Friday, January 30, 2009

Randomness Everywhere

I have a random cacophony of articles and odds and ends thoughts hanging around to share, so this post may be a bit more eclectic than usual.

Also, quick bit of notice: Tomorrow I may write a blog, but on Sunday and Monday the DetFan1979 Clan will be on vacation. Please keep the comments and the commentary coming! I'll weigh in on the Superbowl, and other ifseason matters once again upon my return either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Kevin Siefert indicates that the Lions are homing in on James "Shack" Harris formerly of Jacksonville as their new director of player personnel. His record is mixed, but he has done his best work in later rounds, where the Lions have struggled. Not sure about this one yet, so I'll reserve judgement.

New Poll up -- Lewand mentioned the possibility of a change in uniforms/logo? at the town hall meetings the Lions held for fans. I have two examples of possibilities up along the side -- so weigh in on your logo choice!

In a stunning turnabout, a starting caliber player for another team wants to come to Detroit to play. No, seriously. Larry Foote, a starting LB with the Pittsburgh Steelers wants to finish up his career in his native Detroit. If Mayhew could secure him for a 5th round choice (wish we had a 4th) it would be a coup for the Lions' LB corps.

This is an older article, but Mike O'Hara had some good points. What I almost choked on was him stating the Lions' Scouts were respected around the league. Come again?? Couldn't all be Millen ignoring everyone right?

How about wrong. But that information is way too long for tonight. I'm going to do a special piece when I get back to explain the following statement: I think the Lions will significantly improve on their drafting ability and rival the best teams in the league when it comes to drafting acumen... IF... they stick to their plan. And I think they will.

As for the mighty Millen... I don't care what this reporter thinks, he didn't have to put up with Millen's closed minded "I know better than you" attitude as he ran the Lions franchise further into the ground than any other team in NFL history for 8 YEARS. Sorry, the man can make a living - fine. But don't call Lions fans silly, or ask them to come out in grand support of him. I know what I'm going to do if they bring him on - hit mute. "A peek behind the curtain at the wizard" gives him insight? He WAS the wizard, you moron! And he stunk at it. Why would I trust his evaluation or analysis on if a move or a player was good or bad? He proved he has no clue during his time in Detroit. The only reason he has any credibility with those losers is that Detroit was such a laughing stock while he was in charge, the national media ignored it.

This is a pretty objective article analyzing the Lions' coaching hires for HC/DC/OC. Very good read, and little I disagree with in there.

Linehan hasn't named his 2009 starter yet at QB. You know it is early ifseason when that's news! Thank goodness though, as it seems the staff and front office are taking a long, hard, objective look at each player's performance, potential, salary-to-contribution ratio, etc. before making personnel decisions. About time!! He also went over some good points in this article from Detroit about how he is feeling about the offensive pieces in place, and what needs to be added.

For those of you chomping at the bit for prospect rankings, or to know who the top lookers are right now, the National Football Post has updated players rankings -- for what those are worth at this point.

Such speculation is also swirling around the top pick. This publication (and apparently the league) think the Lions are going Stafford #1. Huh? Plenty of time to get away from that later. The one think I expect Mayhew to do at this point is the unexpected. That says to me right now no Stafford. Mooch thinks he'd rather have a Matt Cassel than take a chance on either of the "top" QB's this year. I'm inclined to agree - at least Cassel can flourish in the right situation. That is a much greater known than anything about the pro prospects of Stafford or Sanchez. Killer gave good info on why Kiper is so pro-Stafford despite the questions.

This ESPN story of sliders/risers is intriguing. Again, worth an early read to get a feel for the talent pool out there. Who is available to draft, and how deep the class is at a given position (or perceived to be) can significantly alter FA movement.

Going into FA, which will heavily influence the draft as it always does. Wasn't secondary Detroit's #1 need heading into FA last ifseason? By draft time, it was filled enough to look in other directions. This article from a Tennesee beat writer points out some FA who may look to come to Detroit for both an opportunity to work with Schwartz again, and to have a chance to start. Carr is my favorite from the list as he is a good returner and nickle back, both of which are needs for the Lions.

the Commish raised the possibility of taking Thanksgiving from Detroit possibly at the owners meetings next year, although it is safe for now. For NOW??!?! Was the Dallas smackdown of Seattle any different than the Titan's smackdown of Detroit --- NO!

With the exception of home/visitor getting beat on, they were both VERY lopsided games. No matter how hard you try to make a match up in season "great" at the beginning of the year, they will often disappoint. Dallas-Seattle SHOULD have been a great game according to the preseason. By the time Thanksgiving got here, about 20 Seattle WR later, it wasn't.
I didn't hear anyone saying "take it from Dallas because they just beat on an inferior opponent as well."

Detroit has had many memorable Thanksgiving day games and invented the Tradition -- and were the first to play on a day other than Sunday -- Against the league's wishes at the time to boot.

The Lions keep Thanksgiving -- end of story. If the Lions lose the game, so does Dallas and I don't see that happening. Ratings this year were actually slightly higher than last, and are still VERY strong -- so don't look for the league to mess with it and possibly screw it up.
Also, the league aims to have a prime-time/national game for every team at least once every two years. Having Detroit on Thanksgiving means that they don't have to schedule them elsewhere ie coveted SNF or MNF slots where they would negatively impact the ratings if they are bad. By keeping them on Turkey day, they insulate the ratings against the teams playing because it is a tradition to watch Dallas and Detroit play.

It doesn't make financial, or PR sense and the league owners know it and will see it.

Have a great weekend everyone! I'll see you again next week!! Keep the great commentary coming! Also remember, if there is a topic you'd like to give your thoughts on - send me an email and I will edit it, possibly comment, and give you credit in a guest blog. I love it when I have other opinions to be able to toss out there for all of you! so keep the comments, and guest-blog emails coming!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Lions Cap: More Cuts Coming

The Detroit Lions, as I pointed out on Tuesday, are #8 in current cap space available. However, still expect to see more cap cuts like Mike Furrey as Feb 9th (the date to release current players) passes.

As our commenters on the last piece pointed out, they are not cap cuts in the sense that room is needed to sign players. Rather, they are going to be performance/contribution cuts. Are you paying starter money to a backup? #2 WR money to a #3 wideout? One whom you already have a replacement for (Standeford) on the roster, who costs less?

NetRat has a great spreadsheet with cap numbers, as regular readers know (check out his site in the sidebar links.) This year, he has put up an easy-to read page with numbers that players will count against the 2009 cap, and how much will be saved/lost if that player is cut. Mike Furrey, for instance, will save the Lions $1,950,000. That is not insignificant savings.

NetRat highlighted a few groups in there. What I want to know is, who do you see staying and/or going taking into consideration cap impacts, and the ability to replace that individual with someone who is both an upgrade, and/or provides the same level of talent for a lower cap cost. Standeford as a #2/#3 WR versus Furrey, for instance. Not saying I don't like what Furrey has done, but the old regime was too big on overpaying under performing players and you can't do that and stay on top in this league.

I can see the Lions re-signing Moran Norris with the money gained from letting Jon Bradley go. I also see Kitna, Dan Campbell, and Mulitalo also being let go to create more cap flexibility. I also think all three could be replaced at their current performance levels with less cap dollars, freeing those cap dollars to be used on higher-impact players.

Unfortunately, the tone thus far out of Allen Park is that DanO will not be coming back. This means I think we see Stanton, Culpepper, and one newcomer duking it out to be starting QB. That doesn't mean a #1 overall, but at least one pick in that case would likely go QB unless they Lions dig into the Byron Leftwich type FA and allow a free-for-all competition. Culpepper will stick as the veteran backup through this year, I think, no matter what. After all, considering Cleo Lemon makes 3.49 Million per year, 5 mil for Culpepper, who could possibly end up your starter for a year, isn't too bad a cost to value proposition.

Nubsnobber will cry blasphemy, but I agree Lenon could be back even if the Lions stay in a 4-3 --- but not as the starting MLB. Rather, he will hopefully either be SLB, or backup SLB/MLB. As a backup, he is the kind of player teams want to have. As a starter, he is the kind of player teams want to upgrade. I'm still on the fence on that one. Actually, there are quite a few players like that on the Lions, and one of the reasons we may see more upgrades than sweeping changes right at first. Why fire backups when you can just keep them as backups and hire starters?

Mayhew better be good in this draft, or the Lions are hamstrung for a few more years...

Hanson will be re-signed, and will be with the Lions anyways since he was franchised under the old tag 2 CBA's ago, and is restricted anyways. They will make him their top extension priority this month. If you want to run a bruising, power-run long ball offense that Linehan likes, you need a reliable kicker to get points out of every drive.

Dwight Smith will also go, and they will re-work Raiola's deal to make it more cap friendly, and lock him up. That way, they have an NFL starting quality Center for now, and can upgrade when it is advantageous, rather than being forced into it. Give a new draft pick a chance to compete and develop, or pick one the 2-3 top rated interior linemen this year that are OG/C. Upgrade OG now, and then decide if they will move to C and you'll draft an OG, or draft a new C when it is finally time to replace Raioa. BOTH OG spots are much bigger problems than LT or C by far.

Also, depending on his health, I think Calhoun will be let go and a returner/change of pace back who is younger and healthier will be given a shot...

Your initial thoughts? Who do we re-sign? Who gets cut? Who can be replaced, and how (FA/Draft) and looking at what is out, is it realistic in regards to cap, likelihood, and talent level?

Monday, January 26, 2009

League Budget: The Cap As it Stands

As Free Agency approaches, we are bombarded by reams and reams of "solutions" involving ludicrous player trade scenarios, player cut scenarios, free-agent signing idiocies, and moronic draft trade scenarios (referencing the fact that even if Matt Millen were kill the entire Eagles front office and take control of the Eagles they STILL wouldn't be stupid enough to give Detroit their two low 1st for #1 overall, not to mention MORE than that.)

Before I delve into such fun fantastical nonsense myself (albeit from a much more informational and logical perspective) I like to stay grounded by looking into the cap situations of not only the Lions, but the other 32 franchises as well. NetRat garnered me this link with an approximation of all 32 teams' current cap space.

In looking at it, here are a few things I consider:
  • What teams are potential Free Agent's on?
  • How much cap space do those teams have?
  • Which teams are switching offensive/defensive schemes, and what does that do to personnel?
  • Which teams switched coaches/front office and what does that do to personnel?
  • Which teams have the space and inclination to go after the big-name FA?
  • Which teams are in cap jail and can't keep their young up and comers we should look at?

I'll post my thoughts here, and then I want to know what jumped out at you looking at this list, and considering the above. Tomorrow, I'll take that number for the Lions and with NetRat's help dive into the specific situation for Lions' roster -- wand what moves to look at as we head into FA this ifseason from there.

My Thoughts: There are three more teams -- Denver, Green Bay, and likely Kansas City switching to a 3-4 defense. This will make it about a third of the league running a 3-4 and needing many of the same key players. This immediately drives up demand for pass-rushing OLB, as well as run-stuffing space eating NT players. For the Lions, I think they will keep a base 4-3. They also will have competition in both FA and the draft for big nose tackles -- which is especially bad since this draft is shy on run-stuffers (I'm told, haven't looked at it yet) and FA is very thin there as well.

After being on the worst end of that list the last couple of years, the Lions are in the 8th best cap situation right now. Not too shabby.

4 of the ten worst cap teams switched coaches or front offices in 2009 -- so the I think looking at Seattle, St. Louis, Oakland, and the Jets -- they are going to be hard put to make significant, long term positive progress. Look for at least 3/4 (this is a gut check guess) to end up with new coaches again within 3 years.

Cleveland is toward the low end of cap space as well, but we will see how Mangini does with a GM he can actually work with. (notice they hired coach, then GM at the Browns. Not that the Browns are a model franchise teams should look to. Just saying the personnel guy can come second...) Jury is out on what Cleveland will do, but I think they will shed a lot of the high-price guys and bring in their "own people". This could lead to a combination of cap/coaching cuts coming out of Cleveland. Looking at their roster for some value-adding band-aids at several positions may not be the worst of ideas.

Baltimore has drafted well, but is in a cap-spot that they can't keep all three of their top defensive FA. Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs would both add value to the Lions' roster, although I think Scott would be the better FA pickup.

Brian Dawkins and Correll Buckhalter from Philly would be solid additions at the right price, as would LJ Smith -- although he'd need injury-out sin his contract. We don't want another Dan Campbell.

Free-Agent Center Jeff Saturday form Indy would be a great pickup if Indy doesn't find a way to re-sign him (I think they will) -- however, he may be too big a price tag at a position where an immediate upgrade is want much more than need.

Thus far, Denver is seeming to follow a Detroit pattern of going with all inexperienced people at their positions. Coupled with their high cap space available, I can see them going on a spree like Mike Nolan did in his first FA period when the Niners had all that cap space. It didn't turn out well, and something tells me Denver will retain their explosive offense for now, but that they won't be seeing much improvement in either their record or their defense.

Overall, as teams begin negotiating with their free-agents and re-doing contracts this month, it is still too early to tell how the free agency field -- as well as the cap space for signing them -- will play out. However, it is starting to take shape, as you can see.

What are your early thoughts on my talking points above regarding free-agency?

[Tomorrow I will not be writing as I will be in Detroit picking up a couple of family members from the airport. However, beginning on Wednesday I will begin to dive into how the Lions roster looks -- utilizing NetRat's numbers -- and how that will shape and impact FA and the draft. ]

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Senior Bowlers

I would rather have been watching the Senior PBA Tournament qualifiers than the Senior Bowl yesterday evening, but stuck with it. (and here you all thought I was slacking) I know the PBA players would have had much more drive, technique, and fire than I saw out of all but a handful of now former-college football players at best in that silly game yesterday. I watched copious amounts of bowling on TV as child, as well as hitting the lanes with my parents and grandparents. Still like to get out when I can -- no idea what my average is these days -- don't think the sample size is large enough to make a determination. Still, bowling is fun and if you ever have the chance to watch a close-fought PBA tournament, it is as thrilling as any sports event gets.

I expected to see more guys just laying it all out there! After all, it is a HUGE job interview -- where performance marks the difference between a low-round draft pick, to not getting a shot at all. That is not what I saw. I saw a lot of guys just going through the motions...

There were a few that stood out to me as I watched. This article has a pretty good basic summary of players who stood out to them as well.'s Tony Pauline also has a run down of the senior bowl, plus scouting reports from all week.

My thoughts? I missed the first quarter, but saw the rest of the game. There were a few good performances, but most were up and down.

Somewhere, Tom Lewand is sitting there crying into his Jack-and-Coke as Mayhew keeps try to console him by saying "don't worry Tom...there's still a chance I can trade it and you don't have to find a way to spend $50 million on a roll of the dice...really. Here, have another. Look at the bright side -- at least I'm not going anywhere near Joey... I mean a QB at 1. That's a sure step up from Matt, don't you think? What's that Tom? Sure... I'll just leave you alone with that checkbook for now...things will look better after the combine. I promise..."

That's my way of saying I didn't see any of the prospective defensive talent come anywhere close to playing like I would want to see number one overall play. Not one. BJ Rajji disappeared entirely, the LB's looked mediocre all across the board -- a good play here or there, but no one really stood out to become the highest paid LB in the league #1 overall money. Plenty of defensive guys I would take anywhere at 10 or lower, including DE English, Raji, Magulaua. None worthy of #1 overall.

That thought as I saw the defenses out there had me focusing on the Lines for both sides. I saw a lot of O-linemen I liked a lot out there, which may have something to do with the defenses not looking the best at times. Eric Wood at C/OG really stood out to me as he could be plugged in at G for now, and slide to C to backup/replace Raiola. Herm Johnson, a college RT looked like a low end RT, but was a beast when he was moved into OG, and at LG was paving monstrous holes. He is also a guy that should be there with pick 65, and could be there at pick 83.

On the D-Line I liked the play of Peria Jerry -- not the biggest overall, but was still one hell of a run stuffer, freeing up those around him to make plays which is exactly the kind of DT the Lions need. Not sure where he is rated, and that stuff will change a lot between now and the combine.

Don't worry fellows, this is that last I'll get into specific College players until after the combine and FA when the draft gets closer. The Senior Bowl is usually my first look at guys, and then as the areas the Lions are looking at for needs narrows down, I begin to hone in on who will be available at areas of need around where the Lions are picking to do analysis.

The coordinators are now set, and yet we still don't really know what schemes the Lions will be using -- on offense or defense. Definitely makes it harder than past seasons to look at needs, as well as who to keep/cut from the current roster.

That won't stop me though. NetRat has a great site I will be delving into once again tomorrow night to look at the current roster, cap issues, as well as the cap space available to other teams around the league. This will kick-off the beginning looks at FA as it fast approaches in just 4 short weeks. The contract extensions that are signed, as well as FA re-signed in the next month will shape the moves the Lions will be making for the rest of the Ifseason.

Your thoughts if you watched the Senior Bowl? Anyone stand out to you?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mayhew's Hobby: HC Collection

The Lions added yet another great Coordinator/not-so-great-ex-HC to their staff when they confirmed today that, surprisingly, Scott Linehan had agreed to be the OC for the Detroit Lions!
(the article I linked to is on the site, and is the best one I saw with some great qutoes from Schwartz on philosphies and Linehans background, and reasons for taking the Detroit job -- It is a must read!! On a related note, every time Shcwartz opens his mouth, you just can't help but get more optimistic about this team. He isn't feeding lines of bull, or cliches -- he is just dosing it out straight up. Love it!)

This makes two coordinators cut from the same background -- great success in the past as a coordinator, made the jump to HC and it went okay but not great, and now are back at the coordinator position where they excel. Let's hope they do so with Detroit!

Most Lions fans (at least those who actually follow our division rivals as well) should be very familiar with Linehan. he was the one designing and calling the playings back when Minnesota had Randy Moss and Culpepper in MVP form racking up the points. If you took the current Minnesota Defense, and that offense -- put them together and you'd have...well...umm...the New England Patriots, I guess.

He knows how to utilize a large one-of-a-kind WR (Moss-CJ) while utilizing a strong running game to make defenses pay for taking away the long ball. I really like this fit, and think his style of balanced but potent offense pairs perfectly with Cunningham's preferred pressure D. In other words, while both are somewhat high-risk at times, they can also bail each other out.

I must admit that thus far, I am blown away by the quality and harmony in the moves and hiring by the new Lions front office -- from the coaching search, their low-key search for a personnel man, and their in-season trades and moves player wise.

Schwartz, and even Mayhew/Lewand, must have some kind of respect around the league for the Lions to not only have a real shot at, but to be signing the coaches they are signing. These are not guys that had no other options. KC wanted Cunningham to stay, but he basically badgered them into letting him leave(which they did, especially after it became apparent that Pioli was going to be firing Herm Edwards shortly.) More than one team not only wanted Linehan -- but either implicitly or explicitly offered him the job of OC!

He turned down the 49ers. They are in a rebuilding phase, and have been for a few years now although they are stuck in the same kind of Neutral Detroit has been for the past few decades. However, he also is reputed to have turned down an open invitation to be the OC for the Tampa Bay Buccaners. They also have an up-and-coming young coach, but are at a spot much further along in development than the rock-bottom Lions. Perennial challengers to enter the playoffs, most would consider that the best spot of the three to go, given the choice.

I even saw a headline that said "Linehan turns down 49ers and Bucs to coach...Detroit?!"

ROFL at that one -- such is the respect Detroit gets; and deservedly so after 0-16. However, what did they expect Mayhew to do? Run out and try to be worse than Millen? (which would involve going 0-16 twice, really, is the only way I could see that perceptually)

No, the Lions -- thus far -- have been doing everything right this Ifseason from the moment Lewand and Mayhew were named to their posts. They knew who and what they wanted to go after, and how -- and have been executing.

Will their run continue? Will they nail the draft and additional coaches as well as they have so far? Will they excel in FA moves? Those questions, of course, are at this time unanswered and unanswerable -- that why I call this the If-season.

If they do....or If they don't....

So far it looks good, but so did the Lions in the first half of 2007. There is a lot of Ifseason left.

Just a funny thought on the nepotism front -- look at who Josh McDaniels, the former-NE-OC-Turned Broncos coach hired...

Not a good omen for Denver, IMO. Not at all...

Go Lions!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cunningham as DC

Great comments by all this ifseason! Plenty of great points on free agency, and the additions of the right types of players, etc.

I'm in Lansing - West Side. Maybe next year I'll have to do a "DF79 Afternoon" at Rookies or something so all us Lansing area fans can get together. We'll see.

Well, the Lions have a DC. I haven't had much time to look into his background, but did find some good reads about his personality at Mlive, as well as a great background piece by a Chiefs blogger on Pride of Detroit, and his interview with the Freep here.

My general consensus view is that he likes an attacking pressure D, which is what he ran successfully in his first stint as the KC DC. He was in over his head an a HC, and ended up as LB coach under Schwartz his first 3 years in Tennesee. He hasn't had a lot of success as of late with the KC defense, but he has been running a T2 for them as that is what his boss, Herm Edwards, wanted him to run. Not his cup of tea.

As far as I can tell from the different reports, KC initially said "No" to talking with him, but then changed their minds and told him if we wanted to go, he could. I think they figured even if Herm stayed, a new DC was likely if not this year, next -- and decided to let the Gun, as he is called down there, do what was best for him.

Cunningham and Shcwartz have worked well together before, and with his experience he should be able to help put together the kind of defense that makes use of players, not just scheme, that Schwartz has indicated he wants to run. I disagree that he only did well when he had great players -- KC has drafted as bad as Detroit in the last few years. Couple that with running a defense he didn't believe in and get the picture. Not to mention -- they were running a T2 and they let traded his top DE! Pretty hard to pressure in a T2 in that situation... no matter who you are.

We'll just have to wait and see, but if he and schwartz go with a style of D that is a mix of the late 90's KC Defense, and the 2000's Tennesee D then the Lions will be in great shape!!

As for players, that will all depend on if Mayhew-Lewand keeps up the good work they are doing so far. The Draft and Free Agency will be a big look on how they are doing.

Next up? Another Coordinator who isn't happy with the schemes he was forced to run, or the personnel situation he was dealt, or how the franchise treated him: Brian Schottenheimer.

I've read that he is both irritated that he didn't get the HC spot, but moreso because it was due to his "failures" as OC -- you know, running a more conservative offense for "Mangenius" than he wanted, and not being able to get beyond an elementary offense because he got saddled with Brett "I might retire but I might not" Favre on the downside of his career - and with no knowledge of the playbook, virtually after camp was over. yeah -- that really helped his offense. And they got rid of the QB who knew the offense best - Chad Pennington - to boot! Not sure I'm sold on him, but I think that Schottenheimer or Linehan if he'll come are the top two options right now. We'll have to see what he does...

Glad the "Peppers" piece gave everyone a good laugh -- it was meant as a general piece on building a team and managing an NFL roster; Only the last line was really meant to be about Peppers (other than the "Onion leaving for the Stats" bit.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

But is it the right Peppers for your Salsa?

Last summer I was walking through our local produce goods store/cheese counter/grocery store/greenhouse (It's not a chain -- a local place called Horrocks in Lansing -- take the Saginaw Highway Exit towards Lansing and it's right there. Great store!) and saw they had all sorts of Michigan Hot Peppers for sale -- Banana Peppers, Tomatillos, Jalapeno, Habanero, Red Mild & Chili Peppers as well as Green, Red, and Yellow Bell Peppers. Since fresh tomatoes were in abundance, along with several types of Onions and Carrots, I decided to make a nice big batch of fresh Salsa.

What I wasn't counting on is the fact that certain peppers, when mixed with certain other ingredients I put together, intensifies the heat. Instead of one Habanero, I put in three. Same with the others. I figured it would be great -- heavy on different types of peppers (please note, this was my first time experimenting with my Mother-in-Law's Salsa Recipe. By the end of the summer, I had it down pretty well.)

End result? It tasted great!

For all of about half a second. That is when your tongue would either blister or just plain spontaneously combust. I swear it took half a gallon of milk to start calming it down -- I tried chewing on ice and it just made it worse (like an idiot, I had taken a great big chip and stuffed the whole thing in at once. Note to self: Taste test Salsa in small quantities. Also, in further research water spreads the hot juices around rather than neutralizing them.) I ended up swishing milk in my mouth slowly, just kinda holding it there until it no longer felt cool and the burn returned, and then repeated. I was able to salvage the batch of Salsa by putting in an extra 5 batches worth of tomatoes. Lots of great Salsa, lots of lessons learned.

Regular readers of this blog will remember how, as the season progressed, I compared putting together a football team to cooking. You don't just need to know what you want as the end result (Salsa) but how each ingredient you have available can be put together in the right quantities, in the right order, to get the end result you are looking for. It is not a science, but rather, a process dictated by sight, sense, and some higher knowledge that can only be called intuition at best, wild guesses at worst.

In football, the human elements and injuries add all sorts of wrinkles cooks never have to deal with. When is the last time my Habanero had a knee injury that kept him out of the mix? That my Bell Pepper stole the Banana Pepper's luggage and had to be booted out of the kitchen? That my Tamatillo got in trouble at the night club and ended up in Jail? That my Yellow Onions demanded a new contract or they were going to leave for my neighbor's salsa because the recipe I'm using doesn't accentuate their flavor enough? That I had to go with less tomatoes as a base because I couldn't fit them into the bowl, and the kitchen dictated that I had no more bowl space because I used it up on that exotic purple onion? That my Jalapenos lacked work ethic after they were added in and just didn't have that spice I expected? (Okay, that has happened, but it taught me not to shop around for old discount peppers past their prime.)

I'm sure you all are catching the point here. It's not that I don't like peppers, but you need the right kinds in the types and quantities you need to make your Salsa come out great. Right now, I just don't think the Lions' Salsa needs Julius Peppers.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Random Happenings - News Review

Just some random thoughts on the stories of the day to cap off our weekend here, pending breaking news on the coordinators front. Filling out staff is Schwartz's next priority. While I like the idea of Jeremy Bates, who called plays for Denver's high-powered offense last season as OC I'm not too high on Cunningham as DC. He didn't do so well in KC in his second stint and many sources feel he has lost a few steps (he is 62).

On the free-agent front, there is a rumor out there that Schwartz and the Lions are interested in PR/KR-CB Chris Carr. He fits the type of FA the Lions are targeting this Ifseason, and I think he would be a good pick-up.

Pat Caputo of the Morning Sun seems to think that the Lions are taking a better approach hiring a coach instead of a system this time out. Speaking of hiring, someone with the Freep did a half-baked attempt at looking at how hiring assistants has turned out as far as NFL coaches - but he didn't just rate Corrdinators, but guys who were position coaches as well, and didn't look at all of them. So what is the point?? No idea, but it may be a decent read.

There are some musings here about the first pick in the draft. I will have much more on this later in the ifseason - so consider this just a mini-primer. Even more absurd musing by BVO about Julis Peppers here! LOL -- when was the last time anyone gave up 2 1sts for a player like that? Jared Allen is a premier pass rusher of similar age, and last season he went for a 1-3-4, I believe -- and the 1 was #18. His team was trying to offload him in a youth movement, so he wasn't even demanding out. In this case, Carolina has no leverage whatsoever. It is an interesting thought (if they should decide to go to a 3-4) picking him up as it would definitely solidify the LB with Sims, Avril, Dizon, and Peppers -- but I haven't taken the time to look at it fully.

Maybe tomorrow.

Finally, want to say to the Wize Chief that our thoughts and prayers are with you, and we feel for your tragic loss. Shoot me an email if there is anything I can do.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Q&A With DF79: Kitna and Rudi?

I'm going to start doing some basic Q&A blogs -- so if you want to know my thoughts on something, just shoot me an email. As I've said before, I'm not an insider so I don't have "secret" information -- but I will give you my informed opinion -- informed opinions being what this Blog is all about! As always, I ask all readers to chime in with their thoughts as well, so always be sure to go back and read the comments!

On Sat, Jan 17, 2009 DesertLion wrote:
DetFan1979, I'm curious about Kitna. How long is left on his contract and do you see us staying with him (as he is a serviceable journeyman QB) and avoiding paying a bundle for DanO (as many other teams will be looking for QB's)? BTW I think Stanton is nothing more then a backup. He's entirely to fragile IMO.

The next item is about Rudi Johnson. Given a good offseason, I think he makes a great #2 back (I think he was only signed to a year deal if I remember right). Do you think they will retain him?

As for Kitna, he is signed through 2010, but if they cut him before his next bonus is paid, they save 2.5 million in cap space -- which is similar to what it would likely cost per year to keep DanO around (maybe a little more). DanO isn't going to get 10 mil a year from anyone, but I think he would be good anywhere up to the 4 mil a year range, as he provides a VERY solid back-up at worst at the most important position. I would even say a 3yr deal at 5 mil each would be worth it, as he is a low-end starter an would lock down the role long enough to give Stanton a fair evaluation, and draft another developmental QB if need be as the future at the position, without being forced to take a risk one someone because you have no choice.

I don't think Rudi is back unless he doesn't get any decent offers elsewhere -- RB is a young man's role, and teams have seen they can get impact backs all the way through the top of round 3 with great reliability. If he doesn't ask for more than backup money to return, you may see him back. the X-Factor is if he is okay with playing the role of backup to Kevin Smith, who will be the unchallenged starter heading into next season. As Don Banks pointed out -- he ran for about a thousand yards, on the 0-16 Lions, in less than a full season of starting. The Lions got first round talent in the 3rd with K. Smith, and Rudi may not want to play second fiddle to that. But, considering the RB market, he may not have a choice.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bucs Fire Gruden - For Not Winning Enough!

I saw early today that Joe Barry was hired back as LB coach by the Bucs. Of course, I was shocked this evening to read that Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden were fired by the Tampa Bay Bucaneers! I guess Tampa and Tampa North are not having good luck!! Just think how many coaches we could have hired from there if Millen were still in charge?

Honestly, did he do so bad? They "collapsed" late, ending at 9-7 and one game out of the playoffs in a tough division. He's won a Superbowl, and led them to 2 more Division Titles. I know about expectations, but still.... their defense is aging, and it shows. So it is time for a rebuild on personnel, but the coach?

Make that a good thing the Lions hired Schwartz when they did as it gives him a chance to review the assistants coming out of Tampa and other places. It also means yet another HC opening this Ifseason. Talk about a massacre in the coaching ranks!!

Think about it:

Seattle transitions from Mike Holmgren to Jim Mora
Indianapolis from Tony Dungy to Jim Caldwell
Denver from Mike Shanahan to Josh McDaniels
Jets from Eric Mangini to TBA
Browns from Romeo Crennel to Eric Mangini
Raiders from Who Cares to Somebody Else
Rams from Scott Linehan/Jim Haslett to TBA [note - Linehan as OC and Haslett as DC?]
SF49ers from Mike Nolan to Mike Singletary
Tampa Bay from Jon Gruden to TBA
Kansas City Chiefs - GM change from Peterson to Pioli, coaching change next?

That is roughly one third of the league changing coaches -- throw in the Coordinators who were promoted and the ones who were fired -- and now you have one heck of a movement of chaotic team jumping at all levels this ifseason.

What is also different is that you aren't just looking at "bottom feeder" teams --- Denver, Tampa Bay, Indy, and Seattle have been in the thick of the playoff races the last few years. So some of this is turnover among even established teams.

Speaking of turnover, I find it interesting that Schwartz didn't exactly fire all the current coordinators -- but told them they were free to look for other employment. From what I've read he had a good presser today, and seems to keep coming across as a guy who is going to do right what fans have been clamoring about being done wrong for so many years. We'll have to see if "talk" finally equals "action" from the Lions. [I'll definitely have more on Schwartz, including thoughts form around the league, my thoughts, and his philosophies and coaching choices in the coming days]

The Lions front office is "on the same page" with Schwartz -- which is good, considering they hired him! They better be! Mayhew is supposed to be at the East-West and Senior Bowl with Schwartz, scouting talent first-hand. I'm still interested in who they bring on to help with personnel. There are some juicy rumors floating around out there, but as has become the norm from Mayhew/Lewand nothing is out there they don't want to be leaked. Which means, no one knows but the Wizard.

It was pointed out that in this article on DanO is listed among the young talent at the core to build around in Detroit. Something tells me the Lions get a deal done with DanO before FA. Just a gut feeling, and I could be totally wrong -- it wouldn't be the first time. If they do, I don't see a QB before the later rounds -- if at all. Remember, with McCoy et al staying in school this year, there will be a very strong QB class coming out next year. Also keep in mind that the Lions will almost certainly be picking in the top 15 again next season, even if they show significant improvement by winning 5 or 6 games -- even 7. This means one of those QB's will be there next season from a stronger class when the Lions are on the clock. It will give them one more year to evaluate what they have in DanO (assuming they re-sign him) and in Stanton. If neither one is the long-term answer, I look for a QB in 2010.

Personally, I just don't see QB this season for the Lions in the draft, and unless something significant happens to change my mind, I'm going to be factoring a new QB OUT of my equations. Of course, more on coaching hires, still have to look at their 4-3 options, and much more. The Ifseason is young -- the time for mock drafts will come. As for me, it's too early for that -- there is so much more that needs to be settled first!

Go Lions!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Detroit Lions Hire Jim Schwartz!

I'm sure that by this late hour, all of my regular readers are well aware that the Lions pulled the trigger on hiring Jim Schwartz as the new Head Coach of the Lions. I like the choice, and have said a bit about why earlier.

There is, as can be expected, plenty of thoughts out there on the matter. Drew Sharp, whose little black cloud of doom appears to have left town with Matt Millen, likes the choice -- and makes the great point that the staff Schwartz assembles will be just as, if not more important, than he is. has a press release (copied dutifully at ESPN,,, and other places with small variations) and I'm sure we will know more after tomorrow's presser.

Jeff Fisher indicated that he thinks Schwartz has been ready for the next step for a few years, and he can afford to be gracious because he is one of the NFL's best, and he already has a couple of good in-house replacements for Schwartz. Schwartz has been coming in second in HC interviews after talking to about 2-3 teams for the last 2 or 3 years, so his landing a position is no surprise to the Titans.

Despite early jump-on-the-bandwagon of a QB #1 fans out there (still way too early to look at that yet) thinking Schwartz's Bobby Layne comments means a #1 QB overall, Dave Birkett points out that may not be the case. I'll add that Schwartz is a statistics guy -- which means he knows all too well how the percentages don't favor #1 overall QB's and top ten WR.

Finally, it looks like the Rams, according to's Schefter are looking at hiring Leslie Frazier (or Steve Spgnuolo according to Yahoo!)this weekend -- Jim Haslett will be back on the coordinator market this weekend then. Also, depending on who the Jets hire, it appears that Brian Schottenheimer may be done in NY -- he is someone who I wouldn't mind seeing as an OC. However, things would have to happen pretty quick. I want to see Schwartz have his coordinators in place, and most of his staff by no later than Monday. With Schwartz getting hired by Detroit, that is the third coaching position filled (McDaniels and Mangini to Denver & Cleveland, respectively) the pace is really accelerating. Also, with so many Coordinators being hired into HC positions this ifseason, it means that there are going to be vacancies to be filled both by the new HC and the existing ones --- this is going to lead to a very lean market for good coordinators this season, and getting them locked in soon is imperative.

Obviously, breaking news of this coaching hire has interrupted the 3-4 and 4-3 stories I was writing, but don't worry -- there is plenty of ifseason left.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Minimum Requirements"

Okay, reading back over my post form yesterday it seems from my writing that 4 players and the 3-4 is set as a star studded D ready to contend for the title.

Okay, I guess in trying to look at who to "keep" in that alignment, I was too positive in my descriptions. My intent was to point out in that article (and one tomorrow) how using 4 of the 5 picks on defense in different ways would give the Lions at least the basics of a defense in either base formation.

In other words, the bare bones foundation to be built upon. To put it bluntly: they can't shit can everyone because there aren't enough people out there who are better to replace them with that are available - right now.

I see the plan outlined as one way they could lean, in regards to positions to fill just to make the defensive formation (in yesterday's and today's case, the 3-4) work.

Since this is a Blog, I'm assuming everyone has some kind of access to a computer. If you look at the side of the box for any computer program there is a little small print section that says "minimum requirements." Sure, technically speaking you can run the program if you have the minimum requirements. But in reality it works like crap if it really "works" at all. Then there is that "recommended requirements" where it actually works like it is supposed to - most of the time. I usually figure you need at least the recommended, and probably more than that if you really want a program to run smoothly. What I outlined yesterday for the 3-4, and will outline tomorrow for the 4-3, is the "minimum requirements".

With that in mind, lets look a little further forward at what it would take to go from "minimum requirements" to "recommended requirements".

LB: A line of Sims-Draft Pick-Dizon-Avril would be the bare bones, and not that great with no depth. In all honesty, Sims may work in a 3-4 -- but he would need to get back to rookie year versus the last two. His discipline has been way off, and he needs to stop over-pursuing on the run and get back to the fundamental tackling that made him stand out his rookie year. Even then, he is more the size of an ILB in the 3-4 but lacks the coverage skills. If he can't adjust, he would end up being a stop-gap.

I disagree with the comment that Avril didn't prove anything as a pass rusher. After reading that I sped through a couple of tapes again, and all he showed me is that he is one heck of a pass rusher coming off the edge. His speed and quick moves would serve him well in that capacity in the 3-4 as you need to have at least one pass-rushing OLB (think: Shawn Merriman of the Chargers). I'm not an expert, but my gut says used correctly in a 3-4 alignment he would be a pro-bowl OLB. That still leaves the unknown Dizon and "Draft Pick LB" in the middle. Realistically, at least 3 -4 more draft picks minimum would need to go into LB -- with one from rounds 1-3 -- for the next two or three years to get the LB corps up to "recommended".

Dline: As I said, a NT is a must in this draft to get to minimum. Redding is a prototypical 3-4 DE and should be very solid at one end. The rest are more tenuous and unknown. Fluellen doesn't seem to be quick enough for a 3-4 DE, nor is he big enough for the NT spot and I think he'd end up replaced sooner rather than later. Cohen has the right stuff from what I saw to be a backup NT, and possibly rotate in at DE in the 3-4 -- however, it would likely be making use of what you have until you can draft something better. IAF has yet to show what he can do, although just like Redding his size/skills seem to better fit a 3-4 DE where the Dline takes on the front blockers freeing up the OLB to rush in off the edges while the 2 ILB cover the short passing routes. Most likely, even if the Lions take a NT in 09, they would still need to spend a lower round pick next year (or FA, or UDFA) on a backup NT -- as well as draft at least one more DE. I didn't bring up White again, as he would work in the short term but is not at all a 3-4 DE or LB and would not fit into the new scheme. So just like with LB, you would need 3-4 more picks on the Dline over the next 3 years to get that established with solid starters and depth in the rotation.

Secondary: This situation still isn't as bad as the rest. While I grudgingly agree Fisher is currently the only Nickel-back on the roster, I think that they shouldn't keep him around after his contract is up in 09. Bodden is better in man coverage --- and while everyone is griping about his 8 mil roster bonus in 2009 -- remember this: he is at worst an above average cover corner and will have very low cap numbers and salary for the 10,11,12,13 seasons. When you look at total compensation over the course of the contract if they can get at least 10-12 out of him as a starter on one side then it is great value. Keith Smith is a marginal starter hovering around great backup status. That is why I listed drafting a CB as need both early and late, and think the Lions would at least need to keep taking late round fliers on cover corners for the foreseeable future to ensure having enough healthy CB's. If they go 3rd round CB in 09, then a 1st or 2nd round CB would be needed still in 10 or 11 at least in addition to the late round fliers.

At safety, I liked what I saw out of a healthy Alexander and Bullocks when the coaches actually put them on the field together. That being said, if they go to a 3-4 they still need a 4th safety who is more of a SS safety rather than FS. Alexander and Bullocks are similar style players, and a complement is needed. I don't think going S in 09 is good until you see how Bullocks and Alexander work out in the 3-4, and if they can stay healthy. A rd 1-3 S in 10 would definitely have to be a consideration.

Summary: What this all means is that even if the Lions hit it great on their early picks, and one or two of the late round picks and go almost all defense -- they have about 3 solid heavy defense drafts in front of them before they will really have the upgrades they need to be a playoff defense.

No Lions fan wants to hear this, but this roster is so devoid of starting level talent that it will take at least 3 drafts to get a team with a high caliber defense, and a decent offense. Period. 2 might get you started if they hit on a high percentage of picks, but even the best GM's get 2-3 starters per draft from all rounds combined, on average. And the Lions really need upgrades to at least 8 of their starting defensive spots. When you do the math, you can see it will be a long road to respectability even under the best of management.

I am cautiously optimistic at this point, but still will hold out on anything other than "If" type analysis (just like last year) til the season. The Lions did a big Whiff on my IF last ifseason. Lets hope they do better in 2009!!

Your thoughts??? (keep em coming!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bowles Interviews

The latest test candidate to go before the press was Miami Linebackers coach Todd Bowles. he sounded okay, but seemed more of a Marinelli type -- a position coach focused on system. As the HC Schwartz had it right that you are coaching the coaches 6 days, and managing the game on Sunday's. You have to have coordinators you can trust.

On the other hand, if they were to introduce Schwartz as HC and Bowles as DC I can't say I would be disappointed with that. Don't overlook that for Bowles that would still be a promotion, and a better chance at further advancement. Other teams are considering him, but he is considered to be a long shot for all the openings he has interviewed for -- including Detroit.

I thought Spagnuolo did not call a great game against the Eagles, and he has been a DC for two years. Not near as much experience == and that small window makes it hard to tell if it's the coach or the players. Shcwartz has 8 years as a DC to hang his hat on, as well as widely differing talent over that time.

I can see, as I've mentioned a few times, the Lions being able to make an adjustment to a 3-4 base D this ifseason based on their acquisitions.

Linebacker: Right now, Avril would shift to OLB/pass rushing, Simms would stay at OLB and Dizon would be a fit for ILB in the 3-4. That puts them needing an ILB in the draft. That is what they need now, only it is easier to find a solid 3-4 ILB than it is to find a T2 MLB. They already have the hardest LB position to get in a 3-4: Pass rushing OLB. Avril would star at that position.

Secondary: The secondary depends more on man coverages, and the safeties are often used to blitz or stop the run. The Lions already have Alexander, who I thought was building on an excellent rookie campaign -- and Bullocks who played quite well, and is developing into one heck of a great safety. Kelvin Pearson was a solid 3rd S, and excellent on Special Teams which is important. At CB Keith Smith did well before he got injured (when they used him right in man coverage, which he is really starting to get solid at). He is not a star, but a viable NFL starter when used right. If they keep Bodden, and put him in man coverage on the top WR, they will be fine if they can get any kind of pressure on the opposing QB. Bodden is a man coverage guy, and worth keeping. IF fisher is kept, it should be purely as a Nickel-Back. I'd rather see the Lions pick up a CB in the draft. At S if Alexander recovers, they are fine bringing in some UDFA, and FA for the 4th safety spot if needed. A Greg Blue run-stopper ST player would be the preference there.

Dline: At DE -- IAF, White, Redding, and even Fluellen are all solid run/pass 3-4 DE's --- which are usually heavier than 4-3 DE's, but lighter than 4-3 tackles. The Lions have those tweeners, and they should all excel if used properly in a 3-4. White could even come from the OLB spots on pass rush at times, as could IAF. At DT/NT -- I think that Cohen, though a bit light for a 3-4 NT could do well there if given the chance. He could also slide out to DE on running downs, and provide a heck of run stopping line with Cohen, Redding, and Fluellen up front. I still think that if they are going to a 3-4, the key position they need is a big, run stuffing DT to eat up space at the NT spot.

That puts the Lions needing: 1 NT, 1 CB and 1 ILB on defense to get a basic unit together. They have 5 picks in the first three rounds -- throw in that they need a G (I'd say in the 3rd) on offense and that still leaves 1 pick out of those first 5, and gives lots of flexibility. You would still need to use a later pick or two on a flier for an additional CB/Returner, another LB, and possibly another Safety or S/LB hybrid like Campbell was supposed to be in the 7th last year.

As we saw from Fluellen and Avril last year, and other picks in Rd 3 -- there are good ILB, CB, G and DT available in RD 3 that would be good building blocks and contribute right away --- with 2 good 3rd rounders (1st and 18th in that round) this give the Lions much more flexibility in not having to reach in rounds 1 and 2.

If the Lions announced tomorrow the new coaching staff was:

HC - Schwartz
DC - Bowles
OC - B. Shottenheimer

I would be happy with that. Your thoughts??

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lots More Exciting Nothing!

Well, Jim Schwartz came. Held conference. And...ummm...well, really no other hard facts to report on fellows. It's still all in the speculation range. Though you have to love the Bobby Layne reference. Nice way to say "I'm interested enough in this job to be learning team history."

With quotes like that, the press conferences should be more fun if nothing else. He also stated he wants the challenge of turning around the Lions. It seems to be assumed going around that the Lions are his top suitor, and it doesn't appear at this point any other teams are going to get in a bidding war with the Lions. Spagnuolo has interviewed several places, but may be asking too much money -- and Frazier and Bowles appear to be on the radar of more teams than just the Lions.

Quick reply to one thing I've seen going about: Jim Schwartz only pressures with the front 4. 2 Things, really: he did much more blitzing/pressuring when he had a weak line and strong that he has the opposite, he depends on the line so as not to expose the secondary. In other words, he coordinated a defense and calls it based on his players, not just philosophy. I want to sprint with my girls and help them train to be athletes as they get older. And we sure as heck know how that plan would work! Plan to emphasize your strengths, cover your weaknesses. Nothing wrong with that.

To those in my FFB League: I haven't forgotten those of you who won prizes! Too much to do, too little time. I will get to it post-haste. Promise.

Great thoughts by everyone in the comments sections on this blog -- if you don't read them, go back and do so!! You're missing out on over half the fun if you don't!!

As for HC -- If they hire Schwartz, who do you want to see as OC/DC?

Right now, I wouldn't mind Bowles as DC and Linehan as OC. I could also go for Brian Schottenheimer as OC. He did well in that capacity with the Jets, and it wasn't his fault he had to pander to Favre this season, or that #4's arm gave out at the halfway point. Besides, the defense lost it for the Jets hands down second half of the season. Linehan was good in the OC capacity, and is one of those coaches who is just better as a coordinator than when they have the top spot.

I would, if I could have chosen a coach, picked Marty Shottenheimer -- not on the name, but based on the fact that he took every team he was with into the postseason. Sure, he had a horrendous postseason record -- but wouldn't ANY postseason record at this point be a huge accomplishment for a Lions coach?? Move on from there...

So, your thoughts? What did you think of Schwartz, and does anyone have a link to Video of the presser? Oh yeah, for those who don't know, this is something many teams, including Baltimore and Chicago have done in the past --- it was media availability, not a press conference per se. The cat was out of the bag that he was there for a second interview anyways, so why not make the most of it and see how he does in front of the press?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Titan's Fall On Turnovers; Coach Schwartz?

Here's hoping Monday the Lions announce Jim Schwartz as their new head coach, allowing him to get his pick of coordinators and a chance to coach the Senior Bowl. Tennessee lost to Baltimore in a huge defensive battle that ended up 13-10 with a FG coming by Baltimore in the final seconds.

I did find another interesting tidbit about something I thought I saw in the game. Haven't seen replays, but I guess it wasn't challenged, but likely could have been though I'm not sure it would have been overturned.

Joe Flacco -- the much lauded Rookie QB of the Ravens, "nearly" stepped out of the endzone on a pass play at the beginning of their final drive. It was VERY close, and he didn't even realize where he was. Literally a couple more inches, and he would have pulled an Orlovsky -- only he likely would have cost his team a 12-10 playoff loss. DanO was essentially, when it comes to game experience, a rookie this year and that is the kind of thing that newly-starting signal callers will do.

Just reiterates to me more that with how much DanO was improving, they should re-sign him -- and go a different direction other than QB in the draft this season and see what they have for the long haul in Stanton and DanO. If they don't like what they see, get a QB in 2010.

Go Chargers!! Go Lions!!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Motown Phil Brown?

Michael Lombardi - whose opinions can vary, but whose "I Knows" are typically "He Knows" writes that the Lions have opened dialogue quietly with Phil Savage -- the Browns former GM -- for the position of VP of player personnel (as I've said before, the Bill Polian/Scott Pioli position of team-building)

Lets take a look at how Savage did over his time with the Browns in drafting. Keep in mind, there are some people who work better when they are answering to others. It helps keep their Ego in check, and makes them take a second look at their own ideas, as well as the ideas of others. Any time you get one person controlling everything surrounding themselves with people they refuse to listen to all you get is a great big pile of Millen.

On his Wiki Page (always questionable, but there nonetheless) it indicates he was the top personnel assistant to Ozzie newsome in Baltimore when they had their great drafts from 1995 - 2005 of defensive talent. Also, he was brought into the league originally by Bill Belichick with the original Cleveland Browns. He was GM of the Browns for the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 drafts. It's hard to judge some of those drafts because they were so recent. Also, it seems to be coaching issues more than just personnel that have taken down Cleveland recently as they were 10-6 in 2007.

Of course I'm going to try anyways. Sure, he's not with Detroit yet, but thsi gives us an idea as to what type of person Mayhew is looking at to handle personnel. This is his Draft History with Celveland (2005 - 2008).

While I seem to be fine with his choices overall I REALLY don't like the not having picks in rounds 1-3 in 2008, and it really came back to haunt them as they didn't have a way to fill the ever appearing roster holes in 08 and it hurt the team down the stretch --- that being said, there was no way to know what kind of season Derek Anderson was going to have in 2007, and his moves to get Quinn and Joe Thomas in the same draft were commendable. As he would be working with Mayhew, I think the check-and-balance would help make sure that deals that get done are in the best long-term interest of the franchise.

Anyone have knowledge of the players he drafted? (outside of risks on B. Edwards and K. Winslow -- moves I think were riskier than what Mayhew is going to be looking to do. He knows all about those 1st Rnd WR stats...) I'd like to know your thoughts/views on some of his other players he drafted --- good, bad, neutral??

Obviously, almost anyone could pick better than Millen, but how does he stack up league-wide??

your thoughts???

(thanks for the compliments, and keep the ideas/comments coming!)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Defense Stats; Nat'l "Champs"

BCS Fed-Ex Whatever game was pretty good tonight -- but I'm on of those guys who loves watching great defenses. Give me a 9-6 slugfest any day!

I'm going to first repost a comment by 5BakerStreet on the last blog post (read the other great comments there too!). He did a lot of great computing for this, and it deserves a top billing:

Its been a while since I've posted and with the National collegiate championship game coming up featuring two QB's, now seems like the time to post. Along with Stafford, many, many Lions fans think we should draft a quarterback with that first pick.

I'm here to tell you, supported by statistics that in no way should we draft a QB with that pick, and we should draft defense, defense, and more defense this year.Using Yahoo Play-by-Play online statistics of the Lions season I've crunched the numbers and arrived at whats posted below.

They are skewed because of special teams points or Orlovsky running out the back of the endzone, etc., but otherwise they are reasonably accurate to the point of discussion.This may get long and detailed, so if you are already bored, you might as well move on.

The defense was on the field for a total of 168 opponents drives this year, 81 at Ford Field, 87 during away games.

For the year, the Lions gave up 517 points, they scored 261.

The Lions gave up 28 TD passes for the year, 14 at home and 14 away. 16.7% of the time the Lions defense took the field they gave up a TD pass.

The Lions conceded 31 TD runs this year, 16 at home, 15 away. For the year, every time the Lions defense took the field they gave up a running TD 18.5% of the time.

The Lions had 23 FGs against them this year, 14 at home, 9 away. Thats 13.7% of the time the Lions defense took the field they gave up a FG.

Of the 168 times the Lions defense took the field they gave up a passing or running TD or held, giving up a FG. {caps for emphasis only} FOLKS 48.8% OF THE TIME THE LIONS DEFENSE TOOK THE FIELD THEY GAVE UP POINTS.

Conversely, and realizing that the numbers are skewed just a tad, the Lions stopped opponents that same 48.8%. The stops breakdown this way.

54 punts, 1 missed FG, 9 times the opponents had the ball last and took a knee to end the game, 9 fumble recoveries, 4 interceptions, 2 fourth down conversion attempts stopped, 1 safety, and 2 blocked field goals.

So in a nutshell, one out of every two times an opponent had possession of the brick, they put points on the board.

And to me DEFENSE, defense, and more defense is the way we ought to go this year. I don't care what positional order the guys are drafted just so long as their defensive guys. We have a serviceable offense that can be addressed next year and if we can reduce that 1 out of 2 times an opponent scores to 1 out of 3 or 1 out of 4, then we are going to begin winning games.

Go Lions!


Great Stuff! And it really drives home the point. Taking his stats a touch further, if the defense gets to stopping 3 in 4 drives, even the offense doesn't capitalize on it, you will have cut points against by half --- which would be 259 against versus 261 for. In other words, just a 50% increase in efficiency by the Lions Defense (from 2/4 stops to 3/4 stops) makes Detroit roughly an 8-8 team, statistically.

If they re-sign DanO they have a QB who is, as far as I could see from the game tonight, a better overall passer under pressure and much better at progressing through his reads quickly than the supposedly pro-ready Bradford. I saw a guy tonight in Bradford (and Stafford was even worse) who couldn't make it through his progressions in the college game, from the shotgun, with all day to throw. Keep DanO, see what Stanton has, and draft a guy next year if you need to.

Best players I saw on the field tonight: Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes, Major Wright, and the OK RB Brown. I also thought both Olines were excellent, giving plenty of time to their QB's and opening up running lanes. Neither offense was able to get above this as dropped passes plagued both teams. I will say, the knock on Tebow is his accuracy in passing -- either he was having an off night (meaning accurate is unusual) or he is overlooked because they run so many option plays.

Honestly, I think if he's a guy who is there next year (gut says he doesn't come out early) and the Lions have a QB need go for it. But this year??

Remember, the talking heads gush about and fall in love with the top couple QB's EVERY YEAR. They compare them to guys like Montana, or a "young Favre" -- but ignore how they stack up against prior classes. They throw out how they have a cannon arm (so did Jeff George) or intangibles (So did Ryan Leaf).

At #1 the Lions are going to need to think unconventional -- because it is going to take unconventional to get anywhere fast (meaning 2 - 3 seasons versus 5) with this team. I don't mean unconventional in the draft 3 WR in a row sense, but more of breaking with past "conventions" that aren't in line with the reality of today's NFL. I will do a full piece on this later
[notice I never seem to run out of Ifseason storylines... the thoughts just keep on coming!]

Go Lions!!! Go Chargers!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Garrett Interviewed...Then Pulled Out...

Interesting that several sources have confirmed that Jason Garrett had already interviewed with the Detroit Lions before announcing he was going to withdraw his name from consideration -- according to Schefter, on Monday. What a piss-ant to make it seem like he was turning down an opportunity to interview (which is the impression his withdrawal gave) with the "lowly lions" when he had already done so. I didn't want him in the first place, and want him less so now.

This does mean the current regime has once again to manage not telegraphing what they are doing to the rest of the league so well that no one knows until after the fact. Brilliant! They did it with the Roy Trade no one -- and I mean NO ONE - thought would get done, and now with their coaching interviews. They are keeping it low key and direct. I like that.

Seriously, they got him interviewed early, and then went on to interview other candidates without anyone else so much as knowing for three days -- a near eternity in this 24 hours news cycle.

I also find it interesting that the Denver Broncos are also interviewing Todd Bowles and Leslie Frazier. It appears that this time, the Lions are ahead of the coaching interview curve.

If I had to place money on it (which I don't) -- I think that Schwartz from Tenessee is the leading candidate right now, followed by Spagnuolo. Also, after yesterday's piece notice that the Browns hired Eric Mangini to be coach -- before having a GM. They are going to find someone who can work well with the coach they picked. So once again, the coach is not going to be the personnel guy. [update: this came out when I went to skim headlines after blogging indicating I'm not the only one thinking Schwartz is the leading candidate.]

I also noted from Killer (and a news release) that Scott Loeffler jumped ship to a college program after taking advantage of a loophole that makes it easy for NFL assistants to hop down to the college level. Not sure, from watching Stanton, that his one year in Detroit did a whole lot. I think that kind of thing would take more time --- can't blame him for not wanting to stick around and see if the new head coach wanted him or not.

Finally, in the one deserving nod (after getting shafted for the pro-bowl) to Jason Hanson's NFL record setting season, the jersey, shoes and ball used to kick his 8/8th 50+ FG for the record breaker against Indy is in Canton. I think it is hard for a kicker to get in, but his body of work despite being on some pretty awful teams will work in his favor. If anything, that he has accomplished so much with the Lions should make him MORE of a candidate, when the time comes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Good Coach Will Come

I'm taking a day off my bright spots on the team article. First, there was more trouble finding them than I thought. Secondly, ended up not having as much time to watch the tape. Thirdly, my pick was a little blunt, and my shovel needed polishing. Finally, I keep getting tired of seeing this comment:

Lions won't get a good coach because they will have NO say in personnel, and no self respecting coach will work for Mayhew.

There are so many things wrong with this statement, I'm not sure where to start.

1. Lewand will handle cap, and Ford Field, operations, that sort of thing. The business side. Bean-counter doing bean-counter things.

2. Mayhew is head of "football operations" which is everything from the weight rooms, ifseason programs, the Allen Park facility staffing, coaches, and the player and personnel departments.

3. They fired the head of the personnel department and are actively looking for someone who will be able to come in and handle the bulk of the organizing and details of the personnel work, with Mayhew as the guiding force. They don't just want scouts who report to Millen -- they want someone to be VP of Player Personnel and handle that part of the football operations. Then Mayhew will be in charge of that person and the new HC - including evaluating performance and most importantly making the final call when they disagree.

4. The above structure is more and more being adopted by a majority of teams around the league. Why? Because in today's NFL there are too many responsibilities for just one man to do all of those jobs AND be a real HC. So this is the norm, not the exception.

5. The coach they hire or look for will be someone whose philosophy fits with the type of team they want to build. Who says the coaches and the GM have to be on different wavelengths if they are not one and the same? They didn't say the coach will have NO say in personnel matters -- just that they are looking for someone to be a coach, and someone to be VP of Personnel. 2 people. 2 jobs. Not one person doing both.

6. Doing great as a coach and poorly as a GM is what got Mike Shannahan fired. There are plenty of great coaches who prefer working with a personnel focused guy. The personnel guy knows what the coach needs (communication) the coach knows what type of team he is building, which fits the view of the big picture painted and maintained by the GM (communication) and what building blocks he needs. The Personnel guy tries to fill those holes, without putting the team as a whole in jeopardy.

7. Don't think there will be the same problems with rookies not being given a real shot with playing time to develop. All the coaches on their interview lists are creative architects and playcallers with an overall philosophy that they adapt to the players they have. Especially Schwartz of the Titans and Spagnuolo of the Giants. It is a MUST in the age of the cap and free agency. You can't build a solid talent-overload team like the dynasties pre-cap era. Even the modern day "dynasty" of NE is built on a base of above average players, with a few great pieces in important positions all working together, and used to the best of their ability by the coaches.

8. I know there is more - patience in ownership, the facilities, and the chance to really be the hero and show how good you really are, and 5 picks in the first 82 to get restocked with young talent, and the solid small core of players in place that can be built upon the direction you choose. This last is most important. The Lions' offensive talent is mostly vanilla enough with good enough toppings that you can take it in quite a few very positive directions with only a few tweaks. The defense is even more malleable. The core players you would keep could fit a 4-3, 3-4 and any number of hybrid defenses. It is how you fill the gaping holes that will dictate what you can do with it.

What all of the above tells me is that the Lions are looking for a coach who is imaginative in his playcalling and schemes, who wants to coach and leave the nitty-gritty of personnel up to others, who is looking for a challenge, who will be respected by the players, who will be hungry for his chance and make the most of it, and who above all has not just the will, but the way, to win.

Can Lewand and Mayhew find it as they fly across these great United States interviewing coaches? I'm hoping so. As a Lions fan, IF they hire the right guy...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chargers Win! Go Lions!! [updated]

Slow Lions news day - unless interest in Mike Mularkey and lord knows who else in the coaching search that can only be termed as "exhaustive" - literally. Jason Garrett, of Dallas, has reportedly taken himself out of the running. I'm actually happy about this as I was less than impressed with his offensive unit this season, and of the coordinators the Lions are interviewing, I think he is among the least ready to be a HC no matter what all the buzz is.

The Chargers are one game away from helping bump the Lions draft pick up one slot in the first round -- and the third. Glad to know one team we're all pulling for in Lions land came through!

See, the Chargers at 8-8 are technically above the Dallas Cowboys and 5 other teams tied at 9-7 records. Arizona made the playoffs, so they will always pick last in that band. The other teams in the band (in round 1 order) are:

17. New York Jets
18. Chicago Bears
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
20. Dallas Cowboys [to Detroit Lions - Roy Williams Trade]

In round two it will go as follows:

17. (49 overall): Chicago Bears
18. (50 overall): Tampa Bay Buccaneers
19. (51 overall): Dallas Cowboys
20. (52 overall): New York Jets

In round 3 it will go as follows:

17. (81 overall): Tampa Bay Buccaneers
18. (82 overall): Dallas Cowboys [to Detroit Lions - Roy Williams Trade]
19. (83 overall): New York Jets
20. (84 overall): Chicago Bears

And so on through the draft, with the highest team in the band cycling down to the end, and each team moving up one spot in that band.

Where it gets good for Detroit: If the Chargers go to the Superbowl, they will pick at #31 in round one (Superbowl loser) or #32 (Superbowl winner). They will also be in the last two picks, in that order, of every round (before compensatory picks are awarded -- which is how Detroit got Ramzee Robinson a couple years back)

What this means is we need to root for the Chargers to beat the winner of Dolphins/Ravens and go to the Superbowl. This means that the band of teams Dallas is in with 9-7 records would all move up one draft slot in every round!! This would improve the Lions to:

#19 overall in round one
#17 (81 overall) in round three

So while it is only a small change, it gives us Lions fans a team to have a rooting interest in the playoff games next weekend! So Lions fans, your goal now is to be Chargers Fans for one week and really root for them to beat the winner of Miami/Baltimore. If the Chargers go to the Superbowl, then Detroit moves up one pick with their 2nd 1st and 3rd rounders.

So Go Chargers on to the Superbowl! Us Lions fans are with you 100% -- we'll even root for you to win when you get there, just as a little payback for all the help you gave us.

Go Lions!! Go Chargers!!!

PS - best of luck chief -- we're all pulling for you. Same to you JJ. Welcome back Nubs -- we missed ya, but what you were doing is more important than this by far! And a general thanks to everyone for a great year on the Blog!!

For those longtime readers wondering about my absence this fall, and off and on it had to do with my health and my eyesight. Health is going great. As for eyesight, lets just say I'm getting used to being a pirate, and things are slowly improving, so we'll see how it goes over the long haul. (Anyone calls me cyclops I be banning you -- it be pirate names or nuthin fer me. Arrr.) No other permanent damage so I consider myself a very lucky man.

Happy New Year once again!!!