I just wrote my first ever game preview / prediction. Its for this weeks Detroit Lions Vs St. Louis Rams game and will appear on http://www.nflandcollegefootball.com soon.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Well I've been tackling this topic for about three straight weeks now and does anybody still feel the need to defend Daunte Culpepper being the number two quarterback?
I don't wish injury on any player and I hate that Culpepper had to leave the game that way. I'd rather him have been benched but I'd be lying if I wasn't happy to finally see Drew Stanton in the game.
We saw what Daunte Culpepper could do today against the Packer defense and it wasn't much. How does 14 passes with 6 completions for 48 yards with a 3.4 yard average (Uh Captain Checkdown?) and 1 critical interception that helped the Packers jump out to a 14 to 0 lead sound? Not good for a veteran quarterback who is supposed to have a grasp, no, strangle hold on the offensive system he's playing in. Yet for the second straight week Daunte Culpepper continued to prove that he is prone to rookie mistakes and has no idea how to handle deep passes.
Now against the same defense our third string quarterback comes in and actually looked a whole hell of a lot better than our "veteran" second stringer just as he did in preseason. Thats considering the circumstances and the supposed experience gap of course. Even Packer fans over on NFL.com thought Stanton had poise in the pocket and didn't resemble a third string quarterback. Drew Stanton completed 5 of 11 passes for 57 yards with a 5.2 yard average (Because he actually can throw a deep ball) and 2 interceptions.
The stats are a little misleading since Stanton's first interception should have actually been a great play but Pettigrew dropped it right into Al Harris' hands. Stanton kept that play alive by being mobile which Culpepper just isn't these days. Don't give me that argument about his scramble against the Steelers either, look at Stanton in the pocket compared to Culpepper and then tell me who is a mobile quarterback.
The offense never even sniffed the endzone with Culpepper on the field however was in prime position to put points on the board with Stanton in the game. I know, that was until Stanton threw an interception in the endzone. Yes Stanton made a bad call but I can understand that because including today he's thrown a grand total of 28 career passes. Its not like hes making these mistakes after throwing 3,104 career passes (Culpepper).
This is exactly why I wanted him on the field instead of Culpepper because hes had a rocky start to his career and still needs some development. Last week I was told you don't need upside from a number two quarterback, really? If Stanton can play as well as Culpepper now, imagine what he can do after he's thrown more than 28 passes in a real game and has had a whole week to practice with the first team. How is that for upside?
Also have I mentioned Culpepper will be gone (thank god) after this season anyway while we have Stanton at least two more years? I'm pretty sure I have but just throwing that one out there one more time.
Lastly, there are rumors going around that Stafford may need surgery and while I'm praying that he doesn't, if he does Stanton should play. Thats it, end of discussion, there are no arguments that can be made anymore. The smart play for the future of the team and evaluation purposes is Drew Stanton. People have been able to argue that Culpepper gives us the best chance to win with Stafford out but does anybody really want to make that argument now?
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
If one thing can be said about coach Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew its that they just aren't sitting around doing nothing. Jim Schwartz isn't standing for underachieving players and if players want to start and want to keep their spots on the roster they better play well. That combined with a lot of injuries piling up have the Detroit Lions being more active in the free agent market than I have ever seen them.
With Adam Jennings hitting injured reserve and the injury to Calvin Johnson the Lions ended up with only three wide receivers against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They aren't going to make that mistake again, the Lions have re-signed WR John Standeford. To make room for him the Lions released veteran Chuck Darby who they had just re-signed last week which most likely means Sammie Hill and Grady Jackson are looking healthy.
The Lions Have placed DB Eric King on their injured reserve. Eric King was forced into starting in week one and was slaughtered by Drew Brees. Since then he played mostly nickel and dime corner after Phillip Buchanon became healthy and he was overtaken by the strong play of Will James. Still any loss to Detroit's already horrible secondary hurts, however this does leave them with an open roster spot and there are some good free agent DBs still on the market.
The Lions have also made a flurry of practice squad moves.In practice squad news The Lions placed DT Mathias Askew on practice squad/injured and released WR Logan Payne. The Lions signed WR Kole Heckendorf and DT Jervonte Jackson to the practice squad. The Lions released DB DeAndre Wright and signed DB DeMarcus Faggins. The Lions also sign DE Robert Henderson to their practice squad.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
So would all the Culpepper supporters like to eat their words now or would you like them to marinate in failure a few more weeks first? I hate to be a Drew Sharp type of writer I really do but Culpepper is a cancer to this team. His mere presence on the team has done nothing but slow down the progress of both of Detroit's future quarterbacks, Drew Stanton and Matthew Stafford.
Had Culpepper not been in Detroit Matthew Stafford would have gotten the majority of reps with the first team the entire preseason. Stafford would have also gotten the start in all of the preseason games to better prepare him for the season. With that being the case Stafford would have probably made a smoother transition from college to the pros in his first regular season games. We've all seen his week to week improvement since the season started so one can only imagine what the added time as the number one guy would have done for him.
Then there is Drew Stanton, he would have gotten all the reps with the second team and a few with the first team in practice. Then he would have gotten to show what he could do against the second stringers in the preseason games instead of the third and fourth stringers. That would have easily boosted Stanton's development which has been put on pause since he got to Detroit. Also it would have been Stanton who was in position to start this week against the Steelers with Stafford going down due to injury.
That is what could have been anyway, instead we put our veteran quarterback out there who is supposed to have all this experience on his side and what does he do? HE MAKES ROOKIE MISTAKES!!!
Seriously, anybody who thinks Culpepper had a good performance is probably wondering why we got rid of Joey Harrington because that is who Culpepper played like today. You would think after all that time chucking passes to Randy Moss, Culpepper would be comfortable going down field. Nope, Culpepper avoided down field passes like they were the plague and the one I did see him throw was horrible. It was nowhere near his intended target and its a good thing it wasn't because Bryant Johnson was covered.
Now I had to leave for work at about 3:15 eastern time but I caught the rest of the game via Sprint's NFL Mobile Live radio broadcast. Still some things you don't need to see to tell that a quarterback isn't doing a very good job. You know like falling down and throwing a pass across your body that the radio announcers said looked like a punt to the other team. Oh, then there is the matter of 3 fumbles and a horrible decision to give away 16 yards on an intentional grounding penalty.
Also lets not forget the game was still winnable until Culpepper blew it on the last drive. Yeah, Culpepper blew it, don't try to put that on the line, CULPEPPER BLEW IT! How the hell does a veteran quarterback get sacked twice in a row by the same play? What makes it even worse is the radio announcers said pre-play both times that William Gay was blitzing so obviously he was showing blitz. Was Culpepper asleep under center or something? I honestly don't remember him calling an audible the whole game and it bit us in the ass on the final drive. I see Stafford calling audibles all the time but the veteran who is supposed to know the system can't?
It might be different if Stafford and Stanton were really being mentored by Culpepper but from all indications thats not the case. I've never seen them cut to Culpepper giving Stafford pointers on the sideline or heard that Culpepper was helping Stanton and Stafford break down some film. So at this point my question remains, why is Culpepper still here?
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Well it seems as though Jim Schwartz has stayed true to his word and under performing players won't be playing for the Lions for very long. After a horrendous outing that ultimately cost them the game against the Chicago Bears, the Lions special teams have been under fire. Jim Schwartz has responded by awarding the kick return position to Derrick Williams. Also LB Darnell Bing was released to make room on the active roster for a preseason fan favorite for Lions fans, Zack Follet. Of course Williams and Follet both deserve the chance to prove themselves because after all thats why they drafted them. Follet could make a big impact on the special teams as could Williams however if Williams doesn't and drops the ball like he did during preseason the Lions could still be in the market for a good returner.
On Detroit's practice squad sits rookie RB Tristan Davis. The often injured Auburn RB returned 55 kicks for 1,455 yards with a 26.5 yard average and scored 2 touchdowns during his college days.
All Lions fans remember Eddie Drummond, he was one of the best returners in the league and the best Lions fan had seen since the likes of Mel Gray and Desmond Howard. That is until injuries slowed him down, Eddie is a free agent now and may still have some good years left in him. For his career thus far Drummond has returned 250 kicks for 5,811 yards with an average of 23.2 yards and 2 Tds. He has also returned 140 punts for 1,280 with a 9.1 yard average and 4 Tds.
Jim Schwartz has seen what free agent CB Adam "Pacman" Jones can do as a CB and as a returner. He does come with a reputation for making it rain.....bullets....."allegedly". I don't see a huge problem if Schwartz would want to take a look at him as long as the guy has the words "ZERO TOLERANCE" plastered all over his contract. He could probably play nickel corner or even start for us but thats not why he is on this list. As a returner Jones has returned 70 kick returns for 1,803 yards with a 25.8 yard average and 0 TDs. He has also returned 84 punts for 807 yards with a 9.6 yard average and 4 TDs.
Jerome Mathis has also had some legal problems and was signed to a CFL team the last I heard but playing for an NFL team usually trumps playing for a CFL team. As a return man Mathis has returned 72 kicks for 2054 yards with a 28.5 yard average and 3 TDs. With punts Mathis has only fielded 12 punts for 68 yards with a 5.7 yard average and 0 TDs.
Last but not least is the free agent WR and kick return specialist who at one time was just as good if not better than the Bears Devin Hester. Of course I'm talking about Dante Hall. Hall may still have something left, he may not but there is nothing wrong with looking especially if he can recapture even a fraction of his past return heroics. For his career Hall has returned 426 kicks for 10,136 yards with a 23.8 yard average and 6 tds. As a punt returner Hall has returned 216 punts for 2,261 yards with a 10.5 average and 6 Tds. For those keeping track that is an amazing 12 Tds combined!
I'm sure there are more good return men out there but these were the ones that stood out in my mind and it couldn't hurt just to see what if anything these guys have left in the tank.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Well it turns out that I was both wrong and right in my prediction of the Bears and Lions game. It turns out that neither quarterback reverted back to their multiple interception selves, Stafford did throw one interception but it was more bad luck than anything. Stafford didn't see Tommy Harris who had fallen down and when he got up the ball fell right into his lap. Stafford torched the Bears mighty defense for 298 yards passing with 1 touchdown and two rushes for 20 yards.
However those numbers don't mean that much when you have no running game to go along with it and are continuously starting drives within your own 20 yard line. Aaron Brown, Dennis Northcutt, and Adam Jennings failed miserably in the return game in a week were Schwartz stated they needed to be more productive. On the flip side of that, the Detroit Lion's cover units also fell flat on their faces when it came to keeping Johnny Knox, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, and Daniel Manning in check on kick returns. We put our average defense out on the field all day and asked them to defend a shortened field.
Meanwhile we handicapped our offense by asking them to drive nearly 90 yards in order to score every time they got on the field. The result, a game that really started to get out of hand towards the end when the defense finally started to break down and the offense struggled in the shadow of their own end zone. We either need to release Jennings again and find a real kick returner or somebody needs to dropkick Stan Kwan so maybe he'll have the special teams units ready to play.
This was a winable game and the next time we play Chicago that one will be winable too, all of our division games are. We aren't a good enough team to do what we did against Chicago today and expect to win, its just not going to happen. The passing game looked good all day, Stafford overthrew some guys but he'll get better with that. There was no excuse for what the running game did, Smith was hurting and you could tell, he probably shouldn't have played. Still, the coaches should have pulled him, that or get some screens with Aaron Brown going to pick up the slack from the run game because they were teeing off on us every time we tried to run. Speaking of that, its not a rule that we have to run on first down, its okay to mix it up every now and then.
I guess we can chalk this one up to a learning experience, hopefully it will lead to us learning that we don't have a real kick returner and we need to get one. That or we just need to drop the only coaching holdover from our 0-16 season, Stan Kwan.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Well I just watched the Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears preview via Sprint / NFL Live. Essentially they think that Cutler will shred our secondary, Matt Forte will run all over us, and the Bears defense will dominate. However they think Larry Foote and Jason Hanson are good, also Stafford will be okay if he can limit interceptions.
Now of course I don't agree with most of their assessments. Both Pisa Tinoisamoa and Hunter Hillenmeyer are doubtful in a linebacking corps that is already missing Brian Urlacher. So Lance Briggs will get the start at weakside linebacker with Nick Roach, Tim Shaw, and Jamar Williams most likely getting time at the middle and strongside linebacker positions. On top of that Lance Briggs is also questionable for the game so hes hurting but is expected to start.However if Briggs doesn't play, saying the Bears are depleted at linebacker is an understatement.
Now with the linebackers already depleted, most of the defensive line is also on the Bears injury report. DT Anthony Adams probable knee injury, DE Alex Brown questionable ankle injury, DT Tommie Harris probable knee injury, and DT Israel Idonije questionable knee injury. I don't see the Bears being able to dominate much of anything with mostly hurting starters or backup players spread throughout their front seven.
Detroit was able to run on a healthy Vikings defense and a mostly healthy Redskins defense. Washington's DT Albert Haynesworth did go down with an injury during the game and so did Detroit's RB Kevin Smith. By all indications Kevin Smith says he will play against the Bears but if he can't Maurice Morris, Aaron Brown, and Jerome Felton should be capable of carrying the load against this banged up Bears defense.
Once the running game gets going, the passing game will follow. This game is going to rest squarely on the shoulders of Matthew Stafford and his ability to duplicate the performance he had against the Redskins last week. Stafford needs to make good decisions by spreading the ball around and not starring down Calvin Johnson like he did in the first two weeks of the season. If Stafford can do that and limits his interceptions, the Lions are looking at a two game winning streak because I'm not sold on the Bears offense beating us.
Matt Forte is on the Bears injury report as probable with a knee injury but really hasn't done much this season. The Lions defense, even with their injuries along the line have been able to keep Adrian Peterson and Clinton Portis from putting up crazy numbers. The Lions defense held Peterson under 100 yards (92 is still under 100) and allowed only 42 yards on the ground to Portis. I just don't see Matt Forte outperforming either Peterson or Portis especially after the way hes started the year.
Now could Jay Cutler shred our secondary? If Matt Forte gets the run game going, no dowubt. If Eric King was starting, no doubt, but I doubt they get the run going and I bet King never gets on the field. Last week Will James stepped onto the field and showed he could be a solid starter at corner and I've heard that he actually took the starting job from Phillip Buchanon. At safety Ko Simpson looked good last week but we'll see if its Simpson or Marquand Manuel who gets the start alongside defensive rookie of the month Louis Delmas. If the Bears run game never gets going and Jay Cutler starts trying to force things and win the game with his arm I can see this game getting ugly fast.
In the end though it will be a tale of two quarterbacks because they have always compared Matthew Stafford to Jay Cutler and I can see why. They are both gunslingers and when they get in a situation where they are asked to win the game with their arms they both force things. Whichever quarterback is calm in the pocket and takes what the defense gives them instead of forcing it is the team that will win.I think that its going to be Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions pulling of the "upset".
Drew Stanton Oct 2, 2009 Probable Knee - Probable
Sammie Hill Oct 2, 2009 Doubtful Ankle - Doubtful
Kalvin Pearson Oct 2, 2009 Doubtful Quadriceps - Doubtful
Kevin Smith Oct 2, 2009 Questionable Shoulder - Questionable
Dewayne White Oct 2, 2009 Doubtful Hamstring - Doubtful
Ernie Sims Oct 2, 2009 Questionable Shoulder - Questionable
Eric King Oct 2, 2009 Questionable Shoulder - Questionable
Grady Jackson Oct 2, 2009 Questionable Knee - Questionable
Cliff Avril Oct 2, 2009 Questionable Hamstring - Questionable
Patrick Mannelly Oct 2, 2009 Probable Forearm - Probable
Israel Idonije Oct 2, 2009 Questionable Knee - Questionable
Tommie Harris Oct 2, 2009 Probable Knee - Probable
Matt Forte Oct 2, 2009 Probable Knee - Probable
Desmond Clark Oct 2, 2009 Probable Rib - Probable
Anthony Adams Oct 2, 2009 Probable Knee - Probable
Pisa Tinoisamoa Oct 2, 2009 Doubtful Knee - Doubtful
Hunter Hillenmeyer Oct 2, 2009 Doubtful Rib - Doubtful
Alex Brown Oct 2, 2009 Questionable Ankle - Questionable
Lance Briggs Oct 2, 2009 Questionable Foot - Questionable
Friday, October 2, 2009
Yamon Figurs has been released and Adam Jennings has been signed. Sound familiar? It should because at the end of the preseason it was Jennings who was cut to make room for Figurs. However with Figurs injury and inability to take the kick or punt returner spots from Dennis Northcutt or Aaron Brown, Jennings is back.
With the injuries to Sammie Hill, and Grady Jackson the Lions now turn to free agent Chuck Darby. Darby has been without a team since he failed to make final cuts with the Lions at the end of preseason. Darby started the entire 2008 season with the Lions and the thinking here is that he already knows the playbook. Even though he may not be the best free agent DT on the market, the Lions know exactly what they are getting.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Louis Delmas has captured the attention of every Lions fan since the preaseason. Now it appears as though he has the undivided attention of the entire NFL. For this first time in the history of the award (13 years), the Defensive Rookie of the Month award goes to a Detroit Lion. Delmas truly deserves it, the only other rookie I've seen all over the field this year like Delmas is Rey Maulauga but he went down with an injury. It would have been heaven to have drafted both of them but hey, at least were going to have Louis "Da Missile" Delmas roaming our secondary for years to come.