#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:
#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.