Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Only Constant is Change

I found this article today by Kirwan on, talking about positions that are morphing in today's NFL. I was shocked to see that one of positions he talked about was Strong safety, and used Dallas' Roy Williams as an example -- for the exact point I was making yesterday about Safties needing more coverage skills due to the changes in how defenses need to keep up with the variances in the passing game.

What I find Ironic is just days before he posted a story about how the power running game could make a comeback. My thought is, after looking over his first piece, on the power running game, I jumped to the idea that it might work because certain defensive positions had changed. He did it the other way around -- I just missed the first article.

I'd like to take a look at his list, and give a few of my thoughts:

Middle Linebacker: Can any us of read this article and not feel pretty good about the Lions' 2nd round pick Dizon? He can tackle, he can run sideline to sideline, and is smart and good in coverage as well. While points out the the job is Lennon's to lose, I think all indications are the Dizon will beat him out. Marinelli will be harping on the job being Lenon's to lose, Dizon's to win (and Davis, to a lesser extent, to attempt to make the roster) as it will stoke the competition between them, with each trying to beat out the other. No matter the outcome this season, there will be much improved play from the MLB spot. Lenon, to me, is at a disadvantage due to the past-vs-present that is highlighted. Lenon is a traditional, between the tackles MLB who is okay in coverage. He still is only an average MLB as he can hit, but his tackling could use work. Something tells me he gets real motivated to work on that, and his coverage skills this off season. Dizon is more in the mold of the jack-of-all-trades that a modern MLB needs to be. Props to Marinelli and Barry for recognizing that in the draft and going for Dizon over Connor. Don't get me wrong -- Connor is big and can hit like a loaded-down mac truck; but after going back and reading some more up on him after he slid, I noted that the scouting reports almost all listed his liability in coverage as a weakness -- then summarily dismissed it because hey, they guy hits like a ton of bricks. I think that the lack of coverage skills coupled with changes at the position is what led to his slide.

Strong Safety: I covered this one more than a bit yesterday. In the DD (Detroit Deuce -- also, comic book character DareDevil, who is legally disabled {blind} but still kicks butt despite the obvious disadvantage {just like the Lions}, and the bust size of the she-male stripper Millen has pictures of Ford doing naughty things with)[if you guys couldn't tell that last part was a flippant joke, then you really ought to get a sense of humor please. Millen keeps his job because he makes Ford money -- which is what he is paid, ultimately, to do.]
there is no differentiation between Strong and Free Safety because, in reality, the two sides are interchangeable. The safeties in the DD basically divide the field in zone coverage. You will notice that unlike in Tampa, Barry will routinely switch which sides the safeties are playing based on how the offense is lining up, attempting to pit his best cover guy (Alexander last year) against the best WR, while leaving the more liable in coverage (Kennedy) against the likely destination of the TE split out wide, or the #2 WR. It was Kennedy's lack of coverage skills, BTW, that hurt the secondary as much as the situation at CB last year -- they would try to get WR in a match up against Kennedy -- one they would usually win. Barry minimized this by moving Kennedy around, or pulling him in some obvious passing situations, but Bashir was not much better. Alexander has also played CB, and the evolution of the position has actually justified the Lions taking him in the 2nd round last year. He will start again, and with Bullocks back, and the additions of Smith and Pearson (if he is innocent in his legal troubles) will lead that to be a position of strength this season regardless. Not having to protect or pull one of his Safeties will open up Barry's defensive playbook a bit more, and also lead to a better pass defense.

Tight End/Fullback: In light of his own article on the power run game, and the thoughts I expressed on the matter, I disagree with him that this position is disappearing -- more, I think that your traditional blocking TE has merged with the FB position and short-yardage HB, while the slot-WR position has merged with the other half of the TE duties. Kellen Winslow Jr. and Tony Gonzales -- when you take a close look at them -- are big slot WR with above average blocking skills. The Lions, I still predict, are going to run more power O to shove down the throat of Chicago and GB -- while depending more on the passing game and play-action against Minnesota. The 4 wins that the Lions can get by steamrollering the smaller, pass-rushing oriented D of Chicago and GB is worth the addition of a power run game in and of itself. (I'll look at the flip side of what the Lions D may be doing to stop the Minnesota Power O in another piece.) But, with practice in both usages, and other teams knowing the Power O is there if they don't defend against it, Detroit will be able to effectively pass or throw as the game situation dictates --- because teams will know they can do both -- and do both well. IF they get the power run game going.

Detroit already has what Minnesota wants, and Minnesota has what Detroit wants -- honestly, if you combined the players from both teams, you would end up with a team that had a stronger all around roster than the Patriots, or any other NFL team, by far. Detroit already has the QB and WR to pass the ball, and Minnesota has the Oline and RB to run the ball -- however, I think Detroit has done far more to improve their running game up to where Minnesota's is, than Minnesota has done to catch up to the Lions in the passing game. I think Minnesota, which is shaping up as the Media Pre-Season darling to make a deep playoff run -- possibly to the Super Bowl if you believe Fox's Czarnecki (which I don't 80%+ of the time, and neither should you.) -- will be out of the playoffs again. Why? Because until they prove they can pass it and win, teams will stack up on the run and make them one dimensional. Unfortunately for the teams who beat the Lions in the second half last season, they won't be able to get away with skipping defense of the run and teeing off against the pass -- the Lions will eat them up and spit them out like unarmed peasants in Roman times.

Overall, the Lions seem to be embracing both the changes these 5 positions have undergone, and yet have latched onto those players and philosophies that other teams have been abandoning, and are attempting to use these changes to their advantage. Will it work? Only time will tell.


CHIEFGER139 said...

your right-dizon should start in the middle and hopefully lennon will start on the strong side-then we have our 3 best starting with sims in there too.
felton impresses me so much i wish they would go to a 2 back backfield
and i like your point about our offense vs minnesotas-i dont think the offense is our problem against them-its if our defense can stop there running game without rogers-like i said last post 1st preseaon game tells us a lot.
nice article as usual-would maybe like some a touch shorter but appreciate what you do.

Anonymous said...

God I hope you are right. I have a co-worker who is from Minnesota, and he is a die-hard, in-your-face kinda guy.

I don't think so, though. Look at their record when Tarvarus Jackson started. Even for a young guy, he managed the game well for them. He will only get better, not worse. He isn't throwing for more than 250, and he has crap on a stick at the wide out position, but he can still use his legs to help out the situation, and does an effective job managing the game. AND, put a Vikings helmet on Childress; he looks like a Scandanavian warrior.

DIZON- dead nuts on. Marinelli loves to put pressure on rooks; this kid is starting. Don't believe the "Paris-hype". The Paris porno wasn't that good either (so I was told).

If we win the Giants or Cowboys game, different off-season. Kennedy sucked both of those games, including the game winning touchdown he allowed in the waning seconds of the Dallas game. Romo to Witten. I continue to be awakened sweating with nightmares by that catch, and Paris Hilton not being able to handle the balls between her feet. OOPS, Paris Lenon and the ball between HIS feet.


DetroitSims said...

Great article! Marenelli would be wrong to not want to start Dizon in the MLB. I think he's just saying its Paris's job to lose so that we all think its not's Dizon's right away.

Minne's D is looking strong for next year but, I have to agree with you on there O. The only reciver they picked up was Berrian. They really didnt do a whole lot to help out Jackson. I have a feeling that if Jackson is struggling halfway through the season, JDB (John David Booty) comes in to save Jackson's booty! I wouldnt put money money on but It's just s good feeling i have.

Keep up the good articles, you do do a hell of a job Detroit Lions Fan 1979!!

Patrick said...

Great Article...

Dizon was drafted to be the MLB period. All this is, is to promote competition. Lenon was a SLB for his entire NFL career from what I recall, so he would do fine back at his original position.
I strongly believe that there are a lot of hidden gems in this draft that at first look you cannot see. But as DETFAN is showing, they plugged the holes / deficiencies from last year. Yes it remains to be seen how the DL will do without big baby, but with the speed/ tackling and coverage of our back 7, I think we will do pretty well filling the gaps against the run.

Chief hit it on the nail though...Preseason will tell us how well we can do. I only hope we don't suffer any injuries like in the past that would hinder us.

As for Minnesota. Jackson, progressed ok last year. He did just enough. But Booty, I feel could really really push him or replace him. WIth Berrian, Ferguson, and Darius Renard and Nate Jones...they will at least have a little speed, especially if the last two make the team. I think the thing that is most important with this team will be special teams. Field Position will be the most important thing that will help us be successful more than anything else on both offense and defense. DetFan am I off on this one?