Monday, November 22, 2010

I Need a Vacation

Its very difficult to write about this Lions team right now.  Its like a formula has set in for this season...

Untimely penalties that actually occur?   Check.
Slow Replay or Screw-up resulting in big play that isn't overturned that shouldn't count?  Check.
Horrible call that swings momentum away from the Lions?  Check.
NFL doing diddly about it? Check.
Ref arguing that call was correct, even when it wasn't? Check.
Defense playing tentative after the phantom penalty and blowing the game?  Check.
Undisciplined play by the entire team?  Check.

I'm heading out on Vacation with the Little Pink Lions, Mrs. DetFan1979 as well as the Parents of DF79.  I will certainly still be watching the Thanksgiving Day game, as usual.  But then I'll go see "Tangled" with my girls -- which somehow seems appropriate for the Lions this season - Tangled in their own hair and can't break free. 

Due to my schedule, there will be no Lions Congregation for the next two weeks; I'm also not sure if/how many posts I will put up.  I need a vacation -- and will come roaring back with some nice perspective when I get back. 

Thanks as always for reading!

~ DetFan1979

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This Explains it All...

Got this great comic from my father that pretty much sums up this season... And many many seasons past.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lions Congregation: Felton and Fears

Welcome back to the Lions Congregation, where every week the panel of Lions Bloggers from around the web looks at topics and questions posed by our readers.  Want your question or topic to be discussed?  Email

This week, the panel once again looks at Jerome Felton and the short yardage run game as well as measuring their varying states of panic or non-panic as the case may be.

The Panel:

NetRat of The NetRat Detroit Lions Site
Zac of The Sidelion Report
Blades Boyd, DetFan1979 Contributor
Steve of Detroit Lions Weblog
Joshua Pung DetFan1979 of Roar of the Lions

The Questions:

From Santa Cruz Lions Nut:  Am I missing something, or is Jerome Felton the hardest running back on the roster? From what I see, the guy has done well with the carries he gets, and seems to be tough to bring down on first contact.  Yet I can't remember any short yardage/goal line carries.  Between the tippy toe-ing of Best as of late and the average-osity of Smith, what am I not getting?

NetRat: It's not the RB that needs fixing for the short yardage game, it's the center of the OLine.  And that isn't going to happen.  Raiola is great at reading the defenses and getting the OLine in the right play.  He's also got a mean streak that coaches love.  His one negative is power run blocking.  He simply can not do it.  Since he gets stuffed the run play has zero chance, every time.  It shouldn't even be tried until such time as Raiola is no longer the center.

Zac: I agree that Jerome Felton should get more consideration, especially in short yardage situations. That being said, I don't think doing so gives the Lions a sure bet in those scenarios. Let's not project too much on Felton just because other guys aren't getting it done in a certain situation.

The problem that the Lions may encounter is finding a way to give Felton those opportunities without making it so painfully obvious to the opposition that he will be carrying the ball. I don't care how hard of a runner Felton is, he can't beat 11 defenders. I view the Lions' short yardage woes as more a function of their poor run blocking than the name and number of the back carrying the ball. Kevin Smith looks to be running harder the more his knee heals and Jahvid Best brings a versatility that allows the Lions to convert short yardage situations in a number of ways.

Blades:  I actually have to say Kevin smith is the hardest runner. But I guess this all depends on what your definition of "hard runner" is. To me, it's a gut who hits the hole the hardest and watching Kevin smith run when he gets the ball is really something. He's learned that he's not a fast guy in the NFL and unlike what he did earlier in his career, he hits the hole hard and if there's room to run, great, if not, well he still gets 3-5 yards cause he hits the hole so hard.

Steve: From the time of Jerome Felton's 2008 draft selection, the Lions have initmated that they would like to use his ability as a ballcarrier to their advantage.  They have used Felton upon occasion as an additional ballcarrier, to the tune of one or two carries per game.

The 2010 Lions have mostly featured Jahvid Best in their short yardage and goal line scenarios.  I believe that the Lions think that by using Best, and making opposing defense's honor him as both a running and pass-catching threat, they gain an upper hand strategically.

The mere presence of Best, as a player whose gamebreaking ability could potentially lead to a score during any play, limits the touches that all of the other running backs are currently receiving.   Even though Best has been pretty quiet since Week 2, while suffering from a turf toe injury, he still represents the Lions best rushing option.

In regards to Felton, I don't think he has shown enough in his limited opportunities to elevate his status from an occasional contributor to a more defined and integral part of the Lions offense.

DetFan1979:  I know that Felton is a fan favorite since he was drafted -- I'm one of many who has wanted to see more.  He can really drag guys along and bowl them over when he gets a head of steam going.  However, when he comes in on short yardage its an obvious run.  Leaving Best and/or Smith in the mix on 3rd and shorts makes for more options the defense has to prepare against. 

Felton is also not a pile mover -- few backs really are.  The Lions line is excelling at pass blocking, and despite Stafford's fluky injuries has allowed very few sacks.  They are not, however, a power run o-line -- especially up the middle where Dom is a few inches and some pounds away from the perfect center.  He does everything well except take on the nose tackle one on one and shove him back.  Honestly, how many centers really can?  Fewer than Lions fans think.  No players are perfect and just like the rest of us have strengths and weaknesses -- one of those weaknesses for Raiola is that he won't be knocking the opposing D-line 5 feet back on impact.  He does other things, however, very well. 

The Lions short yardage game won't improve until they figure out where and how they can run the ball in a small space taking advantage of the strengths of their linemen.

From the General Mailbag Topic: Lots of fans are in various stages of panic after last week's game.  Where do you fall in the spectrum?

NetRat: Panic after losing to the Jets in overtime?  Nah.  It says something the Lions made it to overtime.  I was ready (as were most fans) for the Lions to beat a seemingly unbeatable team, but that didn't quite happen (see my blog on it at ).  It does bode well for the future, oh and by the way, from here on out the Lions have one of the weakest schedule of opponents in the NFL North.  Shame about the injuries, we're going to miss Stafford once again, but Hill should do okay once he gets back into the swing of it again.  Hopefully before the Buffalo game gets out of hand.

Zac: I'm not sure where it falls on the panic spectrum, but I would describe my feels as supreme disappointment. The disappointment started with the blown game, then the realization that this season might be a complete waste from here on out, and then ultimately ended with reflecting on how things go wrong for this organization even when they are seemingly beginning to do it the right way. The injuries, Matthew Stafford's in particular, aren't a result of mismanagement. The Lions just aren't getting any breaks and I find that disappointing.

Blades:  No. We lost in OT to a super bowl contender. The Schwartz will learn from his mistakes. Besides, I like Shaun hill better then stafford right now anyways. The panic button should be the fact Stafford needs new shoulders and to be on the field instead of sitting in rehab collecting the big fat checks the Lions are writing him. 

Steve: I am disappointed by Matthew Stafford's injury and nebulous future status.  I am also concerned that the Lions 24-game road losing streak will continue, after this weekend's game at Buffalo,

However, I am not panicked, because the Lions have clearly been "here" before and as a 2-6 team, their season wasn't exactly successful, to begin with, even if there were several tangible causes for optimism.

Ultimately, should they eventually lose to a winless and undermanned Bills team this Sunday, panic may then ensue, because it will likely be an ominous sign of things to come as the season marches on.

DetFan1979:  Major Over-reaction aisle 9.  Seriously, I have heard a lot of fans moaning about the lost season now that the Lions didn't beat the Jets.  Sorry folks, but unless the rest of the NFC North all went on one heck of a losing streak and the Lions won out were playoffs in the picture.  They weren't realistically in the picture from day one. 

The lost season of experience for Stafford?  That I'll buy.  It sucks -- he's out again -- do what you have to do to keep him on the field.  However, this team isn't just about Stafford.  Shaun Hill led them to that blowout win versus a pretty decent St. Louis team.  The Lions have shown dramatic improvement since last season, and certainly don't look 2 seasons removed from going winless. 

What was the Jets game?  A team with lesser talent taking a legitimate Superbowl possible team and smacking it around into overtime. The Jets and Rex Ryan came in trying to indimidate and scare the Lions -- we're the big bad Jets and you are going to give us your milk money.  Instead, the Lions manned up, punched them in the face and said "make me you pompous jerk."  What followed was a heck of a brawl where the Jets ended up being luckier than the Lions, not better.  Period. 

Want to know how you can tell the Jets got shocked into respect?  Bart Scott was whining about dirty play by the Lions to justify his own horrid game.  There wasn't the usual "we whupped you" trash talk in the New York Media that typically follows a Jets win (from Ryan, players, and writers).  The Jets are a bully team who felt relieved to get out of Ford Field alive. 

We were hoping beyond hope the Lions would take the next step from contending to defeating top tier teams -- they didn't, but they still held their own.  This game was circled as a very likely loss earlier in the year, and instead came down to the wire. 

Panic?  Shaun Hill steps in again as starter and the offense can produce with him at QB.  Not only that, but the defense has actually been improving for the most part.  Wade actually got his bus ticket out of town, replaced by the surprise Alphonso Smith and the solid Chris Houston.  The Defensive line is feared at this point as one of the best in the league.  The Lions will still contend, and depending on how healthy Hill really is should still have a better than even money shot at beating both the Bills and Cowboys on the road.  They have a favorable home schedule, and if the Jets game is any indication should be able to give the Patriots all they want and more on Thanksgiving.  A win is unlikely, but hey -- stranger things have happened. 

This season was all about development and building to add depth and fill the last roster holes next ifseason.  Playoffs? They were more a dream than a goal, and the real goal of building a competitive team for the long term still holds and is still going on.  So there is no reason at all to panic.  Mayhew is still at the helm, and the talent will keep on coming.  Panic is not an option.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mayhews Moves

Martin Mayhew, after a bevy of injuries Sunday against the Jets, was busy once again with his characteristic zeal in pulling something out of nothing -- or at least giving it a shot.
  • First off Center Cody Wallace was cut (again) after being signed from the Jets Practice Squad three weeks ago.  This move was pretty much expected to come at some point.
  • The Lions also finally cut bait with Jonathan Wade and I'm sure there aren't many Lions fans who will miss him.  Of the the CB acquisitions - Alphonso Smith, Chris Houston, and Wade Mayhew is solidly two of three which is pretty darn good. 
  • The Lions placed Jack Williams on IR.  If you recall, he was picked up from Denver last year, but hurt himself and went on IR after just one play with the Lions.  They must like him as they placed him on the PUP list.  He has practiced the last three weeks, but a decision was made to place him on IR at the deadline.  This does NOT open a roster spot as he was not counting toward the 53 man roster due to his PUP exemption.
  • To fill the first empty spot the Lions signed a familiar face - former Spartan kicker Dave Rayner.  He is a solid kicker and will fill in while Hanson recovers from a pulled MCL.
  • The second spot was filled when the Lions signed developmental QB Zac Robinson from Seattle.  Originally drafted by the Patriots, he was on the Seattle practice squad until last week when he was called up to be the backup with Matt Hasselbeck out.  Seattle couldn't sneak him back through waivers and now he is with the Lions.
I've seen many reading a lot of different things into the Zac Robinson signing -- that Stafford is/isn't done for the season.  My thoughts are this:
  1. Drew Stanton just got competition for the 3rd QB spot.
  2. The Lions need a backup/3rd QB since Stafford is definitely out and they have had bad luck with QB injuries this season.  Anyone really want Derrick Williams under center with Stafford out, if Hill isn't ready and Drew Stanton gets hurt?  Yeah.  Me either. 
  3. I think this is more of a long term signing.  I've been wrong before, but I think they want him to take the 3rd QB spot from Stanton in the ifseason and get a young developmental QB without blowing a draft pick. 
  4. I think this doesn't indicate if Stafford is done for the year or not, but he will certainly be out more than a week or two. 
  5. Hanson has been old reliable - til now.  There are those who called for a kickoff specialist/backup kicker before the final cut downs as Hanson has been struggling to stay healthy the last year or two.  I wasn't in that camp due to limited roster space, but they sure are looking right at this point...
  6. Stafford could still go to IR
  7. I'm wondering who the Lions would cut if they go after Jason Allen, who was waived by Miami to make way for Al Harris.  Allen was the 16th pick in the 2006 draft, and has 3 INTs in 7 games this season.  The Lions could put in a waiver claim for him - we'll have to see. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Killer Film Breakdown: Jets at Lions

Tom "Killer" Kowalski at is once again doing his excellent film breakdown.  My thoughts follow the links:

  1. Chop Block Penalties on Peterman Absurd
  2. CJ does Well - Then Disappears
  3. WR Do Well on First Drive
  4. Levy Makes a Difference
  5. Goal Line Offense Struggled
  6. Unseen Helmet to Helmet on Avril
  7. Stafford Close to 99 yd TD
  8. Stanton Bootleg Right Call - on 2nd down
  9. Tackled In-Bounds

I totally agree with #1.  Even being in the stadium it was obvious that nothing of the sort was happening as far a chop blocks go on 2 of the 3.  It also didn't escape notice that they happened to always be called on key big plays by the Lions - not plays for no gain, etc.  It might be coincidence, but I still get the feeling the refs look for a penalty every time the Lions do something good. 

#2 - CJ was pretty much shut out, although he was bracketed much of the game, which allowed Burleson to have his big day with the one on one matchups.  As for the run game, it was obvious from the stands the Jets run defense was everything advertised and then some. 

#3 - The Lions looked really good on that first drive and it looked like they caught the Jets napping and thinking "same ol' Lions" - they snapped out of it pretty quick and got their head into the game to their credit, but that fast start helped build great momentum and excitement at Ford Field.  That place was deafening. 

#4 - The loss of Levy and the merry-go-round at MLB was definitely hurting the Lions defense early on.  As it is, they still need to upgrade both OLB spots.  Peterson will be gone at SLB, and Palmer and Co. have shown nothing spectacular at the WLB.  As for Smith getting burned - it happens to all DB's.  His agressive instinctive play is also what has made him a big asset for the Lions offense.  Sanchez had enough time to do another GQ photo shoot the protection was so good on that play.  Lions needed pressure, and couldn't get there. 
#5 - The Lions' struggles at the goal line were as much about the Jets D as the Lions O.  I like how hte Lions didn't cower or be afraid of the Jets.  They manned up and made it a slugfest of a game. 

#6 - Smith still made a good interception to stop a Jets drive that was gaining momentum, even if he did end up at the one.  Grand Theft CB all the way was my vote on that trade -- Here were the final results of my poll:

We Want Gronk: 1 lonely soul would rather have Dan Gronkowski than Alphonso Smith.
Starting CB - Check: 8 people (18%) felt we got a solid starter out of the deal
Grand Theft CB:  A staggering 34 people (79%) felt that Mayhew pulled Grand Theft on Josh McDaniels and company in signing a CB who is a solid starter, possible star.  5 INTs and a TD in 6 games puts me squarely in this category as well.

#7 - Stafford had some excellent throws and I want to see him healthy for long enough to really reach his potential.  IF IF IF

#8 - This whole last offensive series for the Lions is where they got out-coached and outplayed by the Jets.  Lions are closer, but again haven't taken that next step.  yet.  I feel strongly that it will be taken -- but next year, rather than this. 

Their improvement was further than I thought this year, and that got my hopes up but injuries have brought it back down to where it should have been all along.

Kicking Themselves

I had a great time at Ford Field with my brother - it was an exciting game and went into overtime.  What more could you ask for your money?  Oh yeah - the home team pulling out the win instead of choking away a loss.  Now, don't get me wrong -- The Lions were very close to an upset victory over the Jets.  They almost outplayed them long enough to win, but couldn't quite pull it out.  I had hoped they were ready to take the next step, but they aren't there - yet.  With the injuries they sustained in the process of losing to the Jets, I'm afraid it will be next season before we see if they have what it takes to pull out a win against a heavily favored team and close out an opponent and hold onto a lead late. 

Stafford is possibly done for the season, Shaun Hill isn't healthy yet, and Jason Hanson may not be healthy for a while.  Avril and Houston both were out for the fourth quarter and we could see the impact they were making on the field be pronounced when they were not on the field and their replacements didn't quite play up to that same level.  Here's hoping they aren't out too long.

Of all the injuries during that game, as soon as Hanson went down so did the kicking game.  Lions punted twice from Hanson's FG range during the game because they essentially had no kicking game without him.  Teams don't have roster space for a backup kicker, so any team in that situation would pretty much be stuck.  The Jets pinned their comeback on the leg of Nick Folk.  The Lions could only push for TD's instead of adding to their lead.

I think this led to the offense trying to do too much, and hurt them overall.  Sure, there were a lot of injuries and mistakes -- I won't re-catalog them all here -- but Hanson's had the most dramatic effect on the game.

Stafford was showing once again why he was the starting QB when healthy - throwing for 240 yards and two TD's against one of the league's top defenses.  Despite that, he needs to stay healthy to do so and it is obvious that he has an issue or 3 (as in grade 3 shoulder separation? Three shoulder injuries in the last year?) with his shoulders that needs to be addressed in some way.  When Healthy, as I've discussed in the past, is a tricky phrase because a player like Stafford does no good on the sidelines -- its time for them to maybe shut him down, do what needs to be done to keep him on the field in necessary.  It was great to have him back, but if there was too much of an injury risk they need to start rethinking how soon he returns to playing. 

The aftermath of this game will be felt for the rest of the season as well.  If Drew Stanton is starting, and not all the players dinged up come back, then you are looking at what were two projected road wins for the Lions against the struggling Bills and imploded Cowboys suddenly being much more in doubt. The upside is, the Lions can continue to develop their young talent, and Mayhew will likely have more premium draft choices in 2011 to continue stocking the roster for a playoff push next year. 

If they can only stop kicking themselves and take that next step that is.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ford Field Food

All settled in at Ford Field, pulled pork BBQ cheese fries with sour cream. Oh yeah. Are you ready for some football?

Go Lions!!

Lions Eye View

When you aren't a Lions fan and don't live in Detroit it can be very easy to overlook this team as the "same old Lions."  NFL teams will do so at their own peril.  

Ask Chicago who needed a crazy ruling to win.  Or Green Bay whose defense was torched by Detroit's backup QB.  Or Philadelphia who held Calvin Johnson in check only to get run down by Jahvid Best and the Lions' TE's.  Or the Rams who got steamrolled.  The Giants whose league leading pass rush couldn't prevent 3rd stringer Drew Stanton from racking up a couple of TD's.  

On the defensive side only the Giants have a defensive line performing near at the level the Lions are right now.  

Specifics you say?  Good point.

The Jets are no slouches right now.  Their defense is ranked 7th overall, and their offense has shown it can perform.  However, it has also been shut out.  

Jets on Offense

The Jets will need to attack the weak points of the Lions defense.  This means pulling in extra guys to block the defensive line and getting Tomlinson and Greene to the linebackers where the Lions are exceptionally weak. Washington attempted to run into the Lions defensive line and Ryan Torian was stoned at the line on ten rushes for 9 yards before getting injured.  Still, the Lions defense has a tendency to give up some big running plays and the Jets will need to stick with the run game until they can break one loose.  If the Lions can stop that run game with just 7 guys then the Jets could be looking at a repeat of Green Bay - not a shutout, but serious struggles. 

Passing wise, the Lions secondary has turned out to be much better at the cornerback position than was thought coming into the season.  Chris Houston and Alphonso Smith are both playing at a high level, and passing defense numbers have improved drastically with that starting duo in the defensive backfield.  Detroit's overall passing defense numbers were skewed by teams picking on benched starter Jonathan Wade early.  

However, Amari Spievey is making his first start at Safety - which is still a new position for him.  While he may grow into a solid starting safety he isn't right now and the Jets should pick on him in all phases in all ways possible to make his trial one by fire.  They Lions can't pull him because they just plain don't have anyone else.  

Unfortunately for the Jets, in order to take advantage of the running and passing game, they will have to stop Detroit's front four which is easier said than done.  While Ndamukong Suh is getting all the attention on national media, Corey Williams is playing better than Suh right now.  Washington kept 6 in to block on a large percentage of plays, and still gave up 7 sacks to the Lions last week.  

This is because Williams has been just plain unstoppable, even with two guys on him.  Suh can be slowed by the double team, but still makes plays as well.  So unless 6 guys are in dedicated to blocking  then there is no way to double both of them.  Even when you do, you still have Cliff Avril and Kyle Vandenbosch coming in off the edges or lord knows where with single coverage.  Even the rotational DT Sammie Hill is a run stopping beast up the gut, able to provide Williams and Suh with enough breathers to keep them fresh. The Lions have 23 sacks for a reason. 

The major key will be short passing, screens, and play action to slow down the pass rush.  If Suh and company get to Sanchez early and rattle him, it could get ugly for the Jets. 

The Lions on Offense

The Lions have struggled with the running game, getting just enough to make their play action passing and screen game operate.  Don't be fooled by the pure rushing numbers though.  Both Javhid Best and Kevin Smith are excellent receivers and similar to Philadelphia Detroit often substitutes the short passing game to the TE's and the RB's for their run game.  They also have both Scheffler and Pettigrew at TE so there is no lack of weapons underneath if the Jets manage to stop Clavin Johnson by bracketing him in coverage. 

No matter the talk of Revis Island if the Jets put him one on one with Calvin all game they are nuts.  Period.  One guy won't hold him in check.  He will break a big one.  They also move him around a lot to keep defenses adjusting.  Despite what national outlets are saying the Lions have the firepower now -- especially with Stafford back -- to take advantage of mismatches created by CJ's presence on the field. 

the Jets will need to take away the running game, and force Detroit to be one dimensional so that the Jets pass rushers can pin back their ears and go after Stafford.  This will be the best way for the Jets to force Stafford into one of his characteristic Favre-like interceptions, and hold the Lions ot less than then their 38 points per game average.

Stephen Peterman is the weak link on the line as he is dealing with a lingering ankle injury.  Cherilus has been a great performer, but getting caught helping cover for Peterman.  The Jets will need to be creative in attacking the Lions' right side. 

One last thought for Jets fans: The Lions put up almost all of those points with their second and third string quarterbacks playing.   

I'll be at the game today along with many of you.  Go Lions!!

I wrote this article on my iPhone and posted via my remote email posting so please forgive any formatting issues v thanks! ~ DetFan1979

A Jets Eye View

I'm on the road - specifically in Ypsilanti staying with my brother as we prepare to go see the Lions take on the Jets at Ford Field tomorrow.  It's a great weekend for football as we watched Sparty take on a Gopher this afternoon.  As usual for a road trip I'm plinking this out on my iPhone so please forgive any formatting miscues!

In order to get a Jets eye view of the matchup, I asked Alan at Scouting the Jets to answer a few questions regarding the matchup.  You can find my q&a with him, as well as my general analysis of the matchup at their website:

Q. How do the Jets plan on holding back the Lions' pass rush - one if the best in the NFL?
I expect the Jets to go a little more conservative with their blocking schemes.  Usually the front 5 does not need much help but in this game I expect the Jets to keep a running back in a little more than usual.  The Jets don't like to bring a double team to help their tackles but they will probably try to chip Vanden Bosch with a tight end occasionally.  The real concern is Ndamukong Suh who will probably be moved over second year guard Matt Slauson.  I expect Slauson to get a lot of help from Nick Mangold and LaDanian Tomlinson.  

Q. The Lions put up quite a few points on Green Bay, who shut out the Jets the Jets last week -- and the Lions faced them before they started suffering their heavy injury situation and with a backup QB. How do you feel about the CJ-Stafford connection?
This is going to be a dangerous tandem for years to come.  Stafford has one of the strongest arms in the league and will continue to improve as he learns to read defenses better.  These two form a dangerous combination and I am really impressed with Johnson's competitiveness.  He competes extremely well for the ball in the air and he is not afraid to go over the middle and take hits.  He also fights to get the ball into the end zone and this competitiveness just magnifies his outstanding physical ability.  What will make Johnson even better is if he learns to run more double moves and set defenders up.  Right now his routes are easy to diagnose.  But the sky's the limit for these two.  They both have outstanding physical ability and will only get better. 

Q. Who wins Survivor: Revis Island?  Revis, Calvin Johnson, or a tie?
As much as it pains me to say this, I have to give Johnson the edge.  He is playing at a high level and really showing more intensity on the field than Revis.  Because of his holdout and injury, Revis has been slow to get into a flow.  He has made plays since coming back but has not been dominant on a play-to-play basis like he was last year.  I expect this to be a very physical match up.  Johnson likes to outmuscle DB's for the ball and normally Revis won't shy away from that contact but I did not like the way he competed versus rookie DeMaryius Thomas from Denver who has similar size to Johnson.  Thomas caught a touchdown pass over Revis in that game.  If Revis turns up the intensity level this will be a great match up but if he continues his recent play, I have to give Johnson the edge.

Sent from my iPhone

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.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Craziest Lions Poll Ever

Thanks to server problems at my Fanball Roar of the Lions site, this poll was up from January through October (and can still be found there). 


What is the top FA need?
  • Offensive Guard 174 (11%)
  • Defensive End 52 (3%)
  • Defensive Tackle 54 (3%)
  • Safety 105 (7%)
  • Cornerback 679 (43%)
  • Runningback 53 (3%)
  • Wide Receiver 25 (2%)
  • Offensive Tackle 94 (6%)
  • Backup Quarterback 13 (1%)
  • Tight End 2 (0%)
  • Linebacker 265 (17%)
  • ownership1 42 (3%)
  • Cheerleaders1 23 (1%)
  • Good Referee1 10 (1%)
Total Votes: 1591 Started: January 3, 2010 1 = Added by a guest
Results as of 10-28-2010
Offensive guard was satisfied, for the most part, by the trade that brought Rob Sims and his contract extension.  While the Lions need depth and development there, they have solidified the starters and locked them in.  The only category to get 0% - Tight End - is where Martin Mayhew has Pettigrew, Heller and Scheffler all locked into place.  It's also where he looked to trade shuttling off Dan Gronkowski for Alphonso "Carlton" Smith in what amounted to Grand Theft Cornerback looking at the current results of my most recent poll. (I missed having up random polls, didn't you?)

We found out that we fans were right not to be worried about backup QB with the way both Shaun Hill and 3rd Stringer Drew Stanton performed when their numbers were called this season. 

As I look over this list in the midpoint of the season, the weakest area by far has got to be Linebacker -- which had us more than moderately concerned overall over the course of this poll. 

Cornerback, which was a huge issue heading into the season has eased considerably with the performance of Chris Houston and the aforementioned Carlton Banks. 

The Safety Dance STILL continues into the season as Amari Spievey now gets the chance to learn on the job and show he can be a top line contributor for the Lions in the backfield, even if it is not at CB where he was originally drafted to play.  Is the potential there?  Sure.  But potential is just the probable ability to do something you currently can't do.  Like play safety at an NFL caliber level. IF it works out, could be great.  IF it doesn't...well...we'll cross that bridge when we get there. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Killer Film: Redskins at Lions

Tom "Killer" Kowalski at is once again doing his weekly film breakdown.  As usual, I will pull all the links together in game order here for your convenience:

  1. KVB Pass Rush Wrinkle a Success
  2. 'Skins Hung Hall Out to Dry on 1st TD
  3. Single Blocking Not Working on Suh
  4. Sometimes you just have to wonder
  5. First Half Fiasco Not Jim Schwartz's Fault
  6. Harris Makes Redskins "jumpy"
  7. Pettigrew Nice Move - Can do More
  8. 'Skins Pick on Spievey
  9. 34K Change in Running Style
  10. Alphonso Smith Playing Like a Veteran
  11. Stafford's Accuracy Led to Winning TD
I'll weigh in with my own game thoughts once I've had a chance to sit down tonight and see the game stream from

End of ROTL - Welcome Back DetFan1979

As of Sunday evening, there will no longer be any updates to the Fanball Roar of the Lions site as they are discontinuing their blogger network. I had a great experience with them, and am leaving on positive terms.  I only wish I had been able to get a proper link up sooner for the transition back here to DetFan1979's Roar of the Lions site.

As you can see, I have filled in the past archive of stories from the Roar, as well as updating the look and feel of this site.  I'm sure I'll continue tinkering with it.  Things will continue pretty much as usual here at DetFan1979 with analysis pieces and home of the Lions Congregation.  I may also be doing more contribution work for other blogs now that I'm a free agent again, so to speak.  Only time will tell.

Thank you to all of you who read this blog, and have for the past 2 1/2  years, no matter where it is located.  I appreciate the great support you've given me!  While at Fanball, readership tripled and I was consistently one of the top 3 traffic blogs out of over a hundred for several sports -- which is literally impossible without of all you.  Please feel free to post your thoughts and reactions to the pieces that are posted here.  One thing that I'd like to get rolling a little more again is more frequent comments (whether you agree with me or not) and some back and forth in the comments again.  I miss that, and will try to do a better job of responding to all of the comments again in a more timely manner.  Due to spammer problems, I do have the comments on moderation right now so they may not show up immediately, but will eventually. 

Thank you again!

~ Joshua Pung, DetFan1979