Neither Rain, nor Snow, Nor Sleet . . . nor 2-11

>> 12.18.2009

It seems bizarre that with so many questions already answered about the 2009 Lions, there’s still so much left to discuss; the mailbox was flooded with excellent inquiries.  To work, then?  To work.  From Scott:

Mr. Inwinter:
Okay that right there is quality.  Very well done, sir.
Had a thought for you- there's been a lot of talk of the Lions being "Stafford's Team" after the Browns game and even though I watched the "miked up" about ten times, I dismissed most of it as hype. On the other hand, I'm relieved that Stafford's not playing this week because it frees me to ignore the game entirely and watch decent teams. So maybe the fact that I'm not even going to watch, and I can't be alone here, means the Lions are Stafford's team even moreso than the hype would indicate.
This is something that I've felt, too--and the statistics bear this out. Not only is Matthew Stafford the future of the franchise, he's the present.
Right now, the Lions’s chances to win any game are zero if he is not playing, and nonzero if he is.  I didn’t expect that to be true this season, but it is.  I can’t wait until Stafford gets back on the field, because these Culpepper games feel like preseason.  Scott also asked about the draft:
Btw, I haven't seen anyone predict this, but I think they go DE in round 1 in April followed by a roadgrading OG in round 2. Better to draft athletes in round one, and if it goes well, it'll rotate protection outside and help the middle. Adequate run-stuffers are usually available among FAs.
A large part of this will be determined by the talent on the board, and where the Lions pick.  The Lions could end up picking anywhere between 1st and 10th, depending on how other teams do—I think they’ll be somewhere in the 4th-6th slots, myself.  To me, there’s no question that both lines, and the defensive secondary need the most help.
Pass protecting OTs, and pass rushing DEs are the premier positions.  If there was a stud prospect at either position, and the Lions were drafting, say, 3rd, I could see it.  But the top OT prospect, from what I’ve seen, is Russel Okung—he’s an athlete and a technician, but (IMO) isn’t strong or bulky enough to step in and play at an elite level yet; he’ll be a project and that’s not what the Lions need.
I take exception with you on the DE/DT thing—and not because you’re wrong; adequate run-stuffers are often there to be had.  The issue is that the Lions want another Haynesworth-type, a natural 315+ world devourer who can singlehandedly collapse the pocket, shrug off double teams, eat running backs, and flush QBs to the sidelines.
Given that so many teams are switching to the 3-4, a he-beast like that is in demand more than ever.  Ndamukong Suh is the perfect fit; he and Sammie Hill could be giving people fits on every down for years.  Yes, the Lions would like a pass rusher too, but their needs are a little bit different . . .
From excellent commenter SomeChoi:
But here is my question: if we do draft defense, is there a place for tweeners such as Brian Orakpo in Gunther's D? Prototypical 4-3 DEs seemed to be rare in recent drafts.
It’s interesting that you ask that.  My understanding of the blueprint for the Lions defense is this: start with a Williams Wall-like DT pair.  A 330-pound NT, like Sammie Hill, and a 310+-pound UT, like Ndamukong Suh, would overwhelm opposing offensive lines.
Bracing them would be two 270-to-280-pound DEs who can rush the passer--but be big enough and strong enough to set a hard edge against the run.  This funnels runs and screens back into the middle—where Hill and Suh (or a Suh-like player) will stop them.
People questioned Schwartz’s sanity when he put Jared Devries in as a starter—and even more when he decried the “great loss” of Devries in camp—but he did so because DeVries was a perfect fit for what they wanted to do.
This is where the OLBs come in.  Since the DEs aren’t 260-pound Freeneyish terrors, both OLBs need to be able to blitz like crazy.  Of course, they can’t be total liabilities in coverage, either.  They’re looking for big athletes who can run and hit; ideally, we’re talking about two Julian Peterson-in-his-primes.
Gunther included the dwindling stock of defenders with size in his tackling tirade:
"I don't like it because the linebackers are getting smaller and they're putting all those coverage people on the field. The (Brian) Urlachers are tough to find,'' Cunningham said. "A lot of teams in the NFL are going to the 3-4 because of that.
"The linebackers that are coming out are the size of safeties: 6-foot and 220 pounds. You look at the Cincinnati Bengals' tackles and they're 6-7 and those linebackers can't even see where the back is half the time. There's a real problem on defense to find the right players and the right mix for you to compete in this league.
So there is your answer: a 250-pound pass rusher like Orakpo could come in and play, but only if he had a little more lateral agility and wouldn't mind being a full-time OLB. Don't forget, Avril fit that mold coming out of college, and they've bulked him up quite a bit. Of course, he's not doing very well . . .
SomeChoi also added:
I'm one of the few who agree with Killer - Lions are better served drafting offense. The defense was good enough to keep us competitive in most games and a decent offense would've won us perhaps 4 more games. But I'm particularly worried we'll lose Calvin if we don't help him realize his potential soon, if we didn't lose him already. Not to mention being fearful for Staff's life. And Mayhew better be losing sleep over whether Pettigrew becomes a playmaker. Otherwise, passing on Oher will haunt him forever.
I'd love to agree with this line of thought: after all, the Colts have been an amazing offense paired with a bad-to-middling defense for over a decade now, and they've been consistently elite.  But the Lions’ defense . . . you guys, it’s so bad.  It’s truly terrible.   No matter how good the offense gets, they won’t be able to consistently outscore what this defense is allowing.
When Matthew Stafford has played, the Lions have been at the bottom of the middle third of the league in scoring—but the defense has been allowing almost double that number of points!  No, the Lions have to at least patch the defensive dam before they can finish constructing their offense.
I received several emails to the effect of, “If not Suh, then who?”  Lopper chipped in his suggestion:
In my opinion, the next best guy to take has to be Berry. The examples of a safety impacting a defense are all over the NFL this year. The Steelers with and without Polamalu, and just yesterday when Delmas was out it was painful watching White and Pearson bouncing off tackles. It seems like big plays against is the biggest problem for the Lions, and a safety pairing of Delmas and Berry would be the best way to stop them from happening. I might even rather see them draft Berry over McCoy depending on how things shake out in the off season.
Time for my usual disclaimer: I watch practically zero non-Big Ten college football; I haven’t yet seen most of these SEC and Big 12 players in action.  In general, the idea of pairing Delmas with another monster safety is appealing.
However, the defense is really weak at the line of scrimmage.  Blowing, in consecutive years, a high second-round pick and a high first-round pick on safeties, thinking they’ll clean up everything the corners and front seven let through . . . well, it seems like putting the cart before the horse.
Further, for as much as everyone raves about Polamalu, Ed Reed, Bob Sanders, and the difference those guys make to their defense, none of those guys were drafted in the top five, or even top ten.  I was curious: over the past few years, what safeties have been drafted high at the top of the first—and have they worked out?
LaRon Landry was the sixth overall pick of 2007.  Michael Huff was seventh overall in 2006, Antrel Rolle was selected eighth in 2005 (as a corner), and the late Sean Taylor was fifth in 2004.  The Other Roy Williams was the eighth overall in 2002—can you believe he’s a seven-year vet?
. . . that completes the list of Top Ten safeties of the past 10 years.  Sean Taylor, a fifth overall pick, was the highest-drafted safety in that time—and was developing into one of the most dominating players in the league, before his untimely death.  But the rest of these guys were either definite disappointments, or are too young to evaluate right now.
I believe that Berry’s a really nice talent, and pairing him with Delmas would indeed be SO AWESOME--but really good safeties can be had in the second, third, and fourth rounds.  Elite linemen, however, are pretty much only available at the top of the draft.
Joe asked:
One of my biggest questions that the usual suspects of Lions' media types don't seem to cover is WHERE exactly are the weaknesses on this team. I know it's easy to throw everyone under the bus and just flatly state we lack talent, but are you able to see exactly where? If you only had ONE pick in the draft or could only acquire ONE free agent with which to upgrade this team and could only draft/sign based on position, which position do you think most needs a serious upgrade?
Whew.  I think the Lions’ biggest problem positions are the non-Mega wideouts, the offensive guards, the defensive line, and the cornerbacks.  Since, again, guards can be had in the second or third round—and, again, I believe the Lions have to have a defensive focus in this draft—I’d look to fix either the line or the corners.  Joe said:
Personally, I think their biggest problem seems to be a lack of any pass rush, exposing the secondary which often has receivers initially covered. However, even the league's best cover corner can't cover a WR for 10 seconds while the QB assesses the entire field without the slightest pressure. I think DE is the biggest weakness on this team. We can't even seem to get pressure with blitzes and often get burned early, forcing Gunther to back off and only send four.
That’s a very strong argument.  With the addition of an elite pass rusher—a 270-plus-pound three-down beast, not an Orakpo or Dumervil—it would “shorten the field” for the corners.  I’ve said before that Will James would be much better if he never had to cover a receiver more than ten yards downfield; if we had a monster pass rush it would minimize the number of times he’d have to.  Killer even said last season that if there were a Mario Williams at the top of the 2009 draft, the Lions would have taken him over Stafford.
Let me be clear: I agree with that. If we could forklift Mario Williams from the Texans to the Lions, he’d make all the difference in the world.  Unfortuantely, there’s no Mario Williams in this draft—but keep an eye on this guy if he comes out.  At 6’-4”, listed at 272 going into his senior year, Derrick Morgan might well show up for the combine as the three-down end the Lions are looking for.
However, if the Lions end up with either of the explosive “under” tackles—Suh or McCoy—it’ll make nearly as strong of an impact.  I don’t see anyone running on a three-tackle rotation of Grady Jackson, a blossoming Sammie Hill, and Suh or McCoy.  Further, Hill and (Suh || McCoy) would be an incredibly athletic inside pairing; both could collapse the pocket with strength, and pursue if the QB scrambles—similar to the dynamic we saw with Big Daddy and Big Baby, only younger and faster.
Finally, don't forget that the shortest path to the quarterback is up the middle; a player like (Suh || McCoy) could “shorten the field” the way a DE could, and also demand double-teams that would make it easier for our existing DEs.
So, if I could add just one player, it’d be either a monster, three-down, athletic, pass-rushing DE, or a monster, three-down, athletic, pass-rushing DT.
. . . that'll do it for this week's mailbag.  Thanks again for all the great submissions, folks!


Highlight Reel Diaries, Vol. I

>> 12.17.2009

Will Matthew Stafford start another game this season? It seems less likely by the day. With every tight end, runningback, and offensive lineman added to the Injured Reserve list, the already-iffy situation Stafford was drafted into gets . . . iffier.
He has fewer weapons with which he can attack opposing defenses, and less protection from enemy attacks. The Lions may indeed be his team now—but that team is currently as bad as it’s ever been. With only two wins so far, and three games left to go, victory has never mattered less.
We can debate about whether starting Stafford in week one, and on Thanksgiving, were wise decisions. But here and now, the decision to shut him down is easy. Unfortunately, it really is his team.
It’s become apparent that without Matthew Stafford at the helm, the Lions have no chance to win. It’s both exciting and depressing to say that about a rookie quarterback, but it’s true. Naturally, it follows that as fans, if there’s no chance of victory, there’s no reason to watch.
Ah, but there is. While the offense has been decimated by injuries, the defense is still relatively intact. Sammie Hill is developing into a force in the middle, and the battle between DeAndre Levy and Ernie Sims will affect the future of all three veteran starters.
Louis Delmas may, or may not, play—but the rest of the defensive backfield is auditioning for next season. Guys like Will James, Marvin White, and possibly new signee Brian Witherspoon will have to make an impact—or face the Turk.
Most importantly, we’ll see a rookie coach developing, too. How this team responds to last week’s fiasco will say a lot about Jim Schwartz’s ability to motivate. Two games ago, against the Bengals, it seemed as though the Lions’ defense played their best game of the season. Now, with absolutely nothing on the line, they’ll need to do that well again just to keep the Cardinals from blowing them out of the stadium.
It’s easy to throw in the towel. It’s easy to stop watching the games—especially when you’re assisted by the NFL’s blackout policy. It’s easy to start talking about free agency and the draft. It’s easy to start talking about Maybe Next Year all over again. But if you watch—really watch—on Sunday, you’ll get a sneak preview of Next Year.
Watch the players who’ll be the foundation of the defense for years to come. Watch the level of effort the veterans put out. Watch to see if Calvin Johnson plays, and if he does how hard he goes. Most of all, though, watch Jim Schwartz on the sideline—both his demeanor, and how the players respond to him. With luck, he’ll never have to coach through darker days than these—and there’s no true measure of a man than how he performs during his darkest days.


the Watchtower: Lions vs. Cardinals

>> 12.16.2009

Last week’s Watchtower, in the words of excellent commenter A Lion in ViQueen Territory, kind of sucked:

I’m sticking with the data here, folks, shaky though it might be: 21-24 points for the Ravens, and 9-13 points for the Lions.

A 48-3 blowout doesn’t look anything like the low-scoring 10ish-point game I predicted.  However, if we dig a little deeper, you’ll see that my prediction came with some pretty strong caveats:

Given a complete lack of data to work with, I can only project the Lions’ offensive production to meet expectations, given the current performance of the two units this year . . . I have very low confidence in this prediction . . . The Lions’ offense IS trending toward respectability, but the leader and triggerman is gone, and they’re playing their second straight road game against a top 5 scoring defense.

For the Lions’ D vs. the Ravens’ O, I projected numbers based on an observed effect: that Gunther’s defenses are supereffective against Cam Cameron offenses when the passing game is contained.  Up until the freaky Mason touchdown, that was exactly what had happened.  Believe it or not, that game was 0-3 at the end of the first quarter—and a Hanson miss away from being tied.

Unfortunately, the offense hung the defense out to dry over and over again—it was only a matter of time before they folded.  If Culpepper and the offense had any ability to control the ball, or keep the game close, I don’t think the defense would have rolled over in the second half (as they did), and let Ravens score 4 more touchdowns.

Unfortunately, the high-flying Cardinals are coming to town, and their scoring may be limited only by the game clock . . .

Gunther Cunningham vs. Ken Whisenhunt


For the second week in a row, the Lions face a coordinator with absolutely no track record against their opposing Lions counterpart.  Whisenhunt’s only called signals since 2004 (with the Cards as HC, and the Steelers as OC), and Gunther hasn’t faced Whisenhunt since then.  As Whisenhunt doesn’t come from a clearly delineated coaching heritage, we can’t use any “school of/disciple of” workarounds, either.

All we have to go on here are the season averages: Arizona’s the 11th-best scoring offense in the league, averaging 23.5 points per game.  Averaging a healthy 6.88 YpA, and surprisingly robust 4.16 YpC, the Cardinals are more balanced than you might suspect—though doubtlessly, defenses are laying back in fear of the Cards’ receivers, not loading the box to stop Beanie Wells.  These averages are practically identical to the Ravens’ stats coming into last week: 10th-ranked scoring offense, 23.4 PpG, 6.95 YpA, and 4.25 YpC.

Meanwhile, Sunday's debacle against the Ravens dropped the Lions' stats across the board; they're now allowing an average of 31.2 PpG, 8.00 YpA, and 4.50 YpC.  Since all we have to go on are the averages—and the Cards’ averages very closely match the Ravens’—it’s straight connect-the-dots: expectations would be that the Cardinals significantly exceed their season averages in PpG, YpA, and YpC: 40-45 points, 9.00-10.00 YpA, and 5.00-5.50 YpC.  I guess that serves as my prediction?  If so, I have very low confidence in it.

Mitigating/Augmenting Influences:

Here's a disturbing trend: in two of the Lions’ last four games (Browns, Ravens) they’ve faced opponents coming off of a deflating Monday Night Football loss, where the offense drastically underperformed its season averages.  Guess which team just got blown out on MNF last night, while drastically underperforming its season averages?  Oh yes—the Cardinals.

I deeply suspect that Warner, Fitz, Boldin, Beanie and the rest of the Cardinals offense will be itching to take out their frustrations on the Lions, and get back on track—just like the Ravens did.  Moreover, the hit-or-miss nature of the Cards’ offense (even with the same QB!) underscores the idea that they’ll bounce back from Monday’s performance.

On the other hand, this game will be in Ford Field, where the Lions are unquestionably more competitive.  Matthew Stafford is at least not yet ruled out, and if the Lions’ offense can actually move the chains and possess the ball a little bit, the defense should be able to not be quite so horrible.  I think. 

Scott Linehan vs. Billy Davis

DET 27th16.15.393.8113th19.86.454.16     

Fortunately, we do have a little bit of data to work with here.  Bill Davis (often “Billy”, thanks to being a Jr.) has a surprisingly long resume for someone I’d never heard of.  He was an assistant under Dom Capers in Pittsburgh, and then a linebackers coach under Capers in Carolina.  After Capers was broomed, he bounced around for a couple of years, then became linebackers coach in Atlanta, under DC Wade Phillips.  That's an impressive 3-4 pedigree! 

Finally, in 2004, he became a linebackers coach with some authority.  According to Giants DC Tim Lewis, he allowed Davis to compile the blitz packages.  I’m tentatively including this data, just to flesh things out a bit.  After that, he was hired by new 49ers head coach Mike Nolan to head up

In 2004, the Minnesota Vikings were very good.  Ranked #6 in the NFL, they averaged 25.3 points per game, 7.16 YpA, and 4.71 YpC.  Meanwhile, the Giants were a decent unit: 17th-ranked, at 21.7 PpG, 6.49 YpA, and 4.33 YpC.  The expectation here would be that the Vikes meet or exceed their typical numbers—but they don’t.  Only 13 points scored, and a measly 5.63 YpA.  4.65 YpC is still good, but not enough to overcome the massive pass suppression.

In 2006, Linehan’s Rams faced Davis’ 49ers.  The Rams were still a typical Linehan offense: 10th in scoring, with a balanced 6.69 YpA and 4.26 YpC.  Meanwhile, the Niners . . . well, they were rebuilding.  They were the worst scoring defense in football, allowing 25.8 PpG.  While they weren’t great against the pass, allowing 6.89 YpA, they were terrible against the run.  Allowing an average of 4.96 YpC is going to make any offense impossible to stop.

Except, apparently, Linehan’s Rams that year.  In the first game, the Niners held the Rams to just 13 points.  They sacked the Rams six times, depressing per-play pass effectiveness to 5.44 YpA, more than a yard less than their season average.  The run game was also depressed; the 4.21 YpC the Niners allowed in the first game fell essentially met the Rams’s season average—despite playing against the statistically worst defense in the NFL.

In the second game, the Rams picked it up a little bit--20 points scored, 6.16 YpA, and 4.83 YpC.  Still, though, the points and passing were depressed below the Rams' averages--not expectations vs. the worst defense in football, the season averages—and the 4.83 YpC was still below the Niners’ average-allowed mark.

The conclusion is absolutely inescapable—with lesser, or much lesser, talent and execution, Billy Davis defenses have an overwhelming systemic advantage against Scott Linehan offenses.  In 2006, the 10th-best offense in football played the dead-last defense in football, twice, and both times produced well below their season averages, across the board.  The only explanation is that Billy Davis has Scott Linehan’s number.

Given that the shoe is on the other foot—the Cards’ defense is the 13th-best in the NFL, and the Lions’ O is the 27th-best—I have no choice but to project the Lions's offense to . . . good Lord . . . significantly underperform expectations: 6-9 points scored, 4.50-5.00 YpA, and 3.5-3.75 YpC.

Mitigating/Augmenting Influences:

Schwartz is back to the maybe-maybe not game with the Lions’ quarterback situation.  Let us make no bones about it: when Daunte Culpepper starts, the Lions are doomed.  In his last two starts, the Lions have been outscored 74-3.  If Matthew Stafford does not play, the Lions will be very lucky to score the projected 6-9 points. 

Starting tailback Kevin Smith is lost for the season with a torn ACL (plus maybe some other stuff).  Maurice Morris, Aaron Brown, and just-signed practice squadder Cedric Peerman will fill in.  Morris is a well-rounded veteran, who’s run hard in limited relief.  Brown has flashed game-breaking ability in both senses: he can break the game wide open on a screen pass, and he can get his quarterback broken with his clueless pass blocking.


Every single piece of data I have, both objective and subjective, points to a Cardinals blowout.  However, there has not been a more “off” and “on” team over the past two seasons than the Cardinals.  The one thing they haven’t done in this Warner/Fitz/Boldin/Whisenhunt era is meet expectations—they beat teams they shouldn’t beat and look amazing doing it, and they lose to teams they have no business losing to, and look horrible doing it.

Further, I can’t imagine that a Jim Schwartz team comes back for a home game after a bad performance and rolls over from the opening gun--if so, it should raise some serious red flags.  My instincts tell me this will be more like a 35-21 loss—but if Culpepper plays, and Fitz and Boldin don’t take the game off, I don’t see how the Lions keep it that close.

The only hope for the Lions is the Cunningham/Whisenhunt matchup—they’ve never faced each other before, and Gunther’s certainly much more experienced.  Maybe, just maybe, a little dose of Guntherball flummoxes Warner early, and the sacks and turnovers come—as they did on Monday Night.

However, this is a statistical analysis, not a "Let's pretend the Lions won't get blown out, despite all rational thought" column. 40-45 points for the Cardinals, and 6-9 points for the Lions.


Mailbag submissions?

>> 12.15.2009

We haven't done a mailbag in several weeks, and I got one in the inbox the other day that just begs for company.  Please, submit your questions, gripes, complaints, causes for alarm, and requests for assistance in the comments on this thread.  Or, by email (  Also, you can @reply or DM me on Twitter. If you're close enough, try Semaphore.


Three Cups Deep: this one hurts

>> 12.14.2009

In yesterday’s gameday post, I said:

Today is either the day the Lions roar back to respectability--or the day the scavengers pick their bones clean.

Well, we have our answer.

I actually fell asleep in the second half.  What was the point?  Ray Rice was running at will, the Lions couldn’t score to save their lives, and—against all rational thought—Daunte Culpepper played until the bitter end.

It beggars belief: he completed only 16 of his 34 passes, for only 135 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions.  It was a long, miserable day by any measure.  What doesn't show in those numbers, however, is this play:

3-4-BAL 44
(13:41) (Shotgun) 11-D.Culpepper FUMBLES (Aborted) at DET 50, and recovers at DET 50. 11-D.Culpepper to DET 50 for no gain (26-D.Landry).

That play emobdies everything I always scream about with Culpepper.  It’s the second quarter.  The Lions are down by just three points, having already missed a field goal.  After driving into Baltimore territory, two straight three-yard runs by Kevin Smith put the Lions in a 3rd-and-4 situation. 

This is what they call keeping your offense “on schedule”; giving the offense a great chance to convert on third down.  It’s what good offenses do, and it’s an ability Lions offenses have lacked since . . well, ever.  With this favorable situation, Linehan went to his “third and short” playbook, and pulled out a play from a shotgun, multi-WR set—doubtlessly looking to give Culpepper several close, easy targets.  If the Lions convert, they’re at Baltimore’s 40, or closer, with a new set of downs.  Instead,  Raiola’s shotgun snap hits Culpepper in the hands, and he drops it.

It’ll show up on the stat sheet as a fumble, yes—but not a “lost” fumble, and certainly not as a “an inexcusable f-up that absolutely killed his team’s chances to win”, which is what it was.  Culpepper’s entire career—yes, even when he was almost MVP or whatever—has been afflicted with this plague: an incredible knack for making horrible plays at the worst possible times.

After a punt, and two plays, Derrick Mason took a pair of brutal hits, ran to the end zone, and opened the floodgates.  While this was arguably the result of the Lions’ DBs going for big hits instead of tackling, I’d submit that Mason is on a two-man list of Receivers Tough Enough To Take That Hit and Keep Standing.  Really, at that point, the defense had still done remarkably well.

For all the press about '”RAVENS DESTROY LIONS IN LAUGHABLE BLOWOUT”, with three minutes left in the first half, the Lions were down by only two score.  They had the ball on their own 28, and had just begun a drive that could bring it to a 1-TD deficit.  Then . . .

Culpepper sack.

Culpepper INT.

Ravens drive and field goal.


28 unanswered points.

I hope Schwartz isn’t just blowing smoke when he called this performance was “unacceptable”, because that’s exactly what it was.  The defense simply rolled over.  After standing tall against one of the better rushing offenses in football last week, the Lions allowed 308 yards rushing on 40 attempts; 7.7 YpC.

Meanwhile, the offense kept pounding its head against the wall . . . hoping, I guess that the wall would break?  Granted, conditions were absolutely wretched out there—at one point, it appeared to be a downpour of freezing rain—but it seemed like there was an impenetrable forcefield at the Ravens’ 30-yard line.  Stafford can’t come back soon enough.

Speaking of which, is there anyone who still thinks that Daunte gives the Lions the "best chance to win"?  Even if he did, would it matter?  Drew Stanton again was robbed of any chance to prove himself—why?  We know Culpepper won’t be back here next year.  Kevin Smith blew out his ACL, and possibly ruined his 2010 campaign—why?  To what end?  What on earth were he and Daunte still doing out there?

Let’s face it: the 2009 season is now over.  There’s no point in veterans veterans over youth if said veterans aren’t part of the future plans.  Believe you me, there are some players on this team whose walking papers were filled out yesterday afternoon; I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those papers were served at some point this week.

The Lions need to move on from this loss, and this season, as quickly as possible: cut the deadwood, sign some practice squadders, and get on with the business of Maybe Next Year.


Gameday Discussion: Lions at Ravens

>> 12.13.2009

It’s fitting that the Lions play the Ravens today.  In various cultures, ravens have been feared as omens of doom, or the manifestation of damned souls.  With their jet-black plumage and beak, and their taste for the flesh of dead animals, it’s easy to see how the legends began.

At 2-10, the Lions certainly look more like carrion than kings of the jungle. However, if they can beat back the Ravens, the Lions will close out their last three games with two more winnable ones--and a decent shot at a 4- or 5-win season.  Today is either the day the Lions roar back to respectability--or the day the scavengers pick their bones clean.

Today is momentous for this site as well; the early birds (heh) amongst you may have already noticed. sports producer Phil Zaroo has asked me to contribute to his Lions blog, The Highlight Reel.  It was an honor to be asked, and my pleasure to agree!  This week’s piece is already up.  Please, check it out, and let me know what you think.

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