened! The Lions have set the mark for lowest of the low. And they did it with no style whatsoever; just the same old plodding and coming up short that we've seen all season in the reasonably close games.

I figured I would capture the moment to look back on with links to the various stories on the team's newest records (0-16, plus firs team to allow both two 100 yd receiving and 2 100 yd rushing players in the same game. How appropriate a record to tack on at the end there...)

Mlive has your Killer version, which is similarly stated by the AP. Killer also has a short piece on how embarrassed everyone is. Micheal Rosenberg gave his thoughts in the Freep. has a great picture with their piece that really captures what the essence of the moment must be for the players. just has their game blog up now.

There are many more stories out there, I'm sure. And many more will be written.

So on this grim day, are there any positives to take away? I have 3 solid ones:

1. Calvin Johnson -- 102 yards, 2 TD's As long as the Lions have someone to get him the ball, this guy is going to keep lighting up opposing defenses for many years.

2. Kevin Smith -- one dumb penalty, 92 yards and a TD (and 24 yards and a real coach who should have played him earlier away from a 1,000 yard rushing season, with a roughly 4 YPC average) He has spirit and talent, and solidifies the lead-back role.

3. John Standeford -- has this kid finally found an NFL roster?? He proved he was good enough of a #2 against the Packers' all pro corners to get 83 yards and force them back into covering someone other than CJ. he made good plays, and smart catches. Once Furrey is back healthy in the slot, that is 3 solid wideouts for the Lions under contract heading into the ifseason.

I'm sure there will be a lot more news and events happening soon. We'll get to see tomorrow (at 11am or Noon, or 2pm depending on which rumor guy you've been reading!) what happens -- if anything -- to the Lions front office and coaching staff.

Then, once the decisions are made and we know where the Lions are weaving to next, we can begin again talk of the draft, and free agency -- and most of all, hope.

Why? Hey, as a hard-core fan, after this -- it can't possibly be any worse!

I also want to send out a HUGE thank you to the Philadelphia Eagles who knocked Dallas clear out of the playoffs on Sunday afternoon! Here's to a mid-first rounder, a mid-third rounder and and way more thanks than Roy Williams had receiving yards in Detroit and Dallas combined heading your way Jerry Jones for that gift of hope come draft time... (roy had 2 receptions for 4 yards in the last-game loss that puts Dallas right where Detroit will be for the playoffs -- home.)

I'm sure there will be lots of news this week as teams fire/hire so stay tuned!

Plus, now I get to have fun with all that speculative ifseason stuff. After this season, we need a few months of forward looking "Iffing" to recover.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What I Want to See For 0-16...

As I hinted at yesterday, I want to see a different kind of game. How many of you have seen some of the highlight reels of the 76 bucs? Those were hilarious. Now, before anyone else gets started I know Rod will NOT play any different than any other game. He will do what lost him 15 games this season, and at the end of the day it will have lost him 16 games this season.

What I want to see is enough excitement to really fill the highlight reels. I mean, what great moments are there so far? Just pictures of RB's running 60+ yards untouched for a score? Sure, the DanO out of the endzone for the game-losing safety will be on there. But where are the rally classic "no wonder this team went 0-16" moments? Seriously -- they are not even lovable like the inept 76 Bucs -- an expansion team before the days of Free Agency.

So as I go to sleep tonight, here is a list of what I would like to see:

1. No punting. Deactivate Harris just so you aren't tempted. 4th and 25? Try throwing long to CJ. Or throw it to Smith underneath, then lateral it to Standeford, back to DanO and then he throws to CJ deep, who is now open as the Packers go WTF is the ball???

2. No "kicking away" -- If they do manage to score, kick the ball onsides and try to recover! What is another 20 yards even to a defense couldn't stop my cat from setting franchise passer rating records?? That couldn't stop Rod himself from suiting up and rushing for 100+ yards and a couple TD's, bad hip and all?? Forget "field position" - it's not about keeping GB's offense off the field -- it's about keeping the Lions DEFENSE off the field. Once they get out there, they never come back to the bench until the Lions are further behind! Always onside -- give the offense more chances to make it interesting.

3. Hook and Ladder every return like it's your last. What have you got to lose? You're 0-15, about to be 0-16. Why not gamble? Better to go down filling the highlight reel and letting 'em know that everything in the book (literally) wasn't enough to get you a win. Go down like a real man! A monkey could coach them to a better record with a dart board and numbered plays. So live a little already!

4. With that in mind, fake FG are a must -- see what kind of QB Hanson is -- he's the best performing player on the field so give him a shot. He's already beat one record this year -- why not another? He certainly can't throw more picks than Daunte Culpepper did!

5. Trick plays all the time. No WR's, Stanton at RB in the "wildcat" with K Smith, Rudi and Felton all on the field. Why not? Who's going to see that coming?

6. Run the HTBA defense - hit the bastard already. That is where you just put 11 guys on the field (with this roster any 11 will do) and just start hitting guys as hard as you can. WR within 5 yards fo the line of scrimmage? Mug him! Hard to run out routes from your back! Send in 11 man blitzes. (yes, everyone) and see how long it takes them to exploit it...

McCarthy: WTF? They just blitzed 11 guys on first and ten! There was actually nowhere to run! We only picked up 2 yards!
GB -OC: Maybe I better have Bret...I mean, Aaron throw a short out in case they try it again -- with no one covering someone's bound to be open.
McCarthy: Nah - I can't believe they did it once. Only a genius would do it again. Rod is clearly not a gneius, so they won't do it again.
[play runs. Lions rush 11. Sack for loss of 8]
GB-OC: Now can I call a short hot read?
McCarthy: Are you kidding? He just rushed ELEVEN GUYS -- TWICE! -- He thinks that we think that he knows that we know he's going to do it he is defending a hot short, or quick strike deep with max protect... Run up the middle.
[play runs. Grant for -2 yards in the face of 11 Lions Dlinemen rushing the middle of the field.]
GB-OC: Should we send in the punting unit?
McCarthy: He'll blink first. That deer in the headlights look...15 was all to make me look bad. We can't punt versus the LIONS! The Saints never punted last week, we're not doing it this week. Go for it!
GB-OC: Should I expect an 11 man rush?
McCarthy: Even if we do, what the hell is in the playbook that will stop that? His defense is so fricking slow that even an 11 man rush leaves the short routes covered...I've been outsmarted!!!
GB-OC: And here I thought this was going to be easy...

Alright, it'll never happen -- but a man can dream can't he??

As for speculation on front office changes... I'm no insider. I'll wait til real news breaks, then give my thoughts on it from there.

Go Lions! Go Eagles! Go Bucs!

Friday, December 26, 2008

0-16 FINALLY Catching on...

Well, it hasn't been hyped to the degree of a nearly perfect Patriots season -- where the NFLN was simulcasting the Pats-Giants on three networks (two of them people actually watch). It is barely mentioned other than the usual gags reserved for the lower-level teams each season.

Why? Since every NFL team TRIES to win, to go undefeated is actually as hard, or harder, than winning every game. Most teams luck into a win now and then (the Lions came close in the first Minnesota game). Why? Because they are trying their hardest to win, some team looks past them or has a bad week and BAM! there is a win. is at least front-paging a story on the Lions possibly going winless. It includes some very direct and concise analysis of fan reaction by Michael Rosenberg that really just hits it right on. A great read, if somewhat disappointing read for Lions fans. is barely, if at all, making mention. Parity is a long-term ideal in the league -- not a year=by year ideal. It is the ideal that any team can stretch out and snag the big one in any given year. That decades long Dynasties are near impossible to create, much less maintain. Things are geared to assist the lowest to become the highest. Here is another article, with links to yet more stories on 0-16. I understand Drew Sharp's take that many fans want to see 0-16 not for their team, but as a scar WCF Sr.

Yes, here we are as fans. Hello history. You have finally come knocking for our Lions. Please don't disappoint.

***Thing I'd love to see tomorrow #2: Onside attempt every kick. Even if you only recover Half of the kicks (the average for expected onside kicks 2004-2008 as per Elias Sports Bureau), the Lions defense didn't get one stop last week. Not ONCE. What the heck does 17 or so extra yards (Avg starting FP is 30 vs the Lions, avg onside kick is 47) matter when your defense couldn't stop me from rushing for 100 yards and 2 TD's bad back and all?? how do you keep the Lions defense off the field? By making sure the offense stays on the field!! [combined with my first request, no punting, this will really add excitement to the game!! At the least, we'd get to see the guys announcing heads' explode!]

Your suggestions???

DetFan1979 at Practice; Inidividual Drills

So I'm kinda back, but I'm working on a creative piece called: "What I want to see on Sunday before 0-16 Sets In." about how I would call the game. In the meantime, I hope that everyone had a great Christmas!!

I'm not too keen on Kevin Siefert's ESPN NFC North Blog, since he seems to dismiss the Lions as part of the division, and is a Vikings homer (Hope they lose and Chicago wins -- I'd rather see the Bears in the playoffs than Minny). He did have an interesting article about his keys to improving the Lions. Not so sure I agree with all of them, and I'm pretty sure WCF Sr. doesn't agree with any of them (even the good ideas). But, nice read overall.

Drew "China Doll" Stanton put his two cents in on the Rob Parker comments that never seem to die. I will say that Stanton hits the nail right on the head, and kudos to a player for coming out in support of his coach --- especially a player who has been all but ignored and certainly not received the full support himself of said staff. Way to go Drew! Now, play him more than one series and let us see if he gets injured again, or stands up to it!

This fellow has down the spirit of 0-16, at least in its basest form. Interesting to see an out-of country writer (the author is from the UK) giving his take on this potential record.

Now, I need your help on tomorrow's piece: What do you want to see happen in tomorrow's game? Remember -- you are about to be 0-16 and set the historically low bar that can only be tied, not beaten, unless the league adds more games to the slate. What, as coach, would you do to make it one hell of a memorable game to fill the highlight reels with plays that just scream: We did our darnedest, did everything possible, and still couldn't win we're that bad!!

My first one is: Leave the Harris inactive for the game, so you can never be tempted to punt and thus are forced to go 4 downs every series.

Your thoughts and ideas??? Remember, they are what make this Blog live!!!

Go Lions! Go Philly! Go Tampa! (If Philly beats Dallas, and Tampa Wins then Dallas is TOTALLY out of the playoffs.)

UK writer says give in my friends...and sums it up nicely!

Monday, December 22, 2008

DF79 Questionable; Going to IR?

Well, first off while playing in the snow with the kids, I discovered why people in their 30's don't usually get on the saucer sleds with the kids and go down the hill after shoveling snow and pushing the kids down the hill on their sleds for a couple of hours. Oh for the days getting jarred like that was nothing, and it sure does give a person a more profound respect for how hard it is to last in the NFL through all those bone-jarring hits. (Let's just say I managed to crash pretty good. The little pink lions thought it was awesome though.)

Yup - DetFan1979 wrenched his back out big time and I'm thankful I'm on vacation til Friday. With the upcoming Holiday and family time, I will be questionable until Saturday, or maybe even Sunday. But don't worry -- the team has told me I'm not going on IR with my back injury just because I've spoken out about the team *wink wink*

Still stunned that Killer has been calling the mind of WCF SR right so far... but I'm still hoping he changes his mind at least somewhat. (Ford, not Killer. I'm hoping for monumental, not daily.)

I'm not rehashing the reasons for keeping/firing Mayhew/Lewand/Marinelli as every reader of this blog has them blazoned onto our scarred Lions Fan souls.

There were some interesting reactions to all this -- Dan Wertzel at Yahoo suggested the League step in as he said Ford is doing more harm to the image of Football than PacMan or Chris Henry ever could. He may be right on this one.

I also loved Rob Parker's latest stupid look-at-me trick. What was even funnier was the National Media's reaction to it. I'm with Howie Long -- Rod is coaching an 0-15 team. They should all be fired about 5 minutes (if not sooner) after the season is done. Who would want to be interim coach at the moment of 0-16? Seriously now. Like he'll fire Barry at this point when the whole ship should be sunk at the end of the season. It was very personal, and in very poor taste coming from a so-called-journalist. That's all the attention he deserves, and hopefully he'll end up with a worse punishment next time he fabricates a story (see his piece and retraction on MSU's current QB).

Yup. I didn't really want it, but not only is 0-16 on the way, if the news of Mayhew and Lewand staying is true, how far off is Killer's musings about Marinelli, despite being in over his head, staying on too? (Don't read this article wrong -- just like with Mayhew and Lewand staying, Killer isn't saying it's what is, or what should, happen -- but he is attempting to play "what is Willy Clay thinking?") Also, should we start setting out sights on the 26 game losing streak of the 76-77 Bucs? We beat their 0-14 single season record. How about the whole kit and kaboodle to truly earn the mantle of worst ever? (And why can't we get quotes like Q: What do you think of your team's execution? A: I'm all for it. )

There are still some positives to take away from the team, but most have to do with the future and the ifseason. In answer to an earlier question in the comments, the Lions have the following picks:

  • Rnd 1: 2 picks (Det, and Dallas)
  • Rnd 2: 1 pick (Det)
  • Rnd 3: 2 picks (Det, Dallas)
  • Rnd 4: 0 picks (to Dallas for Cliff Avril 2008 3rd rnd draft)
  • Rnd 5: 1 pick (Det)
  • Rnd 6: 2 picks (Det, Dallas)
  • Rnd 7: 0 picks (to Dallas in Roy Williams Deal)

I didn't look, but I could have rounds 6 and 7 reversed. Pretty sure I don't though. [I updated the round 6 and 7 picks to be correct as per comment below. Thanks!!]

I will be doing a lot of draft looking (current, evaluating past, etc.) this ifseason -- which will be on us very soon! -- but will stay away from it for now.

GB did their darnedest to keep Chicago out of the playoffs on Monday, and came up short. Look for them to be VERY motivated to send the Lions down to 0-16. After missing out on the playoffs, the last thing they want to do is lose to an 0-15 team. Heads would roll in GB after that one -- all things considered (see: Favre, Brett ifseason moves even though the Defense is what collapsed on them this season).

I don't see the Lions having the passion to go into Green Bay and win. I'm usually a half glass full kind of guy, so I'm saying the Lions at least make a game of it. Of course, I thought last week would be a shootout so what do I know?? I will say that I like Mike Silver's 32 Questions entry for the Lions this week:

"32. Detroit
: Given defensive tackle Shaun
’s proclamation that only the team’s “true NFL players” will show up for Sunday’s season finale at
Green Bay, does that mean coach Rod Marinelli will be petitioning the league to
allow the Lions to play eight-man football? "

Go Lions!!! Go Philadelphia!! (Beat Dallas, and knock them out of the playoffs already, will ya?)

Have a Merry Christmas All!!

I'm Speechless...

I expected a shootout... I nearly heard a shut-out

I expected a change... more of the same?

I spent two days away, and wish I had stayed. What can I say? What is there to say?

Say it ain't so - say that they'll go. But the answer seems no. Oh no. Oh no.

I'm out to enjoy the snow - before my little ones grow and go.

Enjoy time with family and ones you love.

I'm sure come tonight, I'll have more on above...


Thursday, December 18, 2008

0-16? 10 Games 'til they are "worst ever"

There is a great article with an interview with Archie Manning on narrowly avoiding a winless season, and being the first team to ever lose to the Tampa Bay Bucs -- in their 27th game.

That's right -- even at 0-16 the Lions would also have to lose their first 9 games next season just to tie the longest losing streak in NFL history. While this Lions team may be bad, we can take comfort in the fact that they still have a long way to go to be termed worst ever. (after beating KC, then losing at GB they are currently on a 15 game losing streak dating back to last season.)

See, there are some happy thoughts!!

Go Lions!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Pro-Bowl of Soup for You!

There was a time when the pro-bowl selections meant something. The voting was done at the end of the season. It was done by players and coaches -- the people in the league who knew who was really good, and who wasn't.

Then, to get fans more involved, there was a fan voting aspect. Now, it has devolved into all popularity and glitz --- and no substance. Being to the pro-bowl is like being elected homecoming king in high school: It means nothing of note, other than lots of people knew your name. (Unless you are Albert Haynesworth, and are now an unrestricted FA thanks to all of your publicity, and the the awesome performance of the rest of your team getting you to a great record this year helped get you "buzz".)

Jason Hanson is a hall of fame kicker. He is the top distance kicker EVER in the league. He only missed one FG this year -- and it was blocked. He has made twice as many FG from over 50 yards than 23 other kickers in the league have even attempted. But because the Lions are 0-14 right now, he is overlooked.

In the earlier years of the league, you often had a pro-bowler on a losing team. Just because the majority of the team is untalented and/or poorly coached doesn't mean every player is a piece of crap. Sure, there aren't going to be a lot of them -- the Lions really only had two candidates -- CJ and Hanson. Both were snubbed. Why? Because other than Thanksgiving's blowout, who has seen the Lions (casual fan wise) or even heard of any of the players beyond stupid jokes by the national media and the occasional late-nite jab from Leno and Conan??

There was a mention on Sports illustrated that the voting process varies by team, which I didn't know. Don Banks, I think, has it right on when he says that they should skip the game and just give it as an "honor" and just let it rest. in their snubs list has Ryan Longwell on there - because he booted 5 FG from beyond 50 when Carney (who got voted in) attempted none. How about Jason Hanson with a record 8-8 from beyond 50? That is a double-snub, and an insult. Just take a look at the season stats for the three:

1-29 30_39 40_49 50+ FG-Att FG Pct Avg Att Avg Miss Long XP-Att Points

Hanson, Jason 3-3 4-5 6-6 8-8 21-22 1.0 42.4 33.0 56 21-22 84
Carney, John 14-14 11-12 4-5 0-0 29-31 0.9 32.5 41.0 48 35-35 122
Longwell, Ryan 9-9 7-9 5-8 5-5 26-31 0.8 37.5 43.0 54 36-36 114

Over half of Carney's kicks were from inside the 30 -- essentially extra point tries. Look -- he missed 10% more FG than Hanson, and he also had a long of 48 (Hanson has made 8 beyond 50). the biggest thing that stood out to me? Carney was kicking an average of 10 yards closer to the goalposts than Hanson!! Longwell, who has missed about 20% more FG than Hanson was kicking only a paltry 5 yards further away than Carney, but still 5 yards closer, on average, than Hanson. Hanson had the longest average attempt, and yet still made the highest percentage of kicks.

Who should be the pro-bowl kicker?

Don't throw 0-14 at me -- this is the Pro-Bowl, not the Superbowl. It is not about the team, but the player. Has the player been playing his position at a level beyond that of his peers. Taking a look at Hanson, he has done that in spades.

Take the stats above, along with the paragraph directly below it. Copy them, and email them to Don Banks and Peter King. Lets see if we can't get a Hanson Snubbed for Pro-Bowl piece out of them (at least a mention).

Operation publicity for Hanson gentlemen. Don't let me down -- I've emailed at least 5 times already!

Go Lions!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Indy Game Summary

I know that many of you are not able to see the games, so here is a very nice game summary put together by Sean Yuille at Pride of Detroit (in the links section).

Good summary of the game.

More Believeable than Millen still in Charge...

Okay, here is passing along heresay post, because I ran out of time to look back over the tape of Lions-Indy, and I had to take care of some FFB commisioner stuff that took a lot of time.

I'll be back with REAL analysis tomorrow. Just leaving you with the wistful dreams that these statements are true (I do have notes on the Millen thing, so I figured...we can all dream, right?)

Posted by KitnaRules on 12/09/08 at 3:25PM
Guys here's the skinny. I told you about Millen getting fired in September and the next day Jay Glazer reported it.
This is what I know. December 29 Monday (Black Monday) after the 16th loss The Lions will hold a press conference. It won't be Ford doing the talking. It will be Tom Lewand. Lewand will say Marinelli (includes all coaching staff), Mayhew (and all Lions scouts) will be relieved of their duties. Lewand will announce he will remain in charge of Ford Field Operations only. Lewand will state the Lions will do an exhaustive search for a GM. Once the GM is hired he will hire a coach. The Lions understand they need to make the announcement right after the season and they need to hire a GM right away since he has to hire a new scouting staff, coach etc. Most likely the new GM will use some of the old scouting reports that were left in place. That's TBD. Listen trust me on this one. Ford met with Marinelli and let him know these last three games are it for him no matter if they win one or not.
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and then this followup post:

Posted by KitnaRules on 12/09/08 at 4:04PM
Telling you the truth. This will happen. Black Monday is coming Monday the 29th. Lewand will be making the announcement. Probably around noon.
Ford Jr asked Roger Godell for help. Godell and Ford Jr. are good friends and he helped him compile a short list. It's going to come down to an old school guy like Reese, Acorsi or Casserly or a young gun like Pioli or Ireland. Ford Jr. will do the interviewing along with NFL representatives. This is what the Falcons did last year when they hired Thomas Dimitroff.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

1 Williams out, DanO the ManO

First off, just as I was calling for and pointing out over a month ago, Dan Orlovsky is the best QB on the Lions' roster, AND he keeps improving from game to game. He led the Lions to 21 points -- including through the air -- against the 5th rated defense in the league overall; Did I also mention that they had only allowed FIVE TD Passes through the air all season coming into this game? No wonder Rod made him starter again for this week. (That and Lewand doesn't want to pay Culpepper that $1 million bonus)

What I've seen of other news around the league, Dan Orlovsky is going to be leading the ifseason FA QB pool, along with Byron Leftwich who played well in relief of Ben Rothliesburger this season. The Lions need to re-sign him. He is a young guy with upside, who found the holes in the Indy D, and wasn't afraid to throw the ball to CJ even when he was double covered -- and it paid off big time. I heard some complain about DanO throwing it "up for grabs" over CJ in double coverage -- pardon me, but isn't that why you HAVE CJ in the first place?? To out jump 2 DB's, run over a guy, and put his hand down and then launch that huge frame of his into the end-zone? I mean, even Brian Billick was joking that CJ could practically pick up 5 yards just by falling forward. Not too far off.

As for the rest of the game, I'll dive into that bit more tomorrow and Wednesday. I think there is a lot more to be said on this game, as it actually had a lot to take away from it -- much of it good news!!

In Karmic News, one of the Williams boys fractured his shoulder and will be out 4-6 weeks. Is he going to drop his appeal, and serve his suspension while he's injured? Sorry to anyone out there for "innocent until proven guilty" -- any player who claims that he "took the wrong supplement without knowing" at this point is a complete, total, and unabashed idiot or liar. The NFL has said, mailed, in the CBA that if your team represented trainer doesn't give it to you, don't take it - the NFL is not responsible for the labeling/mislabeling of the over-the-counter (OTC) supplements, pills, shakes, treatments, etc.

You are making millions of dollars, have personal trainers on staff as well as attorney's, and agents. If you really feel the need to take something not on the league "approved" list -- send it to the league and get their okay FIRST instead of going "oops" afterwards. (Why they don't all have people drive them to the bar and back to avoid DUI's I'll never know either. People working on the line can even afford a cab or the drunk van, or call/text a buddy. Seriously - no thought)

I hope the NFL lets him get healthy, THEN makes him serve his suspension. Karmic payback is crap, with that court injunction plus the piss-poor calls in the first Vikings game (and the second, come to think of it) they had some coming.

Hope the Vikes lose out against the top 2 rushing teams in the league and miss the playoffs. I'd rather see the Bears go.

Oh yeah, how about that first no-call -- AGAIN -- for pass interference against CJ (it was so bad you could hear the crowd groaning in Lucas Oil stadium in the background until they realized it wasn't going to be called, then they started cheering.) However -- you will notice that the rest of the game, they were calling tight on the pass interference, especially on CJ. I think that they realized it may be the Lions, but that if the Colts won by a slim margin (the game was close, after) that the call they didn't make would loom large in the "Path to 0-16" history. Who wants to be known as the Ref that blew the call which ultimately led to 0-16? They wised up and left that to the guys who worked the first Minnesota game.

Finally, I watched most of Browns-Eagles tonight, and found it hilarious that every time they were talking about "pro-bowl NT Shaun Rogers" they would realize he had taken himself out of the game and was on the sideline sucking air. The eagles apparently watched tape of him from last season, as Westbrook would wait for Rogers to come at him, lateral to the side and run through the gaping hole previously taken up by Mr. Rogers.

I also noted that he had "4.5 sacks on the season" -- but all were in the first 8 games. He'd had none in the 5 games leading up to the MNF game. Hmm....can be dominating at times, especially at the beginning of the season, but he loses it and gets less and less effective as the season goes on. Imagine how useless he would be in the playoffs if a team he's on actually makes it? Would it invigorate him?

This isn't to hammer the Lions' trade by saying they should or should not have traded him. If he played well, as usual, in the first half of the season they may even have won a game. But they got a third round pick and Leigh Bodden (who has been very solid when in man coverage, including against Indy. Dallas Clark and Wayne working on Robinson did most of the damage for the Colts, along with Rhodes) for essentially about half a season of pro-bowl potential. I still think it was about a wash at this point - especially considering he is the "run stopper" for a horrendous Celveland D.

Buster Davis on the other hand, was a mistake to let go. Good enough to start for Indy, but not make Detroit over the since cut gardner, cannon, and the legendary nece or lenon? yeah. Which MLB looked better yesterday -- Lenon or Davis? Now look me in the eye and tell me how smart the Lions coaching staff is, and what great talent evaluators they are. Stop laughing and say it. Now get up off the floor -- you look look silly rolling around like that giggling away.

I'll let you recover and write more tomorrow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

No blackout? Borrow a blindfold...

Christmas Party Weekend - one weekend, 3 family Christmas Gatherings. Needless to say, the whole DF79 clan will need to go to work/school on Monday just to recuperate!!

While the Lions will be getting shellacked by Indianapolis this weekend (to say it in politest terms) the DetFan1979 Annual Redraft League Conference Championships are this week. Also, the DetFan1979 Dynasty FFB League Superbowl is this week as well!! (I made it this year, and also congrats both to my opponent, Detroit Revolution -- as well as everyone in the league as it was a tight race all the way through and 3 of 4 divisions and all but one playoff spot came down to the last week of play. Great demonstration of football acumen from all involved!)

I will be taping the game tomorrow, and watching it on VHS delay later in the week due to said Christmas functions. I do want to go over a few thoughts before turning in for the evening...

First of all, was I the only one shocked/not shocked at the personnel moves this week? Corey Redding went on IR with a "lingering" knee injury it appears no one really knew about until this week. Looking back at his play this season, which seemed to at many times mimic his play of the second half last season makes me wonder if his knee injury last year that supposedly didn't need to be operated on was really worse than they thought?? It would explain a lot, and would be about par for the course for the Lions. What type of injury wasn't disclosed, but it was said he needs surgery. Hopefully he can come back next year actually healthy and play up to his 2006/1st half of 2007 standards. (In that time span, he was #1 DT in the league for tackles for loss -- he still ended 2007 in the top 3 or 4 -- as per Pat Kirwan of in an ifseason article, but I couldn't find the link just my notes.)

Langston Moore is a good re-signing, but I only hear about IAF, Fluellen, Cody and Moore in rotation at DT. Glad Fluellen is getting in there - but why no Cohen with move to Redding on IR? They cut Moore but felt the need to keep Cohen -- why not get him some PT? Especially against a team like the Colts where you need the front 4 to stuff the run so the LB and secondary can at least try to slow down the passing game. Unless, of course, you think Ramzee Robinson or an injury-slowed Keith Smith or Leigh Bodden can man-up on Wayne and Harrison?? Sure...

I do like that Avril is staying on the right as the pass-rusher, with White coming back on the left, where he was more effective last season. No comment on the line at this point -- saving that for the as-yet-still-not-finished "why the Lions should move to a 3-4" piece.

The Indianapolis game, if Indy keeps their foot on the gas -- which I fully expect them to do since with Tennesee clinching their division, the Colts need every win they can to ensure good seeding in the AFC Wildcard Race. I do want to address GB as a winnable game to end the season: Get Real. If the Lions couldn't beat their backups last year when the game meant nothing to them, do you really think this team will be able to outplay them on the frigid tundra in a pride game where Green Bay wants to avoid the embarrassment of being the team that finally dropped the ball on the Lions' "perfect" season?? Nope. Just like the Patriots and the Giants battling it out in week 17 last year, when the Giants were in at the WC spot and NE was going for the perfect season -- so the game came down to pride and the record and both teams put it all out there heading into the playoffs; I can only hope that DET @ GB is one quarter of what was one of the greatest games I have ever watched, bar none.

As with my earlier recommendation, sit back this weekend and enjoy history in the making, and know that after 0-16, there is nowhere to go but up. Want it or not, unless a miracle happens I don't see win #1 coming tomorrow.

Oh yeah, I also want to mention that I'll be watching DanO to see how he handles coming back from the injury --especially since the Lions appear to have been rushing players back a bit this year --- to the detriment of both the team and the individual players (see the IR list). He likely won't get the win, but if he can help keep it close it will go a long way toward either getting him re-signed by the new staff, or at least earning a bigger FA paycheck. Of the QB's on the market this ifseason, Leftwich and DanO are really the top two options in relation to recent performance and one or both will be signed early and for more than a fair amount of money. DanO is the perfect QB for any team in transition as he is careful with the ball and will not win a lot of games on his own, but he won't usually lose them (stupid safety on a poorly designed play notwithstanding).

I fully expect to see a Stanton sighting again this week as well. Over/Under on him leaving the field Injured again?? What do you all think??

Thursday, December 11, 2008

K.smith to...Pittsburgh? Players to Keep...

While there was a lot of disappointment this season, there were some great moments too. One of those players that really shone was rookie RB Kevin Smith. Despite being used sparingly early in the season, he still came just 24 yards shy of having a 1,000 yard rushing season -- but added quite a few receiving yards to that and proved he is also a threat as a WR out of the backfield.

A few weeks back, Don Banks did his annual re-do of the draft "if teams knew then what they know now." As you regular readers know, I don't feel you can fully judge a draft class' impact until after year 3 -- and you can always "what if" into a "better" draft. I also keep in mind that it would impact the entire draft is someone different were chosen, and also impact your future draft slots because hey -- if they did impact your team positively, they would be picking in a different spot the next year!!

My point here is that he had Kevin Smith going to Pittsburgh 23rd overall in round 1 -- over guess who? That's right -- everyone's pre-draft darling Rashard Mendenhall. I like his description so I'll quote it here:

The Steelers didn't get much out of Mendenhall before Ray Lewis ended his season with a broken shoulder, and with Willie Parker's injury concerns, another running back just makes sense here. Smith has toiled in the hell known as Detroit's season, but he does have 933 yards of combined rushing and receiving with five touchdowns. [as of Dec 11. 2008]

That about sums it up there -- and it also shows the idea floating around before the draft that 2008 had so many backs that "1st round talent would still be there into rounds 2, and maybe even the top of 3." Look at all the rookie RB that showed how a newcomer can really contribute at that position: Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart, Kevin Smith, Tashard Choice, Steve Slaton et al.

This is the first in a series of short pieces on players the Lions should keep -- regardless of cap or coaches. The all-around type of football players that any coach would want/can use. [okay, so this will likely be a short series - and may even be summed up in a post or two].

I've noticed others (BVO on Mlive) doing a "keep/junk" roster look that "ignores the cap." And ignores any knowledge of the basic rudiments of football player evaluation!

Depending on how long it takes the Lions to hire a coach, I'll do this once or a before/after type scenario. I will give a link to NetRat's handy cap sheet, and then say who would you keep/cut taking into consideration the cap ramifications? (and who you would let go if you could) and who should be retained -- along with some explanations as to why. (the why is just as important/fun to go into as the who.)

So look for that in the near future. In the meantime, this roster is not entirely talentless and there are some bright spots, and even maybe some glow-in-the-dark-after-you-hold-them-to-the-light-for-a-while spots of talent on this roster. The best part is that with the holes where they are, it leaves open for the personnel that are acquired to go along with whatever direction the Lions decide to go in for what types of players/schemes they are going to use. [assuming they do, in fact have a plan and are going to follow it.]

Go Lions! Go Chargers!! [as it has been noted, the Chargers in fact need to win two more games to get to the Superbowl -- they need to beat Pittsburgh, followed by the winner of Tennessee/Baltimore. So it won't be easy, but we have reason to cheer!]

Goofus and Gallant

Apparently, the end of the season wasn't too soon to offload some of the Lions'...ummm...talent? As Brian Kelly's tenure in Detroit came to an end.

I thought that it was a good idea (if you look back in the blog history) to bring in Kelly as a mentor and backup...but I was not thrilled with the idea of him starting, and truly thought the Lions would be playing more man and doing more blitzing like they did in the preseason. That would have played to the strengths of Keith Smith and Leigh Bodden, while freeing up Alexander, Bullocks, or one of the LB to blitz in -- like hard hitting Ernie Sims maybe?

However, the Lions -- despite being "desperate" for a win really haven't done much of anything to bring in the pressure on the opposing QB consistently. They continued to count on guys like Darby and Cody to do what it was quite painfully obviously they were incapable of doing - creating pressure with just the front four.

Michael Lombardi had an interesting blurb on the Lions based on a Killer article on Mlive (whew - this is a lot of analysis of analysis of analysis). But he really hit the nail on the head in that the Detroit Lions 2008 is a picture of the perfect storm of what not to do with a football team, young players, head coach, front office, draft, free agency. You name it, they've screwed it up.

I am reminded of the old Highlights magazine for kids. When I was younger, they had them at the doctor's office, and we would read them. I always like the hidden pictures best, to be honest. But there was one section where they had two kids -- Goofus and Gallant.

Gallant was better than Beaver on "Leave it to Beaver" -- everything was right, good, sweet, kind, perfect -- he never spilled his juice, always cleaned up, was always polite and always did what he was told and what he was supposed to do. Gallant was very happy.

Goofus, on the other hand, was completely the opposite. He would not only trip and spill his plate of food and drink, but it would be on the brand new ultra white carpet! (Gallant, smiling away, would always find a way to clean it up though. Jerk.) Nothing he did was, or could be, right. Goofus always looked mad or sad.

I always felt for Goofus -- no matter how hard he tried, things just never worked out for him. Life conspired against him, while all the while lifting up Gallant. Now, luck aside - Goofus also made most of his problems worse by his own actions -- that is what took it from oops to WTF. For instance, after spilling food on said ultra-white rug, grinding it in with his foot and screaming about the injustice of their being a white rug there, and if they only had bought purple instead and screaming and pouting and moaning about how no could ever clean it up, while the mother is chiding him. There were other times, however, where he was just in the wrong spot at the wrong time, but was never given the benefit of the doubt. Bird falls out of a tree in front of him on the sidewalk, and everyone is up in arms because he "knocked the poor thing out of the tree." See, the thing about always doing stupid shit is that when you really don't do it, no one is going to believe you. (Like, say, pass interference)

The Lions have a reputation of being Goofus (for very good reason) and thus even when they do things right, in or out of game, it is seen as bad. That being said -- this season they have been totally Goofus and I would like to see them break out of the mentality. No one is as perfect as Gallant, but the Lions have been as close to Goofus as any entity can really get this season. The Lions have a lot of work to do, but just because things haven't worked out in the past doesn't mean a new GM, coach, etc. are doomed to failure "because it's the Lions".

If I went back to 1995 and told you the New England Patriots would be the dynasty of the 2000's, you would be laughing at me and correcting me that perfect regular season meant the kind the Lions are going for now, not the kind the Patriots had in 2007. That is because right up until their underdog win over St. Louis in the Superbowl, the Patriots had been a perpetual bottom-feeder in the league since they joined it. They didn't even have a decade like the 50's to look back to and say "we want to go back there". While they never managed to make Owen part of the team, they came darned close year after mediocre year.

Things can change in the NFL, or anywhere -- and they can change in the blink of an eye. Just because Detroit has been Goofus in the past, doesn't mean they always will be - in the future.

For now, however, I'm already designing my 0-16 commemorative shirt. Something like "I Survived: DetFan1979 vs Owen16"

As for questions about head coaching candidates, I'm not really sure. See, I'm good at pointing out problems and theoretical solutions -- but when it comes to specific players or personnel, lets just say I know what I don't know, and that is too much to list here.

I do know that they need to select a new GM, and that whoever that GM is and his approach to building the team will directly impact which coaches would be a good fit. I'll definitely look into it more as we enter the ifseason.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chess or Speed Chess?

A little while back, there was a very good article on MVN - LionsDen that talked about Rod as a great coach. Of course, there were some very defined qualifiers that pointed something out that was much more detailed, and less banal, than going "peter principle."

The "Peter Principle" is a fairly pessimistic theory which indicates that people rise to the level of their own incompetence. Now, I'm not that pessimistic. I look at the Peter Principle and point out this one fact: In most cases, you don't know what you can do until you try. Would Rod Marinelli be able to make the transition from position coach to head coach? There looked to be potential, but there was no way to tell until you gave him a shot.

The skill sets of an NFL assistant coach and those of an NFL head coach are very similar - enough so that one often leads to the other, but success at one does not preclude failure at the other. The biggest difference is that assistant coaches are all about practice -- whereas the head coach is about coordination, overall goal/focus, and in-game adjustments.

Rod is a practice coach. Pure and simple. He motivates "his guys" to practice hard, and on a smaller scale, to play hard. Joe Barry is very similar. But, on game day is where the Lions on the field have shown the difference between practice and games. Especially the coaching staff.

As the season has worn on, the Lions are doing well to start out -- the pre-planning is excellent, and they have tuned into what the other team is going to start out with. However, as soon as the other team starts to make even minor adjustments, the Lions coaching staff as a whole is unable to come up with changes to make in game. It's not that they don't want to make changes, they just don't know which changes to make. They don't know which plays to call.

After watching film, with 20/20 hindsight, they realize what they should have done and try to adjust accordingly -- for the next game. Unfortunately, opposing teams see the same thing and can often predict the adjustments the Lions will make (since they are perpetually a week behind) and plan for them.

I am immediately reminded of John Ritter's character in the movie (or play) "Noises Off" [If you have not seen it, it has Michael Cain, John Ritter, and Christopher Reeves among others and is a hilarious film]. In the movie, he is a very good actor -- but when not following a script he is totally incapable of finishing a sentence. For instance, at one point he needs to say "open the door, the handle has fallen off on this side" -- but, he says "Just open the... turn the thingy.... the thing has come off of the ...just, you know.... you know the thing you need to you know...." etc.

This is was all I could see as the 4th quarter was progressing and I was listening to the game on the radio. John Ritter bumbling around unable to figure out how to say what he wanted to say because he didn't have a script. Knowing what you want to do, executing a play, and knowing which play to call are all entirely different things. Sure - you want to pick up 4th and 1. But a draw play into the ought-to-be-suspended Williams Wall? ?????? With Daunte "I've already missed 2 QB sneaks already" Culpepper? There are a lot of ways to pick up a yard without doing a run up the middle when you have no power to your running game. (see: Panthers-Bucs on MNF last night for examples of both alternatives, and true power running)

This brings me to my next point, and the title of this article: Chess Vs Speed Chess.

In the movie "Independence Day", at the beginning of the film, Jeff Goldblum's character is talking with his father as they play chess - a timed match. In timed chess, you have a set amount of time to make your move and as soon as you complete it, hit the timer starting the next person's turn. "I can beat anyone" he says "as long as they are on the clock. Lots of people think they are good, but put them on the clock and all bets are off. They can't handle it." At this point, Jeff Goldblum says "checkmate" and essentially shows he is better on the clock.

Rod Marinelli may be a master of chess. He can, I am sure, break down film and see some weaknesses and may even be able to set up a plan of attack. In chess, there are a limited number of moves for the first turn. Each turn, as you factor in the opponents moves and possible moves, along with your possible moves and each permutation the numbers are too much for even the best minds to track. However, with unlimited time to make each move one can study, predict, and look over their choices before making a move. In practice and planning, there is plenty of time to discuss why to either make or not make a certain call in a certain situation.

But what is nearly impossible to plan for is how each player is playing, how the other team is reacting...momentum, confidence - the human elements. There is also the factor of needing to dial in a play NOW. There is no time for discussion and debate -- teams don't have enough time-outs. Rod can plot, but not call. Coletto can put together a decent simple plan, but is not good at knowing what to call when he has to do it NOW.

Just like in speed chess -- the grand master doesn't have hours to contemplate the scenarios and possibilities stemming from his move. He has to make one NOW. It involves going with his gut and knowledge of both the game, and his opponent.

On the football field, add in knowledge of your own players, and what they can do at that time. What is the message your play call is sending to your players?

There is a psychological as well as technical aspect. The Lions coaching staff may talk a good game when there is no pressure, but when the timer is on...they fold.

Football can be called a chess match, but only if you are talking about speed chess. Because the pressure is on and moves are immediate - there is time for contemplation and planning before -- but not during. And after, as the soon to be 0-16 Lions have demonstrated, is much too late.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Internet Outage

To those in non-blacked out areas, if you could help with your thoughts from watching the game.

Apologies on teh lack of posts- we've been having internet connection trouble at home here, and I think it is finally fixed but I'm not sure. Hard to post when it cuts out every few minutes!!

I felt kinda like the Lions D - blink for a second and Chris Johnson just scored another TD.

The Williams Law-Breakers will be in for the game today, though again why you want your best team on the field versus the Lions instead of the playoffs, I'll never know. Best of luck Leos!!!

Asuming internet holds out, regluarly scheduled blogging will resume this evening.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Put your Williams In, Put your Williams Out...

Well, some news heading into the game weekend. First, the NFL announced that the Williams Wall interior run-stopping base of the Vikings' defense was suspended for 4 games due to using a banned substance. Then, a judge says they are in... and the NFL is saying they will make sure they are out.

Minnesota - Zyigi Wilf claimed to be a moral leader for the team when he took over. Do the right thing, even if it costs you a football game. Have them start serving their 4 games now. The likelihood of the suspension being overturned is as slim as that of the Lions winning by multiple TD's for the last 4 games. It's not happening. Hope your defense holds in there, and if you make the playoffs over GB and Chicago, both of whom have been stinking up the joint, then you will have both of them back so that you can try to avoid a first-round exit. Would you rather have them against Detroit, or the first round of the playoffs???

I can tell you which gamble I would take, knowing how the NFL rules on these things. If there was a chance it could be overturned, they would have held up the suspension until the additional appeal was heard. The first appeal already lost. They are one game up on Chicago, and this week at least, I'm thinking they still have a winnable game without the Williamses. How about against one of the top NFC seeds? Dallas in town as a WildCard with Marion Barber and Tashard Choice ready to gash you while Romo passes? Carolina with Deangelo Williams & J. Stewart? Or defend the Lions without them, and hope to win 2/3 of the final games and pray Chicago does the same?

Assuming the Willie-Twins are out for Sunday, this would make for two things:

1. I'd have a shot in my FFB playoffs as I have Kevin Smith starting in all of them, and the center of that line will be like butter without the usual living wall of flesh gobbing up the center of the field.

2. The Lions would have a legitimate shot at winning a game. They lost on that blown call earlier in the season against Minnesota or 0-16 wouldn't even be entering into the picture. If DanO was healthy and starting, I would increase the chances. It's still an outside shot, but a shot none the less.

So lets hope the NFL lawyers get their way, and the Williamses are out. Whether you're rooting for the win or 0-16, at least it will make it an interesting game.

Avril and Fluellen are supposed to be starting at the two DE spots, with IAF rotating in with Fluellen, and inside on passing downs. Lets hope they pull Cody and see what Cohen can do in there. Avril has done well, that's for sure. I still love that sack-fumble-run back last week.

I'm still working on looking at the 3-4 possibility. Some good thoughts on it, and I'm still pondering.

If anyone saw the piece by PFT on who the Lions are looking at, I'd ignore it. I have no faith the Lions will have narrowed their search down to that few names yet, the list doesn't seem to mesh somehow. It appears more like a list of people to hire to consult on the hiring of a GM - not to be GM themselves. I purposely didn't post it here as I don't think its a worthwhile read, but worth shooting down. (It included both Ron Wolf and Ernie Arcorsi who are retired, and not at all hinting of coming back to the game. Also, Charlie Casserly who built that powerhouse Texans team...I mean...yeah. That kind of list.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Historically Bad?

First of all, I hope all of you were able to get a little time to relax and enjoy family over the Thanksgiving Holiday. I am back into the groove and facing a question i have been avoiding for some time. (Don't worry chief - plenty of time to worry about Lewand, who to draft, etc. in the Ifseason. Which as Millersco pointed out, will be very interesting and exciting this year!)

No, that question is the dreaded mark of historical ineptitude upon which the Detroit Lions seem hell bent in achieving: 0-16. The Winless Season.

Quick, who won Superbowl 17? Who lost Superbowl 22? Who has the only winless season in the history of the NFL?

While I have no clue what the answers to the first two are (google them and expand your knowledge base), we all know the answer to the third: the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs -- who in their first year as an expansion team in the days before free agency went 0-14.

Since then, other teams have come close by the end of the season, but most blow it fairly early on. The past of almost historically inept teams is chronicled nicely by Sports Illustrated writer Joe Posnanski in a respectful, historical way.

Personally how do I feel? I am of mixed emotions, really. There is a part of me that doesn't want the Lions to be part of history like that. Sure, we know our beloved Leos can be horrendous at times, but the worst ever?

Another part of me (the larger of the two, when I'm being honest with myself) thinks that 0-16 is the perfect season at the perfect time. It underscores the futility of Matt Millen. He won't be forgetten in time, as other bad GM's have been -- he will be a large part of the history of the league. A part that will not soon be overlooked. The Raiders have had just as bad a stretch of losing seasons since losing the the Superbowl -- but will people remember why/when they were so horrendous (outside of their own fans?)?

With 0-16 The "Millen Man March" becomes historic foreshadowing, brought up any time the winless record is. And, lets face it, every time a team makes it to 0-8, 0-9... the talk starts. Are they bad enough? Is their front office going to be lumped in with Matt Millen???

The use of Millen as a substitute for swear words, and incompetence, or overtly stupid moves may spread beyond Detroit and into the general lexicon. How sweet would that be?

However, beyond the history and the grand scale is the basic tenets of fandom. For once, it really can't get any worse. Not a hopeful platitude, not wishful thinking. After 0-16 the reality will be it that there will literally be no place to go but up!

Yes, this means I'm warning you in advance that I'll be Mr. Point-Out-The-Bright-Side again this ifseason (while still paying homage to the other side of the If).

Finally, it will truly hasten an all-out housecleaning. How do you retain even the assistant GM after 0-16? The scouts? The coaches? The waterboys?

The heart of 0-16 is that the Lions have needed a full clean sweep for 20+ years. They are finally going to get it!!

So what am I thinking about? Just like I sit back and enjoy the games -- just as I marveled at the speed of Chris Johnson, the sack-fumble-almost TD by Avril, the Patriots' run at the other side of perfection last season (they made 0-16, which I think is being underplayed as an achievement) -- I will enjoy watching football. Win or lose, the Lions are my team. At least the rest of this season as I am watching them get trampled I can relax and revel in the fact that I am watching my team set a record that will likely never be matched, much less broken. At least not in my lifetime.

Go Lions!!!

Thoughts on Thanksgiving, the Lions as a 3-4 team, and others on the way this week. As for me, MNF is on.

Final Final thought: New Poll (see, I do listen Chief!) is up on your thoughts for 0-16 -- want it or not? Also, will they win a game - if so which one?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Be Thankful...

Whether it was spending time with family, friends, or alone. Take a moment out before the end of the day, and be thankful for what you have.

Well, my Turkey came out with nice crispy skin and juicy, tender skin. The Lions got Salmonella Surprise. Well, not really a surprise - but sickening none the less.

Just a very few thoughts that hit me between downing eggnog, mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, and Titans rushing TD's:

1. Dwayne White is an average end. Cory Smith was doing "an admirable job trying to fill in for Dwayne White." The meaning of this is that he wasn't playing as well as White, which makes him a below average end. Cliff Avril, however, was not. He looked great out there, and if White is still out after the bye, I can see no reason that he shouldn't be starting (which is why he will be on the bench) His hit on Collins, sack-fumble-return to the 2 was the best Lions play of the game.

2. I feel sorry for anyone facing someone in Fantasy Football this week whose opponent had any of these three players: Chris Johns, Lendale White, Titans D/ST

3. The Lions were still making the same mistake on the first two TD runs on defense that they made against Carolina -- the LB and Dline all bit on a run right and the offense ran a designed cutback instead through a wide open hole where it was 15 yards to the next Lions defender. Change the opposing jersey colors, and it you would mistake for the exact same play. Thus, not only are the Lions not adjusting in game, they are not adjusting game to game.

4. Kevin Smith would have gained more yards attempting to run straight into a brick wall without his helmet on as to keep running straight up the middle at Albert Haynesworth. What, exactly, was the plan there??

5. If Chris Johnson had been given 25 carries, would he have broken Adrian Peterson's single game rushing record by 20 yards, or 50 yards? With 30 carries I think he could have topped 300 all by his lonesome. Not just talent -- it was the holes I could drive my minivan through on the defensive front

6. I taped the game, but really can't think why I will re-watch it anytime soon

7. Are they ever going to activate Landon Cohen, and could he possibly be worse than Chuck Darby or Shaun Cody at this point?

Finally, some lighthearted humor. I found a couple of recruits for the Lions next year. Note how the far..umm...player drags both feet to keep them in-bounds on the green field. Mrs. DetFan1979 and I, along with the kids, laughed endlessly at this little promo Yahoo! had over their logo this Thanksgiving of two Turkeys playing football. My favorite parts are when the Jason Hanson Turkey goes flying, and the TD dance. There are 4 different little skits. Scroll your mouse over it to get the next one - you can maximize it in your browser window for full effect.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Coming Soon! Why the Lions should make the move to a 3-4 defense next season

Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey Recipe?

If the Lions were cooking the Thanksgiving Turkey, they are following Rod's recipe; but they just aren't sure whether it will under cook, overcook, or is even for Turkey, not Rabbit Stew. Yet, week after week they toss it out on the field just to watch in morbid fascination to see what is going to happen.

It's like throwing your Turkey in the Oven, randomly setting the temperature, waiting til you are hungry, pulling it out and viola! Salmonella Sauce or Turkey Jerky -- you don't know what you're going to get because you don't know what you're doing. Sure, you had a plan -- put the Turkey into the oven and cook it til it's done. But unless you know what temperature to cook it at, for approximately how long, how to prepare it properly, and how to tell it is indeed done -- then your plan is too vague.

Rod and his staff have the same problem with this team. They know what turkey should taste like. They know they want a Turkey that is cooked, yet juicy and tender. They know what real football teams look like. They know they want a tough team that grinds out the clock and beats up the other guy on defense. But just like my clueless cooking lesson above, they don't really know how to get there.

I'll be enjoying well-cooked Turkey this Thanksgiving. As for football, well... not even the Lions know what they are going to get. So I guess just sit back and watch the show!

Oh Danny Boy, Where are you?

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Carolina and Tampa Bay are wins if Dan Orlovsky were still under center and healthy?

It was another brutal week of QB play in Detroit. Culpepper was back to the vintage Culpepper we've come to know. No, not MVP Culpepper - I mean the inaccurate, throws at his WR's feet, makes dumb throws to the other team, and has trouble holding onto the football Daunte of Miami and Oakland days. I'm sure he looks good in practice against the Detroit defense -- who wouldn't? But seriously, was he really playing better than DanO did? Answer: No. Orlovsky was bringing more spark a fight to both the offense and defense -- and he was getting better week to week. The improvement was there.

As for Drew Stanton? Let's just say that concerns for his ability to stay healthy are not going away any time soon. For the sake of next year's draft -- and the future of the Lions -- I hope DanO gets healthy, finishes the year well, and gets a contract extension/offer from Detroit.

He will get paid in free agency -- even if it is as a solid veteran backup, or as a stop-gap while a franchise guy is waiting in the wings. Even my boss the Bears fan said he wouldn't mind seeing the Bears sign DanO this ifseason -- let him compete with Orton, and no matter who wins the signing would solidify their team.

I've said this once already, so I won't beat home the point too much more (at least for now). Detroit needs to keep DanO for a few years -- 3-4 year contract. He is good with upside -- good enough and young enough to allow the team to fill other needs first (such as the Oline, and the entire defense, minus about 3 or 4 guys). With so many holes to fill, the Lions can't afford to be gambling on an early round QB. It is like playing Russian Roulette, and putting 4 bullets in the 6 shooter. That is the success rate of 1st/2nd round QB's in the draft.

Thanksgiving should sell out, so I will be able to watch it. Unfortunately, coming off their first loss of the season the 10-1 Titans are going to be pissed and looking for blood. They just got embarrassed by the Jets -- do you really think any player there even wants to entertain the notion of following that up by losing to Detroit? Or even allowing Detroit in the game at all? I mean, its 0-11 DETROIT!

Both the offense and defense showed up like I hoped -- for one quarter. Then it was back to the inconsistency. If they could put together four quarters in a row like the first one, they would be a playoff contender. Hands down. Really that consistency and ability to adjust throughout the game is what separates the good teams from the bad in this league. The Lions are not a good team. They may get a lucky strike here or there, but on the whole they are vanilla, predictable, and lackluster. Where is the urgency? Where is the fight? You see it with some individual guys...but not in the team as a whole.

Where are you Danny Boy? At least you can tell who is on your team... for the most part... comparably speaking, of course.

Thursday: In an attempt to top starting a QB with 4 days of practice, they make a move to Drew Henson with none with the first team after Culpepper suffers an "undisclosed soreness in his surgically repaired knee" after realizing the Titans D is going to massacre whatever credibility he had left to national viewers. "Because of what he did in college, and in know, he's hung around a long time and he deserves this chance." says Marinelli at halftime of Henson. "And we really have no one else. Can anyone else throw the ball who even remotely knows this collection of crap we call an offense? Anyone? Anyone? (sit down Rodney! You're retired - and what are you doing down by the field anyways?? In pads and uniform no less??)"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cats or Pirates?

The game is blacked out, so I will once again only have highlights/lowlights, descriptions etc to go from this week. This is especially disappointing as I think the Lions may get their first win this week. The Lions always play the Bucs really hard. Earnest Graham, their #1 back just went on IR (to the chagrin of legions of FFB Owners, considering the matchup.)

Last season, the Lions were able to beat the Bucs in Tampa. Can they beat them again this year? It really depends, once again, on two things:

Which Offense shows up? The one that paved the way for 100+ yards for Kevin Smith, or the one that allows a half dozen sacks and entire halves without scoring?

Which Defense shows up? The one that held Adrian Peterson in check, or the one that let two different backs on the same team surpass 120 yards each??

If both sides of the team show up, AND play the whole game -- then I think that the Lions have a shot. They have been perilously close a few times. Unfortunately, to get out of the first slot in the draft the Lions are going to need to win at least two, and have Cincy lose out. That is because Cincy, with its 1-8-1 record would pick after Lions squad with one win.

Great thoughts and comments on the GM discussion -- I'm sure as the season winds down and the Ifseason kicks in, that and much else will be debated here!

Go Lions!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

GM Talk

I was a little tired of looking back over how tape.

So I decided to do a little "WWFD" -- double for What Will Ford Do? This, of course, is usually followed by a whole lot of "WTMDFDN" -- which of course stands for What The Millen Did Ford Do Now???

Don Banks put together a very compelling case for why the Lions need new blood -- and also for why the Patriots' Scott Pioli would be a good choice. Earlier in the year, my biggest criticism was that Brady at QB can cover up a lot of other flaws in team building. Of course, Matt Cassel has helped prove the Patriots are a top echelon team -- with or without Brady. Sure, Brady was better but how well Cassel is doing is directly proportional to the overall strength and performance of the team.

I have to say, I've given it some thought, and I agree that Pioli would make an excellent GM, and as the Falcons' Dimitriof is proving, he knows how to train and pick his personnel as well --- which is equally, or in some cases more, important than personal talent. Pioli is an avid and successful draft day trader, and has had a keen eye in signing veteran FA --- even before the SB runs made New England a choice spot. Remember when he started, New England was as much a laughing stock of the League as the Lions. He helped build them and stock them with talent.

This fact is also true: Of all the franchises in the NFL none is more attractive this ifseason than the Detroit Lions for a man of vision and drive, and the determination to go into the Hall of Fame. I'm as serious as the chances of the Lions going 0-16. If Pioli can go from helping build the 3 time SB Champion, with even more trips to the big dance, 16-0 regular season team from a lower echelon club -- imagine the cementing of his status as the prime architect of returning the Lions to their 1950's status of the dominating team in the league?? Especially starting at the end of a long trail of ineptitude leading to a winless season?!? (may 1-15, but you see my point...)

With nowhere to go but up, how far he takes them would be the measure of the man. If he truly is as passionate as they say. If he truly demands, not strives for, greatness and ultimate team of talented guys willing to do whatever it takes to win -- and with what Ford will offer to pay him, give him in terms of power, the facilities he will have to work with, the starving fan base looking for hope -- and the knowledge he'll have more than enough time to see it through (considering he will know he will do better than Millen -- and he lasted 8 years....)

How does he not take it? How does he not rob coaching and scouting departments of key guys? There are any number of top tier coaches or candidates who would jump at the chance to come in and work with Pioli because of the high degree of respect he garners league-wide. He would instantly legitimize the Detroit Lions once again as a competitive franchise as no other candidate could.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No Goats

I realize that maybe it sounded like I was making a goat of Daunte for last week's loss. That really wasn't the whole point I was trying to make. It was really that he is unprepared to be starting, and the Lions passed up an opportunity to let Stanton get some starting time while Dan O was injured and Daunte was learning, and yet still be able to pull him back into a backup role with the minimum of fuss after Dan O is better, or Daunte was up to speed.

Also, the overall idea yesterday was that the Veterans are making mistakes versus stepping up to help in crunch time, which is in my opinion what has sunk this team in its close losses more than almost any other factor.

okay - so what did I like?

I liked the look of the Oline, overall, as far as the running game was concerned. The holes weren't gaping like the ones Carolina was making, but they were there and K. Smith made the most of them, and his opportunity to get the bulk of the load.

Actually, I really didn't see McCollum as an upgrade to Raiola at center. There seemed to be mroe confusion on passing downs, and he wasn't pulling quite as well as Dom does, and while he did decent in run blocking, I think Dom was better out in space on what could be longer runs. Still, it was nice to have a competent backup center. I really think what made McCollum look better, along with the rest of the line, is that the Lions got arguably the best game out of the starting pair of G it has gotten all season.

I disagree that the gameplan was good -- initially, it seemed to be working. But as usual, when it came to in-game adjustments the Lions panicked, misadjusted, and were inconsistent. Had they stuck to the origninal game plan, I fully believe we'd be talking about their first win. Teh gameplan? Keep running Smith!! Had they continued that into the 4th quarter, especially around the time of that fateful interception, then Carolina would have had to bring up an extra guy, leaving CJ or Mac open (or CJ single-covered, which is often the same thing).

Other good things were that the Defense did a decent job stopping the Panthers -- especially early. However, the LB were beyond awful. Nece and Lenon were always sliding so far to the SS run that when the Panthers did a designed cutback to the weakside, the RB was into the secondary as the LB hadn't filled the right fits.

And tackling!!! Note to Travis Fisher: Tackling is where you hit someone and wrap them up with your arms and body, bringing them to the ground. NOT bumping into them and then wondering why they didn't just stop!

Bullocks and Pearson had their work cut-out for them with the gaping holes the RB ahd to wrok with coming into teh secondary, but I saw at least 3 great open-field tackles by Pearson, and 2 or 3 by Bullocks. Many will look at the one he missed leading to the TD (Pearson), but had him and Bullocks not been hitting and tackling beyond well ind the secondary, things would have been MUCH worse. I'm talking 2 200-yard rushers worse.

Coverage wasn't too bad in the passing game, although I'm going to finally go with ChiefGer and say I don't want to see Fisher anywhere on the field unless absolutely necessary -- especially after Keith Smith is healthy.

I have some more thoughts, that I will try to put into coherent bunches/groupings for tomorrow.

Go Lions!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ruh Roh Raunte...No Scooby Snack for You!

Yup. I'm sure that's exactly what Daunte Culpepper was thinking as he threw a low ball into triple coverage instead of out of bounds!!

How is that something Jon Kitna wouldn't do in "clutch"? How is that something not worse than any number of Rookie mistakes Stanton would invariably make? Would a healthy Dan O make that throw?

What I'm asking is, when Detroit was down by to run almost at will with Kevin Smith gaining 4.4 yards per pop...and Detroit had the ball back with enough time to grind out an ugly drive into Panthers territory for the chip-shot, game winning field goal...why on God's Honolulu-Blue and Silver Earth was Daunte Culpepper throwing the ball short, much less INTO TRIPLE COVERAGE????!?!?

I watched the game a second time instead of blogging last night. There are many other points I will get into this week. I really wanted to observe, as a 3 game blackout...I mean, home stand, is coming up.

Forget the "punt or kick", forget the other "minor" points. Even with Carolina rushing as well as they were, the Dline made a stand, got the offense the ball back with just the right amount of time left to drive down the field and kick the FG while taking enough time off the clock that Carolina would have been hard pressed to get down into FG range, much less the end zone.

Momentum was on Detroit's side. The offense had gone down and scored. They missed the typing 2pt conversion, but it didn't matter -- Carolina, 3 and out. Plenty of clock. The defense was pumped on that series. They knew the Offense could take it down and punch it in. They knew Carolina's D was getting tired. They were energized. You could see it. They weren't going to let the critics be right!

First play, the offense hands the ball chip-shot FG range. Hell of a lot harder to get into the endzone than the Hanson-zone. Especially after a one-play, essentially scoring drive for the other team. The Defense is shocked back to earth, TD. Two score game. Game Over. Kicking away after the 2pt try showed confidence in the D. They way they played showed confidence in the O.

And Daunte let them down. The coaches let them down, with a very bad play call. But in the end, players must make plays and at a key point where the team was poised to win, Daunte tried to be the "hero threading the needle" -- get back the glory. And he Favred away the game.

Even 9 out 10 rookies would throw that one high and out of bounds. Out of the pocket, out of time, no one open. Play it safe, 3 downs to go - get rid of the ball, get back to the line, get it done.

Anyone daring call themselves a veteran QB should have. But didn't. Isn't that really the heart of 0-10? What may be at the heart of 0-16? Players not making plays, especially when it matters most. Or, worse still, making a big play - for the other team.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cat Fight!

Lions vs Panthers. It's an away game, so your faithful narrator will be able to view it. Will I want to see the carnage, you ask?

Let me logic this: They got the Jags, who had just lost to two teams they should have handily beat. Their loss the week prior was to winless Cincy. They were only the 6th team EVER to play two teams back-to-back with 6 or more losses, and didn't want the distinction of going into the history books as the team that choked to said winless teams TWO WEEKS IN A ROW. They wanted it more by far than the Lions, and it showed.

This week, Carolina is coming off their arguably worst game of the season -- which they still managed to win. 4 picks and they still won. Not because they played well enough to win it, but because even though they were trying their darnedest to give the game to Oakland, the Raiders wouldn't take and said "No Thanks" and gave it back in a box wrapped in shiny silver and black paper with a shiny silver bow all nice and cozy.

The real question is, will that horrid play motivate them to come out and stomp Detroit to prove they can beat up on the bad teams -- OR -- will that horrid play make them complacent and overconfident that if they could beat Oakland while having seemingly everything go wrong, there is no way they can possibly lose to the Lions.

I'm hoping it's the second, but fearing it will be the first. We'll know in a little less than 12 hours from now.

Go Lions!! Go Washington!! (Dallas' Opponent this week)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Second(ary) Class

How the mighty have fallen. At least what appeared on paper to be strongest area of the team behind WR has literally fallen apart.

Flash-Back to the beginning of Free Agency. The Lions had ONE CB and a 2 safeties under contract. They retooled the defensive backfield, and when they got done it looked really good. The question then was "Will Bullocks be able to come back from his injury?" Bodden, a strong cover corner, came over via the Rogers trade, the team signed veteran Brian Kelly to provide a veteran presence. Travis Fisher was back -- but supposedly as the nickel-back, not a starter. My favorite signing was the re-signing of Kieth Smith. Although highly derided at the time I said then that I felt he had really improved last season, and was on the verge of becoming a very strong cover corner.

Dwight Smith was brought in as a system veteran, theoretically to start til Bullocks was fully back and to rotate in. Pearson was signed to improve the shoddy special teams play, and could step in as a versatile backup at S and Nickel-Back if needed. I was very excited to see an Alexander/Bullocks/Smith/Bodden Backfield.

While I am wrong just as often as I am right, I hit it right on with Smith. As for the rest of the backfield, what happened??

Where are we now??

Smith was named a starter, along with Kelly as Rod went all-out Tampa guys start first. This is something I was against, and still think was not good. The Tampa vets were just over the hill enough that, to me, it appeared they were about on par with the rooks/younger guys. My philosophy? Rotate the younger guys in liberally early, and move to them later in the season as they start to realize that upside that would propel them past the old vets. Didn't happen.

For whatever reason, Rod went all Larry Brown (basketball coach who refused to play anyone not a 3-4 year vet minimum, essentially) and refused to play or even discuss playing his young guys. They got no first team reps, which hurt their development. (Though not as bad as what they did to the Dline, the backfield situation was still absurd.) Bodden not starting til week 2, although he had played better than Fisher? Smith was clearly doing a much better job of covering than Kelly, who had lost a few more steps than anticipated. Still no changes.

I feel the problems in the secondary, even when Smith and Alexander were in and healthy, was chemistry. Earn your starting spot, unless you are Kelly who had it handed to him as a newcomer despite the fact that Keith Smith would technically, by Marinelli's justification of Fisher starting, the starter. Whatever. The secondary, with all the head games being played by the coaches, never got a chance to gell into a unit --- a problem that has been plaguing the rest of the team as well. Marinelli wanted them to wrok and earn -- they go the point, but they also needed a LOT of practice as a unit to get all the new pieces working together. As it is, the way the Lions are shuffling personnel weekly it is like they are heading into the 14th pre-season game.

So at this point? Alexander's prognosis sounds promising, and I think that he and Bullocks -- who is not only back, but keeps getting better and better -- will be a great Safety tandem for the Lions for quite some time. Pearson has out-played expectations by far coming in with D. Smith (who has disappointed even my low expectations for him) and Alexander out injured. The Lions are solid next year with their Pearson-Bullocks-Alexander trio signed. It will be one of those rare parts of the team that a new regime will only need to take minor fixes to in the first year or two.

As for CB, that situation is a bit muddier. Kelly will almost certainly be gone with a new regime, and has already (Finally) lost his starting spot to K. Smith. Even though Smith will be slowed by his groin injury for a couple of weeks, he is still the best cover guy on the team. Bodden has been much maligned, but he has done best in the man-coverage situations. Not only that, but once K. Smith replaced Kelly on the other side, teams began targeting Bodden more -- meaning they perceived him as the weaker CB. Still, even his $8 mil roster bonus to trigger his 4 year contract extension (which has very reasonable cap numbers after that) is what the Lions would pay -- or possibly even more -- to pretty much replace him with someone who may not even be as talented. There is a premium on good CB's, and Bodden still qualifies.

Don't believe me? Look at what Nate Clements, DeAngelo Hall, and Dre Bly have been paid in recent years. Bodden would be that kind of name on the market. The Lions might just as well lock him up. Just like with the WR, I think that Bodden will shine much better under a coaching staff that has two things:

1. Direction
2. Schemes to the strength of their players

So heading into next year, assuming they keep Bodden, K. Smith is on a 2 year deal so he is under contract as well they need to drop at least Kelly, maybe Fisher although he is adequate when not used as a starter. This means a top-level CB is still a target for the draft in 2009. With Smith on a 1 yr deal at that point, and Bodden for an additional 4 they will need to be sure to get one in 2009 so that the rook can learn, rotate into some game situations and get PT and experience before taking on a starting role.

At safety, a late round pick or moderate FA signing is all they will really need to fill out that position if Alexander is recovering on schedule.

There are still 7 games to go, so I'm sure things could change just as much between now and the end of the season as they did between the end of the preseason and now.

One more thought on the secondary is that the inability of the Dline to get any kind of consistent pressure has once again often made them look worse than they are.