Sunday, March 7, 2010

The A-Team: Allen Park 2010

The A-Team: Allen Park 2010

March 7th, 2010 | by detfan1979 |

Just as promised, and just as I predicted the Lions have focused on filling needs in Free Agency. Unlike last season, they went for multi-year starters right out the gate in dramatic action show fashion.

I absolutely loved the A-Team when I was a kid. My brother and I would alternate who got to play whom as we built tanks, planes, boats and concocted other crazy schemes out of leftover parts or pieces of brush in my grandparents’ woods. Funny thing is the A-Team, for all it’s 80’s explosion glory, wasn’t about the violence — it was all about the plan.

The A-Team would come into an impossible situation, with little or no resources except the combined talents of the team. With careful and cunning planning, they would find what they needed to build a workable solution — whether that was a tank out of junkyard parts, or just an elaborate plot to foil the “bad guys”.

  A-Team Allen Park, 2010. Starring Jim Schwartz as Face, Gunther Cunningham as Murdock, Scott Linehan as BA Baracus, and Matin Mayhew as Col. John "Hannibal" Smith

A-Team Allen Park, 2010. Starring Jim Schwartz as Face, Gunther Cunningham as Murdock, Scott Linehan as BA Baracus, and Martin Mayhew as Col. John "Hannibal" Smith

Hannibal’s classic quote “I love it when a plan comes together” is the image that keeps sticking in my mind as I look over the first weekend of free agency. (Yes, Martin Mayhew leaning back in his chair grinning with a cigar, black leather gloves and a smug look on his face)

GM's league wide saw their FA plans explode after Mayhew's success in the early hours Friday.
General Managers league wide saw their FA plans explode after Mayhew’s success in the early hours Friday.
Let’s just look over the enormity of what the Lions pulled off in the early hours of Friday morning when they simultaneously traded for Corey Williams, and wooed and signed Nate Burleson and Kyle Vandenbosch all without a single player visiting Detroit and in the span of about 3 hours. The plan was simply brilliant, and very A-Teamesque in both execution and cunning. They have rounded out the weekend by trading for Falcons CB Chris Houston. I’ll look at the impact of each move this week, but the overall “what happened to get who how when” is just mind blowing in that it was totally unexpected from the Lions — even from a strong Mayhew supporter like me.

After reading as many sources as possible on these moves, and piecing things together, here is a timeline that shows my understanding of the events leading up through Friday morning’s signings:

Dateline 2009: As per Jim Schwartz, Scott Linehan used Nate Burleson’s name so often that “the Nate Burleson” role was named on many offensive plays.

“So many times he’d say, ‘We really need a guy like Nate Burleson,’ and, ‘Nate Burleson had this,’ and, ‘Hey, this is the way I used Nate Burleson,’ ” Schwartz said. “It got to the point with saying, ‘Well, let’s not get a guy like Nate Burleson. Let’s go after Nate Burleson.’ “

Dateline, February 2010: The Lions know they need to target in on a few free agents and snag them. However, the Lions are still only a 2-14 season removed from 0-16. Needing help almost everywhere still, they knew they needed more than a couple of one year stop-gaps. They needed at least 2 starters from free agency, and would have to trade for one or two more. There just weren’t enough draft choices to fill all the needs in any reasonable time frame.

Dateline Detroit, March 4 2010:

  • Martin Mayhew has been making inquiries, and thinks he can strike quick and swing a deal to get Corey Williams, a starting caliber 4-3 DT who doesn’t fit Cleveland’s 3-4 scheme for a good price. He lets knowledge of that leak to the media to take attention away from other Lions’ moves.
  • Teams know the Lions are interested in Kyle Vanden Bosch – but how can the Lions keep other teams out of the running? They decide on the parameters of an offer, and agree to send Jim Schwartz to Tennesse to make the pitch to Vanden Bosch himself. This will leave Mayhew free to work the Williams trade at Midnight.
  • Instead of finding a Nate-Burleson type player to take pressure offCalvin Johnson, the Lions decide to just go get Nate Burleson.
  • Schwartz said he watched every snap Burleson played Thursday morning to make sure they wouldn’t have buyer’s remorse, then spoke to Linehan. He suggested Linehan go to Seattle to woo Burleson. So Linehan got on a plane.

Dateline 12:01 am EST, March 5th 2010:

  • Nashville, Tennesse: Jim Schwartz, sitting in a rental car about a block from Kyle Vanden Bosch’s house calls him right at 11:01 pm Nashville time and tells him he where he is, and that he wants Kyle to be a Detroit Lion. Schwartz and Vanden Bosch both turn of their phones as they talk about him coming to Detroit for about 3 1/2 hours, along with Kyle’s wife. Word that Schwartz is at Vanden Bosch’s house (thus explaining why no one, including his agent, is able to contact him) surface at about 12:30 pm EST. Impressed by the personal visit, and the offer Schwartz has brought, Vanden Bosch agrees to become a Lion and works out the details with his agent and Tom Lewand later that morning. No other team has a chance to take a real shot at landing him.
  • Seattle, Washington: Scott Linehan is in Seattle as the market opens at 9:01 pm in Washington. Schwartz hits “send” texting Burleson that the Lions want him just before calling Vanden Bosch. Matthew Stafford and Scott Linehan both call Burleson in a coordinated effort, as Linehan arrives and takes Burleson and his father out to dinner. While they are eating, Tom Lewand talks on the phone with Burleson’s agent and puts the finishing touches on a deal to bring Burleson to Detroit in time to “be dessert” as Burleson later put it.
  • Detroit, Michigan: Martin Mayhew has already sent out Linehan and Schwarz, with Tom Lewand as the communications man. This frees him up to concentrate on landing the best deal possible to acquire Corey Williams — which he did in giving up the later of Detoit’s two 5throunders acquired from Denver last year, and gaining both Williams and a 2010 7th rounder from Cleveland. For less than a mid-5th pick Mayhew had secured a starting caliber DT.

While there were hints of the Lions wanting Vanden Bosch and the Williams trade, there was NO news linking the Lions to Burleson until he was signed, sending shock-waves throughout the league.

As you can see, the Lions leveraged their current players, coaches, and front office staff to simultaneously land 3 key players in 3 different states. Boom! 3 holes filled.

I love it when a plan comes together. Apparently, so does Martin Mayhew.

Rating: 10.0/10 (12 votes cast)
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5 Responses to “The A-Team: Allen Park 2010”

  1. By KCLionFan on Mar 8, 2010

    If nothing else, we can all say we actually have a competent GM….Long before a team competes on the field, the GMs compete in the General Ledger, Draft Boards, and FA areas. The Lions have to win at the GM level to even have a chance to compete at the field level… far, so good…

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  2. By JJLions20 on Mar 8, 2010

    Well the Lions have a plan, and it looks to be a solid one. Target and sign selected FA who will be here a few years, and draft the Best Player Available. They are sticking to this more this year than last. But some of this is because the coaching staff has had a year to work together to decide who to target as a FA. Last year it was more about the draft and feilding a team.

    Some of the FA players they signed didn’t work out (like Phillip Buchanan) but others like Foote I wished they had wrapped up for another year or two.

    It is the IF-Season because we really don’t know how KVB or Burelson is gong to work out. Will it be any better than Buchanon and Bryant Johnson??? Well the only thing we can hang our hats on is Swartz and Linehan have personal knowledge about these players. Will williams be a better player in Cunninghams 4-3 then in Cleveland’s 3-4. We hope so. But we won’t know these answers until nect October. What we do know is the chances are Burelson is an upgrade over Bryant Johnson, and Vanderbosh is an upgrade over Cliff Avril. So on paper these look like good moves, but we don’t play the game on paper. The lions now get to focus on the Draft and the BPA.

    The nice thing about the draft is the BPA is going to be in a position of need (DT). So get Suh or McCoy, and then the 2nd round is going to be interesting. I hink the Lions will trade out of that #2 spot in the 2nd round. I could see them dropping down up to 10 spots and picking up another 3rd rounder.

    My Phylosophy is that the impact players are found in the first 100 players, then after that it’s a crap shoot. You have to do your homework to increase your chances, but if you hit on one or two after the first 100 players are gone then your doing a real good job.

    So trade the 2nd pick in the 2nd round to get a top 50 pick, an additional pick more in the top 100, and make them count. I’m willing to bet they’ve seen some things coaching the senior bowl that they have targeted as guy’s they really like.

    So this year it is all about Targeting. Target in Free Agency. There is a target on Suh & McCoy, and I bet there are some targets in rounds 3-7. They are not targeting by position, but they are targeted BPA’s.

    I like the idea of swapping picks so even though they give up a 5th or a sixth they still get a later round pick. This just speaks to the confidence that they know of guy’s they have targeted that they believe all others will pass over.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  3. By LionWing20 on Mar 8, 2010

    Very nice piece once again. Very true what a plan and now to add Houston and Wade what a off season so far. Go Lions.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  4. By nubsnobber on Mar 10, 2010

    JJ….quit hating on Cliff. Now that White and DeVries are gone, he’s your starter (for now) opposite Bosch. Remember, the fast 260 pound DEs in the Detroit Duece, are too light and if they can’t play OLB, they are relegated to an overpaid special teamer. DeVries is heavier, and I would still think he’d fit into current plans. I think now that the Lions avoided the bonus, you may see him back during camp. DeVries was a Lion long before “bear w

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  5. By nubsnobber on Mar 11, 2010

    “bear wrestling and rock pounding”. Jared has been around and has value. The other topic that was hit upon earlier is the article on widget counting and how a certain WR rates higher bwcause he has a 2″ greater vertical standing jump. Come on. Measure heart. Put that in a cognitive number. Chris Spielman mustve been a first rounder and a top five?????? Nope. Heart, passion, kwan, “IT”; whatever it is…show me the tape. Don’t show me a miraculus catch….show me NO drops. Show me a tackling machine that tackles…after he got snowplowed by a lineman….a guy that always answers the bell, that doesn’t pull out the sod, that doesn’t pull the jersey back down when the shoulder pads are showing. Show me that in your combine. Wonderlick THAT.

    The only thing that should scare you in the combine is the bone head that just switches his agent and doesn’t work out. Bullcrap…you’re lazy and are going to have splinters in six months from the Bengals bench. Or this years black plague…..I tweaked a hammy so I didn’t answerquestions or let anyone take my measurements….that means a prima donna that doesn’t play nice with others. Don’t jump people up the board because of their workout, do it in spite of it.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

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