Monday, August 17, 2009

Fly Little Birdie…{push}…Or else…

Fly Little Birdie…{push}…Or else…

August 17th, 2009 | by detfan1979 |

I’ve still not had time to watch more than highlights of the first half. The video below is a good highlight of the scoring (mostly) but still… it is enough to keep a Lions fan excited that is for sure! I especially can see Stafford roping those passes out to CJ instead of Colbert…which would mean more than a 25% chance he catches it.

As I was watching this (particularly the Turner run), and looking over the topics of conversation on the first preseason game, I realized that many of us were either missing, or not honing in on one very important fact: The starters on Defense especially that the Lions put out there are not likely to be starting opening day. Same with the WR on the offense to a lesser extent, but that was mainly due to injury.

On the defense, it was — I am now sure — completely intentional. We know Grady Jackson was still not ready to start, and that Landon Cohen was making progress but did you really expect that Sammie Hill and Landon Cohen would be the starting DT’s versus the Falcon’s 1st team offense? That Hunter would be the starting DE? That Hicks and Pearson would be the starting safeties? Being as they were playing the Falcons, an image of birds crossed my mind…

My office is half in the ground — so essentially when I am sitting at my desk, if I look out of the window over my computer monitor, my eyes are at ground level. Between the building and the parking lot next to it is a row of bushes (the leafy kind) and in the spring, the birds build their nests in there and they are flying back and forth. Since they don’t realize I’m there (the glass is solid) I can see the nests that are hidden there — including the little baby birds that stick their heads out of the nest and tweet incessantly. (okay, so nature isn’t always fun — I have work to do after all). At some point, the birds basically are either shoved or jump out of the nest and try to fly. The main point is, they won’t know if they can fly (or how well) until they do it. Which means leaving the nest and giving it a go, no matter how ugly it turns out.

Starting the players they did on defense was tough love little birdie pushing. Hill has been labeled a project, and he knows it. Everyone says the game is faster. Size isn’t enough. Use that leverage. But until he hit real NFL linemen in a real game situation, he could only visualize. Like a little bird thinking about flying. Cohen, likewise, has bulked up and was doing good in drills, but would it translate to the field? How could they get him even more confidence to be even more aggressive and know what he needs to work on?

How about throwing both of the out of the nest at the same time and going “give flying a try — the ground isn’t that far away if you screw it up.” Both Cohen and Hill got something on Saturday far more valuable than the Atlanta starters got, or a Mike Turner TD: Experience. Experience against a very very solid Atlanta starting offensive line, RB, QB… Experience that will do more to not only guage their progress — but move it along at a swifter, clearer, pace.

Nothing like getting your butt handed to you on a platter by a veteran savvy O-Lineman to bring some lessons home and motivate you to get better and kick his backside next time you get action. They call it getting schooled for a reason. Cohen held his own, while Hill had some trouble. But if they paid attention to their “schooling” they will be better — and hungrier. You can’t tell me watching himself get pushed back on film won’t make Hill want to get out there, get low, and take someone down.

While I can quibble about some of the decisions made (why was Buchanan back to return a punt, and why in the heck was Cason getting so many carries – though I’m glad they saved Smith), overall you can see this pattern. Guys that they know what they have, or that they didn’t feel needed as much evaluation didn’t see a whole lot of plays — and it was planned that way.

It is nice to see the Lions’ staff using the preseason to…you know…actually evaluate and teach players instead of just going through the motions like it has felt so many times in the past. I think that they get it…and IF that translates to better prepared players, and a better prepared team on Sundays, then I think we will all be pleasantly surprised by how well these baby birds have learned how to fly.

IF…season. Preseason is 25% over, and in a few weeks we will get to see the real season unfold as the IF’s slow, and the Film prevails. As hopefully do the Lions!!

Rating: 9.4/10 (8 votes cast)
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11 Responses to “Fly Little Birdie…{push}…Or else…”

  1. By Clusterfox on Aug 18, 2009

    Great analogy DF! I agree 100%. I didn’t care whether they won or lost, but after I watch the game. I was very pleased to see the players fighting for a vitory were not our second stringers beating up on the other teams camp fodder. It was our young guys and bubble players that might actually end up being on the team or PS.

    on a side note: I think I asked once before, but don’t know if anyone saw it. Is Otis Wiley a Lion? I haven’t seen anything on him, and I truly believe he’s the type of safety we could develop into a quality starter.

    Thanks, and GO Lions!

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  2. By RIP on Aug 19, 2009

    I like a win no matter if it is for preseason, scrimmages, or just for fun.

    Thank you for the update and anologies of the game. You pointed out a number of things that I missed. Had poor video with the internet channel I was watching.

    Then the videos was great for replays. One note on Brown’s receiving TD is that the media was off on that it was a screen play. He first chip blocked the LE, then ran past the line of scrimmage for the reception.

    Overal, another great article. Next time I will look for a time delay. Guess I am not in preseason mode yet :-)

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  3. By Chadwick on Aug 19, 2009

    On the Michael Turner TD run, it looked more like the primary breakdown came from the strong-side linebacker (or is that the safety?) who over committed to the center part of the line.

    Then of course the DB’s did a horrendous job of backing up the play.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  4. By Chadwick on Aug 19, 2009

    LaMarcus Hicks, 35 .. is the player that missed that tackle.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  5. By Chadwick on Aug 19, 2009

    I’m sorry. There was an even worse missed tackle that came just before HIcks miss.

    I don’t know who it was, only that it wasn’t Buchanon 31 or Anthony Henry 32.

    I guess I have my strong-side and my weak-side linebackers mixed up. At the bottom of the screen, on that Turner run. It may have been Earnie Sims that blew that play — or was there another safety, maybe Kalvin Pearson, standing below him?

    Whoever it is, I don’t really understand it. Was the guy thinking that the blocking full back had the ball? There wasn’t even a fake to the full back, and yet he ran into the same gap that the linebacker standing right next to him was running into.

    Very bad play.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  6. By Chadwick on Aug 19, 2009

    I think it was Ernie Simms that blew the play.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  7. By jwlagina on Aug 20, 2009

    Good analysis. I would really like to see Cohen step up. If he can continue working as hard as he has been, I have no doubt that he will earn a starting spot. It might not be until next year, but this kid has the passion to get it done.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  8. By Jason on Aug 20, 2009

    Not sure if it can be blamed on Ernie alone…He definately seemed to go right into the blocker and not realize or care the Foote was right next him. To us it seems like he should have covered more ground to the outside…But we have also read that the defensive scheme is to force action back inside. It could be that the DE (I think it was Hunter 67) got manhandled to the outside for a huge hole out there. Had he been able to hold ground, the play would have been forced right to Ernie. Ernie blew up the blocker and would have left Foote available for a decent tackle and keep the gain to around 4 yards or so. Unfortunately the whole Defense looked bad on that play and the DB’s couldn’t tackle to save the TD.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  9. By RIP on Aug 20, 2009


    It was Ernie Sims who committed to where the fullback went, just like last year for him. It is only preseason yet, so perhaps the coaching staff can correct that over pursueing of his. He needs trust in his fellow players and play his lane.

    The first missed tackle was Pierson and the last chance tackle was Hicks.

    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  10. By Chadwick on Aug 22, 2009

    RE: the Turner TD run at minute 1:02

    Thanks RIP

    Jason. I see what you mean, but I think the DE did his job on that play. If anything, it was the DT that that was out of place (got caught guessing wrong .. but isn’t that just part of the game?). Overall, looking at that play, the line of scrimmage stayed put, and the DE protected against the play going around the end. I think that went play pretty close to as drawn up from the D perspective.

    The defensive line is supposed to put the Line Backers in position to make the plays. If Ernie had hit the gap to the left of the pulling guard (letting Foote and then Peterson handle that responsibility) instead of taking the angle to the right, he would have been able to make a play on Turner at the line of scrimmage, or at least confronted the Full Back there and jammed the rushing lanes. With the De where he was, that play would have been contained.

    Hopefully Ernie learns.


    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  11. By Chadwick on Aug 22, 2009

    Maybe Kalvin Pearson was out of position too?

    He seemed to be awfully far away from the line of scrimmage given the formation that the Falcons were lined up in.

    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

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