Thursday, August 31, 2006

TWFE Detroit Lions season preview, part 2: Defense

As unimpressive as the Detroit Lions offense has been during the preseason exhibition season, the defense has looked even worse. To steal a line from idiot savant Ralph Wiggum, "That's unpossible!" Yet, it's true. Surprsing, as Sgt. Rod Marinelli was known as a defensive line shaman, and a disciple of the NFL's current flavor of the month, the Tampa 2 defense. The the new defensive coordinator, Donnie Henderson, brought impressive credentials as well.

Unfortunately, the results of installing the Tampa 2 have been uninspiring at best, and horrible at worst. For example, we've all seen how that trick play, the draw, has eaten up Detroit's version of the Tampa 2. Third and long? There is no such thing against Detroit's Tampa 2. The opposition converting on 3rd down has been a given.

Over the years, conventional wisdom was that the D-line was the strength of the team. And for years, the D-line has been frustratingly average. The stud of the defense is tackle Shawn Rogers, and he is a great player. A great player every third play, that is. The rest of the time? Frustratingly average. For this entire decade, we've been told that end Kalimba Edwards was going to the the best edge rusher this area has seen since Bubba Baker was terrorizing the NFL. For this entire decade we've seen nothing close to that from Kalimba Edwards. The rest of the D-line is manned with solid, servicable players, who rarely, if ever, make plays. Sgt. Marinelli has yet to put his stamp on what is supposedly his area of expertise.

The Lions' roster of linbackers are as brittle as Dominic Hasek's groin. Joe Namath would take one look at Boss Bailey's knees and say, "I want to kiss you." "And I thought my knees were bad..." Teddy Lehman has spent more time on the disabled and PUP lists than on the field. 1st round pick Ernie Sims has to be brought inside on windy days, as a stiff wind may give him a concussion. He's one big hit away from having to wear a drool cup under his chin. The rest of the linebackers, like the D-line, is manned with solid, servicable players, who rarely, if ever, make plays. Sense a trend here?

The other stud of the Lion D is conerback Dre' Bly. If there is one player that makes "Plays" on the Lion roster, Bly is it. As for the other corner, Fernando Bryant, just refer back to my observations of the Oakland game. If Bryant isn't getting hurt, he's getting burnt. The nickle, dime, and backup CB's are basically a bunch of servicable no-names that we only notice when they blow a coverage. Which happens often, as you can tell from the defense's inability to get off the field on 3rd down.

For years, Lions have started safeties who can hit, but are slow and have hands of stone. Bennie Blades and Mark Carrier being 2 of the more recent examples. Big hitters, but they couldn't catch a cold. Kenoy Kennedy, Daniel Bullocks, and Terrence Holt are in that same mold. Again, they are an OK group, but when was the last time you saw a Lion safety make a big play? More often, you see them being late to the play, such as the Randy Moss TD in the 3rd preseason exhibition game. They got to Moss alright, just after he had the ball...

During the Matt Millen era, the Lions defense have been consistently lacking in 2 areas. That being speed, and a lack of "Playmakers." Thing is, they go hand in hand. You never see the Lions making late game plays. The big sack, causing a fumble, the spectacular pick, busting thru the O-line on goal line stands, it just doesn't happen. The next 3rd and long stop the Lions make in the preseason exhibition season, it will be the first. Save for Bly, and Rogers on every 3rd play, do you see any "Playmakers" on the Lions' D? I sure don't.

This is the least enthused I've been about an upcoming Lions' season since the dark days of the Darryl Rogers years. Sure, the beat writers continually say that Sgt. Marinelli has the Lions on the right track. Those same writers also warn that they may take 2 steps back, before they make any moves forward. The constant refrain is "Patience." Thst is the LAST thing a long suffering Lion fan needs to hear. I ran out of "Patience" during the Monte Clark era, and that was more than 2 decades ago.

Screw patience, I want to see wins! From what I've seen so far, wins for the Detroit Lions will be few and far between.


  1. Sadly, Big Al, you shan't see wins in great abundance this season.

    It's gonna take time.

    After all, you've waited THIS long...

  2. Look, I know I am in the minority but that 7-9 is there for the taking, and in my opinion that is even an understatement.

    Hey, I have been called crazy before, so why change now!