Tag:Detroit Lions
Posted on: September 19, 2010 2:50 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2010 2:51 pm

Best has dominant 1st half; Vick not bad either

J. Best, scoring the first of his two TDs, has pushed Detroit into a halftime lead against Philadelphia (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

At first, it appeared that Eagles QB Michael Vick would be the star of the Philadelphia-Detroit game. Subbing in for injured starter Kevin Kolb (concussion), Vick threw a laser to WR DeSean Jackson that he turned into a 45-yard TD. 

But Lions RB Jahvid Best was just getting warmed up.

Best, who made his NFL debut last week with a very unimpressive 14-carry, 20-yard performance, has been dominant against the Eagles defense. He tied the game in the first quarter with a 14-yard TD, and in the second period, he took a pass from QB Shaun Hill and motored 75 yards in for the TD.

In the first half, Best has 11 carries for 76 yards and two catches for 94 yards. But Vick hasn't been too bad either. He threw a nine-yard TD pass to Jeremy Maclin with 13 seconds left in the half to give Philadelphia the 21-17 lead. He's 12 of 20 for 186 yards and two TDs.

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Posted on: September 17, 2010 8:27 am

Week 2 Key Matchup: defending Michael Vick

Posted by Andy Benoit

It usually takes a national holiday to inspire Americans to watch a Lions game. This week, however, a lot of eyes will be on Motown with football fans tuning in for Michael Vick’s expected starting debut as the Eagles quarterback. Vick looked like the Vick of old in Philadelphia’s second half loss to Green Bay. His electrifying athleticism is back. So how will Detroit defend him?M. Vick (US Presswire)

The short answer: with zone coverage. Zone defense, whether it’s traditional Cover 2 with cornerbacks guarding the flats and safeties covering the deep middle, or Quarters with each of the four defensive backs taking ¼ of the field, is the obvious tactic against a mobile quarterback because it allows defenders to see all of the action in front of them. In man coverage, defenders must follow the receiver and turn their back to the ball. When teams see man coverage, they often design their routes simply to clear out defenders against the run (FYI, Sean Payton happens to be a genius with this tactic). You obviously can’t leave that kind of open field for Vick.

Thus, look for Detroit to strictly play zone defense Sunday. (For what’s it worth, you can tell what type of coverage defenders, especially linebackers, are playing by how they take their first step. A first step towards the line of scrimmage usually indicates man coverage; a first step backing away from the line of scrimmage indicates zone.)

Chances are, even without Vick, the Lions would have played a lot of zone against the Eagles anyway. Reason being, the Lions cornerbacks simply don’t have the speed or agility to handle the quickness of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Because the way to beat Jackson is with physicality at the line of scrimmage, and because Lions corner Chris Houston is ineffective when he’s not physical, don’t be surprised if Houston and company try to get a jam on the Eagle receivers before dropping into their zone. This will not only disrupt the timing of the routes, but it will also disguise some of the defensive looks for Vick. You have to figure Vick will be a tad rusty in his reads, given that he hasn’t had a team game-plan specifically against him in roughly three years.

Last week, once Vick entered the game, the Packers secondary employed some of the purest zone coverages known to football.

However, the Packers remained aggressive with their front seven blitz tactics. This flustered Philly’s passing game at times, but whenever Vick was able to flee the pocket and get outside the widest defender, he found plenty of open space to eat up (hence his 103 yards rushing). The Lions can’t afford to yield those kind of running lanes.

Don’t be surprised if Detroit shadows Vick with a linebacker. Using a shadow linebacker can be expensive in coverage, but it’s not like Vick scans the field with the quickness of a Manning or a Brees. A shadowing linebacker doesn’t just provide a fulltime potential tackler against the quarterback, it also forces him to scramble outside, where the sideline can act as a 12th defender. When Vick was a Falcon, no team defended his running better than Bucs. The Bucs were a zone-based team (Tampa 2) that used their fast linebackers to shadow and force Vick outside.

The Lions used Landon Johnson and Julian Peterson as their nickel linebackers in Week 1; of the two, the versatile and athletic Peterson would make the best shadow option. In base packages, middle linebacker DeAndre Levy, who did not play in Week 1, is Detroit’s best athlete, though coaches may want Levy focused on attacking downhill.

Keeping Vick’s scrambling in check is a tall order. The Lions, with their iffy back seven personnel, will need a dominant performance from Ndamukong Suh and company just to have shot. At least the blueprint is clear.

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Posted on: September 12, 2010 4:35 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2010 6:14 pm

Calvin Johnson, Lions thwarted by bad rule

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If you want to blame the officials for the Calvin Johnson TD catch not counting late in the Bears-Lions game, that’s OK. If you want to curse and say, “What the hell was the referee doing under that hood? Why didn’t he overturn an incomplete call on what was very obviously a TD call?” that’s all right, too.

On the surface, the sequence of events that secured Chicago’s 19-14 win against Detroit seems drastically unfair. And it is unfair. It’s a silly, stupid rule. But blame the rule. Don’t blame the officials.

Here’s how it set up: QB Shaun Hill threw a pretty pass to Calvin Johnson in the corner of the end zone with less than a minute to play. Johnson caught the ball over Bears DB Zackary Bowman and landed his feet and his body with the ball secured in his hands. Then he put the ball on the ground.

Whether he was using the ball to help himself up or whether he just lost control for a second (he had only one hand on the ball at that point), that’s where the controversy comes in. Was it a catch? Absolutely. Should it have been a TD? For sure. Is it spelled out that way in the rule book? No.

Because he was still “in the process” of catching the TD pass, what was, at first, ruled a TD was quickly overruled as an incomplete pass. The official’s review confirmed the second ruling on the field.

Here’s what the rule states (hat tip to Pro Football Talk ): "If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete."

Yes, the rule is unfair, and there’s no doubt that it’ll be under intense scrutiny. But it wasn’t the referee’s fault. He was just correctly enacting what is a stupid rule. A stupid, stupid rule.

Your eyes – and mine – told you that Johnson caught a TD pass. It should have been.

UPDATE (6:13 p.m.): Reaction from Johnson: "I thought it was a catch, I figured if I got two feet and a knee down, it was a catch. I thought we finally won in Chicago. It is what it is, and now it’s over."

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Posted on: September 12, 2010 2:45 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2010 3:00 pm

Stafford injured as Lions struggle into halftime

Posted by Will Brinson

The good news for the Chicago Bears is that Julius Peppers appears to care (he sacked Matt Stafford near the end of the half to land the Bears a field goal) and that Matt Forte appears to be closer to his first season than his second (he took a screen pass 89 yards to the house). The good news for the Lions is that Jahvid Best appears to be "for real" (he has two touchdowns in the first half) and they appear, as a team, to be better than last year (they're winning at halftime).

The bad news was that Mike Martz' offense managed to produce three turnovers ... against the Lions. The really bad news, though (at least for the Lions), is that Stafford suffered a shoulder injury on the sack by Peppers and was seen on the sidelines without his pads or jersey on.

Needless to say, the Lions will be careful with him, but considering that last year he managed to get back on the field and win a game with a shoulder injury, the news that he could be out for the second half is not good at all.

A strong showing by Jay Cutler, whose numbers are quite deceiving at halftime, in the second half could go a long way towards making Chicago fans feel less worried about their team this year. And likely towards keeping Lovie Smith and Martz' pants a little cooler.

Update (2:49): Shaun Hill entered the game for Stafford and the Lions' starter's return is officially listed as "questionable" -- he kicked the bench in frustration when being told that he wouldn't return.

Update (3:00): The NFL tweets that Stafford is OUT for the game and will not return, leaving the Lions hopes in Hill's hands.

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Posted on: September 9, 2010 9:45 am
Edited on: September 9, 2010 4:33 pm

Hot Routes 9.9.10: NFC Week 1 injury rundown

Posted by Andy Benoit

Filling you in on some of the noteworthy midweek injury news...

Some truly great news for the Giant: strong safety Kenny Phillips will be in the starting lineup against the Panthers Sunday. Phillips is coming off microfracture knee surgery. If healthy, he’s one of the most electrifying safeties in the game.

The Cowboys also got their safety, Gerald Sensabaugh, back. He’s been out with a foot injury.K. Phillips (US Presswire)

The Cowboys, Giants and Eagles all have injury news along their offensive line . The Cowboys will likely be without right tackle Marc Colombo (knee) and left guard Kyle Kosier (knee). The Eagles are getting center Jamaal Jackson back. (ACL) The Giants are getting center Shaun O’Hara back (Achilles). 

Lions safety Louis Delmas missed practice Wednesday. So did middle linebacker DeAndre Levy. Both have strained groin muscles . These are the two best athletes on Detroit’s iffy defense (not counting Ndamukong Suh). Delmas’s presence is especially crucial given the ineptitude of the Lions secondary.

Bears rookie Major Wright has returned to practice three weeks after having surgery to repair a fractured finger. Wright was drafted to start immediately at free safety, though it’s likely he’ll come off the bench in Week 1. If he does, then Danieal Manning should start in centerfield. (Chris Harris will be the strong safety.)

Cardinals running back Beanie Wells did not practice Wednesday due to a knee injury . Wells is expected to play against the Rams on Sunday though.

Larry Fitzgerald should be good to go after taking a knee to the helmet against the Texans a few weeks ago.

Rams safety James Butler is sidelined with a knee injury. The Rams ultimately need Butler, though they’re confident that Craig Dahl, despite his limited range, can hold down the strong safety duties in the short term.

San Francisco’s best pass-rusher, outside linebacker Ahmed Brooks, has not yet recovered from a lacerated kidney (doesn’t that injury just sound awful)? He’s out this week.

Either Chester Pitts or Tyler Polumbus will start at left tackle for Seattle’s injured first-round rookie Russell Okung (high ankle sprain).

For the Panthers, Geoff Schwartz will almost certainly start for injured right tackle Jeff Otah (ankle).

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman missed practice Wednesday because of his fractured right thumb , but he’s apparently long been scheduled to miss that particular practice anyway. Freeman will still be under center against the Browns Sunday.

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Posted on: September 8, 2010 10:41 pm

Podcast: Week 1 early game previews

Posted by Will Brinson

Are you ready for some football? No, seriously, are you?

Because it's football time, people. Less than 24 hours from kickoff.

And that's why Andy Benoit and I are here to run over the Week 1 games with you, doling out helpful information to help you understand who will win, and answering all the important questions about Week 1, like "Is Tampa Bay-Cleveland the worst game of the season?"

So, go ahead. Click the play button. Got a question? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL)

Oh, be a friend and subscribe either by RSS or iTunes below.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .
Or, make it easy on yourself and  Subscribe via iTunes .

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Posted on: September 8, 2010 9:48 am

Hot Routes 9.8.10: Well, how big a boy are you?

Posted by Will Brinson

Originally I was going to try and get a full post out of Suh and Larry (via Suh's Twitter account, seen right) and the whole "big boy" thing was aimed at Deuce (see: No. 2 below). Then I realized that it was something the Cable Guy might say and that I definitely don't have 300 words in my brain that revolve around that picture.

We will, however, accept captions in the comments or via twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) , where you may also send tips for the Hot Routes.
  • Deuce Lutui will get loose at right guard for Arizona , despite heavy concerns (literally) about his weight keeping him from performing at an expected level. Said Lutui, it's "not the first time I've been called fat. It's one of those things, as a big boy, you have to live with."
  • My buddy RJ Bell of Pregame.com points out that the Colts are expected to be favored in 15 of their 16 games this year (the lone exception being their game at New England), while the Lions are only expected to be favored in ONE game, when they play the Rams in Week 5 at home. These expectations, remember, don't judge future performance (necessarily) ... just expectations.
  • So, there's apparently a chance that Tim Tebow might not play in Jacksonville, as according to the Denver Post , he and Brady Quinn are still battling it out for the No. 2 quarterback spot. There might be a full-on revolt at Everbank Stadium if that happens.
  • Hue Jackson, the Raiders offensive coordinator, helped get T.J. Houshmandzadeh from Seattle to Baltimore. Weird .
  • Big Blue View takes a look at the 2009 Giants draft class and decides that it might be nice to take a mulligan on that one, even if Hakeem Nicks is pretty talented. Unfortunately, well, you know how mulligans work in the NFL.
Posted on: September 7, 2010 4:34 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2010 4:37 pm

The blackout problem is not going away

Posted by Andy Benoit

Q. What do you get when you combine a rough economy with an ever-improving home television viewing experience?

A. Blackouts. An alarming number of blackouts.

Sean Leahy of USA Today recently shed some light on the potential blackout problem NFL teams are facing in 2010. Last season, 22 regular season games (8.6 percent of games) were blacked out, which was a five-year high for the league. Five teams had home games blacked out: Detroit, Jacksonville, Kansas City, St. Louis and Oakland.

This season, 11 teams, including ’09 playoff clubs San Diego, Cincinnati and Arizona, could be facing blackouts. Tampa Bay is expected to lead the league in ’10 blackouts; their first could come in the Season Opener against Cleveland. Leahy writes, “Last year the Buccaneers took advantage of blackout loophole by which teams can buy back unsold tickets at a reduced rate in order for the game to air locally. This season, (Bucs spokesman) Jonathan Grella said the team won't do that.

For games to be on TV, Grella said, "people need to understand that it's not a given."

It’s worth noting that the blackout problems are generally impacting only the less established teams. Classic organizations like Pittsburgh, Chicago, Dallas, Green Bay, San Francisco, Miami, Washington, etc. have either already sold out all eight games in 2010 or are on the cusp of selling out all eight games. And popular teams like Philadelphia, New England, Indianapolis, Minnesota and Baltimore are selling out, too.

That said, the blackout problem will get worse if changes aren’t eventually made. Think about it: going to a game costs hundreds of dollars. You’re stuck in traffic for hours beforehand and after. You usually wind up committing eight hours of your day to the experience. The game is exciting, except for the frequent commercial breaks where you sit around and look at nothing. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a good view of the field. And, if you’re even luckier, you won’t be sitting next to a noisy moron or drunkard.

On the other side of the equation…for roughly the cost of taking your family to an NFL game, you can order DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket and see every game for the entire season. You watch from home (likely on a big HD screen) and determine the nature of your own environment. You see more than you would have seen at the game live (better view, replays, close-up shots of players and coaches), and it only costs about three hours of your day. No driving home, no facing traffic and no standing in line at the restroom. Better yet, if you’re a hardcore NFL fan, you aren’t limited to watching just one game.
With the Collective Bargaining negotiations on the horizon and owners needin
g to figure out how to distribute revenue, the league needs to take special notice of the blackout markets. If blackouts become the norm for lower-echelon teams (especially lower-echelon teams in newer NFL markets like Tampa, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Phoenix, etc.), the NFL could start to develop its own versions of the Kansas City Royals or Pittsburgh Pirates.

A huge factor in the NFL’s success has been how even its bottom-feeder clubs are relevant. Relevancy is hard to maintain when no one can see the games.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com