Are the Lions on Nnamdi’s Short List?

>> 6.24.2011

So analyst Gil Brandt said the Lions are a serious contender for the services of Nnamdi Asomugha:

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they make a big play for Asomugha,” Brandt said. “And I think he would consider the situation in Detroit and playing for Jim Schwartz, who has won the respect of his team. A cornerback’s best friend is a great defensive line, and right now the Lions have a pretty good group of defensive linemen.”

Predictably, the Lions-y corners of the Interwebs (and Twitter) caught fire with the idea that Detroit could make Nnamdi’s shortlist. Now, the last time Brandt spouted off about the Lions, he boldly predicted the Lions’ draft strategy . . . and was spot on:

“Everybody seems to think it’s an offensive lineman,” Brandt said. “I have a little bit of a connection with your head coach there (Jim Schwartz), and I don’t think that they will take an offensive lineman. I personally don’t know who it’s going to be, but I think it’s probably going to be a defensive player.”

Now, I’ve gone on the record on this before. I believe Nnamdi Asomugha would be a perfect fit for the Lions’ defense, and—whether or not Chris Houston sticks around—plays a position where the Lions need to acquire a starter. There’s no doubt that he’d be a perfect complement to the Silver Rush; the fearsome pass rush coming from the defensive line would shorten the time he needs to apply his blanketing coverage—and his coverage would allow the rush more time to strike home. The pick package the Lions offered to Arizona for the chance to draft Patrick Peterson shows how much they’d love to add a big, fast, physical cover corner—so could it happen?

It's time to say hi to our long lost friend, Cap Space. Remember Cap Space? He always used to show up whenever we’d talk football, and now it’s time to get reacquainted with him. Nnamdi Asomugha is going to want to blow out the curve in salary—and while the Fords haven’t shied away from writing checks their front office men ask them to write, you’re talking about an enormous investment in a 30-year-old player at a position that Schwartz hasn’t traditionally valued.

The identity of this team is a high-powered offense paired with a world-devouring defensive line; that’s where the Lions have consistently spent their money and picks over the past three seasons. They may well be about to let Chris Houston, a productive young veteran they acquired for peanuts, walk out the door, if he asks for more than they think he’s worth. Would they really break the bank for 30-year-old Nnamdi, even if he’s one of the best corners in the world? I don’t think so.

Now. We all thought we had the Lions’ draft plans figured out, and they completely threw us a curveball. It could well be that Gunther Cunningham shows up on Nnamdi’s doorstep at midnight with a basket of summer sausage or something, who knows. For now though, look for the Lions to set their sights a little lower. Honestly, I think I’d rather have Chris Houston and Antonio Cromartie than Nnamdi Asomugha and, likely, Nate Vasher.


On Bringing Back The Black Lions Uniforms

>> 6.23.2011

Recently, Matthew Stafford Tweeted a picture of some Nike shoes, and said:

Thinkin about bringing these out for MNF in Detroit what do y'all think?

The careful observer will note the predominance of black. Zac Snyder of the SideLion Report recently speculated about ditching the throwbacks this year in favor of new blacks. In the same article, he pointed out that NFL rules would prohibit alt jerseys on MNF, so it’s unlikely that these shoes are to be paired with new black unis. After Stafford Tweeted, Zac asked me if I had any thoughts on the blacks . . . and I thanked him for the post idea.

I've noted in the past that a black Ernie Sims jersey used to be atop my Lions-gear wishlist. There was something awesome and powerful about the then-new black duds; it made clear that this was a break with the past. These weren't the Same Old Lions! This would be a new era: fast, young, dynamic, explosive. There'd be an attitude and swagger about these Detroit Lions, and it would be obvious from the moment they stepped on the field.

Unfortunately, as we know, the players couldn't cash the checks the uniforms wrote. The black unis were a microcosm of the Millen Era: they were a bold, potentially great idea that didn't work out. Now, should the Lions take another stab at infusing some Raider-y toughness in their uniform game? Could the Silver Rush fill out those imposing threads?

For now, at least, I don't want to find out. The Lions just changed their uniforms two years ago, and I think they're absolutely perfect. They're unmistakably classic, unquestionably Detroit, and timeless--yet they look modern and fresh. I want this group of Lions to make these current uniforms intimidating. I want people across the nation to think of these uniforms when they think about the Lions.

That's the crux here: what makes uniforms intimidating is the players inside them. We love the classic--and therefore current--49ers uniforms not because they're pleasing to the eye, or "scary," but because we can't see them without recalling one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the game. Meanwhile, the iconic Raiders uniform and logo--Millen's inspiration for the Lions' blacks--are no longer intimidating; they're becoming farcical.

The Lions' black uniforms were a failed attempt to break with the recent past and chart a new direction for the franchise. The current uniforms break from THAT past, and reconnect with the Lions' great heritage. Bringing back the blacks might look cool for a game, and might sell jerseys, but I'd like to think this team will intimidate by the performance of the players, and not by what they're wearing.


Tinderbox: Mlive’s Ndamukong Suh Camp Giveaway

>> 6.21.2011

You’ve likely heard Ndamukong Suh is hosting a football camp for kids aged 7 to 12. You may have heard that is giving away two tickets, as well as offering a discount on purchased ones. You may even have already entered in the contest, or bought tickets for your kids. You should still read Phil Zaroo’s column announcing the giveaway. It’s majestic. 

Progress on the labor front continues in the best, if most boring way—quietly. The owners are meeting today in Chicago, and have been told to be ready for it to be a two-day affair. Quote Mike Florio:

The planning undoubtedly relates to the looming effort to persuade most, and preferably all, of the other owners to buy in to the notion that a fair, win-win deal should be finalized, and that any desire to force the players to take a bad deal should be abandoned.

Finally, Lomas Brown recently said Jeff Backus could be an All-Pro guard, which, gee, thanks to Lomas for swatting that hornet’s nest. It’s not that he’s wrong—Lomas was an All-Pro left tackle—as well as a seven-time Pro Bowler, so he knows exactly what it takes. But, at this point, there’s been so much hot air expelled on Backus and whether he passes muster at tackle,  even intelligent, credible discussion on the topic is unwelcome.

Remember when Tom Kowalski mentioned on WDFN that some thought Backus might lack the raw power to play guard?  “Backus is too weak” was the Detroit Lions Internet Meme Du Jour for several weeks. Now, I’m sure everyone is ready to wail and gnash their teeth over what Jeff Backus might have been—instead, let’s focus on what he is:

Brown, 48, who hosts his sixth annual free football camp July 22-23 at Detroit King, said Backus was "one of the top 10 tackles in our league now" but that his physical attributes might necessitate a move before too long.

Interestingly, I’m not seeing a lot of “Lomas Brown Says Jeff Backus is a Top 10 Tackle” headlines this morning.

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