Friday, March 7, 2008

Tampa 2, Darby and other thoughts

First of all, I think the Darby signing is a great move. A veteran leader who will help the younger guys on the roster, and whom they will pick-up in the draft, develop. They have brought in smith to serve the same purpose for the Lions' young secondary. Bullocks and Alexander are progressing well, but Smith will be a solid backup and provide mentoring for them.

I keep hearing people go "Spikes" - why??? He has been injured, ineffective, and doesn't play MLB. Lewis and Lenon are solid at SLB IF - big IF - there is a solid MLB. Simms has the weak side locked up. I Laughed out loud when I saw someone question how to replace Bailey...considering he ended the season as a backup, and UDFA who can actually tackle someone will do.

With all the high-picks lost in FA the Lions may even be looking at a compensatory pick this year. That would give Millen the Ammo he needs to turn one or both 3rds into 2nds again. Considering there is a lot of quality talent at the Lions' need areas projected to be available in the 2nd this year, it makes a lot of sense. I can see them waiting into the 4th for a DT now though, depending on where/how they trade and who is available.

Now, I have seen a lot of people questioning why the Lions picked up a guys who doesn't sack people. In the T2, the Dline - especially the DT's, rotate a lot. One Tackle clog up the middle against the run, and takes on the C and one of the two G to keep the middle secure against the run, and trys to get into the backfield and stop the runner. The QB is a nice bonus, but NOT their focus. This is the position that Darby will fill on running downs, with Langston Moore coming in on passing downs.

The other Tackle (Redding) keeps an eye on the run, and tries to take advantage of the double team on the DT, or a G sliding to help the tackle with a DE, to get into the backfield to pressure the QB. With the first tackle collapsing the pocket, the second tackle tries to help collapse, and break through to the QB.

With the DT's pushing up the middle to create pressure, this should force the QB to roll slightly to either side. The DE's should be able to take advantage of single coverage to get pressure on the QB and force him back into the pocket -- which also prevents many of the roll-out screens that killed the Lions last year.

Where the Lions broke down as the season reached the second half last year was in a couple of areas on the Dline. Rogers was still taking two blockers, but he wasn't creating any pressure. Teams then started to keep a TE back to help block Redding and White with a TE, G, and T. This further broke down since Kalimba on the left couldn't beat single coverage - EVER (It seemed anyways). Since they didn't need a second TE to keep Kalimba out of the backfield, they essentially could have 2 backs, 2 Wr or 3 Wr and a single back and still have options open no matter what over the middle. the lack of a true MLB enhanced the problem as Lenon couldn't contain in the middle. This forced Simms to start edging out of his gaps and over toward the middle to help Lenon, and left the weak side open.

When the Dline was getting pressure early in the season, the secondary was able to take advantage of the hurried throws, and the errant passes coming out when the opposing QB was hit as throwing. They also were able to get into the backfield and disrupt hand-offs, and hit RB's scrambling to save a play, and caused quite a few fumbles. the T2 needs corners who can cover okay, take advantage of the pressure created by the Line, and move up and hit like a freight train to stop the run. It basically uses 4 Safeties with above average cover skills. "Shutdown Corners" (that I don't think exist except in Madden-land due to the rules changes) like Bly do not do well. They are good at running with the WR speedily all the way down the field, and jumping in to try to disrupt the pass, or guess on the route and undercut it with speed to get the int. Not the skill set needed in the T2.

The Lions are fairly well set for right now in the secondary, and CB is not the top need -- I have needs in order as follows:

1. OT -- Scott and Backus have both been hurt; they need a 3rd starting caliber OT
2. MLB -- they don't have one, and there are no good veterans available
3. DT -- Darby will be a good mentor and influence, but they need a guy to rotate in & develop
4. DE -- IAF is coming along, but they need a 3rd DE for depth and if IAF is not the answer
5. RB -- Calhoun and KJ are injured every year, and Cason is a special teamer.
6. CB -- You don't need stars in the T2, and what they have will work if the Dline does. This position can be upgraded more next year if needed.

The coaching Staff believes the IAF will be able to bring the pressure that Kalimba could not. Darby will be good in rotation, but I still think they need to draft another DT.

Overall, Marinelli is still trying to clean up Millen's mess. With the salary cap restrictions and the bad drafting and FA signing of the 5 years before he arrived, there was not a lot to work with. That he has the Lions almost back to consistent mediocrity instead of sitting alongside the Raiders with the bottom feeders in just two years says a lot.


Anonymous said...

I'm a long time reader of many football forums and life long fan of the Lions. Your latest blog regarding the cover 2 is well written through and through. I enjoyed it. I have one thing to add and that is IMHO with the 15'th spot we should be taking BAP (hopefully it is DE but I won't complain if it is one of the big Offensive line men that should be still available). After that I’m in complete agreement with you on MLB then back to BAP.
I also believe that after Seattle cuts Shaun Alexander that we will be talking with him (Another team that will be definitely talking to him will be Chicago). So it looks like we are going to try and make a run at SA or Warrick Dunn for cheap. I really don't see them coming hear for cheap (hopefully we can manipulate the cap to free up some needed money as I think SA still has some good football left in him, it is a shame that TJ is gone but life has to go on and btw, congrats to him for his deal, he will be missed in Detroit). I would also like to add that if Millen does get some picks together and to get back into the second round that he will address RB with that jump back in there.
On side note there are some sleepers out there that I haven’t heard anyone talking about Like, Saint Dic from MSU he is a senior this year and should be draft eligible. I’m sure there are many more but I’m at work and have to go. Keep up the good work Detfan, I’ve enjoyed and respect your recent postings.


Hugh said...

Nice post, but a few things...

You shouldn't talk about the D-Line in terms of 'taking on the OG or C'. This system runs on gap alignment. The DTs are assigned either the A gap or B gap, how they are blocked is something they don't predict.

Also, I'm pretty sure compo. picks are assigned the following year. So the compo. picks coming to us are based on who we lost last year.

Also, you cannot trade these picks, under any circumstance. You must make the pick you're given.

But a solid post other than this!

Anonymous said...

I really see the Lions standing pat and not "over-committing" to these free agents. They want veterans who know the system, or young guys making three or four year commitments to the system.

Darby is a good pickup.

If the Lions are seriously thinking about starting Jonathan Scott, they could wait until the third round to draft a decent backup right tackle. Same at running back.

Imagine the Lions going OLB in the first with Rivers, and then Lofton or Mayo in the second at MLB. That's a whole lot of "pop".

I think the DT role is probably better suited for another "cap-cut veteran".

The comp. pick take is also correct. You would be compensated next year '09 for this year's ('08)free agents, and you cannot trade a comp pick. But if you earn a fourth, you can trade your previous pick in that round, then use your comp. pick at the end of that round.

Like I said, I like the shape the team is being molded into. You can see Marinelli is practicing what he preaches, and they are starting to be fiscally responsible, which was a HUGE problem with Millen in the past (overpaying free agents and draft picks; then paying for it years later). I think Cleveland (Brady Quinn deal) showed how you can have a top guy, and not pay a boatload for him unless he performs (which they aren't paying as long as Brady sits and Anderson plays, Quinn doesn't reach his big money incentives).


DetFan1979 said...

Lik - thanks for the compliment - it is well appreciated.

Hugh - you are correct on the comp picks; I should have made it clear that it was intended to be a compliment toward building through the draft. Teams like the Patriots often let guys who are going to be overpaid on the market leave, as they often already have or can secure their replacement. They get comp picks almost every season. It is a good way to garner extra picks - and as nobsnubber pointed out, allows you greater flexibility to trade your original picks.

Also, I understand where you are coming from on the gap control aspect. I was trying to break down what I saw occuring as oppposed to what should have been happening on a lot of plays last year, but I should have spent more time on how the puts and gaps work in the T2. So much to say, so little time...

To his credit, Barry did try to bring pressure with some pretty creative blitz schemes, but he was limited as it

A. Exposed his weak secondary

B. Exposed he didn't have a MLB as they kept completing the hot read over the short middle, and he didn't have anyone to stop it.

Great Comments everyone! Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your website on the forum. I read EVERYTHING about the Lions (I thought) and that is the best description I have ever seen by far of how the T2 works and why it stopped working in the 2nd half of last year. Keep it coming. This site is definitely going in my favorites.


CHIEFGER139 said...

with the lack of pass rush after the 1st couple of games, i thought they blitzed alot more last year to make up for it-see them doing the same next year as i dont see them getting any new DE's with the better secondary should be able to get away with it more and we do need that mlb bad- i think lennon will do much better on the outside