Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Time for Sharing

Since I can't spend my whole night blogging away, I shall share some links on the Lions' game today.

CAPUTO: Detroit Lions loss to Minnesota Vikings can be traced to NFL Draft.

SHARP: Lions should fire special teams coach

BIRKETT: Minnesota 20, Detroit Lions 13: Kickoff, punt, returns send Lions to 1-3

WOJNOWSKI: Lions are nothing special

The Offseason Begins with the Draft.

I want to get to today's beat down of the Lions by the Vikings (ugh, the Vikings!), but it'll have to wait.  By the time I've caught up with the first quarter of the 2012 season, most of what I have to say about those four games will have been forgotten or not worth rehashing.

So I jump back to April.  The one thing I remember most heading into last spring's NFL Draft was how unenthused I was about it.  This was the first draft in over a decade where the team was coming off a playoff season, albeit an early exited playoff season.  They weren't drafting high at all.  The Lions had the No. 23 pick in the First Round due to a combination of their record and how far they made it in the playoffs.

When I think back to the second half of the last season, what really began to crystallize in my mind was the team's secondary.  You knew as a fan there were questions about other positions: the O-Line, the running backs, the linebackers, and maybe how underwhelming the vaunted D-Line played.  But as plain as day, the secondary was the team's biggest concern.  Only two players were lock down starters when they were healthy - Cornerback Chris Houston and Free Safety Louis Delmas.  Houston showed his value as a solid No. 2 CB, if not a shut down, and Delmas has the athleticism to make plays.  The rest of the CBs were all suitable as Nickel and Dime Backs, but no one emerged as a No. 1 guy.  The other Safety, Amari Spievey, looked to have improved only little, and was still making the mental error of not fully committing to a decision and has since played his way out of the starting lineup as of today.

So, many fans, radio commentators, and sports writers were all pretty much in unison as it came to who the Lions should draft first, and maybe second: a cornerback.  The only exception to this, would have been to draft an O-Lineman somewhere in the first three rounds, given the aging Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola really have only a few solid years left in them, and the right side of the Lion underperformed (Stephen Peterman and Gosder Cherilus). If Martin Mayhew waited until the Second Round to start picking up CBs, I may have understood it.

Calvin Johnson came to the podium to announce with the 23rd pick, that the Lions selected OT Riley Reiff from Iowa.  I remember having no reaction for about five seconds and then thinking, wait, who?  Who is Riley Reiff?  As I came back quickly, I realized, okay, maybe they're going with my 3rd-most favorable draft scenario: OT, CB, and CB.  The best would've been CB, CB, and then OT. 

I was fine with the pick after being able to rationalize it.  The next day, though, I about hit the roof.  In the 2nd Round, the Lions took WR Ryan Broyles from Oklahoma.  Fans were still simmering over the Titus Young selection in the same round last year.  They're still simmering about taking four First Round WRs in five years (2003-05 and 2007). What's even worse, Broyles tore his ACL in November, and was still in rehab (he still was by the time training camp began). 

By the Third Round, the Lions drafted a corner, CB Bill Bentley.  Despite today's performance against Minnesota, Bentley has shown a lot of upside.  He impressed favorably in training camp and earned a starting spot on a team that is very thin at his position.  I would have expected him to compete for the No. 2 job and at least see the field often his rookie year.

But it's obvious by the Lions' draft strategy that the 2012 Draft class was for the future.  If all their picks paid off, this column becomes moot.  The problem for me is that they're not in such a position anymore.  They're in a win-now mode, and they did nothing to address their biggest concern in the offseason. 

Reiff I'm guessing is expected to be the heir apparent to Jeff Backus.  I thought he'd compete for Gosder Cherilus' job, but if you think about it, the Lions wouldn't have strengthened the line, only added depth.  Broyles, hasn't seen the field much.  He's the No. 4 WR, after Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, and Titus Young.  Neither Reiff nor Broyles have made significant contributions to the team this year, and we're sitting at 1-3.  It's not their fault.

I'm guessing the reason Mayhew didn't draft a DB in either 1st or 2nd Round has to do with the fact that they are high risk picks, and maybe they believe in their system they can develop quality corners in the later rounds.  Maybe they're trying to build the team more around QB Matthew Stafford and the offense and then work on the defense.  I'll give them this: they are patient.  Mayhew drafted three corners in the 3rd, 5th (Chris Greenwood), and 6th Rounds (Jonte Green).  If they, like all the others pan out, who am I or anyone else to complain?  Mayhew, Schwartz, et al, will look like geniuses, and writers' columns will most likely be forgotten.

to be continued...

When I Last Spoke

Jesus, it's been awhile.  I thought my last post was in March, but I was off by a month.  When I last blogged, the Lions had just exited the playoffs the month before, the GOP Primary was getting uglier, and I hadn't re-emerged as a the Detroit Tigers fan I was way back in the early 90s. 

So I've out on a lot of opportunities to write.  I took on a second job in Farmington Hills hoping to pad my resume and make myself more attractive to prospective employers.  For awhile I had focused on trying to become a Naval Officer, but after being turned away three times, I was turned away a fourth time without technically being turned away.  (They didn't accept any new officers for my field since there's a likely probability the Defense budget will see some cuts, so it's not like other people were accepted over me)

But because I focused my energies on trying to leave Michigan for so long, I opted to give staying here another try.  I do love being in this state.  Luckily, I found a great team of people I enjoy working with (ahem, working for free), and I've resharpened my skills and added new ones.  I don't expect to land anything new in the next month or two, but I hope to stay there as long as I can, with the possibility of working in different capacities to expand my KSAs. 

I've got a lot to say.  Lions, Tigers, politics, and anything else worth talking about.  I'm going to be playing catch up for a few posts, but I'm starting with the Lions and mixing in current topics with the recent history (April until now).