First of all, let me say there will be no game analysis this week because due to technical difficulties beyond my control, my usually trusty VCR threw a red-zone interception that “cost me the game” and leave it at that. Maybe someone who DVR’d it will be nice enough to forward me a copy I did watch every highlight (and lowlight) I could get my greedy little hands on though.
Moving on, I noticed an interesting article from one of the fellows at Cold Hard Football Facts. It talks about the Lions’ secondary problems the last few years, and then lambastes the Lions for not fixing them, just changing them. While I normally like their stuff, in this case I think they are off the mark on several points, and just plain out of touch with reality on a couple of others.
Lets start with the fact that 2007, 2008, and 2009 are being lumped together. While Millen was indeed fired in just over one year ago, exactly how much could be done during the 2008 season to fix the secondary? Street FA? It’s easy to say “they didn’t address this in the 2007 draft until the 7th round” with Caleb Campbell — but that was, again, Millen’s call. Mayhew has had exactly one ifseason and one draft thus far to improve the position. So don’t call it ignored until there is a little bit more proof on the matter.
Next point for me still has to do with play acquisition. It’s simplistic to say “the Lions didn’t bring in any big name free agents.” Name one. Seriously — name the “big name” free agents that the Lions magically could have signed, and then show what they could have cut without hurting the team in another area for the huge cap hit. I couldn’t do it. Most of the FA CB’sout there worth signing weren’t any better than Henry or Buchanan.
Mayhew did well to get Henry — a starting caliber CB who already has an INT — for a 35 year old QB that was going to be released anyways. That is “addressing the position” to me. Buchanan came into his own in Tampa, but there was a house cleaning going on in TB and he was going to be on the wrong end of it. Is he tier one? No. Is he better than RamzeeRobinson and KeithSmith? That is improvement, even if it doesn’t meet their “criteria”.
Know the roster: He points to Eric King “earning” a starting gig with the Lions…he did. Starting Nickle-Back. Buchanan is the starting CB, but was a late injury scratch. The impression the article gives is that King won the week 1 start, and then lost his spot to Philip week 2. Totally inaccurate, and not up his usual standards. Sloppy.
Can’t find anything to argue about with Manuel…except that he played a lot better in week 2 than week 1.
Back to player acquisition — Mayhew has had ONE draft to fix the entire team (sorry sir, secondary was one massive hole of many.) He used the top pick of round 2 on the top rated S in the draft. Was he supposed to somehow use the #1 overall, the #20, #33, and then his first third on the secondary for 2 CB’s and a 2 S who could step in and start? Really? What??? Show me this #1 overall worthy DB from 2009 you would have taken before a QB. He doesn’t exist. OL? Sure, that case can easily be made. But a DB over Stafford? Lets just stop the WR/QB dig in round one without at least looking at the facts. How about that first round CB that is just plain destroying NFL Offenses right now? Anyone? Anyone?
2009 was not exactly strong on DB’s in the draft. Mayhew can WANT to address the secondary all he wants — but he has to work withthe players that are available at prices that don’t hurt the rest of the roster. If a high priced FA CB prevents three other signings you need to fill holes, then is it worth it when you are struggling to build a team talented enough to go 8-8 in the next few years, much less the playoffs? The trade-off isn’t worth it.
Finally, while the 2007 and 2008 numbers speak for themselves, I take great insult with his interpretation of 2009. Do the Eagles also have a “pathetic” secondary? They let Brees light them up for 48 points and 3 TD’s in week 2. I think the Saints offense is historically great, and will skew any defense that is unfortunate enough to face it this season. Lets also not forget, that 3 TD’sand another 3 big plays came against Eric King — the Lions have OK starters and no depth. That is something only time will fix.
Next game — Favre had an 80% completion percentage…for 5.5 YPC (yards per catch). To put that in perspective, Tony Romo has an 8.6 YPC average over 2 weeks, Drew Brees has 9.8 (10.1 vs the Lions), Eli Manning has 8.7, Peyton Manning 9.9 YPC. It brings to perspective that the Lions D is A. improving, and B. The secondary is better by far with Buchanan in.
I do NOT see 0-32. Sorry. Mayehw is building a team long term, and you don’t do that the Millen way (he brought in Dre Bly, Leigh Bodden, Fernando Bryant) which is high priced free agent band-aids to build a team. You do need to draft well; if the Lions pick a DB each year the caliber of Delmas then in 4 years they will have one of the top secondaries in the league.
I like their statistics — but the analysis was colored by the easy to ridicule culture that pervades the national media about the Lions. It was done half-hearted with not enough 2009 data to really go by. The rest of the defense must also be considered, as even the best DB’s can be picked apart if the QB is given enough time — which falls back on the pass rush. (or lack thereof)
Don’t get me wrong — the secondary is far from great (borderline awful) — but that is no reason to skew that article to make it seem worse than it is, and make the new management look worse than it should. They did use a high second on a DB. Millen took two other DB’s in round 2 — Bullocks and Alexander. One is on IR, the other under-performing in Jax. Quantity was made, just not quality (which was ignored by the author).
On the plus side, Cohen and Hill seem to be improving by leaps and bounds every game. I noticed all of AP’sruns for gain I saw were to the outside where the DB’s broke contain. His only shots up the gut I saw were stopped cold, stopped for loss, or caused a fumble. With Fluellen looking like an improved version of Jared Devries, the Lions are a little depth and another DE away from a young, talented Dline next year.
That leaves secondary as a top place to improve, but there is lots of hope for this D with the LB and the Line. They filled the roster with as much talent as possible in 2009 draft (except the D. Williams pick should have been a DB — I would make that argument all day. A young CB in that spot would have been nice…)
What are you thoughts after reading the article and my rebuttal? Anything I missed? Anything you see? Agree/Disagree with? Let me hear it!