HBO picks the Oakland Raiders over the Detroit Lions and others for “Hard Knocks”

Embed from Getty Images Team president Rod Wood said he wanted no part of the HBO NFL training camp documentary “Hard Knocks.” That was Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn’s take as well. Lions head coach Matt Patricia also was not exactly excited at the prospects of being on the show. The Detroit Lions got they’re wish.

NFL teams are picked by HBO and can not say no  to being featured on the show if they fail to meet any of the following criteria: qualified for the postseason in the past two years, hired a new head coach this offseason or appeared on “Hard Knocks” in the past 10 years.

On Tuesday, HBO announced that it has picked the Oakland Raiders to be featured on the network’s behind the scenes training camp series “Hard Knocks.” The Detroit Lions entire operation let out a collective sigh.

Back in February, Matt Patricia suggested that Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders would be an excellent choice for the show.  Patricia’s suggestion was made partly out of his want to being left out of the spotlight and not having to conform Detroit’s training camp into must see T.V. The Lions were one of five teams the NFL could compel to appear on the show that gives viewers an annual behind-the-scenes look at one NFL team’s training camp.

Rod Wood said the Detroit Lions would accept their fate if they were picked to appear, and as recently as last week Patricia said he hadn’t been told one way or another whether the Lions still were a candidate for the show.

While ‘Hard Knocks” is an interesting look inside the demands of preparing for the grind of the NFL season. Teams that have appeared on the popular show say it takes away from the narrative, focusing on learning new systems, reacquainting player relationships, and trying to mix in rookies into team chemistry.

The Detroit Lions had a disappointing 2018 season. The team is looking to rebound and return to the NFL playoffs. Now thanks to the Oakland Raiders, that can be the Lions total focus.

The Detroit Lions are trying to fix they’re takeaways

Embed from Getty Images Last season the Detroit Lions finished second in takeaways. One small problem. The Detroit Lions were second to last in the all important category. During the team first OTA’s and first mini-camp the Lions defense got back to basics. To fundamentally improve in the area of taking the ball away from offenses.

Detroit defensive coaches are putting the unit through new drills. More difficult drills in order to get them to change they’re thinking. A turnover is every bit as important as a tackle or quarterback sack.

Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, is looking to bolster the defenses confidence. The long-time coordinator understands that from season to season confidence does not carry over. New things come up. New offensive systems are always out there. So to combat that, Pasqualoni is starting all over again.

The odd thing about last season is Detroit had a top 5 defense even with the lack of forced turnovers. So, if the Lions can take the ball away more then the team will be looking to climb the defensive rankings even higher.

There is no secret formula to taking the ball away. The team just needs better awareness. There are times Detroit defensive backs simply did not turn in time to see the ball. That could be in part due to the fact that head coach Matt Patricia had switched the defense to his system and players were still trying to grasp it.

If the Detroit Lions defensive players can figure out what hampered the team last season, more wins will come. The Lions offense is reloaded for the 2019 season and figures to be in better position with a ball controlled offense. If the defense continues to struggle to take the ball away then the results could very well mirror last season.

So to review. The Detroit Lions defense needs to force more turnovers. This will give the defense a longer rest and it will give the Lions offense a chance to put points on the board. The Lions simply must improve in this area for the betterment of the team.

Detroit Lions checking in on OTA’s

Embed from Getty Images Organized Team Activities or OTA’s are underway for many NFL teams. It is two weeks of light practices and time for newly drafted players and free agents signed in the offseason to start to put in the work to build chemistry with the rest of the team.

How are new players and veterans measuring up at the Detroit Lions OTA’s? Let’s take a look. Rookie linebacker  Jahlani Tavai, looks taller than his draft sheet suggested. He is also fast. In one drill Tavai lined up wide to the right against veteran tight end Jesse James in a passing drill. Tavai also moved well covering that play.

Linebacker , Jarrad Davis  jumped offside and had to run as a result of the mental laps. Davis is a Detroit Lions player to watch as many expect him to take a big step forward this season.

Last years first round draft pick Frank Ragnow has moved from guard to center. While Graham Glasgow, last seasons center moved back to right guard. The offensive line has look very good in the early stages of offseason workouts.

Jamal Agnew, Tom Kennedy, Brandon Powell all potential returners have shared snaps in returning kicks. All three have performed well. That is a battle that should go deep into fall training camp.

For two weeks of light workouts. The Detroit Lions seem to have a better grasp of head coach Matt Patrica’s system. The offense is learning a new systems and has gotten into the swing of things. While last season top 10 defense looks even sharper.

There will be many camp battles this fall as the Lions have good depth and need to figure the depth chart out. This will be interesting to track as the summer moves along and training camp opens in two months.

From TJ Hockenson to Kerryon Johnson, the Detroit Lions season hinges on consistency

Embed from Getty Images The hype has found the Detroit before training camp has started. However, Lions fans are the last to fall for such perceived foolishness. Yet, a quick look at Detroit’s new weapons and fans can at least say “what if?”

First things first games are not won or lost on draft day. Neither are games won or lost on paper or media and fans opinions. If they were every NFL team would have won at least one Super Bowl.

To understand more in depth, let’s take a look at the Detroit Lions top two offensive draft picks. Kerryon Johnson drafted in the second round last year, and this years first round draft pick tight end TJ Hockenson.

Both  are gifted players. Johnson showed last season he can more than handle the running back job. He proved he is a star in the making. Kerryon Johnson is many experts break-out-player this coming season.

TJ Hockenson,  he was brought in to improve the Detroit’s woeful TE position. Hockenson had 49 catches with only 1 dropped pass last season at Iowa. Let that sink in for a moment. he had 49 receptions for over 700 yards and only 1 dropped pass. That is incredible. That is why TJ was a first round draft pick.

Those two players have shown why Detroit is in good shape. Yet, games are not won or with two players. For the Detroit offense to reach the level many believe it can reach, a few things must take place.

The offensive line must be more consistent. In both pass and run blocking. Last seasons they looked good at time, and they looked pitiful other times. The simply will not fly. Quarterback Matthew Stafford , must bounce back from a sup-par season. He will be asked to do less. But when his number is called he must deliver or Detroit will not improve.

Consistency. It is a word coaches and players all say and repeat. No team can have sustained success without it. No mathher how good the players on the roster are or appear to be.

 

 

Detroit Lions: Tracy Walker ready to take the next step

Embed from Getty Images A third round draft pick in 2018, Tracy Walker was a question mark among the Detroit Lions fan base and some media members. At the Time Glover Quinn was cemented at one safety position and Quandre Diggs at the other. So why draft another safety?

After the Detroit Lions released the popular Quinn, mostly because he did not fit what Matt Patricia envisioned for his defense, Detroit began to give Tracy Walker more playing time.

Walker was a small school draft pick, he started the season on special teams. When the Detroit Lions were eliminated from the playoffs, Walker saw his playing time increase greatly as it became apparent the Lions were moving on from Quinn.

With every game as well as every snap Walker looked more and more comfortable. He showed tremendous range and versatility. Lining up at different spots in the secondary. Tracy Walker disrupted passes and recorded 2 interceptions. Had Walker qualified for enough snaps, he would have ranked fourth among safeties with an 89.9 grade. Tracy only played 27.1% of the defensive snaps.

Heading into OTA’s and fall camp, one safety job belongs to Walker. Patricia has always hated giving out jobs with a player facing competition. In the case of Walker, it would take an unbelievable performance to knock his out of the starting job.

I have penciled Tracy Walker as my Detroit Lion who very well could be a breakout player this coming season.

The Detroit Lions have one really big need to fill

Embed from Getty Images T.J. Land, Detroit Lions right guard retired. Leaving a rather big hole to fill on the offensive line. Kenny Wiggins is the assumed starter. One problem, Wiggins has struggled when he has been on the field.

If the Detroit Lions kicked of the 2019 season today Kenny Wiggins would be the right guard by default. Even as poorly as he played last season. Right guard is a dire need for the Detroit Lions at this time.

It seems it would be a total disaster to put Wiggins in a starters role. Last season the Detroit Lions ranked 18th in adjusted line yards up the middle and an awful 30th at right tackle last season.

Lions general manager Bob Quinn did sign free agents Oday Aboushi and Andrew Donnal. They were both not much betterthan Wiggins last season. In the 2019 NFL draft the Detroit Lions did not draft a single offensive lineman.

Leaving two thoughts. Either the Lions believe in Kenny Wiggins more than any media member or fan, or the team has simply chosen to take a loss at right guard this season. What ever is the case, Detroit will struggle again on the right side of the offensive line once again this upcoming season.

It will hurt the Lions in terms of play-calling. To have true balance in any offense. Plays must be run to the left, middle and right side regularly throughout the course of a game. With one side of the line weakened it severely hamper the offense from reaching their full potential.

Right guard needs to be addressed by the Detroit Lions during offseason workouts and fall training camp. To head into the season as is would not end well.

In a daring move the Detroit Lions drafted linebacker Jahani Tavai

Embed from Getty Images A product of the University of Hawaii, Jahani Tavai, was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the NFL draft. Lions fans were not happy with the draft pick. But upon further review Tavai is a solid pick.

Jahani Tavai, is a heavy handed linebacker who does not shy away from plays. He routinely wins reps. He plays extremely aggressive and has a high motor. At 6′ 2″ Jahani has the size needed to face NFL talent.

For his upside, as with any prospect Tavai has some downside. He lacks ideal speed and tries to make for it with athleticism which gets him into trouble at times. It leads to Tavai making hectic movements rather than playing with fluidity.

The reason Lions fans should have some optimism is a couple of things. Jahani Tavai has the size and toughness that jump out. He is an above average run stopper and is able to get pressure on the quarterback.  The overall question is can he clean his game up enough to become a consistent every down linebacker.

Given his unpopular draft status with Detroit Lions fans, Tavai needs to come into rookie camp looking to improve and begin to learn the Lions defensive playbook. Not trying to prove his draft status. If he can clean his game up this could be a very good pick for the Lions.

Detroit scouts coaches and general manager believe with work and coaching Jahani Tavai can be the player they have envisioned him to be,

The Detroit Lions select tight end T.J. Hockenson

Embed from Getty Images T.J. Hockenson is not Eric Ebron in anyway. Let’s just start right there. The former Iowa Hawkeye stand out is miles better than Ebron whom Detroit Lions general manager released two seasons ago. With the Hockenson draft pick Detroit filled a glaring need.

T.J. Hockenson is a freak. Standing 6′ 5″ he is a scheme-versatile TE who can play in-line, flexed-out or even in the backfield. His athleticism allows T.J. to be used in many different way.

Hockenson is an impact blocker in both the passing game and run game. At Iowa he routinely hooked onto defenders and moved them out of the way. He also has a high awareness and is outstanding finding the soft spots in zone and works back to the quarterback with ease.

T.J. Hockenson, is more quick than fast. He possesses a good burst away from coverage. He excels in rout running. For a TE of his size Hockenson can run the seam rout as well.

What really stands out is T.J. Hockenson has great hands and body control.  He made difficult catches look routine. Those standout qualities made it hard for Bob Quinn to pass up. Which is why he did not.

Hockenson needs to tone down being overly aggressive on blocking. He got flagged for holding a little too often for the Hawkeyes. That should come with coaching.

In an NFL draft where defense dominated the first round, T.J. Hockenson was the best TE in the draft and it was not even close. He is a game-changer at a difficult position to be one.

An unpopular pick by many Detroit Lions fans. Yet, it was the absolute right draft pick for the team moving forward. Jesse James was signed as a free agent. Now T.J. Hockenson comes in giving the Lions the ability to go two tight ends in a ball control offense.

Given team needs and the value of the NO. 8 overall first round pick, I give the Detroit Lions and A-. They drafted a player fans will enjoy for some time to come.

2019 Detroit Lions schedule offers a brutal start

Embed from Getty Images Entering Matt Patricia’s second year, the Detroit Lions have a rough start to the 2019 NFL season. It is a season that is difficult to see past 6-7 wins.

2019 Detroit Lions Schedule

Date Opponent Time/TV
Thursday
Aug. 8
New England Patriots (Preseason)Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Saturday
Aug. 17
at Houston Texans (Preseason)NRG Stadium, Houston, TX 8:00pm ETLocal/NFLN
Friday
Aug. 23
Buffalo Bills (Preseason)Ford Field, Detroit, MI 8:00pm ETCBS
Thursday
Aug. 29
at Cleveland Browns (Preseason)FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH 7:30pm ETLocal/NFLN
Sunday
Sep. 8
at Arizona CardinalsState Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ 4:25pm ETFOX
Sunday
Sep. 15
Los Angeles ChargersFord Field, Detroit, MI 1:00pm ETCBS
Sunday
Sep. 22
at Philadelphia EaglesLincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 1:00pm ETFOX
Sunday
Sep. 29
Kansas City ChiefsFord Field, Detroit, MI 1:00pm ETFOX
Sunday
Oct. 6
BYE
Monday
Oct. 14
at Green Bay PackersLambeau Field, Green Bay, WI 8:15pm ETESPN
Sunday
Oct. 20
Minnesota VikingsFord Field, Detroit, MI 1:00pm ETFOX
Sunday
Oct. 27
New York GiantsFord Field, Detroit, MI 1:00pm ETFOX
Sunday
Nov. 3
at Oakland RaidersOakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA 4:05pm ETFOX
Sunday
Nov. 10
at Chicago BearsSoldier Field, Chicago, IL 1:00pm ETCBS
Sunday
Nov. 17
Dallas CowboysFord Field, Detroit, MI 1:00pm ETFOX
Sunday
Nov. 24
at Washington RedskinsFedExField, Landover, MD 1:00pm ETFOX
Thursday
Nov. 28
Chicago BearsFord Field, Detroit, MI
Sunday
Dec. 8
at Minnesota VikingsU.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN 1:00pm ETFOX
Sunday
Dec. 15
Tampa Bay BuccaneersFord Field, Detroit, MI 1:00pm ETFOX
Saturday
Dec. 21
at Denver BroncosBroncos Stadium at Mile High, Denver, CO Time TBA ETTV TBA

New field surface likely at Ford Field for the Detroit Lions

Embed from Getty Images As the Detroit Lions front office and coaching staff are in deep preparations for the 2019 NFL Draft, an upgrade to Ford Field could be forthcoming. The team is looking to replace the six year old playing surface inside the stadium.

“We will likely be replacing that as part of our offseason in 2019,” Lions vice president of operations Todd Argust said. Last month at the NFL annual meeting Detroit Lions president Rod Wood said the team did not have any major investments in the stadium.

Wood also said the team was looking at improving parking and ingress and egress concerns in the area to provide a better experience for the fans. The Lions last replace the field surface in 2013. They do not play on astro turf. They play on a state of the art surface called Field Turf. It is used indoors and is actually like playing on natural grass.

Field Turf lasts for about a decade and then needs to be replaced. The Lions also use the Field Turf at the teams practice facility. Currently four other NFL teams use the surface. The Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks New England Patriots and Lions. Other teams have tried it and gotten rid of it.

Some players complain the surface is too soft. But it is a way to bring the outside in, in an artificial way.