Saturday, April 5, 2008

FB's and TE's

Fullbacks and Tight ends - in the wrong context, sounds like a section at curtained off room of the video store. Seriously though. First off tonight's blog comes from a combination of two things:

#1: Reading the three articles below (so if you haven't read them, go ahead and do so now.)

On Jon Bradley:

On Dan Campbell:

O-Line Optimistic:

#2: Listening to the John Williams Scherzo for Motorcycle and Piano (from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

Okay -- so what do the two have in common? A dichotomous theme. ( I wish I knew how to post an MP3 of the song here, but I have no idea how to do it)

Last year, they were lining up TE's to do nothing but pass, and Bradley - while new at FB - was grossly mis-used. Usually they would only bring him in when they were going to obviously run -- even then, he still managed to move piles of large DT's -- in particular, I remember seeing him move the two DT's in the center of Minnesota's line about 2-3 yards and thinking "I can't wait to see him more!" -- and subsequently saw him very little the rest of the season. He can block, he can run, and on one of the sweetest plays last season, he pretended to whiff on a lead block, the RB met the DT in the hole...and Kitna shot a pass over the middle-left to Bradley, who plowed through a LB or two until the Safeties came up and they were able to drag him down. I just can't believe how they Lions Offense did not take advantage of what teams were leaving open, and the players they had available on offense. I don't care about the numbers of sacks, rushing rank (which is all based on total yards), the perceived weakness on the Oline. The offense under-achieved.

Most of the time, after Campbell was injured, the TE's lined up in the backfield, ran out routes as a WR, or many times were not even on the field. Period. So basically, they were using one-half of what a TE does -- catch passes and play decoy to draw off coverage underneath. But if you never actually throw to them, it doesn't work and thus they were running about the field doing nothing.

In the scherzo, after the light, airy start with flutes -- then comes in the brass section with the Nazi theme as the cyclists of the Third Reich show up to chase Indy. Awesome entrance music. Made me think of having guys trying to finesse rush the passer getting blown-up by a couple a big tight ends and a crushing FB along with the Oline... and then the light, airy theme comes back on, and Indy -- after blowing away the Germans, is sliding away like the RB going to the End Zone after everyone in front of him has been knocked on his ass. As TMQ often states -- it's fun to run for a score when everyone in front of you has already been knocked down...

Picture this formation, left to right on the line: Campbell, Backus, Mulitalo, Raiola, Peterman, Foster, Gaines -- backed up by Bradley, Bell and Kitna in the backfield with Roy or CJ streaking down the sideline -lineup, snap, CRUSH

Oh yeah -- I can see it now...Rod can see it now...he can taste it. Good black coffee...
[updated: I forgot Raiola in the original post! - thanks lopper!]

They need a second FB, but I think that Bradley is going to really blossom at FB this season. As a former DT he really seems to have an instinctual knowledge of how they are going to approach, and how to knock them out of the play. Sure, the Lions lost Duckett -- but when you have a guy like Bradley...he's going to be running through people next year and we'll be going TJ who?

With Gaines and Campbell as the starting TE, I can see the Lions bringing buys into camp to compete, although I think Ftizsimmons, with his smart special teams play, will be a lock for the roster as well. Not sure I see them keeping more than three TE unless they double as a FB -- says Owens or Belton maybe, or a rookie (I'd like to see them take a late round flier, or bring in UDFA at FB. I still miss Sledge. We need another face-mask breaking beast out there -- and my gut says Bradley is it.)

This may not have been the most factual of looks at a position group, but what is analysis this time of year but instinct? Sure, you can look at 40 times, etc -- but what is comes down to is your gut. Marinelli is really in a groove this off season -- and if the Lions players approach the Season like Rod has the offseason, it is going to be one heck of a year.

There has been a lot of talk of Martz because of his comments about the Lions. I won't go into them, because it doesn't matter. Martz's offense was one way of attacking a defense. It was a high risk, high reward offense. But it proved more risk than reward. Now Rod and Colletto aren't just going to be using the flutes (skill players) they are gonna pull out the Nazi Motorcycle Troops (big Uglies, FB, TE) so the rest of the league better watch out -- when the Lions did that last season, they dominated (as Duckett's almost 5 yds a carry demonstrated.) Whatever Rookie they pick in the 3rd and Bell are going to be very happy running behind the wall of destruction that shall precede them. And Roy, CJ, and Furrey are going to be able to finally slide by the opposition and exploit their weaknesses -- because the Lions will be attacking where the other team is weak, not where they are strong. And they have been picking up the players to do it.

Add in the factor that the entire returning O-Line from last year has a HUGE chip on their collective shoulders. Martz has been throwing them under the bus since right after the Denver game, and very overtly since he was canned. I'm hoping it lasts, and that the O-line plays as angry as they sound -- and with the Lions attacking at the line more, I think that it will just grow and multiply as they get the chance to, as many fans are saying, "block out the sun - seek and destroy". They are looking for redemption - it's almost as if all of them are in a contract year; and we know all about contract year "greatness".

The TE's are set.
The starting FB is set, they need depth
The Oline needs just one more Tackle for competition and depth
RB will be another post, but if they round out the positions above, I could practically rush for 1,000 yards.

Look at the comments on "gOT? Almost..." for some great analysis on Lions' Oline from JJlions, Nobsnubber and others. Don't miss it! Thanks guys!

BTW - Did I mention that Campbell and Gaines have shown that besides being among the top blocking TE's in the league, they can both catch the ball at least as good as an LJ Smith or a Todd Heap -- they just have been given limited opportunities. But I think their day is coming.

Go Lions!!!!


Anonymous said...

Reading this got me pumped about the season to come. CJ and Roy are as much of a handfull to defenders as 3 recievers on most teams. That gives us the oportunity to stack up the line, run strong and protect the QB. In your "picture this formation", am I missing something, or did you just forget about Raiola? Either way, the point is the same. The Lions have a lot of the pieces in place to be a strong, powerful, in your face team with two deep threats at WR. A couple more pieces added on the OL or RB's, and this offense could be pretty good. This makes me hope that the Lions do draft predominantly defensive players in this years draft. We'll have to wait and see, but the excitement is mounting.
Thanks again for the articles.


CHIEFGER139 said...

no way bell gets 1000 yds on this team, that will never happen

Anonymous said...


If Bell takes 75% of the carries; he'll definately be over 1,000 yards. I don't believe it will be him, though, either. I think you will see a third round pick drafted as a RB, and he will take 50% of the snaps. And you can't forget a HEALTHY Calhoun. He may play into the Lions offensive plans as well.

((Sorry I've been absent for many discussions, T-Ball is starting up and eating free time.))

Bottom line, this offensive line will block for 2,000 yards next year irregardless of who the back is behind Kitna and Bradley.


Anonymous said...

Hey, what is happening? You are posting less frequently. I love and look forward to this column each day. Step it up or I will have to start beating the wife or dog again.

Just kidding.

CHIEFGER139 said...

if any of our backs gets 1000 yards rushing-not all purpose yards actually rushing yards next year that will be a huge success and i will quit harping on our running back needs-but if your depending on bell to do it your going to be extremely dissapointed-i dont think they will get mendenhall anymore-with the cap space they cant afford him or stewart, hope they can get forte-he has hope we need a big back to sWitch off with bell. dont need another calhoun

DetFan1979 said...

Sorry about the infrequency of posting (I'm still lapping Kowalski every couple of days) -- As nobsnubber pointed out, it is T-ball season. It is also soccer season; So... It will take me a bit to get used to the schedules of practices and games, etc. So, I may be posting about every-other night for a while. I also like to be sure we all have time to comment. So please hollyweed - no going after either wife or dog.

Leosfan -- you just need to sign up on either for a blogger account, or sign up for a google id (I think Gmail username/pw works).

I will also be adding links on the sidebar soon to the past stories with ongoing posts, such as the Draft Scenarios -- thought about a forum, but will have to wait until I have a lot more time.

ClusterFox said...

Great posting everyone. I'm actually getting excited. It's a pretty picture thinking of our big men spread out wide, and the rest of them playing smashmouth against 7 in the box.
I started trying to formulate my picks for the draft challenge,and only came up with more questions. I'm comfortable with our line as-is because there are no empty spots(yet improvement is always needed). My concerns,for either side of the ball revolve around two players that few of us have info on, Calhoun and Buster Davis. I realize that neither of them is a savior at there positions, but does either of them even provide playable depth. If we don't see anyhelp from them, I question how we could draft anything other than LB and RB in first two rounds. How do we evaluate these two players when the only playing they've done is in practice?Is there any chance one of these guys might make our team better?

steamroller78 said...

Dan Campbell- He's the guy to watch on your 2008 Detroit Lions. He will be a big red zone go to guy for you this year. I hated to see him go out like he did. I don't know how many Lions games you guys go to, but if he is like he was here in Dallas, he is also the most fan freindly guy I have ever met. I just seen that no one mentions him in the comments here, and you guys don't know what you have til it's gone. Trust me. If he stays healthy you guys will see great things from him.

Dreamweaver said...

I've been saying all along, this team is much better than most people give them credit for.
I think our first 3 picks should be OT, DT, and MLB, in no certain order. Just pick the best player at one of the spots till all 3 are filled. use our 2nd pick in the 3rd round on a RB. I think bell will have a good year, he only signed for one year, and with no intrest from other teams this year, he will play his ass off, to get a good offer from some one next year. Add the the zone blocking that he is used to, and I see a great year for him.

DetFan1979 said...

steamroller - glad to see you made it over! What did you think of our Dallas scenario?

I think you'll find we are big Campbell fans here -- nothing hurt the Lions more last year than his injury. They had no one close to replacing him. He can block, catch, and apparently you fellows in Dallas were sad to see him go - Lions fans being what they are, sometimes it is hard to convince them that a player amy be great, even if they have never heard of him. Always glad to get the outside opinion, and validation (or disagreement)!