Sunday, March 2, 2008

Faithful to the Lions

Warning: This post is 100% all about Detroit Lions football. This wasn't really a post that I expected a lot of comments, or even people to read because I can't name anyone in Artichoke Land that likes American football. Whether you're an Australian who says his Football is better, or if you're an Englishmen who says football is soccer, I don't think a lot of you will care for this post. Feel free to read, even comment if you have an opinion on the matter. Maybe I'm wrong, their could be a whole community of closet Lions fans reading this, if so, I'd be happy to read your comments and share my ideas. But sports is what I know, it's what I love, so you may want to get used to posts like this. Enjoy...

I, for some reason, always have and always will have undeniable loyalty to the Detroit Lions. Every game they play I believe they can win and every season I believe they can make it to the playoffs(except for the obvious part of the season when you already know who has made it and who hasn't.). They have a habit of getting a bunch of no name players to fill position needs, which I am not against because most of the time when they sign players who were stars with their previous team, they kind of slump with the Lions(i.e. Dre Bly and Marcus Pollard). It seemed like no players they could find could fit in with their team or their system. During the 2006 season when the only wide receivers they had were Roy Williams and Mike Furry, Roy Williams made it to the Pro Bowl and also collected more than 1,000 yards receiving, Mike Furry(who was previously a safety) collected over 1,000 yards receiving and Jon Kitna threw for over 4,000 yards. So it led all fans to believe their offense was solid. 2007 draft rolls around and the pick up the top rated receiver in the draft and Lions' Nation is going wild. They have an offensive genius calling plays with Mike Martz, they have 2 1,000 yard receivers and a smart, but no Tom Brady, quarterback in Jon Kitna and now get a rookie receiver at 6'4" about 230 lbs. and ran a 4.3 in the 40(wearing someone elses shoes) during the combine. Things were looking great at the midway point of the season when the Lions were 6-2. Well they ended 7-9. Shaun Rogers was a great defensive lineman but he was constantly overweight therefore couldn't make it throw a whole season without sucking on an oxygen tank on the side line. Our starting corner was Fernando Bryant. I don't care what his stat sheet said I swear he was 5'5" 120 lbs. because that is what he looked like on the field and previous seasons he was always hurt because of his size and getting knocked around. This year, they released him. They traded Shaun Rogers to the Bengals for a 3rd and 4th round pick which infuriated me because I know he is worth more than that. The next day I see the deal fell through and he ended up going to Cleveland(which worked for me because I have an unspoken loyalty to the Browns, being from Ohio and all...Go Bucks!) for two 3rd round picks and starting corner Leigh Bodden. No, Leigh Bodden is not a pro bowl caliber corner back(yet anyway) but he is an upgrade from Fernando Bryant in my eyes. He is 6'2" which is the average wide receiver height and not too much smaller than the taller wide outs so he won't have the problem Bryant and many other corners have of having receivers like Randy Moss hopping up and catching a ball way over their head. So I believe that is an upgrade. Also they got Safety Dwight Smith who was very solid for the Minnesota Vikings last season. Another plus with that is he was drafted by Tampa Bay and played in Rod Marinelli's(Lions Head Coach) Tampa 2 defense, which we use now, and was very productive in that defense. So I believe although it isn't completely solved, the Lions secondary problem is fixed. Another thing I wanted them to do in Free Agency was bolster than D-Line with the departure of Rogers, and definitely before anything, fix their offensive line. With the D-Line, they may have missed their chance. They already have a solid DE in Dewayne White, and a solid DT in Cory Redding but a D-Line in our defense consists of 4 linemen. Kalimba Edwards has been somewhat of a disappointment since we drafted him and we don't exactly have another solid DT after Redding. They missed out on signing top Free Agent DE Justin Smith, Jared Allen was franchise tagged by his team, and Chris Clemons from Oakland signed with the Eagles(which I am pumped about because after the Lions I am a die hard Eagle) so it appears DE is out of the question. But, I do believe pro bowl DT Rod Coleman is on the market still. Although he is on the wrong side of 30 he is still a very solid pick up and a quick fix until the future so we can concentrate solely on the offensive line. I believe with a good O-Line and a good D-Line any team can be good because their are two keys in football. Protect your quarterback and get at their quarterback. I don't care how bad your receivers are(which ours are amazing) is a quarterback has time to dissect a defense they can hit any receiver they want for an easy catch. I don't care how great your receivers are(the Lions have been a good example of this) if you can't protect your quarterback, they can't throw the ball to anyone and if they rush it, the only one getting it is the other team. So since a DE is out of the question, resign Edwards to keep him for another season, try to get Rod Coleman and just let him, Redding, and White do what they do best and just hope Edwards finally develops into what we all thought he would. Once that is done, get some offensive linemen. We already have Damien Woody who is solid. Our Center is solid enough. We need help at RT, LT and LG badly. So that needs to be addressed ASAP. My suggestion is definitely spend your draft picks on an O-Lineman. Even try to trade up in the draft to have a better shot at getting Jake Long who has had way better combine stats this year than Joe Thomas last year who was outstanding in his rookie season and was a major part of Cleveland's productivity this past season. Hopefully in the preseason Drew Stanton can show that he learned a lot in his rookie season since all he could do was observe while recovering from knee surgery. I believe he could be the QB of the future for the Lions. Jon Kitna is a smart and experienced QB that Stanton could learn a lot from and Stanton has a very strong arm which is good with our 3 and 4 wide receiver set because he can really stretch the field if we need to, which we will against teams like the Eagles that now have 3 pro bowl caliber corner backs. So if Stanton is fully recovered, is in shape, and has done his homework, I believe he can be a great leader for that team. Just look what he did for a talentless Michigan State team while he was there. They weren't great, but he was.

Another problem, a small problem, they need to address is linebacker. Ernie Sims is a freak. He is great. He was named defensive team captain at the start of his sophomore season. So ROLB is not a problem for us. Our other two linebackers are OK, they aren't great, aren't good, they are OK. Boss Bailey does have unbelievable speed and is still youthful so I wouldn't mind keeping him, but he needs to start lifting weights with Ernie Sims and learning how to tackle from him because tackling is one of Detroit's major problems and a lot of RBs these days are starting to out weigh linebackers so a lot of teams are investing in power backs. So Boss, you have an intimidating name, but it is time to live up to your brother Champ Bailey who has been nothing but solid for the Denver Broncos. Paris Lenon, our middle linbacker, who is pretty decent, but lost us a game against Dallas last year when a fumble was right in front of him with less than a minute to play and we had the lead. All he had to do was fall on top of if and end the game but instead he ran after it and kicked it to a Dallas player. Then Dallas went down and scored and the game was over. He has his moments and has good games, but we need a consistent MLB. Earlier in the offseason there were talks of Al Wilson, pro bowl linebacker for the Denver Broncos, was visiting with Detroit and both parties were very interested, I don't know what happened on that, hopefully talks are still going on.

Well, I said it last season and I'll say it again. I believe this is a year where the Lions will make the playoffs. They have a couple things left they need to adjust in FA and the draft and if they do that, they can definitely make a splash in the playoffs.

Kal El

P.S.-Kit, I'm sorry, if you read this, half way through I was deep into this post and realized I wasn't spacing my paragraphs. If you notice, I realized it half way through and started to do it but I didn't feel like taking the time to go back and fix it. So I'm just going to apologize and try to do better next time. Although you probably won't read this because you don't even like American sports.


Head Artichoke said...

I am an American football fan. A Saints fan, so that should tell you I am happy to follow a bad team too.

The Lions are a team without character and with too many WRs. There really has to be a team mentality to win in the NFL. That's why teams with influential coaches win games.

Kal El said...

I figured you had an interest, if not liked, American football because I remember you asking me fantasy tips at camp. The Saints aren't really a bad team, the first year they had Drew Brees they made it to the NFC Championship. Last year they started bad, they played the Colts first game and their defense was too weak but they did cover that with the signing or Vilma and Randall Gay, they should be solid this year.

I believe the Lions do have an influential coach. I think what has been happening since Rod Marinelli started with them he was rebuilding. He brought in a new defense and ever since he got here he has been getting rid of those who don't fit in the defense(i.e. Dre Bly) and bringing in those who fit well in his defense and he has coached before with that defense(i.e. Dewayne White and Dwight Smith). With the addition of Leigh Bodden, they should have a better defense this year.

As far as too many receivers. I don't think they do have too many receivers. There is a difference between having too many receivers and too many "stars." As far as I'm concerned Roy Williams is our only star receiver with Calvin Johnson on the verge of being a star. I fully believe he will be a star after how well he performed last year. No, he didn't get over 1,000 receiving yards and no he didn't bring in too many TDs and yes dropped a few easy passes. But if you take into the fact that he was playing hurt since week 3, even when he shouldn't have been, he played very well. The Lions' offensive woes really had nothing to do with their receivers, more in the backfield and offensive line.

Tatum Bell was a 1,000 yard rusher for the Denver Broncos and when he came to the Lions he proved the theory that anyone with two legs and two eyes can run successfully in Denver under Mike Shanahan because he had a total of like 71 yards all season. Kevin Jones is a productive back but he is somewhat injury prone. T.J. Duckett was a surprise to everyone and was really productive for us.

Back to Rod Marinelli. I do believe he is an influential coach. He has been preaching the same thing ever since he got here and the team really has done nothing but improved with him and who he has brought in. Also, who he has got rid of and he stands by his belief in playing until the whistle and showed that by getting rid of a superstar in Shaun Rogers, one of the best DTs in the game, because he couldn't be productive through the entire season. So he has done nothing other than what he said he was going to do and every press conference with him he says the same thing, he believes in his team and they believe in him and they are just going to continue to rebuild. I think he is the right guy for the job and they will eventually be successful with him. Quite possibly this season, if they finally address their offensive line problems.

I think this will be a good year for the Saints too.

Head Artichoke said...

I'd like to think Marinelli will do something, but I think his influence should have already had an effect. We'll see.

The Saints did well after Katrina and with the first year of their head coach. Now if both of our RBs are healthy this season I'll be as excited as I was at the start of last season. We've got a good team with a good attitude. The defence lacks a bit, but the offence is pretty scary when it's all healthy.