Gameday Post, 2010 Preseason: Lions at Steelers

>> 8.14.2010

2009 September 13: Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) looks to pass during a 45-27 win by the New Orleans Saints over the Detroit Lions at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. NFL FOOTBALL 
we won’t be seeing a whole lot of this tonight

The starters won’t play for long.  The schemes will be vanilla.  The crowd will be slow to cheer, and quick to head for the exits.  Everything is made up, and the points don’t matter.  But tonight, at 7:30, the Detroit Lions  will play football for the first time this season.

It seems as though this offseason has evaporated, the long bleak period of silence unexpectedly filled with the chatter and buzz of building expectations.  The call for, and drafting of, Ndamukong Suh has stoked the little blue flame.  More and more folks are coming ‘round to see what’s happening in Detroit: Matthew Stafford developing into a real leader, Calvin Johnson coming out of his shell, Jahvid Best primed to explode onto the scene, and Kyle Vanden Bosch cranking up the intensity on one of the most talented defensive lines in football. 

Besides new national attention, old friends are coming back home to sit by the fire.  I’m seeing Lions hats and T-shirts more than I have in years.  I’m talking Lions with people—really talking about what’s happening, not just “Oh you’re still a fan, huh?”  People really are eager to see the Lions take take the next step: they’ve gone from oblivion to existence; now from existence to worthwhile existence.

Of course, as I’ve said multiple times, there’s a danger in this: now that the Lions have taken one step forward, it’s possible that they could take a step back.   Now that they’ve made progress, they may regress.  It’s no longer true that the only way to go from here is up.  Of course, it’s evident that this year’s Lions are more talented than last year’s iteration—but that safety net is gone.  With the possibility of hope fulfilled, comes the possibility of hope denied.

In terms of the mechanics of the game, I did a guest game preview column for a very cool Steelers blog, The Steelers N'at.  Pop over there and check it out (I included a little Aaron Brown highlight action for ya).

So, friends, are you ready?  Is your parka off, and your jersey on?  Are you feeling the heat of the blue bonfire?  Let’s pour some cider, clink our mugs, and hang out in the comments section!


Tinderbox: Many Guest Articles on the Way; links

>> 8.12.2010

I apologize for the lack of content yesterday; I added a thousand words to my CBA post, but it still ain’t close.  In the meantime, I’ve lined up a slew of guest articles, including a preseason game preview post for noted Steelers blog Steelers N’At, and a Michigan State season preview for College Football Zealots.  Plus, I’m polishing off a couple of long-overdue Leather-Bound Lions posts for Pride of Detroit, and of course submitting my contribution to the Lions Congregation over at Roar of the Lions.  Bottom line: I’m doing mad crazy phat writing, but I have nothing for you to read yet.  Next couple days are going to be stacked, though.  In the meantime:

  • Check out, if you missed it, Tom Kowalski's intriguing, terrifying article about the battle of the scouts and coaches—and how war is currently being waged over rookie CB Amari Spievey.
  • Also, I really dug Detroit News columnist John Niyo's article on Jon Jansen. As much as I love Jansen’s mind, heart, and resumé, if Jansen can beat out Gosder Cherilus for the starting spot, that bodes ill for Cherilus—and the right side of the line. 
  • If you thought the effusive praise on my most recent Fireside Chat for “Blood, Sweat, and Chalk,”  was just for the benefit of my guest, check out Peter King giving ridiculous love to Tim Layden and his new book:
    Tim Layden, my SI peer and one of the most versatile fine sportswriters in America (the horses, the Olympics, the NFL), has written a book about how the NFL game has gotten as sophisticated as it has: "Blood, Sweat and Chalk (SI Books).'' I am not writing about it here as a favor to Tim, a friend of mine. I am writing about it here because it's one of the most valuable contributions to the understanding of the game we all love to come along in the 26 years I've covered the NFL.
  • For those of you who are fans of the On The DL Podcast, or the quasi-defunct The Sporting Blog, Dan Levy and company are starting a new sports/sports media blog called Press Coverage; I highly recommend it.
  • Finally, let me give a little shout-out to my man Big Al Beaton over at The Wayne Fontes Experience!  He’s doing an actual, real, radio gig on Toledo’s WLQR right now!  Hit the WLQR stream to listen to Al right now

  •

    Tinderbox: Nate Burleson, and the MLS In Detroit

    >> 8.10.2010

    06 December 2009: Wide receiver (81) Nate Burleson of the Seattle Seahawks carries a 12th Man flag and leads his team out of the tunnel during player introductions before playing against the San Francisco 49ers before the Seahawks 20-17 victory over the 49ers at Quest Field in Seattle, Washington. When Kyle Vanden Bosch was signed, we heard a lot about how his nonstop motor, both on- and off-field, would set the tempo for the Lions’ young defensive linemen.  We heard a lot about how his intense play, intense practice tempo, and intense personality would teach the youngsters how to do it the right way—and, almost regardless of Vanden  Bosch’s own production, would make the defensive line better.

    When Nate Burleson signed, most of the talk centered around his production and his compensation—we heard almost nothing about his intangibles.  Well, if you’ve read Tom Kowalski’s latest piece on, then you know  that Burleson’s arrival has catalyzed the transformation of the wide receiver corps.  What was once a frustrated Calvin Johnson surrounded by underperforming castoffs has become a lively, competitive group that sees themselves among the best units in the league.

    One of the fun things about Twitter is following athletes, and seeing what they say to each other—and by following @Nate13Burleson, @bigplaycj, @1BryantJohnson, and @DWheelz12, I’ve seen the off-field esprit de wide receiver corps building all offseason long.  It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the wideouts are taking that same camaraderie between the sidelines, as well.  Handshakes, TD celebrations, friendly competitions, are all a part of building confidence, building unity, building excitement, and fostering a winning attitude—finally, changing the “losing culture” we’ve heard so much about over the past decade(s).

    There were whispers last year that Megatron was becoming “Lionized” last year, losing motivation and focus because of the crushing futility of trying to win in Detroit.  Well, maybe being Lionized can have a different meaning now: attitude, confidence, fun, swagger.  Yeah, I said swagger.

    Two of Ty & Mamayuv's kids playing soccer Tonight, on ESPN2 (and Univision), the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) will be taking on Brazil.  This’ll be the first time we get to see our national team in action since the World Cup, and I’m interested to see what the national excitement level for this match is.  Of course, the old home of the Lions, the Silverdome, recently hosted a match between two elite international pro teams, AC Milan and Panathinaikos FC, billed the “Match of the Titans.”  Announced attendance was over 30,000, proving that there’s a significant fan base in Michigan.  The Silverdome ownership group is hoping to lure the MLS to Detroit with a radical makeover of the building, and I, for one, hope they pull it off.

    I’m sitting here holding a registration form for Parks & Rec soccer for my eldest, & I’m about to go turn it in.  I never played soccer myself, and know very little about the game—but something about the international flavor of the sport has lured me and my kids in.  With the Tigers an annual exercise in hope and heartbreak, it’d be awesome to have another Detroit team to cheer on during the interminable wait for the NFL.  So, watch the USMNT tonight at 8:00 on ESPN2.  Go check out  Add @MCSDetroit to your Twitter feed, and join the grassroots effort to bring MLS to Detroit.


    FIreside Chat Podcast, 8/8: Tim Layden Interview

    >> 8.09.2010

    Sunday’s Fireside chat is in the books!  A few hearty souls peeled themselves away from the Hall of Fame game  to tune in for the second episode of the season—and lucky them.  Instead of exhaustive comparisons of Carson Palmer and Carson Palmer’s little brother, they got to hear Sports Illustrated senior writer Tim Layden educate them—and me—about the history of the Run ‘n Shoot, the awesomeness of Dick LeBeau, and plenty more.  Thanks to the temperamental nature of Our Fair Lady Internet, it’s been truncated to two parts: Fireside Chat Part I is here, and the conclusion, Fireside Chat Part II, is here.


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