Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lions Congregation: Of Peterman and Wins

Lions Congregation: Of Peterman and Wins

This week, the Lions Congregation gathers in the shadows of Ford Field to look over your questions once again.  Stephen Peterman and expectations for wins are on the docket today.
The Panel:
From Najacks00: Has Stephen Peterman’s foot injury been more serious than we’ve been told? It seems he’s getting pushed around more this year than in the past. If that’s the case will he get healthy during the bye? Will that help the run game get going?
Al: We wouldn’t know either way about Peterman’s foot issue, as the Lions hold injury information tighter to their chest than a too small vest is on a fat man. But you’re right, Peterman has not played well, or for that matter, smart. He has committed some of the dumbest, most costly penalties on the Lions’ roster. Let’s hope the bye has allowed Peterman to both freshen up health-wise, and push a reset button on his season.
But it’s more than just a struggling Peterman holding the running game back. Matthew Stafford’s shoulder injury, Jahvid Best battling turf toe, Kevin Smith not being fully recovered from his ACL injury, and the Lions playing from behind far too often, have all played a big part in stifling the rushing attack.
But there is a stat line that should give you hope. Best has 31 catches for 231 yards, almost all on quick, short routes coming out of the backfield. Most of those catches could be considered long handoffs, a way to get Best the ball in space.
But I think the bye week will do wonders for the Lions running game. Stafford will be back, not allowing defenses to key as much on Best. Best should be that much healthier, as will Kevin Smith. And most importantly, the schedule gets far easier.
It all adds up to a more effective running game in the final ten games…health and scheme willing.
Steve: I don’t believe that you can honestly assess the play of an individual offensive line player, outside of the production of the unit as a whole. Before taking a closer look at Peterman, let’s look at some of the team’s stats.
The Lions offensive line has allowed only 11 sacks in eight games. The Lions are also averaging 24.3 pts/gm, which ranks them 11th in the league. These stats would seem to be indicate that the Lions offensive line has performed respectably.
That being said, the Lions are only averaging 3.5 yds/carry and are averaging 79 yards rushing/gm, which ranks them 31st in the league. This is not so good.
The Lions offensive line has been the source of debate for several years now. The play of Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus, and the absence of a dependable left guard (prior to Rob Sims) have all stirred up alot of debate among the Lions fan base. In the past, Peterman had been regarded as one of the more dependable players along the Lions offensive line.
This season, Peterman’s injury has definitely limited him, effecting his play. We have no way of knowing exactly the severity of the injury.
Ultimately, if the Lions are going to eventually experience any post-bye week success, they will have to be able run with the ball much better than they have thus far and they will have to be able to protect Matthew Stafford. Until further notice, Peterman will play a large part in this potential success. Hopefully, the bye week has helped Peterman to recover to near full strength.
Zac: With the way the Lions closely guard all injury information it is impossible to know just how much Stephen Peterman’s foot might be affecting him now. We could single out Peterman but I don’t know if it is really warranted. Each member of the offensive line has had his good and bad moments. They will have to perform more consistently as a unit to help out the running game.
Michael: Peterman may still be hampered by some soreness, but the team wouldn’t have him out there (nor would he want to be out there) if it were that serious. Peterman was underrated when no one was talking about him, now that everyone expects something…he is overrated! Outside of the penalties (which is a mental, not a physical error) Peterman has been pretty much the same player he’s always been. Hopefully, moving forward, his communication with Cherilus and Raiola will improve and the Lions will feel more comfortable to that side. The most important factor though is removing those penalties!
NetRat: Najacks00, Peterman probably needs another off season to fully heal. I too think it’s more serious then they let on but he’s still playing better then the backups (so far). Of course, he had a year off so he’s rusty… and this system was installed last year when he went out so he hasn’t much experience in it…. and I don’t think that the run game is that far off from what they want, they are after speed more then power after all. It’s the short yardage stuff they have no answer for and that’s because Raiola is not a short yardage center, never has been. Right now I’d say that Best’s two turf toes (one per foot) is more of a problem for the run game then Peterman.
DetFan1979: Information Security in Allen Park during the Millen years was looser than the slots at a Casino grand opening. Mayhew holds information tighter than Batman’s underoos. So as far as inside information I’m not going there. However, just watching him play it’s been clear that he isn’t up to the dominating form we were seeing last season before he went out injured. Rob Sims has looked pretty good though.
Overall, I would say the weaker arm of Shaun Hill and the two turf toes suffered by Best combined with Kevin Smith not being at 100% has also had a major impact. The Lions have picked up more 3rd and short than they have in the past by far. Could they get better? They will have to. I think Peterman and Best both will need a full ifseason to fully heal (along with others like Levy and Delmas) but that after some rest up on the bye week will look a lot better against Washington than they have been the last couple of weeks.
From DesertLion85: Assuming the Lions can stay healthy, what is a reasonable expectation of second half wins – especially since with Romo out Dallas looks beatable with Kitna under center. Is 5-5 too much to expect?
Al: It’s not too much to expect, nor is it unreasonable. But it definitely is on the high side of expectations. Don’t lose hope though, as there are a few things in the Lions’ favor that might get them those five victories.
1. The back end of the schedule eases up considerably, as it was front-loaded with road games and better teams.
2. The Lions have six home games in their ten game closing stretch.
3. Not that the home games are against cupcakes, but the Lions do tend to play much better at Ford Field than on the road (DUH!).
4. The NFC Central has turned out to not be nearly as good as was first thought.
5. Best of all for the Lions’ chances, they have already played all their divisional road games.
But if the Lions are going to win five more games from here on out, they must win a game on the road. As their next two road matchups are against the winless Bills and the one win Cowboys, the time has come for the Lions to end their NFL record road losing streak.
So five wins is not out of the question. But…there’s always a “but” with this franchise…until the Lions prove they can win the occasional road game, I wouldn’t count on it.
Five victories is best case scenario, and how often do the Lions have a best case scenario? Now three wins? That I can get behind.
Zac: Is a 5-5 finish too much to expect? Yes. Is 5-5 possible? Also yes. I agree with those that say the Lions need to start winning games to show that they truly are making progress. The total number isn’t as important to me as they way they get them. I would love to see the Lions win a game on the road, a low scoring game, and a game against a superior opponent. If that makes for only three more wins the so be it.
Steve: The Lions NEED to win 4-5 games in their next 10, to demonstrate that their organization is definitely moving forward. They have played just well enough to lose in their first six games, which even if it provides hopeful optimism, is not good enough in a results-oriented business.
Of their 10 remaining games, eight of them appear to be nominally winnable. Their home game, this Sunday, against Washington would appear to be pivotal, since starting with a home win could springboard them into some success.
After a tough home game against the Jets, the Lions will go on the road to face the Cowboys and Bills, two teams that the Lions should have a legitimate chance of beating, despite a 24-game road losing streak.
After the two consecutive road games, the Lions come home for Thanksgiving to play New England. In their last five games, they play all of their divisional foes at home and play two warm weather games in Florida, against Tampa Bay and Miami.
Other than the Jets and New England, which are home games, all of the Lions remaining games should be close, especially considering their performance in their first six games.
Let’s say they begin 3-1 in their first four games after the bye, making their record 4-6 going into their annual Thanksgiving game. This would likely place them improbably in playoff contention within the topsy turvy NFL North. The season then begins to take on a whole new and different appearance from that point forward.
That being said, this is the Lions and they have yet to establish that they can actually win in any close game this season. It will require them taking some awfully big steps forward in order for the Lions to win four or five games after the break, but ones that are necessary to take, if they are ever going to emerge from the NFL basement.
Michael: With such hard road schedule in the first half and a much more manageable schedule (and a healthy team) going into the second half, 5-5 isn’t “too much” to expect but it might be a little lofty. Dallas and Washington are beatable and the Lions SHOULD be able to take 2 out of 3 home games from the NFC North teams coming to Ford Field. Then again, home field doesn’t mean much when Ford Field is empty! If the Lions get 4 more wins over the rest of the season, fans shouldn’t be too concerned, this is still a rebuilding team.
NetRat: DesertLion85, the Lions are not automatically out of any game remaining on the schedule. Sure they’ll have to not hurt themselves to win, but they can do that if they remain focused. Whether or not they can remain focused and in which games is the question. Sometimes it’s easier to remain focuses when you play a harder to beat team… sometimes. Health will also play a huge role in wins, both for the Lions and for the opponent. I remain in the opinion that the youth on the team are in a “learn as you play” mode and will get better as the season goes on… as well as make errors in which to learn from as they go on… so my best estimate right now is 4 to 6 more wins this year.
DetFan1979: The Lions have been competitive all along, and I expect them to keep that up.  They have a fairly favorable schedule going forward.  While 5 wins could easily be possible if the team stays healthy and plays smart, I think at least 3 more should be expected.
Have a question or topic for the panel?  email

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blogger Blitz: Washington at Detroit

Blogger Blitz: Washington at Detroit

October 28th, 2010 | by detfan1979 |
I traded questions with Ryan who covers the Redskins for — my questions with his answers are first, followed by my responses to his inquiries.
DetFan1979: What is your take on the Washington Redskins so far this season?Ryan: Better than expected. They haven’t earned much in regards to style points, but have found ways to win. The offense needs some work, a lot in fact. McNabb could be more accurate. The defense could give up fewer yards, but the intangible for winning is never to be discredited. I’d rather have a 4-3 team winning squeakers than a 1-5 team scoring tons of points.
DetFan1979:  Who is your offensive and defensive MVP so far?Ryan:  Offensive MVP would have to be Santana Moss. He is top receiver this year based on his stats and he continued to be the go-to guy for Donovan McNabb.
The defensive MVP would be Laron Landry. He has significantly improved his game and has been effected in his natural position at strong safety.
DetFan1979:  Do you think Haynesworth will continue at the high level of play he showed against the Bears, or go back to same old same old?Ryan:  I personally think he will get better week to week. The reason he played well this past Sunday was the coaching staff allowed him to be himself and he caused the disruptions we all expected him to create. He came mostly on 3 downs and passing situations, but when he was in immediate impacts were made.
DetFan1979: What concerns you about this Lions team the most?Ryan:  Their youth and talent. They have a good team on paper despite what the record says. They could have won a few games here and there (i.e. the Bears game) but for the most part they played hard and hung in there. They have also been able to score some points so that is something to watch out for.
DetFan1979:   How confident are you that Redskins can come to Ford Field and come away with a win?
  Normally I would predict this as a loss, but the Rams already took away “gimme-win of death” the Redskins face every year. I feel the Redskins should win, but the Lions will make it tough.
DetFan1979:  Do you feel McNabb has been the game-changer Washington was hoping for and how will he handle the Detroit pass rush?Ryan:  McNabb can be a game changer but it will be based off the way the line plays. Against the Bears McNabb felt pressure but was only sacked one. He was however pressured into making bad throws, and that came with a price (two picks). I think Detroit has good defensive line. Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams, and Cliff Avril will be a challenge. However, I do not consider them in the class of a Dallas, Philadelphia, Green Bay or Indianapolis. With pass rushers such as DeMarcus Ware, Clay Matthews, DeMario Williams, Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeny, and Julius Peppers already getting their shot at this offensive line, I think they should be ready. The Lions pass rush will win some battles, but they will not dictate the pace of the Redskins offensive game. {I disagree about the Lions not being in their “class” in pass rushing.  As per Football Outsiders the teams listed rank as follows in pass rush: Eagles 4th ranked, 21 sacks; Green Bay 7th ranked, 22 sacks; Detroit 10th ranked, 16 sacks; Dallas 17th ranked, 13 sacks; Indianapolis 21st ranked, 11 sacks.  Detroit is in the middle of that class — to the better end.  As for rushing defense rank, well…that is a totally different story.  ~ DF79}
DetFan1979:  Both teams have been in close games this year, the difference being Washington winning a couple of theirs. If this game comes down to a 17-13 winner, who will it be?Ryan:  Washington, that is their game, and that is the kind of game they win. (vs. Dal 13-7, Phil 17-12, GB 16-13, Chi 17-14).
To be fair, if the game goes into the 20’s I sense the Lions did their part and the Skins ended up having to catch up. A game I see the Lions winning is a 24-20 game.
But I will go with 17-13, Skins.
Here is my email interview with Ryan that you can find over at Paint it Redskins:
Ryan:  What is your take on the Detroit Lions so far this season?DetFan1979:  The Detroit Lions are a team that has performed admirably under adversity while simultaneously shooting itself in the foot. The Lions played the Giants, for example, with their 3rd string QB and Calvin Johnson nursing an injured shoulder, and down to their 4th string MLB and 3rd String OLB (the 2nd string OLB was filling in at MLB). Injuries have been devastating thus far. HOWEVER – The Lions had chances to solidly win every game but the one at Minnesota and repeatedly committed stupid penalties at the worst time. Stupid personal fouls, offsides, late hits – usually on 3rd and long, or first and goal. Situationally at the worst time possible. Just plain dumb penalties cost them winnable games against the Giants and Eagles.
Ryan:  Who is your offensive and defensive MVP so far?DetFan1979:  Offensively, Shaun Hill stepping in for Matthew Stafford comes to mind. He played very well filling in for Stafford, and was not the main reason they didn’t win. Defensively, I’m just going to say the defensive line. They as a unit have worked very well together allowing the singled up guys to consistently make plays and get pressure while forcing teams to take steps to counteract the pass rush. Corey Williams in particular is having a monster year. Suh, Avril, and Vandenbosch have been far from slackers, but Williams has been just that good.
Ryan:  Do you think the return of Matthew Stafford will be enough to spark a second half run that should make them competitive in second half?DetFan1979:  Yes. But it won’t just be Stafford’s return – the Lions are getting several key players healthy that have been out injured or dinged up. They held out 19 starters from their first two bye week practices just to give you an idea of the magnitude. So Health will be key to a run in the last 10 games. Another key will be limiting mistakes – the Lions are close to or leading the league in penalties and they need to stop beating themselves before they can beat their opponents. Finally, they had 4 of their first 6 on the road – including all three division road games in the first 4 weeks. That is a brutal schedule by any means. They have 6 of ten at home and the away games – Bills, Cowboys, Bucs and Dolphins are all winnable games. So yes, I think Stafford’s return along with a combination of other factors will spur a nice second half run that could see 5 or possibly six wins.
Ryan:  What concerns you about this Redskins team?DetFan1979:  Toughness and self control. The Redskins haven’t been particularly impressive, but they have been playing very disciplined football. First rule of football is don’t beat yourself and the ‘Skins haven’t been, while the Lions have. An injury decimated linebacking corps has helped teams run the ball well against Detroit, and the Ryan Torain led rushing attack could be in for a scary big day.
Ryan:  How confident are you that Lions will beat the Redskins for the second year in a row?DetFan1979:  I’m not. No one should be confident either one of these teams will be beating the other – While the Redskins have a better win column total right now, both teams have been playing tough football and match up well. It could be anyone’s game.
Ryan:  Last year for at least one game versus the Skins, he (Stafford) played with the swagger of a seasoned veteran, will he have that same game changing ability this year?DetFan1979:  He will have that and more. Stafford has started to grow into his potential. How much? That is what his game against the Redskins will show. The offense was clicking with Hill under center and there is no reason to think that with two weeks to get back into the swing of things that Stafford won’t fairly quickly merge with traffic and keep it rolling. Shaun Hill is an excellent backup and borderline starter. Stafford is that at minimum right now, with a better long ball and loads of potential.
Ryan:  The Skins have played well in close games this year. If this game comes down to a 17-13 winner, who will it be?DetFan1979:  If the game is that low scoring I’ll go with Washington. If it’s a higher score than that – into the 20’s or 30’s then I’ll swing around and say the Lions win the shootout at the last minute.
Ryan:  Game prediction and footnote?DetFan1979:  I think this will be a close fought game that comes down the last few plays. It should be an exciting, intense game. Unfortunately, unless some miracle happens here in the local market it will be blacked out once again just like last year – meaning I’ll be watching it online come Tuesday evening via NFL Rewind. Sunday for me will be a day filled with trick or treating and visiting relatives in costume with the little pink lions. Too early to know who will get the trick, and who will get the treat come Sunday.
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Barry Sanders: Once in a Lifetime - Weekly

Barry Sanders: Once in a Lifetime – Weekly

Ty over at The Lions in Winter is having a Barry week that started on Sunday.  Select bloggers/writers from around the web were invited by Ty to write peices about different aspects of the great Barry Sanders.   My contribution, “Once in a Lifetime – Weekly” is the post of today.  Be sure to check out the posts from Sunday and Monday as well as those coming later this week.  The bye week is a great time for reflection not only on this season, but about what we are as fans, and where we’ve been on this journey along with where we are headed.
Be sure to head on over there and check it out.  Also be sure to vote in the “How Many Wins After the Bye?” poll up over on my personal blog.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Barry Week!

Ty over at the Lions in Winter is doing a "Barry Week" starting Sunday. If I need to say which Barry, please turn in your fan card and move to Buffalo.  Along with other familiar writers and bloggers from across the web, I will be contributing a piece to this week long homage.  Be sure to check out the Lions in Winter all week to see the latest installments!

Lions Congregation: Season Not Over

Lions Congregation: Season Not Over

Welcome back to the Lions Congregation!  This week, the panel addresses an email from someone who is a little tired of what he’s seeing on Lions forums, and wanted to know what we thought.  Have a question or topic you want to see addressed?  Email:

The Panel:

Michael of Blue and Silver Pride
Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience
NetRat of The Net Rat Detroit Lions
Zac of The Sidelion Report
Phil of
Steve of Detroit Lions Weblog
Joshua Pung of DetFan1979’s Roar of the Lions Blog

From Isphet: Many people are already saying the Lions’ season is over. Do you agree? (Isphet does NOT think the season is over as an FYI to readers, as per his comments he asked be included below. It was in regards to what he’s been seeing on message boards, etc.)

Michael: Thursday night at a speaking engagement in Oakland County, Jim Schwartz said that “looking at the schedule, there is no reason to think we couldn’t go on a run.” While it may be optimism (or at least the need for the head coach to look optimistic), it is actually a true statement.

This is a season of almost unprecedented parity in the NFL. And, perhaps not-so coincidentally, every team in the NFL is dealing with the injury problems that seem to only strike the Detroit Lions most years. The Packers, Vikings, and Bears all look vulnerable within the division and the Lions need to pick up some wins there before they expect any respect. The rest of the schedule is easier than the pre-bye nonsense (Lions have one of the toughest schedules in the league).

So is the season over? No. The Lions were never contending for the NFC North. What they are fighting for is respectability. The team can obtain that four ways–crush the team you’re supposed to beat (Buffalo Bills), beat a few teams you’re supposed to lose to, win a road game (Lions are @Buffalo Week 10); finally, look respectable doing all of the previous things.

Al: Yes, the season is over if you you believed the Lions had a shot at making the playoffs, or had an opportunity to just play meaningful games in December. In that regard, the season was truly over before it ever began.
The Lions were not going to seriously compete for anything but another high draft pick this season. Not when this team is still lacking talent in so many areas, roster depth is only a rumor. And don’t forget the injuries, starting with Matthew Stafford going down in the first game of the season. If the Lions had any hope at all in competing (small as it may have been), the constant stream of injuries dashed it.
But the season not over when it comes to this team preparing for the future. The Lions need to accomplish several things, from developing a personality on both sides of the ball, determining which players will be here for the long haul, developing young players into NFL caliber talent and purging those who aren’t, and(as much as I hate the cliche, I have to say it) learn how to win.
Regardless of the Lions’ W/L record, this season was always about laying the groundwork for upcoming years. So the remaining ten games will not be exercises in futility, even if the season is long over when it comes to the standings.
NetRat: That would depend on your definition of “over”.  If your definition of over is the traditional one “playoffs” then mathematically the answer is no, they are not mathematically out of the playoffs.  Do they have a realistic chance at the playoffs?  No, not really, but they do have a chance, especially with the way the other NFC North teams are playing, heck, with the way the entire NFC is playing.  A whole bunch of things would have to happen for the Lions to see the playoffs though and I for one am not getting my hopes up.  Then again, I predicted the Lions to go 7-9 this year (and that was before Stafford’s injury).  So I never once predicted the Lions would be in the playoffs this year anyway.

Because I didn’t predict the Lions season to be playoff bound I don’t define their season as over no matter what happens.  There is a great deal of work going on in 2010 that is sorely needed to make 2011 a success.  Matt Stafford needs to become a seasoned vet (first he needs to see the field). There are a ton of rookies from last year and this year that all need playing time in the NFL and with each other for the team to come together to make a run at it next year (assuming there is a next year what with the threat of lockout and all that).  There were quite a number of players added through free agency and trades that also need to become acquainted with the Lions schemes, coaches, and each other.  There are more “place holders” to identify and find replacements for (guys who just aren’t going to measure up no matter how hard they are coached).  Just this past week Mayhew made a couple moves in an attempt to further build up the roster before the off season even gets here.  The more moves he makes and that show they can be productive the less there is to do before the next season starts.  All these things HAVE to happen to take the team to that next step.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t competitive now, they are.  They are also entertaining.  The games are worth watching.  From a business stand point that is what you are striving to accomplish first.  Then from there you continue to build and make your push… assuming there is some kind of continuality going on, which for once the Lions seem to have.  You keep coaching these players, allow them the time to learn and play together, add a few more pieces next off season, and the next thing you know you built yourself a team.  A very good team.
What is happening is (and I truly believe this) the Lions are building a solid, very competitive, highly productive team right before our eyes.  It’s interesting to watch (at least it is to me).  So I don’t see the season as being over, not at all.

Now should the Bears further implode there is even a small chance that 8-8 could win the division.  That mean the Lions could be mathematically in it right up until the last game of the season.  With the number of home games coming up and the opponents they are scheduled to play, it’s quite possible the Lions won’t be mathematically out of the playoffs all through November even.  But I’m not watching the math this year, I’m not even hoping for the playoffs – not really, what I am doing is watching a team being built… the right way… and I am enjoying it.

Zac: The question implies that the Lions were somehow supposed to contend for a playoff spot. If there were people out there thinking that was a possibility then they were surely part of a very small minority of fans. If I’m supposed to opine whether the Lions season is over based on playoff hopes then yes, the season is over. Considering that was never a possibility to me then I will answer the question based on whether or not the rest of the season is of any use. In that case, no, it is not over. To me, this season was about developing an identity,determining which players are worthy of playing for an improved Lions roster, and quite frankly simply waiting for the next crop of rookies and free agents to add talent and depth to the organization. All those things can still be accomplished this year.

Phil: No, that’s wrong. Prima facie. That’s not my opinion.  It’s fact. The Lions’ season is not over. Furthermore,  it’s not even HALF over.
Look, the Lions have sucked for a long time. We know that. It doesn’t give fans a right to suck, too. (OK, so the U.S. Constitution gives them that right, but there’s no need to take advantage of it!) There are 10 more games in the season.

If you think it’s over, stop watching. PLEASE.

If you’re so disenfranchised about what this organization has put you through over the last 10, 30, 50 years — and believe me, I don’t fault anyone if he is — then wait until next year. Or at least until the draft season. But for God’s sake, let some of us analyze the team in peace!

Anyone who thinks this team is the same one we’ve watched over the last two years is clinically insane or suffering from amnesia (just refresh your memory by poring over some film from the last few years, if this is the case).
If you don’t think this is the same team, then you probably don’t think ”the season is over.” Keep watching some NFL football. Of the remaining 10 games, the Lions have six at home. They’re going to get healthier…if they can stay that way, they could certainly chalk a few more up under the ‘W’ column.

Steve: Far from, in my opinion.    The Lions have one win in six games, which is obviously disappointing.  Their week one road loss to the Bears will be permanently adorned with an asterisk, especially if the league changes how it handles the infamous “process” aspect of what constitutes a legal pass catch.
Throwing out the Bears game, the Lions have possessed realistic chances for a win or tie in each of their losses, excluding their road loss to the Vikings.  There are no moral victories, but it is safe to suggest that unless they are dogged with a rash of injuries, that they are improving and seem to be close to stringing together a couple of wins, at least.

The fact is, the Lions have eight winnable or potentially winnable games remaininging on their 2010 schedule, which includes home games against all three of their intra-divisional foes (Washington, @Buffalo, Dallas, Chicago, Green Bay, @Tampa Bay, @Miami, Minnesota).

The return of Matthew Stafford is another cause for excitement.  Given his limited play in recent Lions games, his return and the potential fulfillment of his considerably vast potential should have numerous Lions fans anxious with anticipation.

Not only is the return of Stafford a cause for excitement, but the continued development of young players like RB Jahvid Best, TE Brandon Pettigrew, DT Ndamukong Suh, DE Cliff Avril, LB DeAndre Levy, CB’s Chris Houston and Alphonso Smith, and S’s Amari Spievey and Louis Delmas all should entice Lions fans to believe that there is more to look forward to, regardless of the 2010 Lions final win/loss record.
I am not munching on cornbread while drinking Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid, either.   The Lions are far from perfect.  Yet, my confidence has increased that the team will hang tough and make a reasonably good showing in each of their remaining games, win or loss.  That is all we can ask for at this early stage of their interminable rebuilding program.

DetFan1979: What do you think?  Go to my newly updated DetFan1979’s Roar of the Lions personal blog and vote on what you think the record will be over the final 10 games.  The team is getting healthy over the bye, which came at a perfect time for Detroit.  IF they can stay healthy, I still see a possibility of 6 wins in the last ten games, leaving them with a 7-9 record.  Keep in mind that this also assumes they are going to cut back (at least a little) on the boneheaded lack of focus penalties.

This season is FAR from over.  Have we forgotten that for the last two years prior it was how bad was the blowout?  Last season it was more about comparing how far down the Lions were in the first quarter before the other team started coasting.  Even in the Vikings game, which I consider their “worst” loss this season from a “how close is this game” standpoint they were right there in it and far from blown out.

When they faced a roughly equal team instead of choking they crushed them.

This team can compete on any given Sunday now.  And, for the first time in quite a while, they are entertaining to watch each week win or lose.  Its a thrill to wait and see if Best is going to break a long one, or CJ take a long bomb to the house or fight for a jump ball in the end zone.  Hearts race as the defensive line steamrolls its way into opposing backfields.  No way! shock as Alphonso Smith intercepts another pass and we wonder how many Carlton dances we’ll see this season — and in the future.

As a fan, this season is far from over — it’s just getting started!  The Detroit Lions are nobody’s doormat anymore.  I’ve said a few times now that they may not win most of the fights they are in, but the other team is going to know they were in one.

Thoughts or topics you want to see discussed?  Want to see your name in shining black bold type?  Email!

ISPHET’S COMMENTS: think it’s too early to stick a fork in their season.

- 5 of their next 7 games are at home.
- their 4 remaining road games are against Buffalo, Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Miami. None are definite losses.
- Stafford will most likely be back
- The bye week should help the team get healthier.
- The Lions are down by 3 games to Chicago, 2 to Green Bay, and 1 to Minnesota. None of those teams has an insurmountable lead at this point, especially considering the Lions have played all of their divisional road games, and none of their divisional home games.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

“Killer” Film Breakdown – Lions at Giants

“Killer” Film Breakdown – Lions at Giants

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Here is a compliation for handy reading once again of Tom “Killer” Kowalski’s film breakdown for Lions at Giants. I still haven’t been able to watch the entire game (though I have it DVR’d) so my comments may come late on this.

  1. Winning 1 on 1 Battles Key to Pass Rush
  2. Nate Burleson Good at Getting Extra Edge
  3. Smallest Mistake Can Blow Up Big Plays
  4. Miscommunication on Return
  5. Suh Making Most of Opportunities
  6. Giants Guilty of Low Hit on Hill Injury
  7. Giants Keep Composure While Lions Blow It
  8. Cherilus Penalty Bogus
  9. 87 Yd TD Not Into Double Coverage
  10. Nate Burleson Fumble Avoidable
  11. Logan ThisClose To TD

I’ll update with any new additions later in the day. As usual, they are a great second look at the game.

Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lions Congregation: Cornerbacks of the Future

Welcome back to the Lions Congregation! A weekly gathering of Lions Bloggers from around the web to discuss your questions. This week, the panel looks again at the cornerback situation, as well as where that blowout against the Rams appeared from…

This Week’s Panel:

Phil Zaroo of
Steve of Detroit Lions Weblog
NetRat of The NetRat Detroit Lions Site
Zac of The Sidelion Report
Joshua Pung DetFan1979 of Roar of the Lions

1. Najacks00 asks: if smith and houston continue to develop as they have this year. do the lions pass on taking a cb in the draft and focus on linebacker and the oline? it seems to me they have two young, talented players in (Alphonso) smith and (Chris) houston.

Phil: I know it’s a popular topic for Lions fans, but I really, REALLY hate talking draft when the season isn’t even halfway over. It makes the season excruciatingly painful, and can often be pointless. After all, there are a million things that can affect the Lions’ eventual draft picks, including things within the organization, things with other NFL teams, things at the college level and things with the prospects themselves.

I do agree this is an interesting point, though, regarding Smith and Houston. The Lions have seen some solid play from the two, albeit over a brief period of time. The only thing I can say, ONLY under the assumption that the two CBs don’t get dramatically better or worse for the remainder of the season, is thatDetroit ’s need for corners is decidedly less dramatic. If there is a stud left tackle or linebacker when the Lions pick in the first round, for example, I could easily see them going in that direction. But don’t forget the one intelligent thing Matt Millen said as the team’s general manager: You can never have enough cornerbacks. We’ve seen the Lions go through corners like Lady Gaga goes through makeup, be it due to injury or due to awful performance. So while I think the two young corners’ play will affect Detroit’s direction on draft day next year, I don’t think they’d kick Patrick Patterson out of bed if he was there when they were on the clock

Steve: Much like the Lions inexplicably imprudent decision to trade LB Ernie Sims for TE Tony Scheffler prior to the 2010 season, the Lions will likewise not have the luxury of passing on a talented young cornerback, should one be the best player available at their draft slot in the 2011 draft.

The Lions front office made the off-season decision that Sims was a bad fit for their current defensive scheme and that he was merely a surplus player, because they believed that they had enough depth in that personnel group. Even if Sims was not a star player, he was tenacious and had a nominal understanding of the Lions defense.

As it turned out, Jordan Dizon sustained a season-ending injury, DeAndre Levy has been severely hobbled by injury, and their replacement stop-gaps,Landon Johnson and Spencer Havner, have both been asked to play far too often, while struggling with injuries themselves.

In the end, the Lions can never have enough talent at a premium position like cornerback. As excited as we all are as Lions fans about the emergence ofAlphonso Smith and Chris Houston, the Lions should always be able to utilize more talent in that position group, regardless of the circumstances.

NetRat: Denver had traded away a 1st round pick in 2010 to acquire Alphonso Smith in the 2nd round in 2009, they felt that high on him. I don’t know if it was the scheme or personality clashes or what exactly but Denver gave up on VERY fast. The Lions got him for a song (in comparison) and if Gunther can coach him up to starting material that is fantastic and could easily solve a part of the CB situation for many years. Chris Houston also appears to be a victim of the scheme/coaching in Atlanta, at least at this early point in time. Both players, if they continue to develop, could significantly cut down on the timeline required to install a competent secondary. There is an old axiom though, you can never have too many [good] cornerbacks. If there is one ranked high in the 2011 draft when it’s your turn you take him.

On a side note: The odds of the Lions taking anyone for the OLine in the first 3 rounds is very near Zero. The Lions do not see the OLine the way most fans do.

Zac: If Chris Houston and Alphonso Smith can finish out the year looking like legitimate starters it will certainly increase the Lions flexibility in the 2011 draft. You are right that the offensive line and linebacker positions could trump the cornerback spot under that scenario but I don’t think it takes it completely out of the equation, it will come down to the where they Lions end up drafting and what their draft board looks like. The question immediately made me think of the Jets situation a year ago. With Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie already on the roster the Jets used their first round pick on another corner, Kyle Wilson. The Jets are in a position to add depth in a way the Lions aren’t yet, but the point remains the same.

DetFan1979: I’m going to skip the part about the drafty impact at this point because it is way too early to be thinking draft. There is a lot of football to be played yet this season, and who knows what is going to happen. I expect the Lions to continue drafting BATFAN. You can never have too much talent — and Mayhew has shown a knack for finding it.

However, the question of the cornerback position may just be answered for the most part. Guess having a former DB as a general manager is helping (unlike having a former LB who couldn’t find talent if it tackled him). Right now it looks like Martin Mayhew made a good trade for Chris Houston. We’ll see how he holds up now that teams won’t be able to just throw at Wade all the time. As for Smith Martin Mayhew looks to have taken Josh McDaniels and company to the cleaners, lunch, and then mugged them on the way home. A promising but unspectacular 2009 7th rounder for a 2009 2nd rounder who has 3 INTs including a Pick-6 in only 4 games, starting one and missing all of training camp with the Lions since he was in Denver.

When you take into account the potential of Jack Williams coming off pup (an excellent nickel corner from what I’ve read) and Aaron Berry coming off IR next year then the biggest (only) glaring defensive need could be a safety and a couple of linebackers. How amazing is that?

For now, I’ll enjoy the rest of this season a lot more knowing that at least a couple of players in the secondary are taking advantage of all that pressure being put on by the Dline.

2. Jsmitty3715 asks: I know the Lions dominated the Rams who were 2-2, but are the Lions that much better than St. Louis or more talented? Lucky? This blowout seemed to come out of nowhere.

Phil: Here’s what it boils down to: the Lions are an honest-to-goodness NFL team. We don’t know how good they are, but we do know how bad they aren’t. They’re no longer the absolute bottom-feeder of the league, and a legitimate contender for worst team of all time. So what does that have to do with your question? It boils down to four words: On any given Sunday. That’s pretty much always been the case in the NFL, but the Lions had been rotting to the core for so long, it reached a point where only Detroit stood no chance of winning each week.

In Week 5, we saw what can happen when an NFL team with a modicum of talent fires on all cylinders and meets a team that is starting a rookie quarterback and is having an off day. It’s ugly. And we’ve been so used to the Lions being on the wrong side of the ugly ledger that we’re taken aback when we see them doing the destroying. Sam Bradford is obviously a talented quarterback. But on this particular Sunday, the Lions got up quickly – just likehead coach Jim Schwartz wanted to do – and put the rookie in the unfamiliar place of having to mount a comeback in the NFL. He also lost his top receiver when Mark Clayton was injured in the first quarter.

To answer the question, I’d say this: The Lions have had a tougher schedule so far this year. They just put a whoopin on the Rams. And I know this is a definitively better St. Louis squad than the one that nipped Detroit for its only win last season. So yeah, I do think Detroit is better, and probably more talented, than St. Louis .

Steve: The Lions aren’t 38 points better than the Rams, that much is clear. In an increasingly wacky, topsy turvy, NFL season, the Lions clearly caught the Rams at the right time.

The Lions are better than their 1-4 record and could easily have a 4-1 record, judging by their three close losses. The Lions have a potent offense and an improving defense.

Conversely, the Rams play in a weak division and possess a defense who had been a little lucky, entering the Lions game. The Rams defense had allowed the 4th fewest total points, despite having a defense which was in the bottom third of yards allowed. Sam Bradford hasn’t often looked like a rookie in his performance this season, which was clearly not the case on Sunday.

Ultimately, Sunday’s game from the opening onside kick, plain got away from the Rams. If the two teams played three games, one at each home site and a third at a neutral site, I would be far from surprised if the Rams eventually won two out of three.

That being said, the Lions won convincingly for a reason. I think that the Lions have more playmakers on both sides of the ball than what the Rams currently possess. On Sunday, the stars lined up, and coincidentally, nearly all of the Lions playmakers produced results, which lead to the 44-6 blowout we all witnessed.

NetRat: The Rams were the lucky ones. Their schedule gave them some easy games allowing them to get to 2-2. The Lions on the other hand had the bad luck to lose one game (Bears) via an officiating mistake (and I will proclaim that as so for the rest of my life) and then also lost their starting QB for going on 5 weeks along with a tougher schedule. Hill has improved each week but he is not a franchise QB. Stafford isn’t [a franchise QB] yet either, but he is supposed to be well on his way to one… instead he’s learning a whole lot less each week sitting on the sidelines. The Lions managed to reduce the number of their own errors on defense, offense and special teams during the Rams game and thus were able to overcome the officiating and the opponent to secure a win. They will have games all year where one or two aspects of the team shine… will we see another game where all 3 do at the same time? Hard to say. If we do see it again, they will win that game as well, handily. The Lions roster does have superstars on it, more then one, more then a handful actually. It’s all a matter of them playing as a team.

Zac: Despite the score on Sunday the Lions and Rams are probably in similar places as teams. The Lions used an aggressive approach and capitalized on the opportunities presented to them rather than simply blowing the Rams away on talent alone. They weren’t lucky, they were prepared and executed their game plan to near perfection. Prior to the game some wanted to say that the three close losses in their 0-4 start represented progress while other said that talk of progress was premature since they had not won. The outcome of the Rams game gives credence to former rather than the latter. The blowout might seem to have come out of nowhere but looking back, there were some signs of its potential.

DetFan1979: For those who were watching, the Lions are as Don Banks put it “the best 1-4 team in football” according to the players he has talked to. St. Louis had a favorable home schedule to start the season. Detroit had a brutal division road schedule. I think that Lions have actually done a better job than St. Louis of stocking talent, and it showed. They also played tough and disciplined where the Rams imploded once they fell behind — a familiar place for the Lions but one the young St. Louis team had not been in yet. We all know how easy it is for a team to go from getting beat to totally routed in our long experience losing as Lions fans.

I also think the Lions have been playing tough every game thus far without letting up. The biggest difference in the game against St. Louis is that all three units — Offense, Defense, Special Teams — shined and played their best games. They also limited untimely mistakes, and for once Shaun Hill didn’t throw a couple of red-zone turnovers. Remember, he had at least two of those in each of the prior three games. That more than anything helped keep momentum on the Lions’ side — and points on the board.

Are the Lions really 38 points better than the Rams? Last Sunday, yes. Any given Sunday? That’s why they play the games. For the Lions’ upcoming opponents they all got notice that the close losses by the Lions were no fluke — it was the Lions playing up to the competition, not the other way around. Any given Sunday has meaning for Lions fans again for the first time in a long time.

Thanks again for joining the Lions Congregation! have a question or topic you want discussed? Email

Rating: 9.8/10 (6 votes cast)
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One Response to “Lions Congregation: Cornerbacks of the Future?”

  1. By NorthLeft12 on Oct 18, 2010 | Edit

    I agree with DF1979, Mayhew will continue to go with the best player available. Depending on where we end up [not thinking about that now] we could be looking at AJ Green WR (Georgia). Now wouldn’t that be an interesting story?

    I hope that the fates are kinder and lead us to Patrick Peterson CB (LSU), Prince CB (Nebraska), or Travis Lewis (OLB) Oklahoma. Only time will tell.

    Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)