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Thinking Out Loud

Here we are just over two weeks away from the season opener. I just wanted to share some thoughts on what I have seen to this point. Some things like Stafford and Johnson being in tune are very obvious and don’t really need restating. There are however, a number of situations that bear observation.

Let’s go with the good stuff first. Willie Young has been great. He has been around the ball constantly and finding a way to make plays. He reminds you a whole lot of Cliff Avril in that regard. Riley Reiff has been solid. I’m not sold that he will be a Pro Bowl caliber player, but he can be a slightly better version of Jeff Backus. The Lions running backs have two things in common. Number one, they are always hurt. Number two, a long run for them is about 12 yards. The lack of explosiveness athletically in the backfield is startling, putting even more pressure on the passing game. Stephfon Green showed some sorely needed home run ability versus the Ravens. With Jahvid Best starting the season on the PUP, maybe Green can be the guy to keep defenses honest in certain situations.  John Wendling has been serviceable at safety which was far better than I could have expected.  However, I’m not sure that he can hold up when the season starts.

Now for the bad news. The special teams, particularly the coverage unit is atrocious. Not only did they seem to be considerably slower than the other team, but they looked like they had never been introduced to the concept of lanes. Were they asleep in meetings?  Jim Schwartz has threatened to bring in new players and that is fine. However he may need to threaten the special teams coach, as that kind of consistently vile stench doesn’t belong anywhere on a high school football field, let alone a professional one. The Lions secondary needs are of course obvious but, I am still at a loss as to why a team secondary whose best corner a B minus player didn’t find the need to draft one high or find someone decent in free agency. Worse still is with Louis Delmas hurt, and inconsistent when he is actually healthy is that the safety position might be in worse shape (gulp!) than the corner position. And can someone find a lineman that can actually move someone off the line of scrimmage? Dominic Raiola looks like he is always backpedaling on running plays. Maybe he can help out in the secondary. You can’t have average running backs and a below average run blocking line and wonder why you are having trouble running the ball. The Lions need line and defensive backfield help. Using the second round pick to draft an injured WR that even when healthy would have been a horrible pick is still a bit of a head scratcher. I’m not saying that Broyles may not turn into a good player, I just don’t see anything that makes me feel that his contributions will be more important than the needs that were ignored anytime soon.  I really think we should turn the page on Kellen Moore.  Yes he has a great football IQ and knows where to throw it.  But his arm is so weak that either the ball gets there late getting his receivers crushed, or it doesn’t make it there at all. He makes Matt Cassel look like John Elway.  Kellen, you will be a great coach one day.  Thanks for coming out.

Now is the time to see how creative Mayhew can be. Maurice Jones Drew may be available. Would he be worth a high pick? Perhaps. For those that don’t believe that it would be consider this. Best was a first round pick, LeShoure was a second round pick that hasn’t even played in a game yet and the running back position is still a position of need. This isn’t to say that anything rash needs to be done.  But be realistic with your expectations this year.  While Lions fans should be pleased with the progress of the team over the last few years, there is much work to be done for them to be a legitimate threat. If you can’t stop the pass and can’t run, you have major problems, no matter how many other things you do well. Let’s hope that Mayhew can find some parts that work or Lions engine may be stuck in neutral this season.

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