Time once again for the Lions Congregation over at the Church of Schwartz.
1. How do you fix our special teams units? (after, of course, firing Stan Kwan)
This is not an easy determination to make. Sure, the Fake FG and the setup on the field for it was an obvious coaching blunder. But how about the bad angles and missed tackles on coverage units? The lack of anyone sparking anything as a returner? There have been decent creases at times in the return game, but the returners either haven’t seen them, or didn’t have the ability to take advantage of it. After a horrible outing in the first Bears game, Nick Harris seems to have found his mojo again (along with a couple more children – congratulations Nick!) against the Rams doing a good job of the net returns.
What the Lions need is more backups/special teams players like Follett. St. Louis’ returner never re-entered the game after Follett took the train to him. The key is, Follett was schemed (it appears) middle right, but kept his eye on what really mattered – the guy with the ball – whereas a lot of times it almost seems like the special teamers are looking for someone to block them, or trying not to get hit…
The biggest problem facing special teams is the same thing facing the roster – there still isn’t quality depth at most positions outside of LB. If you don’t have quality backups (and starters) you need to keep guys who can rotate in more often on the defense/offense. Better teams have excellent starters, one or two guys to spell them, and at least 3 -4 guys who have positions listed, but really should just be listed “special teams”. Right now the Lions have one – Zack Follett. I’m sure they will add more over time – but if Follett can have more days like he did against St. Louis on a consistent basis, that will help considerably.
Still, despite the talent lacking, I can’t help feel what everyone else does at this point – Kwan’s schemes just aren’t fitting what the players can accomplish. A perfect scheme or call is useless if the players you have can’t execute it. The best fix would be a new special teams coach – after all, how much worse could it be?
2. What’s your ideal personnel grouping for our secondary? (starters, nickel/dime back, any rotation?)
With all the guys who hit IR, I actually had to look up the Lions’ roster to see who was left where in the secondary. My first thought was “there isn’t one” and I may just stick with that. At Safety, Delmas is starting to settle down and tackle, as well as stick with his coverages. He is also delivering some powerful hits when it is appropriate. He gets one starting safety spot. The other spot needs to rotate a bit – I had thought Simpson was doing better in pass pro, Manuel on run D and Pearson should be unemployed. However, I can’t get the image of Simpson dogging it on the fake FG when he could have gone all out and possibly caught the WR when Avril slowed him down. Best bet is a rotation there with how the coaches have them right now – but I would still be in favor of Henry moving to Safety. Rotate Jason David, William James, and Philip Buchanon at the two CB spots, with all three out there in the dime. In the nickel, I’ve liked how Levy and/or Dizon have been on the field. King I felt was best suited to the nickel, but he is on IR.
Wow. After trying to put together who would be out there in what situation, I’m going back to my first answer – there isn’t one! Outside of Delmas they all do some things well, some things okay, and some things awful — nothing great. So they’ll have to stick with what they have been doing for now – rotate like crazy based on the situation, and hope for the best.
3. What’s your prediction for Lions – Seahawks?
No team outside of the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles is more unpredictable this season than the Seahawks. They follow a huge game with two where they look worse than the Lions. Considering how unpredictable both teams are, I’m not even going to venture a guess. IF Hasslebeck is hitting his WR well, it could be a long day for the Lions depending on which defense shows up; even the Lions on an okay day should be able to stop the anemic Seattle run game. (watch Julius Jones rack up 200 yards now that I’ve said that) IF Stafford, CJ, and the O-line have a good day, they could pummel an injury weakened Seattle defense – especially at the LB spot. IF not, it could be GB or the second half of the Bears game all over again – even with Stafford under center (especially the O-Line). In other words, Seattle has only won two games and Detroit only one because they are both inconsistent in all phases, and need all three to “show up” any given Sunday for a win. Lets hope Detroit has more units “show up” than Seattle does. The Lions COULD win this game (just like they had a chance to win vs the Rams). The unknowable is – WILL they?