Monday, April 19, 2010

Scheffler Trade: Connecting the Dots

Scheffler Trade: Connecting the Dots

April 19th, 2010 | by detfan1979 |

As many of you may now be aware, it is being widely reported that Ernie Sims has been traded to Philadelphia in a 3-way trade with Denver. “Shocked” doesn’t even come close to describing my inital reaction on this. After taking a few minutes to quadruple check that I wasn’t being “Rick-Roll’d” I settled in to process the transaction. The first image that popped into my head was that of a child’s connect-the-dots activity. There are a bunch on little dots (usually numbered) in a seemingly random pattern. When you connect the dots it reveals a clear picture.

(It does occur to me at this point that Lions Congregation member Ty at the Lions in Winter called Sims to Eagles back in January or so. I checked and found the link here to his piece detailing thoughts on the Lions LB. It seemed like a decent fit, but compensation that Philly was able to give up that Detroit wanted seemed to me to be the problem at the time. Problem solved, apparently.)

Since the dots aren’t numbered, nor even obvious, I did some musings and here is what I’ve come up with:

1. Think back to Larry Foote going back to the Steelers, and even further to last ifseason. Cunningham was pretty impressed by Jordan Dizon as an OLB. Levy was the future in the middle. When Foote left, one thing unsolicited that he said was about Dizon’s talent.

2. Sims just didn’t seem comfortable still in the defense, and was injured to end the year. His angles weren’t the best either still. Since there isn’t as much WLB/SLB differentiation (similar to the Safeties) in the Schwartz defense, they need a stout sure tackler who has above average coverage skills to handle TE’s off the seam. PFT has some good thoughts as well.

3. Foote and Sims lost playing time to Levy, but they also lost some time to Dizon as the season wore on. He can cover well for a LB and tackle in the run game. He’s still not the ideal size, but bigger than Sims. Not saying I’m thrilled or all pumped on this idea, but I’d have to think that is what the situation is right now.

4. Casey Fitzsimmons retired due to injuries/concussions. He was a better pass-catcher than blocker, but was valuable in the two TE set. Linehan likes to run a LOT of two TE sets, using the TE in place of a slot WR and sending two guys on deeper routes.

5. Pettigrew needs time to heal, and even if he is on pace the Lions only had two reliable TE’s (Heller, Pettigrew) on the roster.

6. Scheffler does NOT get along with Josh McDaniels, a fact that is well documented and confirmed by Bryan Douglass, the Fanball Broncos correspondent (and my Editor). He is not really much of a blocker, which McDaniels wants for his offense. But he is one heck of a pass-cather. McDaniels has now gotten rid of 3/4 of the 2008 red-hot Denver offense featuring Rookie Eddie Royal, Scheffler, Brandon Marshal and Jay Cutler. Royal is the only one who remains a Bronco (much to the chagrin of many Broncos fans).

7. How good, you ask? Just check out his stat list on and remember that he was in McDaniels’ doghouse on the “new” Bronco’s offense with Kyle Orton under center in 2009. Can you say “Slot WR who can CATCH the ball?”

8. Can’t reiterate enough how much Linehan likes the two TE set. Pettigrew and Scheffler will eventually see a lot of time together on the field — especially since Scheffleris only 27 heading into just his fifth year in the league. Neither will be Tony Gonzalez production wise, but neither will have to be.

9. Scheffler went to WMU (think Delmas and DF79’s brother as notable WMU alums) and grew up in Chelsea. Unlike Foote, who wasn’t ready to face his NFL reality of being a 2-down ILB in the 3-4, Scheffler knows what he is and isn’t: He is a good-to-great pass catching TE. He isn’t much of a blocker. McDaniels didn’t want to play to the strengths of the players he had/has – he wants players to fit his “system” (sound familiar?).

10. Martin Mayhew is one heck of a trader. Can we now at least agree we have an NFL caliber GM running the Lions? A 3 way trade?? Getting a proven vet and a 7th rounder for Sims, who they weren’t likely

11. I guess this is the last of the dots before I go into some more analysis, but would you want to defend Pettigrew and Sheffler down the seams with Burleson andCJ going deep down the sidelines while Kevin Smith(or a new feature back) runs against 7-man fronts for the first time in his career even if CJ is single covered? Give up short passes and let the Lions dink-n-dunk it down the field and pray Burleson and CJ don’t beat the coverage?

12. One last point: Outside of starting/2nd RB and O-Line depth, the needs list is pretty much all defense for the Lions. CB, DT, LB, DE, S.

In chatting briefly with Bryan (with the draft coming up, everyone is understandably busy) the general reaction in Denver is pretty negative. While the Broncos at least got a bevy of valuable picks for Cutler and Marshal, they essentially gave away Scheffler for a song. The deal has great potential upside andlittle risk for bothPhiladelphia (where Sims may find himself starting at WLB) and Detroit. It hurts the Bears in their effort to offload Greg Olson (who also doesn’t fit their “system” as a pass catching TE, mediocre blocker. Remember keeping an extra FB or two instead of any real TE’s to go with Fitz when Martz was here?) which is a nice bonus impact on a division foe. The Bears have been trying to get a 2nd for Olson, and that just plain isn’t going to happen. They will be lucky to get a 3rd or 4th at this point.

Overall, this choice says a lot about what Detroit’s TE’s and WR’s are and are not. Heller is a great blocker. He is not a great pass catcher. He is an OK pass catcher. Pettigrew is a great blocker. He is a great pass catcher. He is not a TE who stretches the field for long gains. Detroit does not have a real solid slot WR option. Scheffler is a TE who can stretch the field. He is not a good blocker.

See where these dots, once connected, creat a pretty good offensive picture? The oldest of their trio of TE’s is Heller. He is also the easiest to replace as the primarily blocking TE. Pettigrew can do both. Schefflercan be shifted aroundthe offense both as a TE and in the slot. This makes the offense that much better, and negates much of the need to draft a 3rd TE that the Lions were looking at doing in this draft.

As for the LB spot — I wasn’t too thrilled with it before, and I’m less so now. IF Dizon, or Johnson, or a draft pick plays up to potential or better than expected, the WLB position is fine. But Julian Peterson only has a year or two left. This leaves Levy in his second year at the MLB spot as the most solid long-term prospect in the LB corps. Ouch. We’ll have to see what Mayhew has up his sleeve to fix this, but it still demonstrates how his building this team is focused more on doing it right than “winning now”. At this point, it is the future over the past. Doing something new instead of doing the same thing and hoping for different results.

And a 3-team trade? Seriously? I mean, how often does THAT happen? This is still the NFL not the NBA or MLB, right? Go Martin! We’re loving how your plan is coming together.

Rating: 9.8/10 (25 votes cast)
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11 Responses to “Scheffler Trade: Connecting the Dots”

  1. By Clusterfox on Apr 19, 2010

    Wow, what a day. Similar reactions here.. maybe a little more positive than most, I’m a WMU alum as well, and I’m familar with Scheffler. Some things people are forgetting.

    -as you noted our defense doesn’t lean on strong and weakside for our LB and safeties.
    So in other words oppositions can run right at Sims to negate his effectiveness.
    -You mentioned Dizon, but we also resigned Caleb Cambell, and Folletts still around.I know these aren’t Big Names,but I can assure you we aren’t going to sign all these guys for their ST ability.
    One last thought that I think sums it up.
    We just traded a 5th year player(that doesn’t fit) from a position of need for another 5th year probowl caliber player(that fits) from a position of need and a 7th. and IMO the draft is much deeper at OLB than TE.

    Go Lions!

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  2. By billkz on Apr 19, 2010

    I really hope Sims does well in Philly. Having said that, he wasn’t good in the Lions defensive scheme, and wasn’t going to be a key contributor going forward. Statistically both Dizon and Follett were far better for the snaps they took at OLB last year. Bottom line, the Lions didn’t give up talent that would impact their future.

    On the inbound side of the deal, Scheffler is a very good receiver and gives Stafford another big target who can stretch the field. So long as the OL can pass block this fall, the Lions passing game could be very difficult to defend.

    Then for good measure you get a #7, and this draft is very deep with OLB talent, so even a pick that late could yield a useful player. Recall that Mayhew hit on 2 of 3 #7 picks last year.

    Advantage Lions

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  3. By detfan1979 on Apr 19, 2010

    I’m guessing they will have Follett in on obvious running downs at this point, and Dizon will get a majority of the snaps as he’s better in coverage, but can still stick the tackle on a ball carrier. Remember, he can also play MLB so my guess is Dizon at WLB and backup MLB with Follett and Johnson competing and taking the other backup spots right now. That leaves at least one opening for a draft pick in rounds 2 – 4. They got a starting MLB (Levy) in the middle of three so I’ve got to think they can find a starting caliber OLB at the top of 3 or 4. Throw in that they can rotate with JP for a year, and it makes it even better.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  4. By detfan1979 on Apr 19, 2010

    clusterfox – I agree with you on the draft being deeper at LB than TE and so apparently does Mayhew.

    Point 11. should have finished: it is likely the Lions were not going to re-sign Sims at the end of his contract this year, so why not trade him for someone who both helps now and could fill a long term need versus banking on a miracle from Ernie?

    Forgot about Campbell – did he get his release yet? I had him more pegged as a replacement for JP if he works out. If not, next year is another draft…

    I think both Detroit and Philly got good value, respectively, for what they gave up as Sims should fit better in their offense. What I’m amazed at is that they got Denver to go along…

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  5. By nubsnobber on Apr 20, 2010

    The Denver thing is…at least they got something for a guy who was in the McDaniel dog house. There wasn’t much respect for Scheffler, and it sounded like he may have gotten chopped anyway.

    It’s definitely good news for the Lions and hopefully this is a lot more about stockpiling multiple weapons than Pettigrew being hurt. Denver’s M/O has been to ship stars out and not get top dollar for them. Look at the Marshall deal; granted he can be carcinogenic, but no different than Alligator Arms/First Down-Signalling (when I should be scoring) Roy Boy the Cowboy. And the Lions killed on that deal. Marshall is younger and more talented. And I’m willing to trade for those in the detfan league (HEHE).

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  6. By jreffy on Apr 20, 2010

    This will be long as I haven’t posted here in a while (but I have been reading everything).

    This is a good trade for the Lions, and I think it tells us 2 things specifically.

    1) The Lions are definitely making an effort to improve the passing game. Trading for Burleson, and now picking up a pass-catching TE. There are more ways to free up coverage on CJ than just signing a WR to play opposite of him. With Scheffler in the mix, you can now have him run mid-range routes underneath Calvin, forcing defenders to choose between CJ and Scheffler.

    Also, point 1-a) A side benefit of this is that it takes pressure off of Pettigrew to get back on the field and take as much time as he needs for 100% recovery. With such a young talent, you do NOT want to pressure him to get back on the field and possibly reinjure himself. He had a serious knee injury, he needs serious healing time.

    2) The Lions believe that have more talent at LB than we think they do. Either Dizon (who was getting significant playing time towards the end of last year) or Follet are going to be expected to step up and play the Will position. I’m not going to doubt the coaches on this one, but I’ll remain skeptical until after I see a couple games. I think the Dizon/Follet platoon idea is most likely (for now). They could also have their eye on a sleeper LB they plan on snatching up (like Levy last year) in the Draft.

    On a side note, I’m preparing myself for the Lions to select Okung at #2. I’ve been trying to convince my Dad that Suh is a super-stud and he needs to be drafted, but I’ve changed my mind now that realized that taking OT is the best choice for the team. It’s shoring up a position of need (if not this year, but next). Gives you competition for both your RT and LT to step up their game. Plus it doesn’t hamstring your finances as much as dropping a huge contract into a DT would. Plus, I have to admit that OTs tend to pan out more than DTs. While they might not all be Pro-Bowlers, most at least turn out to be decent, rather that complete busts.

    So I’m looking for the Lions to take Okung, and go defense most of the rest of the draft, with the exception of a late-round RB and possibly a late-round WR.

    Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)
  7. By RIP on Apr 20, 2010

    Good points from everyone.

    I had a gut feeling like Ty that Sims was available for the right price. I was hoping for draft picks, but a good recieving former second round TE pick is good value and a better fit for the team.

    I do expect the Lions to draft Suh. That being said, if Suh is gone then we will pass up McCoy to go with an OT. An OT that I see them targeting is Trent Willams who payed RT is first 3 years before moving to LT. First off, they would have 1 talented Tackle to back both sides. It would push Cherilus to be consistant this year, while providing an option for next year for LT, LG, and RT with some of the contracts on some expiring next year.

    Rating: 3.0/5 (2 votes cast)
  8. By Isphet on Apr 20, 2010

    We have this theory called the 0.9 theory at my workplace. We work with really new computer technology, and when we put experimental, beta test computers together, each component tends to have a 90 percent, or 0.9 chance, or working properly.

    Multiply that chance up in your head for a moment.

    90% chance for the motherboard to work
    90% chance for the graphics card to work
    90% chance for the power supply to work
    90% chance for the RAM to work

    etc. etc. etc. for each component of the computer.

    What that boils down to in the end, is a computer that just doesn’t work. It got 0.9′ed to death.

    This is Ernie Sims for the Lions. He got 0.9′ed to death.

    0.9 – he is returning from injuries
    0.9 – he doesn’t seem to play position well
    0.9 – his cost to performance ratio isn’t where it should be
    0.9 – his contract is up after this year
    0.9 – Dizon was stealing his time on the field

    etc. etc. etc.

    Multiply that all up in your head, and that equals a guy that is only worth a 5th round pick or a pass catching TE + a 7th round pick.

    Ernie got 0.9′ed to death. Even though some of those might be more like a 0.7 or 0.6…

    Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)
  9. By LionWing20 on Apr 20, 2010

    I like the trade at lease we got something in return for a guy who won’t be here next year.

    That being said does anyone know what is happening with C. Campbell? Did he sign or get a early out from the military? If he come on board I see him a a prospect at LB.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  10. By detfan1979 on Apr 20, 2010

    Great Example Isphet! I love it and it fits exactly. It’s also, I think, the reason we were able to get Tony Scheffler and Rob Sims.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  11. By Don on Apr 20, 2010

    I am Very happy about the way that this Team is setting up our offence and our Defence.
    nd as far as the WLB We have at least 2 men on the roster right now that can not only play the position BUT, as far as I’m concerned can do a whole heck of a lot with it.
    Jordan Dizon and Zack Follett.
    Both of these guy’s are ready to take over this position and do a great job with it also.
    Dizon has been Filling in for what? 3 or 4 years now. And he is a great student of the game. I believe that he is ready for the NFL on a more consistant Leval.
    And I also believe that Gunther has Slowed down the CALIfornia LBer Zack Follett.
    He has the ability and the size,speed,and mindset to not only do the job but to do it with a fengance.
    I think that if Zack didn’t need that first year to be put in his place and slowed down a bit and be more of a thinnking LBer, that we would have seen more of him last year at the WLB position.
    Gunther and schwartz know what they are doing and they know players when they have them.BUT,they won’t play them until they believe that they are ready.
    Schwartz did the same thing with Kieth Bullick On the Titans.
    Kieth didn’t get much playing time for his first 3 years because they didn’t consider him ready.
    BUT, When he was ready,well, YOU know the rest.
    Kieth was darn good when he was ready.
    I think it is the same with Dizon and Follett.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

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