Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Detroit Lions shake up their depth chart. Is desperation already kicking in?

We're only one game into the season, and the Detroit Lions are making significant lineup changes. Changes you could argue should have taken place during training camp.

Manny Ramirez replaces Stephen Peterman at right guard.

If anyone thinks this change is going to shore up the line, they are either insane, or a coach on the Lions.

Ramirez taking over at guard seems like change for the sake of change. Peterman is nothing special, but neither is Ramirez. At least this gives me the opportunity to say "That's just Manny being Manny" during the live blogs whenever he whiffs on a block. Good times...

Daniel Bullocks moves ahead of Gerald Alexander as the new starting free safety.

Bullocks for Alexander is more of a case of a player (Bullocks) finally regaining a job lost originally to injury. It also means another high draft pick (Alexander) is a huge disappointment, unable to keep a starting job. Once again, the Lions' flabbergastingly bad drafting history rears it's ugly head.

Leigh Bodden starts at right cornerback for Travis Fisher.

Bodden moving above Fisher on the depth chart is something that should happened the moment he arrived in the D from Cleveland. The Lions thought enough of Bodden to take him in trade from the Browns in return for a former Pro Bowl tackle, and give him an expensive contract extension to boot.

Yet Bodden wasn't good enough to beat out Fisher? Huh? The same Fisher who has spent his career as backup, a nickel-dime corner, not as a starter? What in the Hell?

That "What in the Hell?" was driven home last Sunday, as Fisher was immediately exposed by Atlanta. Michael Jenkins ran right by him to catch a 62 yard TD pass on the 3rd play of the game. As the game went on, Bodden gradually replaced Fisher. So what's the story here? Either Bodden isn't near as good as was advertised, or Rod Marinelli and Joe Barry don't know what in the Hell they are doing when it comes to evaluating talent.

I'm off to do this week's depth chart.
Who's got a coin I can flip?

It might be a little of both, but when factoring in the constant shuffling of players, I'm thinking "They don't know what in the Hell they are doing" is closer to the truth.

Marinelli had this to say the corner position:
"All three of those corners, we're going to rotate them, keep them fresh as much as we can."
Question: Wouldn't you want to keep your 2 best corners on the field at all times? (Same goes for the "rotation" on the D-line) If you have to use a "rotation" at such an important position, does that mean you don't have the quality of player you need as starters? I'm just sayin'...

2nd round pick Jordon Dizon will get more time at middle linebacker, sharing the job with Paris Lenon.

Dizon played 14 snaps late in the 4th quarter, had 4 solo tackles and 2 assisted. Lenon played most of the game, and had 3 solo tackles. Period.

Remind me again why Lenon is a starting MLB in the NFL? Oh, you don't know either? EXACTLY!

Brandon Middleton, re-signed after being one of the final roster cuts, gives the Lions a 5th wide out and, more importantly, takes over kickoff returning from Mike Furrey and Marcus Thomas.

Out of all of the clueless roster manipulating by Marinelli, the handling of the return game was the most clueless. Let's, as Marinelli likes to say, look at the (figurative) tape:

1. The Lions' return game in 2007, to put it bluntly, stank.

2. To fix the return game, the Lions auditioned several return specialists during camp, including Middleton, who showed promise as both a 5th wide out and return man. Problem solved, right?

3. Wrong! Instead of keeping Middleton on the 53 man roster, Marinelli somehow thought the Lions would be better served by keeping 32 25 17 11 defensive linemen, and use his number 3 and 4 receivers, Shaun McDonald and Furrey, as kick returners. He did so despite the fact that neither McDonald (0 punt returns in 2+ seasons) or Furrey (20 kick returns TOTAL in 5 seasons) have much experience as return men, and the Detroit offense would be significantly crippled if either of them were injured.

5. Against Atlanta, Furrey looked uncomfortable as Hell in returning a pair of kickoffs for a total of 30 years, and fair catching a pair of punts. The Lions even tried 3rd string RB Thomas, who was a little better, averaging 23 yards on 4 returns.

6. After seeing the stupidity in his ways reflected on the field, Marinelli, the proverbial blind squirrel trying to find a nut, re-signs Middleton when TE Dan Campbell was placed on IR. (Again? Campbell is so injury prone, he'd pull a hammy while shaving) Middleton is immediately named the Lions' primary kick returner.

7. My head explodes from all the stupidity coming out of Allen Park.

But I'm sure you've noticed one change that was NOT made. 1st round pick Gosder Cherilus is still behind the lousy George Foster at right tackle.

Marinelli's reasoning?
"He's (Cherilus) coming fine, but ... George's playing well, too."
Playing well? On what damn planet? Against the consensus worst team in the NFL (Till the Lions gained that moniker Sunday afternoon), the Lions running game averaged 3.0 YPC and Jon Kitna was sacked 3 times. That doesn't sound like anyone of the O-line is playing well. But Cherilus' ass remains firmly planted on the bench.

It's looking more and more like the Lions used their 1st round pick to reach on a project player who's not ready to play at the NFL level.

You could say the same about their head coach.

Edit 3:48 PM: As soon as I finshed this post, I see a quote from Jim Colletto talking up Cherilus...
"He (Cherilus) has to play some," said Colletto, who added Foster's experience is currently giving him the edge over Cherlius. 
Foster's experience? His experience in sucking?

This sounds more like damage control to me. Sure, Gosder will get some PT...Just like Dizon only played in garbage time last week. We shall see...

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