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: http://www.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/2008/08/lions_should_consider_moving_d.html. 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 detroitlions.com 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.]
ERNIE'S THE WILL.
JORDAN 'S THE MIKE.
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, Dizon...at least for a majority of this season.]