Ernie Sims to the Eagles, Tony Scheffler to the Lions

>> 4.19.2010

31 December 2006: Lions linebacker Ernie Sims. The Detroit Lions defeated the Dallas Cowboys 39 to 31 at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas 13 December 2007:
Denver Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler (88) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second half of the Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans football game at Reliant Stadium on Thursday December 13, 2007 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 31-13.

While I was grabbing some lunch, news broke: Martin Mayhew had looked in the Wheeler Dealer and pulled himself off another swap—this time, trading Ernie Sims to the Eagles, a 5th-rounder from the Eagles to the Broncos, and TE Tony Scheffler from the Broncos to the Lions.  The Lions also got yet another seventh-round pick, bringing the total up to four.

I haven’t been shy about reminding everyone that way back in January, I wrote an article for Mlive.com, proclaiming that Martin Mayhew must trade Sims while he still has value.  My first proposed trade destination was Philadelphia, and I bugged poor Adam Caplan from Scout.com about that idea for weeks, because the fit just made too much sense.  I’ve also been obnoxious in pointing out that I pointed out that the retirement of Casey FitzSimmons left an empty niche in the Lions’ offense.

My apologies to all of you for the insufferable self-promoting.  I have no access to “insider” info; everything you read is coming from my own synthesis of what’s out there.  When I stumble upon an acorn, as I rarely do, I enjoy planting it, watching it grow into a mighty oak, then hanging my hat upon it.  My apologies if I've annoyed you; I rarely indulge in such own-horn-tooting, and I’m done now.

First impressions?  This is practically identical to the Cory Redding-for-Julian Peterson trade.  These two players, Sims and Scheffler, both had a foot out the door in their original cities.  Neither were fits for their current systems, both had plenty of good football years left, and both are entering a contract year.

For me, it's a bittersweet goodbye to Sims.  Check out my post from roughly this time last year, featuring a battered alt-color Ernie Sims jersey and dangerous levels of optimism:

Ernie Sims is primed to be an incredible force in 2009.

Coming out of Florida State, I really thought that Sims would be what I later thought Aaron Curry could be: the explosive, badass linebacker who turns around the defense and the team.  That the Lions would draft a chiseled little wrecking ball of an OLB, more noteworthy for his performance on tape than his freakish size or speed?  Surely, I figured, it must be a harbinger of glory!

Prior to last season, I thought the Lions’ new scheme, and all of its OLB blitzing, would allow Sims to shut his brain off and unleash his inner Kraken.  Unfortunately, the Lions’ defensive line wasn’t disruptive enough to allow Sims to safely ignore his lanes—and double-unfortunately, Sims shut his brain off anyway.

He still has all the talent to be a surpassing WLB if used properly.  Philly’s hyperaggressive 4-3 is exactly the right kind of system, and it’s a lot closer to being fully realized than the Lions’ own implementation of a similar system.  I wish Sims all the best, of course; I’m “glad” I never sank the cash into that jersey, but I’m sad I never repped him while he was here.  For a little while, he was the only player really worth cheering for.

Tony Scheffler, for his part, is like Casey FitzSimmons, only up an order of magnitude.  Midwestern football state?  Instead of Montana, Michigan.  Instead of Caroll College, Western Michigan.  Instead of an undrafted free agent, a 2nd-round pick.  Instead of a 23-catch, 160-yard, 2-TD rookie season, an 18-catch, 286-yard, 4-TD rookie season.  Instead of a six more years that barely matched his rookie totals combined, three more years where he’s averaged double the catches and yards over that initial effort.

Scheffler really doesn't have much place in Denver's offense, and he had little-to-no chemistry with efficient-but-weak-armed Kyle Orton.  Now, he’ll again play with the kind of rocket-armed quarterback who threw him 107 passes, for 1,480 yards & 12 TDs, in his first three NFL seasons.

Many are pointing to this trade as proof that Brandon Pettigrew’s recovery is going poorly, but I see them as completely different players.  Pettigrew is a third tackle with cotton hands; a powerful inline blocker who’s quick enough to get open and make a crucial third-down catch.  However, he’s not a field-stretcher, a walking mismatch like Gates or Clark.  He’s not going to blow past an OLB  on a skinny post, catch it in stride, smoke both safeties and take it to the house; that’s just not his skill set.

With Fitz gone, the Lions had four blocking TEs, with a spectrum of hands from “great” to “nonexistent”.  Scheffler gives them that dangerous 2-TE combination that Linehan loves: he can again use a 2-WR, 2-TE, I-formation set as a base for five-option pass plays.  It’s all about establishing the power running game, and then killing them through the air . . . and, Pettigrew or no, Tony Scheffler gives them that ability.

The best part of all of it, though, is what the Michigan native, Scheffler, told the Denver Post when they called him:

“Restore the Roar!”

19 comments:

DetFan1979 April 19, 2010 at 6:15 PM  

LOL! What is really funny Ty is that I ALSO linked to your Mlive story this afternoon and pointed out that you were insisting Philly was the team that made the most sense to trade E. Sims to!

I'm like you - no insider, but it's nice when we peg something right! Keep up the great work Ty!

Patty April 19, 2010 at 6:40 PM  

I hope all this trading will pay off and maybe they can win this season ;)

Bill April 19, 2010 at 7:10 PM  

Ty,

Sims may yet be OK for Philly, but he was not good in Blue and Silver after his rookie year, and was awful last year. The need for an OLB was there before this trade, it's just more obvious now.

Mayhew seems to really understand where to find value in these deals, while giving up little that would help the Lions in the future. There is definitely something different in the air around Allen Park these days.

Merch April 19, 2010 at 8:40 PM  

I have a feeling that Mayhew has something else up his sleeve, whether it's signing a player (Bullocks or Haynesworth yet) or another trade package. While this move feels right, it also feels like something he wouldn't have done if the draft was the only way to fill all the open gaps.

Still I think the over all tone has been smart one and I like MM's bag of tricks so far. Why did we have to suffer through so many years of Millen's moronic management... all we ever did was sign discarded "tampa 2" players, the winter sucked, but now? Now it's getting to be fun!

LionsFanRoc,  April 19, 2010 at 11:39 PM  

Self promotion never hurt anybody, don't worry.

Great trade. Leaves a hole in the defense but if Sims couldn't play in this system at a high level then it was really already a hole, right?

Besides, the draft is coming up and now the Lions can either take a player in rounds 2-4 or pick up a guy like Keith Bulluck to compete with Follett for that starting spot.

Stafford will LOVE Scheffler, and so will CJ. If the Lions can protect Stafford, this offense could be deadly.

Ty April 20, 2010 at 12:30 AM  

DF79--

Wow, I'm impressed you remembered! Thanks for the linkage, and the kind words.

Peace
Ty

Ty April 20, 2010 at 12:34 AM  

Patty--

Me too! If nothing else, the raw talent level is much higher this year that the year before, and also the year before that. The first-string offense is comprised entirely of proven NFL starters . . . except runningback, which the Lions have declared a major need going into the draft.

Peace
Ty

Ty April 20, 2010 at 12:35 AM  

Bill--

Yeah, I can't say if the light will go on for Sims or not. Perhaps he was, as they say, "Lionized" and is just ready for a change of scenery.

If nothing else, this trade rids the roster of an unhappy, out-of-place player, and adds a vital cog who grew up a Lions fan.

Peace
Ty

Ty April 20, 2010 at 12:38 AM  

Merch--

Oh, I agree, Mayhew's going to be working the phones. I think the Lions saw OLB as a need all along--are they really ready to start the Pain Train era at OLB? The best part, as you say, is the anticipation . . .

. . . I want to know what he's going to do with those four seventh-rounders. I know at least one or two will be draft-day movin' up ammo.

Peace
Ty

Ty April 20, 2010 at 12:40 AM  

LionsFanRoc--

"Leaves a hole in the defense but if Sims couldn't play in this system at a high level then it was really already a hole, right?"

*** NO MORE PHONE CALLS, WE HAVE A WINNER ***

That's exactly, positively, 1000% spot-on.

Peace
Ty

Adam,  April 20, 2010 at 2:38 AM  

I just read a quote from the Detroit news with Gunther saying he expects Follet to contend for the starting spot and he'll be made as hell if he doesn't get on the field.

I love Follet but I didn't think he is starter capable yet, but obviously I don't see him everyday. If our coaching staff polished up a Special Team human missle into a starting linebacker in a year, I'd be very impressed.

adam,  April 20, 2010 at 3:28 AM  

And I apologize for my terrible spelling.

Dugland Martel April 20, 2010 at 6:00 AM  

I like the way Detroit play...

Go on.

Mike,  April 20, 2010 at 8:25 AM  

Here's a thought. Pettegrew will be Kleinsauser. Scheffler will be Wiggins. CJ will be Moss, and Buerlesson will be... well... Buerlesson. I think Matty can be a better Culpepper than Culpepper ever was.

NorthLeft,  April 20, 2010 at 9:28 AM  

Kudos Ty. I was wondering what people think about Daryl Washington being that LB on the weak side that the Lions might take in the second round? He apparently had a great Senior Bowl week with Gunther and Schwartz and seems to be an ideal fit with Detroit. They might like him to add a little weight and muscle though.
Weatherspoon was also pretty impressive that week although it might be a little optimistic to hope he falls into the second round.

Clusterfox,  April 20, 2010 at 10:01 AM  

I think people need to keep telling themselves, that there is no strong and weakside in this D. Thats part of why Sims is gone. He was a Weakside LB(undersized) that would get bulled over if the play comes right at him, or he'd try to bypass the block taking himself out of the play. We need big OLBs that can cover and support the run. Less speed is acceptable because everything is being funneled to the middle, each OLBs responcibility is his side of the field back to the middle. we don't need or want players running down the play from the otherside of the field (Sim's Forte). Sorry if this comes off as a rant, but I keep seeing people mention Strong and Weakside and I think that is where the majority of people's misunderstanding is coming from.
Can't wait for Thursday.

Go Lions!
Clusterfox

Razmo,  April 20, 2010 at 1:49 PM  

Didn't Schwartz once say he was going to build a team on size and strength? The kind of crew who could go into Lambeau or Soldier Field in December and hit somebody in the mouth? Ernie told us on draft day he was going to "lay the wood," evoking images of Derrick Brooks, et al, and that sounded pretty cool. The reality of his size and power in a world of running backs who blot out the sun said otherwise, and he just wasn't what we needed. Follet's a ballistic missile, and might compete for a start at weak-side backer (wouldn't surprise me), but the Teutonic siren ain't sung yet -- Mayhew has something up his sleeve that has nothing to do with Scheffler or Pettigrew.

Merch April 20, 2010 at 6:56 PM  

Oh wait guys, with a hole at LB, what about Terry Tate? You mentioned bringing the pain train, this guy brings it.

Maybe he could bring it to the offices for WCF and company.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzToNo7A-94

;-)

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