After and epic fail, the Detroit Lions should not panic

Embed from Getty Images “Same old Lions!” You could hear Detroit Lions fans shout after the team completing a fourth quarter collapse that ended in a tie with the Arizona Cardinals. Don’t go there. Not yet.  While the Lions do have many questions it is not time to panic after one game.

While this one game feels achingly familiar, fans need to remember the Detroit Lions are technically rebuilding. Yes, it has been an ongoing rebuild since 1957, so what’s a little longer? Not too mention blowing an 18 point lead in the fourth quarter to the Arizona Cardinals  led by a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach is inexcusable.

Still there was some good to come out of the disappointment. Quarterback Matthew Stafford along with his teammates T.J. Hockenson,  Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola and Kerryon Johnson looked as if they had a plan. And then penalties began to stall their new offense.

Then Matt Patricia called for a timeout that nullified a first down play which was a maddening, mind numbing timeout that should have never been.  In the post game media session Patricia absorbed the blame for the timeout mishap and for the tie in general, chalking it up to “bad coaching,” he said more than once.

For as hyped as the Detroit Lions defense was, Matt Patricia couldn’t adjust his defense as the Cardinals rookie quarterback scrambled for long runs and ran around to find open receivers.

While this year Lions squad could be the makings of another 10 loss team. It could also maybe the making of a team that could still surprise. This is a team that is hard to get a handle on. The next two games do not hold a lot of promise the L.A. Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs.

After those games the Lions season should be in better focus. So should the job security for general manager Bob Quinn and his hand picked head coach Matt Patrica.

But a tie in game one is not a loss. It is a lot like kissing your sister though.

Detroit Lions Matt Patricia does not care about the preseason

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Lions head coach, Matt Patricia has repeatedly stated that he is constantly evaluating players and hoping to grow the team in the preseason.  The scaled back play that was consistently seen on both sides of the ball in practices and training camp were  absent in the games.

One of Matt Patricia’s  hallmarks as a coach is to devise an opponent specific gameplan, especially for his defense. There was no evidence of any sort of that throughout the preseason. That is just fine. There is no need to show anything on offense, defense and special teams in meaningless games.

Patricia also played veterans sparingly if at all. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford did not play until the third preseason game. Fans and media freaked out. For no reason at all. Wondering on social media if he was hurt, or simply was not picking up the playbook from new Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

All of that was false. The Lions already knew Stafford was the starting quarterback. What they did not know was who was going to back him up. The fact the Lions head coach did not play many veterans was certainly  his prerogative.

If the Detroit Lions look sharp and well prepared in the teams first couple of weeks of the regular season, nobody will remember or care about the apathetically vanilla preseason. If the team looks lost and unprepared fans will call for Patricia’s head and the media will say the coach has failed.

The fact of the matter is the preseason is only for newly drafted players, veterans on a try-out and non-roster invitees. There is never a reason any NFL team should play a veteran during meaningless, scalded-back games.

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn, was asked about his head coach and had this to say, “I think he definitely changed the ways he’s done some things,” Quinn said. “I think he’s taken a lot of input from the players. A lot of great conversations, I would say, dating back to January, February, March when the players weren’t in the building about things that he was thinking about and wanted to get some input from some of the veteran guys. Very reflective. Very honest with himself.”

The Lions kickoff the 2019 season September 8 against the Arizona Cardinals. That will be a much better look at the football team and where it stands.

ESPN votes the Detroit Lions most likely to go worst-to-first

Embed from Getty Images After simulating the upcoming NFL regular season 1 million times, the Detroit Lions have been picked as the favorite to make the jump from worst to first. Ever since 2002, at least one NFL team has made the jump from worst to first in its division every season outside of one. Last year, both the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears pulled off the feat.

When the NFL realigned the divisions back in 2002, 22 teams have gone from worst to first. An  impressive jump to be sure. The NFL prides itself of parity. 2014, was the only season that no bottom feeder went to the top.

DVOA,  simulated the upcoming season 1 million times. The Detroit Lions are viewed to have a 25.5% chance of winning the division and a 39.8% chance of making the playoffs after the extensive simulation.

“When a team declines as much as the Lions did last season, it usually rebounds a bit the next year. Our system also likes the talent the Lions have added this offseason,” the Football spokesman said when breaking down the upcoming NFL season.

“There are more reasons to be optimistic about the defense hidden among the numbers. The Lions are in the second year of a new scheme, and all else being equal, teams take a little step back in the first year of a new scheme and a step forward once they have more experience in it.” The spokesman added.

Ever since the start of the offseason and free agency the Detroit Lions have been trending upward. Throw in a very good, very solid NFL draft and the recipe for success is there.

Lions head coach Matt Patricia, has taken a softer stance in his second training camp. The former New England Patriots defensive coordinator, was brought in to bring a culture shock to a football team that desperately needed one.

Patricia, knew exactly what it takes to be a championship team. Having been gruff, blunt and difficult for players and media alike has changed this offseason.

Part of it is players now know what to expect. Last season Patricia sent clues to both his team and media by showing up late for meetings and press conferences. I believe that was by design to show who was in charge.

This season Patricia has laughed at practices, shown up on time and been kind to media members. Now the team can move forward.

Tight End T.J. Hockenson shining in Detroit Lions training camp

Embed from Getty Images The first stretch of the 2019 Detroit Lions training camp could not have been much more promising for T.J. Hockenson the Lions first round pick out of Iowa. Yet, rookie tight ends usually need time to develop.

As a pass-catcher, T.J. Hockenson is exceeding the high expectations that come with being a top ten draft pick . He runs routes to all depths and has showcased outstanding hands and body control. Working  confined spacing, Hockenson is getting quality separation on his routes and catching everything thrown his direction. He has owned the back corner of the end zone on flag patterns.

The Lions are planning on going to two tight ends and a fullback in the red zone. Given tight end Jesse James and Hockenson, quarterback Matthew Stafford will have plenty of options. Big targets, with great hands. Something Detroit has lacked for some time out of the tight end position.

Through five days of training camp T.J. Hockenson is yet to drop a pass. That should come as no surprise. With the Iowa Hawkeyes, Hockenson had 1 dropped pass in three years as a starter.

T.J. Hockenson is a sneaky athlete who has the speed and quickness to stretch the middle of the field from the tight end position. He is often compared to former New England Patriots tight end and future NFL Hall of Fame member Rob Gronkowski. A lofty comparison to be sure. Yet, Hockenson is living up to the billing.

T.J. Hockenson is a match up nightmare. He approaches linebackers and defensive backs the same and he comes down with the ball.  Hockenson is also strong in running after catch and also as a tight end  is an elite blocker.

One NFL scout said this about T.J. “T.J. Hockenson is gonna be a problem in the red zone. When they were able to clear out space and get him to the back corner, he was basically unguardable. Impressive start.”

It would be one thing if the rookie tight end did it one or two times. But Hockenson is routinely making big play after big play. The Detroit Lions appear to have finally found a tight end who can be a game-changer.

2019 Detroit Lions defense may be one of the best in the NFL

Embed from Getty Images With the Detroit Lions offense learning a new system, Lions general manager Bob Quinn built a defense that is fearsome. Friday it was reported Detroit signed former Green Bay Packer All-Pro Mike Daniels to a one year deal. The former Packer was released for salary cap reasons.

Before the Lions were gifted an All-Pro the Lions defense was set to be a top ten NFL defensive unit. With A’Shawn Robinson, Da’ Shawn Hand and Damon “Snacks” Harrison returning from a defense that finished last season ranked #5.

Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia has put a premium on stopping the run. Enter top free agent Trey Flowers to man the edge rush. Now Mike Daniels. Giving Detroit the best defensive line in the NFL.

Last season there was some noise coming out of Detroit that players did not like playing for Patricia. That turned out to be a false report. Both Flowers and Daniels turned down contracts and more money with other teams just to play and be coached by Patricia.

Given this offseason and the start of training camp it looks and sounds like every member of the Detroit Lions football team is on board fully with Patricia. The media who was a target of sorts for the head coach in post game exchanges. So far Patricia and the media seem to have found a common ground.

Patricia explained his thoughts on the Lions defense. “Defensive line right now is one of those groups- there’s a lot of positions within the positions if that makes sense- so being able to have multiplicity within a defensive line group always makes it difficult on the offense,” Patricia said “It puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback and the center to identify who everybody is, what position they play, and where they’re lined up, that really affects protections.”

What was unclear last season is becoming clearer. Given the moves the Detroit Lions have made they are switching to a 3-4 defensive front. Given the teams top six linemen they can rotate in and out to get the matchup they like.

The defense is a very good unit. In my opinion that was by design. I believe Bob Quinn and Patricia believe the best way to allow the offense to have time to learn a new offensive system is to put a defense on the field that can attack.

There will be many restless nights for coaches around the NFL when they face the 2019 Detroit Lions defense.

2019 Detroit Lions season preview

Embed from Getty Images Coming off a difficult season in which the Detroit Lions were getting to know a new head coach, new offensive and defensive schemes, and starting quarterback Matthew Stafford playing with broken bones in his back. The Lions fresh off an offseason that saw players brought in to show the “Patriot way”  the question now is, will it work?

Lions general manager Bob Quinn seems hell-bent to remaking the team in the same fashion of the New England Patriots. He has actually done that. The Lions now mirror the Patriots in player drafting. The question is does he get the players in the late rounds of the draft like New England?

Matt Patricia’s defense is constructed in the Patriot mold. The Detroit defense  boasts of big, versatile linemen, hard hitting linebackers and versatile man to man defensive backs. I look for middle linebacker Jarrad Davis to become a top linebacker in the league this season. Davis’ run defense will be greatly aided by the addition of defensive lineman Trey Flowers, and 2018 fourth round draft pick Da’Shawn Hand and continued excellent play of ex New York Giant Damon (Snacks) Harrison, whose 2018 midseason trade made it mission impossible for teams to run the ball.

New offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, has been put in charge of implementing a ball control offense centered around second year running back  Kerryon Johnson. Bob Quinn went above and beyond in fixing the total disaster that was the Lions  tight ends. Starting with first round draft pick T.J. Hockenson as well as five other TE’s have been brought in.

The 2019 Detroit Lions have the necessary pieces for a championship team in place. While the division is a difficult one, the thing that may be holding the team back is a first-time head coach, Matt Patrica. If Patricia is as smart as people around the NFL claim, then he should figure things out a bit more in year two.

Two wins against the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots last season showed what the Lions are capable of. With more players who know what Patrica is trying to do now in the fold as well as roster leftovers from last season who now understand the program better. If Patrica can manage the game better Detroit could be a serious sleeper this season.

 

The Detroit Lions need to win or blow it up

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Lions fans are both loyal and extremely passionate. Yet, they also can only handle false promises so long. When he took over as Lions general manager Bob Quinn sounded like a man who believed he could get the Lions to a deep playoff run. That has yet to happen. He fired Jim Caldwell in favor of his New England Patriots buddy Matt Patricia saying he was the coach to get them to the next level. He needs to be right this season.

Do not get me wrong Bob Quinn has for the most part drafted well. His free agents have been hit-or-miss. Winning while Matthew Stafford is still a decent quarterback is paramount.

Detroit Lions fans have suffered a long time. The running joke around the city of Detroit is the Lions have been rebuilding since ’57. As in 1957, the last championship the team won (pre-Super Bowl era.) The joke gets older and older with every missed or failed season. Since 1980 the Lions have 11 playoff appearances. Making out of the first round only once in 1991.

Barry Sanders retired because he came to the understanding the team was not going to win. Calvin Johnson did the same. Both players All-Pros. Both players Hall of Fame (Johnson will get in.) Both walked away from the same organization at 30 years old.

If the Detroit Lions do not make the playoffs this NFL season, sweeping changes must be made. From Bob Quinn and team president Rod Wood to scouts and coaches. Team owner Martha Ford is much tougher than her husband the late William Clay Ford. Martha is not shy about making changes and not waiting years to do so.

Lions fans need to be rewarded. The Lions are not an easy team to continue to cheer for, buy apparel and tickets for and pay for parking for either. Something needs to shake the organization to life. Another front office shakeup would help somewhat. But finding the right people is critical.

This absolutely needs to be the final chance for the current front office. The Detroit Lions fans are growing restless.

Detroit Lions Legends football camp review

Featured photo by Erin Wallace

Jeff Chadwick, Lomas Brown, Luther Bradley, Scott Conover, Eric Hipple, Cory Schlesinger, George Jamison and Don Clemons. These are the former players and coach that made up the first Lions Legend Camp held in Clare Michigan. The camp was a huge success.

In the calm before the storm I was able to ask Jeff Chadwick a few questions about what has been the driving force behind starting a football camp with former NFL players teaching and encouraging middle and high school athletes. “I want to get kids off the devices,” Chadwick stated. “Teach kids hand eye coordination and help them understand training and just what it takes to play football.”

Photo by Erin Wallace

In today’s tech savvy world video games and smart phones rule many teenagers lives. While those games have a time and place. To be active and in structured sports helps bring kids the knowledge for how to get along with others and work together, not to mention how to be a good teammate and even a leader.

As they arrived the student athletes hands were marked with what position they play or are going to try out for. In my opinion what made the camp excel is that after being grouped by position the players rotated around and tried other positions. That can only help to bring a full understanding of what it means to be a team.

Former Detroit Lions players instructed the players as a group and also worked one on one with them. The student athletes ate up everything the players were telling them. As they should. It is not easy to get to the NFL. All the information handed out is a great benefit and you could see the players confidence grow as they applied what they were told.

On a side note, for former players who always seem to be busy to take time out of their schedules and away from family and pass on what made them successful was endearing.

The first Detroit Lions Legends football camp was a smashing success. It is a camp that will continue to grow. Jeff Chadwick and his outstanding support team should be proud. Just like training for a football season, the work Jeff and his team put in paid off.

Parents and coaches in and around Michigan should look into this camp for their children, players and teams.

Former Detroit Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown belongs in the Hall of Fame

Embed from Getty Images Much like former Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker, I am setting fandom aside. I am going to present just facts about one of my all-time favorite Detroit Lions. Lomas Brown. Lomas should be in the Hall of Fame, it is a shame he is not.

7 Pro Bowl appearances playing in 263 NFL games, starting 262 of those games, First team All Pro in 1995, second team All Pro in 1991 and 1994. Pro Bowl selection in 1990 ,1991, 1992, 1993 ,1994, 1995. Lomas Brown was also drafted in the first round (5th overall) by the Detroit Lions in 1985.

Widely thought to be the best offensive tackle in Detroit Lions history, Lomas Brown was one of the most consistent offensive tackles of his playing days. He blocked for Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders and was the backbone of the Lions offensive line.

If it is an oversight, it needs corrected. If it is a mistake, it needs corrected. No matter how it is viewed, it is flat out wrong. Lomas Brown belongs in the Hall of Fame. While it is true Barry Sanders did not rely solely on his lineman, Sanders has been quick to say he always looked for #75 because if he got in trouble, he knew Lomas would throw a block and set him free.

The fact the Detroit Lions made the playoffs just 4 times during his playing days wears thin as well. A good player is a good player. That does not change because of a teams success.

After football Lomas Brown worked at ESPN for eight years doing analyst and broadcasting work. In 2018 after ESPN made sweeping changes because the network was losing money, Brown was let go. He was named color analyst for the Detroit Lions radio broadcasts on WJR Detroit.

Lomas Brown embraces Detroit and the Lions years after he retired. The Miami Florida native said ‘We never got to the Super Bowl with the Lions, But we still bleed Honolulu Blue and Silver.”

Much like Lou Whitaker, there are things sports and Hall of Fames get right. But there are times they flat out miss the mark. Lomas Brown needs to be in. It is that simple. I do believe the veterans will vote him in. But it should have never come to this.

 

Detroit Lions legend: Cory Schlesinger

Embed from Getty Images During his 12 NFL seasons 11 with the Detroit Lions, Cory Schlesinger never ran for more than 154 yards in a single season. He never had more than 466 receiving yards in a single season, during his career Cory Schlesinger scored 14 touchdowns rushing and receiving. Yet, Schlesinger may be one if not the best draft picks in the history of the Detroit Lions.

Cory Schlesinger, a fullback drafted was drafted in the sixth round of the 1995 NFL draft. Schlesinger knew his job  was to block for Barry Sanders through the second half of Sanders’ career, including his 2,053-yard season in 1997. It did not matter that Schlesinger had seven carries that season for 11 yards.

During his playing days the Detroit Lions had some  bad Lions. In 2003, Cory’s numbers were   16 yards and 34 catches for 247 yards. He was named MVP of the Lions offense. A rare award for a fullback to be sure.

Cory Schlesinger, was one of the biggest fan favorites during his playing career. Fans loved his passion and the way he went about his job. Detroit is  Blue Collar city. So was Schlesinger’s playing style. In fact, Cory Schlesinger’s jersey can still be spotted at Ford Field during Lions game days.

Cory Schlesinger gave everything he had on the field. Making him not only a Detroit Lions fan favorite, but an icon of the team and a Detroit Lions legend.