Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Week 5 or 15? - Real Defensive

Okay, so last night I copped out of writing on here and watched the Steelers-Ravens game down to the end. Few reasons:

1. I was out of town until late Sunday, so missed out on football the rest of the weekend (even what I heard was a great Chicago-Philly game)

2. I love to watch great defenses play. Yeah -- lots of punting, special teams play, field position battles. Sure, deep strikes are fun to watch -- but they are more electrifying when the average play for half an hour has gained about 3 -4 yards. then BAM 30 yards.

3. I have Pittsburgh as my defense in 4 or so fantasy leagues, and wanted to see if they could carry me to victory in the close games I was losing. I tied a game on the last-second sack in OT by Pittsburgh. Crazy.

4. Mendenhall was a big deal to many -- but his biggest knocks were a fumbling problem (which he showed in the preseason) and durability (he is on IR). I think the Lions got better value for Smith in the 3rd than they would have for Mendenhall in the first. Personal opinion. (B. Albert also is out for quite some time, but that is statistics and luck in the NFL -- may not have happened here - for either one.)

I had to ask myself, looking at Lions news tonight, if we are entering week 5 or week 15? All the talk was focused on the Draft, Free Agency, and other Ifseason items.

does anyone else remember it is week FIVE. The Lions play THIRTEEN games yet. Does the schedule look hard? Yup. But there are several beatable teams on the schedule. Who? I'm not sure. But I don't see the Lions going 0-16 at this point. Talk to me in three games. I may have changed my mind by then.

Who wins first? Lions or St. Louis?

I find it interesting -- Mike Shannahan in 1980's was the last coach fired at week 4 of the season. Yet, two coaches and a GM have been canned already. Not For Long (NFL)

KC looked awful their first few games, and pulled an upset over Denver. The Lions may just be able to put it together, come out and beat the Bears. Their defense is definitely playing almost as dominant as in their SB run...but their offense is playing as anemic as ever. Could be a low scoring game, where the Lions O can make a big difference on a few key plays. The kicking game could be key and is a Lions strong suit.

Or the Lions D could fall like piano 30 stories into the sidewalk. Spectacular destruction.

Good Leo or Bad Leo? Maybe we should rename the team the Detroit Gemini?

I've got some thoughts on starting RB, QB's, young players, watching and learning, etc. -- as well as more thoughts on the GM situation (which is still sparking some mighty interesting ideas...)


Just keep in mind -- week 5 and keep the current analysis opportunities in plain view and leave the Ifseason talk for the Ifseason -- it's a long way away and a lot will change between now and then, especially this year, for the Lions. FA, College guys, how the Lions do, who the coach is, who the GM is -- all that will impact the first part of the Ifseason, then leading into FA, then the draft....

But everything you need to know to look at that hasn't happened yet. Do I believe in now? Always -- if you don't pay attention to now, you'll never get to then...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

49ers Thoughts, Other Ramblings...

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??

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A "Millen" more articles...and thoughts

People honking their horns and waving flags like Allen Park has been liberated from a Siege? DetFan1979 Agreeing with Drew Sharp??? Schniekes!! What has happened to cause all this??

Oh yeah, a man lost his job today, and will get the joy of living with the label of "worst GM ever in the NFL." I actually feel sorry for him - he is great guy, but he just couldn't do the job he was hired to do, and was in over his head. At least he kept at it -- like in the ancient myth where a guy, for all eternity, must roll a boulder up a steep hill, and it falls out of his grasp and rolls down the hill just as he nears the top -- every time. But he just keeps pounding the rock...I mean, rolling the rock.

Seriously, the sheer number of articles and opinions out there in the wonderful world of the Internet is astounding. Some had interesting insight...others, not so much. Here is a smattering of articles that I pulled from various sites:

Don Banks thinks that Bill Ford Jr was able to force WCF Sr to make a move, and that the Lions are in prime position to clean house, and have ample time to search for a good GM, and to evaluate and redo the front office -- and that the GM will need to bring in his coach. Rod M. will get to put on a tryout to show what he as for the rest of the league.

Mariucci Chimes in with how "wonderful" it was to work for Millen, and how he thinks no coach could do it with the personnel and front office attitude. I think some of that was trying to help cleanse his own image, being on of Millen's "Bad Coaching Hires." He does say he thinks Marinelli could be a good coach, but that Detroit was too much for him.

Dan Miller "Voice of the Lions" comes out of the woodwork with his take too!

B VanO sputters his mouth, as usual -- makes a couple of decent points (unusual for him):

Millen’s Moola Amounts - at least he will be well compensated. Apparently about $50 million is the going rate for your Manhood and dignity these days.

Typical Lions - No press conference even - just a short press release.

Who da man now? Looks like Lewand and Mayhew will be splitting most of the duties -- at least one of two is a part of the problem, and will (hopefully) be gone.

Roy opens his yapper, and proves he stopped thinking about a month ago, and that he knows his contract is up at the end of the year -- which at this point seems about 13 games too long.

A Drew Sharp article I Agree With!! (I know - it hasn't happened, and may never happen again.)

At NFL.com, Shefter seems to be in shock. It's not that people didn't think he should go -- it just seemed he never would. As he highlights quite well once he has time to think it over...and Joey ended up cut by new Orleans today as well -- which is ironically appropriate.

Birkett also talks about a couple of interesting GM options -- both of whom seem reasonable options, along with Floyd Reese who put together the Titan's team that made a Superbowl run...

However, there will be more than enough speculation on that throughout the next 3 months, so I'm just going to let that one go for a while -- it will become clearer in time.

For those who are counting, the Curse of Bobby Layne ends October 6th... Coincidence? I'm starting to wonder...

As you can tell, game analysis was sidetracked by this stunning news event -- and totally threw my prior calendar out the window. As promised, however, you will still be seeing posts out of me not more than every other day again.

Go Lions!!

Millen Update: Confirmation of Firing

While not yet confirmed, according to various news outlets, including Killer, something is definitely up in Allen Park. Without even waiting for confirmation, conjecture as to what will happen now and who the next GM will be is already swirling in full force -- including Killer's comments on WDFN...

Stay tuned for more info. Also, I commented on why I don't want Cowher for GM on the prior post, but will go into more depth on this topic once more facts are known, and I've had time to think it over...


[UPDATE: Killer is indicating that a team official has confirmed the firing of Matt Millen!! More celebration and discussion to follow!!]

End of an Era? Or Glazer coating facts?

Jay Glazer is less than perfect in his predictions of imminent unemployment (see: Lane Kiffin still coach of the Raiders...for now...after Glazer reported he would definitely be canned on Monday.) However, I felt the urgent need to post this for all Lions fans. DetSims directed me to this earlier today (before it hit Mlive, which it apparently has now)

Here is a link pointing to a story that Matt Millen is... Gone - Done - Finito as GM of the Lions!

[UPDATE: Shefter added his thoughts as well, although still no official word out of Allen Park.]

I'm going to hold out hope until there is an official announcement. Now, remember as I said yesterday the Lions will not instantly turn it around -- the damage has been done. Not only has the barn door been held open for the livestock to escape for 8 years+, but the Barn has been burned to the ground, and then stomped on by its' angry ex-tenants.

If this is true, and doesn't light a fire under the coaching staff and players to lay it all out there or else, I don't know what will.

Here's hoping!

Go Lions!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Guest Blog, Other Notes

I just got done watching the game (finally) and will need to let the emotions calm more than a tad before I get into some serious looks at what is going on. I appreciate your patience! Time should be clearing up for me here now, so I will be back at the no less than every-other day schedule. I appreciate you hanging in there.

Oh, and remember -- while firing Millen would make everyone feel better, it would be like the man who punches out the guy he just caught sleeping with his wife. Sure - feels great to do it, but it doesn't change the fact that he just screwed you and your wife. In other words, it's only the beginning, and what follows is always harder.

So here is a guest blog from RGriffis to comment/chew on [my comments will, as usual, be in brackets]. My game thoughts will follow tomorrow -- Thursday and Friday I have two different stories lined up that I've been working on. I'll be out of town Saturday and Sunday but will return to catch up on current events/thoughts next Monday. Figured, after sticking through a little slow time, you fellows would like a preview of the upcoming week. The Lions may still be on vacation (it's not as if they showed up for the season yet) but I'm back to usual scheduling.

Oh yeah, Go Lions!!!

Courtesy of RGriffis:

Kitna Is Part of the Problem

The fact that Kitna doesn't think he is the problem IS the problem. He isn't playing well and he needs to acknowledge that - to have some humility. I like that Stanton is working hard and showing the right balance of readiness and loyalty - without stabbing Kitna in the back, but instead showing a good team player mentality.

I believe Kitna's poor performance and mood is a significant contributor to the decline of the team. He needs to put himself under some kind of pressure. Say something like, "If I don't get it done against Chicago maybe I need to get pulled and get my head on straight." Yeah, I know we'll never hear that from any NFL quarterback, but that's how I feel about it. [If you hear that from a QB they need to be pulled. Bart Starr used to say that if you're afraid of anything, you shouldn't be in that huddle, and you sure as hell shouldn't be passing anything other than water out to players on the sidelines. I'm more concerned that with Kitna outright questioning the playcalling as a team captain and supposed leader, he is causing even more doubt among the team. The QB needs to lead from the front and buy-in -- because it doesn't matter how good or bad the play calls are -- if the players don't buy-in and play 100% of the time, it will fail 100% of the time. Kitna needs the most to get his attitude under control, and stop letting his emotions get the better of him. Since that knock on his noggin in Minny, and especially this season even before the helmet hit in GB, but even more so as the season goes on he is just gone plain Loopy to quote my boss the Chicago fan on Kitna's state of mind. There reaches a point where a QB is just done -- and Jon is close approaching that point if he's not already there. As I'll go into detail with on Thursday, it's really too bad as another solid year out of him is what the Lions needed -- and now they going to be forced to make some kind of move early. Green Bay was ALL on him in my mind -- he didn't trust what the OC was doing, and forced in a long-pass instead of grinding it down the field, taking time off the clock and putting up a score. It was 1st and Ten for gosh sakes, only down two with 5 minutes to go -- perfect timing for a clock eating drive and he audibles into a pass and throws what is essentially a pick 6!]

If Kitna's knee is not 100% by October 5, he should not start. I would start Dan Orlovsky and keep him on a short leash with Stanton in the bullpen. If Kitna does start I would keep him on a short leash too - we need to win that game. And I would let all the quarterbacks know that the competition is on. [All deference to DanO, but if they are going to him might as well go straight to Stanton. We've seen what a little athleticism can do as far as creating a threat for the QB to run opening up other plays. Like McNabb, most running QB's settle down as they age and use their veteran savvy more than their legs most of the time. But to begin with, Stanton's abilities will serve the same purpose, as long as he keeps developing. I like the QB coach Loeffler, and think that he is doing very well with Stanton, and is working closely with him to continually improve him. As far as open competition...well, they are fast at the point that there is really nothing to lose. Down 3 games in the division...after 3 games! Why not?? What's he going to do, throw a few costly interceptions? Oh wait...]

Heads will roll. We are 0-3, and only five other teams are winless. Tarvaris got yanked in Minnesota and we got some nobody named Thigpen starting for Kansas City . Who are we to sit tight? [It is more of a trust issue, but the staff has come so close to losing this team (if they haven't already) that they need to do something drastic to shake things up and get the intensity the preseason competition brought back to the team.]

The chances of us making the playoffs are virtually nil - all of our losses are to NFC opponents and we've already lost a divisional game at home. And it's not like we're a powerhouse on defense or special teams to compensate for a weak offense. [As I said, 3 games back after 3 games...don't tell me the odds, but they're not good.]

It's time to make some good tactical moves. Develop young players. Hire and fire starters on a weekly basis. Make the whole roster fight for their jobs every week. [I agree with this whole-heartedly. Could Cohen and Fluellen, and Avril et al really get any less pressure than the Lions' current players like Cody have been? You can't get less than nothing...]

Last Sunday, Rudi Johnson won "the Cadillac," and Harris and Hanson won "a set of steak knives," but the rest of the guys should "hit the bricks." Rod should be putting the fear of god into these players. [Bullocks looked good. Smith looked good too, and I have no idea, after watching Cherilus play, how he hasn't been starting since day 1. If the Lions ever manage not to get down by 21 I think the combo of Smith and Johnson will be deadly to teams...assuming the QB doesn't constantly audible to risky throws into triple coverage every time they try to grind out the clock...]

WCF should do so to Millen, and Millen to Marinelli, but we all know how that is not happening in the good ol’ boys club. It's time for some accountability. That goes for all the coaches too. [That is 50 years gone, and you guys know I don't often, if ever, go there. Not too much to analyze in the GM department, and I won't bore you all with the stats I know we all know by heart.]

Our team has played like the worst in the league, but I know we're better than that. It is time for Rod and the boys to sack-up and sound-off like they got a pair. [Actually, St. Louis is somehow managing to look worse on a weekly basis than the Lions. In the DF79 League, team defenses can earn negative points. The Lions have been -3,-4,-1 in weeks 1-3. The Rams? -10,-2,-2. Sad to think a team is putting in less effort than the Lions right now.]

Roy and Kitna should be on the trading block, not that I would let them go lightly or easily. Kitna to the Niners would seem like a good trade since they lost Alex Smith - maybe we can get a 4th rounder for him. Roy can go to Dallas or Philly or some other contender - I know Seattle is short on wide receivers. [Now is not a time to trade from a position of strength, and do we really want Millen negotiating trades??? 49ers are content with JT and the whole staff has one year to make it or hit the road. They literally have nothing to lose either -- but the management won't give up future picks right now. Seattle for Roy is intriguing, but he is hurting his own value with all the dropped balls and lack of concentration. At the end of the season, they can still get at least a #1 and a #3 for him by franchising him and trading him to a team desperate for #1 WR who doesn't want the crap shoot of the draft. Roy can be good -- when he wants to be. Let the next Gm trade him and garner picks to rebuild with...]

No self-respecting team in the league puts up with poor quarterback play, and that's what we've been getting. Kitna has gotten worse each successive game, and a fire should be lit under him to change that trend. [As has Minny, Chicago, St.Louis, KC, and others. Ravens have put up with it for years, as have the Lions actually. There is no reason for it, but teams seem to be content to do it all the time. I do agree I am disappointed with how Kitna has both played and handled himself on and off the field.]

If it does not change, I've got a pair of tweezers for Kitna to pull the splinters out of his tookis because he'll be riding pine on the bench if he doesn't get his act together - either here or with his pals in San Francisco . [Again, I don't think in SanFran -- or anywhere but Detoit right now. But I do think I will be sadly shocked if he starts after the bye -- or doesn't get yanked if he keeps playing like he has been. This staff needs to throw caution to the wind (I know Marinelli is conservative) and just go for broke -- they are headed there quickly anyways, so they might as well go out with a bang!!]

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Game Day Blog

Once again, post your game-day thoughts here. I was going to do a piece on this match up, but really -- what more is there to say? So far, the team has been on the "If not..." track we were hoping the season wouldn't end up on during the ifseason.

Just the same, time tested, most basic of they need to do:

Score more points than the other guys.

Do that, and you win. Don't, you lose. See, wasn't that profound?

Seriously, they need to eliminate the bone-headed penalties, stick to their assignments and tackle, run crisp routes, and not push things too much onto themselves.

Most of all? Play one snap at a time and concentrate. The game is winnable -- the question is: Will the execute?

Film will tell -- and will determine if the bye week is started off with the beginning of what could be a great run, strides made, a team humming and clicking...

Or if it will be a time of Re-Tooling and figuring out what to do. Hey, at least sitting at 0-2 the Lions weren't predicted to be in the Superbowl like San Diego and Minnesota. They, even as the Lions, are looking at themselves going "What happened??" I think that question is hard to answer for all of them...

Go Lions!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Final Green Bay Notes

Some final notes on Green Bay -- I mentioned in my Blog earlier this week that I would go into what I thought about the Lions holding GB to 27 points. I had it in my mind that holding the GB offense to 27 points was about what teams were able to do, on average, last season. (Notice I don't count the 21 points off of Kitna's INT's -- I'm curious how the defense did.)

So, being the curious fellow I am -- I looked it up. Only taking into account their 16 regular season games, they scored an average of 27.16 PPG. Their lowest score was 7 week 15, and highest was 38 against Oakland - though against most teams (including Detroit) they were in the low 30's. Adding in the playoffs, the average was 27.61 (they actually had a new high score - 42 - in the playoffs round 1 which increased their average.)

If you add in the first game this season, the average is 27.42 PPG heading into Detroit last week. That is NOT a shoddy team -- that is one heck of an offense.

But how about their D?

They weren't high in scoring defense. Despite two pick-6's against Detroit, it is not common. Usually they stop the opponent on down and distance versus a large number of turnovers (Less especially against them with the 'ol gunslinger having moved on.)

As for PPG, the GB D gave up an average of 18.18 PPG over 16 games, 18.55 through the playoffs, and 18.57 going from week 1 2007 through week 1 2008 (including playoffs.)

The Lions scored 24 points, which is above the average -- and, had they avoided shooting themselves in the foot had an opportunity to put up at least another field goal.

So overall, the offense performed (until the last 5 min) above average versus the GB D, and the Det D held GB at their average (until said meltdown).

I did re-watch the end of the game to see a bit more what was going on. I noticed (and I chatted a bit about it, and noticed a couple of other people see the same thing.)

First off, GB LB Nick Barnett was fined for his hit on Kitna where he jolted him in the helmet. Speculation: Kitna suffered a minor concussion. His play really went down the crapper after that, and he was making poor decisions all over the place -- from where and how to throw the ball, to walking off the field.

While Kitna is certainly a "warrior" -- the coaching Staff needs to be able to see when something is not right and send in his backup -- that is what backup players are for!

I do not think starting Stanton right now makes sense, and agree there seems to be no right way to season a QB -- there's just no telling, although I think that allowing them to sit a year and rotate in for blowouts/etc. does help a lot --- just practicing and being with the Vet mentor.

Keep in mind, Stanton is really in year 1 since he essentially lost all of last season. Again, I'm for rotating the rookies in to get playing time -- but I do think this team is gelling together and finally starting to click a little -- especially on defense. That and Cherilus on the line will help the offense.

Special teams did look a lot better, especially with Middleton doing returns. I'm glad they brought him back -- the coverage and blocking units looked pretty good too, overall.

49ers preview tomorrow -- followed by another game blog for your thoughts. Once again, thanks to family obligations (this time my Mother-in-Law's birthday) I will be watching the game via VHS on the DF79 network!

Good thoughts -- keep them coming!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Quick Notes

Okay, so tape delay to Sunday ended up meaning "watched it once through Tuesday after kids' soccer." Funny how the rest of life flows on.

I'll be addressing the multitude of issues brought up (25 comments! Great Job guys!) in detail tonight (as much as I can) but wanted to at least get a few of my thoughts out there earlier to chew on:

1. The defense finally appears to be clicking together. They let 21 points in the first and 2/3 quarters, but after that held GB defensively to 2 FG (more on that later) and a TD (much more on that later) on a very short field. Only 13 more points, the entire game.

2. Whatever Kitna ate/did the night before the game -- never do it again. Ever. He was pretty bad all day.

3. Cherilus earned a starting spot taking A. Kampman out of the pressure game after he came in. He's proven he needs to be in there.

4. If the defense plays like it did in the second half (yes the Packers were trying to score TD's as the Lions were storming back and not letting up) holding teams to FG, then the Lions will see marked improvement -- assuming Kitna and the O get clicking again like they were in preseason.

5. Green Bay is NOT Atlanta -- Green Bay is a 13-3 NFC Championship loser from last season that has a 4th year QB who has been groomed and given mop-up duty behind a Hall of Fame QB. The rest of their very good offense (including Oline) and very strong defense returned. They are a legitimate Superbowl Contender -- at worst a deep playoff team. Rodgers was the only question mark, and that question has been answered: GB has a QB again. His health (or lack thereof) will be the only thing that stops them from the playoffs.

6. If the Lions lost 27-25 (no Kitna INTs, but assuming no points) would you be happier? point of fact is, this game was very close fought - the defense kept them in the game long after GB should have been able to put it away and couldn't despite their best efforts. The Lions were only down two points, and Kitna looked like he had Martz on the brain -- decide the play, who is getting the ball, snap it and throw to that person irregardless of what is happening on the field.

7. It looks like Kitna doesn't trust Roy right now, and that could be a big problem -- soon.

8. I'm for starting youngsters -- like Cherilus -- when they need to be, or to see what they have. They Erred last season by not putting in all the young guys after they were eliminated from the playoffs, and I felt so at the time. However, until they are out of the playoff picture, they need to stick with whoever gives them the best chance to win.

9. SF should be a winnable game -- especially if it turns into a shootout, the Lions should just go with it and show the league they can still put up points. It will help the confidence level of the offense, which needs some serious help.

10. don't mope -- the season is far from over. If they are 0-3 at the bye, you can bet there will be changes come week 5. And we will hear about them week 5 near gametime. That's just how Marinelli operates.

11. I don't believe in calling guys out in the press -- it does nothing but cause rifts in the team. Sure as heck call them out behind closed doors in front of the team. But team issues should be handled in the locker room, not the papers. Want Roy and Kitna to become a TO-McNabb kinda feud?

12. Roy is running routes like he did pre-martz, and dropping balls like he did post-martz. I'd be happy if he did one great, and another average -- but right now, it's the worst of both worlds, and I don't think Roy sees it.

I guess a dozen things qualifies as "quick" -- one last thought. Avril, not White, was in on the last FG drive for GB before the Lions entered INT-Land. (White had a cap knocked loose) GB took advantage of the Rook and that helped them. Avril played well, but not as well as White. Just a point about the Lions' vets -- the young guys have potential, and need to continue to be rotated in -- but they are not as good as the vets on the team -- yet.

There are 5 teams 2-0, 7 at 1-1, and 4 at 0-2. It's only week 3: As we Lions fans know from last season, a lot can change between now and December.

Final note: Most national, and even beat, coverage focused on the final score and blasted the Lions D. they let up 34 points (bad enough) not 48. And shave another 7 for the 20 yard line start and momentum shift and its 27 points. If you can't put up more than 27 points, it's not likely you are going to beat Green Bay. I'll look at that more tonight. Just look back at their games this season and last, and you'll see what I mean.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Your thoughts and Analysis as the game is going on, and after it is over. Something you see? A trend, a play (good or bad)? A comment on the action? Breakdown or quarterly summary for those who can't catch the game?

Put It Here!

I'll be catching the game on VHS Tape Delay Sunday night.

Go Lions!!


There are lots of thoughts out there on this game, so I'm not real sure I need to recap them all. I watched Minn-GB week 1, and while GB looked good, the Minn offense looked terrible. While Rodgers did well, both teams were shooting themselves in the foot with senseless, pointless penalties. Hopefully, if that continues, the Lions will be able to capitalize. The one thing they did well last week was avoid an absurd number of penalties.

I keep wondering if GB has swagger, or overconfidence heading into their away game match up with the Lions. They faced Minnesota, at home, Monday night -- a game even the most lax of football players would have a hard time not taking seriously. Going into a stadium where a furniture store bought out the remainder of the seats, and the team got beat up by an "all rookie" squad last week...not so much.

Perhaps the Packers will be facing the same kind of game Detroit did, only a week later. I wouldn't count on it, but they appear to be full of more than swagger. For instance, in this article the Green Bay secondary has essentially indicated they don't think Roy or CJ are anything special, and feel equipped to handle them -- dinged up or not.

Once again, if the Lions go down, I think most outlets are missing the point. I said last week it would be Michael Turner who was the focus of the game -- stop him win, don't lose. They didn't, and they lost big. If they stopped him on the ground, the number of throws from down-distance favorable to the Lions increases and then you have a whole different ballgame.

Grant is on the injury report, but expect him to play. With him and Jackson, GB will not be afraid to do exactly what Atlanta did to protect their signal caller. They will run early and often, with long strikes from Rodgers thrown in until the defense shows it can stop Grant -- if it can.

The Lions need to take away the run and the deep ball (which may be easier to do with Bodden on the field) and force the Packers underneath. Rodgers is a gamer, but he excels at the (ironically enough) Brett Favre style of gunslinger plays, and doesn't have as much patience with the dink-and-dunkers. (thus far -- we haven't seen enough of him to know his real tendencies)

As for the offense, they need to run against GB, especially up the middle -- which is where Minnesota had the most success. What killed Minnesota is that GB did not respect the passing game at all, and stacked up against the run. When you're covering Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian with T. Jackson throwing the rock, it's one thing. That the GB corners can't distinguish between Kitna throwing to CJ and Roy is another entirely. Are the Det Trio really as mediocre as the Minn Trio???? I guess we'll have to watch Sunday to find out. My guess is no.

The key will be, no matter what, to keep the game close. If it gets out of hand the Fans in the stadium will go silent (except those Packers Fans buying tickets by the furniture truckload), and the team will be pigeon-holed into a bad position again. The defense has to get some stops early, and Detroit may need to get it's run game going by cranking up the pass early (like they did in preseason) to pull guys off the line for the running game to get some traction.

Your thoughts?? Concerns? Is GB too full of themselves at this point, and are they overlooking the Lions, or are they truly that good and Rodgers is the next Favre, here to torment us another 17 years?

Final Week 1 Thoughts

Yes, yes -- everyone wants me to preview the Green Bay game. However, I still have a few leftover thoughts from week 1.

amazingly, JJLions, I actually agree with you on Alexander. While I still expect him to spell Smith (who is a little older) I would like to see him get more time to develop without the pressure of starting. When I referred to him and Bullocks as starters, I was thinking long term. Alexander does need some more development, but he can definitely contribute in rotation as he improves. The Lions are also in fine shape if Smith gets injured. It's also nice to see Bullocks back -- he appears fully recovered and confident -- and picking up where he left off before the injury.

As for Cohen, I somewhat disagree -- I don't think he should be starting over Darby. However, if Cody continues to disappear all the time, I'd like to see him given a shot at some playing time -- we may all be surprised at how well he does. Also, with the trouble they had stopping the run, I'd like to see IAF activated. He was getting good penetration on the inside and outside, and also was doing very well stopping the run in preseason on passing downs while pressuring the QB. I'd like to see him get a shot at some more PT -- but will trust the coaches to have the best guys on the field.

One interesting thing that I read that bore both thought and repeating is about Cherilus. While he is about equal with Foster already, he can play both left and right, according to the coaching staff. Is it possible they are holding him back to keep pressure not just on Foster -- but on Backus as well? Sure, Jeff is an average LT -- but Cherilus was doing fine on the left when he was in there pre-season. With some development he may even be able to man that spot in the future. He was drafted as a RT for now -- but if he can be a LT for years to come, should he be rushed? I don't buy their lame excuse about him being the only "swing" tackle. If he's playing on the right, and gets injured -- Foster steps in. If Backus gets injured, Cherilus slides left, and Foster mans the right. There is more going on that we know about, but don't always assume it's negative. He was pushing Foster this ifseason. What if he has elevated his game enough to be pushing Backus next?

Dizon did well in his limited action, but I'm advocating more rotation ie have him in for a series or two -- or three, depending on how he is playing. That way he keeps getting game experience to go along with his practice and put it into practical use. Practice and watching only go so far. I would be disappointed if he is outright starting before the bye unless he is just lights-out phenomenal. If he is starting (other than that), it's just because Paris is playing like week 1 Paris instead of Preseason Paris. I want to see Dizon develop and exceed what Paris brings at MLB, not just step in because of incompetence.

I read about Barry showing the players film...not of missed tackles, but every player who missed tackles got to sit in the room with the entire defense and watch film of themselves making tackles. That had to be one long film session!! However, I think it is an interesting approach -- it simultaneously called out the guys who were missing tackles while not only telling them they could do better -- but showing them doing so. If that doesn't really drive home the point that they can do better than the pathetic effort they made, then I don't know what will.

One thing I'd like to see this weekend (among many): Brandon Middleton taking a Kick-Off, think about fair catching it, and then take it and run it back for a long gain to show the coaching staff they were right in bringing him back, and that offensive life is better when you start near/past the 50.

Preview of GB game tonight. No game blog again tomorrow, as I will be catching the game on "tape delay" (VHS) tomorrow evening. Feel free to post your in-game thoughts here, as well as your own quarter-by quarter analysis, thoughts, what you saw, etc. I will create a "game blog" for this purpose -- it will be interesting to see how differently we each view key plays etc -- and then break it down on the film and look into it further.

Go Lions!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blackout Lifted - DT for Sale? Please?

Well, first off thanks to Gardner-White Furniture for ensuring there will be no blackout, thus allowing your humble blogger to see the game. We salute you!!

Also, please be sure to take a moment of silence on this September 11th in remembrance of the lives lost then, and since.

In other news, both the Colts and the Saints have lost starting DT's. The Colts' starting DT was waived after he was arrested for drug possession, while the Saints merely lost theirs to the IR. (he was already on PUP). What does this say to me? Lets see, the Lions have 11 linemen, and at least 2 didn't show up on Sunday against the Falcons. See where this is going?

Shaun Cody. Don't think Indy wouldn't give him a shot for a 4th rounder? Or a player trade for a LB? The Lions are in a sweet spot with teams needing an additional DT -- will they make an aggressive move though?

I also noticed a couple of pieces by Birkett and Killer indicating there are some starting shakeups and playing time moves coming that are long overdue.

Ramierez over Peterman at RG

Bodden over Fisher at CB

Bullocks over Alexander at S (I still think Alexander will make good progress and that he and
Bullocks will be holding down the starting S spots for years to come)

No playing time for Cherilus...yet. I'm thinking they want to see how having Ramierez in improves the right side, and then they are going to insert Cherilus. Still too conservative for me.

Dizon, big surprise, will get more playing time in rotation for Lenon. If the same disparity from last game holds, look for Dizon to get more and more PT until he is starting after the bye week.

Looking forward to Sunday, as always. Go Lions!!

BTW -- GREAT comments on the last two stories -- keep it up everyone!! Glad to see not too much doom & gloom floated over here -- lots of good critical analysis though - Love it!!

Lions Great Rest of 2008 Playoffs and Beyond! (that one is for you Chief )

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Detroit Fan 1979 in Denial - Please NO Blackout!

My apologies on the slow post time - yours truly was hit with a 24 hour knock you out flu. Not to be confused with the 3 hours knock you out Lions flu. See, I couldn't catch that because I couldn't tackle it. Rather, I'd bump into it, but forget to wrap my arms around it.

Mass Amnesia, causing all knowledge of tackling to be lost? Weak arms due to a need to fire the upper-body defensive strength for having too intense a workout prior to flying to Atlanta, thus rendering them unable to wrap up an offensive player? Defensive pull an all-night team building exercise by lifting rocks to stop people pounding rocks, and thus again were too tired to tackle? We may never know...

What I do know, is that I'm still optimistic about the season. Did I give my "lucky" Lions hat a timeout in the closet? You bet.

Did I actually have the stomach to look at the tape and rewind it a few times to see what was going on? Oh yeah.

It's hard to look away from a trainwreck...

I said on Saturday that the most likely thing to crush the Lions was...yes...Michael Turner. Take away 3 easy TD's and you take away 21 points. They needed to take him out of the game, and make Ryan keep throwing.

The defense, for any of the reasons above (Joey voodoo dolls backfired on his former team(s), you name it) didn't forget where they should be most of the time -- they forgot how to tackle with the exception of the safeties! (They could tackle, just forgot how to get there/where to be. Entirely different problem)

I saw no less than FOUR times that the Lions D had Turner in the backfield, and 2 more at the line of scrimmage...and he gained 10 plus yards on all of them because whoever whiffed on the tackles. Along with the LB.

Specific players/personnell that I noted:

1. Fears of Campbell being injury prone proven beyond doubt -- 3rd year on IR. Would rather have McHugh than Owens on the Roster, but such is life. (As a Steeler for McHugh)

2. TURNER, not matt Ryan, beat the Lions. He threw what, 9 or 10 passes? The Lions didn't stop the run, the offense didn't score, and thus there was no reason for Atlanta to take any chances throwing so they didn't, limiting the opportunities for the Lions Secondary to make plays, and the Dline to get pressure on the QB. (it's not personnel, but I felt it bore repeating.)

3. Cody disappeared on the field, just like he always does come gametime.

4. DeVries did too

5. Redding was doubled up almost every play

6. Moore wasn't playing real great, and Darby didn't do much to stop the run

7. Where is preseason Lenon? All I saw was the worst of 06 Lenon.

8. Foster got his butt handed to him on a platter...multiple times...

9. Kitna hasn't looked the same in game since the Minny concussion

10. Anyone else catch themselves thinking on the "shoulda run for a TD" that Stanton would have looked great there? Thought that a few times...crazy. Wasn't even drinking.

11. Dizon looked really good while he was in there (only 10 plays, and tied for lead with tackles at 5). With how bad Lewis looked in game (a surprise to me) why isn't Dizon starting in the middle and Lenon competing with Lewis at SSLB? Nece also looked better than Lewis. Doesn't say a whole lot.

12. Cherilus needs to start at RT. Maybe even give Manny a shot at RG, although I'd like to see Peterman and Cherilus together first.

13. They resigned Middleton as 5th wideout and return guy. I said before he was cut that he looked good during his limited return opportunities, and I'm glad to see him back.

14. Put Bodden in Man coverage and Fisher on nickle where he was signed to play and where he belongs. Enough of this crap already Rod -- you rolled the dice on the Rooks and the FA now just play them and see what they've got.

They NEED to just bite the bullet, get the rookies in there, and have IAF, Cohen, and Flu active come game day. Cohen and IAF at least. Just see what they can do -- it certainly can't be any worse. Guys played themselves out of jobs -- see if the rooks are worthy to take it, and hold it. They will at least have some intensity -- something I saw lacking from the team on Sunday.

I want to see the GB game next week, or at least on tape delay (as I may be gone). I might not get the chance, since there aren't enough tickets sold so there may be a blackout. Despite living in Lansing, which is -- according to Google Maps, 89.6 miles outside of Detroit, some of my Fox Station viewing area is within 75 miles...so no Lions for me. Which is a load of crap -- especially considering our local cable operators wouldn't deign to give those customers outside 75 miles, but with no channel to watch it on, an alternative. So NFL blackouts are more like 100+ miles when you take that into consideration.

So do me a favor -- don't boycott the game! [If you're going to, and have tickets, please email me and I will gladly take them off your hands for below market value, since you aren't going anyways. All a blackout does is screw the average fan who can't afford to go -- hint -- it won't get Millen fired, and WCF is going nowhere the team makes a profit even if the stadium is empty -- so what is the point? Lets watch us some football!!]

I still believe in now, and it was not the type of blowout that we saw last year. It was the Lions not executing one aspect -- tackling -- along with a jacked-up Atlanta that beat them. Not poor execution in all phases. 13 points was still winnable - couple of bad mistakes ie - INT, 1/2 yard shy on slide - and Lions could have not only been in it, but won it. That was not like Philly last year where they were overpowered in all phases --- the game was still theirs to win or lose into the 4th quarter despite all they had screwed up along the way, and they lost it plain and simple. It was theirs to take and they didn't.

And they know it. Which is likely to inspire them and fire them up more than if it had been a horrible blowout. So here's to GB and what looks to be a competent Aaron Rodgers. Scouting report later this week.

Go Lions!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Atlanta in Denial?

Is there something I don't know, or is Atlanta in the equivalent to the early Millen years? I checked out the ACJ (Atlanta Constitution Journal) this morning -- along with a couple of other Atlanta sites, just to see what they were saying. After all, team sites are for propaganda, and the papers...well, they usually take a more realistic (read: willing to say negative things) view.

Imagine my surprise when a couldn't find a story entertaining the notion the Lions will win! I know, situations reversed, at least half (likely 3/4) of the stories would be about "tough game" and "unfortunate blowout."

Here are the poll results on the straight up W/L:

Who will win Sunday's game between the Falcons and Lions?
Falcons WIN: 79.05% (936)
Lions WIN: 20.95% (248 )


One writer on there expressed concern about the Atlanta secondary. Afraid it was going to be "scorched earth" back there against Roy and CJ. Then proceeded to "dude, it's only Jon Kitna. Take the Falcons to cover the three." He thinks Kitna would be the reason the Lions would lose by MORE than a FG?!? I think he was hanging out with those Sumos. There are definitely a host of ways the Lions could lose, but Kitna being unable to get CJ and Roy the ball is not high on the list of "probable problems likely to occur." Michael Turner razing the Lions defense for a couple hundred yards? That would be number one, but appears to be lost in Atlanta in a host of Ryan is the next "insert successful QB name here" and jokes about WR, Matt Millen, and "hey its the Lions" (forgetting they beat a Vick led Falcons pretty handily in their last meeting in 2006, Rod's first year.)

I love this comment on a story:

By Ken Strickland
September 5, 2008 1:52 PM
Link to this
For the Falcons to win they will have to effectively run the ball, convert on 3nd dn and control the clock. On DEF, they’ll have to pressure the QB and play solid run DEF. If they can successfully do those things, they’ll win. If not, they’ll lose. It’s just that simple. Oh yes, special teams play will be a factor as well.

Seriously, you could post this about every team for every game. It is at the heart of what a team needs to do in order to win.

then there was the usual stuff by those who don't actually look at what other teams did/have done, but do watch a lot of sportscenter...

By TNgizmo
September 5, 2008 2:07 PM
Link to this
The falcons are a much better team this year for a lot of reasons. Detroit did not make a lot of solid changes. The birds will win this one 20-17. I hope!

There were also quite a few with more realistic takes. I think it will be a good game, with the Lions showing strong and getting the win.

The Film will tell us in a few hours. I have company this evening, so look for the Game blog early tomorrow, or tomorrow evening -- with my first impressions, and then tape analysis later in the week.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lions Preview Atlanta

The Detroit Lions website had a pretty well rounded, pre-game breakdown for Atlanta -- and due to personal time constraints (and the start of Soccer Season for my girls) I saw no real reason to recap the piece in its' entirety.

One phrase I laughed at was Roy Williams saying their two young corners would be a challenge. I looked at their stats, and found some interesting things:

Calvin Johnson is 6-5 -- a full 7 inches taller than starting LCB Brent Grimes , and 6 inches taller than starting RCB Chris Houston. He also has, at 235 pounds, has 50 Lbs on Grimes and 60 Lbs on Houston. And he runs a faster 40 time than either one. As a matter of fact, at 6-0 216 Lawyer Milloy (34 yrs old) is the biggest guy in their secondary -- and he is slower than both Grimes and Houston.

Roy might have a bit of a challenge as at 6-2 216, he only has about 4 inches and 30lbs on grimes and 3 inches and 40 lbs on Houston. Milloy is pretty close to him in size. Either way, if they bring the safeties to double the two guys on the outside (assuming that will stop them) who is going to stop the run?

The Lions can take 4 guys out of it by sending out Roy and CJ on even a moderate route, and still have a FB and a TE in to block for the run, or to catch short curls, etc against LB coverage, and if they go to a nickle, look for Smith and RJ to run it through the gut for big chunks. As soon as the safeties cheat up, the "Trees" as Marinelli refers to them as will have someone single covered by a (relatively speaking) Midget.

That's how it's supposed to work, so while Roy is being PC in his statement, and doing what Rod wants by focusing in on each snap, and not underestimating his opponent... In the back of his mind, he's thinking "First Down, Endzone baby."

And well they should. 13 hours til Filmseason kicks off.

Go Lions!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Conference Call, Falcon Thoughts

There are some good quotes in today's press conference transcript on Hondo's Blog from Rod Marinelli, Falcons Head Coach, and Matt Ryan.

Some points that caught my attention:

Matt Ryan has no idea what's about to hit him, multiple times, in multiple ways, on Sunday. My favorite part was where Rod talked about physical pressure being obvious, but that he loved mental pressure just as much. To a defense making a QB think they are about to be hit is just as good as almost hitting him. How often do we see a QB dumping it off or throwing an ill advised pass when there's no one near him. Rookie's starting their first game are most susceptible to this.

I laughed out loud to the answers Rod had to some of those questions. Example:

On Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith’s guess that the Lions will run many blitzes to get to Ryan: “We’re just going to do what we do; no change; same shorts, same shirts, same socks.”

Translation: Would you also like a copy of the game plan?

Good read, and a lot to glean.

In regards to the Falcons as well, there are serious concerns about two aspects of the team, outside of a rookie QB: O-Line and DB's They had poor passing D against very mediocre passing in the preseason, and it is apparent the coaching staff is already trying to set up for the press conference after they lose by talking about how hard it will be for any team to defend Roy and CJ. We'll see.

While Turner is billed as the center of the Falcons offense, look for a lot of run blitzing and loaded boxes to stop Turner and force the Falcons to win through the Air -- and with the revamped Lions Secondary, that is a match up I like.

I also look for the Lions Dline to do very well against an inexperienced Atlanta Oline and QB. If they have trouble pressuring Ryan, it will not portend well for the rest of the season. On the other hand, anything short of a truly dominating (double-digit sack game) should not set off cries of best Dline in the league. They should get pressure on Ryan without blitzing all the time, and force him into mistakes. But if the dominate, then we have a guess they will at least be able get good pressure on average lines, and hold their own against the better lines.

My fear is that after 4-0 preseason, and all that is going against Atlanta that the players are overconfident and look ahead. Not likely considering the grit they have shown so far, but it is a possibility and cannot be discounted.

Looking forward to Sunday. Go Lions!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Robinson Interview

There was a nice interview (thought short) with Ramzee Robison conducted by Sean Yuille for Pride of Detroit. It's a nice quick read, with some insight from Ramzee on being picked, making the roster, and what it's like. We see them as with/without talent for the team, and sometimes forget they are young men in a several month long interview -- that all comes down to one hour.
(like Dungy, I have heard Marinelli asks that all the final cutdown calls be made in a certain hour so that guys know if they don't get a call in that time, that they are safe for the time being. Haven't been able to confirm this though.)

No more cow Bell, please

Since I went against my better judgement and posted the link to one part of this story, I do feel compelled to post up Tatum's side of things. This does hone in on the fact that we will likely never know what really happened - Birkett talked with him, not me.

While it is standard practice to box-up and ship out a players personal effects that are left behind when they are cut, many choose to take those items themselves. So it could be a misunderstanding as Bell indicates. However it is settled, no matter who was right or wrong we do need to be sure to think before jumping to judgement. I held off posting the story because it didn't feel quite right - and still doesn't - especially now that the national media is hopping on the circus train.

I'm sure we don't know all the real details and never will. Chief had a great point on this, and I'm re-posting it here because it really strikes home.

Now, how bout that Falcons game coming up??

Posted by CHIEFGER139 on 09/03/08 at 9:56PM
I HATE TO STICK UP FOR TATUM AGAINbut i am-sure the security cameras caught him on tape but it sounds like tatums already gonna give him his money back, and pay for any loses-the guy fells sick about it-many of you guys are knieve how things go-and here how you think he talks malkes him guility-the chief dont talk so great either but must tell you true story of chiefs life-when i was 18 and workin at a pizza parlor my dad got me a old beater car as a graduation present-and dad knew chief earned scarolship and would be 1st in family to go to college-my younger sisters boyfriend who worked me begged me to borrow my car -said he had to go to night school and couldnt miss-i said no but kept hammering me he did this even in front of my bosses-i finaly gave in and gave him the keys- he went out and robbed a gas station with some friends and my car-the police ided my car from the plate-i told them everything-the truth-as they arrested me as i was still at work- the owner of the station was there he said thats him hes the guy who robbed me even though i was working at the time-i spent that night in jail-luckily the guy who borrowed my car was caught by police dogs and that confirmed my story and i was released the next day with apologies but they were ready to put me away for along time. i know you like to think everything is cut and dry but itis notgive tatum his fair deal he needs itps glad we cut him and brought in rudiLIONS GREAT IN 2008-PLAYOFFS AND BEYOND!!!

I'm with Chief - Go Lions Great in 2008 Playoffs and Beyond!

"Bell"boy for Rudi? [updated]

I first saw this story yesterday evening, and was hesitant to post it as there is only one unnamed source to confirm it, but it was just too crazy to leave off the radar.

You can decide for yourself if the Lions' former #2 back is Tatum Bell, or Tatum Bellhop...?

[As Jreffy commented, apparently a source of Killer's has confirmed the "rumor". I'm still trying to catch my breath from laughing so hard.]

Monday, September 1, 2008

Johnson Tolls Final "Bell" to End Ifseason

Take the afternoon with the kids, do some swimming, no Lions news of interest today after all, Rudi Johnson isn't signing anytime soon, good day for R&R before heading into the fall and school starting tomorrow, fall sports for the kids, etc.

Oops. Wait. Strike that -- Rudi Johnson signed a 1 year deal with the Lions this afternoon -- the first team he visited since being cut by Cincinatti -- using the cap dollars freed up by cutting Tatum Bell.

It's not surprising to me that they cut Bell in favor of a back whom they felt would make a better contribution. Not only is he a punishing style runner, but should be able to stay healthy with limited carries due to Smith being the starter. If Smith does go down, Rudi has certainly shown the capability to carry the load -- even if it is for shorter periods now. Similar to Jerome Bettis and Fast Willie for the Steelers the two years heading into the SB.

In the end though, the Bengals cut him and we picked him up for the same reason the Lions cut KJ and Chicago picked him up -- dollar ninja prices. (Honolulu Blue Light Special, Aisle Ohio.)With the cap space the Lions had, even with cutting Bell, they got Rudi for a good price comparatively speaking considering his limited injury history, potential, and roster impact.

In other words, both teams needed a cost-effective veteran back as #2 behind their Rookie starter. As far as attitude, I think they both did well as both Rudi and KJ will be running "angry" this year, out to prove they should have been kept -- and attempting to pick up one last good contract or chance to start. (Notice that I didn't say "pot of gold", "big payday" or any other such nonsense. Teams have figured out that having 2 or more backs carry the load extends their career, and that you don't pay a RB a huge contract if they are 28 or older -- depending on how many carries they've had.)

Is he the Rudi of last year, or the Rudi of 2006? Most likely, somewhere in between. Which is still better than Bell. Add in that he can pick up a blitz, and blocks above average -- and we have ourselves a bona-fide 3rd down/#2/Change-up back. He knows he is coming in as the backup to Smith, but that he will get a fair number of carries in relief. (The same offer they put out to Tatum Bell, only Rudi appears - at least in the eyes of the coaching staff - to have wanted it more. Considering his attitude of "I'm a roster lock" the whole ifseason, it shouldn't have been too hard.)

Here is the question: If Rudi is almost/is healthy (they were projecting him to be healthy enough to start just last week, remember -- and he passed his physical with the Lions who have been pretty stingy and careful with FA signings this ifseason.) why choose the Lions?

He didn't visit with any other teams, so it wasn't his best offer, it was his only. So Far.

He had interest, according to PFT, from the Jets to compete with Thomas Jones, Houston (see below) and even Cincy who would have liked to have him, but just not at the price they were paying for him at the time (sound familiar?)

He signed after his first workout -- and the Lions are slim on cap and haven't broken the bank for anyone this ifeseason -- even when they really wanted a guy -- so it isn't the money.

Houston, considered an up-and comer to the playoff picture this season, wanted a veteran back after putting Brown on IR, and have a heck of a lot more cap space to give him than the Lions.

There are other teams who could have used him at RB, would have given him a chance, likely more money, and are considered to have better chances than the Lions.

So why come here? He must have seen something he liked when the Lions played Cincy in the preseason and he was standing on the sidelines. O-Line? The aggressive D ready to make the Lions a factor in the NFC? The commitment to running the ball, and knowing they didn't want to depend on a trio of rookies -- Smith, and 5th rounders Felton and Thomas this year?

My guess is a combination of all of the above, coupled with Rod's reputation as a fair dealer in regards to playing time and earning a shot, and a heavy dose of that last point.

Right now, Allen Ervin (who is also a returner) is on the practice squad. They prefer to keep 3 RB and a FB, and 4 wide right now. Anyone see where this is going? They have Moore and Ervin -- neither of whom is likely to get a contract offer due to limited exposure and tape -- and they can keep looking at them practicing PR/KR til the cows come home.

Next season, goodbye Rudi if they want -- 1 year deal -- and if Thomas, Smith, Felton and Ervin are working out Thomas moves to #2 - Evrin comes in at #3 and KR/PR. With Mac and/or Roy gone, they bring back Standeford, Middleton, Ellis, Moore and some competition possibly -- and we have another roster battle next year with guys pushing guys trying to make the squad, and talented individuals being let go once again. A beautiful thought the options.

And the Bell Tolls no More. As if it tolled much in the first placed -- more kinda like a dull thud. No resonance for me.

Kudos to the Lions for getting waivers/cuts right this year. Keep the guys who'll get picked up, and pick up guys that other people wanted to slide under the radar or got caught up in the cap numbers game.

Interesting article: Indianapolis Colts sign FA DT. All 9 rookies make roster. The COLTS had all nine rookies make the roster. Remember, Rod coached under Dungy and is using a similar model in building the Lions. Even as much as they are Tampa North, they are Indy Jr. Moreso because of the style of Offense Marinelli has gone with compared to the WCO in Tampa. They also only kept 3 RB and a FB. the DT was to shore up the run D at the NT -- where they have been a bit weak, needing S Bob Sanders in the box a lot to stop the run, sometimes leaving their corners more exposed than they would like. Anyone still think keeping 11 DT was silly? No way was Cohen making the Practice Squad. Moore or Cody were even likely candidates to be picked up by Indy --- either way, had they released Cohen to keep that extra WR or RB the Lions would have Pinner or Middleton, or Standeford --- and Indy would have Davis AND Cohen.

Something to keep in mind here is that there are 4 teams running a really pure version of the T2 -- Chicago, Indy, Tampa, and Detroit. Detroit has moved closer to being a contender in the NFC -- especially on Defense. Chicago tends to skip out on a lot of FA most of the time on D lately -- which will bite them as their D ages. However, with Tampa, Indy and Detroit look for them to be plundering each others' practice squads and cuts defensively for the next few years. It is a sign that

A. Tampa and Indy feel Detroit players will be well-trained in the T2 and worth a look at. and
B. If A is true, the Lions D could surprise a lot of people this year. Indy had a top 5 D last year, and picked up one of Detroit's cuts, and would have picked up Cohen if Detoit let him go.

What all three teams know, and people overlook, is that while they all run the same base D they have different personnel needs, and are weaker/stronger in different areas. Did you think our LB were strong enough that a guy who was on the bubble headed to Indy? Indy has had some injuries and losses the last couple of years to their LB and Dline (DT in particular) and were a bit weaker than Detroit. By the same token, they are pretty strong in other areas, and some of their cuts could end up here or TB. Same goes there. Where one has an abundance of talent, look for the others to be waiting for cuts. While it will take the players a bit to catch the Nuances of the different styles of T2, they already know the base D which is huge.

Not just with Rookies, but with $1 Ninja veteran FA as well on D. Same reasons.

Thus far I like the Lions Ifseason moves -- they gambled they could upgrade the RB Corps more after the cuts, and so far it looks to have paid off. We'll see how it plays out on the field. For being so conservative at times, Marinelli appears to have a bit of the dice-roller in him.

I also have confidence that there were 4 or 5 guys -- at least one of whom would get cut -- that they had their eye on. Forsett in Seattle I think would have been their first choice, as he is also a returner and looked good in preseason -- but Seattle pulled a Cohen on us and kept an extra RB.

While a lot of this credit is going to Marinelli, we have to give Millen his due. He has a coach he sees eye-to-eye with. It's his kind of football, and he seems to be having a better time understanding -- and making his scouts understand -- exactly what type of players this team is looking for. Coupled with Marinelli's recognition of where their roster is weak at any given point, and they put together what could potentially be one of the best Ifseasons since Barry fell into their lap. Millen is still GM - but I believe in now. Ask me after Atlanta if that is still the case when then is now. Same for the end of the season. Til then, one game at a time.

Your thoughts on the ever-evolving roster? Like it, hate it, would have done different?