Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

As you may have noted, there was no Lions Congregation this week due to the Memorial Day weekend. The panel will return next Friday to answer another one of your questions. If you have one, email it to

I’ll be back to writing regular Football posts next week (I promise – this is the slow time of year, but I will be checking in more regularly going forward than twice weekly). This weekend, I hope everyone takes time out from friends, family, picnics, gatherings, and barbecues to remember what this holiday is all about.

This is a time to remember the sacrifices that Millions of men and women have made in our armed forces to keep our country free and safe. Those that made the ultimate sacrifice, and those like my nephew Joe, who is in Afghanistan with the Army Rangers right now. I would shout out to Joe to stay safe, but I know he would tell me that’s impossible — he is distinctlynot safe so that we can be. (Best of luck Joe, and while I know you’re in danger over there all the time, I still hope and pray you make it home safe and sound when your tour of duty is done.) Thousands of our countrymen and women all around the globe serving in our armed forces sacrifice for us every day – keeping our country strong and safe – some of them making the ultimate sacrifice.

Take a minute or two out of your days this weekend, and celebrate our veterans. We visited a nearby cemetery yesterday with the Little Pink Lions to see my grandfather, great grandfather, and other relatives who served in our country’s defense. (As well as many others) While we were there, the girls stopped at the many graves with flags marking service to our country just to say thank you. And if flowers or wreaths were tipped, or flags had fallen, they would carefully fix them. If flowers needed a little drink, they would water them. It was a great way to teach the kids, and enjoy time together.

Thank you everyone for reading, and I look forward to talking Lions Football with you this season as we get to see the Lions continue their trek back to respectability and competitiveness.

To all the members of our armed forces past and present – THANK YOU!!!

Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

When Healthy….Part 2: The Present

When Healthy….Part 2: The Present

May 25th, 2010 | by detfan1979 |

In part one of this series, I looked at what had happened in regards to the impact of injuries on the long term performance/potential of past Lions players. One plyer I didn’t point out (because he has spent more of his career as a Steeler, much of it injured, was Charlie Batch). Thanks to Ken for emailing and pointing that out. I’m sure that I missed others as well.

Injuries aren’t just for the short term — there are always minor injuries like a tweaked ankle, a pulled hamstring, or a stinger. It is when these injuries begin to pile up, one after and on top of another that players start to be weighed down for the long haul. Did Brian Westbrook of the Eagles ever practice for an entire month his whole career?

The present situation on the Lions has several key players recovering from major injury. Today, I will take a look at the impact (and potential impact) of those injuries; Part 3 will focus on the injuries that could be…

Matthew Stafford: Injuries to his knee and shoulder were definitely bothersome last year, and put the rookie signal caller on IR. Despite his gutsy re-entry into the Browns game to throw the game winner showing he can play through the pain, that doesn’t mean he’ll play his best. Stafford seemed to be improving last season until the injuries seemed to set him back a bit. After a minor knee procedure, and lots of rest and rehab, Stafford appears to be doing as well as ever. However, we won’t know until the hits start coming whether or not his shoulder/knee will hold up. Keep in minds, knees are very important to allow the QB to step into his throws. Also, the non-throwing shoulder is still a concern as when you are throwing, there is often reactive force to help velocity (one forward, one back) and pain there can cause accuracy issues. Stafford needs to come back totally healthy from all of these. Considering they were more painful than damaging long term, I think the prospects are good for a full recovery.

Kevin Smith: ACL’s are tricky things, and the recovery time typical of the injury means that, at best, Smith won’t be back to 100% or near it until at least halfway through the season. Smith never depended on his overall speed (so if he is slowed a little by this injury long term, it is not a big impact on his game). Smith is a tough runner, good hands out of the backfield, and an above average blocker – when healthy. He seems to have the mindset that tells me he won’t let this stay on his mind and still run 100%. Let’s not forget, however, that he also had problems with both shoulders last season as well. The cumulative effect on him may not be pretty. No matter how you slice it and dice it, I can’t see Smith having a big impact this season — and the Lions may be cautious and start him on PUP — we just don’t know. As it stands, I would hazard the running back tandem is Mourice Morris and Jahvid Best.

Brandon Pettigrew: On route to a record rookie year for a TE, his knee injury was a set-back for both him and the team. However, like Smith, speed is NOT the most important factor in his game. Pettigrew had the same injury – other knee – when he was younger. Pettigrews game is about a combination of being a great blocker, and being able to position his body for tough catches over the middle for first downs. He never was a stretch the field kind of player, but more of a solid safety valve. IF he can fully rehab this injury as he did in the past, he shoudl be able to pick up where he left off.

Ko Simpson: Ko had micro-fracture surgery this ifseason, and will not be back on the field for some time. This definitely hurts his chances in the Safety Derby for the starting spot next to Delmas. Simpson showed flashes of good – and flashes of awful – last season. He’ll need a quick rehab and solid camp to make an impact for the Lions this year.

Daniel Bullocks: Daniel is close to the definition of “when healthy” for this Lions teams. He showed flashes early in his career of being a solid (not spectacular) safety. Then his knee injury lingered, and he had another injury and surgery to top it all off. He’s had close to a year to rehab, and this is his last shot to make the Lions roster. Even more so than Simpson, Bullocks will need to have a strong camp and show coaches that he still has what it takes to be a starting Safety — or at least solid depth — in the NFL. As one of the few Millen picks left standing, it would be nice to see him pan out and contribute to the Lions after half his career has been spent on IR. Will he be an impact player, depth, cut? Good questions to which I do not have answers.

Jack Williams: He is also coming off an ACL and was brought in from Denver. He theoretically has good potential in the defensive backfield, but I haven’t seen enough on him to know. Seems more of a project than an impact this season.

Tony Scheffler: He currently is sidelined with a boot on his foot. The same foot that gave him trouble in Denver. While his lack of blocking/fit in the McDaniels offense was one reason the Broncos wanted to offload him, injuries were the other. He has been dogged by minor foot injuries his entire career. Still, even in 12-14 games next season he could make a major impact on the passing — especially with Pettigrew rehabbing — IF healthy.

Jared DeVries: After a sever injury cut his season off before it ever got started, DeVries has rehabbed his way back on the team — for now. His veteran pass rush on the Dline was missed sorely last year. Now with KVB and the improved line, is there still a place for him if healthy? Possibly — but more as a mentor and stopgap for younger players. Depending on how Avril, McBride, and Hunter play this season DeVries has one or two more years at best in a Lions uniform — and if they step up enough in camp, possibly zero? I see him making in impact as a solid veteran/rotation/depth guy this season, but there are still many questions at the end position and only some of them lie in Jared’s health.

Any others I missed? What are your thoughts on the recovering Lions? Look for thoughts on injuries and the future in Part 3 of the series.

Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)
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2 Responses to “When Healthy….Part 2: The Present”

  1. By NetRat on May 27, 2010

    On DeVries.

    Last year, he won the starting job at DE. I believe that he will do so again. Now, he is getting up there in age, so he will be heavy in the rotation with Hunter and they will both be getting work in, but I by no means predict that DeVries is merely a backup or about to be cut.

    I predict KVB rotating with Avril on one side, and DeVries rotating with Hunter on the other, and so far, nothing in the OTA’s has made me second guess myself.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  2. By detfan1979 on May 30, 2010

    I agree that he did win it. I’m just hoping that one of the younger guys really steps it up. Devries would still be used in heavy rotation IMO if he wins the starting job again, just as KVB will. That being said, if he performs as well as he did pre injury, it will be up to one of the youngsters to surpass him and take the job away. The potential is there, but will it be realized?

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lions Congregation: Secondary Thoughts

Lions Congregation: Secondary Thoughts

Friday, May 21st, 2010

The Lions Congregation this week goes back to the mailbag again – this time, with a question regarding the secondary. Do you have a question or thoughts you would like to see panel talk about or answer? Email

The Panel:

Al of the Wayne Fontes Experience
Blades Boyd formerly of The Curch of Schwartz
NetRat of The
Joshua (DetFan1979) of Roar of the Lions

1. Reader N. Jackson asks: I’ve heard it takes 3 years for defensive backs to hit their stride. any chance we see Houston and Wade take their game to the next level? They both seem hungry enough and willing to put in the work. I know very little about either player. Any insight would be appreciated. On a side note, I think Ko Simpson will be a solid starter next to Delmas if he can stay healthy.

Al: Is there a chance? Sure. There’s always a chance. There’s also a chance there’s a unicorn crapping out sunshine and rainbows in my living room while I write this. Anything’s possible, right?

Both Chris Houston and Jonathan Wade are going into their 4th NFL seasons. In many ways, it’s a make or break season for the cornerback tandem. Both were found wanting by their previous teams, and are getting a fresh start with the Lions…a team desperate for a corners.

Will they step up, given the opportunity? Possibly. They’re definitely a step or 3 up from the stiff of the week the Lions were pulling off the street every Tuesday, and trotting out to play corner the following Sunday. They started for their previous teams for a reason. They were let go for a reason as well.

At the very least, Houston and Wade will add depth to a position that as has none. Literally, none. If anyone is going to shore up the corner position, it’s going to be the 3rd round draft pick out of Iowa, Amari Spivey. I believe his being available in the draft was a big reason why the Lions walked away from Pacman Jones. If Spivey is not starting in September, I’ll be hugely surprised…and so will the Lions.

As for Ko Simpson, he’s just one of a cast of thousands hoping to play next to Louis Delmas this season. He could be a solid starter, but he’s got to beat out Marquand Manuel, C.C. Brown and Daniel Bullocks, all of whom have also started in the NFL, let alone whomever else the Lions decide to bring into camp.

Simpson did show flashes of competence last season before he was injured. But I’m going to have to see lots more from Simpson before I consider him the front runner for the job. I’m guessing Jim Schwartz is starting with a level playing field, whomever has the best camp gets to start next to the best Lions safety since Bennie Blades was destroying receivers and dropping sure interceptions.

What is…Oooh, a rainbow!

Blades: Thanks for the question Jackson. This is a great question because I’m sure it’s something all Lions fans are wondering. In my opinion, Houston has what it takes. Once the Lions sign a free agent I have a bad habit and going back and watching every game they played in the from the past season and Houston reminds me alot of Fernando Bryant mixed in with some Dre Bly. Houston had a couple plays last year where he came up to support the run and just crushed the RB, just like Bryant used to do. He also has some decent cover skills however there were a couple times he took some chances and got burnt deep, just like Bly used to do.
As for Wade, I’m not so sure. He’s real good in a nickel package which is great for us because I really think Spivey can step in and start. As for Ko Simpson, I agree with you. I always liked him when he played for the Bills and if he can stay healthy I think he’ll be real good player opposite of Delmas.

All this being said, there’s little doubt this is the biggest question mark going into the season and if they can pick it up, there’s no reason the Lions can’t win 6 games this year.

NetRat: I’m afraid I’m not going to be of much help on this question. I think that Delmas will improve from his rookie season, and that’ll be fun to watch. I also think that the improved (yep, assuming here) dline will help the secondary regardless who is playing in the secondary. What I do not know is how the new bodies in the secondary will fair in Gunther’s system, nor do I know how they each will fair personally. They could step it up, they could show why they were expendable, they could be mediocre. If the rookie CB drafted by the Lions wins a starting CB job, then I guess we’ll know they (the free agents and traded guys) were just bodies given a chance and that they aren’t good enough to start for the Lions.

I’d love to be all kool-aid and cornbread here, but the truth is, I simply just do not know how it (the secondary) will turn out this year.

DetFan1979: The secondary should be better this year, but it has nothing to do with who is running around back there. Rather, it has to do with who is running around in front of them — the Defensive Line. IF the Dline lives up to it’s potential even halfway with Williams/Suh/Hill at DT and KVB/Hunter/Avril/DeVries/McBride at DE — then the secondary will be better by default since the opposing quarterbacks won’t have a day and a half to throw. Opposing QB’s had over a 106 QB rating on average against the Lions last season, and most of it had to do with a lack of pressure. Most QB’s look good in 7 on 7 drills, which is essentially what the opposing offenses were playing much of last season.

As for the guys themselves, I’m projecting Spievy and Houston to start, with Wade in the nickle and in rotation. How will they do? All three are a mystery at this point. Houston was the epitome of average in Atlanta; even if he maintains that here, it would be welcome to have in a Lions defensive backfield that hovered between cover-your-eyes awful and what do you mean there are CB’s on the field, I don’t see any. Wade never was able to catch into a solid starting role. Rookies are rookies: unknown.

What the Lions did in the secondary this year is pretty much what they did with Williams on the Dline, and Sims on the Oline — get guys cheap that didn’t “fit the system” where they were, but could fit better with what the Lions do. Whether that will happen remains to be seen — it is a question that will not be answered until the season gets underway.

As for Safety, Simpson is coming off microfracture surgery, so Bullocks right now seems to be a contender among many in the “who will be the 2nd starting safety derby.” The Detroit News currently has Delmas and Hefney with the 1’s at Thurday’s OTA, and Bullocks and CC Brown with the 2’s. I expect this to change early and often this ifseason — hopefully, the competition will bring out the best in everyone. Still, there is an “if healthy” issue with both Simpson and Bullocks — the top two contenders — that adds even more uncertainty to the mix.

The secondary is a question that will be unanswerable until at least the preseason, and most likely the regular season. There is just too much uncertainty to predict.

Thank you once again everyone for joining the Lions Congregation — if you have a question, a thought, stories, or opinions on the Lions past and present email us at

Rating: 10.0/10 (7 votes cast)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Healthy… Part 1: The Past

When Healthy… Part 1: The Past

May 19th, 2010 | by detfan1979 |

Landscaping has not been my friend this spring. A month or so back, I rolled my ankle while wheelbarrowing rocks from one place to another. A couple weeks later, I slipped on the hill next to our house while carrying cement block twisted a knee and pulled a Quad. Yes. April was that kind of month. (They were all minor injuries and I’m doing just fine outside of missing a few Taekwondo classes)

This did, however, get me to thinking about health and football players. Jim Schwartz inadvertently said it very bluntly last week when answering questions into the health of Jahvid Best — “When healthy – well, none of these guys are ever the same after they step on the field, but…”

“never the same…”

Isn’t that the truth? Running Backs over 30 are essentially at the end of their career – heck, most RB’s are considered to be good for about 3 – 4 years, depending on the number of carries. The beating that various positions take makes the length of time players can play at a high level vary. Despite these basic NFL wear-and-tear that every player faces, it is the “unforeseen” – injury – that can take a potential star and make them nothing more than a dollar ninja in less than a second.

How many times during every season and ifseason do we hear the words “when healthy” and “if healthy?”

“If healthy player X will be a huge signing for this team’s {insert position of need}.”

“When healthy player X is still one of the best {insert position} out there. “

“If he can stay healthy this season, player X will really bolster {insert team, insert position group}”

The Detroit Lions of the last decade are a hotbed of such notions — those that mistake past performance or potential with post-injury performance and potential. As such, we as Lions fans also tend to over-fear the severity of impact for every injury that a player sustains. (Every sprained ankle is a “career ender” on many Lions forums…until the player comes back fine, or course.)

The Jacksonville Jaguars recently signed Teddy Lehman to “bolster their linebacking corps” and pundits state that “when healthy, Lehman was an impact linebacker for the Lions” and trotted out his rookie year stats. Lehman, however, was never the same after his Lisfranc injury – he lost the speed that his game was predicated on and just looked flat and below average at best ever since. Despite the number of seasons since then to no avail, his addition is being hailed as a positive defensive building block in Jacksonville. Something tells me this may not be the case.

There are other Lions who were supposed to re-energize their career — Kevin Jones (whose constant injuries spawned the phrase “dollar ninja”) in Chicago spent two years on IR before being cut. Despite a brilliant rookie campaign, Kevin Jones spent almost twice as much time on the Injured Reserve List as he ever did on the field. Boss Bailey made a stopover in Denver where is chronically bad knees held him back just as they did in Detroit.

Brian Calhoun never did see any real playing time, or even a chance to show if he had potential to begin with after numerous injuries. We all know how injuries (and other issues) corralled Charles Rogers. Dan Campbell had great potential as a TE – but Detroit wasn’t the only team who paid for him to spend lots of time with the trainer. Casey Fitzsimmons had to call it quits after concussions put a big stop sign in his career — but he suffered other numerous injuries before that. DeWayne White was one of the best overall DE’s on the Lions in recent years — when healthy. Sadly, that wasn’t but a handful of games over the seasons he was here. Just enough to tease us, not enough to make a real impact.

Even last season Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith, Brandon Pettigrew, Ernie Sims, Stephen Peterman, Jared DeVries, Louis Delmas and others battled injuries. To put it in perspective, heading into the playoffs last year the Dallas Cowboys had zero players on the injured reserve — the only team in the league who did not have multiple players on IR. Most teams had at least half a dozen – The Lions many more.

“When/If healthy” is a dangerous phrase to use as a fan (or rely on as a coach/GM) — Because often times, when/if never happens again.

Tomorrow I’ll look at how injury situations are currently on the Lions and what it could mean for the 2010 season.

Rating: 8.5/10 (8 votes cast)
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One Response to “When Healthy… Part 1: The Past”

  1. By JJLions20 on May 23, 2010

    Injuries are part of the NFL. It’s a violent game and injuries are going to occur. It’s the depth and how a team can withstand the injuries that makes a difference. When a team handles it well, people forget that there was an injury crisis at one point in the season. For example, Lets look at the Colts and a team that depends on the Peyton Manning passing attack, which took them all the way to the super bowl. Well does anybody remember what happened on the first play of the regular season. Their #2 receiver (Anthony Gonzalez) goes down with a season ending injury. Who do they have in the reserves… A 2nd year player who had not caught a pass in the NFL, and a rookie receiver from a Division III school. The Colts over came the injury and won plenty of games.

    That’s why this time of the year is called the “IF” Season. So for a short time let’s look at the dark side of the Lions depth chart.

    There is a lot of hype about CJ and Burleson. But what IF one or both of them goes down, who would the Lions rely on. We saw the performance of Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt last season. The best hope may be Derrick Williams because there could be a big improvement in a receivers 2nd season.

    What If Felton goes down. Who plays FB. Well, there is not another one on the roster. Nordin is being given some reps as a FB.

    If Backus goes down the important LT position will be in the hands of John Jansen. Not a bad situation for a couple of games, but not for a long stretch.

    What if Dominic Riola goes down. Gerberry be in that all important Center position. The Lions plugged the hole at LG with Sims. But who is behind him. The same guys that couldn’t do the job last season. There has been much made about how much the line deteriorated when Peterman went down last season. Well the guys behind him are the same guy’s that stepped in last year.

    LB was a strength last year, but with the loss of Foote and Sims, the depth is a little depleted. If Peterson, Levy, or Follett goes down we’re looking at Dizon stepping in.

    We don’t even need to go into the depth of the DB’s.

    If the lions are to win 5 or more games, they will either need to stay fairly healthy, or some of the depth will have to perform a level higher then they did last season.

    The dark-side of the IF season isn’t “IF” they stay Healthy, it’s what you do “IF” they are not healthy. Don’t think that the Lions brass isn’t planning for those situations in the “IF” season.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)