why did the 400-pound chicken come home to roost? to get whatever he wants!

>> 2.25.2009

It puts me in a difficult spot, as a fan.  When a player like Shaun Rogers--an impossible beast who can outrun, outjump, and generally out-athlete men half his size--gets drafted by the Lions and sees immediate success, it's hard not to love him.  When you see this big doofy mug (thanks, Sports Illustrated):

How can you not love him?  When it looks like he's on his way to being one of the best players in the game at his position--maybe even on his side of the field--how can you not love him?  How can you not want to drive to Ford Field, buy a Big Baby jersey and an eight dollar beer, and holler like a Texas country boy every time he blows somebody up?

Here's the problem.

As NFL.com's Adam Schefter points out, that big fat lovable tub of badass carries a lot of baggage--and I am neither referring to Samsonite, nor the keg of flesh behind his doubtlessly-melon-sized belly button.  Rogers plays hard when he is happy, or feels he has something to prove, and that's it.  If he's not happy, doesn't feel like he's under the gun, or just plain doesn't wanna be sweet that day, he goes from being a badass to a lardass, effective purely for his size and nothing else.

We as Lions fans saw plenty of both the unblockable monster, and the wind-sucking goldbricker.  Many have correctly noted that the loss of Rogers put a dagger in the heart of a nearly-moribund defense, and the one INT we got out of Leigh Bodden in the one year he was here, can't possibly make up for the every-down impact Rogers had.  I concede that removing Big Baby from the middle of the defense created a cavernous hole, and our run defense was horrifyingly bad without him.  

However, it was only 'pretty bad' with him--and there were critical times (like the Philly game of 2007) where he was technically present on the field, but got blown off the ball by 100-pounds-lesser men.  Moreover, his play on the field is only part of the picture.  He clearly buys his own hype, and wants to be treated at all times like the lead dog--regardless of recent production or attitude.  Everything I heard while he was here was that the was a literal and physical enormous presence in the locker room, and he more or less ruled it with an iron fist.  He, like most other talented players stuck on the Millen-era Lions, grew completely sick of it all and turned the coaches out.  His influence became entirely negative; his off-field antics grew increasingly unpalatable.  Finally, his on-field play absolutely melted into nothing; he could be counted on nothing more than 20 snaps of 'meh', occasionally punctuated by a big play if the game was still close in the fourth quarter.

The Browns got most of a season of "good" Shaun Rogers, making the Pro Bowl as the rarest and most integral piece of a 3-4 defense: the nose tackle.  Now that they're building around him, Mangini has realized--too late--the importance of handling Big Baby with kid gloves.  He's seeing the problems that come with making Rogers the foundation of your defense.  And he'll find out that Rogers will find the chinks in his armor, and undermine his ability to coach.  Good luck, Mangenius, you'll need it.

2 comments:

DrewsLions February 25, 2009 at 4:36 PM  

I'm sure that you've heard that he's now requesting a trade or to be cut by Cleveland. What a waste. That is my biggest pet peeve... players who are supremely talented, but too lazy or egotistical to realize their full potential. I do believe that it was a mistake to trade Rogers, though. We got little in return and lost a cog in the middle of our defense. The results were catastrophic. Teams ran over us at will.

That being said, Rogers couldn't stay on under Marinelli. If Marinelli was to be taken seriously as a coach (which we all know now, he shouldn't have been), they had to jettison Rogers and rid the team of Shaubba The Hutt before his malignant attitude and work ethic infected the whole lot. Well, it didn't matter anyway. Typical Lion's catch 22.

In my humble opinion, Rogers will never be a great player. There will always be a market for him though and as much as he disappeared at times, I wouldn't mind seeing him in a Lion's uniform again. I know... it won't happen. Still though... on his worst days, he could just fall down and clog the line. That's better than anything we had in '08.

Nice post, Ty.

Drew

Ty February 26, 2009 at 8:38 AM  

"Typical Lions Catch 22"

You nailed it right there. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. At least now we get the satisfaction of seeing he's no different in brown and orange than he was in blue and silver. I do agree, we've got to get a big-bodied DT in there . . . unfortunately those dudes are pretty hard to come by.

Thanks, Drew!

Peace
Ty

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