Tag Archives: Jim Caldwell

Detroit Lions – What I Know (Thoughts Of A Dreamer)

First off – Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday season!

I’ve been ruminating on a myriad of things regarding my favorite team.  And since I have joined a Facebook group called Detroit Lions Die-Hards, I find that I am not so alone in my fanaticism of the oldest team in the NFL to have never made a Super Bowl appearance.

Over the last month or so, I have been gathering statistical information regarding our Lions.  And after watching the Ricky Jean Francois interview, it appears that many of us are in agreement on changes that need to be made.  It’s not so much about turning over the roster (which seems to be the go to action) but rather wanting to change the culture.

He referenced Ghandi in regards to change.  While I could not find the quote he mentions, the quote I came closest to it is just as relevant to the Detroit Lions culture:  “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

Since the Ford family purchased the Detroit Lions in 1963, the culture of the Lions changed.  What was once a powerhouse team, appearing in the post-season 6 times from 1930 to 1963, winning 4 championships during that time and posting a 7-2 post-season record, they became a doormat.

From 1963 to the present, no championships and a dismal 1-12 post season record.  55 years since the Ford family purchased the Lions and 61 years since winning a championship.

Despite the Ford family being the constant presence in all of this, I don’t feel the current configuration is the problem.  Martha Ford and the Ford daughters have made significant changes.

Bob Quinn was hired away from the New England Patriots with the hope of making the Lions more of a presence in the NFL.

Jim Caldwell, despite the fact he had twice in his four year stint, was fired because he couldn’t get them past the first round.  I’m sure that both Martha Ford and Quinn weren’t satisfied with merely making the playoffs.

Which brings me to us, the Lions fans.  So many times I have heard and read that a successful Lions season is making the Wild Card.

Well screw that.  All that has done for us is compile an 0-12 playoff road record.  That’s supposed to be successful?

PROTECT THE HOME TURF

It’s been said by many announcers that the Detroit Lions have some of the best fans in the NFL…and in the same breath, have been waiting for the team to produce.  Ford Field needs to become a place that teams fear instead of having a 60% to 70% chance of winning.

My first foray in to statistical analysis was to compare the Detroit Lions to 2 other NFL teams that have had tremendous success since 1990, the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots.

Both the Packers and the Patriots stress the importance of wining at home.

Since 1990, the Pack has averaged a 6-2 home record while going 4-4 on the road.  10 years of going 10-6 will get you into the playoffs a lot.  From 1990 to 2017 (27 years), the Packers have made the playoffs 19 times and winning 2 Super Bowls.

The Patriots?  Even better.  They averaged 6-2 at home and 5-3 on the road.  That translates to an average of 11-5 over 27 seasons.   They also made 19 playoff appearances and won 5 Super Bowls.  They played 26 playoff games at home and won 22 of them.  In all of the road playoff games, they went 3-6.

In that same time frame, the Lions have averaged a 4-4 home record and a 3-5 road record for an overall average of 7-9.  Eight playoff appearances in 27 years and a 1-9 record, the lone win a 38-6 home win…all of the other playoff games were on the road, all losses.

Both the Packers and the Patriots stress winning at home because they know home field advantage is an even bigger intangible during the playoffs than the regular season.

FIND AN IMAGINATIVE OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

When Jim Bob Cooter took over as offensive coordinator, there was cause for some celebration.  Cooter was not well known to the average fan but since 2007 when he was a graduate assistant for the Tennessee Volunteers, he gradually worked his way up to offensive coordinator for the Lions after stops as an offensive assistant with the Colts (2009-2011), Quality Control Coordinator with the Chiefs (2012), Offensive Assistant with the Broncos (2013) and as QB coach with the Lions (2014-2015).

His start as OC for the Lions began when the play-calling of Joe Lombardi was fired in 2015 when the Lions started out 1-6 and for the most part, what really triggered the firing could be Cooter’s undoing as well:  Not getting enough production in the Red Zone.

Of course, as always, Lombardi has moved on to better things and is now the QB coach for the New Orleans Saints, a favorite to win the Super Bowl this year.

Cooter’s early success didn’t last and this year, perhaps hampered by new Head Coach Matt Patrica views on how the offense should operate, the Lions find themselves at the bottom of the league in both yards and points.

Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings was a perfect example:  The Lions got out to a 9-0 lead.  But a 9-0 lead in the NFL is markedly different from a 21-0 lead.  Vikings got 2 TD’s before the half (including the back-breaking Hail Mary catch by Kyle Rudolph) to take a 14-9 lead.  Detroit never scored for the rest of the game as the Vikings dominated the Lions at Ford Field.

Cooter has now become conservative in his play calling, pretty much making the Lions a team trying not to lose as opposed to trying to win.

There is a subtle difference there.  In my opinion, when you “race” out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter, you don’t try to protect that lead for the rest of the game.  Great teams and great coaches press the gas pedal down and keep putting up points, breaking the will of their opponents.  I point to the Saints, Patriots, Rams and Chiefs this season as prime examples.

We all know that the Lions have rarely had an effective offensive attack.  Despite the many different types of offenses run during the years of Barry Sanders (including the June Jones/Mouse Davis run & shoot phase), it was still pretty much run Barry, run.

And when the Lions did have an offense (based on scoring), the defense was normally (based on scoring) ranked in the bottom half of the league.  In fact, only one time since 1990 did the Detroit Lions rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive scoring:  1997 where the Lions scored 379 points and the defense gave up 306 points.  Lions were #4 in scoring that year and the defense was #10 in points allowed.

So now the Lions, with yet another losing record (their 19th in 28 seasons) are seeking yet another change in offensive philosophies.

The Lions have had 13 offensive coordinators since 1990, the longest tenured was Scott Linehan who served for 5 years (2009 – 2013).  They have had their share of notables such as Linehan, Mike Martz and Dan Henning.  And about the average stay since 1990 is just a little over 2 years.  Unlike other teams who lose OC’s for head coaching jobs, most Lions former OC’s have taken steps back or are out of football.

So now the search for a new offensive coordinator will be underway after the season.  It is my opinion they should tap someone from the college ranks to breath some new life into the offense and focus on imaginative play calling in the red-zone.  Oklahoma’s Cale Gundy has done good things to open up the Sooners offense, might be a good choice to open up the attack and see what plays he could create for Theo Riddick and Kenny Golladay.

If the Lions are going to promote from within, George Godsey, the Lions current QB coach would be a logical ascension.  He’s called plays before during his stint in Houston.  While he may have a good rapport with Stafford, I’d be afraid that we’d be in for the same old tired offense.

Todd Haley is an offensive guru with a huge ego to go along with it (re:  Mike Martz) but he would have no issues with pushing Stafford.  Haley’s coaching jobs normally have ended in disasters and both he and Stafford would need to check their egos at the door…but with Haley’s play calling and Stafford’s talent, they could bring out the best in each other.

SPEAKING OF MATTHEW STAFFORD

As far as I’m concerned, I think it would be a mistake to trade or release Stafford.  With a salary at $26.5 million, he is the second highest paid QB and it would be nearly impossible to have another team be willing to take on that salary.  And despite his talent, the Lions would never get significant value for him..so the dream of getting multiple high draft picks for him is just that, a dream.

Lions might be wise to draft a quarterback this year with the expectation to back Stafford up for the next two years and then when the decision is made to go younger, they have a solid QB waiting in the wings.

Draft Tek has Justin Herbert out of Oregon (do we dare think of another Joey Harrington?) as the #1 ranked QB in the draft class but I don’t think the Lions will take him with their first pick, not when the D-Line needs so much help.

More likely, they will have a shot at Brett Rypien out of Boise State or even Garner Minshew from Washington State.  They will need some seasoning before they can lead an NFL team.

If Bob Quinn makes a trade with the team that has the first pick (most likely the Cardinals) to take Herbert, that means they would lose their #5 pick and any shot at getting Joey Bosa.  Cards need a QB as well and might want more than the Lions would be willing to give to give up Herbert.

And with that, I look forward to the Detroit Lions 2019 season with hope…again.

 

Detroit Lions – Breaking Our Hearts Again

Normally, I wait a day or so before I write about a disappointing loss.  But this time, the Lions had it in their grasp and literally let it slip away.

And it’s not a single player or coach that is too blame for all of this.  It is a culmination of players and coaches that are to blame.

Let’s begin with linebacker Tahir Whitehead.  Lions have the Bengals in third and long and just about everyone knew the Bengals were going to throw a screen pass, particularly Whitehead who had it read perfectly.

Instead of wrapping the player up, he chose to go for the big hit and Giovani Bernard bounced off and ran for 12 yards and picked up a critical third down.

Next up, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.  He didn’t call a bad game.  In fact, I thought it was one of his more balanced attacks where the offense gained 87 yards rushing and 207 yards receiving.  However, the Bengals took away Golden Tate, the Lions most dangerous receiver and Cooter did absolutely nothing to free Tate up.

How do you not find away to get the ball to the most effective player, who leads the league with the most yards after catch?

And finally, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell.  He blew the challenge call when the Lions had a third and 28 and Matthew Stafford connected with Tate for a 48 yard catch.  However, the ball was loose and referees called an incomplete pass.  With less than 3 minutes to go and you are fighting for your playoff life, why not challenge the call?  It was close enough to be have the call reversed.  Use everything you have available to you.

Caldwell failed the Lions and the fans the most by not challenging that call.

The Lions are not that far away from being a playoff team.  And I’ve been a fan for a very long time and I am not running away from them now.

Caldwell did bring some sense of stability when he was hired in 2014.  He has gotten them into the payoffs twice in that time but never got past the first round.

It’s time he goes.

In fact, it’s probably time for GM Bob Quinn to blow up the coaching staff.  I’d like to see Teryl Austin move in to the top spot and the Lions keep Cooter as Offensive Coordinator since he and Matthew Stafford have such a great connection.

But if you are going to blow up the coaching staff, you might just clean house.  And this would be a golden opportunity to have Bob Quinn get an elite and imaginative staff to bring a fire the Lions haven’t had since the days of Wayne Fontes.

How about dipping into the New England Patriots staff and get Josh McDaniels?  He has a year of head coaching experience and has been a productive offensive coordinator in two stints with the Patriots as well one year with the St. Louis Rams.

Want somebody fresh?  Go after David Shaw, Stanford’s head coach.  He has put up some impressive records offensively and would bring some imagination to the Lions offense.

I suppose this is a gut reaction to yet another heart-breaking season.  But I also witnessed that the Lions DIDN’T WANT THIS GAME!  And that falls squarely on the shoulders of the head coach, Jim Caldwell.

Yes, the stoic manner he has, the calm, reserved manner and the emotionless persona has pretty much sucked the passion from the Lions game.  Football is an emotional game and the head coach has to find that fine balance of when to use it and when not to.  Unfortunately, Caldwell chooses never to tap into emotion when it’s needed.

Outside of blowing up the coaching staff, the Lions aren’t that far away from having a really, really good team.  Matthew Stafford is a great quarterback and they have good receivers in Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron (though he needs to work on hanging on to passes) and the promising rookie Kenny Golladay.

A few weeks ago, I was promoting the fact the Lions need a big running back in order to grind out games.  But with the emergence of Tion Green over the past few games, I don’t think we need to.  We can lose Ameer Abdullah and have Theo Riddick take over as the primary back and beef up the defensive line.

Ziggy Ansah needs some help…and while I applaud the Lions for picking up Dwight Freeney for the playoff push, he isn’t a permanent solution.  Haloti Ngata is on his last legs and Ansah needs a partner in crime to get pressure on QB’s.

Detroit Lions – Look Forward to 2017 and Beyond

running-lion

Well damn.

The Detroit Lions came to Seattle to play in the NFC Wild Card game with some lofty expectations…only to discover that the Seattle Seahawks were indeed a very large obstacle they could not get around.

Some of it was of their own doing. The four dropped passes (three of which would have led to first downs). Four very stupid 15-yard penalty calls (two by 13 year veteran Anquan Bouldin and one by Haloti Ngata, an 11-year vet. Those two players should know better.) And of course, the most evident, they were made one-dimensional when the Seahawk defense took away the Lions anemic running and forced Matthew Stafford to put the game on his shoulders.

Not that Matthew Stafford didn’t relish the challenge. I mean, after all, he did lead the Lions this year to an NFL record of 8 fourth quarter comebacks in 2016. And don’t give me that tripe that they accomplished that feat against mediocre teams. Ticks me off to no end when Peyton Manning, Eli Manning or Tom Brady accomplish something similar to this and they are hailed the greatest. But when Matthew Stafford does it, it’s for some other reason.

I’m not going to re-hash the season nor am I going to re-hash the wild card game. You all saw it. Suffice to say, I was rather uncomfortable when I showed up to a friend’s house to watch the game in my Golden Tate III jersey…and even more so after the game had ended. Thankfully I have fantastic friends so the needling wasn’t too awful.

I will say this: I am going to give the Lions organization a pass for 2016. Not that it is of any great importance that I do so since I really, really doubt that what I write here for Beer Thinker Sports is read by anyone in the Detroit Lions organization. None the less, I’ll give them the pass.

My reasons are that since this is the first full season for GM Bob Quinn. And while some of the moves and acquisitions he made prior to the start of the season got the Lions a chance to be in the playoffs, there is more work to be done. And I’m sure Mr. Quinn will be the first to admit it.

What I am going to offer is just my opinion on what’s needed for the future of the Detroit Lions.

  1. The road to the NFC North Division runs through Green Bay. Not a big surprise. Since 2011, the Green Bay Packers have won the NFC North title five out of the last six years. Not sure how they can accomplish that other than to say it rests all on how well Aaron Rodgers plays. And for the last three years, when it looked as though each time the Pack had no chance of even getting to the playoffs, they find a way to dig deep and pull yet another miracle season. So the first step for the Lions to be successful is to build a team that can stop Aaron Rodgers. Best way to beat him is to keep him off the field. That means the Lions need to get themselves a running game that can tire out an opportunistic Green Bay defense and keep their best player on the bench. That means improving the Lions offensive line and getting a dominating running back to take pressure off Mathew Stafford. It also means the Lions need an upgrade to the defense, particularly in the secondary as well as the defensive line. Darius Slay is a good cornerback but Rodgers pin point accuracy can defeat just about any one on one coverage. In order to force Rodgers into mistakes, pressure has to be put on him, force him into making mistakes. Unfortunately, it’s a Catch-22 as Rodgers has an insane ability to escape and keep plays alive until someone gets open. But if the Lions can get another speed rusher to complement Ziggy Ansah and replace an aging Haloti Ngata, they just might be able to at least stay with the Packers.
  2. The Lions need to get a big running back to help Matthew Stafford. No surprise here. For the last 10 years, the Lions have averaged an anemic 92.8 yards a game and only once did a player top 1,000 yards for the season, Reggie Bush in 2013 for 1,006 yards. I don’t know about you but I am pretty fed-up hearing the words the Lions need an “effective running game.” It’s a bunch of bull. The Lions need a rusher that will carry the ball 25-30 yards per game and get you 110 to 125 yards per game. That leads to better time management and keeps the opposing offense off the field. It may be boring but it does lead to wins despite the fact the NFL has become a pass-happy league. And that requires a big running back, one that can make up for any deficiencies in the offense line yet capitalize when blocking is done correctly. Not a big play back, Lions have that in Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. But a big back that will wear down a defense and allow Abdullah and Riddick to hit big gains when they do come in for a change of pace. And since a big back will force the linebackers to come up, that opens up the passing game and all of a sudden, the Lions dominate on time of possession.  It will also give the Lions a bigger threat in the red zone. Don’t know about you…I like Matt Prater and all but I’d like to see games where he just kicks extra points instead of field goals.

There are 4 running backs in the 2017 draft that I think would be a great fit in the Lions running game. In most cases, any one of these running backs will make Ameer Abdullah expendable.

  • Leonard Fournette, LSU. At 6-1 and 230 lbs. and a 40 time of 4.5, Fournette might not be available to the Lions as he is projected as a top-10 pick. But I list him in case GM Quinn can do some magic to move up in the draft to get him. He has been compared to Adrian Peterson. In his 2016 season, he gained 1,953 yards with an average of 6.5 yards per carry. He is a powerful downhill runner that can run through tackles and can break off big gainers.
  • D’Onta Foreman, Texas. 6-1, 249 lbs. Ran for 2,028 yards for an average of 6.3 yards per carry for Texas in 2016. He isn’t much of a receiver but that’s not what the Lions need since Theo Riddick fills that spot nicely. Foreman is a load who can run over the opposition and bring a bit of attitude and toughness the Lions so desperately need.
  • Samaje Perine, Oklahoma. 5-11, 237 lbs. Perine reminds me a lot of Marshawn Lynch in that he will just not be tackled. Again, toughness and attitude the Lions need and Perine would definitely get Green Bay’s attention. His position in the draft has dropped due to being banged up this season but Perine rushed for 735 yards with an average of 5.2 yards per carry in limited action. He is a decent receiver as well with 10 receptions for 106 yards. Love to see this guy in screen pass situations on first or second downs.
  • James Conner, Pittsburgh. 6-2, 250 lbs. Is listed as a possible 4-6 round pick due to a serious knee injury in 2015 and then being diagnosed with cancer. He was proclaimed cancer free in 2016 as well as coming back from a torn ACL. He responded with 1,092 yards with a 5.1 yard per carry and scored 16 TD’s. He also caught well out of the backfield with 21 passes for 302 yards and four scores. He is worth taking a chance on since he has the potential to become a 3 down back and be a major threat in the red zone with his running and receiving abilities.

3.  Lions need to upgrade the secondary. Granted, NFL rules will favor the receiver in most cases. However, there are 2 places that teams really can’t shortchange themselves: The offensive line and the secondary. Both are exposed if the talent isn’t there. I feel the Lions offensive line is good enough going into 2017 but the secondary has been exposed. The Lions need another good cover corner to compliment Slay and a safety in the league of an Earl Thomas to help cover the middle.

  • Jalen Ramsey, Florida State. 6-1, 209 lbs. I doubt the Lions will have a shot at this guy but I felt the need to list him just in case GM Quinn can maneuver to get him. He is projected as a top-5 pick so it is a longshot. Ramsey is comparable to Richard Sherman. However, it is felt that he would do better at safety than corner. Teams have high regard for Ramsey and they love him off the field which pretty much means you aren’t going to see his name for any off the field antics. With his great character and impressive skill set, a lot of teams want him on their roster.
  • Eli Apple, Ohio State. 6-0, 199 lbs. He has Number 1 corner potential in the NFL with his size, agility and speed. He does need coaching to stop grabbing receivers but that’s just a matter of technique. Possible he’ll be available late first round or early second.
  • Su’a Cravens USC. 6-1, 226 lbs. Cravens was moved to linebacker in 2016 but most experts feel that Cravens potential in the NFL reside in playing safety. I’d like to see him gain at least 10-15 lbs. to play in the NFL. He is physical, strong and quick and has shown to be a capable tackler. A good defensive coordinator would be wise to use him in a variety of ways. Could be that game changer on defense.

4.  Protect the den. It is one of the most important aspects of the game. Great teams know how to win at home. Winning 6-8 games at home and go .500 on the road gives you 10-6 to a 12-4 season and pretty much gives the Lions a playoff slot. Lion’s fans are more than willing to do their part and if the Lions get that big running back and beef up the secondary, Lions will be able to challenge the Green Bay Packers better for the division title.

There are other aspects that I’m sure need to be addressed. I, for one, am not sure that current head coach Jim Caldwell is the one to lead the team to the Super Bowl. But he is close with owner Martha Firestone Ford who really likes him. Caldwell has Jim Bob Cooter as his offensive coordinator and is a good one. He and Matthew Stafford are on the same page and in his first full season, got as much as he could out of Stafford. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is a good one as well. But he has been mentioned for several head coaching jobs and with 6 openings this year, he may be gone. Whoever comes up next needs to improve the coverage and mitigate the big plays the Lions seem to give up.

Detroit Lions – Hot Looking Muscle Car With A 4-Cylinder Engine

Roaring Lion

I had planned on writing an article full of statistical information that would show that the Detroit Lions really aren’t as bad as their 1-3 record would indicate.

Unfortunately, the stats wouldn’t help me out.  Outside of some decent offensive stats, the rest of it shows they are really that bad, mainly the defense:

  • Lower quarter of the NFL in yards allowed
  • Lower half of total points per game and average points allowed per game
  • 31st in 3rd down efficiency, allowing opposing teams to keep the chains moving 47% of the time

Despite last year’s second half surge that once again teased us die-hard Lions fans there was hope, they have once again slipped back in to a role that is uncomfortably comfortable for them:  An underachieving NFL football team.

I look at the Lions year after year and the only metaphor I can come up with is they are a 1957 Chevy Nomad.  Each year, they come out looking good and giving us hope.  Problem is that someone long ago, replaced the Super Turbo Fire V8, 283 cubic inches of 283 horsepower of Detroit power with a Subaru 360 cc two cylinder engine with an output of 36 horses.

Granted, GM Bob Quinn needs some time to right the ship.  This is his first year and he inherits a long-term legacy of years and years of failure and heartbreak.  We can’t have expected Quinn to wave his magic Bill Belichick wand and all of a sudden the Lions become the New England Patriots of the NFC North.

I suppose we need to have a dose of reality here:  It’s going to get worse before it gets better.  And perhaps that was Quinn’s plan when he decided to keep the coaching staff in place instead of cleaning house.  Instead of once again bringing in yet another set of coaches and yet another set of offensive and defensive philosophies, he wants to evaluate just what he has.

Belichick has had only one losing season since he took over the Patriots.  They went 5-11 in 2000…since then 182-58, winning over 75% of their games.  They have been in the playoffs every year since 2001, winning the Super Bowl 4 times in 6 appearances.

The Lions?  Since 2001, the Detroit Lions have had 7 head coaches with a record of 78-62 and winning just about 32% of their games.  Two playoff appearances and in both times, never made it past the first round.

There have already been rumblings in the Lion nation calling for Quinn to get rid of current head coach Jim Caldwell and rightfully so.  I don’t believe Caldwell has the chops to bring this team from it’s decades of mediocrity and make it a perennial play-off contending team.  The Indianapolis Colts  team he took to the Super Bowl in 2009, he inherited from Tony Dungy.

I think we need to be patient with one Mr. Quinn.  I got a feeling that Caldwell, if he does last the year, will be replaced with perhaps New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels who has done wonders over the first 4 games sans Tom Brady.

McDaniels may keep Jim Bob Cooter has the offensive coordinator but one never knows when a new head coach comes in.  Cooter has a great rapport with QB Matthew Stafford and has Stafford performing at a very high and consistent level.  And their offensive philosophies a very similar.

But what of the defense?  Teryl Austin is a very good defensive coordinator.  But the failures of the defense reflects on him.  In fact, the failures of the defense reflect on what is wrong with the Lions.

Other options for head coach:

Sean McDermott – Defensive coordinator, Carolina Panthers:  Panthers defense has been rated near the top for the past 3 years.  Could be the shot in the arm the Lions need to bring them to respectability

Darrell Bevell – Offensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks:  Bevell has been on the short list for several head coaching spots over the last few years.  Not sure what the issue has been for teams to not pull the trigger.  One rumor is teams aren’t sure he can handle the responsibility of running an entire team.  Detroit could give him the opportunity he needs to prove that he can.

Teryl Austin – Defensive Coordinator, Detroit Lions:  Despite the current regression of his defense, Austin is ready for the top job.  If Caldwell is let go during the season, it wouldn’t be a shocker if Austin becomes the interim head coach which would allow him to prove himself he can do the job.  If the Lions do cut ties with Caldwell, I’d like to see them do sooner rather than later so Austin can get as many games as he can to prove himself.

Matt Patricia – Defensive Coordinator, New England Patriots:  Another Belichick protégé and one Quinn may consider if McDaniels withdraws his name from consideration.  However, he looks like a bit of a wild man on the sidelines and many owners want their head coaches to have a more “corporate” look when roaming the sidelines.  Lions have had their share of corporate looking head coaches, maybe a wild man is what they need.

Kyle Shanahan – Offensive Coordinator, Atlanta Falcons:  Just 36 years old, he already has 9 seasons of being an offensive coordinator and has done some great work with quarterbacks.  He has proven himself enough to step out of the shadows of his father, Mike Shanahan.

Jim Schwartz – Defensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles:  A real longshot and to date, he would be the first ex – Detroit Lions head coach to get another shot.  He did some good things when he was with the Lions but I think he go shafted.  Perhaps with a better GM, like Bob Quinn, he’d get the players needed to be successful.  But I think the Lions nation would react negatively and the last thing the Lions need is bad feelings from the fans.

Pretty sad that only 4 games into a season and there is already talk of finding a new head coach.  Even if Caldwell can right the ship, I still think he’s the wrong guy for the job.  He’s too much of a technician and relies way too much on the percentages.  We need a coach who will take chances and be ruthless and keep up constant pressure on opposing teams.

Will the Lions ever have success again?  Hard to say.  But there is hope, right?  I mean the Chicago Cubs just might get to the World Series for the first time in 107 years.

Good God, I hope we don’t have to wait that long for the Lions to win a Super Bowl!

Detroit Lions Bob Quinn’s First NFL Draft as GM – Make Us Proud!

Show Us What Ya Got Bobby!
Show Us What Ya Got Bobby!

On April 28th, we Lions fans are going to see what new GM Bob Quinn is going to. Is he going to start this team on the road to consistent winning seasons and perhaps a trip to the Super Bowl within the next 3 years? Or will he flame out like so many other GM’s the Lions have had over the years.

I will say that last year, while disappointing, was perhaps one of the most interesting seasons that I could recall in a while. Not so much regarding the play on the field which started like crap but ended up with the Lions being in contention until late in the season. Not a place anyone expected them to be after a horrendous 1-8 start.

Martha Firestone Ford does not show the loyalty that her late husband, Bill Ford, Sr., did when it came to GM’s and coaches. She is loyal to them as long as they are winning…but she has a quick hook if results aren’t achieved as the firings of Mayhew and Lewand prove. I also believe that she was instrumental in part of the removal of Joe Lombardi as the offensive coordinator last year which gave Jim Bob Cooter a chance which he took great advantage of.

When Cooter took over the job on October 26th, Cooter had very little time to get his offense ready for the trip to London. I think the only thing he could do was try to survive the game. It had to be tough on the players to get used to a new offensive coordinator with only 4 days to prepare and make that long trip across the pond. And it showed in the game, a 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chief in jolly old England.

The loss came on November 1st. Four days later, General Manager Martin Mayhew and President Tom Lewand were thanked for their services and show the door.

Both were left-overs from the scorched-earth tenure of THE most inexperienced GM that ever walked the face of the earth, otherwise known as the smarmy Matt Millen. But they made some significant contributions and after the epic 2008 0 – 16 record, Millen was fired (two years too late in my estimation), Mayhew engineered some decent trades and drafts to get the Lions into the playoffs four years later in 2011. Granted, they were overmatched in the Wild Card game against the Saints but they did improve each season since 2008. Yeah, I know, how can you not after losing every single game in 2008…and after achieving a 10-6 record in 2011, they reverted back to their losing ways in 2012 and flopped to a 4-12 season.

Enter Bob Quinn, then the New England Patriots director of pro scouting, hired by Ernie Accorsi, an excellent GM during his time with the New York Giants. The search was quick and the face-to-face interview that Accorsi had with Quinn gave light to the reasons why the Patriots just don’t win, they dominate year after year.

Accorsi spoke with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (a former Detroit Lion receivers coach in 1977) and while the conversation they had hasn’t been made public, Accorsi respected Belichick’s opinion enough that he convinced the Lions to pull the trigger and hire Quinn.

And in yet another smart move, the Detroit Lions retained Accorsi as a special advisor which gives Quinn a very experienced person to speak with as this is Quinn’s first time as a General Manager.

In typical fashion, Quinn isn’t giving any hints on what his plans are for the upcoming draft April 28th – 30th. And so far in free agency, Quinn has made some significant moves, getting WR Marvin Jones from the Bengals after the retirement of Calvin Johnson.

He also shored up the secondary bringing in four defensive backs, CB Johnson Bademosi and Crezdon Butler as well as safeties Tavon Wilson and Rafael Bush. And perhaps the most intriguing signing was getting Buffalo Bills DT Stefan Charles on a one year contract.

Which brings us to the draft. What will Quinn do? Not sure but I suspect that it won’t be a typical, desperate Detroit Lion draft where they pin the hopes of success on one player. Quinn and the advice of Ernie Accorsi is going to be geared into building a team. A team that will have sustainability and if it just happens to follow how the New England Patriots do business, well cripes, I think all of us die-hard Lions fans can accept a 15 year run with an average of 11 wins a season, 13 trips to the playoffs, 6 Super Bowl appearances and 4 Super Bowl wins.

Granted, there is a lot of work to do…and to be honest, I don’t suspect we’ll see the Lions in the playoffs in 2016. However, the success the Lions had in the second half of 2015 is a decent foundation to build on. Jim Caldwell may not have the football acumen of a Bill Belichick but he does have 2 Super Bowl appearances, winning one of them.

I predict the draft will be a good one for the Lions. Bob Quinn and company are going to give the Ford Family and the City of Detroit something to be proud of for a long time.

Detroit Lions – Green Bay Loss Hurt But Need To Stay Hungry

Stay Hungry

I, like many Lions fans, was sure the game was won Thursday night.  We outplayed them for 60 minutes and we had them.  But a small yellow flag gave the Packers another chance…and they took advantage of it.

I could be stoic and say it’s all part of the game.  But I can’t.  I am pissed that the game was basically decided on a referee’s decision.  Packer fans can say what they want but that was no face mask.

But shame on the Lions as well.  Granted, the Packers got the opportunity but where the hell was our defense?  Did no once consider the Packers would attempt a Hail Mary?  With no time left and only one shot, how the hell can you not expect it?

The Lions are pretty much out of the playoffs for this year.  I don’t know how anyone could have expected a team starting out 1-7 would have qualified but the Lions played well enough over the 3 games prior to this loss to give us a glimmer of hope.

And they played well enough Thursday night to make people think that it just might happen.  The Lions offense clicked well in the first half and the defense was lights out for the whole game.

We all know what happened.  The call the refs blew yet again and yet again it went against the Lions.

Facemask

Look, I am all for player safety.  But I also think that common sense needs to be instituted.   Devin Taylor’s thumb brushed Aaron Rodgers’ facemask…it wasn’t blatant and there was no harm done.

However, because Taylor brought Rodgers down by his shoulder pad, it looked like it was a facemask.  This play should have been reviewable…and if it had been, I am almost sure that New York would have reversed the call since the contact with the face mask was incidental.

All right, I’ve vented my frustrations and have accepted the condolences of my friends, none of whom can understand why I continue to root for this team.  I can only compare it to when people ask me what it’s like to ride a Harley Davidson.  If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand.  About the only thing the Lions can expect is yet another apology for blowing yet another call.

Now is the time to start looking forward.  The Lions, if they get the right GM in, are in a great position to improve themselves in specific areas, which I believe are the offensive and defensive lines…and in that order.

We have the quarterback in Matthew Stafford that I believe is finally showing the type of QB we all have been waiting for.  Of course for years I have been saying the Lions needed to get him an offensive line to give him time to display those talents.  And while the line has been better the last 4 games, depth is needed to make it even more successful.

It is possible the Lions will have as many as 11 picks in the 2016 draft.  Let’s call it a departing gift from Martin Mayhew.  While losing Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairly, Corey Hilliard, Kellen Davis and Jed Collins to free agency without signing any unrestricted free agents, the Lions will be rewarded with at least 3 compensatory picks in addition to the eight draft picks the Lions currently have.

That gives them a ton of options and I think for the Lions to move to the next level, they are going to need depth on the offensive and defensive lines.  And they need to seek players that will compete with the current starters and push them to excellence.

And this next observation is critical:  Those players that cannot accept competing for the jobs each week need to be shown the door.

It started with new leadership at the top when Martha Ford removed Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand.  It continued when Jim Bob Cooter replaced Joe Lombardi as offensive coordinator.

And head coach Jim Caldwell, despite whatever success he may have for the rest of this year, has to know he is on the hot seat.  I’m willing to give him one more year since changes he has made have resulted in some success.  But now, after this loss, he has to prove his coaching chops and continue success by winning as many games as he can the rest of this year.

Draft position isn’t going to matter for 2016.  There are so many players out there that can be had in the later rounds and rookie free agency, the Lions can upgrade in many areas without breaking the bank.

So the mantra for the rest of this year is the Lions need to stay hungry for the rest of this year…and need to stay hungry from this day forward.

Go Lions!

 

What The Future Holds For The Detroit Lions

Right now, as of this very moment, many Lions fans, despite them being 1-7, are pretty happy.

Martha Ford

Martha Ford, at a spry 90 years of age, is starting to clean house.

Gone is the non-effective President Tom Lewand.  I’m not sure what his accomplishments were while he was with the Lions other than helping getting Ford Field built and getting the Super Bowl played there in 2006.

As president of the Lions, he was supposedly responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Detroit Lions organization.  I think we can all assume he was a big fail in the aspect of putting together a consistent, winning football team.

One of his major responsibility was to negotiate player contracts and manage the salary cap.  I’ve looked in several areas regarding Mr. Lewand’s background and while he holds degrees earned from the University of Michigan in law, Business Administration (Masters) and Political Science and Economics (undergraduate), I see very little relating to football.  I doubt if he’s ever played the game.

Some will say that a football background isn’t necessary in dealing with player contracts and salary cap.  I say that you need to know the business your in to manage it properly.

Also gone is GM Martin Mayhew.  He was hired by the villain Matt Millen.  When that useless piece of trash was fired, William Clay Ford, Sr. went with his recommendation to hire Mayhew as his replacement.

Really?  You take the word of a man who drove a proud organization into the ground and to the first 0-16 season in NFL history?

Mayhew didn’t do too bad his first few years.  He basically fleeced the Dallas Cowboys with his first trade, that of Roy Williams for 4 draft picks (1st, 3rd, 6th, 7th) in 2009.

Out of that, with what you could call a successful pick, would be Brandon Pettigrew who is still with the team.  Derrick Williams, in his 4 years as WR with the Lions had a total of 9 catches for 82 yards and is out of football.  Running back Aaron Brown, in his 4 years as a Lion, rushed for 189 yards and is also out of football.

There are other trades of note but of the 28 trades he made, I would say he missed more than he hit on.

But at least Mayhew knew football.  He played the game for 8 years in the secondary and had 21 career interceptions.  Funny that a guy with that kind of success just could never get the right players for the Lions secondary.

So just where does this team go from here?  There has been a lot of speculation that head coach Jim Caldwell will be gone after the season…and I have to agree with that.  He has been a mostly ineffective and directionless leader this year.  I don’t think his strength is being a head coach, I believe it lies as an offensive coordinator or QB coach.

But Lions fans have been down this road before.  What I am hoping is that Martha and her daughters (Bill Ford Jr. has publicly stated that he is stepping away from the Lions) see the wisdom of hiring someone like Mike Holmgren or Ron Wolf to find the right General Manager for this team.

The new GM needs to have a solid football background.  Someone who knows what a successful team looks like and be allowed to build it.  So it would be no surprise the Lions would look at successful teams to find one.

Nick Caserio

I would look at one of the most successful franchises of the past decade, the New England Patriots.  Nick Caserio, currently the director of player personnel for the Patriots, was a key member for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Elliot Wolf

Want some youth and perhaps a new way of thinking but still want an NFL football pedigree?  If the Lions can wrestle away Elliot Wolf from the Green Bay Packers, they would have it.  He is the son of Ron Wolf and was promoted to player personnel in January.  At 33 years of age, he would breath some new life into this franchise.  But I’m not sure he would be willing to leave the Packers.  Too strong a tie to the team.

Trent Kirchner

Maybe the best bet would be Trent Kirchner, co-director of player personnel with the Seattle Seahawks.  He has an extensive history as a scout with the Carolina Panthers and was a large part of a staff with the Seahawks that went to back-to-back Super Bowls.  With him, you bring part of Seattle’s shrewdness in drafting as well as making deals for key players.

I won’t get into new head coaches nor will I speculate on Matthew Stafford.  A GM will more than likely want to hire his own head coach which is why I think Caldwell is out after this year.

As for Stafford, I still think he has way too much talent to give up on him.  But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to draft a QB and allow for some transition.  Besides, Stafford is only 27 years old…and too be honest, I think he can still be successful with a good offensive line in front of him as well as some better play calling.

The Lions need to stop repeating history.  I can only hope that Martha Ford breaks the trend that was set by her husband.  If these firings of Lewand and Mayhew are any indication, I would say that she is.  But we have heard from the Lions front office before that “the fans deserve a winner” mantra.

But not in her voice….until now.

 

Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions – Beer Thinker is Conflicted

SeattleDetroit

I have been dreading to write this.  My heart wants my original hometown team, the Detroit Lions, to get off the snide and start winning.  Of course, all of us true blue Lions fans have been waiting for them to get off the snide for a very long time.

But my head is telling me the Seahawks are going to pull this one out and even their record to 2-2 on the national stage of Monday Night Football.  The Hawks are just too talented and well coached, playing at home and under Pete Carroll’s tenure, have done very well playing in nationally televised games.  Too many hills for the Lions to climb.

Not to mention the 12’s, one of the most fanatical fan bases in the NFL.  I know there is a contingent of loyal Lions fans that will be attending the game…I would hope that the 12’s will welcome the Lions Pride with respect.  We’re all here to cheer on our respective teams.  Let’s not do anything stupid on either side, OK?

Since I have lived in both Detroit and Seattle for approximately the same amount of time now, I feel I have a better perspective of both teams than the average fan.  Anyone that knows me knows that deep down, I am a Lions fan.  That will always be true.  But the Seahawks also have my attention as well…and why wouldn’t they?  They have achieved something us Lions fans have been waiting for since 1957…a chance to play in a championship game.

To further torture myself, I decided to do a comparison between the two teams.  To be fair, both are compared from 1976, the inception of the Seahawks, to 2014…a total of 612 games.

Bottom line for regular season games?  Seahawks went 305-307 for a winning percentage of .498.

The Lions?  242-370, winning at a .395 clip, just over a full percentage point worse than the Hawks.  If the Lions could have averaged just 1.61 games over the past 36 years, they could be at almost .500 since 1976.

Here’s the thing about the two teams:  From 1977 to 2010, both teams had frustrations in the playoffs.  Granted, in 2005, the Hawks made their first Super Bowl appearance but we all know what happened in that game.

But in 2010, Paul Allen, since purchasing the team from Ken Behring in 1997, hired Pete Carroll and most important, John Schneider.  With these two at the helm, they have made some fantastic draft choices, finding players they believe would fit their system the best.  And they found many of these players from the 3rd round to the 6th as well as signing free agent rookies.  They built a program around a power running game and protecting the football for an offense.  As for defense, they went unconventional to very tall and rangy cornerbacks such as Richard Sherman and safeties like Kam Chancellor with a linebacker mentality.

And in a span of four years, the Seahawks played in 10 playoff games with a record of 7-3, appearing in back-to-back Super Bowls winning it all in 2013 and losing in a heartbreaker in 2014.

I don’t believe in the history of the Lions that they haven’t had the same level of coaching or players.  There have been some very good coaches the Lions had…Bobby Ross, Steve Mariucci and Jim Schwartz come to mind…and current head coach Jim Caldwell has an impressive resume as well.  And yes, we have had some bumbling idiots as well such as Rod Marinelli and Marty Mornhinweg.

But the coach is only going to be as good as the players assembled for him.  And in this comparison, right now, the Seahawks have far surpassed the Lions in every single aspect.  The draft better, they scout better, they look deeper and they sign smarter.

The Lions would do well to take a page from the Seahawks…but that’s not going to happen until a progressive owner takes over.  I respect the Fords for being one of the longest-tenured owners in the league.  But I said this when I was writing for FireMillen.com:  The Lions will never become consistent contenders until new ownership comes in.

I want the Lions to remain in Detroit forever.  And any new owner that comes in will need to keep them in place.  But that new owner needs to bring in a new philosophy and a winning attitude.  Otherwise, I’m not sure when the Lions will ever get back to the big dance.