Hey folks, it’s Mailbag time again. I’m going to get right to it with a great one from Scott T.:
I was watching SportsCenter tonight, and they cut to a preview segment of tonight's MNF game, with Matt Millen. For the first time, a raw emotion hit me as I listened to MM speak; loathing. I remember listening to Matt Millen, the color analyst, prior to his tenure with the Lions. My thoughts then were "he's pretty sharp, makes good points" etc, etc. Now that he has returned to that position in broadcasting, I am now POSITIVE, that he could make the same statements, prove the same points, and for me, I just want to turn the TV off, or change the channel. His words no longer are credible with me. To be honest, I haven't paid much attention to his return to broadcasting, and have never really listened until tonight. In my mind, and probably my own, Matt Millen, the NFL analyst, is now a joke, and I resent his being on TV passing his opinion on to national and even regional viewers.This one is tough for me. I’m always the first to defend Millen’s right to ply his trade—and like you, I enjoyed his analysis work the first time around. I don’t think that his failure as the CEO of an NFL franchise disqualifies him from a career in broadcasting; certainly there are plenty of great players and coaches who would be terrible analysts, and plenty of mediocre players and coaches (Merrill Hoge) who are very sharp on-camera.
However, I experienced something very similar to what you're talking about a few weeks ago, when Carolina played Dallas on Monday Night Football. After the game, the talking heads were all taking turns discussing Dallas’ situation, and Millen said “You know, someone who’s got to play better is Roy Williams.” Within minutes of that admission, he said “You know who I’ve really been impressed with, is Demarcus Ware.” All of a sudden, I felt an inexplicable rage: YOU DRAFTED ROY WILLIAMS! YOU PASSED ON DEMARCUS WARE! ROOOOOAAAAAR!
Bile rushed up my throat, veins popped out of my forehead, and my hands screwed themselves into murderous red claws. It was a vicious, violent, Pavlovian reaction wholly beyond my control. After the “Hulk Mad!” moment passed, I was astounded that I could get so worked up over such idle comments. I’m sure that every NFL executive has dozens of players they wish they could have drafted, including ones they passed on in favor of another prospect they liked *this much* more. Still, something about Millen making those statements flipped a switch in my brain that I didn’t know I had, especially not in regards to football analysis.
Once we get past the “credibility” angle, the main factor working against Millen is his job selection. As smooth and insightful as he was in NFL booths, I think he looks awkward and out-of-place during his roundtable work on the MNF pregame/postgame shows. Also, his college booth analysis, while not awful, lacks the insight of his understanding of the NFL—it’s someone who knows a lot about football in general “reacting” to what’s happening on the field, not an insider “guiding” you through what’s happening on the field.
Now our second question, from my boy Neil at Armchair Linebacker:
Ty, how long can I cry before I dehydrate myself?Well, we know the human body is about 60% water. According to Wikipedia, symptoms of dehydration begin to set in after losing approximately 2% of the body's water volume, grow severe after 5-6%, and become fatal after a loss of 15%. Given a 200-pound adult male, and accounting for lost water via breathing, sweating, etc., you'd have to cry about five pounds of tears to experience severe dehydration--less depending on how much beer/whisky/turpentine/drain cleaner you've been drinking.
From commenter SomeChoi:
How do you get the energy to keep writing?I know you're at least partially joking, but I'll answer you seriously: A) my inexplicable love for this team would have me writing on forums and Mlive and the Freep and the News anyway; this just gives all my Lions-y rambling a place to be focused, a place to live and thrive and grow and be useful. B) I want to be there for other fans like me. I want to give people a place where they can read and write about the Lions thoughtfully, intelligently, and without fear of mocking laughs or ignorant donkey brays. I regularly tell commenters and emailers that their kind words give me the fuel to keep driving; I’m not lying when I say that.
And now a more serious question, what precedent is there to expect Stafford's accuracy to improve? If missing too many wide-open receivers was his problem in college, can we really expect this to be a correctable problem?First, you'd have to convince me that "missing wide-open receivers" was his problem. Georgia folks have been constantly telling me that Stafford’s biggest problem at Georgia was actually his total lack of an offensive line . . . in my estimation, Stafford looks fine. He throws with a lot of velocity, and I think it makes his less-on-target passes look more-not-on-target, if that makes any sense. I mean, it only follows that receivers have more time to adjust to quails than to rockets.
Part of this is just his lack of rapport with these wideouts; he spent most of the preseason and training camp running with the twos. Johnson & Johnson were either starting or hurt throughout most of that time, and Dennis Northcutt missed the entire preseason. It’s no wonder that they’re not sure where or when to expect his throws, and it’s no wonder that he’s not placing balls right where they need them.
In the second half of the Rams game, Stafford’s body language, throw velocity, ball placement, and facial expressions just screamed that he was trying to execute the offense SO WELL that the Lions couldn’t help but score. He wasn’t working with his wideouts, he was trying to win despite them—of course, they weren’t doing him any favors either. On the second-to-last drive, Stafford came to the sideline with a glowering I-can’t-believe-these-guys look on his face that spoke volumes about his opinion of his receivers’ efforts that day . . .
This is both a roster problem, and an experience problem. The Lions will have to bring in better non-Calvin wideouts, and Stafford will have to learn to work with what he’s got, instead of trying to impose his will on his teammates with overexecution.
And now, one from Lopper (which was later seconded by Matt):
Why is it that Killer and others always say that the Lions can't afford another high draft pick because they already have Calvin and Stafford with big contracts?Well, the answer to this one is pretty depressing: since 2010 is almost certainly going to be an uncapped year, the salary cap actually has nothing to do with it. It's that the Lions can't afford another Top 5 draft pick. Like, in terms of money. Yes, the Fords have a family fortune that we all imagine is effectively infinite. However, the Lions as a business unit aren't nearly as profitable as they ought to be given their stadium and lease.
Being contractually obligated to rustle up millions every week for game checks to Stafford, Calvin, Backus, and the rest puts a big squeeze on the Lions’ cash flow. Think about it: 40,000 tickets at their average $67/ticket is $2.68M cash coming in the door each week. The Lions’ payroll obligations for 2009 are at $120M. If that’s all paid out over 16 weeks in game checks, that’s $7.5M/wk. Obviously, this is a MASSIVE oversimplification--but if the Lions are even close to operating from a week-to-week deficit, they’ll be minding their Ps and Qs this offseasons.
If they’re stuck with a Top 5 pick again, they’re probably going to be sideline sitters during this upcoming free agency period. The focus will be on B- and C-level guys who can fill holes and play roles, instead of young veterans who’d start on a majority of teams in the NFL. They certainly won't be backing up the Brinks truck to win the Anquan Boldin sweepstakes. On the other hand, if the Fords believe that they're one or two players away from competitiveness--and therefore, a full stadium--they might do as they've (unsuccessfully) done in the past, and spend money to try to make money.