Tag Archives: Martha Ford

Detroit Lions – This “Wait Til Next Year” Can Be Different

I have used this picture in many articles about the Detroit Lions.  If fits for so many reasons but mostly because of the stench that emanates after each failing season….one after the other since 1958.

The 2019 season, once again starting out with hope, has that stench of failure once again.  And yet, there are some reasons to once again, for hope…next year.

First, lets dispense a few things before we get to those reasons:

Force The Ford Family to Sell The Detroit Lions

This is the second most idiotic suggestion out there.  I’ll get to the first one in a minute as I feel this one is more important to discuss.

Let’s be clear:  The owners have little to do with putting the product on the field.  All the teams have salary cap concerns and since the cap has been put in place, it has put most teams, monetary wise, in the same boat.

The Ford Family is responsible for hiring those who run the team.  And while they have had a long run of lousy GM’s and Head Coaches over the years, the combination of GM Bob Quinn and Head Coach Matt Patrica has the chance to be outstanding.

We all knew going into this season there was going to be some growing pains.  Yes, yes, I know…we’ve been through all this more than we care to admit.

Since 1958, the Detroit Lions have had eight General Managers.  Russ Thomas held the position from 1967 to 1988 and until Matt Millen, was probably considered the worst GM the Lions had.

Matt Millen caused the Lions to go into a tailspin that I think the Lions are just starting to pull out of now.  His draft picks from 2001 to 2008 were horrible and failed more often than produced.  Yes he drafted Calvin Johnson, but he also drafted Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers (may he RIP), Roy Williams, Mike Williams & Ernie Sims.  Not exactly the sage know-it-all he portrayed in the broadcast booth.

So we now have Bob Quinn, who came from the New England Patriots organization.  He has drafted wisely, trying to get protection for Stafford early with picks such as Taylor Decker, Graham Glasgow & Frank Ragnow.  He stole Kenny Golladay in the 3rd round in 2017 as well as drafting TJ Hockenson last year.

His fatal flaw, so far, seems to have been letting head coach Jim Caldwell go and hiring another Patriot alum, Matt Patricia.

Granted, Cadwell’s .563 winning percentage, 2nd best in Lions history, caused a lot of people to shake their heads when he was let go.  But in 2017, after going 9-7 and missing the playoffs, Quinn had enough.  The game against the Bengals, 5-9 at the time,  was most likely the final straw.  If they had won, they were in the playoffs.  Instead, an uninspired performance led to a 26-17 loss and no playoffs.  And despite a spirited win over the Packers the next week, Caldwell was fired the next day.   Which brings us to:

Fire Matt Patrica

This is the most idiotic thing that could occur.

My feeling that firing Matt Patrica at this juncture would be a mistake because he needs one more draft to put it together.

Since 1957, the Detroit Lions have had 17 head coaches with an average tenure of 3-1/2 years.  Packers have had 11 with an average tenure of almost 5 years and the Vikings, since 1961, have had 10 with an average tenure of about 6 years.  Bears have had 12 since 1958 with an average tenure of about 5 years.

Each team in our division has made multiple Super Bowl appearances, Green Bay with 5, Vikings with 4 and the Bears with 2.  The Lions, as we all know, don’t have any along with the Browns, Jaguars and Texans.

I can present a lot of statistics which can be manipulated in a myriad of ways to support arguments for and against firing Patrica.  None of it matters right now.

Patrica needs a little time to get his system in place.  We don’t have the defensive players he needs to be successful.  Yep, he is considered a “defensive guru” but let’s face it, you can be the most innovative and forward thinking defensive mind on the planet.  If you don’t have the players, you will not be successful.

How can this “Wait Til Next Year” be different?

The Detroit Lions offense is ranked 4th in the NFL in passing, 14th in points per game and 15th in total points.  Prior to the Bears game, the Lions were ranked in the top 5 in offense so putting points on the board hasn’t been the issue.  This will suffer though with the back injury to Matthew Stafford.  And as much as I want to admire his determination to play, since the season is most likely lost, it would be wise to shut him down for the rest of the year.  Give him the extra time to heal properly to come back strong next year.

And I do feel that Mathew Stafford is still the quarterback of this team.  Unless he decides to retire, any talk of trading or releasing him is just plain stupid.

Given that the Lions are very solid with receivers, we still need to bolster that running game.  But taking a running back in the first round would be a mistake…not when your defense has absolutely no pass rush.

We can’t really call Trey Flowers a bust.  The free agent from New England is the only viable pass rusher the Lions have.  And everyone in the NFL knows it and doubles and even triples on him, daring the other defensive linemen to take up the slack.

Lions are going to have to draft for freaky fast defensive ends.  Lions have (at the moment) nine picks for the 2020 draft and if held today, would have the 11th pick.  It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if the Lions traded a couple of those picks to move up into the top 5 and have a shot at Chase Young out of Ohio or Yetur Gross-Matos from Penn State.

You can keep Flowers and the new DE will free him up quite a bit.  If teams continue to double up on Flowers, the rookie DE has rookie of the year chances.  You could also let Flowers go and perhaps pursue a  free agent stud…Jadeveon Clowney is a free agent after this year.  And who knows if the Seahawks will want to meet his demands.

My feelings wouldn’t be hurt if the Lions took defensive ends with their first two picks either.  Having a rotation at defensive end isn’t a bad thing.

As for running back, Kerryon Johnson could still be a viable option.  But getting a running back in the draft would be smart, provided it’s with the 3rd of 4th pick.  Cam Akers out of Florida State has proven to be a solid runner despite having an awful offensive line.  Could be a steal pick in the 3rd or 4th round.  If you want big and powerful, Najee Harris out of Alabama could be a great rotation with Johnson.  At 6-2 and 230lbs, Harris can batter defensive lines and isn’t too bad of a receiver out of the backfield.

Bottom line, we Lions fans, despite having to hear it all the fricking time, will have to wait until next year.  Bob Quinn and Patrica, along with the rest of the Lions brain trust, have to shore up the defense and the draft is the way to do that.

Here is to 2020…and hopefully it will be the season we’ve been wanting for over 6 decades.

Detroit Lions – Are They Accountable To The Fans?

For as long as I’ve been a Lions fan, three or four times during a bad stretch of a given season, comments start coming out about the fans deserving information from the head coach, GM and the owner.

Over the last 3 weeks, the Lions fans have had there fair share of heartbreak.  From the refereeing debacle in Green Bay on Monday Night Football, the reeling home loss to Minnesota and the trade of a quality player in Quandre Diggs.

Lets take these last three weeks one at a time:

Monday Night Football Robbery

I was all fired up for the Monday Night Football game against the dreaded Packers.  Sure, at the time, they were sitting at 4-1 atop the NFC North.  The Lions, playing some really good football, came to Lambeau with a 2-2-1 record.

I am not going to get into all the details of the game.  Suffice to say, the Lions outplayed the Packers the entire 60 minutes.  Stafford went 18/32 and 265 yards, the offense played very well between the 20’s.  However, they scored only 1 TD and had to settle for five Matt Prater field goals in the Red Zone.

The defense played it’s most inspired game of the season, pretty much holding Aaron Rodgers in check until the fourth quarter.  And it’s not Rodgers who took over the game, it was the referees.  Two hands to the face on Trey Flowers on critical 3rd downs practically gave the win to the Packers.

Yes, yes, I know.  We got into the Red Zone six times and settled for field goals on five occasions.  There is no question that the Lions had to do better than that.

The Packers, while getting the win, really didn’t earn it.  And the Lions, having to take the loss, didn’t deserve to take it.  The referees had a direct effect on the outcome of the game in the last five minutes.  The NFL admitted that the last hands to the face shouldn’t have been called on Flowers.  I want to know why there wasn’t any discussion on at least six other calls that went against the Lions that shouldn’t have been called either.

Meltdown Against the Vikings

Lions are at home with a 2-3-1 record but still can make a statement against a division rival, the Vikings, coming to Ford Field at 4-2.  At the time, no team had yet to score 30 points on the Vikings.

Matthew Stafford had perhaps one of his most complete games of the season, throwing 4 touchdown passes while going 30/45 and 364 yards with one interception.

Lions Red Zone issues were put to rest as they scored 4 TD’s (all passes to Marvin Jones) and only one Matt Prater field goal.  And they became the first team to drop 30 points on the Vikings defense which should have been enough for a win.

But this time, the defense let the Lions fan base down.  They were over-matched and it showed.  Gave up 42 points and Kirk Cousins had what seemed like hours to throw.   And they were a leaking sieve allowing Dalvin Cook to rush for 142 yards and 2 scores.

Quandre Diggs Gets Traded To The Seahawks

At first glance, I thought this was a lousy trade for both teams.  For the Lions, it appeared to be a knee-jerk reaction following to very tough losses.  For the Seahawks, a desperation move after getting stomped by the Baltimore Ravens.

However, I think with what’s all going on, this doesn’t appear to be so reactionary after all by the Lions.  Lions get a 2020 5th round pick and giving up a 2021 7th round pick in addition of Diggs.  What I think is may be going on here is GM Bob Quinn is attempting to gain some draft capitol to work with on the upcoming October 29th trade deadline.

I have no speculation on what he may be working on, but it was fairly evident in the games against the Packers and Vikings, they had only one sack.  In fact, the Lions are 27th in the NFL with only 10 sacks in six games.  They haven’t been able to generate a pass rush against anyone.

OK, so there it all is.  Outside of some comments from Matt Patrica (who has taken lessons from  Bill Belichick) that offered absolutely no insight to the reasons behind these losses and the trade, the Lions brain-trust has offered little hope to the fans on the direction of the team.

There was hardly any outcry from  the team around the lousy officiating of the Green Bay game.  Instead, Patrica practically forgave the officials and instead mentioned there were at least 30 plays that were not executed that were the cause of the loss.

There was no fire in the Vikings game in the second half and there was no indication from Patrica on how furious he had to be with his team.  The same platitudes of “I have to coach them better, this is on me” crap, while admirably protecting his players, give little insight as to what is being done to improve he team.

Reality check:  Is there any team in the NFL that will state the inner workings of the team to their respective fan base?  Most likely no.

Lions fans have been in a state of perpetual frustration for over sixty years.  I don’t know what it is about players when they come to Detroit, they can put up great numbers but just can’t seem to get the consistency needed to have a great team.  We have good teams but more often than not, it’s mostly bad to mediocre ones we have to put up with.

Lions spend just as much as anyone on player salaries.  Martha Ford is way more willing to pay than William Clay ever was.  But she also is a much more results oriented owner than her husband was.  Which is probably why the Diggs trade occurred.  Diggs wasn’t making the grade so the Lions got what they could get for him while the getting was good.

While we all feel the Lions owe us answers, in reality, they do not.  And we’ll just have to live with that fact.  No demands that we cry for in forums, blogs and other social media is going to make one damn difference on the decisions the Lions brain trust make.

Sorry to be the realist here, but it needed to be said.

Go Lions, One Pride!

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 – 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!

Beer Thinker’s Mock Draft for Detroit Lions

Beer-Thinker-Logo1.png

I know there are at least four people that are highly anticipating my thoughts on the Detroit Lions and who they should take in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft.

In the past, most Lions fans would be looking at the draft as their version of the Super Bowl.  And while I choose not to dwell on past drafts, we all know the Detroit Lions have mostly been in the dark since 1980.

Yes, we have had some bright moments:  Billy Sims, Lomas Brown, Bennie Blades, Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, Robert Porcher, Johnnie Morton, Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford & Ndamukong Suh to name a few.

And while these players have been successful and productive for the Lions, the flameouts they have are just downright spectacular:  Chuck Long, Andre Ware, Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Mike Williams & Ernie Sims.

Now we have a new regime in place, the first one since William Clay Ford passed away.  I’ve had my criticism of Mr. Ford in the past but he was Detroit loyalty and he did more for the city than people can imagine.

Martha Ford, William’s widow, has taken over and pretty much with her will has moved the Detroit Lions organization in a different and hopefully, a better direction.  She and her daughters have been less loyal to the Lions management team than Mr. Ford has, holding them accountable for the team’s results and by them failing, removing them from their positions.

The ownership team knew they didn’t have a lot of insider knowledge of how to build a successful football team.  The enlisted the expertise of Ernie Accorsi, a successful NFL GM with the Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants, to conduct a national search to hire a GM for the Detroit Lions.  The results was Bob Quinn, director of player personnel for  New England Patriots.

Se here we stand, with new ownership and new management.  Will they begin with a smart draft or will they hope to make a big splash to appease fans?  My guess is the Lions renaissance begins this year and by 2018, we’re looking at a Super Bowl bound team.

For the upcoming draft, here is my mock draft.  I’ve done all 10 picks with three options at each.  I tend to look at what is needed rather than best available.

First Round, Pick 16:

  1. Taylor Decker, OT, 6’7″ 315 lbs. – Ohio State
  2. Jack Conklin, OT, 6’5″ 308 lbs.. – Michigan State
  3. A’Shawn Robinson, DT, 6’3″ 307 lbs. – Alabama

Lions need to beef up that offensive line, particularly at left tackle.  They missed out on getting free agents Russell Okung and Ryan Harris.  While I like Reilly Reif a lot, I think he is overmatched at left tackle and would do better at his natural spot over at right tackle.  Decker and Conklin are 1 & 1A here and if the Lions take either one, I’m satisfied.  Help is also needed on the D-line and Robinson would take a lot pressure off Ziggy Ansah to get to the quarterback.

Second Round, Pick 46: 

  1. Adolphus Washington, DE/DT, 6’4″, 290 lbs. – Ohio State
  2. Derrick Henry, RB, 6’2″, 247 lbs. – Alabama
  3. William Jackson, CB, 6’0″, 189 lbs. – Houston

Big pick here and any one of these three players could have an immediate impact.  Washington is a versatile player and is a good run stopper as well as getting to the QB.  Henry would be a grinder at running back and a surprise catching passes.  Would be a great fit with Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.  Secondary can always use help and Jackson would push others in the secondary to up their game.

Third Round, Pick 95

  1. Anthony Zettle, DE/DT, 6’4″, 258 lbs. – Penn State
  2. Jeremy Cash, S, 6’0″, 212 lbs. – Duke
  3. Conner Cook, QB, 6’4″ 218 lbs. – Michigan State

Zettle would need to beef up a bit to go to the interior.  If the Lions take him, perhaps they have him as a defensive end…or when the ball is snapped, have him snake behind DT pushing the line forward.  Cash could bring a Kam Chancellor attitude to the Lions secondary which could use a player of that caliber.  As for Cook, if he’s there, Lions might be smart to grab him.  Stafford is only 28 years old but Orlovsky isn’t a capable back-up if Stafford goes down for an extended period of time.  Bring Cook in, let him watch and learn how to play to give him some time to develop to the NFL game.  He might even push Stafford for the starting job in a couple of years.

Fourth Round, Pick 111

  1. Jack Allen, C, 6’2″, 296 lbs. – Michigan State
  2. Denver Kirkland, G, 6’4″, 335 lbs. – Arkansas
  3. Graham Glasgow, C, 6’6″, 306 lbs. – Michigan

Totally an offensive line pick here.  And I believe that going for a center is tantamount.  Travis Swanson is good but his talent lies more toward being a guard.  Jack Allen has that quickness and smarts to be a starting center in the NFL.  If Swanson stays, he’ll need some help…and what would be more comforting than a 335 lb. guard to the left of you to help open holes and give your left tackle some breathing room?  Kirkland could be the pick here.  Glasgow was the best O-Line player on an under-achieving Michigan team.

Fifth Round, Pick 151 (first of two picks in the fifth)

  1. Taveze Calhoun, DB, 6’1″, 181 lbs. – Mississippi State
  2. Laquan McGown, OL/TE, 6’7″, 410 lbs. – Baylor
  3. Luther Maddy, DT, 6’0″ 287 lbs. – Virginia Tech

Calhoun might play in the nickel package but I see him more of special teams player.  He’s fast so good on punt returns but also would be good as a gunner, getting good hits on opposing team’s returner and causing turnovers.  McGown is an interesting pick because I think you go could do some interesting things with him.  Imagine a short-yardage situation and him being part of the “Jumbo Package” with him shedding a block and then going out in the flat.  Or switch him to the defensive line and have teams try to run up the middle on him.  Maddy would give you some much needed depth which seems to be a requirement on NFL teams these days.

Fifth Round, Pick 169

  1. Kenny Lawler, WR, 6’3″, 185 lbs. – California
  2. Hassan Ridgeway, DT, 6’3″, 303 lbs. – Texas
  3. Victor Ochi, DE, 6’2″, 245 lbs. Stony Brook

Lawler isn’t fast but he has a knack for getting open and makes the clutch catches.  Giving Stafford another safety valve other than Theo Riddick makes the team that more dangerous.  Ridgeway and Ochi are sleepers in this draft and will surprise teams.

Sixth Round, Pick 191 (first of three picks in the sixth)

  1.  Dominque Alexander, LB, 6’2″, 232 lbs. – Bowling Green
  2. Glenn Gronkowski, FB/TE, 6″2″, 238 lbs. – Kansas State
  3. Cassanova McKinzy, ILB, 6’1″, 248 lbs. – Auburn

Alexander is big and fast enough to cover opposing tight ends in the flat and running backs coming out on screen passes.  Needs work on tackling correctly.  If Rob Gronkowski’s little brother has half the talent his big brother does, this could be a steal.  If he does play TE, will need to beef up a bit.  McKinzy could transition to middle linebacker but would need some time to develop.

Sixth Round, Pick 202

  1. Matt Johnson, QB, 6’0″, 219 lbs. – Bowling Green
  2. Joe Schubert, OLB, 6’1″, 247 lbs. – Wisconsin
  3. D.J. Reader, NT, 6’3″, 340 lbs. – Clemson

Johnson would need to work on a better delivery when passing.  Surprised that at 6’0″ he would opt for a side-arm motion which just makes him smaller.  Good instincts and resilient, correct that delivery and you might have something.  Schubert has a motor that doesn’t quit and is a sure tackler.  Needs better technique on pass coverage.  Reader would be a great addition to the D-Line as a tackle to close off the middle for the ground game and get a push on the QB in the passing game.  I imagine he would knock down a few passes.

Sixth Round, Pick 210

  1. Nelson Spruce, WR, 6’1″, 206 lbs. – Colorado
  2. Drew Kaser, P, 6’2″, 212 lbs. – Texas A&M
  3. Jeff Driskel, QB, 6’3″ 230 lbs. – Louisiana Tech

Some interesting options here.  Spruce will be the same guy, every game, every snap.  Fearless as a punt returner, willing to go over the middle and fight for the ball.  Lacks speed but is sure handed and will strike with purpose while blocking for the run game.  I generally don’t like to draft punters or kickers but this time I make an exception with Kaser.  Has a big leg and good directional kicking that can change field position from just about anywhere on the grid iron.  Could change momentum of games with one kick.  Driskel is a Drew Stanton type QB but with better set-up in the pocket.  Gets the ball out quick but has issues in throwing receivers open.  Accurate and confident in the short passing game, tends to overthrow on long passes and gets happy feet if protection breaks down.

Seventh Round, Pick 236

  1. Devon Johnson, RB/FB, 6’0″, 238 lbs. – Marshall
  2. David Morgan, TE, 6’4″, 262 lbs. – USTA
  3. Ross Martin, K, 5’10” 183 lbs. – Duke

Johnson earned the nickname “Rockhead” and no one wanted to get in his way.  Receiving skills could land him some time as an H-Back.  Will drop his pads and drive through tacklers, would be excellent in short-yardage and goal line situations.  Lions need an answer at TE.  Pettigrew is sporadic and Ebron hasn’t fulfilled expectations.  Morgan has very sure hands and will secure the catch despite hits coming.  Former high school basketball player with leaping ability and good body control.  Needs work on his stride and tends to give his route movement away early.  More upside at this draft spot then down.  Another exception to drafting kickers, Martin is a true technician as a kicker.  Last two years was outstanding with accuracy with 90.5% and 86.7% respectively.  Was 4-4 from 50 plus yards and can also punt if needed.  Doesn’t have the NFL leg for kickoffs but was one of the most consistent kickers over the last two years.

So there you have it Lions fans…is the Beer Thinker nuts or on track?

Go Lions!

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.

NFL Crowns Detroit Lions as Champions – In 1957

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Going into the 2016 season, it will be 59 years since the Detroit Lions have won an NFL championship.

To put things in perspective, and I know there are a lot of people in the same boat, I will be turning 58 in 2016 without ever seeing the Detroit Lions win a championship.

Want to know what the trophy looked like last time they won?  Here you go:

Ed Thorp Trophy

It was called the Ed Thorp Memorial trophy.  Who was Ed Thorp you might ask?  He was a referee, rules expert, sporting goods dealer and a good friend to the NFL owners during the early years.

You aren’t going to find this trophy in a case of any of the teams that won NFL championships from 1934 through 1969 because there was only one trophy.  It was passed each year to the teams that won, much like how the Stanley Cup is in the NHL.

There are replicas of the trophy but the original’s location is unknown.  The last recipient, the Minnesota Vikings in 1969 somehow lost it when the NFL went to the Lombardi Trophy in 1970.  It is also believed to have cursed the Vikings as they being the last winners…and they went on to appear in 4 Super Bowls and lost them all.

Since 1957, the Lions have not gotten back to the big dance.  To be honest, I’m not all sure as to why.  Yes, there were some bad general managers and presidents that ownership stayed loyal far longer than others would have.  However, the phrase “even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while” comes to mind.

I don’t write this to bash the Lions players or coaches.  I am fairly certain that each of them has a desire to win.  However, having a desire with little talent to do so, that’s something different.

Each of us Lions fans can count numerous coaches and players that while had a desire to win, had no business being in the NFL.  Marty Mornhinweg, Joey Harrington & Titus Young are just a few that come to mind.

Years ago, when I was writing for the Bleacher Report, I had speculated as to which team between the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns would get to the Super Bowl first.  Ironic that these two teams have waited in futility for decades, the Lions looking at 6 and the Browns  just a little over 5.

What holds true then and now is that these two teams are the oldest teams in the NFL to have never played in a Super Bowl.  Cleveland perhaps would have gotten there in the 1980’s were it not for the Denver Bronco’s and John Elway.

The Lions best opportunity to date was in 1991, the last year the Lions won a playoff game.  They were one game away from getting to the Super Bowl and after blowing out the Dallas Cowboys at the Pontiac Silverdome 38-6, they reverted to kittens the following week and were blown out by eventual Super Bowl winner, Washington.

No, there will be no re-hashing the ineptness of the front office for the past 5 decades, we all know what the issues are there.

What I do want to stress is that the Lions, as an organization, owe it to their fans, in Detroit and all over the world, to put together a team that must have one focus in mind…from the owner down to the ball boy, to get to the Super Bowl and win it.

The other professional teams in Detroit have done their best to mollify Detroit Sports fans, the Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons have all gone on to win World Series, Stanley Cup and NBA Championships numerous times since the Lions last won an NFL Championship:

Tigers – appeared in 4 World Series, winning 2 of them, 1968 and 1984.

Red Wings – Appeared in 9 Stanley Cups, winning 4 of them.

Detroit Pistons – Appeared in 5 NBA Championships, winning 3.

Is it too much to ask Lions ownership to get us one?  Don’t hand me that crap that the NFL is very competitive.  MLB, NHL & NBA has just as fierce of competition as the NFL does.

How do teams like New England, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Green Bay and Seattle consistently get into the playoffs and Super Bowls and win?

Detroit Lions have the same access to college players and free agents that these teams do, right?

I believe the issues is one of lack of vision…at the top.  Martha Ford may be the elixir to get the Lions pointed in the right direction.  She shook the team to the core by firing Millen left overs Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand.

She also made a smart decision by hiring Ernie Accorsi as a consultant to find a GM for the Lions.  The search won’t really begin in earnest until after the Super Bowl and there are plenty of candidates to approach.

But what will make the Lions attractive to the next general manager?  Will they have the power and authority to do what it will take to put together a Super Bowl team?

And what of the current status of players?  Will Calvin Johnson be used to accumulate draft picks?  Will Matthew Stafford be that QB that all of us hope he would be when drafted in 2009?  Will the Lions ever have a potent running attack?  An offensive line that will open holes and pass block?  Will they have a good defensive team and a good offensive team at the same time?

There are more questions than answers at this point.  And I can only watch from afar and continue to support my Lions as I have been for as long as I can remember.

Right now, I turn my attention to my second hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks and hope they can find the magic and get back to the Super Bowl for the third straight time.

Go Lions!  Go Hawks!

 

 

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!

 

Detroit Lions – The Cure for What Ails Any NFL Team

Tell Doctor Lion what your problem is.
Tell Doctor Lion what your problem is.

I have realized the new role for the Detroit Lions…they are the cure all for any NFL team that needs a confidence boost.

Got a problem with your passing game?  Only averaged 15% scoring touchdowns in the Red Zone?  Haven’t had a 100 yard rushing game in 3 years?  Defense hasn’t been getting sacks or turnovers?

Come to Ford Field or Dr. Lion can come to you.  We guarantee to cure what is ailing your football team.

As I sit here watching the game between Detroit and Kansas City, I see the Lions are making the 2-5 Chiefs look like they should be 5-2.  Huge chunks of yardage given up to Alex Smith who is going to end up with about 75-80 yards of rushing BECAUSE NO DEFENSIVE PLAYER KEPT THEIR EYES ON HIM!

You know, I could understand if the Lions had just one area of their game that was an issue.  But it’s all phases of the game on offense and defense.

The offensive line cannot keep allowing Matthew Stafford to continue keep getting beat up.  As I write this, FOX put up a graphic on Matthew Stafford’s dropbacks.   32 times Stafford went back to pass and he was sacked seven times and hit 11 times.  Kind of ticks you off when you see Tom Brady drop back and barley gets his hair ruffled for the entire game!

So let’s get to another area that seems to be a bane to the Lions:  The non-existent running game.  I don’t think it’s all totally a lack of talent.  Joique Bell or Ameer Abdullah are capable running backs.  I have to go back to the offensive line.  They don’t have the ability on a regular basis to open holes.  Bell had a great run for 32 yards on the opening drive.  Since then, Bell has only gained an additional 25 yards on 6 carries.

The defense?  The defensive line is getting pushed around and bullied by the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line.  In fact, just about every team the Lions have played thus far has made them look like fools.

Can’t stop the run and can’t stop the pass.  Not a good defense at all.  Granted, part of that is because they are out on the field way too long.  The Lions offense can’t expect the defense to bail them out all the time.  The offense has got to do their part by having long, sustained drives.

Prior to this game the Lions are ranked 27th in overall defense, allowing 392 yards per game and giving about 28 points a game.  And because the Lions don’t have the offensive acumen to get into shootouts with other teams, they are damn lucky to have one win this season.

Looking at the current teams that have had success over the last few years, one has to wonder what they are doing that the Detroit Lions aren’t.

How did the Seattle Seahawks get to two Super Bowls in a row with so few high round draft picks?  How do the Green Bay Packers seem to always have such good receivers?

And the most poignant team example are the New England Patriots who seem to always find players that no one else wants and makes them Pro Bowlers.

Seems to me the Lions are like the kid in elementary school that is smart as a whip but never gets good grades.  You know the one where during the parent/teacher conference, the teachers says “You know, Jimmy could be a great student if only he would apply himself.”

Sad that the Detroit Lions have gone  58 years without a championship…and looks like it will be 59 after this year.

Sad that ownership can’t see that they way conduct football business hasn’t been working for the past three decades.

Sad that this team that I love, from the city I was born in, can’t give the fans what they deserve for being so loyal despite stinking up the place more often than not.

This team can’t continue to be the cure for what ails other teams…they need to start being a problem for them.

I will continue to root for the Lions but I will also continue to speak out as to what their problems are.

It isn’t really the coaching though we can all admit that it has been unimaginative on both sides of the ball this season.

No, the real failure starts at the very top…much like it always has been when William Clay Ford was alive and now it’s his wife, Martha Ford.

It trickles down to Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew who seem to want to continue to play it safe so they can protect their jobs.  Those two have the ability to keep blaming coaches and players for the failure of the team.

My gut tells me that within the next 4-5 years, the Lions are going to be up for sale.  They will stay in Detroit since right now, the infrastructure they have is too good to move hem out.  A state of the art stadium, great practice facility and despite having teams that generally suck, a fantastic fan base.

With that sale, their would have to be a total clearing of upper management.  The new owner would have to be pretty ruthless and want to have success based on performance rather than loyalty.

I’d just to like to this take place sooner rather than later.

Go Lions!