I got some great submissions for this week's edition. First up is "Calvins Got A Job":
I want to know what the deal with Gosder Cherilus is? He's huge and has a NASTY streak and has seemed durable so far in his short young career. But he guy gets a flag or two thrown at him every week! 15-yarder after 15-yarder... Unreal, Millen... I'm starting to think this kid is going to suck and do this his whole career... i'd be happy if some team was dumb enough to trade for him. Do you know how many penalties he's had in his tenure with the Lions?
Well, you partially answered your own question there; Cherlius's emotions often get the better of him. He has a tendency to get too wrapped up in the emotional battle between him and the guy across from him, and lose his head. It's these lapses in focus that get him to jump early, commit personal fouls, and miss assignments.
The good news is that the initial fears about Gosder--that he just wouldn't be any good--appear to be unfounded. His size and strength are unquestioned, and he's shown improved fluidity and technique. Outside of the penalties, you really don't hear his name called--and as we know, for O-linemen, that's a good thing. I'm going through the film right now, so I'll let you folks know if I see anything on there either way.From Jeremy Riesman, Lions writer for the Study of Sports:
How do you explain Detroit's success on the ground last week against Minnesota? I figured they would try a bunch, but I really thought Kevin and Pat Williams were going to crush us. You think ManRam won himself the starting job?
Well, again, I'm just tucking in to my film review, so no "Eureka" moments yet. One thing I noticed the Lions' interior linemen doing in the preseason was a judo-like move: they allow DTs to "beat" them in the direction away from the play--then when the back runs past, use their momentum against them, with a hard shove in the direction they're already going. This prevents the DTs from changing direction and getting back in the play.
I'd be willing to bet that that little trick, along with a lot of traps and pulls to Pettigrew's side, opened up seams that wouldn't normally be there. Credit must also go to Kevin Smith for finding those seams and decisively bursting through. According to Nick Cotsonika, Ramirez is now splitting reps 50-50 with Loper, and the Lions will essentially play the matchups between the two of them. Considering I'd essentially written off Ramirez ever contributing, this is great to see. Also, it gives the Lions depth and options at guard--which, considering the Lions' history at that position, is never a bad thing. Mike emailed in with some very kind words (highly appreciated!) and the following question:
Can you see the resemblance? If Ben from Lost was coach, what would he do to help the Lions right this ship?
Well first, I can see where you're going with the resemblance; I chuckled. As for what do to with the team? I think the answer's obvious! He'd beef up the pass protection:
And from Matt:
I still would like your take on Schweigert getting cut? Again, all I saw him do was make plays. . . so what's the problem?
As anyone who's been reading for a while knows, I've been rooting hard for Stu ever since he stayed late to sign my kids' football at the "Lions Uncaged!" open event. He also made plays like crazy in the the preseason; he was practically a one-man defense against Atlanta.
I was aggrieved enough by his release to do some judicious asking around. The response was that he played his way out of a gig during the Cleveland game--of course, the one I didn't see much of. That explains why he was still essentially quarantined to the second halves of the Colts and Bills games--he was already a dead man walking. Impressive performances against the Colts' and Bills' dead men walking apparently weren't enough to stop the Lions from trading for Ko Simpson, and cutting Stuey Schwagger. He continues to stay in touch with fans with his Twitter feed, @schweigert39.
Finally, my man Steve of Detroit Lions Weblog called me out:
You have recently defended the Lions decision to select Brandon Pettigrew with their second first round selection in the April draft. In a comment on another blog you said regarding the selection of Pettigrew over additional assistance to the Lions defensive personnel would have made a tangible difference in the game's outcome, : "No. Absolutely not. The Saints have the best offense in football, and might well be the best team in football this year. With Buchanon out and Eric King starting, it’s a wonder the Saints didn’t push for triple digits! The Lions certainly played better against the Saints this year than last, and for right now that’s all you can ask." Really? Do you honestly view the Saints as legitimate Super Bowl contenders? Do you believe that the Saints are truly that good, or is the Lions defense that bad? Is playing better than last year a real consolation? I know that Saints offense is quite prolific, but given the attention that the Lions paid to their defense during the recent off-season, is it unfair to expect better results? I am already worried that very little has changed in Allen Park, and I will remain a skeptic until given reason to believe otherwise.
First of all, yes, I absolutely believe that the Saints are going to be playing in January, and probably February. That offense is going to go down as one of the most potent ever assembled--and while their defense is not exceptionally talented, it's the *right* one for their offense. What the Saints did to the Lions--get up 14-0 and send everybody at the QB--they're going to do to a lot of teams; they're going to win a LOT of games because of it. Given that divison, I see a 12 or 13-win season for the Saints.
Second, yes, I absolutely stand behind my statement that Brandon Pettigrew is going to do more for the Lions this season (and for the next decade) than any of the defensive personnel available at the 20th pick. Rey Maualuga certainly wouldn't be playing any better than Larry Foote has shown so far, and Peria Jerry--besides being the completely wrong kind of DT prospect--has already been lost for the season due to an knee injury. Can you honestly tell me that there was a late-first-round rookie that was going to slow down the best offense in the NFL?
On Sunday, the Lions will be starting Sammie Lee Hill, DeAndre Levy, and Louis Delmas. They'll also be starting Grady Jackson, Jason Hunter, Anthony Henry, Philip Buchanon, Larry Foote, Julian Peterson, and either Marquand Manuel or Ko Simpson. Given that the whole defense was overhauled, should we expect better results? Well, that depends on what you mean by "better results". All of these players are either untested rookies, or veterans on the downsides of their careers. This was a defense assembled from scratch in one offseason. Will it be better than the 2008 defense--by almost any standard, the worst defense ever? Yes. Will it be a "good" defense? Maybe. Should we "expect" it to be a good defense? . . . no.