Tag:Detroit Lions
Posted on: November 30, 2011 4:08 pm
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Keep an Eye on: Week 13's finer points

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Saints vs. Lions
A good over/under on total passing yards for this game is 700. Both teams have gun-slinging quarterbacks and depth at receiver. What’s interesting is the way that receiving talent is used.

Calvin Johnson is the most physically gifted wideout (if not player) in the NFL. He’s the fulcrum of the Lions’ attack. That’s actually part of the reason why Detroit’s offense is at the 300 level while New Orleans’ is at the 500. Johnson is not fundamentally refined. He runs only mediocre routes and does not always read complex coverages well. Hence, he hasn’t always been great against committed double-teams.

Fortunately for Johnson, his weaknesses are drastically mitigated by the magnitude of his strengths. In short, his lack of refinement hasn’t mattered a whole lot because he can outrun and out-jump everyone anyway. This may in fact be part of the reason he’s unrefined – it hasn’t been necessary for coaches to waste time and energy teaching him fundamentals.


It might be a different story if Johnson were a Saint, though. Sean Payton’s offense is very layered and malleable. Receivers must be able to precisely run a litany of routes from a litany of different spots on the field. If they can’t, they won’t play, no matter how high they’re drafted (just ask Robert Meachem or Devery Henderson, two high-round picks who often rode the pine early in their careers). Johnson would certainly have been a No. 1 receiver for the Saints from day one, but he would have been asked to learn more, too.

Certainly, there are other factors that go into the making of the Lions’ and Saints’ offense. Drew Brees is a wiser quarterback than Matthew Stafford at this point, plus the Saints have a better interior offensive line and more complete run game. But in terms of week-to-week sustainability, the fundamental soundness of the Saints receivers trumps the insane athleticism of Calvin Johnson. A defense can drastically alter the Lions passing game by taking away just one player. Against the Saints, a defense must take away three or four players.

Cardinals vs. Cowboys
It’s been a good year for inside linebackers in the NFC. A lot of attention has been paid to the duo in San Francisco (Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman), and rightfully so. Brian Urlacher has been tremendous (as usual) in Chicago.

He’s not talked about often, but Minnesota’s E.J. Henderson has been nearly as good as Urlacher (at least against the run). And from this matchup, Dallas’ Sean Lee has received plaudits for his work in coverage (Lee’s attack speed against the run is also superb).

There’s another NFC linebacker in this elite class that few know about: Arizona’s Daryl Washington. The 230-pounder from TCU was in and out of the lineup as a second-round rookie last season. This season, he’s been in and out of opposing backfields. Washington leads the Cardinals with 59 solo tackles (Paris Lenon leads the team with 68 total tackles). He also has eight tackles for loss and three sacks.

Each week Washington jumps out resoundingly on film, showing sideline-to-sideline speed and a downhill burst that can make the other 21 players look sluggish in comparison. Speed is only relevant if it’s taking you in the right direction, though. What has set Washington apart is his improved recognition.

He identifies run concepts and angles to the ball with preternatural instincts (they have to be preternatural because such sharp instincts can’t be cultivated in just one-and-a-half seasons). Those instincts apply in coverage, as well, evidenced by Washington’s two interceptions and six passes defensed this season.

Redskins vs. Jets
Does it seem harsh to start comparing Mark Sanchez to Rex Grossman? The third-year quarterback has not quite fallen to that level in terms of turnovers and bonehead mistakes, but the clock management and decision-making gaffes, not to mention the 11 interceptions and five turnovers returned for touchdowns, are hard to overlook.

Rich Gannon – who is quickly becoming one of the premiere color commentators in the business and, it’s worth noting, briefly tutored Sanchez a few years ago – recently made a few very astute observations about the ex-Trojan. One was that when Sanchez misses, he tends to miss behind his receiver. Gannon suspects this is because Sanchez is routinely late with his eyes; he’s not a quick field-scanner or anticipator.

More concerning is Sanchez’s jitteriness in the pocket. He perceives pass-rush pressure before it arrives (a crippling weakness that usually lands a player out of the league or in a career backup role). He’s overly concerned about getting hit, which causes him to tuck the ball, flee the pocket or make ill-advised throws.

These were things scouts worried about with Sanchez coming out of USC, where he had the uncommon luxury of always throwing from a clean pocket. Sanchez showed these weaknesses as a rookie, which was fine. But it’s not fine that he’s still showing them after nearly 50 professional starts.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 12 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 30, 2011 9:02 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Jaguars coaching search, Suh

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Tuesday was a weird day if you're an NFL fan. And even weirder if you're a Jaguars fan.

Not only did the team fire Jack Del Rio, but they extended general manager Gene Smith, sold the team, and maybe/sort of/kind of promised not to move out of Jacksonville. We break down what the heck happened, if the Jaguars will stick around, and who's a good candidate to be the next head coach.

Also, we take a look at Ndamukong Suh's suspension (is it fair?), Jake Delhomme's signing (can he save the Texans?), the changes made by the Colts (what happens if you shift a deck chair on the Titantic?) and Kurt Warner's comments to Tim Tebow (he tells him, through words, that actions are better than words).
 
Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: November 29, 2011 6:36 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Packers center Wells on Suh: 'I saw the kick'

Posted by Will Brinson

We've got plenty of opinions about Ndamukong Suh, although the only one that really matters is Roger Goodell's -- the commissioner decided to suspend the Lions defensive tackle for two games on Tuesday.

And since the hot topic of the day is Suh's suspension, it makes total sense to talk to a guy who was right there when Suh lashed out at Packers guard Brian Dietrich-Smith. Which is precisely what Tim Brando did, when he brought Packers center (and former Tennessee standout, as well as a pretty funny/good guy) Scott Wells onto the Tim Brando Show Tuesday.

"I saw it, and it kind of threw me off a bit, and I reached down and tried to break it up, but I couldn't get too physical because the official's right there with me," Wells said on the "And I tried to pull 'em apart and everything.

"And I didn't see him make contact -- I saw the kick. And I immediately turned to the official and I was like, 'Man that's messed up -- he kicked him!' And everyone on our side is yelling, 'He kicked him!'"


As you can see above, Wells breaks down the incident and whethere or not the suspension was warranted.

"It was a heated moment and he made a bad decision obviously and it cost him," Wells said.

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 10:28 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 3:54 pm
 

Ndamukong Suh suspended 2 games, will appeal

Posted by Will Brinson



As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman noted earlier, Ndamukong Suh was suspended two games without pay by the NFL on Tuesday for his actions in Detroit's loss to Green Bay on Thanksgiving.

Suh received the suspension due to the fact that the incident in the Packers-Lions game was Suh's fifth on-field violation over the past two years, according to the NFL.

"NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks notified Ndamukong Suh today that he has been suspended without pay for the Lions' next two games for his unsportsmanlike conduct in the Lions-Packers game on Thanksgiving Day," a statement from the NFL, obtained by Freeman, reads. "It was Suh's fifth violation of on-field rules in the past two seasons that has resulted in league discipline. Suh may not practice or be at the team practice facility for any other activities during the two-game suspension.

"He will be reinstated on December 12. Under the CBA, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. If appealed, an expedited hearing and decision would take place this week in advance of this weekend's games."

Suh drew a lot of criticism for his decision not to apologize for his actions, then apologize via Facebook (!), then finally call Roger Goodell on Sunday night and apologize for his actions on Thursday.

Suh isn't the only one who stands to lose money here ($164,000, to be exact). The Lions could also be a little lighter in their proverbial wallets. Freeman explains:

"League rules stipulate that when a player is suspended or fined, the amount of the fine, up to a maximum of $50,000 per infraction, counts towards a club's season total.

"If a team reaches $100,000 in fines the club must forfeit $50,000. If a team reaches $150,000, then it must forfeit an additional $25,000, and match any subsequent fine/suspension amounts for remainder of season.

So, bottom line, the Suh suspension put the Lions over that $100,000 season total. Lions players have already been fined at least that much this season so not only is that $100,000 mark already likely been reached, the next mark could be as well. The team fine would happen at the end of the season once all appeals and reductions are accounted for."

There's more (of course there is): a source close to the embattled defensive tackle tells Freeman that Suh has appealed his suspension. "Suh was urged, I'm told, by union and others that suspension was heavy handed and he should appeal. He officially has."

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 1:03 am
 

Report: Ndamukong Suh called Goodell to apologize

Posted by Will Brinson

Ndamukong Suh's been subject to plenty of judgment following his ejection-worthy actions against Green Bay in Detroit's Thanksgiving day loss.

The defensive lineman initially said he wouldn't apologize for stomping at Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith, but reversed course by posting an apology on his Facebook page. And Suh also reportedly called Roger Goodell to apologize for his actions on Sunday night.

That's according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who reported the details of Suh's phone call on Monday evening.

Of course, Suh's apologies might not matter -- it's believed that the Lions defensive tackle could receive as much as a two-game suspension, and it seems likely that Suh only apologized to mitigate the danger of a multiple-game suspension.

That's because Suh, immediately following the Lions loss, wasn't exactly contrite about his actions.

"I was on top of a guy being pulled down," Suh said, according to CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco. "I was trying to get up off the ground. You see me pushing his helmet down because I was trying to remove myself from the situation. As I'm getting up, I'm getting pushed, so I'm getting myself in balance and getting away from the situation. I know what I did and the man upstairs knows what I did."



The visual evidence offered a story quite to the contrary, and it's no surprise that Suh was ejected. On the bright side, it's also possible, as CBS Sports' Charley Casserly pointed out Sunday, that Suh's punishment will be shortened because he missed part of that game against the Packers.

Either way, there's likely to be a heated debate about Suh's punishment if the league delivers the news on Tuesday, as expected.

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Posted on: November 27, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Casserly: Suh's antics aren't surprising



Posted by Ryan Wilson

It looks like Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh can expect to be suspended two games for his actions during Thursday's Packers game. During The NFL Today's pregame show, James Brown asked NFL insider Charley Casserly if there was any indication of Suh's behavior coming out of Nebraska.

Is Ndamukong Suh dirty?

Casserly's response: 

"I talked to general managers and scouting directors over the weekend and they me absolutely there were red lights at Nebraska and even before that that did not surprise them when they see Suh behave like this in the NFL. …

"Furthermore, when the league goes in to decide how long to suspend -- if they're going to suspend Suh -- one of the things that will work in Suh's favor is that he was ejected from the game … so he has a little bit of time served already. … Comissioner Goodell, in his tenure, has suspended five players. Only one of them, Albert Haynesworth, was suspended for more than one game.

"Finally, the Detroit Lions are going to lose something here too. Suh's salary is a little over $82,000 per week. If he's suspended for more than one game that means the total fines for the year for the Lions will be over $100,000. There's a new rule in the league: over $100,000 and the team has to pay it. So now what happens? The Lions will have to pay if Suh is suspended for one game."

As for what punishment Suh should face: "I think he should be suspended two games."



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Posted on: November 27, 2011 10:58 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 11:18 am
 

Report: Ndamukong Suh to be suspended 2 games



Posted by Ryan Wilson

We probably won't know Ndamukong Suh's fate until Monday or Tuesday, but that doesn't mean it's still not one of the biggest stories of Week 12. Suh, one of the Lions' best players, was ejected from the Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers for stomping on Green Bay guard Evan Dietrich-Smith's arm.

On Sunday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Suh is expected to be suspended for at least two games. 

Is Ndamukong Suh dirty?

After the his ejection Thursday, Suh offered up a lame excuse for his actions before apologizing a day later on his Facebook page.

Suh said he's now ready to move on from the incident.

"I want to reiterate my commitment to working to become a better player, and professional—on and off the field. My reaction on Thursday was unacceptable. I made a mistake, and have learned from it. I hope to direct the focus back to the task at hand — by winning," Suh wrote on Facebook.

But it's not enough to just say you're sorry and you're ready to get on with the rest of your life. In addition to how severely the NFL will punish him, there are also concerns in the Lions' locker room about Suh's antics. Specifically, some of his teammates are also tired of it. NFL Network's Jason La Canfora confirmed as much during Sunday's NFL GameDay Morning.

"The interesting thing, there are people in his own locker room that think [a suspension's] called for," La Canfora said.



Does a reported two-game punishment fit the crime? No idea. (Worth noting: CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman warns that, given NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's history of suspending players, we shouldn't expect a huge punishment for Suh.) But if it's to the point where Suh's teammates are fed up, then maybe a stiffer sanction will have a better chance of getting through to him, and in his words, help him "to become a better player, and professional—on and off the field."

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Posted on: November 25, 2011 3:16 pm
 

Jahvid Best headed to injured reserve

Best, Detroit's top running threat, is done for the 2011 season. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Lions announced Friday that they would place running back Jahvid Best on injured reserve ending his season. The move won't come until next week, when the NFL office processes the transaction following the completion of all Week 12 games, according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter John Kreger.

Best hasn't practiced or played since suffering his second concussion of the season in Week 6.

Without Best, Detroit's running game has been among the most inconsistent in the NFL. It was so bad that the Lions signed street free agent (and former draft pick) Kevin Smith several weeks ago to bolster the rushing attack and he responded with a 140-yard effort against the Panthers in Week 11. Smith suffered an ankle injury during Thursday's Thanksgiving Day loss to the Packers and his status for next Sunday is unclear.

Even though Best hasn't played since October 16, he still leads the Lions in rushing (84 carries, 390 yards). At the time of his injury, he also ranked third on the team with 27 receptions for 287 yards, and he was coming off a 163-yard Monday night performance against the Bears that included an 88-yard touchdown run.

“From the outset, we have been appropriately cautious and have followed all medical protocol with respect to Jahvid’s injury,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Friday, according to DetroitLions.com. “We look forward to his continued improvement and eventual return to the field.”

The Lions face the Saints next and they could go into that game with Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams as their two primary running backs.

Oh, and there's a chance they could soon be without their defensive enforcer, too.

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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