Tag:Offseason Checkup
Posted on: April 8, 2011 5:44 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Detroit Lions

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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