Monday, March 31, 2008

Smokeless Smokescreen

Interesting articles on the Freep (for once) and Scouting news. The links to both are below, and reading them will save me a lot of typing.

My take: Lets see, Marinelli indicated that the Lions need OT, RB, Dline, and LB -- and scouting news is aghast that he said this out loud. I'm waiting for the shock. Shock? Shock? Shock? Shock? Beuller?

In regards to the positions, which GM's outside of Al Davis (who thinks it's the early 90's and is drooling at the prospect of Barry Sanders maybe falling to him at #4...) DON'T know that's what the Lions' needs are. The BS that coaches spew out this time of year grates on my nerves as a fan.

As for the names of the prospects who have been brought in, seriously -- NFL teams routinely have members of the scouting departments talking with prospects to find out where they have been, know from trying to schedule them, and also check flights and other information to figure out who has gone where. And with local media on hand at the complex all day it takes Patriots Videotaping personnel to be sneaky enough to get a guy in for a private workout/interview and gone again with no one finding out. We may not always read about it, but they, for the most part, know. Many teams specifically don't bring in players to try to convince other teams they are not interested in them.

Before I get further on my take on this, and some analysis, a few things that stood out to me:

1. Marinelli is, as we expected, calling most of the shots for this draft. Millen will be on hand to use his mystical mustache and secure trades up to get men Marinelli wants just before other teams are set to pick them and laugh in evil glee.

2. Marinelli has matured as a coach and in his confidence to begin paying more attention to his gut, which seems to have hit right on when he's followed it, instead of draft value charts and Mel Kiper's hair. (Good buds with the 'Stash)

3. He has turned straightforward into the new smokescreen. (see below)

I disagree when profootballtalk says that he should say nothing at all. In this case, by stating all of his needs, and who he is looking at outright, other teams have MORE reason to be worried that Lions will take "their guy" when they are on the clock. Walk with me here.

At pick 15 Marinelli, who is known as a straight shooter, has essentially said:

We are going to take either a DE, RB, LB, or OT with our first pick. But if we don't like the guys at those positions on the board, I'll take whoever I darn well think is the best pick for that spot no matter what anyone else thinks because I'm Rod Marinelli and when my bad hip says take a guy, by golly, I'm gonna take him -- even if you thought he'd be there at 22 Dallas...or 21 Washington...

Matt Millen preys on fear and ignorance...but how about fear and knowledge. It isn't just Marinelli implying they will take who they please. His "superior" is Matt Millen of 4 top-ten receivers fame...

Other teams now know that the Lions can and will pick anyone of value left on the board at 15 - so when Millen calls to trade down with a team, you can bet they will believe he's willing to take Harvey, or Cherilous, or Mendenhall if he drops, or even Stewart -- and if you want him, you better come get him. He managed to bully Cleveland into moving up for Kellen Winslow when he already knew they were going to take Roy Williams! Lions didn't even throw to the TE in their offense. If the Lions choose to attempt a move down, something tells me there will be a beneficial taker. (for the Lions)

Personally, looking at the list of those in for visits, they all seem to be good prospects, and realistic options for the lions. Especially in rounds 2-3. I also think that, based on who they are focusing on, their real smokescreen is that they do not want to use the 15th pick -- they want to trade to the end of the round, and pick up an additional 2nd rounder.

Please keep in mind that aside from the articles, this is merely my interpretation of what is going on, and what the Lions are thinking based on what we've seen and heard. What do you fellows think?

I can't help but be excited every time I write and analyze the team right now, all things being equal, because of the direction I see them headed in. I agree with the poster who said they are heading toward the "beautiful ending."

Part of a post really got me thinking:

As a bit of an aside, I still hope that they bring back KJ and give him one more chance. I'm not a Bell fan, but he has proven that he can perform with this style of blocking scheme. I believe KJ has the tools and dedication to do a very good job splitting carries with Bell. Lets pick up a DT or an OT in the first, a MLB in the second, and then DT or OT in third. -- Lopper

I need a night or two to sleep on it, but I think I'll do my next "what if?" post soon.

BTW - thanks for posting Lopper -- it is the thoughts of you readers of my Blog that spur new ideas for me, and what makes this Blog so much fun to do (your ideas, and knowing others are reading, critiquing, and enjoying what I write). It is also great to hear/see differing viewpoints from my own - the closed mind is the empty mind; the open mind is always rich with thought.


Anonymous said...

Matt Millen believes Lions have options for first-round pick

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Lions certainly have needs heading into the NFL draft April 26-27. Defensive end. Linebacker. Offensive tackle. Running back.

But president Matt Millen doesn’t think any need is so much greater than the others that it forces the Lions’ hand.

“I think what we’ve done is, we haven’t painted ourselves into a hole draft-wise,” Millen said Monday at the NFL owners’ meetings. “We should have some options. …

“We’re not going into the draft saying we have to get any one position. We don’t have to. I think we’re comfortable not having to do that.”

The Lions have the 15th overall pick. Millen thinks they can select the best player available who fits a need and embodies the football character coach Rod Marinelli wants. Then they can apply the same principle to the following picks.

“And then coach them up,” Millen said.

In the end, Millen thinks that’s the most important thing. He said regardless of whom the Lions draft or put on the field, the main piece is Marinelli.

“I think he’ll work you to death; he wants a team that way,” Millen said. “He’ll study you to death; he wants a team that studies.

“Is he the best coach in the National Football League? I don’t know how you measure that. But if he’s not, he’s always working to that, and he wants the team to do the same thing.

“All we’re asking to be is a reflection of who he is and what he espouses, and I think that’s enough to win. I really believe that. I think if we have players who play like Rod coaches, we’re going to be successful.”

A few weeks ago, the Lions did have a need that superseded all others — cornerback. But they have overhauled their secondary since and no longer see it as a priority.

They released cornerback Fernando Bryant and safety Kenoy Kennedy, re-signed cornerbacks Travis Fisher and Keith Smith, and acquired cornerbacks Leigh Bodden and Brian Kelly and safeties Dwight Smith and Kalvin Pearson. They also expect to add safety Daniel Bullocks, who missed last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“I said this a bunch,” Millen said. “I wanted to be able to get our secondary straightened out.”

The Lions wanted to upgrade middle linebacker by acquiring a veteran. They failed to land Jonathan Vilma in a trade and didn’t sign free agent Dan Morgan. They didn’t re-sign Boss Bailey, whom they once tried in the middle, and Teddy Lehman.

But free agent Al Wilson remains an option. If all else fails, the Lions can keep Paris Lenon in the middle instead of moving him to the strong side. They also have Buster Davis and Albert Fincher.

“We have some flexibility,” Millen said. “We have some players there.”

The Lions parted with running backs Kevin Jones and T.J. Duckett, but they re-signed Tatum Bell and Aveion Cason and still have Brian Calhoun.

They parted with offensive tackle Damien Woody, but they re-signed offensive tackle George Foster and still have Jonathan Scott.

They re-signed defensive end Corey Smith and still have Dewayne White, Ikaika Alama-Francis and company.

Amid all their moves, the Lions continued to part with high-profile players Millen brought in before the Marinelli era. Millen drafted 12 players in the first two rounds before Marinelli arrived in 2006. Eight have left since — five this off-season.
Millen attributes much of that to a change of direction.

“When you start drafting players for a system and the system’s no longer here, that’s hard,” Millen said. “It’s hard to do.”

Millen thinks this is the right direction. Millen matches Marinelli philosophically more than he did his first two coaches — Marty Mornhinweg and Steve Mariucci.

“I think we’re in lockstep,” Millen said. “It’s one of those things right now, if I start a sentence, Rod can finish it, and if Rod starts a sentence, I can finish it. I think that’s important from the top right down through.

“It doesn’t mean we don’t disagree on some things. It just means that we see things the same way and we share the same commitment to getting it done.”

DetFan1979 said...

Thanks "Anonymous" -- That story wasn't up yet when I browsed the Freep earlier in the day and emailed myself the story links for tonight. I actually linked to the Freep story from the profootballtalk article.

It fits in great with what I was writing and really adds to today's blog -- and reinforces what I was writing earlier.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you brought up these articles because while they were very interesting, the discussion accompanying them on the website had all the liveliness of Sean Rogers facing a double team during the 2nd half of last season.

I like Marinelli in this case because I don't feel like he's bullshitting the fans. Everyone decried the fact that he was letting our needs be known as if every other team in the NFL doesn't already know. Honestly, these guys spend hundreds of hours scouring tapes for the perfect rookie, investing their lives in improving their teams...does anyone really believe they haven't taken a few minutes to research each teams major needs and flaws?

That being said, I don't know that what Marinelli did was particularly stunning. The draft is going to be a guessing game whether you're up front about who you like or not. Everyone's susupicious of everyone else in this league at this so even when you supposedly "tell the truth" there's always room to second guess whether it's really the truth or not.

Nonetheless, I applaud Marinelli for dropping all of the childish bullshit pretenses (in a league that's full of them) in what seems to be an accurate and honest assessment of his team.


DetFan1979 said...

Street - as far as being "stunning" remarks, that was the overtone of the profootball talk article - that's what I was trying to point out. Their surprise is actually what surprised me - since their article was written from the viewpoint that other teams knew who the Lions were going to pick and the game was up for him -- while I feel it did just the opposite. It was most likely someone writing the story used to trying to figure out what coaches are BSing, but when faced with actual football fact, didn't really know what to do with it.

I agree that I like how Marinelli doesn't BS us fans. Also, it is interesting right now they are seeing the same needs we as fans are.

One other thing I forgot to say abot his (PFT) comments:

if a pass-rushing DE is a need, then Marinelli may be planning to use IAF as a hybrid DE/DT moving him around the Dline in the same fashion the Giants moved J. Tuck around last season and in the SB to keep Olines off balance. IAF seems capable of playing and getting pressure from both spots. Just a thought with very little correlating facts right now.

CHIEFGER139 said...

all this time i thought they just used a dart board

JJLions20 said...

About smoke screens and Matt Millen in the draft process....

Lets not underestimate Matt Millen and how much role he will have in the Draft. Rod will have a lot of input, but Millen is very good at the process. He may not have hit on all of his picks, but in my opinion what he communicates before the draft and his maneuvering during the draft has been very good. It is my opinion, that Millen will use every resource at his disposal to give himself and the Lions a better opportunity in the draft. And, Rod Marinelli is one of those resources. I believe what Rod says about the draft is orchestrated. People believe him and they think he gave out some secret. But lets see what he said:

We are going to take either a DE, RB, LB, or OT with our first pick. But if we don't like the guys at those positions on the board, I'll take whoever I darn well think is the best pick for that spot no matter what anyone else thinks because I'm Rod Marinelli and when my bad hip says take a guy, by golly, I'm gonna take him

All this is stating the obvious, and there is no way he can be accused of a lie. The two biggest holes on offense are OT, and RB. Who doesn't know that... Then he names DE and LB. That's 5 of the 11 positions on defense. And just so he covers his butt, he says if he doesn't like his selections at that point he will pick who ever he wants, which is the most accurate part of the statement.

My post in yesterdays blog got a little long, so I didn't follow it up with another point most people are overlooking (in my opinion). This has to do with figuring out what is going through Marinelli’s mind. The natural thing to do is to try to figure out which guy Marinelli likes the most and who is the most talented in the draft. A different perspective would be to try to figure out where Marinelli feels where his biggest holes are and greatest need is to help this team. The "experts" may say RB and OT. What we need to do is figure out how much Rod really likes Tatum Bell, or how much was he the Lions only option at RB. Did they know they had Bell wrapped up and they didn’t want to announce anything when they were trying to get Julius Jones to come here. Maybe Jones' agent knew Bell was a given. Maybe not playing Bell was part of the melt down between Martz and Marinelli. Think about the timing when Bell was benched for good, and the Lions tanking it because of no running game. Now how much does Rod think of Jonathan Scott or Alma-Francis. If he has the faith in these guys, he may not believe there is a hole at those positions. How much does Rod think of Paris Lennon. If he really likes Lennon and wants him on the field due to his leadership and character, he may not think an Outside Linebacker is necessary.

If I'm looking for a smoke screen, I think it is at MLB. It's really the only negative thing I've heard Rod say is how tough it is for the MLB to come in and start in the cover-2, because he has to make all the calls in the huddle. Well I think that is a bunch of bull. He may have to make some calls at the line, positioning the DT's, but I simply don't understand why Lennon can't make the calls in the huddle if he is the starting outside linebacker, and bring a MLB along slowly in 2008. Maybe the Lions think they can move down a number of spots and still get Dan Connor. I've seen a recent mock draft that had Connor going on the 6th pick of the 2nd round, so taking him late in the first round and picking up another pick could be the way Rod gets what he wants. The conventional wisdom is a good inside linebacker can be found in the early 2nd round. So don't put it past Rod to get to the bottom of the first and take the guy he really likes. I could also see a guy like Connor being a Marinelli Man.

So my word to the wise is to not underestimate Millen, and be assured there are smoke screens that he is orchestrating. It's a matter of figuring out what they are.

CHIEFGER139 said...

when i 1st seen the trade down scenerio posted by lionscursed i hammered him and basically told him that was stupid to do and made it worst by putting up a bunch of draft numbers that were totally wrong-he came back and ripped me a new one on that mistake-but if somehow they could pull it off by taking one of the bottom teams 1st rd pick by giving up there middle 1st rounder and also get there 2nd pick by giving up our top 3rd round pick-they would be right in the part of the draft they would want to be to get the guys theve been bringing in-like lofton,mayo,chelious, forte, smith and they probably could get 3 of those guys and all of them would be low 1st to low 2nd caliber players with still a low 3rd to get the 4th guy-that would be awsome for all lions fans could we would have quality picks at most all positions-just have to wait and see-at the worst they could still easily get 2 of those guys say for instance connors if they wanted him by just picking him at 15 and then pick the next one they wanted say its forte with there 2nd pick and then just take the best tackle at 3rd-draft is full of rb's and offensivelineman this year so wouldnt surprise me if they waited on both of those till the 3rd.

Anonymous said...

I'm really surprised that Rod identified our needs as Defensive end, Linebacker, OT, and RB. I really expected that he would feel that we needed extra help at DT more than help at DE. detfan1979, I like your idea of moving IAF to DT for some of the time if they draft a top DE, but I just have one worry about that. Since Darby is not a long term solution, I wouldn't feel great about having our top two DT's being converted from DE's in Redding and IAF. I just think that the line needs at least one big 300+ pound DT to help blow things up.


Anonymous said...

I sent this before but have no idea why it did not post.
If I could be the GM for the draft only, here is what I would do first. The Lions have one 1st round pick, one 2nd, and 2 3rd round picks.
Since the first 3 rounds have the best chance at getting a starting player, add as many as possible.
Trade Roy Williams for a second (if possible), trade the first and move down and get an extra second, and trade the 4th and 5th for a 3rd. You would then have: 1 1st, 3 2nd, and 3 3rd round picks. That's 7 picks in the first 3 rounds.
I feel we need: DE, DT, MLB, OLB, OT, OT, and RB. Take the best available player at each pick that fits your needs.
You may have a bad pick or an injured pick which reduces your success. When you draft next year, do the same thing. You should be very close by then, to a good team.

CHIEFGER139 said...

annomonous-i love all these trade down scenerio's and truthfully think that would be so awsome if they pull it off-then we can get at least 3 major wants filled and maybe even a 4th-im gonna post another blog right after cause if i dont this will be too long-got on detfan1979-earlier for writing books on mlive-dont want to do the same here-wonder if he remembers that??-but even if we dont trade down were still in good shape we can get two quality starters no matter what happens with what we have and we can gamble with the 2 thirds to maybe get another-so no matter what we should be good for at least 2 positions-that being said i will go to my next blog

CHIEFGER139 said...

one big huge thing now is we have colleto instead of martz-colletos a offensive line guy and believe me if he feels thats what we need we will be geting a offensive tackle-the other thing is both millen and rod are defensive guys and supposedly there on the same page now-when martz was here ,morningwig and mooch they were all high powered offensive guys that were big on receivers-lets face it they were gambling bringing them in one week and then cutting them 3 weeks later-big on qbs too-i think millen despite being a defensive guy HAD bought into a high offensive scheme to win the superbowl-cause he had montana and rice and thought that was the way to go-after many failures now-and with martz gone wouldNT surprise me-despite me kickin and screamin they go with 2 defensive guys-like harvy and maybe/lofton/mayo with the 1st 2 picks-leavin both 3rd round picks as the gamble rounds-being o.tackle or running back-i think they realize they need a big back-so smith if hes there would be the choice-would love the trade down scenerio-they could then get forte who i like much better-im thinkin they think o.tackle foster is good enough but who knows-opps just wrote a book soRry det fan1979-
couldnt seperate this one-anyway feel this draft will be exciting and its a win win draft this time

DetFan1979 said...

jjLions - that is exactly what the title was meant to imply - the smoke may not be real visible, but the smokescreen is still there - a "smokeless smokescreen" -- I thought it very ironic that PROfootballtalk - a site where writing and analyzing football is their FULL TIME JOB (unlike us hobbyist fans) totally missed the boat. Hilarious to me.

Anonymous - No reason to trade Roy -- trading back, and packaging the lower picks with our 3rds will get the Lions where they need to be to target the players they want - best values in 2nd half of round 2.

Lopper - I think they have their eye on Balmer in 1, Fluellen in 4 or 5, and I think Rusty someone (not sure) in round 3 possibly -- all 3 are big run stuffers who demand double teams, and free up Redding to rush the passer.

As for IAF - I think they bring him and redding to the inside on passing downs if they get a pass rushing specialist DE in the draft -- imagine being in 3rd and long and trying to stop White, Redding, IAF, and (DE) while Lofton is covering your hot read TE over the middle and Simms and Lenon are getting ready to lay hammer to anvil on your RB and Alexander, Bullocks, Kelly and Bodden have the WR's covered for the roughly 2 seconds it takes one of the front four to be in his face? Making his thowing attempt through IAF's big upstretched arms?

Yup. Looking forward to next season fellows. Even a halfway decent draft, and things will be fun to watch - win or lose.