Thursday, July 31, 2008

Raiola's Backside

Dominic Raiola's backside is getting a lot of attention this ifseason. First, Kitna joked that only him and Raiola's wife got to touch that tushie. Unfortunately, that is not so true as the rest of the attention has been focused on the fact that there is no one else's backside to touch -- Raiola, until today, had no real backup.

Even including Blaine "I work as a turnstile at the amusement park in the ifseason" Saipia, the Lions haven't had a backup center in some time. While Raiola has started an impressive string of games since becoming a starter his second season, to say the Lions were "thin" at the position would be laughable.

When Raiola went out with a lightly sprained ankle Rod Marinelli got to see just how...ummm....proficient? his current backups were. If you can call 6 botched snaps -- in ONE practice anything less than disaterous had the Lions been in a game situation, I'm sure you also think 3rd and goal on the 50 yard line isn't a bad down and distance to go...

Fact of the matter is, with the Lions negleting the Oline almost totally since Backus and Raiola were drafted until the last year or so -- depth was also hurt. At times, it has seemed as though being able to spell the word "center" qualified someone to be the backup center. As long as Raiola's been healthy, this hasn't been an issue.

When you are a playoff team, however, you have to prepare for injuries or the ability to rest anyone at any position. Including your iron man at center.

With Patrick struggling, and likely to miss the preseason, he was released. They also released Matt Butler, who was one of my Dark-Horse candidates to make the practice squad since he was supposed to be working at C as well. Who knows -- it's a long preseason, but for now it appears I'm better at analyzing tha predicting once again. Good news for the Lions is they landed a couple of great guys to compete for the backup C spot -- and one in particular that has me excited.

Andy McCollum

Starting C for the Rams SB winning team, he can also play guard. While he's getting older, he is best suited at this point as a capable backup-- he can do ti great -- but not over 16 games. He knows it, which is why he is in Detroit. Sure, they brought in a young kid off Seattle's pracitce squad form last year, but to me that says: We know that McCollum can be a backup C and G -- so unless you can show us you can beat him (which I doubt) he is there for one reason: Limit the reps for Raiola and the long-time Vet McCollum in camp. You have Olovsky and Stanton begging for playing time, and duking it out to earn the coveted backup spot to Kitna, and a chance to earn playing time in the preseason. They need people to snap them the ball - and McCollum is a solid veteran presence at an improtant position.

This does, however, change the equation on the Line. With how many WR, and D players they are looking at keeping, I can't see them keeping more than 9 Olineman. This means one of the Lions' young G -- Davis or Ramierez -- is in trouble or Foster will need to beat out both Cherilus to start, and J.Scott to be the backup. Scott is a swing tackle that can play both sides, and should at least be able to fill in for Bakcus if he is injured, and has shown he can play on the right if Cherilus is as well.

In other words, the Lions -- with Mulitalo's injury history and the good young G they have developing, may keep the following:

LT: Backus, Scott
LG: Mulitalo, Ramierez
C: Raiola, McCollum
RG: Peterman, Davis
RT: Cherilus, Scott

Not sure -- if they keep Foster, then Davis or Ramierez isn't going to make the team. Depending on how severe Ramierez's injury is, they hide him on the PUP and then see how things are progressing come week 6. I don't think they want to do that as it will hurt his practice opportunities -- however, that being said, they don't want to lose him either and it's no guarantee that he would clear wiavers and make it to the practice squad. Especially with the Steelers making like Detroit South having picked up both Ernster and former Lion Eddie Drummond.

Like many other position groups for the Lions this ifseason, predicting who will make it how far is definitely more challenging. This is great, as it shows the depth the Lions are developing.

In one final note, Looking at NetRat's current cap number of $729,000 and change, it appears that there will be no Spikes signing unless it's for the Vet minimum, or the Lions clear up some cap room with some unexpected cuts. BTW -- Foster would clear up about 500K in cap space. Look for cap numbers to be a consideration as the cap-strapped Lions look at who they are keeping on the rsoter when talent is comparable.

While I'm not a big fan of Raiola's backside, I'm glad the Lions finally have it covered.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

State of the Team: WR

The piece about the WR corps doesn't mention the one guy who is being mentioned often during camp: Devale Ellis. It also mentions the possibility of keeping 6 WR, but I'm not thinking the numbers game will support that -- although it is hard to tell since 3 of 4 starters wnet out injured at some point last season (CJ, Roy, and McDonald).

This spring before the draft, I said this about Ellis in regards to the Lions finding a new return man:

Lets not forget Devale Ellis, who is an excellent returner and more than adequate 5th WR is still on the roster as they hid him on IR last year. If he comes back from injury 100%, I think this discussion could be a moot point. I think the fact they didn't re-sign Walters, who was a cheap, quality 5th wideout suggests this may be the case.

I also think that if Ellis stays healthy, and continues to have such a great camp, the battle for 5th wideout is over -- and the battle will shift to if someone can show enough production on special teams to prompt them to keep a 6th wideout over an additional back.

As ClusterFox pointed out on the LB article, there are a wealth of able RB available on the FA market right now -- and it seems, in the last couple of years, to be a position easier to fill mid-season. Is it a long shot? Sure. Could it happen? You bet.

Notice, I haven't talked about the top 4 spots. At this point, it appears that Furrey, Roy, CJ and McDonald have those locked up. However, McDonald is still on PUP and there are conflicting reports that he may have a hand injury as well as his knee injury that is healing.

Reports I'm hearing out of camp indicate that Roy and CJ (especially a healthy, more experienced CJ) are primed to have monster years. Cornbread or Conjecture? Only filmseason can answer that one, but the potential is there (that dreaded P word), along with solid production. After cringing through having Mike McMahon on the field as a WR, it's nice to see the Lions with solid depth and options at the position.

This brings me to make conjecture on next season: Both Roy and McD contracts are up. With less 4 wide packages, they may ask Furrey to take a pay cut, maybe in exchange for an extension. I'm thinking they sign Roy long term if he has a good year. Even if they let McD walk, they will still have Ellis, and may be able to stash Middleton and Moore on the Practice Squad this year, and let them all duke it out for the 2 remaining spots, along with say Bellamy and another WR.

Yet, even as I look at this scenario -- are any of these guys good enough to step up and be a real co-#1 WR alongside CJ if the Lions don't resign Roy. What do you readers think??

State of the Team: LB

To Teddy Lehman: Welcome veteran dollar ninja. Are your joints just a little loose or were you electrical taped? Considering when he suffered the lisfranc injury, he should be fully healthy again at this point. I noticed on Hondo's blog that their camp observer mentioned he looks more like his rookie self than his post-injury self. If the Lions have a rookie-form Lehman for vet minimum, then he is definitely an upgrade of Fincher, and more likely to make the squad.

As the camp cut merry-go-round among the bottom of the rosters has begun, the Detroit piece on the state of the LB is a bit out of date -- particularly the bit about Fincher competing for a roster spot since he was just cut to make room for Lehman on the roster.

Current Depth Chart at LB:

99 Cannon, Anthony LB 6-0 228 23 3 Tulane
Davis, Buster LB 5-9 239 24 1 Florida State
Dizon, Jordon LB 6-0 229 22 R Colorado
Gardner, Gilbert LB 6-1 228 25 5 Purdue
41 Joe, Leon LB 6-1 235 26 5 Maryland
Lehman, Teddy LB 6-1 238 26 5 Oklahoma
Lenon, Paris LB 6-2 235 30 7 Richmond
Lewis, Alex LB 6-0 230 26 5 Wisconsin
Pruitt, Tyrone LB 5-11 220 22 R Boston College
Sims, Ernie LB 6-0 225 23 3 Florida State

Last season, on the final 2007 roster the Lions had 7 LB's. They kept 3 at the middle, and 2 on the SLB and WLB. As I look at the guys on the roster, I came up with a few hunches and thoughts:

1. Buster Davis could be in trouble of finding himself either on the practice squad, or cut after the Lehman signing. Lehman was able to beat him out last year, and if he is back at his rookie form, then he makes a solid backup to both the SLB and MLB positions.

2. If Dizon really steps up his game, this could also mean that the Lenon-getting-cut scenario plays out IF B. Davis has a HUGE camp. The Lions would have Dizon, backed-up by Lehman and Davis, both of whom would be strong ST contributors. They could then keep Lewis as the starting SLB, backed up by Lehman and Sims as WLB backed up by whoever wins between Gardner and Cannon. Both play ST so it could be a tight battle. Most likely, though, Lenon would start at SLB and Lewis could find himself the odd man out.

How will it play out?

This is a situation that I again don't have a really good feel for at this point. Really, the entire LB corps, and who plays where and even who makes the roster is dependent upon how/if Dizon takes the starting MLB job in camp.

Lets assume he looks like he'll be starting at MLB, and that Lehman is playing at his rookie level. If Lewis is still playing solid, they could keep Sims and Gardner/Cannon on the WLB, Lenon and Lewis at SLB, and Dizon backed up by Lehman/Lenon in the middle. They would have 3 LB that could, if need be, play the middle. Granted, if Lehman is in at MLB then the situation the team is in injury wise is not good, but considering the position group it could very well happen.

As of this moment, I would say that this is my earliest guess at the LB Depth to start the season opener:

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

and by the middle of the season:

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

HOWEVER: Depending on how bad Langston Moore's injury is, they may keep an extra Dlineman and one less LB. In that case, I don't think Buster makes the cut. If Moore's injury is moderate even, I expect they may put him on the pup to hide him til later in the season as a replacement for injury, or to push away playing time from Cody if he ends up being a "practice warrior" and once again gets lost in traffic when it matters -- game day. If he's on the pup, it frees up a roster spot and keeps him in reserve. After what he showed last year, Moore is not likely to clear waivers.

In addition, the Lions have a lot of talent at S. Depending on how many they keep there, that could also effect the number of LB they keep. A Spikes signing would also impact this. [in regards to Spikes, the fact that no other team has tendered him an offer is a little more than worrisome to me. I think fan expectations of him are way too high right now.]

I must admit, that while the signing of Spikes could be interesting, I voted for Mike Bell -- thought he would add more zone running experience to the camp field, and may be a good injury replacement, or a better roster value than say, an Aveion Cason if Ellis wins out as the 5th WR and return man.

I'm hoping Middleton makes it to the practice squad if he loses the 5th WR position battle so that he can be brought up to the 53 man roster to replace McDonald next ifseason, or if there is an injury in the WR corps.

At the end of the day, the LB position is the only position on the team that has the once perennial Lions problem: Good depth, but lack of starter quality players. Worst to 1st at all but WLB is much too interchangeable. While Dizon has plenty of the dreaded "p" word.

Your thoughts??

[Deleted Post]

Regarding Millen: Man, Myth...

JJLions20 sums it up best:

DetFan1979,I have to agree with some of the other posters. This post does not fit in the spirit of the site. I understand it was supposed to be humorous, but sometimes humor can backfire. This might be a good time as the Czar of this site, with the almighty power to censor any posting, to pull this post. Set the example that anybody can be censored, even yourself. We've all made mistakes. Just chalk this one up, fix it, and make the site better for it.

The piece didn't come out as, nor across as, I intended. Keeping true to the spirit of the site, I have indeed removed my own posting -- for breaking my own rules.

Thanks, as always, for the comments.

Respectfully yours,


Monday, July 28, 2008

7-28-08 Camp/Ifseason Thoughts

I know training camp is going on -- but we are only just a few days in. I haven't felt the need to re-post the same information on camp that everyone is reading via sites I have links to on the side of the page. Birkett and Hondo, in particular, have some great summaries of the camp goings on. It is hard to tell who is going to do what by the end of camp. Throw in Marinelli's penchant for making EVERYONE earn playing time, and making players beat whoever is left on the team that would be starting ahead of them...and, well -- it's just really hard to tell.

I have already spoken with one of our fellow blog readers who is going to try to get some shots and do an exclusive guest-blog on his camp visit Friday if everything works out. Any season ticket holders attending camp so far? If so, let me know your thoughts/stories. I am not at camp, so I will just continue commentary based on the information I have.

Interesting thoughts on Bell and or Lenon possibly not making the squad. While it is a long shot for either, I think Bell losing out is the best probability of occurring.

In regards to the LB - I like that the Lions resigned Lehman at the vet minimum. Worst case scenario they got a solid back-up/ST player who knows the SLB and MLB. Watch out Buster!

I thought the fight between White and Backus was interesting -- like the passion, dislike the lack of discipline. It is a fine line, but one that the Lions sorely need work on. Positively speaking though, how many here were surprised it was Backus? It's been a few years since he's really shown some fire. Hopefully, this is a good sign. (Not just a sign White was kicking his backside and Kitna is in real trouble again.)

Since I am reading about both the WR's (CJ & Roy, especially) making great catches, and yet still hearing great things about the development of Smith and Bodden's integration -- I will take this to mean that both O and D have a lot to work on (not surprising the first week of camp) and that both are developing some strong points as well. If indeed both are progressing as well as it seems, it will help both improve exponentially as they play against each other.

The Lions may sign Spikes, but I think a few things could effect it:

1. How well is Lehman really playing now?
2. How good/healthy is Alex Lewis?
3. How fast is Dizon developing?
4. How much moola does Spikes want, and how much cap room do the Lions have?
5. Will missing too much of camp negate, for the price, the upgrade he would be over Lewis/Lehman/Lenon at SLB?

With that in mind, I'm guessing that they don't bring him in unless there is an injury, or no one else he wants to go to suffers same and he signs.

Speaking of which, how about that scare with Ernie? Yikes! Thank goodness he is okay.

I've been holding off on State of the LB til I knew if they were going to sign Spikes or not, but I may finish it off and post it up tomorrow. If I'm wrong about stuff in there, no big deal. Not as if it hasn't happened before.

Update to my DLine thoughts: It sounds as though Cody is having a great camp, which is a new thing for him. He hasn't had/done much of anything since being signed. However, since he is having a great camp, that brings in a scenario I touched on: keeping 5 DT's. I think if Cody, Moore, and Fluellen continue to have a great camp then the Lions could keep all 5, and go with 4 DE's (likely dropping, my guess, the loser between Devries and Smith. My money is on Smith losing since it seems Avril is having a good camp too, and would take his situational rusher role. Devries is a good all-around DE who can rotate in to either side.)

Great comments lately -- keep em coming!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Training Camp: Revamped Secondary, more

If there is one place the Lions determined to get better this ifseason, it was in the secondary. The primary opponents were injury and developed talent that fit the scheme. The Lions did a lot to improve the position via trades and ifseason FA signings.

So far, it seems that reports for all areas outside of QB are pretty positive. I still say that they will both be fine. Dan O is about a year rusty, and Stanton is essentially in his first real ifseason getting any reps. I'm willing to wait out camp and see. Pre-Season games will be really telling on that score -- Dan O looked good running the O last year before he got injured. I'm curious to see if he leveled off, took a step back, or went forward. He may turn out to be the David Gerrard or Tony Romo of the Lions - or he could be the next Sage Rosenfels -- who knows?

One side benefit of the defense improving is that it will inadvertently improve the offense -- and vice versa.

I can understand why Jordan Dizon didn't tell anyone about his DUI until it was in the news. I think we've all done something really stupid that could have a devastating effect on our lives -- and just hoped it would either go away, or somehow get "solved" with no one knowing about. Granted, he should have told Marinelli, but after reading the article I think we are reminded that these are just young men -- very young men -- and he was just scared. Don't get me wrong, after his holdout and the arrest news coming out after the draft... that boy better have a chip on his should the size of S. Rogers. (Sounds like Cherilus already does. I would too if I was him and read even half the stories on him between the draft and now. It also sounds like he is eager to prove it on the field instead of in the media -- which is where it should be done.)

Nothing I want to see more than KJ and AP getting sportscenter highlight fumble causing crushed by our LB creating a RB flatbread sandwich.

I was watching old YouTube clips of "Terry Tate -- Office LB" One of those things you laugh at in spite of yourself -- especially those of us in office settings. Yup -- I want to see them hit the opposing RB like the guy playing solitaire.

Almost Filmseason. I can hear the bone cracking hits now....

Goodbye Candlesticks, Cherilus is the Boss

I'm sure you are all aware by now that Dizon was magically signed and examined between 2-a-Days today and made the afternoon session. At least he wasn't the last to sign -- a look around the league showed over half a dozen 2nd rounders are still unsigned. Agents have just taken it too far -- they are waiting so close to the last second that they don't have time to negotiate before camp.

Interesting read posted by 5BakerStreet about Cherilus demanding his agents get him into camp on time -- no matter what. That is the right kind of attitude for a first round draft pick whose attitude and love of the game are supposed to be two of his biggest traits. Lets hope he can dominate Dlinemen as well as he does Sports Agents. (I'd almost rather meet a Dlineman in a dark's close.)

More on the first days of camp later tonight, plus updates to the fantasy sites with new polls added later this evening/early am tomorrow.

Go Lions!!! Ifseason is ending, and the Filmseason is just about to get rolling.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Contract Extensions

Despite their cap issues this year, Detroit extended Bodden's contract to 4 years, from the 2 he had remaining.

What I like best is the Roster Bonus in March of $8 million plus. By only giving him 2 million up front, they have essentially put him into a contract year. If he plays up to his 10 INT prediction then he earns his bonus and his extension with the Lions. If he doesn't the Lions can cut him or trade him with little to no cap ramifications.

They are putting a reward out on the table, and making him play his way to it. This is in stark contrast to Kalimba type deals that loaded big bonuses for future production without regards to earning it.

It is nice to see the contracts that are coming out of Allen Park are finally a bit more sensible, and creative. It's about time!

$3500 Candlesticks

In my profession, the division of "stuff" during a divorce -- homes, cars, assets, furniture... -- end up being something we unfortunately end up in the middle of. Joint accounts that each person is trying to beat the other one to. Trying to cancel the other person's insurance out of spite just to make their life difficult. Attmepting to sell all the things they like just so they can't have them. More destruction comes from stubbornness and spite than malicious vindictiveness.

About 3 years ago, we had one affluent couple that spent over a week with their attorneys, in meetings, fighting over things like candlesticks that they bought at a store, in town, where you could still buy them. But there they sat for hours negotiating over who deserved them more because each one couldn't stand that the other soon to be ex-spouse would get what they wanted.

It wasn't about the candlesticks. It was the principle of the thing. It wasn't the job of the attorneys to tell them they were both being ridiculous, it was to get their client as much as they could. What was "fair" to them.

Last year, I was talking to one of them, and he was ruefully laughing as he talked about his bankruptcy. "$3500 candlesticks. I paid over $3500 in legal fees for a *#&%>! pair of candlesticks. Sold em for about 50 bucks. Didn't even like 'em in the first place. What the hell was I thinking? I mean, there's tons of crap like that -- the dresser. I mean, we spent over an hour arguing about a dresser that we bought at home freaking depot! We both could've bought one for what we paid our lawyers on that little spat."

Each person wanted to get that "little bit more" from the other person. There were little things they just "had to have" -- and the divorce attorneys were more than happy to encourage it. Why not when you are getting paid by the hour? But in the end, both parties realized that what they thought they needed so badly at the time, in the long run was meaningless. But the money and time they wasted hurt them both more than any "victory" at the negotiating table ever could have gained.

Player agents seem to be in the same mold -- as are teams, at times, when negotiating. How far apart, really, are the Lions and Jordan Dizon that they are at a stalemate? Really? Is it a Candlestick or a $75 dresser from home depot?

In the grand scheme, is a couple hundred thousand they are apart going to mean anything to the Lions? To Dizon? The extra $80,000 workout bonus? The old end table from uncle Frank that was in the basement you both think is butt ugly and could care less about but want to keep the other person from having just out of sheer stubbornness??

No -- for both Dizon and the Lions every minute of camp he misses is irrevocably hurting both of them. The only one who stands to gain is Dizon's agent. At the typical 3% commissions they earn, another 300K in guaranteed money is anther $9,000 for him. HE wants more, and has convinced Dizon he needs that victory at the negotiating table. End of Story.

Tell your agent no Jordan. As NetRat so eloquently stated:

Posted by NetRat on 07/24/08 at 8:21PM
Hey, nimrod, sign the freak'n contract. This is about football, not DUIs and holdouts. Tell your agent the last offer was good enough and sign on the line already.. or get a new agent.. or it's the bench for you all year.

After all, holding out worked really well for Cedric Benson a couple of years ago. And Brady Quinn really locked up that starting job after missing most of camp with the Browns last year too. The NFL is littered with holdouts, and, in the end it typically amounts to one thing:

A $3500 pair of candlesticks worth $50 bucks and a nut-kicked feeling of what the hell was I thinking?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cambell ships out, other News and Notes

As the Lions had their first meetings in preparation for the first practice tomorrow morning, it appears that they will be down one man, as Caleb Campbell will instead be reporting to West Point. Mrs. DetFan1979's take on this: What do they need more in the Army? One Lieutenant now, or 100's of new soldiers in a few years? She was of the mind that his abilities as a recruiter over the next two years would bring in at least a couple hundred young men (or more) who wouldn't otherwise have joined. And now, she says, they are likely to get one officer now, and lose a dozen or more later due to the bad publicity this will garner. [it's headlining Yahoo's front page as I'm writing this.] After all -- if they are willing to break a promise like that at the last minute, what other promises are they going to break when it really counts?? Smart woman Mrs. DetFan1979 - and not just for marrying me.

There are obviously a lot of passionate takes on Mr. Campbell and this situation, and I wrote about just one. Feel free to share yours [if appropriate, as always] -- and I'll leave this subject with what should impress those reading and watching the most: Rod Marinelli is not whining and asking for "help". Caleb Campbell is not throwing anyone -- the Detroit Lions or the Army -- under the bus. He is doing what he has said he will do all along -- follow the orders of the United States Army and fulfill his obligation to the military in the capacity they choose to use him. Marinelli's quote: “Obviously, he’s disappointed,” said Marinelli, a Vietnam veteran. “But I obviously know what he’s about. He got his orders and he’s ready to report.” Class acts, and actions, by both of them.

Also in the news, apparently the Lions were unaware of Jordon Dizon's DUI arrest prior to drafting him. He is unsigned as of this writing, although I've seen several places, including the Freep, that they are close to a deal, and that hemay make Thursday's afternoon practice at worst, tomorrow morning at best. [As I was writing this piece, Cherilus' 5 year deal was announced]

In regards to Dizon -- I am pretty certain that, after reading post-draft comments by various teams, that the NFL as a whole was not aware of what had happened prior to the draft. Please keep in mind that police reports are NOT instantaneous. Since he was not belligerent or violent, there was no reason to lock him up -- thus expediting processing. Also -- being in insurance, around here it is sometimes two weeks or more before the police report is available even for those who were actually involved in an accident or transgression. A couple years back I was hit by someone at at red light, and it took me over a MONTH to get a police report from the department I will not name for its' incompetence -- and keep in mind, I knew the details of the incident and called every other day. Last summer, a car drove through my back fence (missing a house and several tress to do so) while I was gone, and it took me over a WEEK to track down which police department was preparing the report, much less get a copy of it. It still hadn't been filed at that point. (I live about a block over the county line, which also hits a demarcation point nearby for two different townships and the city. Figuring out who is responsible (or not) for things takes up a lot of time...)

Long story short: You can background check all you want, but if the report isn't filed yet, it won't show up. End of story. I will say give Millen a break in this case, since I think if any team had already known about his incident you can bet they would be "I knew but you didn't"ing the rest of the league to show their fans how superior their scouting departments are. (similar to those following the Lions drafting Crog) No one has -- so I'm guessing no one knew but Dizon and law enforcement at the time of the draft. Keep in mind as well he is fighting the charges.

In other news, our division rivals, it seems, can't wait for the regular season to get into it as the Packers' tampering charges may actually bear fruition if rumors of Favre using a GB issued cell phone to call the Minny HC and OC are true. Maybe he isn't coming back after all, and just couldn't resist an opportunity to help GB out by pulling one over on the Vikings. That, or he figured his exit would be better received if GB gains draft picks off its' retired QB AND a division rival gets buggered in the process. Either way, it looks as though we Lions fans no longer even hold the title of "Stupidest Front Office in the NFC North." If this is close to true, I think Minnesota has that one wrapped up for a couple of years at least.

In addition, Chicago's only real offensive weapon, Hester, has decided to hold out and has not yet reported to training camp. I don't think holding out of camp is going to really help develop him into a true offensive threat instead of only on PR and KOR. I can handle that pain just fine as a Lion fan. My Bears fan boss, not so much.

Also, FFB news agencies are saying that Forte will be starting the season as KJ will be on PUP...LOL -- my thought is not if KJ has anything to say about it. If he has shown one thing in the NFL, it is his ability to productively come back too early from a major injury and eventually re-injure himself. Here's thinking the Bears go for it too. Heck, for what little they are paying him -- I would too! Save the Buzz Lightyear rookie, work him in slowly and break KJ-Dollar-Ninja early on instead. I know my boss the Chicago fan is rooting for him to have a few great games before he falls apart.

BTW -- With Chris Williams signing today, I see Cherilus' deal getting done ASAP since, as the next tackle taken (albert, surprise, is being listed as an OG right now) he knows where his market value lies. [After I wrote this section, it was announced Cherilus has signed a 5 year deal and will be there for the first practice tomorrow.]

In regards to RB's -- I received a couple of emails wondering if the Lions should maybe pick up a FA RB since it appears to be 5 guys fighting for 4 spots. Shaun Alexander and Mike Bell were floated as possibilities. Of the two, Mike Bell intrigued me most as he was able to take carries away from Tatum Bell as a rookie, and was then ignored by Shannahan when he signed Travis Henry, and 'discovered' Selvin Young. He could have potential, and may be a value priced addition to the RB competition. Since he also knows running in a zone blocking scheme, if he can contribute on special teams then he may be a good guy to throw into the mix and see what he can do.

As for Alexander, I said even before he got hurt and during his then-record breaking season that he was more a product of his O-Line than an ultra talented runner. Time has shown that to be the case. Add in injuries, age, and a boatload of guaranteed money he got following his big season -- and he is the poster child for not giving aging RB big contracts. Unless his game picks up this year, Larry Johnson will follow in his footsteps. It's almost equal parts line and RB in the NFL.

I also got an email from a Dallas fan asking about this rumor he had seen up on a couple of Forums:

"I'm hearing rumors here in the Dallas area on The Ticket and ESPN radio of the Cowboys trying to work a trade with Detroit for Roy Williams. Dallas is trying to give up Greg Ellis and Anthony Henry for Roy Williams.

THIS IS A RUMOR RIGHT NOW, nothing more. Still interesting and the Cowboys have pieces in place to replace both Greg Ellis and Anthony Henry, so there is no doubt they could do it. We'll just have to see if it happens." [hyperlinks to player stats on added by DetFan1979]

My response:

I haven't heard a peep on this from the Lions side. Rod Marinelli seems intent on running the ball up the gut with the rook K. smith, and then throwing deep to Calvin Johnson and/or Roy Williams, since teams won't be able to stack the run and still double cover both guys. I don't see any trades of Williams until after the season. He is in a contract year, and I think the Lions want to take full advantage of it -- then sign him, franchise him and/or trade him after what they think will be a monster year for him.

I would say that these are just rumors at this time.

Josh aka DetFan1979

While I think adding a vet OLB like Ellis, who is also a solid pass rusher, the Lions already revamped their secondary -- which is actually pretty crowded right now. And Ellis is a 3-4 outside backer, not a 4-3 guy so wouldn't be versed in the defense. Next question: Are those two guys worth the two first rounders (or near equivalent) the Franchise Tab will bring in trade if the Lions want to? Drafting WR is a crap shoot, and if Roy has a monster year and the Lions do decide to trade him, they are both in for a huge payday. I don't see a trade right now.

PS -- funny, that Roy camp holdout isn't happening as predicted by ye olde clouds of doom. Go figure. So disappointing. (dripping with sarcasm)

Great thoughts on the QB's and RB's -- and I have put a poll up -- if the Lions decide to sign one FA heading into camp, who would you want them to sign most?

Your thoughts on the topics above? The state of the team series? Be sure to post them below! Your thoughts are a big part of what makes the dialogue on this site great!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

lions sign 7: Dizon and Cherilus left

As NetRat predicted, a majority of the Lions' draft picks signed today -- which means that all but Cherilus and Dizon are under contract. Now that those picks below them have signed, and other 1st and 2nd have set the market, look for a quick deal to get done for both -- my gut says they are there in time for the first practice Thursday.

I've had to eat crow before, so if one of them is inane enough to stage a holdout, I'll eat it fully in disgust. They have a chance to prove the off-field stuff will not distract them, and that they do care about being on the team. There is only so much money, and holding out would only hurt them, and the team -- plain and simple.

State of the Team: RB

I've already written a lot on the running backs thanks to KJ in the ifseason. However, as I put down my thoughts/feelings a to each position group heading into camp, I figured this deserves one more go round before we start getting real news out of camp -- which will likely take a few days.

The Lions official site, of course, put out their "state of the team at RB" article a short while back.

The current roster for the RB position as found on the Detroit Lions website is as follows:

28 Bell, Tatum RB 5-11 213 27 5 Oklahoma State
Calhoun, Brian RB 5-10 208 23 3 Wisconsin
Cason, Aveion RB 5-10 204 28 8 Illinois State
Pinner, Artose RB 5-10 232 30 6 Kentucky
Smith, Kevin RB 6-1 217 21 R Central Florida
Bradley, Jon FB 6-0 301 27 5 Arkansas State
Felton, Jerome FB 6-0 246 21 R Furman

As you can see, the depth chart at RB has certainly dwindled since we last visited the subject looking at the bubble guys. In particular, Ervin, who I hoped would be a practice squad guy was a casualty of the hard-80 cap number this year. My gut says that problem is corrected as they negotiate a new CBA throughout the season.

Last season, the Lions kept 2 FB (one of whom was primarily a TE), and 4 RB. Keep in mind, though, that RB was one of the spots inactive after week 5. So even though they had 4 HB on the roster, they were at most dressing 3. With the focus on actually having a running game to further complement their deep and talented WR corps, I don't see them keeping fewer backs - but possibly utilizing their skills better than as a bench warmer.

While last season was a perfect example of how to attempt to play football without the RB position at times, lets look at the more balanced games to see how the breakdown of the positions went:

At FB, Bradley was used in traditional FB situations, which, even in the games they ran, meant almost never. Which was too bad, as he did well when he did see playing time -- both as a runner and especially as a blocker. The second FB was more often used as a blocking TE and not a traditional FB role. The 2nd FB was really a third TE.

At HB, KJ was the primary back, Duckett was used for the "power" runs and as a 3rd down back, and Cason returned punts/kicks and played special teams.

The very inane rule that a team has a 53 man roster, but only dresses 48 for game day really hurts teams on game day, limiting their flexibility to adjust in game using the players on their rosters. I can see 2 OL, 1 RB, 1 LB or secondary, and one of 5 DE's being inactive normally on game days.

This means that even assuming they keep 6 players between HB and FB, at least one will be a healthy scratch each week.

I have two words to describe my overall thought on this position right now: Open Competition

I can't even begin to guess, beyond K.Smith, who will make the roster, much less who will play what role in the offense. I have some ideas, but their connection to reality may end up being only loosely connected or not at all.

That won't stop me from making a stab at it anyways.

Here Goes:

Bell and Smith will win the 1-2 RB spots, and split carries to start the season, with Bell moving more to backup role than 3rd down back. Calhoun will be the special teams player, beating out Cason. I also see them possibly listing Felton as a HB. If they don't, then I see Pinner making the team, but as the healthy scratch each week on the roster "just in case" Bell or Smith gets hurt.

Wherever they list him, I see Felton as the goal-line back who will also carry in short-yardage, obvious run downs. That is pretty much all he did in college, and he does it very well. One weakness of the Lions was an inability to punch the rock in at the goal line, and I think Felton -- if he can translate his skills to the pro level, will fill that need. IF.

Bradley will still make it as a FB, in most probability lead blocking for Smith in the heavy package, and lead blocking for Felton in the super-heavy FB-FB-TE-TE-we're going to run it through you no matter how many guys named Williams you have blocking the middle of the field package.

With AP/Taylor, Ryan Grant, Kevin Forte/Jones, and Smith/Felton -- I truly think the black and blue division moniker may be making a comeback.

This of course, all depends on IF the rookies step up, IF Bell returns to his starting form in Denver, IF the OC can get creative with the talent he has, and IF the Line can step up and show their stuff, and IF Calhoun is finally healthy and able to prove he was worth a 3rd round flier.

There are a lot of IF's -- but this is still the Ifseason. Pretty soon it will be the preseason; then the FilmSeason begins.

It's beginning to look a lot like Football, every-where you go...Lions gear at the 5 and 10, sparkling once again...their record clean, the preseason to go...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ifseason Status: QB

Okay, so just because it was my anniversary, did you really think I would be able to skip out on finishing off my "state of the team" series? What kind of fan do you think I am??

I've looked at the Dline, and the Oline. Tonight is QB, followed by WR, RB, LB, and Secondary (not in that particular order). I'll also be looking at battles and camp news as it comes out.

I looked at the positional breakdowns before the draft (I'm too tired at this point to hunt links -- they are all there in the history). So much of this is just updates and building on what was unknown. piece on the QB's.

NFL Teams, as whole, are usually in one of six situations at QB:
  1. QB "Controversy": Both of our starters are "close to even", "duking it out", or "equally bad". See: 2008 Chicago Bears. Typically leads to situation #2 or #3 unless you are the 2007 Chicago Bears...
  2. Mentor and Grasshopper: Veteran starter who is benchwarming or training/mentoring a young QB -- generally a high round draft pick -- to take his place and make him a highly paid backup for a season or two. If the mentor is fine with getting paid a couple mil for holding a clipboard, usually progresses to situation 3. If not, you get #4. (intentional)
  3. Young executive and experienced secretary: A young(er) starting QB, or one in his prime backed up by a savvy veteran QB that does more than hold the clipboard. They are good at helping the starter notice trends in the opposing D, eliminate mistakes, and all around help out the team by helping the starting QB get better. They play well enough not to have to run the scout team, but poor enough not to start. They get paid about a million or so a year to play very little football at all, and when they do, typically get to be the "hero" stepping in for the injured starter... Think Charlie Batch in Pittsburgh. It's a good gig, and for those whose egos can handle being "almost" the man, it is perfect -- both for them, and the team.
  4. Young Boss, Old guy he got promoted over (or will soon): You took his job -- or, as a high round draft pick were taken to "send a message" or "usher in a new era". He's not too thrilled about it. Sure, he's there to "help" you -- but won't really go out of his way. he might "warm up" to you after a while...maybe... or he might pretend to retire and go "gotcha" a couple months later when he starts to "itch".
  5. "The Man"..and the "Invisible Man": sure, you have that treasure of the NFL -- a solid or even all-star starting QB. And backing him up you have...ummm....Jared Lorenzen....Matt Cassell....Bueller?
  6. "An Open Competition": Jack shit, and you know it. Figure, at least if they are all "fighting it out" you can put forth the appearance of talent, and pray like hell one works out. See: Miami, Atlanta, any team desperate enough to sign Daunte Culpepper
  7. This is a special category for Jon "I collect QB's like Millen does WR" Gruden. Defies categorization.

Right now, the Lions have #2, but #6 vying to be mentored. [ You could also make a case for #5, but I'm taking the positive spin on this]

If the backups develop, then the team should be fine. If not...well, there is always the 2009 or 2010 draft -- or hope another Drew Brees gets dumped.

For 2008, the Lions are not exceptional -- but stable and able at QB. IF everything clicks, that is enough to get them into the playoffs. If it really clicks, maybe even win a playoff game. I think it's time for bed when I start talking that way in July, don't you?

Happy Anniversary DetFan1979

As you gathered, I was drowning worms this weekend and away from civilization for most of it. Today was a different distraction.

Mrs. DetFan1979 and I celebrated out 8th Wedding Anniversary today. Sadly, the Lions have yet to post a winning record since that wonderful day. [in case you were wondering, no way am I getting divorced just to see if my marriage has somehow jinxed the Lions. I've been married 8 years, not 50.]

NFL Championship Game MP3

I haven't had time to listen to this, and meant to post it earlier. Pacer found it, and posted the link a few weeks back. It is an MP3 of the Lions 1957 Championship game.

Friday, July 18, 2008

State of the Team: Oline

[I'm only briefly online and discovered this post I put up Friday posted to the 8th, versus 18th. My apologies! Have a great weekend all! I'm heading back out on the lake to see if any more fish are hungry.]

The Detroit Lions website has been running a series on the "state of the team." I decided to take a look at each aspect of the team heading into camp, springboarding off of these articles. I've already looked at the Dline. Next up is the other side of the Trench: Oline.

Below is the current roster from

51 Raiola, Dominic C 6-1 295 29 8 Nebraska
Butler, Matt G 6-4 306 23 R East Carolina
Davis, Frank G 6-3 325 26 3 South Florida
Hulsey, Corey G 6-4 325 30 6 Clemson
Madison, Carroll G 6-2 308 23 R Syracuse
Mulitalo, Edwin G 6-3 345 33 10 Arizona
Peterman, Stephen G 6-4 323 26 4 Louisiana State
Ramirez, Manny G 6-3 326 25 2 Texas Tech
Backus, Jeff T 6-5 305 30 8 Michigan
Cherilus, Gosder T 6-7 319 23 R Boston College
Dunn, Jon T 6-7 324 26 2 Virginia Tech
Foster, George T 6-5 338 28 6 Georgia
Patrick, Chris T 6-4 280 23 R Nebraska
Scott, Jonathan T 6-6 318 25 3 Texas

I have said before I don't think you can judge this O-line on its' past performance. It would be like taking a boxer and judging him on how well has been doing kickboxing. They are both kinds of "boxing" -- but completely different styles. I know Nubsnobber disagreed when I said there were questions on the line. My questions on the line, however, I don't think coincide with many of the others I've read. My question isn't "how good are the oline players", or "how good is the oline", or "can the oline do the "new" blocking scheme" -- My question is how big a jump upward are they going to make this year??

Last season's O-Line was not as bad as the stats make it out to be. First of all, the number of sacks -- cited in every story on the Lions' O-Line -- has to be taken with a grain of salt. The full-on Martz offense always has generated a larger number of Sacks than average. However, the more he progressed to a long-passing game, and the more he moved away from the quick-deadly-accuracy game he played with Warner and Faulk with long shots thrown in to keep the defense off balance -- the more the sacks skewed above average.

Since this is the case, we need to look at those players likely to be on the final roster and consider the Oline as the sum of its' parts.

LOT: Jeff Backus has this spot wrapped up for now. I advocated drafting a new LT in the next year or two -- but I didn't explain why. I don't think the Lions need to replace Backus at LT. When used properly, he is an above average LT. He will never be Jon Ogden -- but neither will 100's of other starting LT in the NFL. I think the necessity of drafting a LT is directly linked to Jon Scott: How healthy is he, and how far will/can he progress? He is more suited to the speed and finesse of the LT, as is Backus. If he is not a future starter at LT, I want to see the Lions draft an understudy to step in and replace Backus. While Jeff is entering the prime years for Linemen, their decline can be rapid and unpredictable. The Lions are building a team for the long term, and if Scott is not going to be the future starting LT, then I would like to see them get someone in the 2009 or 2010 draft to start learning. Jeff himself will benefit from the zone scheme as he is more of a athletic tackle, versus a power clodster. But for now, the Lions have much greater weaknesses than LT.

LG: No problems at all here. Edwin Mulitalo was a steal coming off his pectoral injury and played excellently last year. He understands the schemes, and plays with toughness at at high level. Ramierez showed grit making the roster, and it appears he has continued to develop. He is a similar type of player to Mulitalo -- a massive beast with enough quickness to trap-block inside or out and get his guy off the line. With a couple more years under his belt, Ramierez shoudl be ready to take Mulitalo's spot when the time is right.

C: While the position of backup center is one that worries me, including taking into consideration the age of Raiola, at starting Center Raiola is excellent. Often overlooked by national media, he is considered among the top players at the position. If the Lions let him go, he would be starting elsewhere before the ink was dry on his release. Not an overly large center, he is excellent at getting out and blocking in space - especially pulling, and getting out to create lanes for a G-T gap run. He is an intelligent player (most of the time) who knows his own strengths and weaknesses. Teams may have penetrated the line last year, but the center was not the main problem. As for backups, Butler is an intriguing prospect I look to be on the practice squad this season, breaking into the 53-man roster next year as a backup G and C, and possible heir apparent for Raiola if he progress to his potential. No basis in fact for this, just a gut call.

RG: People forget the Woody lost his starting RG job last year not due to laziness (which he was until his contract year last season), or poor play -- but for play that wasn't good enough to hold off Stephen Peterman. He got a shot at the starting RG position, and never let it go. While Frank Davis this season, and Butler eventually, will press him for time -- and Ramierez, if they try him on the RG could pressure him as well -- I don't see him losing the starting Gig this ifseason. he played well above average, and is developing into an excellent G. Despite the deficiencies in scheme in relation to the performance of the line, he still did an excellent job. Going into his first full season as a starter look for him to keep improving. The competition from talented guys behind him will keep him motivated, and keep the G position strong if Mulitalo or Peterman are injured.

RT: This is where over half of the Lions sacks came from last season. ONE POSITION! It was an obvious point of weakness -- so much so, that teams including GB, Philly, Wash and Minnesota (that I noticed) moved their premier pass rushes, or put heavy pressure, on the right side of the Lions line versus getting their premier rushers matched up against Railoa. The Lions refused to leave a TE or RB in to block, so the RT was left on his own, and in most incarnations was unable to handle it. Foster played OK, but the false starts and penalties were just killing the offense (although I would have preferred them to "here, let me open the door to the QB for you Saipia). Scott did well enough to earn the starting nod, did well, but was injured once again. Already thin at the position, and without any good backups, that left the Lions in the lurch playing a hurt Backus on one side, and whoever the hell they could get to take a beating before allowing someone to crush Kitna again on the other. The coaching staff played it to thin at the T position heading into the season and, in my opinion, it cost them a playoff spot.

While most now, with hindsight, question why Woody wasn't tried at T earlier, it was more of a desperation move (that was highly ridiculed by all the pundits who listed Woody as a T heading into the ifseason gushing about his "greatness" at the position for a whole third of a season, and by most fans at the time it was made) Woody hadn't played T since high school. That was a looong time ago in football years. While he did well, I don't think he was special enough, or consistent enough as a player and person to be paid big money -- as I'm sure the Jets are going to find out.

Getting a RT was something I had as a priority heading into the ifseason not because I doubted Scott's ability to play it, but because he A. had not stayed healthy, and B. was more suited to the LT spot. I was pleased when they took Cherilus at 15 because he immediately upgraded what, to me, was the one weak point on an otherwise very solid line that worked together for 12 games last season. RT will be fine, and they will be able to integrate him into their scheme and gel well, I think.

Final Analysis: State of the Oline

Some of you fellows may disagree with my choices for roster spots, but after last year I see them keeping 9 O-Linemen, just to be sure they don't get caught with their pants down again. Foster was a band-aid, but will be an adequate backup if Scott and a starter are hurt. Other than that, he will find himself inactive most games since Scott can play both sides. He'll be their insurance policy. A few false starts are better than a dozen sacks.

This line is, as the sum of its parts shows, a talented motivated line with a lot of potential for growth. IF they continue to gel as they doing into the end of last season, really tightening it up all across the line for the last 6 games, despite the losses -- then this O-line, and by extension the running game, has the dreaded "P" to explode next year. Even if they don't take it a couple of levels up, with the more friendly scheme placing them in a better position to make plays instead of make like the French army (retreating constantly) then they will still be a good, if not dominating line. But the possibility of domination is there. IF...

I'm heading out for the weekend Internet free up to Houghton Lake. See you fellows again on Monday. I'll check in if I can find WiFi somewhere.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Instant Introspections

Long day (catching up) so just a few random thoughts/comments/introspections

In regards to the Mythbusting piece -- I said the Lions were changing -- good or bad is yet to be seen, and the overall tone of the piece was meant to inspire a look for a different angle. We often are trapped in our own straight line logical thinking path, that we find it hard to veer off and try to approach an issue, or an event form an angle different than that which comes to us first. In that piece, I overlaid a sense of the incomplete -- and in the laboring. Matt Millen is still GM, so although the Coach, and attitudes, and approach are being altered -- in the end, Matt Millen and WCF are still the power behind the throne -- the final decision makers. The ending I put forth was one of anticipation -- your own character will determine whether it is anticipation of dread, or success, or of sheer surprise. I, personally, am up for sheer surprise this year. I do not know what the team will do -- and neither, I suspect, do they in a very real sense. There is potential for both the astounding, and the mundane; the pinnacle and the gutter. All I know is that the chances of either end of the spectrum (1st pick in the draft, SB Winner) are quite remote -- and that the Lions are going to fall somewhere in-between. Where is anybodies guess, including my own. But I am just going to sit back once the season starts, and enjoy the ride for what it is -- after all, what is a destination but the end of a journey?

As for Mr. Jones signing with the Bears. BigKahuna (aka my boss) was not too thrilled with it, but the Bears really needed a veteran back with potential for a host of reasons that make it a logical landing place for a host of reasons.

1. Cedric Benson was an even bigger bust, and his release meant that Forte, a 2nd round draft pick rookie is the de-facto starter.
2. Forte's backups are the "other" Adrian Peterson (who really is nothing more than a 3rd down back) and Garret Wolfe, who is about on par with Calhoun for what he's shown so far -- minus the injuries even.
3. They needed a value pick veteran due to how late in the ifseason they ditched Benson. They are run heavy, and HAD to have another back that could at least rotate in, and at least start for a few games if Forte struggles or is hurt.
4. KJ signed there because his time in the division he is familiar with their style of play, revenge factor, and they were willing, I would bet, to give him two things essential to his situation:
A. Playing Time
B. Some incentives in his contract over veteran minimum that he has a chance to earn

I stand by my earlier assessments of Kevin Jones in the these Two Pieces I wrote earlier on this Blog. Kevin Jones is a $1 Ninja, and the Bears have signed him to an appropriate contract befitting that status. Had the Lions kept him, he would have continued to fall into the $30 used Buzz category -- too much risk for the return. (and he doesn't even look exciting coming out of the box anymore)

On Brett Favre, I was not meaning disrespect to him by posting that story -- but statistically and physically he is an average QB. It was his "intangibles" that were both his greatness and his weakness. In that way, he and Kitna are very much alike. I'm not saying Kitna is a HOF QB... but his intangibles -- toughness, leadership -- do add to the entire team's success more than some additional athletic ability ever could. Plenty of athletes have bombed at the QB position, as have personalities. Success at QB in the NFL is the perfect blend of situation, style, ability, and personality -- which is why it is so rare when the truly great ones do come along and the stars align. The Lions are not that team for Kitna -- I doubt he will take them to a Superbowl because even if they do show this year that the jump from 3 wins to 7 was improvement and not a fluke -- he will not be around by the time they are built for a Superbowl run -- that distinction will likely fall on the next Lions QB. That being said, I do think that he will take them to the playoffs -- and in 09 may even win a playoff game for them.

Buy a lot of those are IF's.

BTW -- Absolutely ALL comments indicating KJ is going to come and "Pinner" the Lions WILL BE DELETED. To say he will run for 200 yards against the Lions just because he is an ex-player is something even the hardest-core Bears fans don't see happening. I'm sure you can think of the rest of my objections to that kind of crap without me even bothering to go into detail that is unwarranted here. If he does great elsewhere, I'm fine with that. But his running for a lot of yards would be more about mistakes the Lions have made in their DEFENSIVE decisions than those regarding players on the offense -- including cutting Jones.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Myth-Busting: Lions not changing?

I came across this piece that I started to write back on April 10th of this year. It has some thoughts that are just as relevant heading into camp as they were leading up to the draft, so I updated/finished it and here we are!!


I have a customer who, every time he calls, begins his phone conversation with "It all began when I was a child..." and, if you don't say "Hello *NAME*" -- he will keep going. He has stated he can go on for over 45 minutes without stopping (and I believe him!). To me, that is what many Lions fans do, and it is just as irritating.

"it all began in 2001, when Millen was named GM....his drafts....his coaches...his mustache...his record"and on...and on....and on....

After listening to Ford's interviews (both Sr and Jr, though both rare), Millen, and Rod for two years - I have come to the conclusion that when he hired Rod, (right after getting his extension) that Millen was essentially starting over. He had 5 years of "on the job" training, and had found a coach with a vision he could buy into, and understand.

I referred to something similar yesterday, but will expand upon the metaphor. In ancient Dynasties, you had the Dynasty (the overall ruling family) - but you also had individual Eras that were influenced by whomever was emperor, and in many cases, their most trusted advisers. In the biggest sense, you have Ford and the Lions as the country. Currently, the Millen Dynasty is running Lions country. After going through the Mornhinweg Era, the Mariucci Era, and a brief caretaker Era under Juron, in 2006 the Millen Dynasty entered the Marinelli Era.

This is significant, because what one emperor did, another would often undo -- and while the Emperor ruled, he was still subject to the elders of his own family, and the empire. Think of this as Marinelli is emperor of the Lions, but still subject to the constraints of being a member of the Millen Dynasty. Marinelli is basically the guy who got the throne after the treasury was empty, and the country was engaged in a war with ill-trained troops who had endured loss after loss until many felt losing was all Lions country was headed for, and the only thing keeping their enemies from looting the capital weekly was a bunch of overpaid guys with some talent and no loyalty. But, he (unlike some of his predecessors) has the full support of Lions Country, and the guts to make the hard calls. So he has to do three things:

1. Train what he's got, and hope it works until he can get something better
2. Change the Culture
3. Fix the finances
4. Ditch the Overpaid Mercenaries
5. Develop his own troops

In 2006, the Lions made a few cuts, and re-signed guys who had the potential to emerge as leaders and great players. He also moved to fill some glaring needs as he could, put was hampered by the cap implications of 3 sour top ten picks, who were no longer with the team, and fat FA contracts on the books. So he focused on #1. (so much so, someone filed a complaint with the league) and #2.

He really has to continue to make #4 and 5 work to make 2 and 3 happen. Thus far, it looks like he is making a lot of progress, but that does not mean the Lions Country has established any kind of dominance.

They have shown that they can win well at home (5-3 in home games last year) but that they could still do better at protecting their borders. That is one thing that needs to be improved on even more this coming season.

After protecting your borders, it comes down to invading thy neighbors and beating them down at home to get any further. I.E. - they must win on the road. 2-6 there last season, so not doing great on the whole invasion thing. Until they can consistently bring it to others in their own house, they will be a middle of the pack country holding tight and trying to protect their borders.

It will be interesting to see, heading into camp, how the players are practicing. In order for this team to succeed, the last 3 years of draft picks and FA really need to step everything up a notch. From unknowns like IAF, the rookies, Bullocks from injury -- to the new backbone of White, Redding, Bodden... How well will everyone elevate their game? Will they be able to take it on the road and hand out some good old fashioned butt whoopin??

IF the players come together, and that culture is changed, and the list of 5 is closing in on improving -- then they may be able to march into at least enough victory to enter the postseason. At the worst, they shall be able to hold even. (8-8). IF not....

Can't wait until the Ifseason is over, and the "roll the tape and see what you got season begins..."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Guest Blog: Brett Favrve

With all fo the talk about the 'ol gunslinger holding up the Pack for a chance to come back and play somewhere else, or start again, I dug through my hard drive and found this piece. It was posted on the Mlive forum a while back, but unfortunately, I realized that I didn't catch the name of the poster in my copy. So if anyone knows who it was, or can find out somehow, than please post in the comments below so I can give proper credit. Thanks!!

From the Mlive Forum:

Interesting read – one I agree with, but have never had the time to research. Yes, he’s the former QB of our division rival, but in the 90’s we got to watch future Hall of Famer’s on the field for both offenses twice a year when the Lions and Packers met.

We interrupt the continued deification of Brett Favre -- a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the most durable player in NFL history -- with the following reality check.

Yes, Favre played long enough to throw the most touchdown passes and collect the most wins by an NFL quarterback. But let's examine the second half of No. 4's career. The truth is, Favre did little over the past decade to earn the gushing praise heaped upon him by our fawning brethren in the media.

In his 17 seasons, Brett Favre set numerous NFL records, including most yards passing (61,655) and most touchdowns (442).

But do those numbers, combined with Favre's three MVP awards and one Super Bowl victory, put him among the top 10 quarterbacks of all time?

After beating the San Francisco 49ers in the 1997 NFC Championship Game, Favre won just three of his last 10 playoff games. Eli Manning had more postseason wins in a 29-day span this past season than Favre had in his last decade with the Green Bay Packers.
Yes, Favre won a Super Bowl -- 11 years ago! But as his career arc spiraled downward, the blind adulation only got worse.

Favre's passer rating in his last 12 postseason games was a pedestrian 77.8. In his last five wild-card games, he went 2-3 with more interceptions (nine) than touchdown passes (seven). In his last three divisional playoff games, he went 1-2 with seven TDs and seven interceptions. That's a 3-5 record with 14 touchdown passes and 16 picks.

In two of his last four postseason appearances, Favre threw two of the most unthinkable playoff interceptions in NFL history, both in overtime -- to Brian Dawkins of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003 and to Corey Webster of the New York Giants in January. In fact, Favre is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw overtime interceptions in two playoff games. In his last nine playoff games, Favre threw 18 interceptions.

Brett Favre's career playoff record was 12-10. Fellow Packer star quarterback Bart Starr, above, was 9-1.In the first 81 years of the Green Bay franchise, the most hallowed in all of pro football, the Packers were 13-0 at home in the postseason. But since 2002, the Packers have gone 2-3 in playoff games at Lambeau Field, with Favre losing to three not-quite Hall of Fame quarterbacks: Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper and Manning.

If Manning had a decade like that, he'd be run out of New York. If Philip Rivers kept chucking ridiculous overtime interceptions in the postseason, he would be branded a first-round bust. If Drew Brees came up short in three out of five home playoff games, he'd be mocked.
But no matter how many dumb passes he threw and how many playoff games he lost, Favre remains immune to criticism.

Favre isn't even the greatest quarterback in the history of the Packers. It's not even close. Bart Starr won five NFL championships -- four more than Favre -- and retired as the NFL's most accurate passer.

Oh, you say Starr was surrounded by a Hall of Fame roster with a legendary coach. But Starr still is the NFL record holder with a 104.8 career playoff passer rating, nearly 20 points higher than Favre's. That wasn't Vince Lombardi or Ray Nitschke throwing those passes for Starr, whose career postseason passer rating, by the way, is 38 points higher than Johnny Unitas'.
Favre's career playoff record was 12-10. Starr's was 9-1 -- without the benefit of wild-card games. Favre threw 28 interceptions in 22 playoff games. Starr threw three in 10. Think about that -- just three picks in 213 postseason attempts.

But Bart Starr gets the Ringo Starr treatment -- underappreciated and overlooked. Favre gets put on a pedestal. Yes, he had a Pro Bowl season in 2007 with the youngest roster in the NFL. But his final moment on Lambeau Field was a wildly errant pass that turned into the NFC title for the Giants.

Indeed, a decade after his last moments of glory, the football hype machine continues to paint Favre as a hallowed icon of Americana, a symbol of all that is right with sports, a Wild West gun-slinging good ol' boy. There's Brett on the farm! There's Brett with his family! There's Brett on the cover of Sports Illustrated! There's Brett throwing another overtime interception!

Favre was among the best in the game, once upon a time. Those days are long gone. Only the idolatry remains. Cliff Avril Signs

I've been indicating in ocmments that, as per Netrat, he expected Lions draft picks to start gettign signed about the 12th. Lo and behold, Cliff Avril signs...on the 12th. Way to go NetRat! Cap and contract guru still. Last week Lewand said he expected the Lions draft picks to start signing soon, and that they should all be signed in time for camp.

Here's hoping he's right on, and at the current time, I don't see why not.

Avril Details:

The Detroit Lions have signed third-round pick Cliff Avril to a three-year deal, has confirmed.
The former Purdue University defensive end will receive the following base salaries: (2008) $295,000 (2009) $385,000 (2010) $470,000 along with a signing bonus of $484,000.

If he turns into even a decent situational pass rusher in his 2nd or 3rd year, the Lions will have quite a bargain. Camp approaches!

side note: Scoring & Rosters are up on the Dynasty site. I sent out invites for the free league (using ESPN) and will send the invites for the two Pay Leagues this weekend.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Guest Blog: Grading Lions Players

Wanted to share an interesting idea I got in an email -- I've edited out personal information, and with his permission posted it here. Thought it would be an interesting discussion piece over the weekend here (that isn't related to Brett Favre... more on that if I can find the stats I'm looking for) This post does two things: grades players, and tries to predict the final 53. Both are, I think, monumental tasks. I haven't had time to give it my take properly yet, but since I have a bevy of opinionated Lions fans from whom to draw excellent observations, I give you the graded 53, courtesy of lbJackieMoon.

(from this point on is the edited email from lbJackieMoon. I will post my thoughts in the comments with everyone else. Be sure to come back throughout the weekend, and into next week to read the updated comments, and to agree/disagree or expound on new observations)

I just wanted to suggest a post where you grade the Lions individually based on past performance and (for rookies) expected performance. Maybe you could throw in a bit of commentary on why they received their grades or whatever. Granted there probably won't be a lot of A grades but I feel Calvin and K. Smith should contribute significantly towards the Lions success. Take it or leave it It was just an idea I had floating around in my head, and it should make for some great reading. I have posted my grades below and would like to know what you think.

These are based on who I think makes the 53 man roster.

O line
1. Backus B-
2. Scott C
4. Foster C-
5. Mulitalo B
6. Peterman C+
7. Ramirez C
8. Hulsey C
9. Davis C
10. Raiola B

12. Williams A-
13. McDonald B
14. Furrey C+
15. Moore B-
16. Ellis C

18. Bell C
20. Felton B-
21. Bradley C

22. Kitna B
23. Orlovsky C
24. Stanton C+

25. Campbell B+
26. Gaines C+

D Line
28. Redding B-
29. Darby C+
30. Fluellen C
31. Cody C+
32. White B
33. DeVries C

36. Sims A
37. Dizon B-
38. Lenon C
39. Lewis C
40. Fincher C
41. Campbell C (LOVE HIS SPEED)

42. Kelly B-
44. Fisher C
45. Smith C+
46. Wilson C-

47. Smith B-
49. Alexander C+

Special Teams
52. Harris B
53. Muhlbach B

D-Line Analysis: Bubble Balance

After thinking about your responses to the Rogers piece, it really got me thinking about the Dline this ifseason, and how it has changed. So, after taking about 2 hours to slog through my favorites and actually organize them a bit, I looked over a host of articles from the last few months in regards to the Dline.

This is an older article from regarding the veterans on the Dline. Another article later on also dealt with Avril joining the line, and here is an interview with Chuck Darby from earlier this ifseason. Another piece on the defense in general also was of interest.

(BTW -- as you can tell from the joke post about the Mayan Apocalypse, reading the articles I hyperlink to can be helpful in understanding these posts at times. Plus, it allows you to form your own opinions so you can point out what a moron I am on occasion.)

After rereading those, I took a look at the current depth chart, and feel that my earlier assessment of the Dline -- from before the draft -- was pretty close.

They drafted a fun-stuffing DT to learn from and rotate in with Darby in Fluellen. They drafted a LB/DE edge rusher in Avril in 3 as well. I'm not including Cohen, because his best shot is to make the practice squad. If he does make the practice squad, it will be to see if he can develop to replace the spot Fleuellen will vacate when Darby goes. If not, they will draft another DT to learn/rotate in behind Fluellen. Not a big loss as Cohen was a 6th or 7th rounder, which seldom stick anywhere in the league, as is/was worth a shot at that price with his potential.

Looking back over the current depth chart, here is how the Dline stands now:

97 Alama-Francis, Ikaika DE 6-5 280 23 2 Hawaii
92 Avril, Cliff DE 6-3 252 22 R Purdue
70 DeGrate, Victor DE 6-3 294 23 1 Oklahoma State
95 DeVries, Jared DE 6-4 275 31 10 Iowa
94 Hardie, Rudolph DE 6-2 269 22 R Howard
90 Harriott, Claude DE 6-3 271 26 1 Pittsburgh
93 Smith, Corey DE 6-2 250 28 6 North Carolina State
99 White, Dewayne DE 6-2 273 28 6 Louisville
75 Cody, Shaun DT 6-4 310 25 4 Southern California
98 Cohen, Landon DT 6-3 274 22 R Ohio
91 Darby, Chuck DT 6-0 297 32 8 South Carolina State
96 Fluellen, Andre DT 6-2 296 23 R Florida State
79 Moore, Langston DT 6-1 305 26 4 South Carolina
78 Redding, Cory DT 6-4 295 27 6 Texas

Looking at this grouping, I'll make my first look at roster cuts/who makes it for this unit.

To begin with, I think that they will still keep 9 Dlinemen this year, although I expect one of them to be on the inactive list most weeks. The key question is whether they are going to keep 5 DT and 4 DE, or the opposite.

I think that camp decides how this plays out. Lets look at the locks. According to our 30 lock,
IAF-Redding-Darby-White are the starters, left to right. We also locked in Avril at DE and Fluellen at DT. It seems pretty clear that Fluellen is the guy to learn from, and eventually replace Darby. That is 6 spots filled.

If they do keep 9, that only leaves 3 spaces for the other 8 guys currently on the roster. That is where your competition will be toughest. There will be at least 4 DT's, so lets look at that battle first.

My gut says they keep Moore at DT. There are only 6 total DT's on the roster, and unless things have changed drastically, I don't see Cody being ahead of him on the depth chart, not matter how pumped he is for this season. (there was story on him on, but I couldn't find it going back. That right there is another sign...)

The 4th DE spot -- and possibly 5th is another heavily contested spot. For the record, it is nice to see the Lions have spots on the team now where the starters are talented enough, and there is enough depth, that there is true competition for the back-up spots. With Avril taking up a DE spot, but still an unproven rookie rusher (3rd round) -- a position that has a history of struggling -- I see the Lions keeping 5 DE's. The only way I don't see this happening is if they either don't keep 9 Dlinemen due to keeping additional safeties/CB/LB for ST play, or if Cody has such an awesome camp that they decide to keep him and slide him around as a DT/DE...

I don't foresee the second scenario happening, but the first is possible.

First off, who will be most likely to snag that coveted 4th DE spot? DeVries is listed as a starter right now, but I see IAF taking it over before the end of camp. That leaves DeVries, who is a 10 year vet, competing with Smith primarily for the 4th spot. If both of them do really well, that is the scenario I see them keeping 5 DE's. If one of them struggles, then unless one of the other DE's on the roster really steps up, I see them going with 8 linemen, and having Cohen on the practice squad as their backup Dlineman.

The potential of the Line, as Nubsnobber pointed out, is there -- as is that of the defense as a whole. But right now it is the dreaded P word still -- potential. IF IAF steps up, Redding elevates his game, White returns to pre-injury form and stays healthy, and Darby & Fluellen are able to do a better job in their gaps stopping the run up the middle than Rogers did -- this line could stop the run cold, and force pressure on the QB to throw quickly into the much-improved secondary...

A very hopeful picture, IF...which is what the Ifseason is all about!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rogers Trade = Value or Bust?

Why does a trade need to be one sided to end up a success??

S. Rogers will likely do well this year in Cleveland, and significantly help what was a horrendous Dline last year.

Leigh Bodden will be a significant improvement over the starting CB's last season, and don't forget the Lions ALSO got 24k Smith in that trade too with Celveland's Third round pick.
Even if S Rogers is pro-bowl, if the Lions get 2 solid starters (and I think K. Smith has pro-bowl potential if the O-Line steps up) then I would say both teams came up better for having made the trade.

However, those Browns fans saying Bodden will be injured could be right -- but Mr. Rogers hasn't exactly been Mr. Durable -- with three different knee surgeries, as well as shoulder surgery in the last year and a half or so.

I think the media portrayal right now focuses more on Rogers because the Browns are their "up and coming team" and "best team not to make the playoffs" -- Like the 49ers the ifseason before, and Miami the ifeason before that.

One thing I've noticed is that, in terms of trades, it seems as though one side must be the "winner" and one the "loser". This is something I have yet to understand -- does it generate any less readership to talk about how two GM's are brilliant in a trade that helps both of their teams improve? Would not a reputation for fair trading help a GM in future negotiations?

the very definition of trade is, according to

3. An exchange of items, usually without payment of money.

I didn't see anywhere in there where one person needs to get better "value" than the other. Granted, this does happen often in trades, especially in Football. We also have to keep in mind that a player who is a huge asset to one team, and thus valuable, my be less valued to a team with greater depth and/or talent at the position. "Value" is a variable commodity that can vary greatly team by team, and over time. Does a skill set fit with the system in use? Durability? Age/injury history compared to alternatives? Can you improve another area with a draft pick obtained, and will it outweigh what you have to give up for it?

As with most ifseason happenings, we won't know whether it was Millen who made out like a bandit, Savage who did, if they both got perschnookered, or if they both look like geniuses. For that evaluation, only time will tell. Rogers wasn't happy here, and Bodden wasn't happy in Cleveland.

While I know many of us, rightly so, question Millen's track record in trades - I'm going to wait and see before I declare it a boom or bust -- no matter how much S. Rogers feels loved now.

Hollyweed et al -- don't despair! The stories will once again be flowing regularly. I can't promise every day, but it will certainly be more than twice per week. I'm not a Broken Ninja yet!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Just Our Luck...

Degman on Mlive forum posted this, and I LMAO:

"With our luck the Lions will be 14-0 Dec. 20th 2012 and favored to win the superbowl."

Favorite Response?

If the Lions are 14-0 that is one of the signs of the Apocolaypse!

Have a great Monday everyone!!

Bubble Cuts Accelerate

Detroit Lions 2008 Roster Transactions
Date Transaction


May 29 The Lions sign DT SHEMIAH LEGRANDE.
May 20 The Lions sign WR GREG LEE and release TE CLARK HARRIS.
May 15 The Lions sign DB RONYELL WHITAKER and release DB PACINO HORNE.

May 13 The Lions sign undrafted rookie free agent DB JUSTIN SANDERS.
May 12 The Lions sign undrafted free agent G MATT BUTLER

NetRat highlighted that with the latest cuts last week, the Lions are down to enough space to sign all but 2 of their draft picks. Sadly, my dark-horse practice squad player Allen Ervin is not going to make it to camp.

Right now, the front office staff is expected back to Allen Park around the 14th - 16th. Expect the Lions to start signing players after that. Right now, no telling how quickly it will go but my guess is that they will have everyone signed in plenty of time for camp near the end of the month.

I'll post the camp roster once it is more solidified, and then we can start making more guesses as to who the bubble cuts are, and who will make the final roster.

Comment Etiquette

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

There is a site issue that I would like to address in regards to comments, before it gets out of hand. While I appreciate your comments on the Lions, and your ideas, greatly -- there have been a growing number of "complaint" posts. I have revieced about a half dozen emails on this issue as well, and felt it needs to be addressed, and then moved on past.

While I like to have an open forum for well supported ideas and banter in regards to the Lions, I will NOT tolerate personal attacks of any kind in the comments section -- please keep it civil. Despite what many in our Jerry-Springer society practice, you can disagree without slinging insults.

In particular, I would prefer if the bashing of other sites' forums -- and in particular, indivduals posters on Mlive and other Forums, NOT be done here. It's along the lines of "fire millen" to me -- we can draw our own conclusions, what is the point?

Please keep "personal" negative experiences, opinions to the forum in which they are relevant - and if you have an issue with an indvidual poster, please take it up with them directly elsewhere (like via email or on another forum) and not here.

While this is not out of hand yet, it was fast approaching such. I don't want to be a prick -- but I don't want this to be a site akin to the Yahoo or National forums where there is so much "no I'm a better fan, you're a hter, you're a slappy, lions suck" crap to wade through that even skimming for intelligent thought is near impossible.

Should this type of posting continue, I'd hate to have to start using the delete button -- or edit posts to leave in the great football thoughts, but leave out the personal poison. (I would copy, edit, re-post under my name and credit you). I don't want ot take that step, so lets just try to mind our P's and Q's while commenting. While there are only 15-20 people who post regularly, there are a couple hundred who read daily, as well as those who email thoughts. (which are always welcome) I'm sure they're here to read about Lions thoughts too, not the latest in the Hatfield-McCoy feud.

The comments that are posted here also reflect on me, and the Blog I run. WWDF79 do?

I appreciate your readership, and thanks for letting me take the time to address this issue.

Is it time for camp yet??!?!?