Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 Preseason: Game 3 Thoughts & Cut to 75

2009 Preseason: Game 3 Thoughts & Cut to 75

August 31st, 2009 | by detfan1979 |

Another one in the books — along with round 1 of the roster cuts. I’ll start with the cuts, and then move into my thoughts on the Colts-Lions preseason game 3. The first five bubble players to go shouldn’t really be any surprise –

  1. Francious, LB: recently signed camp body who really didn’t have a shot
  2. Kees, DE: Considering the lack of depth at DE, that the Lions moved IAF and Flu at times to end tells you how much/little he showed in camp. He may be a practice squad candidate, however.
  3. Demir Boldin, WR: Considering how none of the tranche of wideouts competing really distanced themselves, this also does not come as a shock as he was (obviously) out of the running.
  4. Dexter Wynn, CB: He was injured a couple of weeks back, and placed on IR to free up a spot to get down to 75. He showed enough to bring back as a body for OTA’s, and possibly camp next year.
  5. Lamarcus Hicks, S: The first casualty in the secondary, after his poor showing when he got his chances to start in the preseason, this also is a cut that appeared inevitable. They gave him ample opportunity to play his way onto the roster, and he wasn’t able to capitalize. This also means you’re looking at Delmas, Pearson, Schweigert, and Manuel as your 4 safeties on the roster. Hicks ended up as the odd man out.

Once again, I will just be listing out the thoughts/impressions that I felt compelled to write down while I was enjoying the game. This was, of course, the “dress rehearsal” for both teams heading into the season. Both teams (even the Colts) did basic game planning for this match up, and played their starters for the entire first half. Indy was down Sanders, and one – two more defenders. The Lions were without both starting CB’s against Manning, so I’d pair that off as an even trade up.

  • Kevin Smith: I’m glad I kept him in my Fantasy Dynasty League. Oh yeah, he looked great where it counted in the game too — breaking tackles, finding holes and turning it upfield right away to churn out chunks of yardage at a time, and as an excellent WR out of the backfield, especially on the screen plays, and safety valve comeback routes. His blocking and blitz pickup were right on. Ladies and gentlemen, while Brown and Felton(speed, and steamroller) will make great complimentary backs the Lions have their true feature back in Smith.
  • Speaking of screens — I had to pause the tape in disbelief as I again saw the Lions perfectly execute another couple of screen passes early. They may have fizzled a bit later as Indy expected them, but it still slowed the pass rush down as the rushers had to think about something other than smashing the QB. I loved Linehan’s playcalling all night, and it was true balance the Lions have lacked in forever.
  • Unfortunately, the only thing stopping the Lions’ offense was itself — with just plain dumb penalties that killed at least one scoring drive in the first half.
  • The Olinelooked great creating lanes for Kevin Smith in the first half against Indy’s starting defense. The Time of Possession in the first half for Detroit was just insane. It kept Peyton Manning and Co. off the field. They also gave the Lions’ QB’s lots of time to throw back there in the pocket. (Yes, I used “Lions Oline” and “Created a nice Pocket for the Passer” as non-mutually exclusive items in the same sentence)
  • Don’t know who the S was on that pass int call on William James but it was pretty obvious he was supposed to have help over the top. He also made an attempt to get his head around and make a play on the ball — until they started emphasizing the “face guarding” rules last season or so that would not have been called interference. It was better than backing off and letting the sure TD pass though.
  • Concerning the Lions allowed both short-yardage situations by Indy to result in a TD, while not punching it in themselves. Oline needs to work on that aspect still.
  • The Lions, unlike last week, looked just as prepared as the Colts and were tough and gritty all night long. Noticed the Lions new logos on the helmets — rather than defining Bubbles, the white accents seemed to make the Lions look like their uniforms were dinged up and dented from use. It did, however, fit them for some reason vs Indy.
  • Anyone else notice that Jerome Felton always seems to just run over the first opponent to him, and that the other guys seem to think twice before making contact? Love that punishment. He will be good when used withT. Smith to beat up defenses and give 34K a breather.
  • Defense seemed better at stopping the run with anyone other than Darby in there.
  • 2 Questions: How long until Hanson is back, and can Dane Looker do kick-offs? Hopefully even he would do better than Cundiff was. I’m hoping that was rust showing. And really hoping Hanson gets well SOON. Is it too soon to say I miss Waters?
  • The defense had a great stop of Indy’s #1 offense heading into the 2 min warning. IF they could that consistently, they would be a top defense. IF.
  • Pettigrew didn’t look like he missed most of camp. He was mauling DE’s and dropping perfectly into the seam, getting open, and making the catch. I was impressed.
  • Brown showed some good stuff, and also showed he still has a LOT to learn (like going the wrong way and causing a sack – for about the third time this preseason). He is still a situational back, but I will say I am much more comfortable when he is back returning — whether KOR or PR than I am when Williams is back there. A disaster waiting to happen on PR! Give me Cason back quick — at least he can CATCH the punts. (only being half sarcastic there)
  • Williams did indeed, however, make a much stronger case by his improved showing at WR. If his return skills were improving on par with his receiving skills, the Lions would be looking at a steal in round three. But he’s not. He also wasn’t doing real well on his downfield blocking on run plays.
  • Speaking of that, it is downfield blocking by WR that leads to big runs, and Standeford appeared to be doing quite well in there area, as well as seeming to have founds his hands in his locker since that Cleveland game, once again showing his progress as a strong possession WR. Still a stretch for him to make the roster though.
  • IAF looked better inside, and Flu was holding the run-stopping point well at DE. He just needs to get more push toward the QB.
  • Levy is going to be the 3rd rounder that people will forget hating as time goes by in Detroit. He was all over the field, batting passes, making tackles, and creating havoc. It was great and given a season or two to develop with rotational time he could be a stellar young presence for the Lions at any of the three LB spots.
  • While on the subject of scorned LB picks, did anyone else need to be told Jordan Dizon was on the field in place of Ernie Sims? I mean, after the game started because there wasn’t a lot of difference — other than fewer missed tackles. Dizon too may still have a spot on this team…
  • Gronk made the Lions’ roster, or someone else’s if the Lions actually try to slide him onto the practice squad. Good blocker, and good hands. 7th round steal to back-up the TE position and rotate in given how many two TE sets Linehan uses.
  • Fitzsimmons is likely gone, unless the Lions keep fewere linemen or WR than I expect…which isn’t likely considering how much OG Ramierez has been progressing this season.
  • That was a great route and catch by Standeford across the back of the endzone on the 2 point conversion. He really helped his cause with that series.
  • Drew Stanton solidified his spot as a viable #2 QB of the future candidate.

That’s all for my initial thoughts… As I iterated last week, I felt the team would be much more focused even with basic gameplanning, and they certainly were. I can’t wait to see what Linehan and Guenther come up with for the regular season — since, unlike 2008, I am sure the Lions aren’t showing everything in preseason.

Rating: 9.0/10 (9 votes cast)
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2 Responses to “2009 Preseason: Game 3 Thoughts & Cut to 75”

  1. By chiefger139 on Sep 1, 2009

    good insight on the game, the team looked much better and really it shouldnt of come down to late game heroics by stanton. stanton secured his roster spot, makes me wonder now that culpeper cut his toe that stafford will be handed the job. he probasbly would of either way. if culpeper dont play thursday wonder if stafford plays the 1st quater and then stanton finishes with the last 3?

    Rating: 3.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  2. By RIP on Sep 1, 2009

    Liked your analysis of the game. And as usual, you picked up on some things I missed.

    The five cuts were no surprise to me while comparing size of players, and perfomance during games.

    I read a couple of articles that it was Pearson who missed the support on the pass interfernce call. He was looked off from that side of the field by Manning.

    The RB position is looking good. Morris is the every down back if Smith is injured. Felton the north-south back for short yardage, and going against the 34 defenses. Brown for when we need an outside treat, say going against the Tampa Two. His blown assignments are a concern considering it happens in all phases of the game (blocking, route running, lining up incorrectly, and running to where the blocking is not designed in returns or carrying the ball). He also tends to run away from contact. If used as a reciever, I see him more as a Shaun McDonald type.

    Another supprise to me is the more consistant play of Ramirez. Good to see. He has the size and strengh that that the coaching staff is looking for.

    Again, very good post.

    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Friday, August 28, 2009

WR Battle Intensifies as Cuts Begin…

WR Battle Intensifies as Cuts Begin…

August 28th, 2009 | by detfan1979 |

Calvin Johnson, Bryant Johnson, and Dennis Northcutt — widely considered to be the top 3 WR for the Detroit Lions when the season starts — all returned to practice this week. That means the Lions have no further need for some of the bevy of WR that were in camp filling in for the starters, and vying for the 4th and 5th wideout spots.

Kenneth Harris didn’t differentiate himself from the pack, and after injuring his ankle was the first one waived/injured. Eric Fowler was a recent casualty. Billy McMullen was subtracted today to sign a LB, and Allen Ervinwas waived (though I’m guessing could go on IR?) to make room for Glenn Holt. That leaves quite a few players vying for those two spots, leaders have started to emerge and the competition will only get more intense as more players are released as the team moves on to the final 53.

As of right now, Johnson & Johnson have the top two spots locked up, and I didn’t see anything from anyone filling in to make me think that will change any time soon. I was hoping D. Williams would come on and challenge Northcutt for the slot WR spot, but so far Dane Looker is the only one giving him a run there. Williams looked okay in the first preseason game, but he still needs a LOT of work — at this point, he has shown so little he may even make the practice squad if he’s a final cut. It would take real guts for Millen and Mayhew to admit they screwed up an early pick that bad, but it’s all about winning. Holt is an interesting pickup — Minnesota has Percy Harvin as KOR and PR now, so they didn’t really need Holt even though he was a good returner. Holt’s hands, however, are rumored to be not-so-great, so that could work against him.

I can’t tell who will be number 4 and 5 WR right now — or, for that matter, I’m not sure Looker hasn’t beat out Northcutt (who is apparently still injured?) for #3 — or isn’t competing for it now. As you watch the game with the starters in Saturday, everyone will be focusing on the QB’s. While that is a huge battle, the WR battle is a knock-down drag-out affair, and I will be watching to see who has maybe gained an edge…

I’m hoping against hope that one or two really stand out, and step up. The Lions need someone to at WR — and so, they are dropping the ball.

Rating: 7.3/10 (7 votes cast)
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3 Responses to “WR Battle Intensifies as Cuts Begin…”

  1. By RIP on Aug 29, 2009

    This WR situation is becoming interesting.

    If Looker out performs Northcutt as a possession receiver, have him as a starting situational slot. Have Northcutt for the post and deep out routes for the slot receiver.

    Northcutt will probably get alot of plays and one of the two outside spots for both Johnsons can not do every play for entire game.

    I also believe that the slot will mostly be used when we take the FB off the field.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, Williams is going to have to show more than just talent to make the active roster.

    Rating: 4.0/5 (2 votes cast)
  2. By StreetWorm on Aug 29, 2009

    I’d say Williams just made things interesting with his latest performance. Given, I don’t believe it was against the Colts’ first team, but he made some solid, and in some cases, downright spectacular plays. Hopefully we’ll start seeing more of the same as the season progresses.

    After that I’d say he surely has the 4th spot locked up and may be a strong condender for the slot receiver position by midseason.

    …maybe not returning punts though.

    Rating: 3.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  3. By RIP on Aug 31, 2009

    I liked what Scwartz stated before last weekends game with the Colts. A quarterback is judge by the team’s TDs and winning (or something like that).

    The competition for starters status still seems to be alive.

    Daunte’s completion percentage is 15% better than John’s. But during the first 2 preseason games he played it very conservative. No TD passes or interceptions. After Scwartz’s statement, Daunte finally produced a TD (and he celibrated like what he should have done last year with his come back career). His preseason numbers are like this. Over one game played with 1 TD, a FG, and no INT. Not game winning numbers, unless there are TDs from ST and defense.

    John’s game is more like a gunslinger. It is very aggressive to move the ball down the field. Along the way he has had his bad moments, which should be expected from a Rookie in preseason.

    If I see it correctly, I like the way is going into the final preseason game for a couple of reasons. The first is to push Daunte for a replicate game like the last one. The second reason goes more towards the safety of the players playing. If the mentallity is to play for 10 plays, the idea is for timeing tune-up and no injuries. If you have to play for a half, the intensity will be greater and everyone should be on the same page. Slacking, lack of focus, will give greater opurtunities for injury.

    Let the QB battle continue for the Rookie one more game.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)