Friday, September 24, 2010

Lions Congregation: Viking Raid!

Lions Congregation: Viking Raid!

Friday, September 24th, 2010

After a busy week off, the Lions Congregation once again returns to the lineup. Now if only Matthew Stafford would return to the Lions lineup all would be better. This week, the Congregation looks at where the Lions are at in the grand scheme, as well as thoughts on the upcoming Vikings game. Have a question or thought for the Panel? Email

The Panel:

Zac of the Sidelion Report
Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience
NetRat of The NetRat Detroit Lions site
Steve of Detroit Lions Weblog
Blades Boyd formerly of The Church of Schwartz
Joshua “DetFan1979″ Pung of Roar of the Lions

Question 1 comes from “Larry” in Ann Arbor: Being the typical mentally unstable Lions fan, I am pretty pleased overall with how the Lions have played and see them as being 1-1 in a season where I thought they’d win 6 games. Am I alone in this?

Zac: I gain some satisfaction in the fact that the things that were supposed to be improved have been and the weaknesses of the team have been the things we expected. It is another sign that the organization is heading in the right direction. They aren’t there yet, but they are on their way. The Millen-era left this team with too many holes to fill so quickly and so Mayhew has upgraded when and where he can. Next year’s draft figures to be heavy on defense with a prospect or two along the offensive line; that is the next step in solidifying the entire team.

Al: We’re ALL unstable, it’s what makes us Lions fans!

Larry, you are not alone. Not at all. You can say the Lions should be 1-1, and have played well for long stretches in both games, and be correct. But in the NFL, moral victories still count as an “L” in the standings. I’m sure the Lions’ coaching staff would agree.

Nothing can change the fact the Lions still lack talent, most noticeably on defensive side of the ball, and lack quality depth pretty much everywhere else. Only two things can fix the talent and depth issues, time and smart drafting.

It’s obvious the Lions are improving, and are on the right track. The problem is getting on the right track is taking longer, and has been made much harder, thanks to Matt Millen leaving the franchise literally devoid of NFL talent.

I said before the season my expectation for the Lions was six wins, with eight being absolute best case scenario…but four wins could be worst case. I think losing Matthew Stafford for much of the 1st half of the season qualifies as a worst case scenario.

The Lions are still a couple of years away from playoff contention, even if they do get to the hoped for six wins. Patience is all we have left as Lions fans. So after 52 years, what’s a couple more?

NetRat: In my blog I predicted the Lions would be 1-1 at this point enroute to a 7-9 season. I didn’t predict the refs/rules taking the game winning TD away though.. nor did I predict that Stafford would be out for a number of games. However, the Lions are painfully, slowly, getting to the point where if one player goes down another can step in and the team can still compete. Unfortunately, at certain positions, neither the original starter or the backup are all that, but you have to field a team and you can’t fix everything wrong with a 0-16 team in just two years. Getting this team back to an “any given Sunday” level of competition was/is challenging enough (after just 2 years). Based on what I’ve seen so far this season, that is exactly where the Lions are at. So no, you are not alone.

Steve: No, Larry, when necessary, we all choose to view the Lions current “progress” as tangible and real. Unfortunately, even with the faint outlines of improvement in their offensive playmaking and with their exciting, and often devastating, defensive front four, it is time to strike up a rousing chorus of “Same Ol’ Lions!”, a Lions fan’s standard.

Blades: Yes, you are. With Stafford out for a couple more weeks it looks like we are stuck with Hill at QB and the more I see from this guy the worse I think he is. He has no arm, he throws an ugly ball and makes bad decisions. I guaranteed the Lions would go 4-12 this season and the more I look at it, the more I think they’ll go 3-13 or 2-12. The defensive backs and LB the Lions have are as bad as advertised and the offense is grossly inconstant. On a bright note, it’s absolutely amazing to watch a Lions game where they aren’t down by 20 in the forth quarter. For the first time in three years I actually watched back to back games from start to finish.

DetFan1979: If you think you’re mentally unstable, you’re just crazy enough to watch the Lions. This panel is so unhinged we not only watch them, we research and write about them on a near daily basis all year long. (And yes. Even my Underarmour is Honolulu Blue.)

As far as your perception of 1-1, I think there are two ways to look at it. In the NFL standings they are 0-2. Period. Not Changing. However, we’re looking at improvement not NFL games yanked by the refs at the last instant on a BS interpretation of rule that can somehow mandates a need to calmly hand the ball to the ref after attesting to the TD by signing in triplicate a 72 page form while avoiding being knocked unconscious by the DB who is trying to take the ball away from you before you’re done and take it the other way for a score… {breathe. breathe. breathe.}

Seriously though, here is how I’m looking at it. Week one was a win everywhere but the NFL stats book — so for the sake of evaluating the team, I count that as a win. Now, week 2 is totally different. That was a typical NCMV (Near Comeback Moral Victory) game that really just means the team screwed up and lost a close game. But they still lost. We’ve had enough of that over the years thank you very much. So yes, I see them as 1-1 from an evaluation standpoint.

In the bigger picture I see where the units that were improved are noticeably better (backup QB, running back, TE, Defensive line) and the areas that weren’t addressed are still awful (the back 7) and the rest is still mediocre. This is a huge form of progress as those areas that are being improved are staying that way — showing a path to competitiveness in the next couple of years.

Question 2: Favre and the Vikings are playing just plain Lions 2006 awful football right now. Will the Lions finally get that elusive road win this week in Minnesota, or will the Vikings use the Lions to “get better” as they have so many times in the past?

Zac: My gut tells me that he Vikings will use this as a “get better” game but I’m not completely writing the Lions off yet. I told a couple Vikings friends of mine that something just didn’t seem right with the Vikings this year. They had a lot of drama leading into last year too but this year felt like a whole new level of dysfunction. If that truly is the case and Favre’s mobility is really as limited as it appears then the Lions might be able to steal the game. Even if Favre’s bum ankle is barking, I wouldn’t put it past him to use his quick release and knowledge of the offense to pick the Lions apart and neutralize their pass rush. The good news is that the Vikings will have to do more than simply show up to get their first win of the season.

Al: I honestly can’t say I believe the Lions will win on the road, not even against a struggling Vikings team quarterbacked by a septuagenarian diva. I’d feel much better about the Lions chances if Matthew Stafford were under center, or if Shaun Hill would throw a pass longer than five yards, or even look at to Calvin “I should be targeted 15 times a game” Johnson.

The Vikings have talent on offense, even if Brett Favre’s facade of being a good quarterback at 40 yars of age is cracking, and doing so quickly. There’s still Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe, all players who can gash the Lions’ porous defense…especially the inconsistent, talent lacking back seven. But if the Lions lone strength on defense, the front four, can pressure the mistake prone Favre into making bad throws, anything can happen…especially if the secondary can hold on to sure interceptions, instead of dropping them as if ball was was infected with canceraids.

Defensively, this is still the same team that was an OT away from the Super Bowl. They’ve only given up 28 points in two games, one of those teams being the Super Bowl champion Saints. The Vikings may have issues on offense, but are still a good team on defense.

Can the Lions win? Sure, the Vikings do have problems, and coach Brad Childress is on thin ice, for good reason.

Will the Lions win? Not happening this week. This game is being pushed as a must-win game in Minnesota. Their entire season is riding on the game, and they will play like it. The Lions are already playing for next year and beyond. That’s the difference between having a 40 year old quarterback under center, and a 22 year old one.

NetRat: With Favre and the Vikings anything is possible. There is one thing going for the Lions in this next game however… and that’s that Favre is no Vick. Meaning he isn’t as young, isn’t as mobile, isn’t as healthy and isn’t likely to handle the pounding he’s about to get (Lions are tied for 1st in the league with 10 sacks). Now if the Vikings keep Favre clean then it could easily swing into an ugly game (for the Lions). However, if the Lions can “bring it”… Favre may end up retired without having to worry about his deciding when.

Steve: This question makes my stomach churn because, quite obviously, we all intuitively know the answer. Haven’t you seen the Levi’s ads? Hasn’t the preceding years (and years) of John Madden’s Whitman-esque, and barely concealed man love for all things “Brett” conditioned us for what is likely to occur this Sunday?

Blades: The Vikes will win by ten. The difference is it won’t be Favre that beats them. I think AP will have a career day on the ground and the defence will pretty much destroy Hill. I can’t see our first win coming until we play the Rams in a few weeks but even they aren’t playing bad ball right now. My dream is that I watch Suh come in hard off the edge in a stunt and hit Favre so hard from behind that his neck snaps back and his head literally falls off. That’s how much I hate Favre. Favre the player and Favre the person. Keep in mind, this is still “training camp” for the Vikes because it takes some time to get in game shape for Favre. This weeks game will be like the regular season opener for him.

DetFan1979: It should be a knock-down drag out affair once again for the Lions. In the end, the Lions offense without Stafford isn’t quite as aggressive so points will come difficult against the Vikings D. On defense, Favre gets rid of the ball much faster than Vick so the Lions DB’s will have to step up and take advantage of those Brett Favre hurried throws that are miracles or INT’s. I don’t have confidence they have the talent to do so. I also am not confident the Linebackers as a unit will be able to stop the run from getting to the second level. These Lions aren’t good enough to win very many fights yet, but they sure are going to let you know you were in one.

Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast)

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