Blog Entry

Offseason Checkup: Detroit Lions

Posted on: April 8, 2011 5:44 pm
 
Posted by Andy Benoit

C. Johnson (US Presswire)


Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups .



If we’re to stick strictly to the metaphor here, a team that always finishes in ICU was at least hobbling around one of the more respectable rehabilitation wards when the 2010 season ended.

The Lions went 6-10, ranking 15th in points scored and 19th in points allowed (the 15th scoring offense ranking was partly due to a penchant for fun but unfulfilling garbage time comebacks). It’d be interesting to find out if the Lions brass would have been willing to trade the 6-10 finish for a 4-12 finish if had meant Matthew Stafford getting a chance to develop. This team likely would have been better than 6-10 had Stafford not missed 13 games with shoulder problems. But the point is, his development is crucial to the franchise’s long-term growth, and he didn’t develop while on the sidelines.

At least rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh developed. He went from “monster” early in the year to “mega monster” late. Suh headlined a revamped defensive line, which headlined a defense that still sorely needed revamping at the linebacker and secondary levels.

 

An unsung hero

How did this story slip through the cracks in 2010? Pettigrew, a first-round draft choice out of Oklahoma State in ’09, was operating at full strength on the field just nine months after tearing his ACL. In his return, the 265-pounder was an even quicker, more fluid runner than before.

Pettigrew’s newfound receiving prowess gave the offense an underneath dimension that was crucial in capitalizing on defenses rolling coverage over the top against Calvin Johnson. Augmenting this was Pettigrew’s ability to snag balls on the move.

Pettigrew’s newfound receiving prowess gave the offense an underneath dimension that was crucial in capitalizing on defenses rolling coverage over the top against Calvin Johnson. Augmenting this was Pettigrew’s ability to snag balls on the move.



1.Cornerback
Having a zone-based playmaker like an Asante Samuel would do wonders for Gunther Cunningham’s secondary. Last year’s corners were too focused on fundamentals to even listen to whatever instincts they may have had. It’s questionable whether Chris Houston is wanted back, and it should be questionable whether Alphonso Smith deserves to be welcomed back (at least to the starting lineup). Nate Vasher has experience in a Cover 2 scheme, but a few decent games down the stretch in Detroit don’t override his last few disastrous years in Chicago.

2. Outside Linebacker
You actually have to have a strong side to your game in order to be a starting strongside linebacker in the NFL. Which is why finesse-based journeyman Bobbie Carpenter is not the answer. Last year’s strongside ‘backer, Zack Follett, is penciled in as the replacement for gargantuan disappointment Julian Peterson on the weak side. Follett, however, doesn’t begin to have the necessary athleticism to play this position.

3. Interior Offensive Linemen
Center Dominic Raiola’s lack of power has become too much of an issue. An upgrade there could help keep thoroughly average guards Rob Sims and Stephen Peterman afloat.



The Lions could very well become the trendy pick of 2010. A lot of the hype will depend on how people feel about Stafford.

If he’s sharp, the Lions might be able to mask their middling offensive line. In that case, it would come down to how much the young secondary improves. If it’s lofty goals you like, 9-7 wouldn’t be an unfairly high bar for this club.

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Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 12:25 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Detroit Lions

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fghdfre
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:24 pm
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Since: May 7, 2009
Posted on: April 13, 2011 5:06 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Detroit Lions

Andy, before you do a "checkup" on any team, you probably need to do a checkup on your facts. People who write for a living should do some research before they write nonsense. First, where do you get your facts that the Lions scored their points "partly due to a penchant for fun but unfulfilling garbage time comebacks"? Which games were those? The Lions where in every game this year and their losses were usually because the D gave up some bad plays and either were burnt or were out of place, see the NE game.  

In addition, you wonder if the Lions "would have been willing to trade the 6-10 finish for a 4-12 finish if had meant Matthew Stafford getting a chance to develop". You contradict yourself here because you say that the Lions "likely would have been better than 6-10 had Stafford not missed 13 games with shoulder problems", but you said that they would have been 4-12 with Stafford developing. Since you obviously did not watch a Lions game all year, and most likely just read something that some writer said I will fill you in on what happened during the games. The Lions had the lead in the games that Stafford played in and left because of injury (CHI & NJY), and in the only game that he finished we won by 12 points. This game was the first time that he played in 6 weeks. Stafford finished that game with an almost 58% completion percentage, over 200 yds passing (212), 4 TD passes with only 1 INT. His only INT of the year came on his fifth pass in 6 weeks since his shoulder injury when he under threw CJ (Calvin Johnson, since you obviously do not know anything about the Lions) on what would have been a 22 yd TD pass. I understand that things change over a course of 16 games, but you have to believe that he took a giant step forward this year, his completion percentage was higher than 55% in all games and he threw 6 TD passes to only 1 INT and also ran for 1 TD. By actually watching these games and seeing the maturation of Stafford unfold before you, one can believe that the Lions would have been a 500 team at worst with him at the helm all year, not 4-12. 

Your next mistake is talking about a "zone" cornerback like Samuel. Nobody will argue with you that we desperately need a CB, but why on earth would the Lions pursue a cover 2 CB when they play maybe 10-15% of their defensive plays in a cover 2? If you watched any game or knew anything about the team, you would have realized that we have not been a cover 2 or Tampa 2 team since good ole Rod Marinelli and his 0-16 team in 2008. Since 2009, Jim Schwartz has been the head coach and Gunther Cunningham has been the D-Coordinator of the Lions. Cunningham did run a cover 2 in KC, but that was because of the head coach at the time was Herm Edwards, and he wanted to utilize a cover 2.

We do need LB's especially OLB's, but calling Julian Peterson a "gargantuan disappointment" might be a little harsh. He obviously is not the player he once was. He was cut because he was owed a gargantuan amount of money in 2011. If you knew anything about the Lions or possible football, in general you probably would not call a player who is 1 year removed from being a Pro Bowl alternate a gargantuan disappointment. After all, he was 2nd on the team in tackles in 2010 by one tackle and only played in 15 games; in 2009, he was 4th on the team in tackles and third on the team in sacks. I do not necessarily believe that qualifies as a gargantuan disappointment. I think that your article is a gargantuan disappointment however. &
nbsp;

In addition, why would you even consider giving up on Alphonso Smith after two total years in the league? Remember that DEN gave up a 1st round pick in 2010 to trade back into the 2nd round of 2009 and draft the person. He is a 25 yr old CB who has a penchant for big plays. He did lead the team in INT's in 2010, and tied for 10thin the league in INT’s while missing the last four games of the season. Now he does take chances and sometimes gives up the big plays, see NE game (which is probably the only game that you watched on the Lions and is why you would even question whether he deserves to come back). There are some experts including a HOF CB named Deon Sanders who believe that Smith is going to be a stud shutdown CB. I would not consider giving up on a person after 2 years and 1 with the team.
McDaniels did and you saw what happened to him, well Andy you might not have but in case you didn't Josh McDaniels got fired (as you should be from EVER writing about the Lions again).

I do think that Raiola does not possess the best strength for an OC, I do not remember a time when it has become too much of an issue. In fact there are some experts who believe that he is better than average. I would consider drafting his replacement if I was the GM in this year or the next though. However, to consider the Lions interior line thoroughly average is comical. Did you realize that Peterman played the majority of the season with a bad ankle? Andy, I would bet that you did not know that. In addition, Sims may not be a Pro Bowl OG, but to label him thoroughly average, come on. He is definitely in the top 15-20 OG in the league. He may not be the next Logan Mankins (Mankins is a stud OG for the NWE), but who is? I would not even worry about Sims; I would like to find a replacement for Peterman though. Draft a guy in the 2nd/3rd round and let the play out the OTA's (Offseason Training Activities) and see who wins out, if there is any offseason this year because there is no CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement).

Andy, I do agree with you on 2 points though (not bad 2 out of 8, you would be batting .250 in baseball). Suh was everything that was advertised, and Pettigrew was an unsung hero. He recovered from his ACL repair faster than most thought he would and he proved that he is and will be a force to be reckoned with. The only glaring problem that he had was his drops. He also has a tendency to drop balls in crucial points in the game. See the BUF game, he dropped a 3rd down catch late in the game that would have put us in the red zone and we probably would have won that game with that catch. I do not know exactly how many drops Pettigrew had in 2010, but it was at least double digits. Therefore, when you state twice that "Augmenting this was Pettigrew’s ability to snag balls on the move", I believe that this will become true, however Pettigrew needs to dramatically cut down on the drops in 2011.

 




Since: May 7, 2009
Posted on: April 13, 2011 5:03 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Detroit Lions

Andy, before you do a "checkup" on any team, you probably need to do a checkup on your facts. People who write for a living should do some research before they write nonsense. First, where do you get your facts that the Lions scored their points "partly due to a penchant for fun but unfulfilling garbage time comebacks"? Which games were those? The Lions where in every game this year and their losses were usually because the D gave up some bad plays and either were burnt or were out of place, see the NE game.  

In addition, you wonder if the Lions "would have been willing to trade the 6-10 finish for a 4-12 finish if had meant Matthew Stafford getting a chance to develop". You contradict yourself here because you say that the Lions "likely would have been better than 6-10 had Stafford not missed 13 games with shoulder problems", but you said that they would have been 4-12 with Stafford developing. Since you obviously did not watch a Lions game all year, and most likely just read something that some writer said I will fill you in on what happened during the games. The Lions had the lead in the games that Stafford played in and left because of injury (CHI & NJY), and in the only game that he finished we won by 12 points. This game was the first time that he played in 6 weeks. Stafford finished that game with an almost 58% completion percentage, over 200 yds passing (212), 4 TD passes with only 1 INT. His only INT of the year came on his fifth pass in 6 weeks since his shoulder injury when he under threw CJ (Calvin Johnson, since you obviously do not know anything about the Lions) on what would have been a 22 yd TD pass. I understand that things change over a course of 16 games, but you have to believe that he took a giant step forward this year, his completion percentage was higher than 55% in all games and he threw 6 TD passes to only 1 INT and also ran for 1 TD. By actually watching these games and seeing the maturation of Stafford unfold before you, one can believe that the Lions would have been a 500 team at worst with him at the helm all year, not 4-12. 

Your next mistake is talking about a "zone" cornerback like Samuel. Nobody will argue with you that we desperately need a CB, but why on earth would the Lions pursue a cover 2 CB when they play maybe 10-15% of their defensive plays in a cover 2? If you watched any game or knew anything about the team, you would have realized that we have not been a cover 2 or Tampa 2 team since good ole Rod Marinelli and his 0-16 team in 2008. Since 2009, Jim Schwartz has been the head coach and Gunther Cunningham has been the D-Coordinator of the Lions. Cunningham did run a cover 2 in KC, but that was because of the head coach at the time was Herm Edwards, and he wanted to utilize a cover 2.

We do need LB's especially OLB's, but calling Julian Peterson a "gargantuan disappointment" might be a little harsh. He obviously is not the player he once was. He was cut because he was owed a gargantuan amount of money in 2011. If you knew anything about the Lions or possible football, in general you probably would not call a player who is 1 year removed from being a Pro Bowl alternate a gargantuan disappointment. After all, he was 2nd on the team in tackles in 2010 by one tackle and only played in 15 games; in 2009, he was 4th on the team in tackles and third on the team in sacks. I do not necessarily believe that qualifies as a gargantuan disappointment. I think that your article is a gargantuan disappointment however. &
nbsp;

In addition, why would you even consider giving up on Alphonso Smith after two total years in the league? Remember that DEN gave up a 1st round pick in 2010 to trade back into the 2nd round of 2009 and draft the person. He is a 25 yr old CB who has a penchant for big plays. He did lead the team in INT's in 2010, and tied for 10thin the league in INT’s while missing the last four games of the season. Now he does take chances and sometimes gives up the big plays, see NE game (which is probably the only game that you watched on the Lions and is why you would even question whether he deserves to come back). There are some experts including a HOF CB named Deon Sanders who believe that Smith is going to be a stud shutdown CB. I would not consider giving up on a person after 2 years and 1 with the team.
McDaniels did and you saw what happened to him, well Andy you might not have but in case you didn't Josh McDaniels got fired (as you should be from EVER writing about the Lions again).

I do think that Raiola does not possess the best strength for an OC, I do not remember a time when it has become too much of an issue. In fact there are some experts who believe that he is better than average. I would consider drafting his replacement if I was the GM in this year or the next though. However, to consider the Lions interior line thoroughly average is comical. Did you realize that Peterman played the majority of the season with a bad ankle? Andy, I would bet that you did not know that. In addition, Sims may not be a Pro Bowl OG, but to label him thoroughly average, come on. He is definitely in the top 15-20 OG in the league. He may not be the next Logan Mankins (Mankins is a stud OG for the NWE), but who is? I would not even worry about Sims; I would like to find a replacement for Peterman though. Draft a guy in the 2nd/3rd round and let the play out the OTA's (Offseason Training Activities) and see who wins out, if there is any offseason this year because there is no CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement).

Andy, I do agree with you on 2 points though (not bad 2 out of 8, you would be batting .250 in baseball). Suh was everything that was advertised, and Pettigrew was an unsung hero. He recovered from his ACL repair faster than most thought he would and he proved that he is and will be a force to be reckoned with. The only glaring problem that he had was his drops. He also has a tendency to drop balls in crucial points in the game. See the BUF game, he dropped a 3rd down catch late in the game that would have put us in the red zone and we probably would have won that game with that catch. I do not know exactly how many drops Pettigrew had in 2010, but it was at least double digits. Therefore, when you state twice that "Augmenting this was Pettigrew’s ability to snag balls on the move", I believe that this will become true, however Pettigrew needs to dramatically cut down on the drops in 2011.

 




Since: Apr 11, 2011
Posted on: April 11, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Detroit Lions

OK, I give you a good, but mixed grade for your analysis Andy. 

On the plus side, you understand the Lions needs better than most analysts.  I am completely bored of the superficial analysts that keep saying the Lions need an offensive tackle so much.  You are right on target in pointing to Dominic Raiola as being the weak spot in the offensive line.  The Lions tried zone blocking for a couple seasons to try and compensate for the weaknesses of Raiola, but they have abandoned that for a drive blocking scheme since Schwartz became coach.  Raiola is just not poerful enough to get any drive in his drive blocking.  It was monotonous to watch how regularly Dom was driven into the backfield so that the defense could create pressure in both run and pass situations.

I agree that Rob Sims was average in run blocking, but he was very good in pass protection.  I agree that Peterman was average and sometimes poor, during the first part of the season.  But Peterman was playing on a gimpy ankle for most of the year.  As Peterman healed he was much better, especially in run blocking.  It is no coincidence that the Lions running game came alive about the time he was able to start blocking more effectively.  Also note that Corey Hilliard replaced an injured Gosder Cherilus at right tackle during the last four games as well.  I agree that both Sims and Peterman could be more effective with a better center.

I agree that the Lions need a strong side linebacker.  I expect Ashlee Palmer and Bobby Carpenter to compete for the weakside LB position.  Look for the Lions to get somebody like Bruce Carter in the draft to fill the SAM position.  Another possibility is to get somebody like Manny Lawson from the 49ers if the draft doesn't provide an answer.  I know Lawson has been tendered but he has five years of service so it is highly likely that he ends up as an unrestricted free agent when the CBA is settled.  Lawson would look MUCH better in Detroit that he does in a 3-4 defense that does not really suit him.
The Schwartz/Cunningham defense places run defense responsibilities on the safeties more often than the cornerbacks.  This often prevents the Cover 2 scheme from being used because the safeties cannot abandon their run defense responsibilities in favor of deep drops excapt in obvious passing situations.  In those situations the Lions will probably go to a nickel or dime package anyway.  We are more likely to see Cover 1 from the Lions defrense these days.



Since: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: April 10, 2011 10:37 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Detroit Lions

A writer who doesnt know anything about the Lions shouldnt be writing artilcles about them. Cover-2? Come on that was Marinellis defense not Gunthers. Rob Sims was a beast finally solidifying the left side of the line, not "thoroughly average". The Lions were in every game last year. They didnt score thier points in garbage time. If they got blown out it tended to come late. Look at the Patriots game. That was thier season in a nutshell. Hack article by a "thoroughly average" writer.



Since: Sep 14, 2008
Posted on: April 9, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Detroit Lions

Andy, you're a tool.  Zack was the weakside backer, Julian played Strongside.  Rob Sims wasn't average, Peterman was.  You're right about Raiola.  Lions are not a cover 2 team.  You are wrong about garbage points.  The Lions were in nearly all their games and most of the losses came when the defense gave up a lot of points to close the game.



Since: Jan 16, 2009
Posted on: April 9, 2011 11:06 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Detroit Lions

Its all about protecting himself really, kids learn at a young age not to fall face first. Well the same goes for Stafford, he needs to learn to protect himself from hits and falls, like Manning, Brady and the other greats. Healthy year for Stafford and we could see more improvement, but i still think playoffs is a reach with teams like Green Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas taking the possible last playoff spots.



Since: Apr 9, 2011
Posted on: April 9, 2011 9:51 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Detroit Lions

Stafford really is one of the more frustrating storylines in the NFL. The talent is there, and unlike a lot of talented QBs who have come and gone, the want-to appears to be there as well. The man just has eggshells where shoulders should be. It's a shame, really.


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