Monday, June 2, 2008

CBA: Parts 2-3-4

First off, great comments on the Otah and CBA pieces.

As I looked at this a bit closer I realized that I'd already said most of what needs to be said. Namely that I think the CBA will be done before the uncapped season, and that the Lions are in the same position they were before: improving, with a journey still before them -- but at least started on trail.

Looking again at Lombardi's article on SI.com -- it seems the Lions are, as far as from what we can see -- as close to doing that sort of plan as any other team out there is. So what does that really mean? It means we and the media really know very little about what teams really do and think behind the scenes. Look at all the conjecture (including my own) and come the end, at least 50% is total crap, about another 40% half wrong, and the other 10% gets most of it right. (I was likely being over-generous giving the media 1:10 statements being correct, but they do get people on the roster and coaches right about that often, so maybe that counts)

I like how it is written, but Lombardi's article really just made me, when I re-read it tonight, go "Well duh." All of the things he is talking about other than the draft being eliminated (which I doubt the league will let happen after this many years, I can assure you because I am knowledgeable *wink wink*) are EXACTLY what a team needs to do to succeed with a cap!

Get good young players
Find a QB
The Lines are important - need depth there
keep your ten guys on the roster in the tops of their position
try to keep younger backups where possible instead of investing big dollars in mediocre or aging FA
don't waste money on injury prone vets - spend less on a young guy with more upside.
Have great scouting
develop talent

Seriously folks, that is how you run a successful franchise. How are the Lions doing on those counts? We'll have to see how they do developing their newer draft picks (Marinelli's picks), and this year's draft will be a real bellwether on if the scouting department really has improved. As for FA, the older guys they were signing were not to big dollar contracts, and the Lions, for the most part, are moving to really cap-friendly contracts (assuming there will be a cap). They cut Jones and brought in Smith and Felton. We don't know about QB but they are at least making moves in that direction with Orlovsky and Stanton. As for keeping guys, what exactly do we think the Redding contract was? He'd have been paid Tommy Kelly money on the open market. I still need to see more from the Lions on keeping their players who are tops at their position -- the main reason we don't know is we haven't had anyone who is tops in their position (outside of Redding) have their contract come near to term recently. The Lions have been too busy offloading those injury prone vets and overpaid back-ups whose contracts were expiring...or made to expire. (snip snip)

So all in all, there are some definite progress areas (useful, again in either a capped or uncapped year) -- but that there are still a lot of areas where improvement needs to be seen, or how situations arising the near future (Roys contract, Raiola's Contract, Sims' s contract, Peterman's Contract) will show where they are at. Even in the improved areas, there is still a lot of room to move upwards. However, it does seem for the most part they are at least in the right forest, if not always on the right trail.

As for "that pinhead" (to quote nubsnobber) Clayton...

His article, when I re-read it, was a hack job from one end to the other. In the same paragraph that he bashes the Lions for not improving their running game (?), their oline (??) and says they don't have any future QB's on the roster after Kitna (????) he lost all credibility. Then topping it off by listing Smith, Lenon, Lewis and George Foster -- one of whom is the third safety this season, and at least two of whom I would bet won't be starting by September of 2008, much less 2010, just sent me into gales of laughter. I don't doubt the Lions could possibly draft someone to replace Lenon/Lewis at SLB next year.

Was he serious? Especially when he brushed off Tom Brady's contract potentially coming up during an uncapped season?? Or when he touts the rookies RB and T that Carolina picked up, dismissing that the Lions picked up same? Not only that, but of the "other" (assuming Otah starts at RT) 4 guys on the line -- 3 are playing in new positions, and the center was their backup last year. So in essence, they have an entirely new Oline. How do we know it's good? It is a bigger question mark than the Lions! Even basic logic follows the Lions to having at least a an above average line next year:

1. Lions Oline returns 4 starters
2. 2 of those starters (both G positions) have players pushing for playing time.
3. the LT has a young guy who started at RT taking reps behind him and breathing down his neck
4. Cherilus was considered 2nd best pure RT after Jake Long in the draft.
5. the Lions are moving to a more balanced offense from a 90% passing offense
6. the Lions are going to vary the QB drop so it is not always a 7 step drop, thus actually changing where a pass rusher will need to attempt to get to in order to sack the QB
7. This leads a logical person to believe that the Lions Oline has experience together as a unit, it's weakest point was improved, and the scheme is going to be Oline friendly
8. Thus, the Lions will have much improved Oline performance this season

See, that wasn't so hard John. You get paid to do this stuff -- why are you mailing it in? You even named a guy not on the Lions roster!! (although it was later removed, he named Kennedy at Safety with Smith the first time I read it. Couldn't find a cached version with it though) You checked the end of the season rosters instead of bothering to go to each team's site and check the roster there -- not for starters, but potential starters teams are grooming for two years from now...

I could go on about how the Lions drafted this year or last players to fill each of those positions he mentioned. He basically gave about the same arguments for his teams in the "good" and "bad" categories -- but for one set he put a positive spin saying they will get contracts done and find replacements, while he assumes the "bad" teams won't.

Final analysis on these stories and the CBA? Let the Unions and Owners negotiate and talk about it again when we know something concrete -- and 90% of all national sportswriters are hacks. The other 10% don't even bother pretending.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

After reading CHICKEN LITTLE'S article, I couldn't have said it better.

-nubs

JJLions20 said...

Not much is going to happen with the CBA until it is the 11th hour. That's the way most all negotiations work. So to me this is a non-issue. Of course for the front office, they need to plan for a non-cap season, because it may be a reality. Either way, the Lions will continue to get in a good cap position by cleaning up the dead money. This is the bite the bullet year. Next year will be the sign your own year. Look for a deal to be done with Roy, or they will tag him prior to 2009.

I going to take your 8 points and counter why I don’t give them too much credence, as you do to the improvement of the Lions in 2008. As you will see in the end, the biggest factor will be if Cherilous can produce as a dominant RT. That’s no easy task for a rookie.

1 - The Lions line looked real bad in 2007 as soon as Foster started to fizzle. It goes to show your only as good as your weakest link. Cherilous has not played a NFL snap yet. We really don't know if he will be an upgrade. I think so, and I hope so, but it is still a big question mark. If he is dominant then we are improved. But I have to caution you, we were saying the same types of things about Juan Roque, Aaron Gibson, Stokard McDougal, the summer before they took their first NFL snap.

2 - Competition is nice, but it is a small factor. I'd give more credence to depth than pushing a starter to get better.

3 - Backus is as good as he gets. Having Scott take reps at LT is not going to help Backus that much. Having depth if Backus should not e able to play would be helpful. But then again Backus is not exactly injury prone. He has not missed a game. But then again we may have done better it we could have afforded to sit him for a game or two. What may help Backus more is the zone blocking scheme. A scheme more suited to a players skill and abilities would have a bigger impact then having competition at his position.

4 - As far as Cherilous being the 2nd best RT in the draft, Well Harrington was the 2nd best QB in the draft when he came out. Ouch!!! The point is, a players draft status doesn’t matter once they get to camp. Only production matters now.

5 - I agree the balanced offense will help. Probably help the defense more than the offense.

6 - Once again, in my opinion you don't make big strides by altering the number of steps in your QB drops. This is one of the things that makes a good team better. But not bad tams good. Blocking people up front will have a bigger impact. A three step drop “could” mean the DE gets to the QB quicker if left un-blocked.

7 - The experience of an o-Line is important. Having four of the starters coming back is big. But it may be offset by implementing the zone blocking scheme. It's not like all the lineman know what the other is going to do in certain situations, because it's a new scheme and they have not been put in those situations together.

8 - A lot depends on Cherilous, and how dominant he can be as a rookie. If he blows guys off the line and is picking off LB's at the next level then the Lions running game may click. If they can run the ball, it will make for more single coverage on the WR because the safety has to support the run, therefore Kitna can just loft it up for Roy and CJ. So this could improve the passing game. It will also keep the Defense rested, and we should let up less points, especially in the 4th quarter.

So when it comes down to it, the real big impact is Cherilous developing quickly into a dominant RT? Can he? Will he? We'll see in August and September.

ClusterFox said...

Great Points Everyone! its tough to get excited about CBA talk so I'm sorry if I stray.

jjlions20,
You make a couple of good points, but a couple that could be argued. I'm not saying I know more than anybody. In regards to #2 over the years I've heard numerous players mention the importance of competition, even the lions article about t. Fischer that posted today he mentions it. On #6, I would agree if your making minor changes to the drop. But we are going from a majority of 7 step drops (which is a footrace between to DE going forward and the T back pedaling)to actually mixing things up. The point is the DE can't take the same line of a attack on every play or he's going to take himself out of the play half the time.
I do agree that alot rides on Goz. I also agree that hype is hype, but I did hear alot of good things about Goz before we drafted him.(Yet the Joey Ballgame Point still holds very true) Good luck finding positive articles about anybody now that we've drafted them.
What's driving me crazy is everyone picking the Vikings to be so dominant in the North because of the uncertainty of the QB position in CHI and GB, but then we're ranked below all three in most cases. They must be crazy. IMO GB is still the team to beat until they're proved otherwise. We'll battle for 2nd(maybe a wild card)with MIN. They'll blow a couple people out but between Peterson being gimpie for a couple of games and T. Jackson having a couple of ugly games they won't be far over .500. And CHI will bring up the rear unless there D plays like they did 2 years ago they don't have a shot. They'll win a few games with Hester and Gould by themselves.

Sorry for the Mini-rant It was a long night I'm sure for many of us.

CHIEFGER139 said...

like i said last blog
I dont see how this hurts us-it will hurt the better teams because they cant pick up free agents-the weaker teams like us actully benefit because we can pick someone up if needed. as far as how good cherlous is etc-we wont know-theres gonna be lots of new starters and we dont know if were better or worse-i think cherlious will be fine and even if not foster can do the job and how well we do will depend on our new running backs-if smith is a flop like calhoun we may be just as bad running the ball as last year-if foster cant protect kitna or cherlious cant we will lead the team in sacks again-but remember-backus was hurt early last year and when he got helthy it helped as much as woody coming in-if foster would of been playing with a healthy backus-maybe not all the sacks-i wonder if foster and cherlious could play better if backus gets hurt again??

Isphet said...

Great blog Detfan! I wish I hadn't been lazy and checked it out earlier.

Food for thought regarding the Roy Williams situation: If they don't get a new agreement in place, will there still be such a thing as a franchise tag to slap on Williams, or will all contracts be just that: contracts?

As for our running game, I think it hinges on how good Cherilus is at blowing people up. 24K absolutely favors running to the right side of the line on film. He struggles a bit when running left. Maybe struggle is too strong of a word, but he looks less natural and instinctive. Check out his film on You Tube and judge for yourselves on that one.

That Clayton's a d-bag, I've never really liked him much. He's good at reporting news and always seems to have the best information first, but his football analysis skills stink.

Anonymous said...

Guys

You got me all fired up talking X's and O's already. I love it.

jjlions20

I've got no issues with the things you said except #6. Some I may not agree with, but most I do. #6 is dead wrong.

Bad teams can't do anything (see the Chiefs and others) right because their rookie or backup QB's need a simple offense.

The ability to go hurry-up, shot gun, roll the pocket, 3, 5, 7 step drops. Any good team can, and bad teams can't. There are a few (Fouts, Anderson, Marino) that couldn't move in the pocket, but they weren't stuck in a 7 step drop pattern all the time.

That's 1 3/4"-2". The sack comes in 3 1/4"- 3 1/2" That's not much read/reaction time.

I will give you the fact that you need butts blocking blubber. I agree, but you should be able to let your linemen pound the DE's, too during the run game. That 7 step drop is Backus on an end ALL DAY LONG. No end or back to chip, no pulling a guard or center, NOTHING. BACKUS and a DE ALL DAY LONG playing patty-cake. That's an ass-kick waiting to happen even if it is Jonathan Ogden. And Backus only gives up two sacks--that's pretty good on some days against KGB, Udeze, Allen, or some others he faced.

When you can cross-block, double team, chip-and-drag, fold it, or pull and pop it makes a huge difference. As a DE, if you know that it is you and Jeff Backus all day long, you can play possum a few plays, then tear it up on third down. If you know the play is going away from you, you can take a play off even when Backus is running down field trying to pick off a LB flowing to the ball. Next play, you're ready. And what's even better is the honey pot is in the same place every time. It's like the rainbow is pointing you in.

Now, go to the LB's and DB's.
Seven step drop. No quick Brett Favre slants to worry about. No quick curls, no screens. It's all route running.

Give me a play action five step. At least the "D" will have to respect both run and pass every play.

-nubsnobber

JJLions20 said...

Nubs,
I just don't think changing the number of steps drops equates to "big strides". It does help, but it's not what is going to turn around the team. Just my opinion. I don't expect everybody to agree with it, of if we all had the same opinion, this site would be boring.


Clusterfox,
I agree the competition is beneficial for the long haul. Over time it builds a better team, once again I don't see it turning around the team in 2008.

My point is that the biggest impact is dominating the right side of the line of scrimmage will have the biggest impact. Even that won't turn the team around but it will be a major impact.

Anonymous said...

jj

I think all these things are inter-related. I think I know where you want to go with this.

From what I've seen of our New Kevin, he tends to cut to the right and likes to run right more often than not. I think it goes to both Foster and Peterman's strengths. Cherilus I didn't watch much last year, and this past year he was on the left side. He loves to block run, as does Manny Ramirez. Edwin is a crusher. He blocked well when Baltimore had Lewis and probably should've earned a Pro-Bowl trip.

The cut guy, or "pull" guy will probably end up being Raiola. One, he is light (not a big, physical guy). Two, he pulls well. Three, the Lions play mainly 4-3 teams. Therefore there is no one usually lining up head-to-head overtop Raiola when facing a 4-3. This will suit Raiola well, too.

So, yes, going right will help the offense. Running more will help the offense, time of possession, and resting the defense.

But the timing of the offense will change as well.

As a DE in a seven step drop, I know I need to take (say 10) steps, reach, and tamahawk for the ball. Think of a big arch coming around 90 degrees for the QB. If you run a draw out of a three step drop, I have now (big time) overpursued the play and taken myself out of the play, and Jeff Backus didn't even really need to do anything. All he has to do is escort me around. I am half way through that arch, and the back should have the ball and be through the hole I just created back where I started my arch 2 seconds prior.

With different drops quicker passes can result; that's all. And tempo can be huge.

Remember when Boomer Esiason's Bengals started the "Hurry-up Offense" trend. The Bengals did this sometimes in the first quarter. They would do that for a few reasons. One, it would trap the defense that was on the field during teh previous play as there wasn't enough time to get them off the field. So if you first went with four receivers, but put them in wierd positions like a goalline set, the defense would send in a Heavy Run package. Next play, you're speeding up to the line and go four wides, the defense gets burned because they don't have four CB's (nickel, dime guys) to cover them.

The other reason to do this though, is tempo. It gets your offense in a rhythym. It lets your QB feel like he is dictating the pace of the game. The defense can only react at this point.

When you are in the same type of passing system all the time, the defense is now dictating everything you do because you can't change the pace or tempo.

But, ultimately, like you said. You have to put a body on a body, or Butts Blocking Blubber" or you give up 63 sacks.

-nubs

Anonymous said...

jj

The other issue you are bringing up, I agree with as well.

Clusterfox is right that competition is good, but these guys aren't there yet. You've got the vets (mentors like Darby, Kelly, Kitna). And you've got the rookies (Flu, 5-0, Stanton). These guys are trying to absorb everything and trying to do it right, they aren't ready to compete yet. The young guys aren't brash or cocky yet and aren't competing to the point where the vets are worried. (Other than Jared deVries, Shaun Cody, and a few other spots) this is a safe learning environment and the vets are going to be there in Septemeber.

Once the young guys learn their role, then you'll see that good competition.