There are still a couple more points from Lombardi's SI column on "busting three common misconceptions". I already looked at the first -- that you must establish the run early.
The second point is the myth of the "shutdown" corner. On this point, I actually totally agree with what he's saying. Thanks to the tightened down rules on defensive pass interference the League "clarified" a couple years back, DB's no longer have the advantage over WR/Pass catchers. This has led to many DB's being exposed for weaknesses is coverage abilities that they were masking with their physical, bump-run-bump-run-mug style of covering WR's. Guys like Dallas' Roy Williams were exposed so badly that he is now hardly ever on the field in passing situations. (much to his chagrin) Nate Clements learned that being an $80 million dollar CB with no pass rush in front of you is a great way to magically make yourself toast. Dre Bly has not been a consistent performer since the rules change, and Champ Bailey is aging and discovering the same thing Celements did. Sorry Champ fans, but based on the Lions-Broncos game last year, and other Denver games I caught last couple years, Champ is riding on reputation at this point. Don't Believe me? The "feared" off season secondary of the Broncos was not so feared -- and the only D that gave up huge points to the "Deep-Drop-Deep-Pass" offense the Lions utilized last season.
His point that is somewhat rushed past is that the rules changes make a strong, consistent pass rush more important. It also makes forcing the other team into mistakes on offense even more so. Chicago's problem last year was two-fold: While it is true they had injured starters on their D, what hurt more was their anemic offense. Unlike their Superbowl Season, where the offense started hot with Grossman tossing long TD's to Berrian -- they had such an anemic offense last season on the whole that most teams did not fear them putting up points. While it is true they could and did produce some hot runs on O (like in the first Lions match up) -- on the whole, they could not consistently do anything, and got worse as the season went along. Since teams did not fear the Bear's offense, the opposition offense did not feel pressured at all --- they didn't need to score every possession -- just a couple TD's would do it.
Take that in contrast to the Patroits -- who were soring on nearly every drive. Even if the literal pressure wasn't there, the mental pressure to "make things happen" was -- which led teams facing the Patriots to make more mistakes, which gave the Patriots offense more shots on the field, which in turn reinforced the idea in the offenses mind that every possession was a must score -- instead of getting into any kind of field position battle. They became almost Martzian in going for the end zone all the time.
The most extreme example of pressure from lack of offense was the 2006 Raiders, who led the league in passing defense -- because teams starting running out the clock from the first snap. Things like that happen when your offense scores 7 offensive touchdowns all season. This made their secondary look spectacular, and pundits were raving about how their corners were top in the league, and their D coordinator was a genius...and ignored they lost more games than the Lions did (only winning 2) -- teams came out one dimensional running against them and the Raiders still couldn't stop the run.
So while I agree that pressure on the opposing offense is needed to help shied the secondary, I disagree that you don't need competent DB's to take advantage of pressure. Minnesota got good pressure and sack numbers from Udeze last season - but their secondary couldn't take advantage and come up with the takeaways. I also disagree that he implies all a team needs is one great DE and it makes the pass rush happen. While it sure helps, and is needed, it is the strength of the 4 rushers (front 4 in a 4-3, front 3 plus DE/OLB in 3-4 scheme) that really makes or breaks the team. If an offense can focus on stopping one guy, and the other 3 can't step in to create the pressure...you have little pressure. The Eagles D, for instance, relies on pressure and pass-rush coming from different spots each time.
The Lions improved their secondary in the off season by picking up guys who better fit the zone scheme they run, but also who are able to cover one-on-one, at least for a short time, so that Barry is more free to bring pressure using different players, or blitzing a LB, Safety, etc.
In regards to FG = turnover, I've always considered them to be so, but hadn't really put that much thought into why. So from now on, I will be taking missed FG into account when looking at turnover ratio for games. His assertion is misrepresented if he's trying to bust the myth that turnover ratio is the key to football. Again, he is missing out on clarifying the real point. First, despite the negative number in total, the Giants only had 1 or 2 turnovers throughout the postseason heading into the Superbowl -- and they won the turnover battle there, and the game. Second, he is right that it is not the turnovers but what you do with them. In the first 8 games the Lions not only led the league in takeaways, but they led the league in points from those takeaways -- both in total number, and percentage of takeaways converted to points.
Great analysis in the comments on the last thread -- Consistency of systems and coaching is key -- and even if the Lions don't make the playoffs, I see Marinelli around still in 09 to continue building on what he's started. While the many of the new additions will likely produce at about the level of the players replaced, on the whole -- they are just getting started, versus already having peaked --- so instead of being a plateau, this is merely the beginning.
Nubsnobber -- loved your quote: "...the first rule to advancement isn't mastery of your job. It's figuring out how to do your boss's job."
If the rookies and young players follow that, there should be some heated battles in camp this year -- which will only serve to make the team that much better.