Saturday, March 8, 2008

I was wrong about Kelly

I'll admit I was wrong -- Cap wise, after getting Darby I didn't think that the Lions would be able to beat out the Giants for Kelly. I underestimated three things, I think:

1. Rod Marinelli's influence over now former Tampa D players. The Bucs wanted to re-sign White last year to move into a full time role replacing Simeon Rice. Instead, he came to Det for about the same money Tampa was offering because he wanted to play under Marinelli again. The interest other ex-Bucs, or current Bucs, have shown in coming to Detroit just underlines how much they respect Rod Marinelli. Remember, besides being the Dline coach, he was also an Assistant Head Coach - Defense (or something close to that - I didn't look it up.)

2. The influence of former Tampa coaches Marinelli brought with him. Smith cited Lake, Barry and Marinelli as big reasons he signed here - essentially stating that with those guys in charge, especially Marinelli - you knew you were coming into a program run right and headed in the right direction. Considering Millen's reputation, that says a lot about the respect Marinelli has earned.

3. Kelly's desire to stay in the system that he knows, and prolong his playing days. Detroit has young players in Stanley Wilson, Keith Smith, and now Leigh Bodden whom they think are (Bodden) or will develop into (Smith, Wilson) starting corners for the Lions. Kelly will start and teach as the young guys rotate in more and more, and still be able to have spot as a veteran backup for a coupel of years after they take over starting full time. Already knowing the system means no new learning curve at the later stages of his career.

I've read a lot of columns about how the Lions have "fumbled" FA (VanOchten, Parker, Sharp, The Entire Det News/Free Press). I however, do not see it that way. As I saw one poster on Mlive put it -- You can't blame Marinelli for 5 years of Millen's boneheaded moves.

What is obvious to me this off season is that Rod is pretty much getting it his way, and his guys. Period. No Martz influences, no Millen ooh-ooh-fast-like-choo-choo Flashy signings.

Rod has some good young players in the D backfield and on the Dline (Smith, IAF, Redding, Wilson, Bullocks, Alexander). What he didn't have (with the exception of the White-IAF combo on the ends) was any veterans who knew what the heck they were doing in the system to help drastically cut the learning curve for the younger guys; veteran mentor-ship was sorely lacking. Now, due to the cap -- both the cost of ditching players on the roster, and the cost of FA from the system, this is the first off season Rod was able to bring in a few system savvy vets to mentor his youngsters.

Bullocks and Alexander both have one season of starting under their belt. But does anyone think that Dwight Smith isn't going to have a thing or two to show them -- he will accelerate their development, and help keep them focused.

Darby and White will help Redding and IAF in a mixed line do the same thing.

Unfortunately, T2 MLB's don't grow on trees, so it will be trial and error there, but there's no help for it. Vilma didn't want to come to the Lions because he isn't interested in mentoring a youngster, or providing veteran leadership -- He didn't rework his deal after the trade. he wanted to start one year for a high-national profile team and get himself set up for a HUGE payday next FA period. Mark my words -- if he plays even halfway decent this year he will be looking at BIG BUCKS next season. The Lions would have had to trade a 2nd or 3rd to get him in that bidding war, and he didn't want to be here. Not worth it.

Their strategy to bring in veterans has led to a good mix of older and younger players on their roster right now;

In the secondary, I think there will be a fight between Kelly, Fisher, and Smith to start opposite Bodden. Wilson may be the odd man out in the CB battle. I see them carrying 5 S and 4 CB so someone is going to get cut. My guess is Wilson.

Despite what some have stated, I don't see them going for a CB early, if at all, this year. Bodden is only what - 26? They can do fine with Kelly-Fisher-Bodden-Smith and see how it works out -- and upgrade next year if the opportunity is right, or if Smith is not progressing, and to replace Fisher. The key is, the CB position is no longer a must fill with multiple picks hole. If they find a guy who beats out Fisher, Wilson, and/or Smith, there is only a marginal -- if any -- cap hit as no significant SB were announced, and there is little if any guaranteed money in the contracts. They may be signed, but looking at the situation there will be some heated off season battles to win the 3rd and 4th CB positions on the roster - especially if I am wrong and they do draft a CB early.

I was going to talk about a few other positions and FA acquisitions and re-signings (including False Start Foster) -- but I will save that for tomorrow and this coming week. The Lions are bound to run out of cap space soon (if not already) so conversations will move more and more into the draft.

I will point out that at this stage, I usually stick with areas of need, and possible positions to draft in certain rounds. Specific names are something I don't look at til later -- after reading up on them more, and getting an idea of what other teams are looking for to gauge who may realistically be available. Just how I approach it.

BTW - Great comments -- keep it up, even on older posts. I do respond to comments, so look for those as well. Thanks again for your readership.


Anonymous said...

it's nice to see something about the lions that is thougt out and makes sense. i agree with you completly, and look forward to reading more of your blogs.

Todd said...


I have been an MLiver for years now and I am a die-hard Lion fan with what seems to be a rare positive outlook. Hey, after all it's just a game for entertainment and I love every minute of it. It's amazing how bitter people are on Mlive, to me it's like then why do you follow them? I love the Lions and I'm always looking forward to the fun offseason and draft even if we go 3-11.

Anyways, I agree with what you have all been saying on here. The direction Marinelli is taking the team is great. I like the idea of adding these veterans to stick their nose in there for a year and mentor our younger players...we haven't had that. At safety, besides maybe some mentorship--if he had any to give I've never been big on him--Bullocks and Alexander started and really came into their own on their own for one year each and did a decent job. Adding Smith and pushing each other with only 2 of them starting should be great and no worries if one of them gets banged up.

D-back is now really exciting for me. I LOVE Bodden. I remembered him in pre-season last year and I'm a big fan of DB's and WR's so I followed him a little last year. He is a tough, real muscular DB that should be a huge help compared to our flea last year Bryant--nothing against him because he didn't lack effort but he's undersized to be a tackling Tampa 2 corner. Now that we have Kelly, I would assume him and Bodden will start unless someone pushes Kelly, but we have starters. Quite frankly I don't care who starts opposite Bodden I'm just thrilled we don't have to use one of the the first 3 rounds on DB. I don't feel like college really is a good place to look for a Tampa 2 DB, because they are still young underdeveloped and lanky, usually more cover type corners. I would have hated taking one with the 1st or 2nd round pick. This Pennsylvania Lion fan is for once satisfied for the time being with the secondary going into camp.

I'm going to stick with DF1979's approach and not go over every position especially with the first post so for now I'm just going to go with my biggest concern.

Our Linebackers scare me. Obviously everyone loves Sims and I do too. The kid has heart, I've watched every game and I've never seen him give up like some of the others when we are getting pasted. I wasn't a supporter of the Vilma thing and it scares me that Barry was saying they "threw everything but the kitchen sink" at him. Being from a medical background, that injury could mean he will never be the same player. Plus like you wrote he's in a contract year, so best case scenario he has a huge year and we'd lose him next year anyways when he gets a big payday somewhere. I hope his reasoning was trying to use him as a stop-gap since there really isn't another MLB out there that really had even a chance to be elite for us in the middle of our D. The draft is not going to fix this either from what I can see because it's such a complex position and apparently that'd be too much for a rookie. It would be pretty neat though, like Nobsnubber wrote in a comment on your last post, to get something like Rivers and Mayo or 2 new starters in round 1 and 2. Thought you used to be one of those negative posters Nob, but seems like you have had a good attitude recently I like it. But, WOW would we have some young POP in our LB core, we'd be making waves just because of those 3 being together alone. I'm sure that isn't a good, or even possible to have 2 rookies in the Tampa 2 and LB but would it really be worse then Sims, no one, Lenon? Who knows but exciting to think about those 3 young bucks in there with that improved secondary, and just leave that line do what they can.

Last note, big supporter of the Darby signing. He fills a need where Rogers was and from what I read on Seattle forums he was their heart and has a great motor.

Lastly, DF1979, I don't post on MLive because all the negativity annoys me. But, in one of your next posts in there about your Blog, mention to JJLions to come join us here. He shares a lot of the views of us here and is positive, well-read, and has some good input to share. I'd be nice to add him to these discussions.

dreamweaver said...

Great thought put into this on your part, I agree with you 100%. Marinellis ex-players love and respect him, and want to play for him, he wants them here to help teach the younger players how the Tampa 2 is played. Marinelli is looking to the future and long term success, not looking for a quick fix that won't work becouse there are too many needs and not enough room under the cap to fix the team this year.

Anonymous said...

agree - good thoughts detfan1979. really get tired of all the negative postings in the forum. I agree that Martz's influence on draft picks wasn't that great - believe he was the one that wanted Calhoun and Rod supported him. Also believe that Henderson wanted to resign Kalimba and Rod supported him. Probably some of the reasons why they are both gone, lack of talent judgement. Now Rod is calling the shots without obligations to other coaches. I really wanted Patrick Willis last year, a MLB like him only comes along once in a while. Hopefully CJ lives up to his potential - cause what Martz and Kitna wanted didn't happen last year. Good FA signings, like Rod said last year he wants competition in camp, need guys to practice with, so I think they are all good solid moves, and it gets rid of most of the remaining guys that weren't buying into his system.. Who do you see the Leo's going after in the first round this year? SilverLIONing

Anonymous said...

i like the kelly signing and darby it gonna be like having extra coaches right, but according to the roster we have what 10 dbs i really want to see who comes out with jobs and who on the practice squad great blog


Anonymous said...

Excellent post again Detfan1979,

Reading everyone’s opinions since FA started has been quite amusing. What will happen on draft day still is unclear but if we can resist thinking with our hearts and take our emotions out of it for a minute while looking at what the market presents some logical answers can be drawn (some I have mentioned already).
First the biggest problems: LB, Offensive Line, DE, and RB. Now stand back and look what can be fixed/patched before the draft. We know that FA will end soon and there really aren't many players out there to fill these key positions. Knowing this Spikes and Wilson (provided he is healthy) are looking more and more attractive as FA moves on. Questions to be addressed regarding LB: Can we get one of them and are they the type of character players that our coaching staff is looking for? Should we rely on the Draft to help fill these positions? Should we try to make some trades to improve in this area knowing our only real trading bait seems to be Roy and KJ?
Next there really aren't any Offensive and Defensive Linemen that look very appealing without trading our only commodity (Roy) which I'm not against if we can get reasonable compensation in draft choice/player (IMHO no less than a second rounder and quite possible player to boot). In my opinion Roy is a good receiver but very over rated and I believe that there are enough teams out there looking for a big first option receiver that something like this could actually happen.
Then there is the RB situation. This position could be addressed in FA and later in the draft. Shaun Alexander, Warrick Dunn, and Tatum Bell (probably too much ego to stay, heck the coaching staff may not even want to work with him either), I even think Denver may be letting Mike Bell go and he looked real good at times last year. Anyway there are a lot of options here which aren’t in addressing the other needs.
I get somewhat tired of summarizing how to build a team to everyone (of course this is my opinion), so I will make it very short; secure your two lines, obtain a great MLB who can do it all, then start improving the other areas. Like you DetFan1979 I have so much more to say, I’m glad to have a few more people who enjoy the sport as much as I do to debate and discuss these issues with. I’m at work so I’m out, enjoy your Sunday all.


Anonymous said...

Nice to find a discussion board were valid points are discussed. Tired of the same old crying. Agree completely with your opinion especialy on the MLB. Wanted someone elses opinion on Buster Davis. And before you think I'm dreaming,think of it this way. He's a 4th Rd Pick from last year,big school, High energy guy who made alot of tackles in college. Having learned a year under Marinelli wouldn't that atleast put him on the same value level(atleast short term) as a 2nd-3rd rd guy from this class that has no experience in this system?

Todd said...

I am sure I am dreaming too but DetFan1979, or anyone else do you guys know anything about Buster Davis? I know everyone last year was all about him, and I'm sure he was cut before we got him for good reason, he's undersized and I've read that he isn't the brightest. But I have heard Sims speak several times and he isn't the brightest guy, and is pretty undersized also. This seems to work in the Tampa 2 though if they are speedy, hard-hitters. Just wondering if you guys ever heard anything about him and his development last year on the practice squad. Kowalaski always said there were no new developments whenever he was asked about him.