Thursday, August 24, 2006

TWFE Detroit Lions season preview, part 1: Offense

Has anyone else been totally underwhelmed by the Lions offense over their lifetime the first 2 preseason exhibition games? See anything or anyone to be excited about? Anything at all? I thought so.

After years of inept offensive schemes, the hiring of noted loon, and supposed offensive genius, Mike Martz as coordinator, was manna from Heaven for the Lion fanbase. You want to know how starved we fans are for any kind of innovation on offense? During the 1st series of the exhibition season we saw men in motion, and thought it was the next coming of Martz's "Greatest Show on Turf." Unfortunately, the offense up to this point has looked more like a carny sideshow, with Rod Marinelli as a carnival barker.

To put it bluntly, the offense has been offensive. I think we all expected more from Mike "Legend in his own mind" Martz. Production from the running backs has been non-existent. Feature back Kevin Jones' biggest feature has been running from sideline to sideline, and has done next to nothing. 3rd round pick Brain Calhoun has done even less, that being absolutely nothing.

Shawn Bryson has become the Lions' equivalent of former Piston Michael Curry. For some reason God only knows, the moment coaches see Bryson on the practice field, they fall in love with him the same way a lovesick freshman falls for a senior cheerleader. The coach lust for Bryson is all the more surprising when you consider that he has no discernable talent. Arlen Harris seems to be a lock as Jones' backup, even though he he has a sterling career rushing average of 2.0 YPC. The best looking running back by far has been Artose Pinner, who supposedly is the odd man out when it comes to making the roster, because they don't have room for a runner they know can be productive. Typical Lions logic.

As for the passing game? I'll take a pass, thank you. So far, the Lions QB's prefer getting yards on scrambles, rather than the norm, throwing something we haven't seen in years, a forward pass upfield to a wide receiver. Speaking of the wide outs, is there a bigger cluster in all of football than the Lions' wide receiver drama?

Roy Williams has shown himself to be the clear number 1, and looks as if he's going to have a breakout season. If the QB's actually throw the ball to him, that is... But other than Williams, what have we seen? We hear glowing reports from the beat writers that Corey Bradford (Who's approximately 76 years old), Mike Furey (A converted safety who had 4 picks last year. Why isn't he playing on the Lions piss poor defense?), and Glenn Martinez (David Kirkus with less talent) are tearing it up on the practice field. But what have we seen from them in 2 games so far? Zip, nada, and zilch. Or in proper English, nil.

But all is well, because 1st round picks Mike Williams and Charles Rogers are...Well, all is not well, because they CAN'T EVEN GET ON THE DAMN FIELD! Williams still thinks he's in college, where pizza and beer are a diet staple, and being punctual means you are only a half hour late for the keg tapping. He's still built like a chubbier Eric Cartman, but at least Williams has shown flashes with a couple of nice catches in the red zone, where he should be a huge weapon. There might be something salvageable. Should and might being the operative words...

Rogers on the the other hand, that's just a lost cause. He has that 1000 yard stare, the highway eyes, and it's not just due to the chronic. It's the look of a player who's counting the days till he's released. It's obvious to everyone but Matt Millen, that much like Joey Blue Skies, Rogers will never, ever be successful in Detroit. I wouldn't put it past Rogers, in that the moment he's cut (And he's going to be cut), he'll turn back into the big time receiver we saw in the first few games of his rookie season. Detroit Lion fans will then die a little more inside.

What about fullback and tight end, you ask? When they actually start doing something more than missing blocks, dropping passes, getting injured and just taking up roster space, then I'll have something to say.

As for the offensive line, the only thing that comes to mind is that it still sucks. The right side of the line, Damien Woody and Rex Tucker, have not yet played due to injury. But where is the depth? Tackling dummies would be more effective than their replacements, Barry Stokes and Kevin Butler. The left side is manned by noted head case (So he'll fit right in with the Lions) Ross Verba, and one of the highest paid tackles in the league, the utterly average Jeff Backus. Why is he amongst the highest paid? Well...There was no one better hanging around, so Millen figured someone should get the money, might as well be Backus. Center, as always, is manned by Dominic Raiola, who has never been able to give any kind of line push due to having arms shorter than a QB's tenure under Wayne Fontes.

Finally comes the offensive centerpiece, quarterback. The starter will be Jon Kitna, who's above average at best, and below average at worst. Look up "Journeyman" in the encyclopedia, and you'll see an Eric Clapton album cover. If it wasn't for that, you'd see a picture of Jon Kitna. Kitna, a QB whom is best known for not being a playmaker, but for not making mistakes, would be great for a team who can surround him with playmakers. But not so great for a team who surrounds Kitna with the injury prone, head cases, never-were's, has-been's, and wannabe's. Dollars to donuts, Kitna will become the most hated man in Detroit since Joey Harrington, Charlie Batch, Scott Mitchell, Rodney Peete, Erik Kramer, Eric Hipple, Gary Danielson, Greg Landry, Bill Munson, Milt Plum, Karl Sweetan, and Tobin Rote.

We are told by the beat writers that there is a stirring battle for 2nd string behind Kitna between Dan Orlovsky (He played at UCONN) and Josh McCown (The Cardinals let him go and kept John Navarre). The winner automatically becomes the most popular man in Detroit, behind Jim Leyland and Moe Cheese. The loser will count his blessings. Detroit fans will count the days till the Lions are mathmatically eliminated from the playoffs.

After reading this, it sure makes you long for the glorious days of this man, doesn't it?


  1. I still think Martz is just sitting on his hands because he doesn't want to scare his players. Look, they went from a tart in Mooch to a mad scientist in Martz, it's like asking a preschooler to jump to high school in a year!

    Look, I know no one wants to hear it and everyone will think that the sports dude is smoking the chronic with Rogers, but I still see the Lions at a 9-7 mark at worst, but I still got that 10-6 in the back of my mind. Journeyman or not I still think Kitna is 100 times better than Joey and something tells me that Jones will have a season of 16 games that look like the last 8 of his rookie season.

    My Lions stuff will come in two weeks, next week is all college all the time, but if you ask me this is the most positive feeling I have had about the Lions since... I take that back, I don't think I ever had a positive feeling about the Lions!

  2. I feel about as negatively about this Lions team's prospects as I have ever felt, or at least in the last 15 years or so.

    I don't know what it is, but something about this team seems off. In past years, I had hope going into the season -- this year I'm just hoping for 8-8. I would take 8-8 in a heartbeat and that's just sad.

    That doesn't surprise me that you're seeing a lot of vanilla out of the offense at this point in the season, Al. If Martz is smart and egotist or not, he's definitely smart -- he won't tip any surprises he has with the Lions offense in the exhibitions.

    Now that said...I doubt there's the talent on the offensive side of the ball to adequately take advantage of any surprises he may have. But that's another story.

  3. The beat writers say I'm supposed to be patient, that it'll take time for the new staff to turn things around, but I ran of patience a long time ago. Despite all the new faces, I feel just like Brian, Dude. This is the most down I've felt about the Lions in a long time.

    Dude, I wish I could be as enthusiastic for the Lions chances as you, but like Brian, I just don't see the talent. If you don't have the horses, the best coaching and most innovative schemes won't make a bit of difference.

    I'm sure that Martz is keeping things somewhat vanilla, but I'd like to see a little production from the offense.

    You think I was hard on the offense? Just wait till I talk about the D. It has looked far worse than the O up to this point.

  4. Hey, no offense taken there Al, but as wrong as it is for me to say it, I put a lot of the blame on Joey. Like I said, right or wrong, that offense stunk because he was just about as overrated as overrated can be. I don't follow the Lions too much, just more of a college guy than pro guy, but I really think this team has the look and feel of that "dark horse" team that we always see every year.

    Besides, if you look at their division, it is by far one of the weakest in football and you have to ask yourself "someone has to win it, right?"

    Chicago - please, last year was luck and I do not see them doing it two years in a row. Their best bet is to have Lovie Smith wake up and put Griese in because Rex Grossman is just as good as Harrington... you get the point.

    Green Bay - sorry, I love Favre, but Green Bay's entire team is one step away from the retirement home. Besides who the hell is the head coach - I never heard of the guy!

    Minnesota - probably the team with the best chance to win the division, but Brad Johnson is standing in line with Brett Favre at the socail security office, know what I mean.

    Sorry, just looking at this division and looking at the Lions schedule I don't see how a 9-7 record is not only feasable but easily reachable. Besides, like I said, Joey is gone and that is the best news out of Lionstown I have heard in a long time.

    I will, however, miss Joey blaming all of his shitty passes on the wind though!

  5. I'm with the naysayers. I think there's too big of an adjustment with the new coaching staff and their systems on each side of the ball to expect a significant turnaround this season.

    The offense should improve, because - really - how could it be worse? I agree that Martz is keeping things plain during the pre-season, but he seems to get the best out of his players.

    It's the defense I'm worried about. I don't know if Marinelli has "his guys" (like Martz has gotten his) yet, and if the linebacking corps doesn't start healing, that could be a really ugly unit.

    I'm saying 6-10 this season. I'd lean toward 7 or 8 wins, but in the Millen era, the Lions don't get unexpected wins against teams they're not supposed to beat.

  6. DBs getting torched all game? Check
    LBs getting torched on draws all game? Check
    Untimely penalties? Check
    Turnovers? Check
    Bad calls? Check
    WRs dropping balls? Check

    Judging from last night's game, I'd say the Lions are in midseason form.