Saturday, March 7, 2009

Start at the Bottom...

I will interject again in closing that I like the approach the Lions are taking in FA -- they are making calculated, targeted signings. They are for 1-3 year deals with little or no guaranteed money. They guys are being signed to fill holes, for the most part. Their contracts leave no mistaking that they are all in positions on the "can be upgraded any time" list, and will be on the BPA board in the Lions' draft room.

I look for them to at least have a borderline, or presumed starter at every position in place before the draft so they can take a true BPA approach and relegate those borderline starters to depth. There are so many holes on this roster, that the Lions may be the only team in the league that could truly draft the Best Player Available at any given spot in this draft and be upgrading a position every time well into the later rounds.

These signings aren't being brought in to be "the man" or the saviour who puts the Lions over the top. That is for teams with a foundation. They are being brought in so that the Lions can field a team while they build.

Lets say Mayhew is building "Castle Lion". Sure, there is a cornerstone or two in place (CJ, Smith, Alexander, Goz, Sims, Avril) but for the most part he's got a hole dug, and essentially no foundation. So what do you do while you are building your foundation? Buy new furniture (skill players?) to decorate your hole and try to spruce it up? Do you buy an authentic ancient Persian Rug to put over the Mud, or a Picasso to hang or press into the dirt walls? (expensive FA)

Nope. You put up some tents to live in while you are building first. That way, you at least have a dry place to stay. They may not be the best, but it sure as hell beats sleeping in the rain. (Mid-level FA to field a decent team on Sunday's while you build). Then, with a place to stay all figured out, you begin building your foundation and your walls. (drafting BPA, with need taken into consideration, with the walls being additional draft picks and targeted up and comers).

For the most part, the trenches are your foundation, and the defense rounds out your walls. The running game puts a roof on the place. This finally allows you to move out of the tents, and into the new castle. At this point, of course, you will still be a mediocre team -- topping out at 8-8 at best. Four walls, a ceiling and floor make a house, but not a great one.

This is when you fill in furniture, and a decorate the house (skill players, including QB). I see the QB as the heating unit. If you can get a 95% efficiency gas furnace that will run for 10 years and perfectly heat the whole place that is awesome. But if you throw it in your dirt foundation, or try to use it in your tents, it's not going to go so well. Not only that, but an 80% furnace, or even a used furnace running at 70% will still do the trick and keep the house warm. Maybe not as nice, but it'll still work -- as long as you have your trenches, defense, and RB (foundation, walls, roof).

The WR, a great pass catching TE, an "explosive" back, or tandem of backs, are all decorations in the house. It is not necessary to have a Rembrandt on the wall to make the place look nice, but once you have everything else it sure does help!

This interior decorating teaks is what good, consistent teams do in FA and the draft. Since they have their foundation and their house built, it makes sense to try to get the perfect look with some FA, or maybe some shifts to BPA in the draft here or there to fit a specific want as long as it isn't too big a reach.

The reason this seems so odd is that Mayhew is putting up his tents as he starts to build the foundation right now. 0-16 was a pretty good hole, now it is up to Mayhew to build a team. This year, and likely even next, FA will be mostly picking out new tents to get them by. But the draft will be where the permanent building material mostly comes from. Millen always tried to buy stained glass windows before he had walls to put them in.

I, for one, and am glad that at least Mayhew is attempting to build walls first. How good a builder he is we'll have to wait and see come the next couple of drafts. But I'm willing to give an architect who is starting at the beginning and not panicking into keeping up with the Vikings a chance. Are you?


nubs said...


I would agree with this. The Grady Jackson signing shows me that the Lions are probably not going after Ali-Raji-Shiek from B.C. with the #1. With the attention that the defensive line was given in last year's draft, I really think they will try letting Fluellen, Cohen, 5-0 and Avril growing.

I also think the offensive line will only see a LG or RG, but not both. With Loper and Dunn you have that beautiful "positional flexibility".

The strength of the draft (early-on) is LB, and that is the one spot the Lions haven't addressed with a free agent. During evaluations, I don't know how Dizon scores or rates. I don't know if the front office is thinking one or two high picks, but I wouldn't be surprised to see two.

Anonymous said...

I have to begrudgingly give Mayhew a "B" on how he is doing so far. I was one of the many who wanted everyone swept out, right down to the cleaning lady, and I really wanted Pioli here.

Having said that, I see that Mayhew has a plan, and he is avoiding flashy players, unlike his protoge....

I am concerned that they are thinking Stafford at #1. I am encouraged that they have not tried to bring in a LB, but I see that as #20 in their minds.

My biggest concern right now is the complete lack of a veteran leader on this team. I'd like to see one UFA who can step in and be the leader, someone like a Brooks.....

Anonymous said...

oops, that last post was KCLionfan.....

2girlsandaboydad said...

No hurry, just do it right. Good analogy with reconstruction of a ruin. And that has been the state of the Lions' homestead for awhile, a ruin.

If the Lions have truly told us what their philosophy is "run, and stop the run", then, they are going to address the front 7 of the defense and of the offense (OL + TE) first. To me that means another potential LT (possibly play inside of Backus for a year) and at least 2 LBs and a DT. That's four picks right there. This draft, IMO, is set up well for those picks.


ClusterFox said...

Well Put. In todays world, where LT2 and Cutler are dangled or left dangling when they are the cornerstone of their franchises future success, its becoming very apparent you can only build an annually competitive team by building the trenches first. You spend a lot of money building up the o line and Defense, then hope you can grab a shooting star as it passes by to put you over the top.

On a Draft note- I believe Mayhew will wait on FA QB till the draft, to keep alive the idea of Stafford first( and the possibility of trading down). Then I believe he'll try to draft Curry, if he is willing to be the first guy signed.( I believe it will end up being a money or contract issue) Then our options are wide open with 20 for BPA.(OT,CB,QB,LB)

One other note-I may have been the first to jump on the Mayhew Bandwagon right after the Roy trade. So I'd like to explain why. I'm sure many have been in a situation (me included) where you work in a subordinate position to someone that the right people like but you know he/she really doesn't know how to do his/her job. The masses tend to believe you should spend all your time trying to sabotage said incompitance, Thats where I disagree. I believe you do your job better hoping your team succeeds regardless of anyones inabilities. I believe Mayhew has been spending his time trying to make up for the dingbats from the bottom up. He's seen that the glamour picks to make people happy soon backfire.(cuz they are the wrong choices) I for one believe he will not squander his opportunity.


Ty said...


Another great, well-thought out post. I happen to entirely agree; the Lions are absolutely starting with getting the right pieces in place at the right price, and not just going and getting some mediocre vet and paying him like he'll be a major piece of the puzzle. A lot of the guys some Lions fans cheer hardest for the Lions to get in March are the ones that garner the most boos in November . . .