Detroit Lions – One Pride, Lions Will Not Be Standing Alone.

Detroit One Pride

Today when the Detroit Lions play the Green Bay Packers, it will be the most important game they will have played in over two decades.

We need to exercise the demons that we celebrated getting a high first-round draft pick.  We need to forget all the bad coaching decisions that were made.  We need to forget the debacle of Matt Millen who’s influence on this team will finally be forgotten.

Now is the time to celebrate the defense that has carried this team all year long.  We need to celebrate the qualities of Matthew Stafford who has stepped up his game this year.  We need to celebrate the magic of Calvin Johnson who without a doubt will go down in NFL history as one of the best wide receivers ever to put on an NFL uniform.

But most of all, we need to thank these Detroit Lions.  From my point of view, they have done so much to unite Detroit.  Between the Lions and the Detroit Tigers, they have once again made downtown Detroit a vibrant again.

I was born and raised in Detroit, as was my wife.  While we have moved to Seattle and haven’t been through what our fellow Detroiters had to endure, we both still have friends and family that kept us appraised.

Personally, I read the Detroit Free Press every day, mostly to keep up with what goes on both within the city as well as the sports scene.  I was heart-broken to hear that Detroit, after all the years of financial mismanagement went bankrupt.

But I was equally proud that my hometown pulled it together and are now coming out of it.  We were back in the area last week and while there are still areas that are reminders of the blight Detroit has faced for the last few decades, there is a palatable difference in the air.   Attitudes are more positive…all of the people we encountered were positive and polite.  We were treated with respect everywhere we went.

Lions have a lot to play for today…not just for the division but for the city itself.  When out Lions take the field today, they will not stand alone.  All Detroit Lions fans, regardless of where they are, will be standing with them…

One Detroit, One Pride.

Go Lions!

 

Seahawks vs Rams – Time for Payback!

 

It's Payback Time!
It’s Payback Time!

With all due respect to my good friends Rick and Bonnie, long time Rams fans, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Hawks aren’t going to be fooled this time around.

The last time these teams met was back on October 19th in St. Louis where the Rams prevailed 28-26.

If you look at this game on paper, you would have sworn the Hawks had this game…and you would have been right if it not for 3 very big plays by the savvy Rams.

C’mon now, we must give the Rams their due.  They have played all year long with a dub-par offensive team but an outstanding defense along with some very good special teams.  Granted, I’m sure many a Seahawk fan felt the Rams stole this game.  Again, you would be right but all is fair in love and war…and NFL football.

The first play involved the Rams making it appear one player was going to get a punt when in reality, it was another player on the opposite side of the field.  Stedman Baily took that punt 90 yards for a score.  Tavon Austin should be nominated for an Oscar for his depiction of staggering under the kick if he were going to receive it.

Another Rams score was set up by Benny Cunningham who took a  squib kick out of the end zone for a 75 yard return that set up another Rams score.

And of course, the play that stunned almost everyone except the  Rams themselves.  The fake punt that had punter Johnny Hekker completing an 18 yard pass on 4th and 3 to keep their drive alive.

Not that the Seahawks didn’t have their opportunities…and cashed in on most of them.  They came storming back and as I indicated above, statistically, out performed the Rams.  They gained 462 total yards against the Rams 275 yards.

Russell Wilson had 313 yards passing with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions along with 106 yards on the ground with one TD.

But the Rams did better than the Hawks in the most important statistic:  They put more points on the board than the Hawks.

So what’s the key to this game?  Watch for the Rams trickery.  While they may be out of the playoffs and the Hawks are in, the Rams would like nothing more that to make the Hawks playoff run as difficult as possible.

It will be another close one but Hawks will come out on top, 30-28.

Lions vs Packers – Time To Step Up Is Right Now!

Lions Beat The Packers to Make 2014 The Best Christmas Ever!
Lions Beat The Packers to Make 2014 The Best Christmas Ever!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

There isn’t a Lions fan out there right now that isn’t sending as much positive energy as they can to the Detroit Lions right now.

We head into Lambeau Field, a place that has been a nightmare for us for the past 23 years.  What better time to exercise a demon than this Sunday?

I was a little miffed that NBC decided to change the Sunday Night game from Lions/Packers to Bengals/Steelers.  After all, I am way the heck out here in the Great Northwest and Lions games are kinda hard to come by.

But I have the NFL Red Zone (A moment of pause here.  I would like to nominate the person that came up with this fantastic idea for the Nobel Peace Prize) so I will be able to see much of the game.  Granted, its not quite the same but we must make do with what we can, right?

I really hope that the Lions spent extra time watching tapes of the Packers and Buffalo Bills from two weeks ago. The Bills exposed some weaknesses that the Lions front four can use as well as the areas of the secondary that Matthew Stafford can attack with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.  Our two receivers are way better than the combination of Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods.

While the Buffalo Bills didn’t score any touchdowns thru the air and Kyle Chandler only threw for 158 yards, they were very effective yards.  It put the middle linebackers on their heels which allowed Fred Jackson and Company to run for 117 yards.

But it was the defense that saved the day for the Bills.  Bacarri Rambo intercepted Rodgers twice and the Bills defense sacked him once but harassed and knocked him down several times during the game.

Lions will need to go after Rodgers all day long and never let up.  Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin needs to dial it up with some blitz packages to put Rodgers on the ground.

It will be the offense that needs to really step up.  Stafford needs to have long drives to keep Rodgers on the sidelines and to tire out the Packers defense.  And those long drives need to end in touchdowns to keep as much pressure as possible on the Packers offense, to make them one dimensional and constantly play catch-up.

As you may have noticed, I am not putting a predicted score…but I do get a sense that it is the Detroit Lions time right now.  And as long as they have just one more point on the scoreboard than the Packers, we are the division champs and get a week off…and host a playoff game.

That would indeed make this a great football holiday season.

Go Lions!

Lions Win Over The Bears – There Are Some Concerns

Lions Win!! Playoff Bound Baby!
Lions Win!! Playoff Bound Baby!

The Lions won yesterday beating the Chicago Bears 20-14.

We should be happy in the result (OK, I admit the 45-7 prediction was a little out of whack) since a win is a win is a win, right?

But there are too many causes for concern:

  1. Leaving at least 17 points on the field.  Matthew Stafford didn’t have his best game but played well enough to win.  But 2 crucial interceptions in the red zone (one that should have been a touchdown) and a makeable 34 yard field goal that was blocked made the game a lot closer than it should have been.
  2. Giving up points of turnovers.  The Lions defense played well enough to have shut-out the Bears.  But a special teams gaffe gave Chicago a short field.  Jeremy Ross was indecisive on a punt, not sure to catch it and attempt a return or just fair catch it.  He did neither as he tried to allow the ball to go into the end-zone.  However, the funny shaped ball has a tendency to take weird hops.  It touched him and the Bears recovered on the Detroit 11-yard line.
  3. Just plain dumbness.  What the heck was Dominic Raiola thinking when he stomped on the leg of Ego Ferguson?  The last thing you want to do is fire up a team when they have nothing to play for but pride.  Regardless if it was intentional or not, it was used by the Bears as fuel.

The Lions can ill-afford to play a game such as this against Green Bay next week.  If I were Jim Caldwell, I would give the team about 2 minutes to celebrate and then lay into them because of the dumbness of how they played.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.  And the Lions got lucky yesterday.

They had better start focusing on being good if they want to have any chance against the Packers next week.

 

 

Lions 42, Bears 7: Bears Give Lions An Early Christmas Present!

Right Now, The Bears Are A Mess...And The Lions Aren't Going To Do Them Any Favors.
Right Now, The Bears Are A Mess…And The Lions Aren’t Going To Do Them Any Favors.

OK, the predicted score may be based on my total dislike of Bears fans.  But when the Lions were down, how often did the Bears come to town and mash us…and how we had to endure the insults of Bears fans in the process.

I have little sympathy for the Bears but I have to admit I know what they are going through.  Inept management, ineffective coaching and players who have little motivation to succeed.

That being said, I have a strong feeling the Lions will dominate the Bears to the point of embarrassment.  So much that it will more than likely cost head coach Marc Trestman his job and could be the final days of Jay Cutler.

The Lions defense is riding high right now and the mistake prone Bears will just add fuel to the fire.  If they think that Jimmy Clausen will fare any better than Cutler would, they are sadly mistaken.

Clausen was  pretty good QB for Notre Dame but once again, being a good QB in College doesn’t mean you are going to be a good QB at the Pro level.  Clausen, in his three years with the Carolina Panthers, played in 13 games, all in 2010.  His stats show him attempting 299 passes, completing a little over 50% of them with three touchdowns and nine interceptions.  I guess there was a reason Clausen didn’t see the field over the next two years.

There is also an issue with his character.  In 2010, the Panthers still had Steve Smith who for the longest time was all the Panthers had as far as an offensive weapon.  It all boiled down to that Smith pretty much thought Clausen was a punk.  If that meant that Clausen couldn’t play the game, Smith wasn’t that far off as Clausen went 16 of 33 for 188 yards, tossing one interception and losing two of three fumbled snaps.

I’m not sure the reasoning for making a change at the Bears QB spot right now but it’s a desperate move.  Cutler may be mistake prone but he is the best QB the Bears have right now.  Granted, Cutler can also be called a punk since he can be stubborn and rely too much on his arm.  And if this is a disciplinary thing, it’s too little too late if you want to face reality.

All I can say to the Bears is thanks for the early Christmas present!

Detroit’s Food Scene

My wife Nancy and I have traveled back home to Detroit to see my Mom who is 91 years young.

During our time here, we always have to hit a couple of our favorite places to eat.  On this trip, we were able to get our Mexican Village fix as well as our square pizza fix from the Cloverleaf.

I just had a thought….if we could put together Detroit’s food and Seattle’s craft beers, it could be considered  a sensory overload for the taste buds!

Detroit has some of the best Mexican food that you could ever taste.  We normally go to the Mexican Village restaurant out in Utica but Nancy cut my teeth on Mexican food when she took me to the original Mexican Village in Downtown Detroit.

I have also had the pleasure of eating at Xochimilco on Bagley Avenue in Downtown Detroit which is even better than Mexican Village.  But not by much!

Granted, the only thing I get at both places is the chicken enchiladas.  I have ventured in to other parts but man, when you have perfection sitting in front of you, why go to anything else?

The other staple in Detroit is square pizza.  Has a kid growing up, we often had Cal’s deep dish pizza.  Cal’s had a couple of places if I remember correctly.  On Warren Avenue between Bedford and Devonshire and then again on Harper Avenue near the Old Harper Sporting Goods store.

Both places have closed but I understand that the Cal’s recipe has found a home at Gee Willies in St. Clair Shores.

But what is perhaps the best deep dish pizza in the area comes from the Cloverleaf Bar and Restaurant in East Pointe.  The crust is nice and crispy with a flavor that really can’t be described.  You need to experience it because if I have to tell you what it taste like, you aren’t going to get it.

It’s been nice being back here and watching the Lions win against the Vikings…and I know that they will win again this Sunday against the Bears.  But alas, we will be back in Seattle with our great beer but perhaps not so great Pizza.  Nancy makes tremendous Mexican food so it won’t be too much of a withdrawal.

Take care everyone!

Seahawks at Cardinals: Hawks Win 10-7

Steven Hauschka will be everyone's favorite Seahawk after Sunday's Win!
Steven Hauschka will be everyone’s favorite Seahawk after Sunday’s Win!

The man in the picture above doesn’t seem like hero material, does he.  I mean, he’s not what the typical hero should look like.  Someone who is at least 6’5″ and 240 pounds with a stare that could cut granite.

Believe it or not, Steven Hauschka is 6’4″ but comes in at 220 lbs. with a stare that could make people laugh.  But don’t let that demeanor fool you.  He has ice in his veins and has come through in many, many clutch situations.

While he may be a well-traveled kicker (the Hawks are his sixth NFL team, plus he had a season kicking for the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives), since 2011, Hauschka has found a home with Seattle.

As for the game this Sunday, I have a gut feeling that this is going to be a classic throwback defensive struggle.  Points are going to be at a premium with both teams scoring only one touchdown.

And it’s all going to come down to Hauschka’s right foot with less than 30 seconds to play…and he will come through with a 48 yard field goal to win it.

He may be the hero of the moment but the hero of the game is going to be that Seattle defense.  They will harass and  annoy the Cardinal’s third string QB Ryan Lindley, causing him to rush his throws and keep him off his game.

The secondary will clamp down on the Cardinal receivers.  Not sure if they will get any picks but for the most part, a lot of broken up passes and sure handed tackling as to mitigate any big plays.

I guess that would be one of the keys to the game.  If the defense can force the Cardinals into 3rd and long situations and get Lindley to throw downfield, opportunities for turnovers will increase.  I am fairly confident that Cardinals coaching staff will have Lindley on a short leash throwing a lot of screen passes and short passes over the middle to tight-ends and running backs.

And that just plays into perhaps the strongest part of the Seattle defense, the linebacker corps.  Bobby Wagner and Malcolm Smith need to key in on those screens and passes over the middle.  If there are going to be any picks in this game, I predict they will come from the linebackers.

But the game will come down to Hauschka’s foot…and it will be one of the sweetest wins for the Seahawks this season!

Go Hawks!

Lions Win A Nail-Biter Over The Vikes, 16-14

If the axiom “defense wins championships” is true, then the Lions are going to be OK.

However, they also need to remember they need to score more points then the other team.  The Lions did that yesterday, but just barley.

But a win is a win no matter if it’s be 2 or 200.  The Lions offense had to get it together enough late in the game and for only the third time in the past 19 years, the Lions have a double-digit win season.

Yesterday’s game against the Vikings wasn’t pretty.  But to be fair, not all games can be won by two touchdowns or more every week.  Everyone knows that when the Lions offense is clicking, not any teams can stop them.

But I did see some issues on offense that have cropped up from seasons past:

1.  Matthew Stafford focusing on Calvin Johnson.  I understand that we need to get CJ the ball but it can’t be forced.  We have other receivers on the team, most notably Golden Tate.  You remember him, right?  He’s the guy that stepped in when CJ went down for three games.  And the Lions won those games which included two stirring come from behind wins against the New Orleans Saints at Ford Field and the Atlanta Falcons in London.

2.  Penalties.  I know that with all the rule changes, penalties have played a big part in a lot of games for a lot of the teams.  But it seems to me the Lions still have the dumb ones occurring like holding on huge run gains or false starts when facing third and short.  They have gotten better but there is still room for improvement.

3.  Run game.  This isn’t a big of an issue as it has been.  But I want to focus on the style more than anything else.  There is a lack of imagination in the run game.  I understand that you can’t get too cute with running but there has to be better ways to disguise where the run is going.  I really like Joique Bell’s abilities and I think because of his success, we can say good-bye to Reggie Bush next year.  But the Lions need to develop Bell into more of an all-around player and get him involved on screen passes and more imaginative run plays.

Next week, the Lions head to Soldier Field to face the crumbling Bears…and I expect this game to be a dog-fight as well.  Lions need to consider this game the most important one this week and not look past the Bears.  They may be in disarray but are still a very dangerous team.

Go Lions!

Titus Young – From The Penthouse to The Outhouse

titus young

When the Detroit Lions drafted Titus Young in the second round of the 2011 draft, I thought the Lions finally found a wide receiver that could complement All-World Calvin Johnson.

But now, at age 25, he was arrested for the third time on five counts of battery…how far and how fast Young fell from grace is astounding.

Were there warning signs of trouble?  Or was Young just another player that coaches looked the other way because of his talent?

To say that Young was a game changer may have been an understatement.  His high school stats are impressive.  While at University High School in Los Angeles, he amassed 1,879 in 92 catches averaging 20.4 yards per catch in his 3 years as a varsity player.

At Boise State, he continued his dominance posting 3,063 yards over 204 receptions while scoring 25 TD’s, including a career high 83 yard touchdown score.  He was considered by many a top-flight receiver but trouble was brewing for Mr. Young.

Young was in trouble frequently while at Boise State.  Missing workouts, arguing with coaches and being generally a disruption to the team.  Regardless of how talented a player you are, being disruptive causes teams to lose cohesion and trust in one another is lost.

Discipline seemed to have little effect on him.  Then coach Chris Petersen sat him the first quarter of the 2007 Hawaii Bowl for violating team rules.  In 2008, Petersen suspended him for three games, again for violating team rules.  Two weeks later, Petersen extend the suspension indefinitely saying the team and Young “needed a break” from each other.

In 2011, Young declared for the NFL Draft…and trouble continued to follow.  One pre-draft training site kicked him out because of his attitude.  All of these warning flags, despite being considered by many draft pundits a considerable talent, caused many teams to bypass Young in the draft.

The Lions took a chance on him.  Desperate for the need to get help for Calvin Johnson, Lions felt the 5’11” 174-pound receiver with 4.39 speed was just the ticket.  And Young seemed to respond to the Lions by working hard.

In his rookie season, Young was used primarily as the 2nd receiver.  He was named the Detroit Sportscasters Association Rookie of the Year.

But a leopard rarely changes spots, right?  And Young was no exception.  Despite his success on the field, his troubles off the field  began to escalate…and even at times leaked between the lines.

He started to become undisciplined on the field.  In a game against the New Orleans Saints, he shoved safety Malcolm Jennings in the face, drawing a 15-yard penalty and was benched the rest of the game.  Other incidents occurred and caused Young’s friends to ask the NFL for help.  Young declined the offer extended from the NFL.

2011 fared no better as Young continued to spiral down.  Young sucker-punched Lions safety Louis Delmas and was suspended for two weeks.  After a game against the Green Bay Packers, the Lions again suspended Young for getting into a verbal confrontation with receivers coach Shawn Jefferson and for deliberately lining up in the wrong position two times during the game.   The Green Bay game was the last game he played for the Lions.  In February of 2014, the Lions released Young.

The St. Louis Rams claimed Young off waivers but then released him a  few days later.  Head coach Jeff Fisher said the reason was because the team wanted to go in a different direction.  However, Sports Illustrated reported the reasons were because the Rams were concerned about his behavior.  He seemed lost in interviews with Fisher and threw a fit when he was barred from boarding a flight to Los Angles after forgetting his ID.

After his release, Young was out of football, considered a pariah because of his behavioral issues.  Teams acknowledged his talent but his disruptive ways more than offset that talent.

What happened to Young isn’t rare.  The only reason his story is so prevalent is because he happened to make it to the NFL.  But no parent, relative, coach or teacher worked hard enough to help him.  Granted, we all know that people need to want to be helped and if Young spurned all the offers of help, there was little that could be done.

However, he went through several systems and became successful in each of them because he was a talented football player.  So who is culpable in all of this?  Certainly, Young has to be held accountable for his actions.  But I also feel that society is accountable as well.

Of all his days playing a game he loves, where was the discipline, the one tough enough to sit him when he acted out?  Not during his college or NFL days, by then, the damage was already done.

But the elementary and high school teams, they needed to start the process then.  Kick him off teams instead of treating him special because of his talent.

I don’t know all of the ins and outs of Young’s life and I don’t purport to being an expert in behavior issues.  But I do recognize that Young was screaming for help for a long time…and was ignored.

So from the penthouse to the outhouse he  goes, probably going to jail and most likely and early ending to a once promising life.

Seahawk,Eagle Predection: Seattle 23, Philly 20 – Hawks Win in OT

Hawks Philly Score

It seems to me that everyone is in awe of Chip Kelly’s fast moving offense.  Sure they can score points at a frantic pace.  Over the last 5 games, they have averaged 34.4 points per game.  But other than the 53-20 loss against the Packers over that span, they haven’t faced a top tier defense during that time.

Right now, the Seahawks are the number one ranked team in the NFL for total defense.  They are allowing 285 yards per game and only giving up only 18.4 points per game.  Defense travels well in the NFL and if the Hawks can stay close until the fourth quarter, they can win it with a 45-yard Steven Hauschka field goal.

Hawks win this game, I can almost feel the momentum build and the Hawks can win out the rest of the season and take the division.  That would guarantee at least one home playoff game and they could possibly play these Eagles at Century Link.  And that’s when the party really begins.

But this game is what they need to focus on.  And if there is one thing this team can do is focus…and Lord help the opposing team that faces a focused Pete Carroll team.

Seattle Seahawks 23, Philadelphia Eagles, 20 OT.