Millen's firing kind of threw me off. Now, while the GM topic is fun to debate in this bye week, let us not forget that the team is still who they are, the coaches are still who they are, and the Lions are still 0-3.
A few quick thoughts on the Lions' last loss and other random items. My other columns will keep til Monday.
I don't care what the coaches say, the players came out flat once again in that game, and the defense wasn't really clicking at all most of the game
There were at least 4 key drops by WR of very good throws by Kitna that killed drives. The WR HAVE to catch the ball. 2 were by Roy, 1 by CJ ( that was a bit of a jump ball, but eminently catchable for a loooong gain) and 1 inexcusable one by McDonald where he was more worried about getting hit by the safety than catching the ball. Mike Furrey would have made that catch, and I find it irritating that he is not in the slot for those plays. What are they saving him for???
Brandon Middleton should be returning KOR as well as the PR. He is making great gains, and when the defense does get a stop, he is putting the Lions in good field position. When they don't get a stop all the fair catches on the KR are aggravating to me. Try to get yards! Give the offense a spark, and edge, something other than a hammer to beat themselves over the head with!!
Speaking of hammers, someone needs to hammer the cement shoes off the offense and get them moving! They are stumbling around out there like they were out all night on a bender, and just woke up hung-over!
The defense has been playing selfish, and it is hurting them more than helping. Once they stick to their own assignments they will actually look better. However, my optimism on this point is very tempered by the fact that Millen's firing isn't likely to further players buying into an unselfish mentality for the good of the team play.
Lenon had plays where he looked like pre-season Lenon...then it was back to same old same old. he just can't sustain it. At this point, with as many lapses as Lenon had last game there is no real reason to continue with Dizon on the bench. He should be fully healthy by the bears game, and seeing a majority of snaps.
Aggravating point: When I watched the game, no one pointed out the 49ers were focusing on protection of the QB. No less than 6 were kept in to block, many times 7 or even 8. (two TE and a RB were kept in to block, with 2 WR going on long routes on the long TD pass). Martz kept in more blockers more time in that one game than he did the entire second half of last season!!! Even in 4 wide, ! RB -- the back was kept in to block. When he was in Detroit -- 4 wide, RB ran a "decoy" short pattern. 5 blockers. Any wonder there wasn't much pressure form the front 4? They double teamed Redding and White all day, and still had blockers to spare.
It aggravates me, because no one was pointing out that had Martz called the games in Detroit (yes, with Detroit's personnel) then things may have turned out a lot differently. It wasn't even the balance of run-pass as much as actually assisting the O-Line with help from the TE and RB.
Speaking of offense, the Lions offense was offensive! I know Rudi was the "hot hand" so they played him, but Smith was doing just fine as well when he was in. I think they are going to be a potent 1-2 punch if the Lions ever get in a close game.
Speaking of close games, it could have been a close game if Kitna would just stop throwing it to the other team and take the check down. You can only let a team march so far before you have to do something about the short out-routes and running game Detroit was using. There were enough deep shots (I'd have liked to see more) to keep the defense honest, but in an almost Martzian way Kitna was looking nowhere but CJ most of the time. He was double covered, go to someone else!
That being said, the WR did nothing to help out the cause at SF and they all get a failing grade for effort and concentration, CJ included.
Hopefully Kitna gets over what's been eating him since the regular season started, because Stanton will be here before he knows it -- whether he likes it or not. And he is the one bringing ti on himself -- if he were buying into the offense, and getting other players to go along too then I think they would be clicking a lot better.
I've seen a lot of different sources indicate that the most likely time for Stanton to start is home against Washington unless Kitna keeps turning in 3 INT performances (than it may be earlier) or starts playing like he did in preseason and they start winning (which would delay it).
The season isn't over, but to make a correction I keep seeing -- the Lions are NOT 2 games back in the division. The Packers are 2-1, but hold all the tie-breakers so the Lions are 3 games back.
My hope is that the coaches and players, inspired by the prospect of losing their jobs, revert to the intensity they were playing with in the preseason when they were also in fear of losing their jobs/roster spots and that the team racks up a few wins between now and the end of the season.
I predicted, I believe, 7-9 to 9-7 depending on how the ball bounced. So far, not bouncing so well and I think my low-end prediction is looking pretty optimistic unless they turn it around against the Bears.
I like the chances of the Defense making great strides versus that of the Offense. Chicago's D needs to be worn into submission in the 4th quarter. This means the Detroit defense is going to have to hold the Chicago O (which if they can't do that, the season is truly lost) to a minimum amount of points. It also means the offense is going to have to limit mistakes, and keep it close until the 4th quarter when the Chicago defense has been losing steam.
The game is winnable, but like the first 3 games this year, will the Lions do what is necessary?? So far, what the filmseason says is not so optimistic...
Additional GM thoughts:
I was surprised that Mayhew was listed by Bill Polian, whom I have great respect for, as an up and coming choice for a team to look at as a GM/Personnel guy -- BEFORE Millen got canned.
My thoughts on his presser: Did you really expect him to throw Millen under the bus? They've known each other for 18 years and won a SB together as players. Most telling statement to me? "We disagreed about a lot things. We need to make better decisions."
Millen was known for going against advice and going with his gut, mustaches, whatever --- and it was always wrong. 100%. Drafter CRog in spite of the scouts, same with BMW.
I heard a freind of a former intern with the Lions say this about 2 years ago: "Give Millen a list of names with 10 people on it, he'll pick 11. 20? he'll pick 21. Just felt he was "smarter" than what his information was telling him, and all his guys were yes guys that wouldn't cross him.
So Mayhew's biggest flaw may be not being firmer with his friend/boss on bad decisions he was making. Sometimes, its hard to be blunt enough to get through -- especially to a boss as you run the risk of losing your job. We'll have to see. If they actually play the guys they got, this last draft looks to have been better than in years past... and it was Mayhew's first draft as asst GM.
All that being said, I've heard the Lions have asked for a list of candidates for GM from the league, and will be beginning a vetting process.
Another possibility I haven't heard is that they keep Mayew/Lewand/Marinelli around one more season until Marinelli's contract is up to see how well Mayhew can handle Personnel matters and if Marinelli can show progress without Millen. Just throwing ideas out there, as I do now and then. What is most likely to happen? Something we don't expect.
Like Matt Millen actually being fired week 4 of this season. I mean, who really saw that one coming??