Embed from Getty Images The team that began the season in South Bend against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is not the same team that just beat the Wisconsin Badgers. Jim Harbaugh has molded this team into a power again.
The Michigan Wolverines offensive line that was a sore spot last season has grown into a huge area of strength. Pass and run blocking has taken a huge step forward.
The defense is ranked #1 in the country. It was never going to be an issue. It is the linebackers that have shined the brightest. They swarm to the ball. This group is flat out nasty.
However, what has been missing from a Jim Harbaugh lead Wolverines team have been two key factors. Quarterback. Running back. They have had ok players at those positions. This year they have game- changers .
Quarterback Shea Patterson has been as good as advertised. Dangerous in the pocket, Patterson unleashed a new side to his game vs the Badgers. Shea Patterson, can run. He had an 81 yard TD that now puts fear in the rest of the teams on the Michigan football schedule.
Running back Karan Higdon has become a go-to player. Chris Evans was supposed to be “the guy.” However Evans has missed games due to injury. Giving Higdon, an opportunity to take control of the job.
This years Michigan football team has become a well rounded group. They have a big game Saturday vs Michigan State. It will tell us how far the team has come. Michigan opened up as a 7 1/2 point favorite.
Should the Wolverines beat Sparty. They will become the team to beat. Even over Ohio State who this year has a flawed defense.
This is what Michigan fans have waited for. A return to the limelight. The time is at hand
Embed from Getty Images With wins over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers. The Detroit Lions look good. But 3 losses against sub-par teams leaves people scratching their heads.
There was always going to be an adjustment period in Detroit. The Lions after all had a new head coach. It has taken the entire preseason and 5 games into the regular season. It looks like coach, coaching staff and players are all on the same page.
It is not the 2-3 record that means anything. It is the fact that across the board the Detroit Lions have shown growth. The offensive line that under-performed in weeks 1 vs the New York Jets have gelled and are a great asset to the team.
In order to become a more physical team Detroit has cranked up the running game. It has shown real life. LeGarrette Blount is a basher. Kerryon Johnson is the speed. They have been a formative combo.
Kenny Golladay, is turning into a superstar. The second year wide receiver ranks 5th in yards per catch at 15.9. He is a short, middle and deep threat. To go along with Golden Tate and Marvin Jones the team is looking much better.
Defensively is where the Detroit Lions have come the furthest. Defensive end Da’ Shawn Hand looks like a draft day steal in the third round. Da’ Shawn is 10th overall, and seventh most disruptive against the pass also he has been the best rookie interior defender in the league.
The team heads into their bye-week beating the rival Green Bay Packers in a one sided affair. They harassed Aaron Rogers all day and shut down the Packers running game.
The Lions need to clean a few things up during the week off. They need to begin to get up for the lesser teams the way they do against good teams. General manager Bob Quinn’s draft picks and free agents have been a blessing to the team.
Bob Quinn, is quickly becoming a know general manager around the league and is getting praise from his fellow general managers. I look for the Detroit Lions to keep grinding and get better every week. They are headed in the right direction.
As long as rookies continue to improve the Detroit Lions are building something that will lead to bigger things.
Embed from Getty Images Often a punching bag for the Detroit Lions fans. Former general manager Matt Millen is in a battle. For his life. “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” Jeremiah 33:6
While it is true that Matt Millen’s time as Detroit Lions general manager is among the worst in sports history. It is also true that Matt Millen is a human. As such it is time for Lions fans to let go of the past. He is not a bad person.
At just 60 years old. The former Oakland and L.A. Raiders linebacker needs at heart transplant. He faces an incurable disease. To Matt Millen, I would say God is greater than your struggles. But his Christian life allows him to walk forward and not have any worries about his future.
To Detroit Lions fans who once staged a fire Millen rally. I would say let bygones be bygones. He is and has been a terrific football announcer in between his Lions job. His work with the Lions does not define him in any way.
Working this season for the Big Ten Network. Matt Millen announced he needed to step away for health reasons. Millen said of his illness “We’re down 13. Playing defense. It’s getting late.” Also known as I know what I am up against.
In order to do day to day life Millen has endured 38 rounds of chemotherapy. Millen is charming and very kind. Lions fans need to know this about the man. Can we stop and come to an agreement some things are flat out bigger than sports?
To forgive is divine. You have heard it. You may have even said it. It is time to live it. No matter your background. Your belief, your unbelief. Say a prayer in your own space. But do it with a pure heart full of good intentions.
God bless, Matt Millen. He needs it.
Embed from Getty Images In an attempt to prepare top prospects to take the next step. The Detroit Tigers are tutoring pipeline players in Florida. It starts now. It has to.
For the rebuilding Detroit Tigers, player development is taking center stage. Tigers player development manager Dave Littlefield is spearheading the charge. Noting that this is what is best for the players and the organization. Littlefield should know, He oversaw a Pittsburgh Pirates minor league that went on to push the parent team to solid play.
Growing pains come with every team in every sport. Players come, players go. But when a team is rebuilding and it is all hands on deck. It is paramount development takes place and players begin to play fundamental ball.
In his short call up outfielder Christian Stewart missed the cut-off man and a run scored. Manager Ron Gardenhire was less than happy. Gardenhire said the minor leagues need to get back to basics.
Gardenhire, had seen his fair share of sloppy fundamental ball. And was the one who was voicing both his concern and displeasure. He wondered out loud just what the Detroit Prospects were learning. As the major league manager Gardenhire is well within his rights to have his voice heard.
While there is not enough days to work with and teach all of the Tigers prospects in one offseason. Ron Gardenhire said next season nothing is off the table. That includes in-game benchings.
It is not that mistakes were and are made. That is life. It is and was the fact that players made no adjustments. Sometimes good old fashion tough love is needed. These are the tough love time for the Tigers.
These are the right steps for the Detroit Tigers to take. Better player development as well as tough love. Something needs to break through to the players. The Tigers never really did in-depth player development in the past. It is high time that changes.
The team traded top prospects to win division titles. That is the old way of doing business not only for the Tigers but all MLB teams. Teams have started to put a premium on prospects in order to win and stay on top longer.
That is a much more sound way of doing things.
Embed from Getty Images Going to a sporting event has moved into a much needed upgrade. With the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings sharing the same home (for now,) paper tickets are a thing of the past.
In my younger days I was guilty of hanging onto my ticket stubs. Lions, Red Wings, Pistons, Tigers. It was an “I was there” statement of sorts. To one day look back and remember something special. I even had a ticket stub box.
Technology, seems to have won. Little Caesars Arena announced they are implementing mobile tickets only. To an older generation of fans this may seem overwhelming. To a younger generation that is phone driven it seems natural. The bottom line is getting into a game.
No more printing the tickets on the way out the door and cursing because the ink is almost dry and your not sure if they will be able to scan them at the door. Thanks to the District Detroit app allows fans to purchase tickets and display them for scanning at the door. It really is a blessing.
Just download the District Detroit app on your devise. I am torn. I grew up in an era paper tickets were the norm. Now there is a new norm. It will take some getting use to. There will be no more holding onto a stub and remembering a Miguel Cabrera home run or a Dylan Larkin goal.
Instead, I suppose I could take a screen shot of the ticket. And remember it that way. The good in all of this is no more forgetting the tickets. As most everyone carries their phone with them. The worry then would be if the phone is charged and as enough juice.
I will not be sad for the good old days when I had proof I was at a certain game. No. I will in turn embrace those times and work on getting up to date with the new ticket policies.
Embed from Getty Images With year one of the Tigers rebuild in the books. It is time to look to next season. A season Tigers fans will see flooded with more top prospects by seasons end.
With many of the organization’s top prospects graduating during the 2018 season. The rebuilding Detroit Tigers are one step closer to being a contending team once again.
With two bad seasons now behind them. The Detroit Tigers are looking at 2019 as a bridge year to a brighter future. Given the talent in the Detroit farm system that is exactly what next season will be.
It is highly likely the Tigers will not be aggressive in trades or free agent signings until after next season. Still Tigers general manager Al Avila recently said “you can’t have a lineup of .200 hitters.” So it is possible the Detroit field architect will sign a middle infielder this offseason.
The start of next season will look an awful lot this season. Up and down play. As the season moves along Tigers fans will begin to get what they have been waiting for. Fresh top talent at Comerica Park.
Some player will arrive as soon as Memorial Day. It is very likely that when the roster expands next September the kids will have taken over. Casey Mize, Beau Burrows, Franklin Perez, Matt Manning, Daz Cameron and Isaac Paredes will have punched their Detroit ticket.
That is what is needed in a rebuild. The difference is Detroit is doing it the right way. Moving prospects up the chain after they have shown they have mastered a new level.
By the time the 2020 MLB seasons rolls around the Detroit Tigers will once again be heavy favorites to win the division. It will be one of the fastest rebuild in the modern baseball era. The Tigers will be the blueprint. They took what the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros did. Only the Tigers have done it faster.
I have seen the talent in the Detroit Tigers system and it should scare teams. They are set to be very good for a very long time.
Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Tigers brought in manager Ron Gardenhire to oversee the teams rebuild. Gardenhire, is known for his work with young baseball talent. Headed into year two of the rebuild the Tigers are bringing back the entire coaching staff.
Signed to a two year contract before the start of the season Ron Gardenhire and his staff were brought in to help the first wave of the Detroit Tigers prospects and prepare them for day to day play. Something he and his staff have tackled head-on.
The Tigers players love Gardenhire. They say the clubhouse has a close-knit chemistry. Something that has always been associated with Gardenhire. There is good reason for that. He is a players manager.
Ron and his coaching staff have been together since his days as the Minnesota Twins field boss. Players enjoy the staff’s hands on approach. He is still beloved in Minnesota to this day. He has endeared himself to the Tigers faithfuls as well.
In year two of the Detroit Tigers rebuild, another wave of prospects is expected to make the team out of spring training next season. They and the Tigers organization will lean into Gardenhire’s teachings. As many five prospects will be in Detroit before then end of next season.
Good prospects, good management and a good manager. That is where the Detroit Tigers are. Many of the franchises top prospects will begin to invade Comerica Park at some point next season.
Some will make the team. Others will get a look during the season. General manager Al Avila will count heavily on Gardenhire’s knowledge. As he will be the guy to tell them when a player is ready to make the jump from the minor’s to the majors.
When the dust settles on the Tigers rebuild. Ron Gardenhire and his staff very well could be out of the Motor City. But his finger prints will be all over the Tigers roster. For the better.
Embed from Getty Images Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond was given permission few big man get. Drummond’s head coach Dwane Casey wants the big man to shoot 3 pointers.
First things first, Andre Drummond will not be hanging out in three point land. His job is in the paint. As a both feared and gifted defender Drummond knows this full well. But teams will not be able to tell when he is going to pull up and fire a 3-point attempt.
In order to add to his already extensive list of offensive weapons the 3-pointer is something he is going to add more of. Rolling to the rim, rebounds both offensive and defensive and power moves already have been established. Andre Drummond is a very good center. This will round his game further along.
At the Detroit Pistons media day, Drummond said he has never had a coach that would allow him to grow his 3-point game. Enter Dwane Casey. Fresh off NBA coach of the year. Odds are pretty good Casey knows what he is doing. It sounds like player and coach are on the same page.
It use to be Drummond would “mess around in practice with the three.” Dwane Casey said it has an upside. “It is about taking advantage of spacing. It opens doors on the court.” It seems Casey is willing to join the current league “in thing.” That is a good thing. The Pistons could be left in the dust if they do not follow along.
More and more NBA teams are encouraging their big men to shoot. It seems both Casey and Andre are thinking in 74 3-point shots are taken during the season Drummond could make 40.5 percent of those shots.
It is another way to both get the Pistons down in the defensive end quicker as well as create space for offensive rebounds and put ins. This is a way the Detroit Pistons can generate more offensive points.
Embed from Getty Images After posting back-to-back 9-7 records the Detroit Lions are under construction again. Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn let head coach Jim Caldwell go after last season saying he needed a coach to get them over the hump.
The Detroit Lions 2018-19 season has begun with a resounding thud. 0-2 under Bob Quinn hand picked head coach Matt Patricia. I do not believe Quinn targeted this season as make or break for the Lions.
In his third season as Detroit’s chief architect, Bob Quinn began an overhaul of the Lions offensive line. A unit that has yet to gel. However there are young players on the line that need more seasoning.
Kenny Galloday, is a freak and a playmaker. As is rookie running back Kerryon Johnson. Where it gets a bit grey is wide receiver Golden Tate. He appears to be headed out of town after the season when his contract expires.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford, could be replaced by Quinn. That may shock Lions faithful’s. Yet, given Bob Quinn’s New England Patriots background it should not. Patriot players are always viewed as having a short shelf life except at the quarterback position.
In year three Quinn has had ample time to look over and get to know the roster. A roster that he has been over turning upon his arrival in Motown. Where it gets really bad is on the defensive side of the ball.
Detroit ran a 4-3 defense for years and enjoyed some success. Now it is clear they are switching to a 3-4 as through two games they have lined up in the 3-4 formation 70% of the time. One problem they do not have the proper personal to sustain this defense.
It gets worse when players are trying to learn Patricia’s system during games. It has not gone smooth. There will be more bumps and bruises along the way until Quinn has all of his players on the roster and the players understand where they need to be and how to do their job.
Once young players grow into their roles things should improve IF Quinn has been successful in both draft picks and free agency. This team is still capable of a 6-10 season which is where I had them before the opening week.
It will not be until next season until Detroit Lions front office and fans see what if any fruit Bob Quinn has grown in the Motor City.
Embed from Getty Images Detroit Tigers outfielder Christian Stewart got a September call up. He has simply put, been on fire.
Two homer runs. In the same game. In the same place in the ballpark. Christian Stewart is living up to his billing. Stewart has “Stupid power,” according to teammate Jeimer Candelario. Christian had big crowds around him during pregame batting practice. His own teammates, Detroit media, as well as players from the opposing team and their media.
Christian Stewart is a key part of the Tigers rebuild. He still has issues in the field and does not run all that well. But a player with the hitting tools Stewart has at his disposal will always have a roster spot.
In his Detroit “cup of coffee” (fancy, yet odd way of saying getting a look for next season.) Stewart has 43 at bats, 5 runs, 10 hits, 2 home runs, 7 rbi and 6 walks. Hitting .233.
Christian Stewart is not going to hit for average. That is not his job and the Detroit Tigers did not draft him to hit .300. Stewart will come close to 40 home runs and 80+ rbi’s. That is the reason the Tigers drafted him.
His most likely destined spot in the Detroit batting order is fourth or fifth. That is where power and rib’s are needed. Stewart has shown he can handle it. He still needs to learn to lay off the high stuff. He does chase balls out of the strike zone at times.
But when he is locked in he can do some serious damage. As I alluded to before. Christian Stewart is a big part of the Detroit Tigers rebuild. Even if my gut feeling is correct and he is just a designated hitter (D.H.) The spark he can provide is enough to warrant hype.
While not my absolute favorite player in the Detroit Tigers pipeline. I do like Christian Stewart a lot. He will be a HUGE asset when the Tigers come out of their rebuild and begin to play relative baseball in the near future.
He is one of many reasons to continue to follow the young Tigers through the process of getting better. I fully expect Stewart to break camp with the Tigers next season. With Tigers D.H. Victor Martinez retiring Stewart could slide into that role seamlessly.