Friday, November 5, 2010

Lions Congregation: Spievey, Owen, and the Jets

Welcome back to the Lions Congregation -- and welcome back to my new/old home for blogging.  This week, the panel looks again to your questions while discussing Amari Spievey, O-16 for the Bills? and a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  (Please excuse any formatting issues as I get into the hang of my new digs.  Thanks!)

The Panel:

Steve of Detroit Lions Weblog
Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience
NetRat of The Net Rat Detroit Lions Site
Phil Zaroo of
Zac of the Sidelion Report
Blades Boyd formerly of the Church of Schwartz
Joshua Pung - DetFan1979

Have a question or topic you want to see answered/discussed?  Email

Flapshak56 asks:  Is Amari Spievey going to break out of his bust status by taking a hold on the safety spot across from Delmas or totally flame out?

Steve:  I believe that Amari Spievey, like most rookies, will show both signs of future excellence and fuel the fears of his eventual flame out, often in the course of a few brief plays.

Spievey has looked good in limited playing time, but he was also burned deep shortly after he entered last week's game, by Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong.

He is better suited for playing coverage where he doesn't have to turn his back to the QB, something he won't be asked to do often while playing safety.  He seems fearless in run support and he does appear to have considerable talent.

That being said, opponents, starting with the Jets this Sunday, are going to attempt to run the ball effectively, pulling Spievey forward, closer to the line of scrimmage, in hopes of being able to beat him with play action passes over the top, catching him unprepared.

Teams will also look to try and create scenarios where he is matched up in man coverage, rather than playing in the two-deep zone.  In this situation, his coverage skills will be routinely put to the test by opponents.

Ultimately, Spievey will do his best.  The Lions will likely do what they can to protect him in their coverages, but the time will eventually come for him to answer the call and face the challenges that he will be presented with.  It remains to be seen how well he will be able to handle them, until then.

Al: With C.C. Brown injuring his knee, Spievey better break out, because he's starting on Sunday. Spivey will make a play. But he'll also find himself out of position an making the wrong read. At this point of his young career, it's hard to think of Spivey as anything other than a defensive liability.
It's too early to think Spivey will ultimately flame out. But the Lions did him no favors by waiting well into training camp before moving the former cornerback to safety.
The rookie out of Iowa has shown flashes, but Spivey is being force fed a new position and learning on the job at the highest level. It's too much to ask of a 1st year player. The Lions need Spivey to play well at safety now, but he's realistically a year away.
NetRat:  Flapshak56, Amari Spievey went through his first NFL camp as a cornerback then got switched to Safety.  He needs a training camp at Safety and time to learn his new position.  It might not be until half way through next season before we know if he has any chance at being a competent Safety and it may another year before he's actually "there".   For myself, the bust label doesn't  come out for him until the middle of the 2012 season (it's not unusual for 3rd round picks to take a few years to learn without a position change).

Phil:  Sweet Jemimah. Is this how impatient we've become? A third-round draft pick contribute much to the Lions by the seventh game of the season, and he's a bust? Sorry to be Johnny Party Pooper, but I'm not playing that game. There's so much evidence of players showing their worth AFTER the first seven lousy games of their NFL careers that I cannot justify that with a response.

Now, if you tweak the question by removing the "bust status," it's farily reasonable, but still a crap shoot. Give him a chance to see the field as a starter against the Jets, and then we can at least have a kernel of experience to base our judgment on. (P.S. Even then, I wouldn't recommend it.)

According to Gunther Cunningham, Spievey's struggles are with fully grasping the defense. Otherwise, he's got the skills and presence to help out the Lions. But if you're trying to predict his entire career, as well as his worth as a human being -- all from less than half a season -- it'll probably be an exercise in futility.

Zac:  My how quick we are to throw around the bust label! It would be nice to see Spievey grab the safety spot opposite of Delmas and never let go of it but that might be expecting a bit much at this point. The Lions haven't exactly put Amari in a position to succeed by waiting so long to switch him to safety and Spievey's injuries during training camp certainly didn't help. This one player development situation to watch but it is too early to talk about flaming out.

Blades:  I think Spievey will keep doing what he has been doing this season which is come up and stop the run (the kid can hit) and play ok in pass coverage. He'll continue to get burned but if he can improve his pass coverage, he will be a darn good safety opposite of Delmas. Again, this kid can hit like a mach truck and believe it or not he does have some pretty good ball skills looking back to his college days. He's been hampered by injury and I think he's just getting into game shape and hopefully we can see some more steps in a positive direction from him!!!

DetFan1979:  There once was this 2nd round pick in Denver.  He was a DB.  The team decided he was a bust after just one season and traded him to another team for a late round TE from the same draft.  Now he has 4 picks in 5 games and is blossoming into a talented starting caliber cornerback.  Name: Alphonso Smith. 

Because of how bad the talent level has been, we Lions fans keep expecting third rounders to come in and start and be better than any other player on the team at that position.  In reality, if that is happening your team is not in a good place.  Most of the time, 3rd rounders should be contributing fairly quickly but not expected to start out the gate.  That is, on normal teams with normal talent and depth.  

Assuming Mayhew keeps drafting as well as it seems he has been, then Lions draft picks will soon be fighting for spots on the team, much less starting immediately.  We will have to get used to really taking three years to evaluate a draft instead of just paying it lip service.  

As for Spievey, I thought his skill set sounded more like that of a solid NFL safety than CB, and apparently the coaches agree.  Give him time to learn the new position and then see.  

Owenxvibills asks:  Do you think the Bills have a shot at joining the Lions in infamy, or will they win a game this season?

Steve:  0-7 is a respectably poor start, when compared the majestically bad 0-16 Lions of two short seasons ago.  The Bills have a small chance to reach 0-16, but I believe that they have played too well of late to eventually find infamy.

The Lions 24-game road losing streak makes them ripe targets for the Bills first 2010 victory.  The Lions appear to be building towards respectability, so the Bills games looms large for them, too.  Winning any road game, would indicate that substantive changes have been made in the Lions organization, at this point.

The Bills play in a really tough division and they will certainly have the Lions game highlighted as one to attempt to give an "A" effort, so that they might gain their first victory of the season.

Assuming that they don't knock off the Bears at home this Sunday, the Lions/Bills game could be the Bills last legitimate chance for a victory, until they play the Browns Dec. 12th, which would make them 0-11, entering that game.

For the Bills and their fans sake, I hope that they don't go 0-16.  Conversely, I will be really pissed if they defeat the Lions in two weeks, as well.

Al:  I'm scared to death the Bills' first victory will be against the Lions...because that's what the Lions traditionally do. Lose to teams they should beat.
Honestly, the Bills will end up winning a game or two. It almost impossible for an NFL team to lose every game. Which is why it's only happened every few generations. The Lions 0-16 in 2008 and the Buccaneers 0-14  in 1976. The Bills are bad, but they aren't historically bad. They aren't an exhibition team like the Bucs, or a team run by the worst GM in professional sports history.There is some competence in Buffalo. Not much, but some. The '08 Lions and '76 Bucs couldn't say the same.
The Bill will win a game...I only hope, Hope, HOPE that win doesn't come when playing the Lions. 
NetRat:  Owenxvibills, the Bills have great offensive numbers now that they settled on a QB.  The problem is they play good to great defenses for most of the year.  Unfortunately, I don't think they steel the 0-16 title this year.  Barring injury to their QB of course.  I foresee them taking the Bengals game, with the possibility of the Bears game next week as well.  I do wonder who they have their eye on at #1 in the 2011 draft though.

Phil:  I would've said this would be impossible, but how can you after it's been done once. I don't think it's going to happen as they've shown a little more pop in their offense recently. And they just picked up Shawn Merriman, though he has a lot to prove in order to be considered a difference maker.

Buffalo still has games against the Bears, Lions, Bengals, Vikings and Browns -- all are arguably winnable. (Is it possible that the Lions are the toughest of the bunch?!) I think the Bills can catch someone on an off week. Then again, I thought the 2008 Lions would too...

Zac: There is a chance the Bills could match the Lions' 0-16 feat but chances are better against that happening. Their two consecutive overtime losses will lead to one of two outcomes: either the Bills will realize how close they have been to a win and breakthrough eventually or they will become demoralized and struggle the rest of the season. If they do find a way to win a game let's just hope it isn't their date with the Lions.

Blades:  Funny thing you ask this because I actually was wondering the same thing today so I looked at their remaining schedule and they have quite a few winnable games. Most notably against the Lions, Browns and Bears this week in T.O. No team will go 0-16 again in my opinion. The Lions found ways to lose games and should've actually finished with two or three wins that season. The Bills have four-four winnable games left and they will not go 0-16 although lord knows I'd love to see it. 

DetFan1979:  The Bills have been playing teams very close and face many imploding teams -- including the Bears this week and the Browns.  Plus, the Lions have a road game there.  The opportunities will present for the Bills to steal one, just like St. Louis did against the Lions last year.  However, with the inventive lionesque ways they have been finding to lose, anything is possible. 

Tim H. asks:  what will it take before the Lions earn some respect from opposing teams?  Seems like the Jets feel they will walk in and come out with an easy win.  What are your thoughts on how they match up?  I feel like the Lions have a great chance for another solid win.

Steve:  I believe that Sunday's Lions/Jets game will be close, maybe closer than some fans may think.   Opponents have been conditioned by several years of Lions failure to expect the worse that the NFL has to offer while facing them.

This season, the Lions have gone a long ways toward reclaiming some modicum of respect.  That being said, they are one exceedingly poor game away from drawing the ire and disappointment of their growing fan base.

In the case of the Jets game, the Lions offense is going to face a staunch defensive challenge.   The Jets 3-4 defense plays a fierce, chest-pounding brand of football, similar to the Ravens and Steelers.  The Lions will have their hands full.

Defensively, the Lions success hinges upon limiting the Jets rushing attack.  The more brief the Jets time of possession, assuming the Lions don't allow numerous 30-40 yard explosion plays (or longer), the better.

The recent return of Matthew Stafford figures heavily. There will be a lot of discussion about the top two QB's drafted in the 2009 draft, Stafford and Mark Sanchez, playing against each other.

The Lions will be playing in front of a sold out Ford Field crowd, where Lions fans haven't been this psyched about the team since the Lions devastating 2007 blow out of the Broncos, on their way to an improbable 6-2 start.

Sunday's game will go a long ways towards preventing another rapid decline like the one the Lions experienced during the second half of 2007.  I am not confident that the Lions will win, but I am nearly certain that they will acquit themselves well, and play at a level that makes the Jets have to work for their victory.

Should the Lions eventually win, the Lions fan base will be whipped into a frenzied froth of excitement and anticipation, which will capture their hearts and minds with the thoughts of a sustained second half run of victories.

Al:  What will it take to gain respect from opponents (and for that matter, opposing fans, national and local media, and, well, Lions fans)? Three words. Win games, period.. Four more words. Win on the road. Two more words. Win consistently.
Till at least some of the above happens, we'll continue to see coaches like the Jet's Rex Ryan talking a big game. As to what the Lions should do about it? Winning is the best revenge. Revenge is also best served cold....but the Lions play indoors, so let's stick to winning.
Sunday is going to turn into a matchup between a pair of immovable objects. The Lions' high scoring offense versus the Jets' Rex Ryan approved defense. So what I'm saying is the game may come down to the Lions' inconsistent and depth free defense versus the Jets' ugly offense. But the Lions may have the best unit on the field with their rebuilt and re-energized defensive line.
So I'm saying, there is hope. I agree, the Lions do have a great chance at a win...but see my first paragraph. I still don't have full confidence in the Lions, because they've proven they can't win games, win on the road, or win consistently.
It's been far too long since the Lions have beaten a legit NFL playoff contender(and no, the Rams aren't legit, they play in an awful division). Beat the Jets, and I'll be more than excited for the Lions' future. I'll gain a great deal of respect for the Lions.
NetRat:  Tim H., the Lions have two chances to earn respect this month.  The first is outscoring the Jets this Sunday, and the other is their only Nationally televised game of the season, Thanksgiving Day.  It's won't be easy, in fact, it'll be downright hard, but the Lions are poised to be able to inflict the pain needed to win either or both of those games.  That would do the trick.  Keeping it close helps, but winning settles it.  They'd be named "a team truly on the rise"... for at least a whole week, maybe more.  ;-)

Zac:  Funny thing you ask this because I actually was wondering the same thing today so I looked at their remaining schedule and they have quite a few winnable games. Most notably against the Lions, Browns and Bears this week in T.O. No team will go 0-16 again in my opinion. The Lions found ways to lose games and should've actually finished with two or three wins that season. The Bills have four-four winnable games left and they will not go 0-16 although lord knows I'd love to see it. 

Blades:  The Lions will get ZERO respect until they earn it. A couple wins doesn't earn respect in this league. As for the match up, I hate it in every sense of the word. This game is 100% on the defence to hold the Jets to less then 10 points. As a group, the Jets DB's are MUCH, MUCH better then the Lions WR's. It's tough to admit but it's true. Revis is better then CJ and Cromartie is better MUCH, MUCH better then any of the Lions other WR's.(keep in mind, Revis is now healthy after being hurt the last few weeks) I don't expect much this week from those guys which means the Lions will need to find a way to run the ball but the problem with that is the Jets have one of the best run defences in the league. Mark Sanchez shouldn't beat anyone so the game plan should be to stop the run and hope they force Sanchez to blow it. Basically, do exactly what the Packers did last week against the Jets. Final score Jets 24-Lions 10

DetFan1979:  Win.  Consistently.  Against teams good and bad.  The Jets game should be hard fought and either team could pull out the win.

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