the project car

>> 3.07.2009

In my garage is a car.  Well, sort of.  My children call it "Daddy's Broken Car".  It sits in a distressing state of disrepair--actually, to be truthful, I've done more to pull it apart than to put it together.  I go through spurts where I work furiously on it, yet sometimes months go by without me giving it a second glance.  Even at its prime, it was never an awe-inspiring vehicle, and it had left me stranded on the side of the road more times than I can care to remember.  From the exhaust falling off while driving, to the cabin filling with smoke (and the subsequent panicked search for the source of the fire), that car gave me more than its fair share of my headaches . . . and yet, it also gave me many happy memories.  Saturday afternoons on back country roads, tractionless forges through too-deep snow en route to work, ferrying my future wife to and from dates . . . there's no way I could let that car be crushed.  Still, there's a mountain of work that has to be done, just to get it back on the road.

Yesterday, I started reorganizing my tools, dragging them up from the basement, from inside the car, from wherever.  Just this task dredged up all sorts of metal and mental flotsam: where I'd left stuff, tools that were broken or set aside, adaptors and extensions of many flavors, shapes, and sizes.  Loose nuts and bolts I didn't label because when I loosed them, I figured I couldn't forget what those
 were, etc.   Just this simple task of trying to sort out my tools--and move them from an old dresser I'd repurposed into an actual tool cabinet--made plain the yawning chasm between where I was at and where I needed to be.

It struck me that this is what Martin Mayhew, Tom Lewand, Jim Schwartz, and Shack Harris must be going through right now.  Looking through what they have, thinking about what they need, sorting and organizing the tools they have to work with, and just shaking their head.  The task in front of these two men is really quite enormous--it's not just that the Lions are in real rough shape.  The Lions were in real rough shape five years ago.  It's that from that point, more time has been spent tearing the Lions apart than putting them back together.  What was left of them was rent asunder; stripped, bolt-by-bolt, down to the frame, for a sandblast and repaint that never came.

These men inherited a broken, rusting, lifeless hulk, and have many long nights ahead of them just to get back on the road--let alone carve up country roads, drift through fresh-fallen snow, or escort their ladies anywhere past the end of the driveway.  Unfortunately for us, this will not be like watching an episode of "Overhaulin'".  Entire crews of guys laden with top-notch parts will not be coming up the drive.  The budget is not unlimited.  The guy calling the shots is hardly the Chip Foose of his industry.  No, this "project car" will not be a catalog of megabuck parts hastily swapped into a classic chassis.  It will be a labor of love: of junkyard crawls and bloody knuckles; of greasy hands, and oily pants.  It won't take a week, and there won't be scantily-clad babes draped in sponsor's clothes cooing over the results.  But when this old Ford comes out of the garage in August, just the fact that she runs will be reason enough to stand up and applaud.  Even though the parts won't drip with chrome, and the paint won't dazzle or shine, I'm willing to bet that the heart of the beast will roar, and the once-proud ride will at least be able to prowl the streets like it used to.

Then, I'll need those guys to come up here and help me turn a few wrenches . . .


the Lions Congregation, part two

>> 3.06.2009

The second edition of The Lions Congregation is up over at the Church of Schwartz.  In it, the men of the Schwartz cloth hear the people speak (and do a little speaking, themselves) on:

* The QB depth chart

* If Culpepper can still play

* If we'd trade the #1 overall pick for Jay Cutler

Those of you who've been reading a while probably already know my answer on at least one of those questions . . . please check it out anyway, it's a great read, and the responses cover practically the entire spectrum of possible answers to the sticky QB problem.


ask and ye shall recieve -- the Mayhew giveth

>> 3.04.2009

PFT is reporting that the Lions have signed former Bucs CB Philip Buchanon to a two-year, $8.5 million-dollar deal.  Drafted 17th overall in the 2002 draft by the Oakland Raiders, Buchanon was to be the bookend to Charles Woodson, one-half of the next Great Pair of Raider Corners.  Meanwhile, he was expected to contribute in special teams, as he was a dangerous returner at Miami.  He saw a little playing time as a rookie, getting into six games, starting two, and picking off two passes--returning one for an 81-yard TD.  He saw some time at punt returner, too--in those same six games he returned 15 punts @ 11.9 yards per, including an 83-yard score.  In 2003 he broke into the starting lineup on defense, starting ten games, picking off six passes, and returning two of those for TDs.  He also became the primary punt returner, returning 36 punts @ 13.9 yards per, and breaking two for touchdowns.  Buchanon looked like he was ready to take his place as the one of the most explosive playmakers in the game.  However, frequent injuries to Woodson meant that Buchanon had to play the primary CB position more often, and therefore saw fewer passes thrown his way.  Moreover, he was getting fed up with life in Oakland, beyond frustrated at the way the franchise was falling apart.  He demanded a trade, and recieved his wish.  He was shipped to Houston for second- and third-round picsk, where with much fanfare he became part of the Texans' ongoing bid to build something from nothing.  Unfortunately, he pretty much went from something to nothing.  Nicked by a variety of injuries and put in the coaches' doghouse, Buchanon suffered through one whole season, plus four weeks into a second before the Texans cut him loose.  Tampa Bay immediately picked him up, and Buchanon's play picked up too, as he returned home to Florida.  Buchanon got two picks in the ten games he played for the Bucs in 2006, and over the past two years he's gotten some of that swagger back.  32 starts, 16 passes defensed, and five INTs in that time pretty much equal the statistical output of the Lions' entire secondary in the same period.  Buchanon's lost a step or two, and hasn't been a legit return threat for years--but then, he's put two healthy seasons together for the first time in years, too.

This means the Lions now have two real starting cornerbacks before the draft even begins.  What's more, note how the pieces fit together.  Mayhew didn't just acquire "two starting cornerbacks", he got one guy with good size and strength, who can come up and hit, and maybe even play safety in a nickel package--plus, a guy with good speed and natural coverage skills.  Henry and Buchanon should make a solid--and complementary--1-2 punch at corner.  These guys may not be All-Pros, and we may yet draft a corner high to groom them to be replaced down the road, but for now I'll call the two most critical holes filled.  Another tip o' the hat to Mister Mayhew.


lunch bunch in the house

>> 3.03.2009

Nick Cotsonika is reporting the Lions will sign enormous DT Grady Jackson.

This is a great signing, presuming the "two-to-three years" bit doesn't include too much guaranteed money.  Jackson will be the big big body in the middle the Lions so sorely lacked last season.  I've always said that Jackson is a breathtakingly athletic 300 pound man who happens to be about fifty pounds overweight at the moment; and I hold to that assessment.  I keep waiting for his knees to give out, but somehow ol' Grady just plants his large self right where it needs to be and stuffs the run.  He's continued to be more than serviceable, deep into his thirties.  His presence clogging the line--and, yes, the toilets--should be good for about an 0.5 ypc reduction in opponents' yards per carry, all by himself.

Keep it going Mayhew, keep it going.  Just get us another corner . . .


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