Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lions Roster Evolves

Hello all -- had my last Fantasy Draft today (NetRat's League). As many of you know (read comments on last post) the Lions have dropped McHugh and Cannon in favor of RB Marcus Thomas off waivers from the Chargers, and LB Ryan Nece from Tampa Bay.

(The second set of stats is for Thomas in the article linked to above. It is a typo that may or may not be corrected before you read it.)

I was a bit surprised to see Owens stay still -- they must be a lot less sure of Campbell than we think. However, after game one his salary is guaranteed, so I hope they are right about him bouncing back. My thought (and many others) is that Owens will be around til they are sure Campbell is healthy, and then cut for a returner or another RB.

I also saw the practice squad -- very interesting. (it is also in the article above)

They are (this is a very fluid group, so I expect this list to change): LB Darnell Bing, G Matt Butler, RB Allen Ervin, WR Eric Fowler, QB Drew Henson, S LaMarcus Hicks, WR Kenneth Moore and TE Jake Nordin.

Interesting that Henson is there -- likely to help with the Scout Team O until Stanton is back.

At WR - must be something they like about Fowler, and depending on how the return game is going they may bring Moore off the PS to replace Owens when Campbell is fully back -- or more likely sign Middleton or Ellis back as they haven't been signed elsewhere as of yet.

At LB Darnell Bing showed a lot in the preseason, and I'm glad they got him back. S Lamarcus Hicks did OK, and I think he's there to call up as a 4th S if on of the S gets hurt, or a CB gets hurt forcing Pearson, Alexander, or Smith into duty at Nickleback.

Of interest to me were G Matt Butler (who was supposed to be a cross train at C) and RB Allen Ervin. Both were cut fairly early in camp, but both were players that we pegged early on as seeming to have potential. Butler, especially, could see a lot of time at G/C this season, in prep to compete for a backup C spot next ifseason? Who knows.

Also of interest on this latest article is that LB Nece they picked up is trained at all 3 LB spots -- best at SLB and had his best season there, while he also knows the WLB and MLB.

Sadly, Buster Davis was picked up by Indianapolis where he will back-up starter Gary Brackett ahead of Rookie Phillip Wheeler who needs "...more time to develop in what is the hardest position to learn in this defense." Good for him, as he is well suited -- as we discussed -- to be a backup MLB in the T2; unfortunately, the Lions needed a future starter to groom behind and rotate in with the vet Lenon. While I would have liked to see him stay, it would have been at the expense of Cohen -- and the Lions could afford to lose Buster to another team in the long run more than Cohen. With a couple of T2 and other teams short on DT's, including 2 in the division, it was imperative he not hit waivers. Looking at the fact that Indy was eyeing defensive cuts by the Lions should also say a lot about how well they played in the pre-season.

Also picked up was G Frank Davis by the Bengals. They were thin on the Oline after their C was placed on IR (funny enough, he got the injury against Detroit).

I think that the Lions roster will continue to evolve and change. When the first roster was released, it didn't have that usual feel of "good enough" that we've grown so accustomed to as Lions fans. Definitely I will be taking a longer look at the position groups, but as looking at Rudi shows -- the Lions are not done yet. I'd be surprised to see a signing before the first game, as then the salary would be guaranteed and I'm not sure where the Lions would find the cap space. It will be interesting to see where the Lions go next.

Marinelli says that it all starts up front with the Line in the DD (Detroit Deuce). In keeping 11 Dlinemen, he is certainly sticking to his guns. Pray Sims stays healthy. Gardner-Lenon-Lewis is not a LB unit I ever want to see on the field unless the team is leading by more than 34 points in the 4th. And not even then.

Did anyone over on the West Coast or anywhere get a chance to see the new RB Thomas in the preseason? It is obvious the Lions had their eye on a RB or two they expected to get cut when they made their own cuts, and I'm curious to how he looked.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Marinelli's Men" - How'd we do?

My first thought was that none of us did so hot on our Marinelli's men. For instance, I didn't go with my wild "I think they should keep 11 Dlinemen but it's about as likely as me finding a million dollars in a suitcase tomorrow on my front door labeled 'Because I love your Blog'."

Bell still was the best option behind Smith (must have found Millen's pictures of WCF), Calhoun and Cason both went on IR (Calhoun always goes on IR, but Cason is usually cut and resigned a half a dozen times), and Blue injured himself while Ramzee Robinson played very well when the lights went on, showing he's got it where it counts -- on the field.

The Final 53 (in picture format) as it appeared on about 9:00pm EST today:

(Click on Picture to view Larger/Legibly)

Anyways, I looked over the rosters we posted both pre-preseason, up to just before the cuts were announced today, and found some interesting things.

Everyone knew that Hanson, Mulbach, Harris were making it. We all had all three QB's correct. Everyone also had Felton in at FB, and the top 4 WR,CB, and S as well. the top 4 LB were correct by everyone (Lenon, Lewis, Sims, Dizon)

On Oline, we were good minus a lot of people pegging 10 Oline, when they only went with 9 on the Oline and an extra Defensive player. Everyone whiffed on keeping Damion Cook over Jon Scott, although Scott looked awful in the preseason - and Cook also plays G so they have McCollum at C/G and Cook at OT/G. Neither could even come close to looking as bad as the G/C/T combo of Baline Saipia last season.

At RB the injuries to Calhoun and Cason in the last game, neither of which anyone knew was that bad threw off the RB predictions, along with only keeping 2.

At LB most of us had Davis making it in 6 or 7 man configurations, and it was split about 50/50 Cannon/Gardner making the roster -- and both did.

As for that 5th S/5th CB spot, I did call Ramzee in my last post before the cuts, but not on my roster *sigh*

Did anyone really think they'd keep 4 TE and 4 Wr, and only 2 RB? No one on here. (not including TE/FB McHugh?)

Not too much else jumped out at me about our predictions. The top 40 spots we had nailed down before camp -- it was those other 13 that gave us, and I'm sure the coaching staff, fits.

Still amazing -- the Lions had to cut talent, and keep more guys (11) at a position than they wanted because instead of hanging out waiting for the Lions to call, they would have been snatched up by other teams.

"30 Lock" - How'd we Do?

We looked at our own individual take on which 30 players would make the final roster. Then, we put together a group "30 Lock" list. So how safe were our locks? Did we do well, or get robbed blind?

Here is the List again:

Here is the "Total Lock" list garnering 12 votes apiece:
QB - Kitna
QB - Stanton
WR - Williams
WR - Furrey
OT - Backus
OG - Mulitalo
C - Raiola
OT - Cherilus
DT - Redding
DT - Darby
LB - Sims
CB - Kelly
CB - Bodden
PK - Hanson
In other words, over half of the list was unanimous. Needless to say, any players from the above 16 not on the final roster would definitely shock this fan community!
Next up we have the "99% Pure" group -- those tallying 11 of 12 votes:

DE - White
LB - Dizon
LB - Lenon
S - Alexander
P - Harris

So we made it through a total of 21 of our 30 "Locks" with just those getting all, or only missing one vote. Now we move to "Missed a Couple, but that's OK" (9 or 10 votes)

QB - Orlovsky
RB - K. Smith
DT - Fluellen
S - Bullocks
S - D. Smith
LS - Mulbach
TE - Gaines
OG - Peterman

Yes, I know that brings us to a grand total of....29 The next highest vote getter, in the coveted 30th spot is:
Cliff Avril with 7 votes.

The "Got votes, but not of Confidence" group is still likely to make the 53, but as this list has shown, it could be adios:
CB - Fisher (6 votes)
FB - Felton (4 votes)
TE - D. Campbell (4 votes)
OT - J. Scott (4 votes)
FB - Bradley (3 votes)
DT - L. Moore (2 votes)
CB - K. Smith (2 votes)
OT - Foster (1 vote)
WR - McDonald (1 vote)
OG - Ramierez (1 vote)
LB - A. Lewis (1 vote)
DE - Devries (1 vote

By looking at the list above, you can see that back on May 27th we picked 40 of the 53 guys who make the final roster. Our two misses? OT Scott and FB Bradley, one of whom went on IR.

However, it was among the bottom 13 that the most competition took place, and where the most uncertainty was. A couple of injures to guys in that area also impacted the final cuts (With Calhoun and Cason going on IR). One thing we commented on at the time was how uncertain the RB situation would be -- and we couldn't have been more right! (only keeping 2 true RB, and Felton at FB/HB, McHugh FB/TE).

Great Job Everyone!!!

Cuts Announced

Dave Birkett has a list of 19 of 21 cuts -- there were two TBA, who ended up being Cason to IR and OT Scott was released - Making Damion Cook the final lineman. So far, not so good for some fan favorites.

They are:

WR Ron Bellamy, LB Darnell Bing, S Greg Blue, LB Buster Davis, OG Frank Davis, DE Victor DeGrate, CB Dovonte Edwards, WR Devale Ellis, DE Rudolph Hardie, TE Clark Harris, QB Drew Henson, S LaMarcus Hicks, OG Corey Hulsey, LB Leon Joe, WR Brandon Middleton, WR Kenneth Moore, RB Artose Pinner, WR John Standeford, CB Kiwaukee Thomas.

It is good to note that it appears the Lions have kept Ramzee Robinson, and Cohen. Also, they only have two backs (Smith, Bell), and 2 FB (Felton and McHugh) -- for 4 total. More analysis and commentary on the cuts, as well as reviewing the final roster this evening. (there were only 20 cuts needed as Calhoun and Cason went on IR. Since Blue is injured, it is not likely he will be picked up either.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

4th Game/Pre Cut Thoughts

First off, I wouldn't want to be a coach in Detroit today or tomorrow. Why you ask? Because they get the honor of deciding which talented players to cut, and which to keep.

So many of their guys on the bubble have shown so much, that even those who are practice squad eligible will be hard to get through waivers (read: near impossible) and those not eligible will likely be snatched up by other teams.

We've looked a lot at guys on the bubble, and guys who are locks to make the team. I know just as much as you, and in fact, the Lions coaches do about who they are gong to cut. I can bet you when they woke up this morning, at least a half dozen or more of those 22 cuts they need to make were "undecided".

This is, for Lions fans, a frustrating and new experience. I know that in years past I would see cut-down day coming, and there were no real surprises among who made it -- and who didn't. There was so little talent throughout the bottom 2/3 of the roster that they were literally interchangeable with guys off the street. (Yes, I know 2/3 of 53 is 35 and would include at least 4 starters. Maybe 2/3 was generous.)

Now, I find things different. In Marinelli's first two years the roster holes were bigger than the Potholes in Lansing's fine streets. In year one, it was competition to start at quite a few positions, although many were taken unchallenged. Then last year, it was a fight for starters, and some backups started to battle. This ifseason, however, the Lions leaped to the point they had established starters at over half of the roster, and guys fighting tooth and nail in battles not only within position groups, but between position groups as players tried to make their case that they should keep extra guys at one group due to talent, over another.

Best examples: Dline and WR

While the RB's outside of Smith were really doing their best to see who could screw themselves out of a roster spot first Middleton, Ellis and Standeford were busy trying to convince the coaches with their play that the Lions needed to keep a 5th wideout, and hey, why not 6? Personally, I wish they could keep Middleton and Standeford, but as it stands right now I'd go for Middleton. When finally given a strong opportunity, he looked pretty good returning kicks in the 4th game. It was frustrating to see the Bills keep kicking out of bounds. Give the returners a chance to fight for a spot! I like Standeford as a WR -- and I think he could play at least as well as McDonald. But he doesn't bring it on ST like a 3rd/4th wideout needs to, so may end up cut. (Although his best bet at sticking on a roster may be to stay in shape, hope a Lions WR gets injured, and try to get them to forget about ponying up for Roy and McD. It will be one, the other, or neither. I don't see both staying. After Martz screws over Nolan in SanFran he'll be spending big for McD.) Moore is going to the practice squad.

On the Dline, who hasn't made a case to be kept? At DT Darby, Fluellen, Redding, Moore, Cohen, and Cody all look able to contribute as starters or in rotation (I included Cody in that group -- he looked OK, but not great - I thought him an Cohen looked about the same, and Cohen has more upside.) Cohen likely won't clear Waivers -- a lot of teams are thin at DT right now, and at least one would be willing to sign him to the active roster on potential shown in the preseason. Moore would also be snatched up by a team looking for some depth at DT.

At DE, C. Smith, White, IAF, Avril, and DeVries are all looking solid -- and with IAF starting to show up as a beast when they replace him with Avril on passing downs and he slides inside to replace Darby....muddies the waters even more.

With how important the Dline is, and the number of run teams, how about 11 Dlinemen? (also suggested by Dave Birkett)Darby is getting up there, and if Cohen continues to progress, there is no need to pay Cody to stick around next ifseason. So they keep 11, and only go with 6 LB and 8 DB's. Robinson will stick on the practice squad another year -- Kelly is aging, and he knows they will likely keep 5 CB's next season when the Dline gets slimmed a bit. With how they rotate, I'm just fine with having 10 guys and 8 rotating each game day on the Dline. Robinson knows Det is his best option to start at some point, ala Kieth Smith. Gut says Robinson to practice squad, and bides his time. Not bad for a Mr. Irrelevant at this juncture.

BTW - I wouldn't be surprised if they stuck Blue on IR with his hamstring injury, and cut injury settlement ties with Calhoun. Getting dinged up again has pretty much ended his stint with the Lions. Unfortunate as he had some great potential, but that is why it is the dreaded word. Blue will be able to come back next year, with smith a year older and compete once again. A hamstring injury can take a long time to get over, and is not at all good when goal-line D and hitting on ST are your specialty. With Bullocks looking as healthy as ever, Blue is in line to be cut anyway.

At LB, I disagree with Killer. He has more insider info than I do, but cutting Davis due to not having a "backup SLB" is silly -- Lenon is the backup SLB to Lewis in reality. Dizon would move to starter, and Davis would back him up should Lewis get injured. Cannon, Gardner and Joe were primarily fighting to be Sims' backup as I noticed they were all given chances at WLB to earn the backup job. Sure, you technically have 3 MLB - BUT - one of them is the backup SLB. As a bonus, when Dizon takes over starting it the middle, you still have Davis and Lenon to back up what is one of the most important positions on the defense.

So while it is sad that the Lions will have to bid Adieu to so much great talent, and great fan favorites, it is a happy kind of sad. Because the Lions finally are building a team based on a sound solid foundation. A core of players that will be there for years to come.

More on the cuts tomorrow, including how we did on our "Marinelli's Men" guesses, as well as our "30 Lock" - 30 players guaranteed to make the roster barring injury that we did some months back after the draft, and completed before camp. Will there be any surprises??

Guess we'll know tomorrow. Until 4pm (since the Lions always announce at the last minute) what are your thoughts??

People you want to see stay/go and how/why?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thoughts on the Third Preseason Game

My first thought was "wow - the Lions starters look great!". My second thought was "Dang, the Browns look like crap!"

All I've seen is talking about how the Browns were "down" a few starters -- Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards, and Jamal Lewis. The Lions didn't use Cory Redding, starting DT. They also pulled Kitna, Roy and CJ in the first quarter. Wouldn't that, relatively speaking, put them on a relatively equal footing with the Browns? Especially when they pulled K. Smith after the TD run? The browns, into the 3rd quarter still had their starting O and D on the field!

I was, however, good practice for the Lions D especially as their second, and even some 3rd string guys got to put their performance against starters on tape. Good Stuff.

The Lions running game didn't get a lot going - other than the passing game, that is. For the third week in a row teams were reminded (especially on Smiths great TD run) that if they cheat the pass, the Lions will scorch them on the ground. Backus threw a great block on that play, and the Oline literally tied up everyone but the secondary onto the wrong side of the Smith.

Orlovsky's block was great and underscored something else that showed: Orlovsky has progressed to where, if Kitna goes down for a bit, he can lead this team. The players know that he will be playing every down until the whistle blows and can do what it takes to lead them to a score. Did he throw a boneheaded pick? Yup. Did he get over it and lead the team? Yup.

Usually Don Banks writes some pretty decent analysis, but I have to disagree about Orlovsky being the 31st rated backup QB in the league. I could see plenty of teams on that list who would be waaay more screwed if their starter went down than the Lions would be right now. Grossman or Orlovsky? Heck, Orton or Orlovsky? Seriously now - Don did what everyone does now and then and just pulled this one out of his hat. How good was Tom Brady rated as a NE backup QB?

I disagree that the Lions "wasted" time against a 3-4 since they only "see it once" during the season. If they struggle against it, they will see it a lot more than that. They were able to start breaking off runs for good gain in the first half, so I don't see teams throwing in extra 3-4 to beat them as of right now. But if they make the playoffs, it's about 50/50 as to 3-4 and 4-3 teams they'll face. While it's true the best 3-4 teams are in the AFC, there are still a couple (Dallas) that come to mind in the NFC.

The Lions have been dominating with their first team O -- and I loved what I saw from them in the third game. Marinelli wasn't trying to win it with his starters -- he wasn't even really trying to work on the run game in that first quarter. He was running some hurry up since the starters hadn't had an opportunity. The Lions are treating the preseason right - a warmup and live practice, and a chance to evaluate guys on the bubble.

If I'm Standeford, I ignore wavier offers and count on the Lions not paying big-bucks to McDonald and being able to catch onto the Lions roster in 2009. Funny how I've read lists of places to go if you want a fair tryout -- and Rod Marinelli in Detroit was on every list. Why? Because irregardless of draft position, veteran, etc. -- if you are the best player, you get more time and you get a shot to make the team. Ask Leon Joe, or even Dave Raynor what kinds of tryouts/tape building they got. Standeford can try a year on the practice squad and, with the injuries this WR corps seems to pile on each year, he has a great shot at being called up and/or sticking next year. Same thing goes for Robinson, who also has practice squad eligibility and sees what sticking with the Lions can developing has done for Keith Smith - who in my opinion, after 3 preseason games, is looking like a good re-sign last ifseason and likely to get an extension if he plays well this year. Definitely made great strides from last year to this, unlike Stanley Wilson.

At RB - I liked what Calhoun showed on his runs. He was running hard, and hitting the lanes well. He is not a long term, every down back but could do very well at being a change-up/breather/backup to K. Smith. I don't think the Lions will go the way I want them to on this, but the amount of work Bell, Pinner, and Calhoun get and where in the 4th preseason game will be an indicator. I think Pinner's lack of reps in the 3rd game had everything to do with wanting to see what other guys could do since they had seen what they wanted out of Pinner. I still think Cason could get cut, but it seems to be a slim chance at best.

the defense, overall, looked very solid. Still need to do a little better against the run, but once again they seemed to wear out the Offense, versus the other way around. And the Browns WR were getting roughed up as bad or worse by the D than the Cincy ones were. They were catching the ball and hightailing it OB instead of going for YAC. That says a lot right there. I loved the dazed look on I think Kasper's face as three Lions (not sure which three, not in my notes) just pancaked him from all directions as he made the catch. Unless Mike Furrey is your slot WR, your men over the middle will be VERY gun shy...

Have to get ready for the FFB Dynasty League draft tonight. A look at the 4th game, final thoughts before cuts, followed by lots of thoughts after cuts as we head into the season.

Go Lions!!

Cuts to 75

The Lions made five cuts on Tuesday — DE Claude Harriott, DB Stephen Howell, C Carroll Madison, LB Tyrone Pruitt and K Dave Rayner — in order to get down to the league-mandated limit of 75 players. The final roster will have to be set by 4 p.m. on Saturday. ...

You ahve until then to submit your 53 to see who is closest. I notice we've all been pretty simliar so far, with some minor differences.

I did see the 3rd preseason game, but haven't had time to type up my analysis (soccer started for my girls). Look for it tomorrow evening. (the DF79 Annual ReDraft League drafted tonight, and the Dynasty League drafts tomorrow evening late.)

Keep up the great comments!! Can't wait for the season to start!


Monday, August 25, 2008

"Marinelli's Men" - Your 53

Okay all - it's that time. First cut-down is tomorrow, and the final cuts are following very soon after. Who makes it? Who doesn't? Are there any just too close to call?

I'll post my updated list this evening (highlighting changes from before the preseason games, including for injuries), and then maybe update it just before the final cuts.

You guess at who "Marinelli's Men" will be?

{updated - here are mine. This is who I think the Lions will keep, not who I want them to keep. I'll put who I want if it differs.}

25 Offense:

QB: (3) Kitna, Orlovsky, Stanton
RB: (3) Smith, Bell, Cason [I'd go Smith, Pinner, Calhoun - more upside]
FB: (2) Felton, McHugh
WR: (5) CJ, Roy, McD, Furrey, Middleton [I'd like to see Standeford make PS, along w/Moore]
TE: (3) Campbell, Gaines, Fitzsimmons [I'd prefer 2 and a 5th wideout, but it's not happening]
O-Line: (9)
G: (3) Mulitalo, Peterman, Ramierez
OT: (4) Backus, Foster, Scott, Cherilus
C: (2) Raiola, McCullum

25 Defense:

LB: (7)
MLB: (3) Davis, Dizon, Lenon
WLB: (2) Sims, Cannon
SLB: (2) Lewis, Gardner

Dline: (9)
DE: (4) White, IAF, DeVries, Avril
DT: (5) Redding, Darby, Cody, Moore, Fluellen

CB: (4) Keith Smith, Bodden, Kelly, Fisher

S: (5) Bullocks, Alexander, Smith, Pearson, Blue

I would like 6 LB -- moving Davis to SLB, or rotating Lenon to SLB and Dizon getting PT at MLB. That would free up room for Robinson, who seems to really be maturing into a solid T2 CB.

I'd also dump Cody since IAF moves inside on passing down, and keep C. Smith on the outside at DE as an additional pass rush specialist.

This was a tough cut down to look at, and I'm sure I've got several wrong. There were more players I wanted to keep than roster spots. We'll see in about a week.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back in Town, Game Tape In Hand

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend! Sorry to hear about the injury Nubs -- hope it gets to feeling better!

Mrs. DetFan1979 and I just got back from a weekend in beautiful Grand Haven, and I have a game tape courtesy of DF79's kid sister (with profuse thanks!) I will try to watch through the game tonight and tomorrow so I can blog on it.

The first cut-downs are Tuesday, so it will be interesting to see who are the first to go...

Your thoughts on the game? (for those that have seen it?)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Preseason Game 2 Wrap-Up

With the ever important third preseason game fast approaching, and the first cut-down only a week away, I decided to wrap up my general observations (due to time contraints) on the 2nd preseaon game, and overall impact on the final roster:

Cody has played OK, but still seems to be imitating the invisible man out there -- he is not making misakes, but he's not really making plays either.

At LB - Lenon, Lewis, Sims and Dizon are locks, while Davis is close. That leaves about 1 spot left open. Gardner has made a couple of nice ST plays, but Canon despite missing on one play, played better while in at LB than Gardner and contributed just a much on ST. Leon Joe is not practice squad eligible, but while he has looked pretty good, he is fighting against more than the LB for a roster spot.

ST coverage units looked great on the whole, and th return unit seemed to be improving outside fo one thing: Finding an electric returner. Cason is OK, I liked what I saw from Midddleton and Moore had a good return, but he hasn't shown enough elsewhere and should make it to the practice squad.

At WR, I'd like to see them find a way to keep Standeford and/or Middleton. Not so sure Middleton will make it to/is eligible for practice squad -- same for Standeford. Part of me, with McDonald and Roy W. having contracts up next year, would like to see them trade McDonald and keep sign one of the younger guys to keep around. Furrey, along with being a great wideout, is also a big contributor on ST and the kind of guy teams need more of.

On Dline, Cohen and Hardie looked pretty good for where they were drafted, but I think both will make it to the practice squad.

At CB, Ramzee Robinson had a heck of a game. A lot of the 2nd/3rd stringers got a chance to play against the Bengals starters/2nd team and Robinson made the most of this playing time showing that he has made progress. He may end up on the practice squad for another year though (I think he has one year of eligibility left.) -- my worry is that with how he is playing, a team like Tampa or Indy will be looking at snatching him off the wire. Cleveland and Dallas are short on CB as well, so I'm a little leery of letting even a halfway decent one go -- he's been showing good progress. Right now, based on in-game performance, I think Robinson has the edge if they keep 5 CB.

Greg Blue has to stay on this roster. His coverage skills are improving some, but on special teams and goal-line or short yardage running situations all he does on the field is consistently make plays. Blue's contract? Not too bad. Stuffing the run on 4th and 1? Priceless

The coaching staff, with how hard the team is playing from top to bottom, will have a hard time when it comes to the first round of cuts, much less the final cut to 53.

Speaking of guys improving, how about Drew Stanton? Is he progressing well or what? He also seems to be just the right type of QB for the new style of the offense the Lions are running. While concentrating on throwing versus running will come with time, he seemed to be a real gamer out there making plays and motivating the offense. There was definitely a zest to his performance out there that looked promising. Another year or two developing behind Kitna (this and next) and the Lions' future at QB doesn't look too bad.

I noticed after reading commentary that a lot of people blasted DanO. While I could see what they were saying, I think the coaches were intentionally pushing DanO out of his comfort zone in the pocket, where he has shown he does very well, and getting him moving around. He is not very good at it -- but isn't that why they had him do it? The idea is to work on things in preseason, not win the game.

At RB, I still see Smith, Pinner, Cason as the top three backs -- but something tells me they still keep Bell around as insurance "just in case"... but after he has run the last couple of weeks, I'm not so sure he is a lock. The zone running is supposed to be his niche, and Smith has been out-running, out-passioning, and out-blocking him. With Felton and Smith held back blocking on a couple of those blitzes, it looked like the Iron Curtain walling off Kitna from the Defense (in the first quarter). Both of those guys will be starting, day 1.

How is that for a novelty -- with Bradley on IR Felton will be the starting FB - a 5th round pick. Speaking of FB -- after the game that he had how do they not keep McHugh as a FB/TE? With Bradley out I'm calling Felton/McHugh at FB.

Great dialogue on the Oline on the last post here, and I suggest everyone read those comments for a good idea of the transition to zone blocking.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1st Quarter Remainder

I did a full every-snap analysis for the first quarter to gauge the starters. I fully expect the starters to be mostly taken out as the second quarter starts, so I may not be as detailed on the other quarters. (Time constraints also come into play as I don't have 4 1/2 hours to spend watching the remaining 45 minutes of the game.)

Back to the remainder of the First Quarter:

9:03 left, 1st Quarter, Lions 2nd Offensive Series

1. 1:10 Great protection of Jon Kitna. Quick throw to CJ - GEEZ - I know the Bengal's D isn't the tops in the league, but it looks like CJ is playing college corners out there, not NFL starters.

2. 2:1 Kitna Audibles at the line - must see something he likes. They are in a run formation - 2 wide, 2 back, Gaines and I think Fitz at TE. And it is an amazing pass as Kitna once again gets good protection and is able to step up into the pocket clean, plant, & throw a great deep ball to CJ - 35 or 40 yds in the air - who outruns both the CB and the S for an easy TD. Kitna laid it right in there. Looks like, on the replay, that the CB knew he was beat and got his hands on CJ who just slaps them away and blows right by him. Like TO or a young Moss without the attitude. Good audible by Kitna as the Bengals D was keyed in on the run.

The Lions First team has, overall, looked very strong against the Bengal's first team. They ran well, which opened up the outside passing game as advertised. With how good the Lions WR are all it takes is an ability to run well -- not great, just well -- and teams will be forced to figure out whether to die a slow death 4-12 yards at a time, or in larger chunks with the passing game -- because as soon as they key in to stop the run BAM! deep strike TD, or 40 yard gain.

Lions Defensive Series #2

The first series ended with an interception, so I can curious to see how this one goes.

KOR - Coverage: Nice tackle by Pearson as the coverage unit looks good again -- getting down there quick and tackling well.

1:10 Fake Draw, secondary doesn't bite at all and Palmer is forced by coverage and pressure to throw it away. Nice penetration by the line while the secondary gave them time with tight coverage. Still taking them too long to get in there -- however, Redding and White are going full steam tonight, and really starting to push some guys around. Nice intensity by the starting line.

Interesting note by the announcers that over 80% of the total plays last year were 7 step drops. I don't care who smart your O coordinator is supposed to be -- that's not pass happy, that's lunacy. Anyone have time/resources to fact check these hacks?

2:10 Maxiel does well on a route underneath. Those short underneath routes still killing the Lions, and the pressure took too long to get there.

1:10 Nice push again by the Bengals big mooing Oline still bowling over the smaller Dline -- but they make them work for it, and even though it is a nice long run, it is mostly sideways as the LB and DB get up in some great run support to head him off and take him down. Great intensity by the entire D to swarm in and turn a great push into just a 5 yard gain. There was real potential for a big play there, but the Lions D essentially stuffs it. Still, only 2:5 coming up and they need to get off the darn field!

2:5 Really nice catch on a low throw by Holt as Palmer has lots of pressure with Lenon in his face on a delayed blitz. It was a lucky "catch" -- and one, during the season, I would expect them to challenge. They didn't replay it, so I did a couple of times, and it looks like it hit the ground and bounces back up into his arms, which he then cradles underneath it. Lions let it go -- but even though he managed the catch, it wasn't easy and with forcing throws like that, it is only a matter of time before the Defense can force or take advantage of an error or miss.

Interesting - Canon comes on as the Lions have begun to rotate their starters out and the second string in at various places. Looks like the Bengals are sticking all in with the first team Offense. I can see as this is the second offensive series, but can't help but wonder: with how non-explosive the Bengals have looked tonight, will they leave in their first team offense against the Lions' #2's? While I think it would be silly of Bengals, it would make for great experience and evaluation of the second string D. Unfortunately, if they do well -- the nat'l media will be all about the Bengals "getting it going" and fail to mention it was against Lions backups. If the Lions keep playing like they have been, they will earn their respect on film.

Det 43 1:10 Nice Run by perry for about 6 yds. Good Job by Alexander & Bodden of getting into the hole in run support. Alexander needs to forget about big SportsCenter hits and wrap up his guy though. Disappointing, as I know he can do better than that. Here's where the Bengals should ride Perry until the Lions show they can stop him.

2:5 pickup of about 4 as they do just that.
3:1 big down for the Lions D -- they need to get off the field!! and the y blow it, but something doesn't look right at the snap. Ahh -penalty, only 6 guys on the line.
3:6 Lions get another chance to get off the field. 3 wide - perry out. Shotgun - 3 step drop and perfect slant throw in front of Bodden, who was just a step to far off and the Bengals are finally starting to find a groove on offense. Hope it doesn't last.

1:10 Bodden great coverage as Palmer tries to loft one into the endzone. Smith comes over and is there to help -- and almost comes up with an INT. Good throw, but better coverage by the secondary. They are definitely much improved over last season.

2:10 Draw play that Redding just Blows Up! in the backfield. He continues tonight to be the relentless beast of 2006. I'm thinking he's healthy again, how about you fellows?

3:11 Finally - the D has them in third and long. D White again as he gets an SBS (Should Be Sack) against Palmer as the QB just manages to toss it OB, with White literally all over him. This Lions D kept getting more aggressive as the drive continued, until they finally just out-hit the Bengals offense into submission. Funny -- they seem to be wearing down the Bengals Offense instead of the other way around -- the Dline is getting more push now, and almost seems to have worn out the giants on the Bengals Oline and the Detroit Dline Midgets are still hammering away. Must be that pad level, which has looked good from the Dline.

4:11 I don't understand why a FG here in the preseason is the right call. All coaches say that they don't gameplan for the opponent this second preseason game, and that the win doesn't matter. They say they are just trying things out, testing players, seeing what they have. Why Kick a FG then??? Kicker need game practice?? Graham is a seasoned vet. Lions proved last week how silly it is when Hanson got hurt. Why not run another play, and if it doesn't get the first, your D (first or second string) gets some great practice defending a short field. Oh well, NFL coaches often check their jewels in at the gate and pick them back up after the game.



White just knifes in and bats it down. No sack, but he does come up with a blocked kick. Rogers who?

Lions "O" - about 1/2 second team (Dan O at QB, CJ is out, Roy is in.

1:10 Try the bootleg with Dan O, proving that they aren't trying to win - but work on weak areas. Dan O has developed into an excellent pocket passer -- but in the new Lions O he is going to have to roll out some -- so they are getting him some good in game practice on it while they have the chance. Unfortunately, since it is not at all his strong suit (he threw this ball at Furrey's feet) I expect him to look pretty bad at it, and people will start calling for Stanton as #2 soon. In game, I'm pretty sure if he had to come in for Kitna they would stick to his strengths -- accurate darts out of the pocket. As I rewound to look over the play again, realized the Bengals still have in what appears to be their entire first string D. Maybe I was wrong and we'll Carson Palmer play an entire half. Considering his injury history, I think it would be crazy but stranger things have happened.

Maybe they forgot how to count, and think it's the 3rd game.

2:10 Run. Smith. Nothing going. 2 yds. Decent blocking by the Oline, but the Bengals Dline wanted it more.

3:8 Roy just short of the first. OK route by Roy, but I'm not sure if Roy knew where the marker was. Decent protection by the line, but Dan O feels hurried and pushes the throw in too soon, good catch, but no first.

4:? I can see why the Lions are punting -- considering how ST played last week, the coverage teams need all the in game practice they can get. Couple that with several inter-positional battles for those last 4 or 5 roster spots this year by truly talented individuals that will be decided by special teams play. Funny -- this one down is more important for evaluation for cut downs than the entire last offensive drive because of the number of players and positions it impacts in regards to making the cuts.

Great coverage again. The ST unit is really on fire as Gardner hustles down there and makes the tackle.

Bengals Offense, Take 3. First Team Offense STILL on the field:

So Palmer is still in, as the Lions are for all intents and purposes into the second string Defense. This ought to give IAF, Cody, Moore, Fluellen, and Avril a chance to show what the "backups" can do against the Bengals starters. Same for Dizon and the LB competing for spots.

1:10 Run for three, nothing impressive. Good stop by Moore and IAF on that one.

2:7 IAF just cleaves his way through the line and Nails Palmer hard as he throws -- on a 3 step drop! Coverage was there in the secondary to be sure the bad/hurried pass wasn't caught. IAF just hooked one massive arm around Palmer and threw him down. Palmer is not a weak QB -- A. Rodgers or T. Jackson, or Joey Blue Skies would have gone on IR after that hit. Or at least been knocked silly.

3:7 LB Blitz on the delay, and A Lewis comes untouched up the middle right into Palmer - just lays one on him. a hit and a sack on the Bengals starting offense by the Lions 2nd team Defense!! nice stunt and way for Barry to say to the two's "go get 'em boys - no matter who's facing who hit them hard, then hit them again harder." Usually don't see a lot of stunts in preseason, but I think Barry wanted to see how his twos would handle executing it against the Bengals 1's -- given the opportunity. They didn't disappoint, and I'm impressed with this D so far. So the first quarter will end with a punt to the Lions.

nice catch by Ellis. He makes the first guy miss, but about 5 more are right there. and he is taken down almost immediately. the coverage units looked exponentially better, but the return units still need a LOT of work on their blocking.


I am going to just watch through the rest of the game tonight, and then give my general impressions or specific plays that stood out tomorrow night or Thursday.

Also, I'll finally be able to read some game summaries, and your thoughts to see if what I saw is what everyone else saw.

Thanks for reading along!!

Bengals-Leos 1st Q Analysis Pt 1

I took notes on the Bengals-Lions as I watched, but this time since I wasn't in "real time", I took the opportunity to stop, rewind, pause, and replay plays. I also got to stop the game to finish thoughts as they were occurring. The end result? It took me over an hour and a half just to get through the first quarter. Since it is so late, the other quarters will have to come tomorrow, and Thursday (The DF79 Free League FFB drafts Wed Evening). Just as a warning, due to time constraints, they may not be as in depth as what you are about to read. Onto the First Quarter!

Lions win the toss - KOR Cason back to receive. Bobbles. Too bad, as a decent wedge broke up to come back and try to help as he fumbled it onto the ground. He does recover and pick up a few. Not impressed by special teams again so far. I really hope the coverage unit looks better than that or Stan Kwan will be looking for a job.

Lions 0. First Series
1. 1:10 Bomb to CJ. Bengals brought 4 plus a late rusher keying into an expected first down run with a run blitz involving the S or a LB - can't tell which. CJ was single covered, but the 5 step drop, and great protection by the oline gave Kitna plenty of time to let the play develop, CJ get open. Nice blocking by K. Smith in at RB as the starter as well.

2. 1:10 K. Smith run. Small cutback lane closes almost as soon as it opens, but Smith manages to slip through, hitting the hole hard picking up three. he managed to pick up yards, even after the first hit which is what he excelled at in college, and is translating to the pros. We also didn't see it at all from Bell last week. The Oline wasn't spectacular in run blocking, but look a lot better than last week's opening drive. Smith looks as good against the one's as he did the 2's last week. If they keep running him, expect a few long gains as he finds daylight once or twice.

2. 2:7 Penalty Roy - obvious push off. Good protection by the line, Kitna had time the penalty was stupid and totally unnecessary. Roy had time to get open without the shove.

3. 2:17 Bet they run it here with Smith on a draw or similar play up the middle. Bingo! GAPING hole. Bengals cheated pass and looks like...Raiola and Peterman opened up the initial hole. Mulitalo was totally free, Smith was patient and stutter stepped to let Mulitalo get into the next level - and level two more Bengals on the downfield blocking -- about 7-10 yard upfield to the right as smith cuts around him to pick up about 10 more. Got to be close to the first down. Beautiful job by Raiola and Peterman initially, followed by Mulitalo's hustle to get up field and knock out a couple more guys. This line is really starting to get aggressive, and I like it. Got to be really close to a first down here...

4. 3:1 Run again, but I think there was a miscommunication as Felton goes one way, Smith the other right into a Bengal bursting through the line. Very disappointing. they MUST, same problem as last week/last season, start converting on 3rd down. Big Improvement? At least it was 3rd and one -- AFTER a 10 yard penalty.

While I'm sure they'll punt here (coverage teams need work and eval) what they have done on this drive with the gash in the running game will force open the outside passing lanes. They know that not only WILL the Lions run it, they know that they CAN run it -- for big gains. BTW - Nice play by Keith Rivers of the Bengals cutting in and stuffing the play.

5. 4:1 Punt. Wonder if Kwan improved coverage teams -- O'Neal is a well above average returner. Downed inside the 1? I think there is a penalty down. Either way, he wouldn't have gotten far as there were Furrey and about 4 other blue jerseys all over down there. I'll reserve judgement until I see them try to tackle someone, but this looks promising. [note - Furrey stepped OB and was first to touch the ball, so the Bengals get it at the 20. Still, far cry from the mid-30's Giants were starting at last week. And it was a nice punt. If they can do that consistently, they will keep trapping teams inside the 20, making for an easier time on the D.]

Lions Defense

1. 1:10 Chris Perry Run. Goes right up the middle. Bengals line has a lot more "beef" than the Lions Dline. Perry pulls off a nice run. By the look of the line, I think they might get one or two more of those tonight, but not much more than that against the starting D. I get the feeling they will match, and eventually overtake, the ferocity of the Bengal's Oline and turn it back at them. However, with this focus on the run, we'll get to see how the revamped secondary does. Still, only a gain of 6.

2. 2:4 Short out, 3 step drop. Short throws are still killing the Lions. However, I was surprised on the replay to see that I think DeVries was getting to Palmer as he threw. If they didn't do a quick pass, it would likely had no chance at all. If the Lions can keep up that kind of pressure, and starting hitting Palmer as he throws -- even if he gets his passes off, he is going to be rattled. Especially if they keep doing it on these short throws.

Side thought as I stop the game. If the Dline keeps playing this style, they will have a better game than stats. No tackles, sacks, etc. but the pressure they are bringing will make all the difference. They are starting to find their groove on the Dline, and in the D. Not quite there yet, but I think they are starting to rattle him and he's going to start hurrying throws a little soon. I fully expect the revamped secondary to take full advantage of this and come up with a pick or two.

3. 1:10 Perry runs right at Redding and finds out why Redding is a franchise DT. Pick-up of one.

4. 2:9 (32 yd line) B. Kelly breaks up the pass to C. Johnson on a slant route as the Bengals take to the air. Great breakup by B. Kelly, but on the replay, I noticed that Alexander had to pull up to avoid a late hit when he saw the ball bounce out as he was coming in fast and hard to lay a hit on Johnson. Johnson would have been hard pressed to hang onto that ball with Alexander laying the wood on him and Kelly in his face, especially had he bobbled it trying to control it a moment or so longer, versus losing control.

I stop the game again to note that I am very impressed by the speed of the Lions D. They seem to be everywhere at once. The style/aggression with which Alexander is playing reminds me of Bob Sanders (Indy) -- only sturdier.

5. 3:9 Wow! About to comment on Bengals being in 3rd and long, and hoping the shotgun will keep Palmer safe when but DeVries comes around into his face and GREAT PLAY by Kelly. Very veteran savvy move. As Johnson comes down with the flashy catch, Kelly hammers him and when he realizes he's going down, instead of pile driving him he stays standing and just uses both hands to strip/rip the ball away before Johnson is down. Nice job putting the Cincy O in a 3rd and 9 -- even their good runs were about 6 yards, so you got the feeling they were going to pass it.

Darn. With Johnson down I bet all you read about is his stupid injury, and that when mentioned with the INT will make it seem like he got hurt forcing the INT -- when it was EXACTLY the OPPOSITE. The INT really caused the injury. Don't care what/how you've read it, Kelly hit Johnson to take him down, and took the ball and was heading upfield before Johnson injured himself hitting the ground. Kelly was almost 5 yds away at that point having a nice INT return. Him getting injured had nothing to do with the INT, and doesn't change the fact that the Lions D stopped the Bengals' starters cold before Johnson went out. Sure it will be spun that way, but don't believe it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

DF79 "Live Blog"...Tomorrow; Nubs' Notes Today

Technical difficulties involving our cable (internet/TV) have led me to be unable to watch the game tonight. Despair ye not! Everything is up and running now and I will have a VHS copy in hand tomorrow. I will be watching it tomorrow evening and typing as I go. So, unfortunately no analysis on the game from me until thenuntil then. Once again, however, we have a fellow reader stepping up. In the comments below you will find Nubsnobber's in game notes and thoughts broken down by quarter.

PS - I will not be reading up on it (nubsnobbers notes included) until after I've seen it. Personal peculiarity. I prefer to watch it like it's live, not ruin it by knowing the outcome ahead of time. Feel free to post your thoughts here as well -- just know I won't be reading them until after I've seen the game.

I knew you'd understand.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

NetRat's 16 Team FFL has 3 openings

Please email NetRat if you are interested in one of three slots he has open on a free Yahoo! FFB league. 16 teams, live draft Sun Aug 31 at 9:30 pm.

First come, first served. I will remove this post when the spots are filled. I am in that league as well, and it is all Lions fans. Fun, Fair, Free League.


Preseason Game 2 Nearing

Well, I have finally recovered to the point of sensibility (were I ever there before) and other than some lingering pain in my arm shall recover, I am told, fully. Lesson Learned: Keep Better Track of Own Medical History and I will leave my absence this past week at that. Thanks to JJLions20 for filling in; Remember -- you too can be a DF79 Guest Blogger. Merely email me your submission, and I will use it where/when possible. Thanks again for your submissions, your comments, and your readership.

In other news, Tarvaris Jackson went down in the preseason game vs the Ravens, but I don't know the extent of his injuries at this time. Funny, the "best" veteran QB left on the market is...everyone together now...Daunte Culpepper. Maybe a Chris Simms trade will be in the works with Tampa "why can't I have 5 active QB's" Bay.

I will once again be typing up notes quarter by quarter for tomorrow's second preseason game as I watch it, and posting them at the end of each quarter as it is televised here in Lansing.

As a quick aside, I will NOT be doing so immediately for the third preseason game. Mrs.DetFan1979 and myself will be out of town without the kids that weekend, and I will be catching the game on tape delay. (Read: Youngest Sibling of DF79 (my sister) is going to try to match wits with the blackout/replay/no listed scheduled showing/we'd rather show so-you-can-dance TV executives to attempt to tape the game for me. Whether or not she succeeds will determine whether or not I get to break down that game as well. I know you're all pulling for her success.)

Some quick thoughts on the upcoming game before I sign off. Leon Joe was pretty good, but will need to outplay a lot of people in the next 2 games to avoid being cut again (for good info on him, see SprBwlB4IDie's great comment on the last Blog Entry).

I'm going to be watching Greg Blue's special teams and coverage play, along with Cory Smith and Avril to see how those two are stacking up. how the Dline performs, and whether they keep 5 CB or 5 S, or both will determine who makes those final few spots. There is a lot more jockeying, even for the last 20 -25 spots, than we have ever really seen on the Lions. As JJLions20 pointed out, good problem to have.

Cody will be another target of scrutiny - he is still disappearing in games in my mind, as I'll see if that holds true -- especially with him running against the 2's this game with Redding and Moore back.

How Bell and Smith compare -- especially if both get work with the Starting Oline will be another focus. (along with the various Oline members)

I think Davis, if he continues well, has locked up the 5th LB spot, and I only think they are keeping 6. So the Cannon/Garnder/(to a lesser extent)Joe battle should be quite heated, and I want to see again how they respond. Cannon's tackling and execution, both in ST and at WLB in place of Ernie, looked much improved over last year. He still seems to be finding ways to make plays, and I'm pulling for him as I haven't seen the same passion out of Gardner yet.

Finally, the battle for returner is a spot that needs to be given good looks. they need to narrow it down some, and especially give Ellis and Middleton a chance to earn a 5th wideout spot based on ability to return (assuming they keep a 5th wideout). Bad thing is, if Lions don't trade a wideout to SF (say McDonlad?) then look for Ellis and/or Middleton to land there after being cut due to their knowledge of Martz's system.

Funny side note: I was on a couple of SF forums earlier this Ifseason and gave them a few factual points form the Lions offensive statistics/personnel trends to look for as the ifseason progressed. A primary one was for Martz's "system" guys to take over for players, even if you don't think they are as talented, but know his system. Biggest case in point was JTO vs Smith. I was laughed at in uncountable ways for my comments. JTO is now the leader for the SF starting QB gig. Too early to say "I told you so?"

If the Lions can get the 49ers to part a 4th round pick for McDonald, I say go for it --even if it is prior to week 3. Then he can catch the ball a lose a couple yards to miss the first down for them, and we'll get more looks to Mike "I have super-glue hands and always know where the 1st down marker is" Furrey, and be able to keep a multi-talented WR like Ellis or Middleton on the roster. Even if as a backup WR/ST/KR-PR -- starter or backup.

Looking forward to some more action again tomorrow night!!

[Please note that as soon as I posted this, realized Nubsnobber beat me to posting T. Jackson injury news -- and Culpepper speculation. Just want to be sure you all know he posted it as a comment on the last story as I was writing this. -- DF79]

Thursday, August 14, 2008

[Guest Blog] 2 Good = Tough Call

[I have been sick the last few days, so in my continued absence, please enjoy this guest blog by JJLions20]

With all the articles, especially about how the Lions roster will be made up, I came to the conclusion that this problem was caused by the fact that it looks like the Lions had a good draft, which is what we all wanted. Therefore, the title:

Watch What You Ask For You Just Might Get It … The Lions Are Living With The Problem Of A Good Draft

Most of us know that it takes 2-3 years to evaluate a draft, but in the first year of a good draft it can cause a problem with the roster. As DetFan1979 documented last spring, the only way to evaluate the draft at this point of time is based upon what the analysis said at the time of the draft. That’s not very much help in deciding who to put on the 53 man roster.

The problem is that typically any pick other than a 1st round pick is not expected to be a starter in the first week of the season. So a good draft with a number of players who demonstrate in camp and preseason that they have what it takes to be a good player in 2-3 years, will eat away at spots on your 53 man roster that can contribute early in the season. The Giants had this problem last year. They kept a lot of rookies, and struggled through the first part of the season.

The Lions have 7 players that they may need to keep on the roster, or lose them as they likely won’t clear waivers and be put on the practice squad. Cherilus, Dizon, Smith, Avril, Fluellen, Felton & Cohen. They’re actually lucky they don’t have an 8th with Campbell to deal with. Moore looks to be destined for the practice squad.

They need to give these guys a full season and a second preseason to truly evaluate these guys.It is very possible that in week-1 Smith may be the only starter, maybe Cherilus, maybe Dizon, but maybe none of the three. So, with a 53 man roster, and 22 being starters, a kicker, a punter, a long snapper and a #3 QB. That leaves 27 reserves, with rookies taking up 7 of those spots. That only leaves 20 spots for veterans with NFL experience. What compounds all of this is you need to have a #2 QB, and D-Line may be the most important position group on a team, and in particular in a cover-2 defense. So if the Lions keep the three rookie D-Lineman and go with 10 D-Lineman, that leaves them with 12 positions excluding QB and D-line that can be filled with NFL experienced players.

Marinelli knows he is still in the process of overhauling this roster. He knows that in the long run the best thing is for the Lions is to acquire as much young talent as possible. The problem is how do you retain young talent that may not be ready quite yet, and still win games in 2008. The starters are not the problem. The problem is with the reserves and special teams. There becomes a real numbers game with the roster, and anybody competing for one of those 12 spots has to contribute on special teams. It may mean cutting a veteran who would be a better contributor in the depth chart, but does not contribute on special teams.

That’s why the Lions have a numbers game at just about every position group.We all wanted the good draft, but now we have to live with the problem it creates. If we keep 7 rookies, we’re going to have to cut somebody that would be able to help us if a starter goes down. Of course, getting contributions out of these 7 rookies at some point in 2008 would help. But we can’t count on that. Just ask yourself how many contributions did the Lions get from rookies in 2007?

CJ and Alexander (forced into action due to Bullocks injury), not much else. How many contributions did the Lions get from rookies in 2006? Other than Ernie, not much. Marinelli knows he realistically can’t count on too much from the rookies. He can hope that they step up and develop quickly, but it is unusual. If there are injuries early in the season, some of these guys may be forced to play. Hopefully the results are the same as with Alexander.

[Great insight! I think we may be surprised what some of those rookies, like Alexander, will be able to do if called upon. The "easier" first half schedule, coupled with a harder second half, will also be more conducive to the rooks getting a chance to develop. Time for DF79 to go back to bed!]

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lions don't get Spiked punch

Thank you for your kind words regarding my Aunt - she wasn't yet 50. Guess it can come anytime.

I'm starting off with news I'm sure most of you heard -- Spikes signed with the 49ers for the money -- after they increased an offer that was reportedly already 1.5 or 1.6 million one year deal. Spikes was looking for his last big payday, and I disagree with Rod on being angry over this one. Spikes wanted the money, and as few two-a-days as possible. He may have gotten his wish, but I don't think he would have been the good kind of veteran influence the Lions want around their young LBs. I also find it interesting the Media is almost clamoring for the Lions to rush to move Dizon or Lenon to MLB -- speculating they only held off due to waiting on Spikes.

As much as we fans would like the question settled, there is really no rush to move players around. Dizon can continue to rotate in with Lenon and learn at MLB until he is ready to start. Lenon already knows how to play SLB -- it won't be a big adjustment for him, and he won't need a lot of practice time to get acclimated there. He will likely be in heavy rotation with Lewis to keep both of them fresh and healthy anyways. In this case, the Lions are making the right move by not making one. Lenon wants to start in the middle -- even if he gets overtaken later. It is a matter of pride. To "demote" him now would be deflating -- and is totally unnecessary. Let both of them work and earn their spot.

As for Spikes, my final thought on that issue is that he would have been more like spiked punch to this team -- sure, you're thirsty -- so you grab some punch because it's the only thing there, and you don't want to wait until you get somewhere else. It tastes kind of funny right off, and ends up biting you in the backside sooner rather than later. His attitude and work ethic don't seem to be a fit for Marinelli's Men. I think they were just reaching for the punch. Personally, I'm glad the bowl was empty.

RGriffis sent me some thoughts on the topic of LB and position switches there the other day. I have lightly edited it, and my comments are in [italics] accompanying his piece. Please feel free to email me your thoughts if you would like to write a piece as well (similar to what Jreffy did). I am always happy to have guest bloggers!

RGriffis: Don't Pass the Dizon

Tom Kowalski of MLive wrote an analysis on why Jordan Dizon should be cross-trained at the strong side linebacker position: This is my response.

Killer is really in his head about this. [and other beat writers, including Birkett] And now he's got his GM hat on, to the extent that he's offering what the Lions "should consider," and "rethink their decision." I suppose the press can play this role. Tom thinks he is helping, and I suppose in a way he is. But Tom, take off the Napoleon hat. Believe it or not, you're not GM material. [Not so sure Napoleon couldn't have done better picking personnel last few years -- even not speaking English]

Dizon is getting the full metal jacket training at MLB. Period. No if's and's or but's. No time for musical chairs like all the other marginal LB's. They've drafted for WLB with Sims, MLB with Dizon, and I bet next year we draft a for-real SLB. [Disagree - CB to replace Kelly, Future LT and definitely backup C are tops on the list]

The organization is all giving the usual line about rookies starting at the bottom, needing to earn their roster spots, their starting positions – blah, blah, blah. I read their article on Lenon being THE guy in the middle. Dizon missed 2 1/2 days of camp. [I like Rod's philosophy on this matter on several levels. First off, it gives veterans a chance to compete and earn a job. It also gives the rookies incentive to work versus being handed things like they are the second coming of whoever. Finally, it instills Rod's football work ethic in them, and makes them tougher players and helps the team gel. Every man has earned his spot, and everyone knows it.]

Matt is keeping mum other than saying the kid has a lot to learn. Rod is playing it cool. Jordan is keeping humble. But Matt won this argument, and I agree with the conclusion. Dizon is going in the middle or he ain't going at all. He's getting plenty of special teams reps. He may ease into the Mike position, whether it be game 1 or game 10. He will play there the first 3 games of preseason and get at least 1 1/2 quarters of work per game.

All the talk is for Jordan 's benefit - to keep the kid humble and hungry. But he is the crown prince of the Mike. [It's also for Lewis and Lenon's benefit. Lenon was/is an average MLB, and it will be a little bit til Dizon is there. Rod is developing young talent -- something Lions fans aren't used to. Lenon will make a solid SLB, and Lewis -- when healthy -- is also a solid starter at the position. His health, more than his play, contributed to Lewis not starting last year. Overall, Dizon rotating in and playing special teams to start the season is not a catastrophe. It is merely developing talent. He will be starting there sooner rather than later, but it is based on the plays he makes, talent he has, and effort he puts in -- not where he was drafted. MLB is QB of the defense -- if Dizon doesn't earn it, he won't be respected for it.]

When Buster Davis started cross-training at SLB, the writing was on the wall. Buster needed this to make the team - position flexibility. I don't know that Buster has the brain power to handle the Mike this early in his development. [Not sure Buster is best suited to the MLB position either -- he seems more of a small SLB to me. He seems the type of guy that will make a gret backup MLB and strong ST maven. Teams really need guys like that. He is good enough to spell Dizon. If by mid-season, you have Sims-Dizon-Lenon backed up/rotating in Cannon-Davis-Lewis, the Lions should have a strong LB corps. I'm for giving Leon Joe a few more shots as well -- he showed passion, and playmaking ability. Written off as a camp body, he is making a play for a roster spot -- or at worst, a spot on the practice squad (assuming no one picks him up Ala Johnny Baldwin)]

But Dizon on the strong side? Come on! You might as well ask Ernie to get some reps there too, Killer. Sheesh. [I think this is rumblings coming out of the APA (Allen Park Asylum) somewhere for so many to be picking up on it. Do they take their lumps now, or risk stunting the development of their young LBers? Despite the passionate fan thoughts, it is a tough decision the coaches have to make, and not one they will make lightly. As opportunity cost dictates -- scarce resources means that to spend time to learn a new task, must by it's very nature decrease proficiency in another task.]

Dizon will start this season. Until he starts, he will spell Lenon at MLB. But start he will. Our early schedule is mostly creampuffs, so that's not a bad time to learn. Lewis, Davis or whoever will play the strong [Lewis, most likely], but probably give way to Lenon at some point. [I do like how one Mlive forumite put it today: with the first 4 teams the Lions face, offensively, it is as close to having 4 preseason games for the Defense as you can get. Atlanta, GB with a new QB, 49ers, and Chicago. I don't think they will all be that "easy" -- but it would be a good way to work into the NFL facing some of the weakest (possibly minus GB if rodgers does well) offense the Lions will see all year. ]

Consider that Lenon will turn 31 years old this year and is in the last year of his contract. The organization is kissing his butt, but I remember some of that with some other LB's in the past. Lenon is old news. This season is his swan song. If we re-sign him it will be for small potatoes in a mentoring, back-up, special teams mode. [not so sure of that, although I do think a big contract is not a good idea with him, but 31 isn't too bad for keeping him another year or two to mentor a new SLB if Lewis can't stay healthy. Fortunately for the Lions, SLB is the easiest position on the entire defense to fill in (difficulty wise in learning the scheme).]

We're going young, and with speed, and Paris has neither. He's smart, and he will find a way to be on the field a lot this year, but that should wane as the season goes on. [Disagree with Speed -- Paris has it, he just reacts that split second or so later than a more talented guy like Dizon does. Agree with the rest. he is smart-- which is why he is at the MLB spot.]



THE SAM IS UP FOR GRABS. [Ernie is WLB, but the rest are up for grabs -- with Lenon and Lewis holding onto starting jobs for now. I think that if we see Lenon move to SLB at any point, moreso than Dizon or Davis, it will show which direction the Lions are going in. Right now, best three LB are Sims, Lenon, Lewis in that order. When Dizon gets good enough to start (bumping Lewis out of the top 3) then it will still be Sims, Lenon, least for a majority of this season.]

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Analysis Resumes Monday

Just wanted to let you all know great comments on my in-game thoughts. My Aunt passed away last week, and services were this weekend. Due to that, I have not had time to re-watch the game tape at this time. (I'm sure you all understand and appreciate it)

Hondo did a pretty good job breaking it down (not that I agree with everything) and it is worth reading both his and Birkett's blog for good updates on the basic happenings at practice daily throughout camp.

I will resume with new analysis pieces tomorrow (be sure to check the comments on the Marinelli's Men pre-pre53. I made a comment with thoughts on possible changes.)



Friday, August 8, 2008

4th Quarrter

One thing I've noticed is the defense swarming to the ball quicker than in teh past. Fluellen again is looking good, as Wilson is carted off. Poor tackling by the Lions -- edwards, robinson, others. Those are some guys getting yelled at soon. LB Leon Joe seems to be having qutie a game still. Dizon doing pretty good so far.

Looked like Dizon missed the play, but replay form teh back showed an illegal block int eh back pshing hi away from the play. Pruitt not doing bad -- TD pass against...Edwards as his rough night continues. Still playing too much coushin -- same mistakes he was making earlier. With Wilson getting hurt, the secondary competition is still very open at CB.

Nice return by Middleton -- I think he has really tightened the competition for the 5th WR spot tonight. McHugh makes the catch, but stumbles - could have been a few more. Stanton still doens't look too comfy in the pocket. Antoher good catch by McHugh -- still sticking to short routes though. Nice, accurate throw though. Calhoun tries for one - and...again, no dice. Very disappointing. They need to be able to get thsoe short yarage lays. I wanted to see Felton, rather than Calhoun making that kind fo run. LB Leon Joe is having a good game still. If he gets a link on teh Depth chart, we'll know the Lions may be leaning to 7 LB and only 4 far, I haven't seen anyone really exciting me for the 5th CB spot -- so 5 S and 7 LB soudns better to me.

Now it looks like Davis, assited by Robinson, stops teh Giants on 3rd adn short. Finally, we get to see what Moore can do on PR. Made a coule people miss, but teh blockers weren't there, and he gets taken down before he can go anywhere. Drew Stanon takes off running on the rollout vs throwing it away. Nice play. Pinner is in at RB and he's running better than Bell, but about as solid as Cason so far. He more of a bruising style. They are still keeping it calm for Stanton -- and he makes another great play on the run. Nice catch and run by Pinner -- great pickup. So far, looking like he is behind Smith as 2nd best. AS soon as I say that, he fumbles it away. It's very close to tell wehter he is down or not. Lions challenge. Overturned. Down by contact. Nice job by th coachign staff with that challenge, win or lose. Somethign they have been workign on, it seems.

Huge opening left by teh D, Stanton makes a good run and gets out of bounds and avoiding being hit. Cherilus has been out there a long time, and he is looking really good this second half. Big offisedes -- called on Cherilus, but there were several guys jupming -- looks like a miscommunication. Stanton finsishes up a strong drive. capped by a FG.

Stan Kwan looks like he is going to implode in a qucik cut to him. There are a lot guys not making this team due to an inability to tackle on ST.

Avril gets a sack on Carr, busting inisde and getting sack. not quite offsetting penalites -- not so sure on the penalty and because they didn't show any replays. Dline looks like it's getting good pressure from what I can see -- which isn't a lot over the interview with Ernie. Intentional grounding by Carr and that's followed up by a sack from Fluellen. 4th and 15...the Lions backupsare really outplaying the Giants at this point. Their depth is supposed to be thier strength, but I haven't seen it. Greg Blue did great in coverage and nailed the WR so hard he goes flying about 5 feet out of bounds and takes out a Lions trainer.

Lions taking knees to end it -- got out the first game with only the injury to Wilson.

DetFAn1979 saying goodnight -- more analysis and thoughts to come in the following days as I have itme to review the tape.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

3rd Quarter

Interseting doing a "live" commentary. Harder than I expected to type and watch. I have a laptop next to the TV and thooks into the TV for online viewing. So I am using the wireless keyboard to type this as I am watchign the game, and taping it to look over later on our VCR. Good old VHS, huh?

Halftime is giing me some time for thought. In the first half, disappointemts were Cody and Devonte Edwards who both did not play up to their camp billing. Cannon looked great -- as did Dan O. It'll be interesting to see how much longer he plays before Stanton goes in. Time of pessesion at 17:13 to 12:47 Lions:Giants.

Ellis makes a nice tackle on ST to open the half -- but still not up to snuff on the coverage unit. Wilson is in -- lets see how he does. Fluellen makes a nice stop on Droughns. He is looking solid. Who is Leon Joe? ?? One of the nice things about preseason -- guys you never heard of, and will never see again. Huge missed tackle by Hicks. he was looking good until that point. Guess I better look up L. Joe. Dizon stuffs a 4th down run -- awsome -- steps around the pile, and nails droughns in the backfield. Good instinct on where to cut around the blockers.

It's nice to see the rookies making some plays as the 3rd stringers start coming in. Cason is running the ball now. Even he is looking better than bell, granted it's still teh backups at this point. If you can't tell, I was disappointed in how Bell perfromed in the on-on-ones. DanO still looking cool, calm, and accurate in the pocket. Wow -- Orlovsky tried to drop one in, defender got a hand on it, and Middleton made a great catch. Cason hit in the backfield. So far, Smith appears to ahve been the best runner by far. False Start Foster at it again. Ouch.

DanO had a nice drive going too. Like the playcalling still even if it is Vanilla -- the execution has been pretty good. 2nd and 16 -- miscommunication -- would have been a TD had Ellis gone into the endzone. If they are on teh same page TD. Cason not looking bad against the backups. He just may make the roster as a changeup back. I'm curious as to when we are going to see Calhoun. Pretty close to even on Run-Pass RAtion right now. Making it hard for the Giants D to figure out what they are going to do. They are already setting up a pattern of both running and passing from run and pass formations. (doing both out of both -- making it harder to anticipate, unlike last year's bulls eyes.) They still need to be getting soem longer runs out fo the run game, but those longer rusn that happen later in teh game will coem wehn they grind down teh D in teh regualr season.

Annoying -- talking golf instead of the game. Get back to football. D looking good still -- looks like the 3rd stringers have started rotating in. And Blue comes up and just crushes David Carr. And then Cason loses 2 on the return. Not so impressised by any of the returners so far.

Another nice run by Cason. He's looking pretty decent right now. Middleton makes a nice ST tackle as the wideouts seem the most determined to make teh battle for the 5th spot a tough one. As I said, the Lions have at least 3 gusy who may not make the team that could be solid 3rd or 4th WR for a lot of NFL teams.

Things are calmiing dwon as the 3rd stringers are in. Illegal fwd pass by Carr. What a horrible draft class that eyar for QB's. Whoo....

Looks liek Taye Biddle is gettinga shot to return a punt. Not much of a return. Doesn't make much sense to me. I'd like to see them give Middleton and/or Ellis another chance as tey are more like to be maiking the roster. Stanton looks like a Rookei right now. Not bad -- better than Joey did his first outing.

Not a bad run by Calhoun -- followed by a nice catch of a wobbly pass from stanton. I'd liek to see more of Calhoun. Leon Joe with another ST tackle, along with Buster Davis. Interesting. Dizon tracked play from behind. Stanley wilson is down. Ehw as laready on teh bubble, and if this is at all serious, I'm thinking he goes on IR or gets an injury settlement. And he is being helped off the field. Hate when they show interviews isntead of the action.

And the 3rd wuarter is over. From this point on, it's guys needing work and bubble players.

2nd Quarter

2nd quarter -- #30 hits, but needs to wrap up! Boss on teh catch. Just showed 1st quarter stats -- somewhat misleading as the attmpts didn't go anywhere, but set up the passing plays. Lions LB getting the ball carrier very quickly on the run. TE still seems to be making a lot of catches underneath -- somethign the Lions really need to address -- although they stop him short of the first on 3rd down. FG no good.

Going back to the first quarter, so far even though the playcalling was pretty vanilla, the starters on both offense and defense for the Lions

Orlovsky in -- some pressure, but nice pocket presence by DanO. Nice run by Smith -- picked up a couple of yards on same tpye of blocking that got Bell no gain in first Q. nice hits on the 3rd down run -- the defender just bounced off him and he gets the first -- again, where Bell was going down. Nice play by DanO negated by a holding penalty on Cherilus -- rookie mistake trying to take too much leverage and maintained contact. Not a mistake we'll see him make for long. Difference between college and pros. Rattled him though, and he goes offsides -- another rookie mistake. Lets see hwo he recovers. Scott looks okaty in at LT. Nice patience by MSith on the next run play -- that 3rd down would be a pass in the reg season, but they are practicing the run. Nice gain on that one.

Coverage unit still looks shakier than I would like. though Cannon makes a nice tackle to end what could have been a big return. I tink I changed my mind -- I forgot how much Cannon brings -- especailly on ST. I think he's going back on my 53.

All 2nd stringers now. Devonte Edwards blows coverage - Edwards was in positionbut didn't make the play. Announccers said blue was s little late, but in the D he supposed to be coming over over and laying a hit to be sure the bobble is not cuahgt -- not make the INT. The underneath routes again are killing them -- they really need to work on that. Edwards is not having a good night. Buster Davis seems to be really making strides -- I still thin khe ends up making the squad at SLB/MLB. The fact he is playing so much MLB tells me Dizon must be progressing well.

Edwards blows coverage again, and only the fact that the WR somehow manages to step out of bounds saves a TD. Not looking as good as I hoped he would. Here is antoher return -- looks like Ellis is getting a shot -- is a KOR, so they can't put it OB this time. Not bad on teh return -- still, not seeing too mcuh difference between teh returners so far.

Orlovsky is still looking really good. Another nice catch by Gaines. With how well he is catching, he is severly endangering Fitzsimmons for a roster spot -- He's showing he can blcok and catch. Nice throw by Orlovsky on teh run fake -- again, it was a running down, running formation, and they threw. I'm hoping we see a lot of that this season. Dan O looking comfy. Smith-- wow -- nice hole created by Cherilus and Smith took full advatange. Once again -- Smith turns nothing into a 3 yd gain. And cherilus seems to have recovered well and is really manhandling the 2nd string defenders.

Standeford is looking good. Once again, impressed by DanO -- I think that if you put him in the first team O, he would be an adequate backup for Kitna at this point. Nice, accurate throws by him. 3rd and 1. Ouch -- miss the 1 yd gain. very disappointing -- with their new FB and RB's, Oline -- they need to be able to get those 1 yd gains. I'm sure that will see a lot fo work this week in camp.

Old man hanson still knocking them in from 50. So far, second stringers apear to be at a stalemate. Nice to see teh depth developing ont eh Lions, especailly knowing the depth that the Giants have. Big hole ont eh return again, but the Ref signals what I thought -- holding on NY. Wish they would show a replay so I could see how the blockers were doing.

Defense is keeping them in the middle of the field. Hicks is looking better than edwards was so far. And Gardner goes down -- hoping he's not injured bad -- looks to be fine. I like seeing the competiion between him and Cannon. The Lions are really hitting well.

Davis is doing well sideline to sideline, but still better ont eh run adn hits there. #92 offsides - Avril making a rookie mistake jumpoing the snap count. So far, it is amazing how great the first team looked, and the second team looks litke last year's starters did. Cannon forces a fumble - I think. Yup -- sticks his helmet right in there and makes a great wrap up. As I was saying, so far teh 2nd stringers are playing at the level the starters did last year -- this is how good I'm seeing as far as improvements in the D this year.

Sanders says Davis undrafted, but he was s darft pick fo the Cardinals that the Lions picked up on waivers after they lost Baldwin. So far, Lions looking good in that swap.

So the half is over, and seeing players in game situations has been interesting. Can't wait to go back and look at the tape.

1st Quarter Thoughts

Welcome all! Typing this as I watch the game, so there might not be as much polish as usual. I'm just going to type obesrvations on the game as they come to me. Pregame should be starting here in a few moments. Here ins Lansing, I've had to wiat interminably for the finale of "So You think You can Dance" to end before the game will be shown on Tape delay. Just got me thinking about how many guys who look good in camp, are going to find themselves not looking so good in a game situation, and conversely, some guys who don't look great in practice, really hit it when the lights are on. So you think you can play?

As I wait for the coverage to start, a couple of players come to mind:

Anthony Cannon -- so far in camp, it looks as though Garnder has been leading the race to backup Sims at WLB. However, Cannon seems to be one of those players who really turns it on come game time, and finds a way to make plays. If he does that in these preseason games, he just may manage to hold onto his roster spot.

Another is Shaun Cody. He looks great in practice at times, but he seems to disappear come game time. Should he continue that into the preseason, he will also find himself disappearing from teh roster, replaced by a dlinemean like Langston Moore who manages to make plays come game time.

Pregame is on right now. Nothing really new or niteresting there.

CAson on teh first return. Unit didn't look too bad - 23 yard gain. Ouch. Line didn't look too bad, but Bell ran right into the pile. There was a hole to the right, but he totally missed it. Nice short slant for Kitna's first pass. With the playcalling last year, that would have been a sack. Getting the ball out quicker allready. #rd & 3. Wow! Nice roll-out - Kitna dodged the first tackler and nice long bomb to CJ. Bell nothign again.

LOL -- Announcers just said "Kitna is dnagerous with his mobility" Seriously. Once again, Kitna is looking better throwing on teh run than he has from the pocket.

Bell picks up the first, but he needs to slip that first tackler -- I think there coudl have been more there. I'll look at it on the tape later.

Nice -- finally a play action pass on an underneath route. Lions Starters looked great against the Giants starters for that first TD drive. Mixxed run/pass nicely, setting up the play action. After the second half of last seaosn, it was easy to forget how well Kitna can pick apart a defense wehn they have to respect the run, and he has more than a second and a half. Also, getting him out of the confines of the pocket seems to be comfortable for him as well.

What else I like about the drive is it took, I think about 5 minutes off the clock.

Lets see how the starting D does against the Giants starting O. Funny how they mention Eli as SB MVP -- personally, I thought the Giants Dline were the MVP of the Superbowl, but that's just me.

Nothign standing out on Special Teams so far. Tackling looked a bit better, but it's hard to tell on the first view.

On D, Lewis is looking good. Devries made a nice play on the ball - almost intercepted. And Dwayne white dellects and get off the field. Cody is totally irrelevant. I'm guessing he'll get an assist or two, but he was really coming in on the end of the play. Not really a factor so far - once again, as I indicated earlier, he is disappearing in game situation. Devries adn White looking good at end. Nice to see the first team D and O do so well against the Giants starters.

Second offensive series -- Bell once again piled up in the swarm. Gaines' hands looked good. Like how the first run set up the pass -- once again slid teh defenders to one side, and wide open in the flat. CJ is looking as good as his hype this ifseason has been. He looks like he is out-running, out-jumping, and out-fighting the CB's. Ouch -- bad pass by Kitna on the that roll -- though he had a defender attempting to block in front of him. Holding -- that explains why his linemen wasn't there. Bell -- again nothing. When will we see Smith? Granted, I think Davis screwed up that one, but Bell doesn't appear to be seeing the field real well. Finally -- a good run out of Bell. Even for vanilla O and D. Close on the crossing pattern -- give it t a little time into the season, and that play is a TD.

Lions first team D on the field still -- Giants first team O as well. And Cody finally shows up -- with an offsides. Not good when your only great play is a penalty. Couple of nice tackles by Lenon and Cannon. Completion, but Bodden nearly had it knowcked away -- lucky catch. Nice pressure by Dline -- and nice coverage in the secondary. Giants finally seem to be moving a little bit as the first quarter ends. I'm guessing the starters come out for the most part for both sides. Now we can see hwo the second team units will do.

Overall, the first quarter of preseaon showed the O-Line still needs to work on a few things, but they were successfully mixing up the run and pass. I'm curious to see hwo well Smith does once he gets soem carries.

PreSeason Game 1: Intro

I will be watching the game on Tape Delay starting at 10pm EST. I type my immediate thoughts as I am watching the game, and post them periodically. I'll look at the tape and post a more in depth analysis later on.

Go Lions!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Marinelli's Men" Pre-Preseason Edition

First of all, thanks again to Jreffy for the great write up and pictures from his time at camp. Remember, if you have an idea for a guest blog, just shoot me an email and I will try see if it will work out with the site. As a guideline, please remember to keep all blog entry submissions within the framework of how the typical tone of this site flows.

Now, onto the main event:

I’m sitting here with a copy of the Lions Depth Chart (as of August 4th, 2008 – fresh off the presses) and decided to dust off the crystal ball, and throw my 53 Man roster out there. I’ve got a link to this story on the side panel, so feel free to post your 53 man guess whenever you feel ready. After the final cut-down, I will look at our “30 Lock” and “Marinelli’s Men” (53) to see how we did both as a blogging community, and as individuals.

Please note that I have this in depth chart format, so look at the (#) to see “new” [not previously listed players on the chart] taking up roster spots. Analysis of how/why for each pick is below. [PLEASE NOTE: I will be updating this 53 for injuries only, and will indicate all changes with the original prediction in a different color)

Special Teams (3)
K: Jason Hanson
P: Nick Harris
LS: Don Mulbach

Offense (25)
QB (3): Kitna, Orlovsky, Stanton
WR (3): R. Williams, M. Furrey, D. Ellis
WR (2): C. Johnson, S. McDonald, D. Ellis
LT (2): Backus, Scott
LG (2): Mulitalo, Davis
C (2): Raiola, McCullum
RG (2): Peterman, Ramierez
RT (2): Cherilus, Foster
RB (3): Smith, Bell, Calhoun
FB (2): Felton, Mchugh
TE (2): Campbell, Gaines

Defense (25)
WLB (2): Sims, Gardner
MLB (2): Lenon, Dizon
SLB (2): Lewis, B.Davis
LCB (2): B. Kelly, Keith Smith
RCB (3): Bodden, Fisher, Edwards
FS (2): Alexander, Pearson
SS (3): Smith, Bullocks, Blue
LDE (2): IAF, DeVries
NT (3): Darby, Cody, Fluellen
UT (2): Redding, Moore
RDE (2): White, Avril

I’ve often looked at the roster before the season, but I am having a lot more trouble than usual this ifseason. I took a break form my initial roster yesterday, and then came back to it today. What made it the hardest, I think, is that no matter which way you cut it, the Lions are going to be releasing some players with enough talent to play in this league. In particular, I think they will be cutting at least three guys (Bellamy, Middleton, Walters) who could realistically make it as 3rd or 4th WR on many NFL teams because they are so deep at the position. As for the rest, I looked in particular at ST contribution when balancing who made the roster at the bottom end, and who I was projecting the opening day starters to be. I must admit, they will probably keep either an additional RB or TE and not keep 10 linemen, but I just couldn’t find one of them I felt real comfortable cutting. If I am wrong about ten linemen (which is likely) then I think the following changes are made:
G: Frank Davis gets cut. Peterman and Ramierez are both very talented, and they will keep pushing each other for the RG spot until Mulitalo’s contract is up, at which point they will likely be the two starting OG for the Lions.

FB: Felton, Bradley
TE: Campbell, Gaines, Fitzsimmons

I essentially flipped a coin for my final roster.

So why did I go the way I did on the roster?

QB: This position was pretty easy. Kitna is the clear starter, Orlovsky has more experience, and the edge to be the #2. I also think he is at worst a serviceable backup, if given a chance. He could even be starter material. My gut says he is at least as good as 4 or 5 other starting QB’s in the league right now. Stanton is essentially a rookie, and the #3 guy right now who just need to hold the clipboard, and learn.

WR/RB: I toyed going with 6 wideouts, and only two RB. This is because Felton is more of a short yardage back – FB combo. I heard someone predict he may be sledge incarnate. I’m thinking more of a certain TB FB who used to run quite often and attend many Honolulu ceremonies. I’m thinking Felton could be better.

I kept Bell because he is likely to split carries to start out, and then be used to spell Kevin or run out the clock when the game is out of reach and they don’t want Kevin getting injured (out of reach as in the are very far ahead ala Broncos.) His role will likely decrease as the season goes on. I picked Calhoun over Cason/Pinner et al because I feel he is a better fit as a backup should Smith or Bell be injured than either of the other two. With Ellis returning kicks, and possibly punts I don’t see a need to keep Cason around.

TE: I kept 10 linemen so I had to cut someone. This is risky considering Campbell’s health, but I kept McHugh who is an adequate TE, Adequate FB and good ST player. My alternate scenario of not keeping 10 linemen and going with Bradley and Felton at FB and 3 TE (with Fitzsimmons as the 3rd TE – primarily used as receiver and on ST).

O line: I kept all 10 in one scenario, and dropped Davis in the other. There is a slim chance he clears waivers – I think he may be practice squad eligible. One reason not to cut him is that A. He has shown good potential, and is developing well and B. Chicago is one of the teams really looking for Oline help – and would be the most likely to sign him to the active roster.

Defense: On the defensive side of the ball, I thought I would have a lot of problems. However, it fell a lot easier than I thought it would. I kept the best 6 LB. I went with my projected opening day roster, though I expect it to be the following possibly as soon as after the bye week:

WLB: Sims, Gardner
MLB: Dizon, Lenon, Davis
SLB: Lenon. Lewis, Davis

I know there has been a lot of speculation on moving Dizon to SLB, but I think that talk is premature. I also don’t think moving Davis to SLB is a “hope he makes the roster” kind of move. If he keeps having as good a camp as he has been, I can see him maybe even pushing Lewis and/or Lenon to start or heavily rotate in at SLB. His big problems are in coverage, and handling the mental aspects of the Mike. However, with his hitting ability and nose for stopping the run, he is practically a prototypical SLB in the DD. While they lost Baldwin on waivers (he subsequently went on IR soon after with KC. Still recovering, last I read), I think Davis was a great pickup, and will pay great dividends for the Lions, even if it is as a versatile backup and ST ace. As I see it right now, he is developing into what Boss Bailey was supposed to be.

None of the other LB impressed me enough to want to keep a 7th, and I figured the Dline or the Secondary could use that spot.

I had no hesitation as to the top 4 CB and S. Keith Smith is looking like a great resigning right now, and if he keeps up the progress will likely get an extension with the idea of replacing Kelly. Even as it is, he is likely to see a lot of playing time as Kelly will need to be rotated more frequently than, say, Bodden will. Fisher is the best Nickle back on the team. Stanley Wilson, unfortunately, seems to be having an awful camp and may have peaked last preseason. Too bad, but he still seems ill at ease in the scheme. After the Lions cut him, he should look for a team that does more man-to-man and freelancing, as he is better at that style of play.

I went with 10 men in the secondary – 5 CB and 5 S just because each unit has one starter – Kelly and D.Smith – that is a little long in the tooth, and will be rotated more. Edwards was a rabbit-out-of the hat pick just because he appears to be having a good camp, and no one else has stood out to me. I picked Blue for special teams and because he is very useful to have for running downs. They may keep Cory Smith as a 5th DE instead as he is also a solid ST player. However, a big part of me likes what Blue brings to the table for the Lions –especially in making stops for the special teams units. Avril, if he develops as well as his camp has been seeming to, will soon surpass the level at which Smith was. He isn’t as experienced, but has more raw talent.

Cohen I think clears waivers and makes the practice squad, along with Kenny Moore. That is guy who will really need to work on his stuff this filmseason and ifseason should he want another crack at the roster. This was, and still is, my least favorite pick from the ’08 draft.

As for the Dline, I wasn’t originally going to keep Cody, but he seems to be having a good camp, and the Lions have the chance to hopefully get some production out of him in his contract year. I kept 5 Dline and 4 DE because both Cody and Redding can move outside if need be. They also rotate the Dline pretty heavily, and I don’t expect that to change. Finally, if Cohen appears to be developing well on the practice squad and Cody starts sliding again, or performs poorly on the field they can always cut ties with him and bring up Cohen from the practice squad. Unless Cody has beyond one heck of a year, I don’t see the Lions keeping him in 09. My guess is that they go with Redding, Moore, Cohen and Fluellen, along with Darby in 09 and go with just the 4 younger guys after that.

Your thoughts, comments? Your own 53 man roster guesses?

I will update this one until just before the final cuts, and then make my final roster prediction that takes into account pre-season games and injuries.

Once again, let the guessing begin!!