Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No Wash for Me

Well, I'd love to look at the Lions' laundry. Yes -- the Wash game was supposedly hard fought, but still fraught with many of the same mistakes. Jerome Felton was possibly injured - but I can't find anything.

In other words, I didn't get to see it.

I will hopefully be getting a copy at some point (I'm emailing with someone who DVR'd it and may be able to burn me a copy and mail it) but for now, no more Wash for me.

In other words, the Lions are making like it's 1999 and looking at Daunte Culpepper. Pre-Injury Culpepper would be a good fit for this offense and offensive line. Daunte Cement-Shoes of the past 3-4 seasons? Not so much. His play had dropped off quite a bit even before his injury a few years back.

I also wonder why? They have two young QB's to evaluate, and they are in process of looking at one -- and maybe for 4 games at the end of the season will look at the other. Why throw money and time into someone else? Granted, the offense is so simple I'm sure most QB's could come in and learn it in short order - still, that being the case I don't know why they would be in a hurry to sign him. If an injury happens, I'm pretty sure he or someone equivalent will be there to play number two to whichever young QB you are looking at.

I love this quote: "The Lions are dead last in every power ranking, yet last time I checked, isn't 0-7 better than 0-8?"

Wouldn't it be the Irony of the Lions to go 0-16, and then still get the second pick of the draft?

Personally, I want to see them win a few. The top few picks are virtually untradeable, and the Lions need to have the option to trade back and stockpile more picks. They have a lot of holes, and will need the selections early and often.

Interesting read by Drew Sharp who seems to have found his journalistic skills since Millen was let go. He talks about - and rightly so, in my opinion, the objective reasons Stanton should be starting games come the home game against Jax in two weeks.

Langston Moore was also let go according to the Freep as the Lions signed a FB to fill in while Felton is injured, apparently with a high ankle sprain. Does this mean there will be a Landon Cohen sighting?

Also, does anyone have any sources as to the nature/severity of the injury to Jordan Dizon? Paris Lenon was playing pretty well since Minn (again, haven't seen Wash game yet) but I was hoping to see what the Lions have in him, at least on a rotational basis, so as to know better for what draft needs are next year.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Washington Potatoes Have No Eyes

Alright, it is not true that Washington Redskin Potatoes have no eyes - but when you quarter them and grill em with some Italian dressing seasoned with right combination of herbs and spices they are sure tasty. There will, however, be no "local" eyes watching the Potatoes roll over the Lions as the game has been blacked out.

Lansing, according to Google Maps is -- from the center of town to the center of town -- 89 miles from Detroit. Being on the west side of Lansing, I'm about 90 something. No Game.

Does the NFL really think this anachronistic rule helps sell tickets? Encourages players?

"The game is going to be blacked out! I know the economy is tanking, and Michigan still has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the nation behind a state that is smaller than the Detroit metro area -- but I have to go out and buy a ticket right now so that poor guys in Lansing who would have to spend 50 bucks or more in gas, pay 20 bucks for a parking spot, another 50 to be sure the car is there when they get back, 200 on a bodyguard to make it back from the stadium to their car without being mugged, another 100 to keep the bodyguard from mugging them -- plus buy tickets and then pay 8 bucks for a hot dog -- can see the game without taking out a home equity loan from Benny the Loan Shark since their home isn't worth the paper the title is printed on at this point, considering how much the cost of ink and paper have gone up lately."

What is the real point of the blackout system? Do I think the Stadium would be full if the Lions were winning right now? Likely.

Do I think that many of those people would be making a sacrifice to do so because of the cost? Yes.

Do I think the economy has an impact on ticket sales? Absolutely.

The fact of the matter is, the threat of a blackout really doesn't do what it is designed to do -- push people to buy tickets. And what is with the Thursday deadline? Are you telling me in this day and age they can't see if it's sold out say half an hour before game time and then declare the blackout at the very least? After all, if the impetus is to encourage ticket sales, would this not do so? Declare a blackout Thursday, and then the news tracks how close the team is to selling out. People begin to buy tickets as the frenzy builds and the countdown to "sold out" draws to a close!! Then instead of focusing on how far away a team is (negative) it focuses on the progress they are making.

In other words, my team may suck, but now I can't even watch them suck. What the %^!&$#!????

I may be able to catch the game later -- I just switched cable packages (ie called and got them to lower my price while increasing services so I wouldn't drop it) and now have NFLN for at least 6 months. Which takes me through the 2009 draft. Awesome. They also replay about 10 games each week in the middle of the night, and I'm hoping that Det-Wash is one of them. I'm also going to see if St. Johns is also blacked out -- possibly I can get DF79's sister to tape the game for him if it is on up there...

One can only hope... Since I may not see this game, your thoughts and comments, game summaries if possible are always welcome!!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Officiating Should Be Equal

I have noted some additional comments on the officiating, and think the calls in the Lions games are bordering on ridiculous. The only thing more ridiculous is the national media and the NFL ignoring it -- just because it is the Lions. Which is exactly the point at play.

Amazingly, Drew Sharp had an excellent article on this a short time back. (I know - Drew Sharp and Excellent article together in the same sentence twice in one month. Are we sure the Lions won't end up 10-6?)

The whole point is, that officials give certain players and teams the benefit of the doubt, and hammer other teams -- deserved or not. Would Bodden have been called for that pass interference were he still on the Browns? How about the picture in this article that shows all too well McDonald getting mugged against the Texans. (Bodden had to be screaming: That's what PI looks like you moron. No looking back! No Play on the Ball! Just tackles him before it gets there!! *Bodden calls agent asking likelihood Lions pick up his huge bonus option*) I was surprised, considering how they were calling that game, that it wasn't pass interference on McDonald.

Ref's should be reminded to ignore the records, ignore the name on the Jersey and call the plays -- the same way. If they were calling the whole Minnesota game tight against the D it would have been one thing -- but they were not. Minnesota's D was all over CJ and Nada. Bodden looks cross eyed at Bernard "I run real fast but don't catch so well" Berrian and gets PI called --- when the ball was so overthrown I could practically catch it in my living room.

If a ref is calling a game tight, fine -- call the whole thing that way. If they are calling it like the joint seals on the titanic, fine -- call the whole things that way!

I don't buy the argument I hear over and over -- well, it is the Lions. BULL SHIT. It can be the Dallas cheerleaders for all I care -- a play is a penalty or it is not a penalty for ALL TEAMS -- it should not vary by team.

Don't believe me? Lets see how many Offensive Pass Interference calls are made against Roy Williams now that he is in Dallas. He has had 6 in 5 games before being traded. Here's a hint: I think it will be ZERO.

All that being said, the Lions have been their own worst enemy, and that is without a doubt. However, the officiating has killed drive that were huge momentum shifters.

Here's a question: If you try something, and it works really well do you -
A. Stop Doing it and try something new B. Keep Doing It C. Go Back to What you were doing that wasn't working at all.

If you chose A you are a risk taker. If you chose B you are smart, and if you chose C you are a coach for the Detroit Lions. Against Minnesota they went with an aggressive D that played to the Man coverage skills of Leigh Bodden and Keith Smith, who looked good in that game. Bullocks continues to shine as a young talent at Safety, and the pressure was getting to Frerotte. The offense sputtered under DanO's first start, but it was a game the Lions were in until the final seconds -- for the first and only time this season. Why? Because the Lions didn't spot 21 to the opponent and have to play catch up on limited possessions as their opponent ground out the clock.

So what do I see against the Texans, who have a line that is just as susceptible to a pressure D as the Lions? Nothing. No blitzing, no high pressure. They sat back in the zones and let Matt Schaub have all day to sit in the pocket and pass like he was Tom Brady circa 2007. Hint: The Texans do not have the 2007 Patriots "we give Brady about 10 seconds to throw every play" Oline. They have the "we're lucky if our starter doesn't have a concussion by the end of the game" type of O line.

Why will all the coaches be gone at the end of the season? Because they chose C -- which was to play the scheme they wanted, not what the personnel they have will allow them to. We did finally see some of the rookies playing and I have a question: Why have Flu, and especially IAF been inactive? IAF looked good out there. Not pro-bowl by any means, but a heck of a lot better than Cory Smith has been showing this year. And I didn't see a drop-off from Darby'Cody to when Flu was in -- rather, I saw an increase in effectiveness.

I can understand needing the veterans, and needing to keep the team motivated -- but at 0-6 and spotting 21 point leads, I'm thinking that ship sailed long ago. They still need to play to win, but they also need to play to give the young guys experience. Most of the Vets are gone next season, or have contracts making them easy to cut. Lets give some players who will be Lions next year even if the coaches won't be a chance for some experience - what are they going to do? Lose?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No Talent? No Coaches? No Problem!

Welcome to the Detroit Lions!!

My apologies - the entire DetFan1979 clan from the Mrs. on down have been fighting horrible colds/illness for the past week or so. I also haven't had a chance to catch the Lions-Texans game on tape-delay.

I did catch the highlights -- including wondering if there is a separate definition of pass interference (both offensive and defensive) that pertains to the Lions?

I love this picture of pass interference...I mean, a defender "breaking up a play"...on Killer's article about the team lacking talent. Could you see the refs making calls like that on Randy Moss? Andre Johnson? Terrell Owens? Roy Williams now that he is with Dallas?

I've skimmed the articles available, and looked over the email you kind readers have sent, and have a few things I'd love to chat about.

When I was but a lowly intern some years ago, the company I was with had a Financial Services Representative. When he had been hired two years before, he started out with a bang. No one had been in that position for almost ten years. Most of the staff didn't know the difference between whole life, term life, and the cereal. (Isn't whole life the one with a couple different whole grains in it so it's healthier? one of our service people asked me.) To protect the innocent, I'll refer to the new guy as Buddy. Buddy was just out of college (I was still in college, btw) at MSU and thought he was the shaving cream. He came in with a swagger, and picked all the low hanging fruit and said "This is easy! I'm ready for this!". He was great at making proposals -- he could run through the variables in practice sessions like no other. (at this point I was his assistant ie doing the grunt work) He could prepare like nobody's fool. When he talked to the other employees about referrals, he was a smooth talker that got them fired up about asking.

Unfortunately, Buddy also didn't do quite a few things well that were essential to long term success. He would overwhelm the service staff so thoroughly with his explanations, that even people who previously referred quite a few leads to him were totally confused to as to what they should be doing, and how. "Ask. Ask is all you need to do." But his explanation of how was, shall we say, not getting through.

He also applied his brilliant answers to his customers -- who were so deeply confounded by what he was saying that a few would sign up and hope -- the rest would just wander away confused. Buddy practiced great, but when it came to crunch time...well, not so wonderful. Buddy was an Insurance Work-Out Warrior.

Buddy started getting caught up the part of a Financial guy...going to long lunches with "potential" big clients. He looked at the referrals that were coming in, and honed in on the wealthiest, figuring they were the ones who would make him succeed. He was struggling selling, and the more he struggled, the more he felt he needed to work on one or two big cases to save his year. Buddy was almost obsessed with it.

What was even crazier, is that while he was focusing on these sales that might never happen, he was ignoring the bulk of the referrals coming to him. Everyone (me included) could see that if he would just talk to them, he would have a lot of sales -- and he would still be able to take his shots as the big ones. But Buddy would have none of it. He was convinced that what he was doing was the way to succeed and he couldn't be deterred.

Buddy lost the office. The referrals stopped coming in, as staff realized he wouldn't work on them, so what was the point? Even if he did, he wasn't very good at selling them anything so the likelihood they would get a bonus from him selling something wasn't worth the trouble. Now Buddy had no choice but to stick with his chosen cases -- they were all he had.

Finally management was nice enough to type him up a letter telling themselves he was resigning to take a job in accounting somewhere and have him sign it and hand it back to them. On a Friday afternoon.

The problem was, he had appointments scheduled. Sales still needed to be made. Interested parties needed to be called. But there was LITERALLY no one in house qualified to take his place. They really didn't think that one through. It also brought to light the fact that, as a first time Financial Services guy, he really shouldn't have been under of the tutelage of someone else who had never done it before...

The Lions really can't/shouldn't fire Rod before the end of the season because there is no one on staff qualified to replace him. Kippy? Coletto? Kwan? Barry? Beuller?

Rod is a babysitter of the team for the next ten games. He will try his best to win, and will likely fail. He will be gone at the end of the season.

Rod Marinelli is a first time HC who was hired by a first time GM. Rod is good at doing what assistant coaches do -- run hard practices, don't takes risks with your guys, get tough, get ready.

Come game day, he is still in practice mode. No risks. It appears they are not even running plays as complicated as they did in preseason. If your filmseason stuff is more vanilla than the preseason games -- you WILL NOT win in the NFL. Rod can't adjust in-game to what is going on. He has to "think it through" later. Looking at it later and tweaking and filling holes is what assistants do. Adjusting in-game is what coordinators and head coaches do. Assistants help plan -- HC/DC/OC implement the plan. Not everyone can do both.

Rod and Buddy have a lot in common, as you can see. Both practiced well. Both were first timers, under someone who really wasn't helping the situation. Both of them got lost in their own message and lost the team supporting them. Both of them had means for a chance at success in front of them (Buddy's referrals, Rod's rookies), but neither would take that chance.

I took over the FSR position at the agency because I wrote them a letter telling them why I was the right man for the job. I took his stack of referrals, used it win over the office staff and even wrote 2 cases in my first year that were larger than either of the "big ones" Buddy was working on. You don't know what you have until you look at it.

Rod won't know what his players have until he looks at them. At 0-6, what has he got to lose?? Rod's "guys" - like Lenon, Darby - are comparable to Buddy's big cases. Buddy thought he would win with cases everyone but him could see were going nowhere. Rod is trying to win with Veterans everyone but him can see are going nowhere.

One other interesting point: I am horrible in sales "practice". Awful. I am adaptable in real-life situations, and instinctively know what I need to do. Practice, for me, was to get the knowledge I needed to be able to go with my gut. The bosses were worried because they felt I didn't know the plan they would follow in an appointment well enough for a large client. I told them to put me in there, and see what I had. One of them came with me, but then just sat and let me run the show. After we left (successful) she asked me why I hadn't done that in practice? My response? I don't practice a good appointment - I run a spectacular one.

Rod is sticking with guys who practice a good week, not who play lights out on Sunday. He is sticking with what he thought would work, not with what has worked. Point: The Lions were best, defensively, in the Minnesota game where they played a lot of man coverage and blitzed and brought pressure from various spots. My prediction of victory figured they would continue this since it had worked. They didn't. And they didn't win. Back to the same old same old. Same with Kevin Smith. And throwing to CJ. And playing the rookie defensive guys.

One more sales quote that applies, then I'll leave you be: My first sales manager told me to keep one thing firmly in mind, every day - and to say it front of the mirror as I was putting my tie on:

Everybody has strengths & weaknesses. Everybody needs to minimize their weakness, and maximize their strengths. Everybody can still improve today. Everybody is not perfect. Everybody means ME.

Have the leaders of the Lions, the front office, the coaches, and the players, been looking in the mirror every morning? Or is everybody somebody else?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jones Pulled a Millen, Roast Steer

My apologies on the sudden disappearance after Roy got traded -- Mrs. DetFan1979 has been sick this week. Let's just say that when it comes to running our domestic household, it's like going from Urlacher to Lenon as your MLB on defense. (No, it wasn't on the going from Tom Brady to Joey Harrington level -- I'm not totally incompetent. Just try hard but don't have the talent to pull it off...)

Even now, a few days later, I still think Jones pulled a Millen and just made an offer so stupid it couldn't be passed up. I'm sure if Millen had been running things he'd have said:

"No need for that 3rd rounder Jerry - the 1st and a new choo-choo train will get it done. Although I'm glad you added that box of crayons. I love crayons. But what is this file for? Am I in football prison or something? Anyways, now I can pick a shiny new WR and some stupid position everyone else wants me to pick like Lime...? Lion...? Oilin...? Dealin...? sounds like one of those anyways..."

(Yeah, I still think the "If Millen were in Charge Still..." line of Jokes will be going in the NFL for many years to come... I don't normally indulge in those, but after the "escaped from Football Prison" line, I felt it was due. Seriously now.)

In other news, welcome to the Dan Orlovsky Era -- funny, he reminds me of another mediocre game managing QB with a good arm and a last name that starts with O - Kyle Orton. And the way the Lions played the Minnesota game last week, it reminded me of the Bears in shocking fashion!

Lets review the similarities:

Aggresive defense that hammered the other team constantly, applied pressure, and played really well until the 4th quarter? Check.

Offense that was so anemic and conservative, you wondered if the OC realized that the Forward Pass is not only legal, but encouraged? Check

WR that drop the ball at the worst possible time? Check.

Offense that needs the Defense to score in order to win? Check.

Team that leads heading into the 4th quarter and blows it at the last second to lose? Check.

Now, the good news is the Bears are at 3-3. If the Lions could play similar to what they did last week, I would expect them to split the games remaining. That would put them at 6-10 (including Minn in the "split wins-losses 50-50 while playing like the Bears" category).

Do I think this is going to happen? No. IF they do, then they will. IF they don't, they won't. I needn't say what the odds of each happening at this point are, do I? But you fellows know I am an optimist at heart. Thus, I will go out on a limb and say Orlovsky gets his first win as a starter, and the first win of the Lions 2008 season this week. The Defense will once again be the key, but without Jon "I Lost My Marbles and Stalk the Sidelines Looking for Someone to Yell at Like a Spoiled Child" Kitna and Roy E. "Every time I can make the highlight reel with a catch I'll make it" Williams, I think the offense has a chance to show what they can do if everyone buys in and gives it their all. The defense showed what it can do with a few tweaks, and a lot of all-out effort last week.

They need to keep it up, and the offense needs to match their intensity level as well. IF they do that, they will win. The Texans have an Oline on par with Detroit. Their LB are better, Secondary worse. When they are at their best, the Dlines are roughly equal. (Redding and White, when at their A game about equal Mario Williams -- and the rest of the Dlines added up would be a wash.)

If both defenses show up to play, it will come down to which offense shows up for each team.

I'll put up a game blog again -- I will once more be catching the game on Tape Delay as we are still recovering domestically from my umm....leadership?...of the household last week and have a function to attend to boot.

Your thoughts on Cherilus Benching? Roy E. Williams to Dallas? Kitna to IR?

And for those of you who like to look at ifseason issues like trades, cuts, etc. early -- NetRat has updated his cap spreadsheet to include the 2009 cap hits for each player if they are cut, traded, etc. Lets look for that big first win!! Go Lions!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First Down! Texas Popcorn Popping Soon...

You better get your popcorn ready. TO and Roy Williams are now teammates. There isn't even passes on a single team to satisfy one, much less both of them. Here's hoping that things work out well for Roy...next year. This year Dallas needs to lose as much as possible. With Romo out, Felix Jones out, their punter on IR, Terrance Newman inured, and Pacman told to pack it in by the Commish -- Dallas has got some serious issues. Thank goodness!

Even an 8-8 record and a mid-round selection in the first...third...and 6th... would make fleecing the Cowboys even sweeter.

WWJD - What Would Jerry Do? - the answer is PANIC. He has felt like he needed Roy since the beginning of the ifseason, and - quite frankly - it seems like he would be a good credible threat on the field with TO, and should really enjoy being back in Texas with his family. Roy is/can be one of the top dozen or so WR in the game. I'm surely not disputing any of that.

But back during the draft, Jerry didn't let his desires get the best of him. He held off Detroit's demands for more than their late round First. At the time, he just didn't feel it was worth it -- although better than the risks of taking a WR pretty much anywhere in the draft (as the Lions have definitively proven). What has changed? His team went from Dominant the first few games to getting outplayed by Washington, squeaking by a Cincinnati team that is as bad as or worse than the Lions right now - and far more talented. Arizona GAVE their game to Dallas with a nice Red bow. When they just wouldn't take it, even in OT, the Cards finally gave in and won the game I guess. This time. Oh, and broke their QB, Punter, and starting CB just for being so stuck up. Thhbbbt! *stick out tongues collectively at Dallas*

Even before the broken finger Romo was fumbling more than Kitna or Tatum Bell. (Averaging two per game)

So what does Jerry do to fix his teams woes? He pulls a Millen!! That's right! Jerry Jones pulled a page out of Millen's book and went an spent stupid on a skill position player when his problems right now are his Defense, his Oline, and guys dropping passes. Now, Roy might concentrate better in Texas - but he might not. If Jerry gets the Roy of three years ago -- the Roy of 2005 who went to the Pro-bowl. The Roy of 2006 who caught everything thrown his way with Furrey as the number two guy -- then he got a pretty good deal. But if he got the Roy of the second half of 06...or all of 07...or 08...who runs sloppy routes and drops easy passes -- He got totally fleeced. Panicking at 3-2...wow...what luxury. The Lions weren't even panicking til 0-4. Talk about needing a little perspective.

For once, the League is going "Wow. What the...." at a Lions trade - and it is the Lions on the good side!

To put this in real sharp perspective, last years Sack Leader at Defensive End (one of the VERY in demand positions in the NFL - more so than a #2 WR) Jared Allen went for a mid-1st, and two thirds (17, 75,83 overall) as well as swapping 6th rounders. A 6th for a 7th is about equivalent, though more in the Lions' favor -- which means that Jerry only paid a mid-third round pick less for Roy Williams than Minnesota paid for Jared Allen.

A single third round pick! Corey Williams, a starting DT franchised by GB went for a 2nd. Shaun Rogers went for a mid-third and a starting CB. Most players have been trading in the 4th or 5th round-pick range. The Jared Allen deal is the only one since Ricky Williams to the Dolphins that comes close.

I'm still not on the Mayhew for Gm bandwagon though -- while it's true he held out for an absurd price, being lucky Jerry Jones had his heart set on one fo your players isn't the same as evaluating talent.

This was a No-Brainer of a trade once that offer was out there, and for once the Lions not having a brain was a good thing.

We enjoyed your highlights Roy, but this trade is great for you and for Detroit.

See you next year in the playoffs. Wishing I had picked him up in my keeper fantasy football leagues though...

But really, who would have thought this would ever actually happen?

Is the curse truly over?? We can but hope, as always... IF...

BTW - Kitna was also placed on IR officially, along with Gerald Alexander. More on that and whoever the Lions sign to fill Roy's roster spot tomorrow. Great time to be a Lions fan - losses and all.

Lets see, who does Dallas play this week? *looks at schedule* - This week is "go St. Louis!"

Roy Gone??

Adam Schefter just reported that Dallas gave a 1st, 3rd, and 6th round choices to Detroit for Roy Williams. If true, look for them to re-sign Standeford would be my guess.

More after I'm able to confirm.

Kitna to IR

Dave Birkett is reporting that the Lions have placed/are going to place Jon Kitna on IR with torn muscles in his back. This definitely increases the likelihood that with DanO now the starter, Stanton will be taking over at some point this season. I expect them to sign Henson from the Practice Squad, although maybe they will bring back in a safety (Blue?) to replace Alexander, who also went on IR with a neck injury. They signed a FB I know nothing about when they placed Alexander on IR earlier this week.

There is a separate rumor that the Lions are waiting to IR him because Martz wants him bad back in SF -- and Kitna thinks he'll be able to play in a couple of weeks; This means he is done for the Lions either way. SF said they weren't interested, but I think it is one of those "Martz wants it NOW" battles that he so frequently waged behind the scenes here in Detroit. Hopefully, the Lions can get something for Kitna -- and if they trade him versus IR, they will get back some cap space as well for 2008, which they really need.

Either way, Kitna has apparently taken his last snaps as a Lion.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Margin of Safety... not enough.

The bad news is the Detroit Lions lost on a safety and two VERY bad calls -- especially the phantom "pass interference" call to put Minnesota in FG range. I rewound and watched that play about a dozen times and I couldn't see it. Period. If that was pass interference, then there were a whole lot of uncalled penalties on both sides.

The good news? The Detroit Lions lost on a safety and two very bad calls!! They were FINALLY in a game down to the final seconds of the game -- versus being out of the game by halftime. Or the first quarter.

I'll have to go back and watch the game again (although heart breaking, there was a lot to this one.)

Some initial thoughts:

Orlvosky didn't look bad. He didn't look great, but his decision making was much better than what Kitna has been showing so far this season. Bonehead play on the safety -- but that type of awareness only come with time. I need to go back and look to see who didn't pick up the blitzer -- which was a problem all game long. In particular, I think I noticed it when Rudi was in at RB, but I'll have to go back and see.

Nice runs by Kevin Smith -- especially the run where he launched himself out of the pile and into the clear picking up an extra 4 yards or so. That was amazing. Also - the long run that set up the FG was great blocking and finishing by Ramierez especially, but the Oline in general and an all around great run by Smith making great use of his blockers to pick up the extra yards.

This is the defense we saw in the preseason - getting aggressive, hitting hard, swarming to the ball, moving fast. The game that Barry called was more reminiscent of J. Johnson -- the Eagles defensive coordinator. While they did stay in their 4-3 base defense a lot, he was playing man in the secondary and bringing a variety of blitzes -- very effectively -- from different positions. I thought Barry by far called his best game as a DC. Let's hope the Lions allow him to continue and develop this more aggressive style of D -- because it is working.

The game, touted as an offensive point-fest by Minnesota, turned into a gritty defensive battle where every yard on offense was painfully ground out by both sides. It was awesome to see.

Maybe that Coach Rod hasn't quite lost this entire team yet after all. They do need to do something about that offense though.

With Orlovsky really doing almost enough to win it on offense (barely) I was reminded of another team - Chicago - with a similar type of situation. I would say Orton and Orlovsky are about on par at this point. They aren't going to be glamorous, but they aren't going to throw three picks in the final quarter when you are only down by two. Incompletions, yes. Picks, not as likely. I would like to see them stick, initially, with Dan O at QB for now.

Special teams did do qutie well for the most part, although I still want to see Middleton back there instead of Furrey. How can they get less yards??

Overall, great game that gives hope this season isn't over til it's over. A win next week, or at least another close game on the road, and who knows -- I may not even be blacked out for the Washington game...

Stranger things have happened. Just look at the game today...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Steaks or Milk?

[Note: I started this blog last night, but didn't post it until I could check cap facts with Netrat]

I grew up on a Dairy Farm, and there was this old saying that when it comes to a cow you can have steaks or milk, but you can't have 'em both. Essentially, it meant you could milk the cow, or slaughter it for the steaks. But you couldn't do both at the same time.

With the trade deadline fast approaching, the Lions IFO (at this point I refuse to entertain the notion it will become permanent, and thus will now refer to Lions current management as IFO - Interim Front Office. I wanted it to be IFONLY but the only acronym I could come up with was too insulting. Maybe I'll use it anyways...) needs to decide how much milk they can get out of the current roster, or if they should cut it up into steak and sell off the best cuts to the highest bidder. Right now, a handful of teams are readying to make playoff noise, but still feel they are missing a piece or two. That pass rusher. That receiving threat. That run stopper. That extra guy in the secondary...

With that in mind already, I ran across this story from Jason Cole on Yahoo that I found interesting regarding players who should be traded. Mind you, not WILL be traded, but SHOULD.

Not surprisingly, 4 of the ten players were Lions. This was mainly because St. Louis, Detroit and Cincinatti were the teams that -- with coaching and/or front office changes coming, are going to be cleaning house soon anyways.

The 4 players listed were: Cory Redding, Dwayne White, Roy Williams and Brian Kelly.

I admit, I was surprised to see all 4 of those guys, and maybe not others, on the list. But seriously, lets look at them from a point of view I would consider more knowledgeable regarding Detroit that Mr. Cole.

The first thing columnists forget to look at in these trade scenarios is cap impact. Can a team afford to trade a guy right now? The SB are accelerated, and come due now. Since bad teams (like the Lions) usually are thin on cap space (like the Lions) this makes trading mid-season somewhat problematic. The other thing is market for the player, likelihood to trade, and what Detroit would get in return for the next GM to use. IE - draft picks, not players. The Lions are -- without a GM and IFONLY running the show -- in an official build-from-scratch mode. Rebuilding would imply there was something there. I'm going with building mode.

the Lions have only approximately $700,000 in cap space right now. (remember, they signed Rudi Johnson to a one year deal)

I emailed NetRat, resident cap guru, and was informed that since it is 2008, we are still in the world where cap hits occur. Essentially, the Lions would take a hit for unallocated signing bonuses and 1/4 (4 games played) of the player salary. So a trade of the aforementioned players would net the following for/against the cap:

Cory Redding: $5.1 million cap hit (not enough space)
Roy Williams: $700,000 savings (Net cap would equal 1.4 million in space)
Brian Kelly: $1.2 Million Cap Hit (not enough space unless Roy is traded first)
Dwayne White: $6.5 Million cap hit (not enough space)

First of all, Redding and White CANNOT be traded in reality. So to list them as players who should be traded is inane -- there is no reasonable way Detroit can do it. None.

As for Kelly, he could only be traded IF Williams were traded first, AND the Lions wanted to eat up their entire cap. Not likely. Less likely is a team that would be willing, at this point in the season, to give up more than a snow cone for him.

Despite the rumors of his impending trade, and the positive cap ramifications, I still don't see Roy going before the deadline. Why?

1. His value is not as high now as it will be at the end of the season. With so many new HC next year, a lot of teams are going to be churning rosters. In other words, a good time for an offensive skill player to be the flashy "centerpiece of the offense" to be a FA.

2. The Lions can franchise him, allow him to negotiate with teams on contract terms that are willing to give up what the Lions want. The Lions don't have the cap space to engineer such a trade right now, and it is not as likely to garner the type of compensation it will after the season when the draft slots are known.

3. I'd rather have the new GM/HC decide on keeping him/not AND brokering the deal. After seeing what types of deals IFONLY has managed, I'll take my chances on the negotiating skills of the Lions.

4. I don't think IFONLY is going to rock the boat right now. They are all basically putting out resumes for next season, and don't want to be known as the guys who got screwed over on that dumb trade. They have enough baggage as it is.

Of course, while I don't think the Lions will or should trade anyone right now (I don't think the value would be worth it) -- I did browse the cap listing to see who the Lions COULD trade -- cap wise. Some of the names were surprising. The Lions could trade/cut the following players under the current cap numbers:

  1. Jon Kitna (BIG savings)
  2. Drew Stanton
  3. Jerome Felton
  4. Marcus Thomas
  5. Rudi Johnson
  6. Kevin Smith
  7. Roy Williams
  8. Shaun McDonald
  9. Mike Furrey
  10. Brandon Middleton
  11. John Owens
  12. Casey Fitzsimmons
  13. Dominic Raiola
  14. Andy McCollum
  15. Stephen Peterman
  16. Manuel Ramierez
  17. Edwin Mulitalo
  18. George Foster
  19. Damian Cook
  20. Shaun Cody
  21. Langston Moore
  22. Chuck Darby
  23. Landon Cohen
  24. Andre Fluellen
  25. Jared Devries
  26. Cory Smith
  27. IAF
  28. Cliff Avril
  29. Alex Lewis
  30. Paris Lenon
  31. Ryan Nece
  32. Gilbert Gardner
  33. Gerald Alexander
  34. Daniel Bullocks
  35. Dwight Smith
  36. Kalvin Pearson
  37. Keith Smith
  38. Travis Fisher
  39. Ramzee Robinson
  40. Jason Hanson
  41. Nick Harris
  42. Don Mulbach

FORTY TWO of the Lions 53 man roster -- 4/5 -- can be traded while sticking to the cap -- yet Jason Cole, a full-time sports writer, picks 3 of the 11 players who cannot be traded -- over 25%!!! to use in an article about players that SHOULD be traded!!

How absurd can you get? Is he related to Matt Millen? You could literally throw darts at the Lions Roster blindfolded and do better than that.

Of the tradeable players, who would you deal and for what? Or would you suggest - as I do - that the Lions hold pat and let the next front office decide for themselves?

Also keep in mind that the Lions would/should be going solely for draft picks, not players. Maybe the next coaching staff won't be so afraid to play them.

Show some respect. It is well earned.

First of all, I want to say I really liked Michael Rosenberg article in the Freep today. It is well worth reading the entire article (and skipping all of the inane comments from people who missed the point). I agree totally. Yes, Rod Marinelli has failed as a head coach in the NFL. He worked his whole life toward this goal, and when he got there, he was in over his head. But I will say this about him -- despite the mistakes he's made, and how things have turned out -- he will be able to look back and say "I did my best, but it wasn't good enough. At least it was the best I had -- and I kept my part of the bargain and never gave up my players and my job til the sad, bitter end."

How many of us would be able to handle getting to our dream job, and finding out it's a nightmare we just can't succeed at? As publicly as Marinelli has had to? I agree that he must be the most mentally tough character I've ever seen. No wonder it's hard for the players to get to his level of single-minded concentration. If they could focus on the field the way Rod does off the field then the Lions truly would be a team to fear. Alas, his style worked with 7 or 8 Dline guys, but not when applied to an entire team.

Interesting quote from Steelers HC Mike Tomlin -- he said at the beginning of camp this year, and into the season, he has been sure to take some time and spend it with each unit of the team. Being a HC versus a DC or position coach, he said, means you get so caught up in the big picture, it's easy to lose touch with the pieces. I don't think Marinelli was able to make that jump in level of transcendence. Not all people can, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Marinelli the man pushed himself as far as Coach Marinelli could go. After this season, he will most likely be a DC or a position coordinator again. Before all the negative boo-birds come out to play with his defensive statistics, lets keep in mind that he was HC of the Lions, didn't have anything to start with, and wasn't given much more to work with. I can see his coaching style, in the right circumstance, fitting well in combination with an offensive minded HC. There are already two other HC openings RIGHT NOW besides Detroit that will be hiring all new staffs. Cam Cameron went 1-15 and was fired after one disastrous season in Miami, and found a position as an OC again right away. Just like Mornhinweg, who was best as an OC sometimes coaches have to fail at the top to find where they are best suited to be. And not every ego can handle it as well as I think Rod Marinelli will.

So as someone who has managed to fail in life now and then, as everyone eventually does -- Please do me a favor. Even if you agree that Rod is not cut out to be a Head Coach beyond this season, let him finish out the last 12 games of being in his dream -- out of Respect for the Man, and all he did to get there. Even failing at that level is much higher than pretty much all of us will ever go to in football, or possibly even in life. So lets offer the respect that is due, let him finish the year -- and then clean house. From top to bottom.

I know it's what I would want in his position. How about you?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Keep Marinelli - For Now

It is interesting all of the "Fire Marinelli" chants that I am hearing after the latest Lions loss. You will notice I skipped analyzing the Bears game -- not too much to look at, really. They didn't come to play again, and it showed. I'll likely touch on it more after I have a chance to see the entire game (I was only able to catch snippets Sunday).

Getting back to Marinelli, I don't quite see the point. It is becoming more and more apparent (as Floyd Reese campaigns for the GM job, other candidates are sure to be perking up their ears as well for a chance at a total construction job with a supportive owner. Talking about knowing you'll have the time to finish what you start! After all, Millen started sinking the Lions further, and if they go 0-16 will have finished the job. History is better than almost-weres I guess.)

Marinelli is not a quitter, and I respect him for that. He has a solid work ethic, is a great guy, decent motivator in the right situation, and his mental toughness can't be questioned. Unfortuantely, he fits right in with a lot of Lions players right now: Heart, not Talent. He has the desire and the toughness, but not the skills, in my opinion at this point, of an NFL Head Coach.

I will grant that he was saddled with Matt Millen as his GM, but he didn't do himself any favors in a lot of areas. The offense has more than fallen apart, and if he almost lost the team halfway through last season, it is totally gone now. Just like a lot of Lions players will be.

What I don't get is why people are looking to fire him right now. I know this is a spundbite world, but lets take a look at this. He has one "phantom" voidable year on his contract. He is, along with the entire front office, a lame duck at this point. They are all gone at the end of the season. At 0-4 they are still 4 games out of first place as they are 0-2 in the division. There is no one on staff qualified to take over for him, and if you think players are phoning it in now...

The only way I see a Marinelli firing as being even remotely sensible at this point would be if he continues to leave the rookies and young guys on the bench past 0-6. The new front office and coaches HAVE to be able to see game film on those guys to know what they've got coming in. Marninelli is an honorable man, and staying through the end of the season does nothing to diminish him or the franchise SO LONG AS he plays the rookies/young guys after 0-6 when they are elmininated officially from playoff contention.

That scenario would be best for the Lions Organization, Marinelli, the next front office staff, the fans, and the players.

0-16? If they keep up their current level of play, at least the Millen Era would end on an historic note.

By the way, looks like I will have an incomplete library of games this season as I'm guessing the last 5 home games (Thanksgiving is always televised) will be blacked-out due to poor ticket sales. Unless of course they start winning... *shake shake shake* -- "Outlook Not Good".

Darn. Well, you never know... IF...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Magic 8 Ball

I was reading that a Magic 8 ball has 20 possible responses -- 10 positive, 5 neutral, 5 negative. Statsitically speaking, Statisticians indicate that this give the Magic 8 Ball a high probability of getting the answer correct.

How, I'm not sure. But I wonder....

How much better a GM would Millen have been if he used a Magic 8 Ball to decide who he drafted? "Mike Williams? *shake shake* "Future not Bright" - scratch that... go Defense? *shake shake* "Outlook promising"... "Now we're getting somewhere"

How many more games would the Lions be likely to win if Rod used it to determine the gameday roster?

If Coletto used it to call plays? I can see it now -- "Dive Middle, 2nd and 8" -- *shake shake* -- "Never" Okay, scratch that, 4 wides, fade to CJ or Roy...

Expanding upon the idea, I was thinking that what if instead of the "right" playcall, the Lions just put their playbook into Madden, chose "random" and went with it?

Just some random thoughts as I was thinking about the game tomorrow...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Rookies Benched?

There is reams of speculation as to why Marinelli is not going to play Jordan Dizon. There is speculation that he was a Millen pick all the way, or that he is awful, injured...

My guess? He's a rookie. It's more of this irritating "playing to win" philosophy. Marinelli believes veterans give him the best chance to win now -- We are 3 games behind the pack, but a division win against Chicago would go a long way to getting Detroit back into the wide-open NFC North race.


Has anyone been watching Chicago the last few weeks? Those were fluke losses, not fluke wins. Their D is tougher than ever, and as for their offense, it is putting up decent points in an efficient manner. They can run with Forte, and have just enough passing to keep opposing defenses honest. The exact formula Marinelli wants, but can't seem to execute.

Do I want the Lions to win? Yes.

Do I think, right now, that their veterans are the way to do it? No.

Marinelli is a great guy, and a good coach. Good Head Coach? I'm not quite sure about that now. Especially at this point, his decisions are either predicated on a LOT of information we don't know (likely) but don't seem to be making sense.

There is no blitzing on offense, despite not getting pressure from the front 4. They did the same thing all through the first three games -- same personnel, everything. If they do it again against Chicago, they will have the same result. They either need to change personnel (which they haven't) or they need to change scheme (let's hope) and blitz more.

My boss the Chicago fan pointed out to me that this year Lovie has been bringing more creative pressure by dropping DE's into coverage and bringing LB and S up to blitz/pressure the QB - more of a mix between T2 and Philly's aggressive pressure D. Joe Barry showed a little bit of what he can do with blitzes in the preseason -- why haven't we seen that in games when it matters??? Is Marinelli saying too risky, is Barry too afraid? I don't have the answers, but if the Lions' coaches don't, than Lame Duck turns into Dead Duck at the end of the season.

Again, I like what Marinelli has brought as far as attitude, work ethic (attempted to anyways), and scheme (I think the T2 is a good base defense to have -- allows for interchange of players).

However, he is making a lot of the same mistakes Mooch and Morninwhig, even Martz as OC, made -- Square pegs into round holes. They need to ease off what they WANT to do and focus on doing what they CAN do.

I get it, they WANT to be a power-O running offense. But they're not. Their personnel fits a passing/play action game. In other words, pass on the play-action fakes and then toss in the runs. Passing is their strength -- get those guys going, get a lead for a change, and then dial in the ground game more when the defense is tired out in the 4th quarter. That is how NE did it last year -- 2-1 Pass:Run ratio in the first half, 2:1 Run:Pass Ratio in the second half. Ended up fairly even, but not all throughout.

As for defense, the WANT to sit in cover 2, get pressure from the front 4 and take away the big play. But they aren't. They do have the personnel to go man-up with Bodden and Smith, with a safety over the top and run blitz the heck out of the QB with a S like Alexander, a LB like Lewis or Sims, or put Avril in at LB and blitz him. His coverage skills are fairly decent, so pretend to blitz him and drop him back in coverage while a guy like Alexander or Bullocks blitzes. They have guys on the roster who can do it -- but they keep trying to do what they WANT instead of what they CAN.

I admire Marinelli's dogged determination, but there is such a thing as being too stubborn. At this point, that stubbornness is backfiring. Tom Coughlin of the NYG was being too stubborn, and it almost cost him his job. He eased up a bit last season, and made some changes he wasn't positive on, but that might work (like playing a bunch of his rookies). Look where it got them then and now. Marinelli needs to open up to some changes and see what happens -- it certainly can't be any worse than what his team has been doing on the field -- which is absolutely nothing.

Question: What is the over/under that a new GM tries to keep Marinelli and Barry on in some capacity, and bring in an offensive minded HC. Make Marinelli DC/Ast HC and move Barry to LB coach. Can the entire offensive staff except for Loeffler who seems to be doing a great job with Stanton, and Gash who is doing very well with Smith and R. Johnson.

In regards to the GM situation: A lot of the guys being rumored to be flown in/talking to are doing so in an advisory capacity -- which shows that at least an appearance of due diligence is being taken. I still don't think they should go with a full-power HC/GM. They NEED a personnel expert, like a VP of player personnel. Honestly, they can leave Lewand in as cap manager/operations. Despite what we may think due to our draft busts but he is good at getting players signed, and a lot of the bad contracts were an outgrowth of Millen's bad personnel choices. If the Lions make better personnel decisions, the cap won't be near the issue it is now -- it is all those accelerated SB for players who were cut or didn't work out that has bogged the team down -- not the contracts themselves. (though I'll see what NetRat, resident capologist feels on that score and report back.)

As for Mayhew, I did some checking on him as far as the comments that he was an "up and coming GM candidate..." Essentially, for operations and/or labor negotiations. His specialty is not personnel, and lost in the shuffle right now is the fact that although he was put in charge of Football operations, they moved someone else to an assistant GM position (Cedric Saunders) who is more of a personnel guy. Keep in mind, a Lions personnel guy, so that isn't saying a whole lot.

As for rookies not getting a chance to start, maybe Marinelli should look at Gosder Cherilus -- they were reluctant to play him, yet when he got his chance to play and start he really stepped up and got it done at a high level. Maybe that is the new blueprint to try. After 3 consecutive blowouts, what could be worse?

Doing the same thing and expecting different results.