Monday, November 22, 2004

How to self-destruct

I went back and looked at the Lions-Vikings game again (I'm a sucker for self torture), and more than any other game, the Lions tortured themselves in this one. Here is a drive-by-drive synopsis of the stupid torture the Leo's did to themselves...

Possession 1 - TD on kickoff return. Nice opening by ED. 7-0 Lions

Minny's first - what the heck was Bryant doing on that bomb? It looked like Campbell was standing around waiting for the pass, so why couldn't Bryant KNOCK IT DOWN??? Too easy... 7-7

P2 - First O possession - TD. Nice drive. Overthrow to Alexander looked like Joey was going to throw it away due to blitz from Henderson and then spotted Alexander a little too late. Still scored 2 plays later. 14-7

Possession 3 - Bad screen to KJ loses 8 yards. It looked like Minny knew it was coming. I don't fault a 8 yard pass on 3rd and 16 as you have to hope someone makes a play.

Minny P4 - Drive, go for it on 4th and 1, don't convert. Bad mistake by Minny. Should be 14-10

P4 - Roy's PI, dropped TD pass, then Joey gets sacked before we take the FG (Backus gets beat). Roy would love to forget that series. Lions should have 4 more points for 21-10 lead.

P5 - Trying to run out the clock, Loverne false start turns 3rd and 3 into 3rd and 8. End of drive, Minny gets ball back. Thankfully they go 3 and out.

P6 - Kneel to end half. Score should be 21-10.

P7 - 5 plays, drive ends on sack - again Backus gets beat.

Minny P8 - Redding Safety after punt to 1 inch line. Beautiful D there... Score should be 23-10

P8 - quick 21 yarder, then 8 yard play on 3rd and 11. Frustrating to only throw 8 yard pass, but again, you have to hope SOMEONE will make a play to get 3 YAC. Kircus STUPID penalty on the punt allows Minny to get out to the 22 instead of the 7.

Minny P9 - LONG Drive my Minny for TD. Converted 5 3rd downs on drive. Where did our D go? Score should be 23-18

P9 - KJ gets Unnecessary Roughness, turning 3rd and 2 into 3rd and 17. Everyone know you don't retaliate. Dumb...

Minny P10 - Another LONG drive, this ons gets stopped for 4th and 2 at the 5, but we take the penalty, and they promptly score a TD. WHY??? Score should be 23-21, Lions.

P10 - Pritchett Unnecessary Roughness moves starting field position from 39 to the 24. Roy gets false start to the 19. We lose 20 yards field position, and haven't run a play. Joey gets sacked on 3rd and 8 as Backus gets beat AGAIN to kill another drive.

P11 - After D actually holds Minny to 3 and out, Joey gets picked on an out route to end the game. We're out of TO's due to bad communication between Joey and Raiola (who's at fault? who knows...) and Mooch calling another TO., so game over. Score SHOULD be 23-21, Lions. Instead it's 22-19, Minny.

That my friends, is how you take a game that we SHOULD have won, and lose it. Even giving Minny credit for their own stupid mistake of going for it in the first half, we STILL should have won. We completed the trifecta - bad coaching decisions, stupid penalties, and bad play. More than the Vikings beating us, we beat ourselves. Sorry, but even GOOD offenses don't convert 3rd and 10's more than one out of 5 times (unless they're playing us, then it's 4 out of 5).

The blame for this loss goes to the coaching staff and the players who screwed up the worst, most notably Backus. Giving up 3 sacks to Lance Johnstone, all on 3rd down? Sheesh. Also in my doghouse are Roy, for the penalties and dropped TD, KJ, Kircus and Pritchett for the stupid 15 yarders, and Bryant for that long completion. And of course Mooch - what were you thinking? That was BAD game management.

Here's to praying that we don't screw up so bad on Thanksgiving...

Too many breakdowns

Lose to Vikings 22-19.

where to begin...

I'm not going to defend Joey today. Honestly I don't think I need to. But since everyone wants to talk about all these "savior" QB's, let's put them into perspective with Joey. Here goes...

Joey - Inconsistent, seems to brain-lock at times.

Griese - Inconsistent, seems to brain-lock at times

Brees - prior to this year, Inconsistent, seems to brain-lock at times

Hasselbeck - Inconsistent, seems to brain-lock at times

McMike - get real - not a NFL caliber starting QB for any offense.

Couch - Inconsistent, seems to brain-lock at times

Notice a trend? All these QB's that have been mentioned as the "solution" to our problems all share a very common trait - INCONSISTENCY. Will any of them be a savior here? quite simply - NO. There are too many other things wrong for any available QB to come in and magically solve.

What is needed here is pretty simple
1. Health - CRog, Roy, Az, and Tai all to be healthy at the same time would be a nice change. With all of them healthy, it could make a huge difference for any QB. And while they're at it, how about eliminating the drops?

2. Good O-Line play. Backus has had a bad year, Loverne and Raiola should be gone, Woody is just now getting into game shape, and McDougle is inconsistent. That line is just a basket case. And here I thought Pat Morris was supposed to solve their problems. Sheesh...

3. Consistent running game. We had our first 100 yard rusher since Bryson put up 100 against KC last year, and only the 4th 100 yard rusher we've had in the last 3 seasons. Once teams have to start respecting our running game, it will open up the passing lanes. We'll get respect when we consistently run for 100 every week.

4. Better play calling. Let's see... the last two games, KJ has run very well, then we abandon the run in the 4th quarter. It just doesn't make sense...

5. Good DE's and OLB's. Our DE's and OLB's have been getting abused the last 4 games. Boss seems to cover TE's pretty well, but we haven't stopped a TE from killing us since the Giants game. How can we shut down Shockey and Crumpler, and then get torched by Witten and Wiggins?

6. No more shooting ourselves in the foot. The Leo's have shot themselves in the foot far too many times over the last 4 games with stupid, inopportune penalties. The officiating hasn't been good, but it's a poor excuse. How about we quit the late hits, unnecessary roughness, and personal fouls that have absolutely sunk several of our drives. What a novel concept...

Oh well, I just hope the Lions honor their tradition and play well on Turkey day, because this one looks like it could be embarrassing...

Monday, November 15, 2004

Appearances are deceiving

After watching the Lions - Jaguars game again on my TiVo, I must say that I have a very different opinion of what happened than most people on the message boards. From what I saw, Joey actually didn't play anywhere near as badly as some would think. His stats looked bad, but here is what I counted upon further review...

Out of 33 attempts...
- 11 completions
- 9 drops - 3 by KJ, 2 by Roy, 2 by Alexander, 1 by Sledge, 1 by Swinton.
- 5 Excellent D plays on the ball - for example defenders hand in front of Kircus in the end zone, defender strips Roy in end zone, etc...
- 4 passes deflected at the line
- 7 errantly thrown balls

Yes, that adds up to more than 33, and some will question my calling 9 drops. In my humble opinion, even if a ball is not thrown perfectly but it hits a receiver in the hands, they should catch it. That's why I have both 9 drops and 7 errant throws - 3 passes counted as both. I also blame a QB for bad throws and about half the blame for a batted ball. So after my review, I saw Joey making good throws on roughly 24 of 33 passes.

Also there were 2 long completions called back on phantom penalties - Illegal shift on a 27 yarder to Swinton - looked at that play 5 times and still haven't seen an illegal shift. And a 15 yarder to Bryson that got called as an illegal formation - The ref must have lost count on that one... there were 7 on the line. Add those back in, and the stats definitely look better.

I usually refrain from piling on the Ref's because it's usually just an excuse, but today it's appropriate. The Ref's had a BAD day today as there were at least 5 penalties that were flat out wrong calls. The most infuriating ones had to be the 2 calls where a defender jumped, causing the O-Line to jump. They called one as an encroachment, one as illegal procedure, and both just happened to go against the Lions. They missed on at least 3 obvious pass interference calls where Roy and Swinton got mugged as well. With how bad the officiating was, they could have been called the 12th man for Jacksonville.

On the bright side, KJ looked like what we thought he would when he actually was given the rock 20 times. He ran with AUTHORITY and showed a lot of why he was a 1st round draft choice. He also showed exactly why the coaches were afraid to play him full time as he whiffed on a few blocks and dropped 3 passes. The drops on the pass plays were alarming in that none of them were what I would call difficult catches. Even with that, he needs more touches and plays, and he'll get better in both of those areas.

Our O-Line actually had a significantly better day than they had previously. KJ actually had some holes to run through (although he did get hit in the backfield on about 7 carries out of 19. Joey was under some pressure, but it was not nearly as bad as the last two games. Someone must have given them a wake up call after the last two games.

Our D still shows that when a RB with some speed decides to take it outside, they can burn us. Our OLB's and DE's just aren't that good at containing a fast runner to the outside. Our tackling is also still a concern. There were blown tackles on nearly every run that Taylor made any significant yardage on. He made Bryant and Bly look really bad when they tried to tackle him - Bryant got run over twice, and Dre relied on going low and rolling into his legs to stop him.

The single biggest problem today was the dropped balls. We looked like we couldn't catch a cold out there today. It's a continuation of the last two games as we've dropped a lot of passes in each of the three losses. I wish I knew an explaination for it, but these guys are pro's, and there really is no excuse. Combine that with the excellent play by the Jag's CB's (and they were awesome today - they didn't look like they miss Bryant at all), and it was a hard day for the passing game.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

It's the Line, Stupid

Just got done re-watching that train wreck again on TiVo (Lions vs Redskins). Why I had to put myself through that pain again, I really don't know. But it did illuminate a few things that were painfully obvious.

1) The O-Line STUNK. Everything bad that happened on O yesterday (except the drops) can find it's roots in the play of the O-Line. Even a lot of Joey's inaccuracy (though not all of it). For reference:

- KJ had 20 yards on 12 carries, with 5 of them being for 0 or - yards. On EVERY one of those 0 or - plays, he was hit at least 3 yards deep. If your best RB is getting hit on 42% of his plays 3 yards before he gets to the line, you're in deep trouble.

- As for pass blocking, here is a frightening thought - Joey got hit 3 times on 3 step drops. I don't care if you're facing the '86 Bears, no QB should get hit on a 3 step drop. The QB has the ball for less than 2 seconds on those plays. After the second of those, Joey definitely got 'happy feet' and was obviously paranoid to stand for a 5 count in the pocket - rightfully so. When Joey gets happy feet, his passes are all over the place. We saw that enough times last year to know what happens in that situation.

- I don't know what happened to Backus, but he sucked big time yesterday. He got taken to school by Griffin. Loverne wasn't much help, but Backus did most of the damage himself.

- Our TE's can't block to save their lives either. What was funny watching the game was seeing Washington run 2 TE sets, and Portis being able to bounce it outside with relative ease. EXACTLY the way KJ tries to bounce it outside, but gets hit by a DE or OLB. Washington's TE's and T's were holding their blocks long enough for Portis to bounce outside and turn upfield. Our TE's and T's were lucky to hold the block long enough for KJ to get to them - much less having any chance to turn it upfield.

2) With all that, Joey was simply not on target yesterday. He didn't get bailed out save 1 or 2 times (most notably the first Roy catch), but for the most part, he didn't throw passes that would allow someone to bail him out. And when he did, the bozo's were dropping the balls. By my count, Roy dropped 5 passes (hence I'm removing the R.O.Y. designation until he's healthy again), Az dropped 2, and Alexander dropped 3. But what's funny is that Joey actually looked GOOD compared to Brunell. And we still lost. Amazing...

3) Our LB's and DE's played their worst game of the year. Seriously, Portis was able to bounce a play outside at will, and once he realized that, he did it with amazing consistency. I've said it before the we should still draft a DE with our #1 pick next year, and I'm definitely sticking with that assessment. Boss, where are you? We need you back ASAP...

4) When push comes to shove, we got beat by a one man show of Portis. And here I thought coming into the season that the only one man show that would give us problems was Vick. We got beat by a blocked punt (first TD) and 2 21 yard runsfollowed by a halfback option pass (the only 3 plays of consequence in their TD drive). Outside of that, Washington really didn't move the ball much. But when Portis touched it... 15, 3, 13, 2, 4, 2, 1, 12, 9, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 8, 11 yard catch, 21, 21, -1, 1, 1, 15 yard TD Pass, -1, 2, 8, 5, 9, 2, 0, 0, 2, -1, 2, -12, 9.

- There is something to be learned from that line - you have to give a RB his touches. Portis had 10 of his 34 carries go for over 5 yards and accounted for 125 of his 147 yards. That also means he had 24 carries for a total of 22 yards (OK, take out that -12 yarder at the end, and it's 23 for 36 - still not good). If he only gets 12 carries, how likely is he to get even 50 yards? Mooch, are you listening???

Oh well, I can't rant any longer. That game made my head hurt. I need a beer...

Monday, November 01, 2004

D against Dallas

Here is one problem I have with our Defense yesterday - I don't think blitzing would have done anything for us. I went back and watched the game on TiVo, and what I saw was Vinny Testaverde throwing a lot of dump-off passes to RB's and TE's. The exact kind of passes that any QB is supposed to throw when there is a heavy rush - not that we really had one.

If you look at the stats, Vinny completed 15 of his 19 completions to RB's and TE's. Very few of those passes were downfield - 140 of his 235 total passing yards came on his 5 completions to his WR's, and there was a significant amount of YAC in those catches. This all means that Vinny was throwing a lot of short passes.

Our biggest problem was that our LB's had probbly their worst game. The SLB is primarily responsible for the TE in coverage. The MLB and WLB alternate coverage of the RB, depending on where he goes. With so many completed passes for fisrt downs to the RB's and TE's, it smacks of bad coverage and tackling by the LB's. And watching on TiVo, it was brutally visible. Even if we had blitzed more, the same check-downs and short passes would still have been there for Vinny.

This is just another example of the inconsistency of our young team. Dirty and Lehman were not playing well in coverage yesterday. Holmes looked like he was flying around the field, but he wasn't the greatest LB in coverage either. I think the prime reason they played badly was because they were a little too worried about Eddie George's running.

Actually, Lions fans, this is what we PRAY we will eventually get from KJ - a D that stacks 8 in the box because they fear KJ, and leave single coverage on R.O.Y and CRog (next year...). This game, more than any other game this year, shows us what a running game can do for a QB - even a running game that only averages 3.2 yards per carry, as EG did yesterday (betcha didn't realize that one - 31 carries for 99 yards).

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Getting an A$# Whupping...

Since I've been in Florida a few weeks with the family, I've missed seeing the last two Lions games at all. So it's good that I have no recollection of the Green Bay horror fest, but it's bad that I have no recollection of the Giant's butt-kicking we administered. So today's game was the first game I've seen since the Atlanta game. And lets just say I wasn't impressed...

Well, another Lions game, another wild swing in performance. This time, it was the Defense that swung wildly to the dark side. As I watched this train wreck of a game progress, I kept asking myself "When the heck are we gonna get the D off the field?" OK, simple grades...

Offense - B-. Joey looked good, even without R.O.Y. KJ Looked good while he was getting the rock. Then we quit running. I don't know why, but we did. Without R.O.Y., the receivers on this team look an awful lot like the receivers we had last year, minus BS. R.O.Y., I hope that ankles heals completely this week...

Defense - C-. Yes, we had 3 turnovers, including one for a score. But how many 3rd down conversions did we give up? And who was supposed to guard Jason Witten? Shoot, we took Shockey and Crumpler out of the game against the Giants and Falcons, but we couldn't stop Witten? Ouch. The Boys were 9-15 on 3rd down. They punted twice all day. If not for the turnovers, this would be a D-...

Special Teams - E. Gave up big returns. No big returns for us. Stupid penalties killed a few decent returns. This area flunked today...

Coaching - D-. What the heck was Juaron thinking? How could we not account for Witten after he caught 5 passes on the first Drive? 10 penalties? Giving up on running the ball? This was not pretty...

With all that, I'm not sure what we really can come away from this game with that is positive. Maybe it's that Joey still did fine even when his main weapon was out. Maybe that Kircus finally caught a TD. Maybe it's that KJ seemed a bit more decisive in his running. OK, Bly making two picks is definitely a positive. But shoot, this was not a good game for us. Even with the officiating blunders (and yes, it was bad today), we still should have looked better against the Cowboys. But we just couldn't get the D off the field.

One item of note - Eddie George did not kill us today as some people may think. Look at his stats - 31 carries for 99 yards. That's right around his season average for yards per carry of 3.2. What killed us was the 3rd down conversions and stupid penalties that kept drives alive. That was a hard game to watch...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Spanking the dirty bird

Dang, I was amazed at what I saw during that game. Who were those guys out there? Surely not our beloved Honolulu Blue and Silver. But there they were, making Mike Vick look like a QB playing in only his 5th game in the WCO. Oh yeah, I forgot – he is. Guess with all the hyperbole around him that it was completely lost in the fact that if you can stop him from running that he's still a very inexperienced QB in that offense.

There were a lot of good things to see in that game, and a few bad ones. I'll list the bad first, since it's a shorter list for once…

1) R.O.Y. got hurt. This is not good. Thankfully, it appears he may not miss a game, even if he is slowed against Green Bay. The offense looked a little lost without him in there.

2) The O-Line again wasn't getting the kind of push I'd expect. If I was an opposing D-Coordinator, I'd put my fastest pass rushing end on Backus, stunt in the middle, and have a field day hitting Joey. Backus got beat at least 3 times by a speed-rush move. Raiola can't seem to figure out who to block when there's any kind of a twist. That needs to improve.

That's it for the bad. It's nice to have that part of the list be that short. Now here's the good…

1) Where did that pass rush come from? And where did Alex Lewis come from? (don't answer "Wisconsin" or I'll have to slap you) Seriously, if our defense plays like that every game, we'll have an excellent chance of winning every week. All that without two of our best players in Bly and Bailey. Just to think of how good it will be when they get back…

2) Toose is a hammer in between the tackles. He looked solid going up and pushing the line to get the hard yards. Too bad he got met in the backfield so many times…

3) Joey was SHARP. 9-10 in the first half for 98 yards and a score. He cooled off in the second after R.O.Y. was hurt. Let's pray that R.O.Y. doesn't miss any time.

4) The play calling FINALLY seemed to get over being too conservative. If we hadn't had so many penalties, we likely would have scored at least 2 more times. Of course I'm not sure about the Run-pass ratio as it seemed that we ran a few too many times, but I can't complain about the results.

Well, it's time to wait for Green Bay to come in here. After the performance on Monday Night, I'm thinking that the Pack should be easy fodder. Of course in years past, that's when the Lions really stink up the joint. Hopefully R.O.Y. and KJ will be back, and we can tear up that sieve of a D for a big game. I'm keeping my fingers crossed…

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Most Underrated Stat - Turnover Margin

Now don't go ripping me because I haven't found a link to the stats, and I don't have them to publish here, but IMHO, Turnover margin is the most underrated stat in the NFL.

I remember seeing a stat in an article a few years ago that showed winning percentage in a game based on turnover margin.
+1 gave you a 65% chance of winning
+2 gives you 80%
+3 or more was something absurd like 93%

I'd love to see someone do the research and find those stats again.

So with that being said, The Lions are a very healthy +9 through 4 games. I looked at NFL.Com in the sortable stats section for turnover margin (it hasn't been updated with today's action yet). You can see pretty easily exactly how much TO margin means - the top 6 teams in TO margin (Giants, Jets, Seahawks, Falcons, Cardinals, Lions) have a combined record before today of 16-5 and the bottom 6 teams (Dolphins, 49ers, Raiders, Redskins, Panthers, Rams) have a combined W-L of 6-17. NFL.Com Sortable Stats

I remember that the last season we sniffed the playoffs - 2000 - We were something like +19 in TO margin. The next season as we went 2-14, we were something like -27. It's pretty apparent to me that the best way to give your team a chance to win in the NFL is simply to not make as many mistakes as your opponent...

Quote: (CALionFan)

turnover differential is not an underated stat, it's the most telling number there is and your stats backed it up

I agree with you, but maybe I didn't explain my point - You hardly ever hear any NFL talking heads talk about how the TO margin is so critical. I'd guarantee that we'll hear all kinds of analysis on all the games of this weekend, and I doubt that we'll hear it mentioned anywhere that the teams which won the turnover battle were 10-4 (or whatever it turns out to be this weekend).

I know we won't hear that on ESPN, FSN, any local papers, or on any radio show. But it's by far the best gauge of which teams are winning...

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Disaster against Philly...

I finally have gotten around to posting my take on the Philly game. Watching the game at the relatives was a bit difficult as I was constantly beseiged by distractions, but I saw enough to make me queasy. Because of how long it's been since the game, I'll keep it quick...

1) When McNabb is 17 of 19 for 230 yards and 3 TD's at one point in the first half, who cares if they don't have a running game. The game was over when the Eagles went up 21-0 and looked unstoppable. 3 3rd and long conversions on a single drive can do that.

2) When it's established that we are so far down that we must throw every down to have any chance to get back into the game, it's pretty easy for a RB to gain 5 yards on a draw. We just need someone besides Williams to step up.

3) Dang did we ever need Dre. And CRog. And Boss.

4) When your front four can't get a pass rush of any sort, your secondary will get shredded. Conversely, when your front four gets a great pass rush, and you blitz every other play from every direction and constantly hit the QB, that QB WILL get rattled and gunshy, irregardless of who that QB is.

5) I was wrong on thinking that the Eagles were overrated and would be a bust team this year. I was completely wrong on the difference that TO would make - He is the entire key to their offensive improvement. I was also wrong about their D - when you get that kind of a pass rush you can lose two pro-bowl CB's and still not get shredded...

I was going to write more after I reviewed the TiVo. I decided not to, because it was pretty painful to watch. The D has problems, but I think there is more to it than just the absence of Boss and Dre'. Let's just say that right now I'm thinking that if Uncle Bob is so washed up that we keep him inactive, that we're in deep doo-doo for the rest of the year at DE...

Sunday, September 26, 2004

O-Line Troubles

I originally posted this on The Den on September 20, and this was two separate posts that I've combined into one. It spells out some specific problems I've noticed with the O-Line for the Lions...

ESPN ran a story on SportsCenter about the 2-0 and 0-2 teams - who's a fraud, and who's a choker (my terms, not theirs). Sean Salisbury listed the Lions as his overachievers, but he actually had some decent things to say about them - Nice start, but they're probably a year away. He stressed that without CRog, that R.O.Y. and KJ have to be huge, but that they are rooks, and that so far the running game hadn't solidified. He then followed that up by saying that KJ showed him something special on a few of his runs. Not too bad.

What caught my attention was the 4 running plays of KJ and Toose they showed in the highlights, to show the deficiencies of our running game. On the 4 plays, KJ and Toose gained 0, 0, 1, and -3 yards. I kept hitting the TiVo and looking at what happened, and it was pretty much the same thing I have been seeing from our O-Line the last few seasons - Someone misses their blocking assignment and gets an easy, early shot on our RB. The same thing happened last year, and resulted in our league-worst rushing attack.

What was more frustrating was that in the four plays, I saw Backus, Raiola, Woody, and McDougle all miss assignments or not finish their block, causing the bad running play. If it was a single guy, I would know where to lay my frustration, but when it's 4 different guys, then the only thing I can chalk it up to is that they haven't jelled. And perhaps the most amazing thing was the guy who didn't blow his assignment on any of those plays was Loverne. Go figure.

What I did see was this - On the first play - KJ's first carry of the game, no less - Raiola and Woody double-teamed the NT, but left the MLB open for a straight shot through the hole to KJ. Someone missed the assignment - typically the center on that type of play - and KJ gets met in the hole with nowhere to go for no gain. If Raiola engages the MLB, KJ gets an easy 7 yards.

Second play, another problem. Toose goes off left tackle, and Backus doesn't finish off his block, allowing the DE to jump back into the play and hit Toose for no gain. If Backus finishes the block, Toose goes for an easy 6 yards.

Third play, another unfinished block, this time by McDougle. KJ going off right tackle, McDougle tries to bull his man over, and misses; the DE then meets KJ in the hole for a 1 yard gain. If McDougle finishes that block, KJ has 5 yards before anyone can touch him.

Fourth play, this time it's Woody who's at fault. Play is designed to go off tackle to Backus side, Woody pulls to lead KJ. Woody is late getting to the block, and the OLB gets KJ as he's searching for an opening, trying to cut back. This one might be why there is a concern over Woody's weight - if he's lighter, he gets there and KJ gets sprung for 8-10 yards.

These are all problems that have plagued our OL for years, and they won't get fixed overnight. Hopefully Pat Morris will get them fixed soon, because KJ won't put up HUGE numbers until they are fixed. KJ isn't Barry, and he can't make defenders miss when he's at a stop. Only Barry could do that. But what KJ can do that Barry couldn't is bust tackles (of course Barry usually just maked the defender miss, so he didn't have to bust the tackle). He has the jets the take it to the house if he can get sprung.

With all that being said, the plays where KJ had his big gainers were showcases of the ability he has. I haven't seen the crowd get on their feet for a RB like that since Barry was in our backfield. He is electric, and we can only hope we get our O-Line woes fixed soon...
Coyote... I point at the O-Line for problems because

A) It's a pattern that has been seen consistently around here for a long time - poor O-Line play
B) What the coaches say and what film study can tell us are usually two very different things.
C) I saw the plays in person and suspected something was wrong, then I got the chance to break them down using TiVo.
D) It won't matter who our RB is if we don't get good consistent O-Line play.

I'm not pointing out the flaws here to sour the mood, simply because I saw them. And trust me, if I saw them, the Lions coaching staff surely saw them as well. This is the entire point of breaking down game film - to learn what you do well, what you don't do so well, and then try to correct the mistakes.

When I went back to the Bears TiVo, yes, I did see the Bears make several plays, and I wasn't as hard on the Line in that game. But in this game, the Texans do not have a good D-line. And the mistakes I pointed out were glaring mistakes on those plays. For that reason, I felt it necessary to break down the individual plays and highlight what I saw.

Again, the only real concern I had coming out of that film study was that Woody seemed slow when pulling. The other mistakes were technique and communication related - correctable things. But if Woody can't pull and hit the LB before KJ gets there (and no, he didn't chip the LB, he never got there), then the Lions will probably have to reconsider some of the running plays we use. Sweeps, Counters and Traps rely on a pulling guard to get out in front and take out a defender to spring the play. If the guard can't get there, the play is doomed from the beginning. That is why I must raise caution when I see that Woody wasn't out in front of the play.

Yes, it was a good game. Yes, we saw some great things from our rookies. Yes, we can enjoy the wins. But if we don't correct these mistakes, it could mean the difference between 9 wins and 7 wins...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Lions vs Texans - down at the game...

Well, yesterday I stumbled on a link that mentioned that there were tickets available to the Lions game, so I quick scooped up some tickets and headed down to the field. It's always fun to see a game in person. The only downfall is that my Wife decided that she wanted to watch something else, so my TiVo wasn't functioning for the game. No replays, no down-n-dirty analysis, no reliving the good feelings. Just have to suck it up and go from my memory while at the game. So... Here are my impressions of what I saw at the game today. I came away with a few things that I saw that I really liked...

Fernando - the dude is a SHUT-DOWN corner. He played flat-out AWESOME today. It seemed like every time they came to his side of the field he made a play. he just looked fantastic...

KJ - Enough already - get the man 20 carries. There were at least 4 runs today that had the entire crowd standing on our feet. I haven't felt like that watching a game since #20 was lacing em up for us.

Roy - Thank god we got him in the draft. Joey needed a #1 receiver. CRog is still a #1 next year, but so is Roy. These two should strike genuine FEAR into our opponents next year.

Joey - I think Joey's starting to get used to all his new toys. It looks like this year could be really fun to watch him silence his critics...

SRog - ProBowl Starter. Mark it down. Dude must still be pissed that the Sporting News didn't have him in it's list of the top 100 players this year. He wants to be top 10 next year, and at this pace, he may be. He's dang near unstoppable.

Eddie - OK, I can handle you returning kicks for us. Sorry I wanted the team to cut you. My bad...

With all that good stuff, there are some negatives. Here goes...

- Our outside LB's need to learn FAST where they are supposed to be. There is no way that Dom Davis should get nearly 200 total yards on us. His success was more an indictment of our LB's than it was of him being great...

- Still too many busted up plays by the interior of the O-Line. I couldn't tell at the stadium who was to blame, but I do know that the Texans down linemen shouldn't be getting into the backfield like that. KJ and Pinner each got hit in the backfield several times...

- I'm a bit miffed at the next to last drive - 2 incompletes, then a draw play on 3rd and 10 from the 18? With how Joey was doing prior to that, you'd think we'd at least take one more shot at a first down...

- I'm not sure if it was play calling or Joey being nervous in the first half, but the offense was VERY tentative out there. Almost like they were afraid to try anything other than a basic play. Thank god it got a lot better in the second half.

But in the end, we are 2-0, in first place (maybe alone after Monday night), and have a chance for a statement game next week vs. Philly. If Philly comes in 2-0 and we beat them, people will HAVE to respect the Lions. I surely don't want to see them drop 3 places to 28th in a power poll after a win like I did this week in the Fox Sports NFL Power Poll after week 1...

Dang it feels good to be 2-0..

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Lions vs Bears breakdown

In reviewing the first game, I saw three things that need to be corrected if the Lions expect to have a good season. And unfortunately, they seem to be the same three things that plagued the team last year - drops, bad line play, and unimaginative play calling. Allow me to explain...

1 - Drops. For most of the game, I thought I was watching a bad repeat of last year on Offense. Way too many dropped EASY passes - I counted 5 BAD drops, 3 by Hakim. Joey was 14 of 26 - barely over 50%. Convert 3 of those to completions, and he's 17 of 26 - 65%. If he had completed 65% of his passes, I doubt that anyone here would be complaining about how Joey played. Especially since 4 of the 5 drops would have converted 3rd downs.

2 - O-Line. Where we need improvement from game one to game two most is on the O-Line. Backus got beat badly on the sack. Loverne and Woody didn't seem to have any push on the Bears D-line, and Raiola had a bad game. In all honesty, in most games if you look at how our O-Line plays, it dictates exactly how the game goes - save the drops.

3 - Play Calling. I was also disappointed in the play calling - way too predictable. When I see KJ getting hit in the backfield just after taking the handoff, I get bad Barry flashbacks - except Barry could make a guy miss. The reason he was getting hit was bad play calling - if a team is going to Blitz like that, you have to make them pay - draws, play action, screens, slants. Those are all staples of the WCO, and yet we were so unimaginative that the Bears seemed to know exactly which way we were coming on every play.

With all that said, we really didn't have that bad of a game. The first two field goals should both have been touchdowns. The 3rd down conversion percentage was directly a result of the items I have already mentioned - It's hard to convert 3rd and 8 for any team, and the drops don't help. We got to 3rd and 8 by obvious play calling and poor O-line play. The defense played well enough to keep us in the game. I HOPE we'll see more blitzing this week, but somehow I doubt it. Now on to my player observations...

Roy - looked a heck of a lot more comfortable out there than he did in the pre-season. He still needs to adjust to the Pro game (that play he got chucked off at the goal line should have been called pass interference), but all in all not a bad game.

CRog - damn that sucks. I was rooting for him so hard, and figured he would have a monster year. Instead his season lasted 3 plays. That new plate in his shoulder had better work...

SRog - Here's your pro-bowl ticket. Let me be the first to say it - this guy is the best DT in the league. He's a one man wrecking crew out there.

KJ - We saw glimpses, hope to see more of it this week. I think we will. Can't wait for you to break a long one and silence everyone who thinks you aren't fast...

Teddy - The great LB's all are instinctual players. Based on one game, I see great things ahead...

Dre - That's why you shouldn't celebrate a big hit. The hit was awesome, but I hate to lose you for 2 games beacuse you bounced up funny from tatooing that guy.

Joey - My only words of advice - throw to Tai and Roy, and ignore Az if you want to move the ball downfield. Trust me, you'll save the entire city of Detroit a lot of Rolaids if you stop throwing it in the direction of Az...

Toose - Just look at what Dom Rhodes does in Indy. You can be that kind of player for the Lions, which isn't bad. Rhodes had a 1000 yard season when Edge went down...

Fernando - Glad to have you. Nice to know that other teams don't throw at you because you guard receivers like a blanket. Now if you would just CATCH the dang INT...

Bracy - I neve knew you had that in you. Thanks. And here's some Oxygen - you must still be tired.

With that, here's looking ahead at Week 2. I wil say that with the injuries we suffered, I may have to drop my season prediction by a game or two. I had been thinking 11-5, but now I'm thinking 9-7 feels right...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Old Stuff - How close are we?

The final old stuff Post I'll add tonight is my thoughts back before the end of last season about how close the Lions are to actually being competitive in the NFL. Based on this year's offseason moves, we hit about every single point I made in this post to a tee...

Originally posted on M-Live 12-15-03
Question for the night - anything to get away from the constant Millen - Morton talk. How close are the Lions to being 1) respectable, 2) the Playoffs, and 3) the Super Bowl? Here's my opinion...

1) Respectability - closer than most people think. On offense, a FA OG or two, and a FA #2 WR will be enough to turn this O completely around. I'm not jumping on the Pinner bandwagon just yet, just remembering that Jimmy Stewart ran for 1000 last year, and hasn't played this year. True, he's not an "ideal" WCO RB, but adding his running threat, a WR who can actually catch the ball, and a Guard who doesn't get blown off the line every play would be a HUGE addition to the Offense. CRog is back too, so it could pretty easily turn into a really good offense next year. A good offense is enough to make this team respectable.

2) Playoffs - To get there, the defense needs help. Again, this might not be as far off as some think. Our two weak spots could also be addressed this offseason - a SS in the draft in the form of Sean Taylor, and a FA CB (there are too many good ones to list this year). An OLB to replace Green would be a nice upgrade as well, as would finding a replacement for Robert Porcher. Again, all possible in the offseason this year.

3) Super Bowl contender - a bit further off, but still possible. This would more depend on the development of some players already here - Joey, CRog, Boss - and one of the most overlooked stats in the league, staying healthy. There are two factors in the NFL that determine a surprising number of teams in the playoffs and super bowls - Turnover margin and team health. Look back at previous Super Bowl winners and you'll see very few players on IR. You'll almost always see big positive numbers for turnovers. There is a little more luck involved to get these two things, but the recent Super Bowl teams seem to all have these things going for them. When they get hit by the injury bug or start committing turnovers the following year, it spells disaster - See Baltimore 2001, New England 2002, Tampa Bay and Oakland 2003, etc...

So there you have it, I could see a marked improvement next season with a few tweaks to the lineup. A few things in the offseason will determine how realistic this is. Will there be a new GM and new team direction because of it? How effective will we be in getting the FA's we need? Will we get the players we need in the draft? It's entirely possible that management messes it up and we're just an 8-8 team. But it's not so far off to think it can't be done. I'll keep my fingers crossed...

Old Stuff - What went Wrong...

Here's another older analysis I wrote - what went wrong with the Lions to cause them to go only 10-38 over the last 3 years.

Originally posted on M-Live 12-15-03 (before the Rams game)
Since we have some bozo's in this forum who foolishly want to believe that the entire predicament the Lions are in is the result of Matt Millen's bad decisions - and yes, he has made a few - It's time to analyze exactly what has caused this team to win a total of 9 games the last 3 years. Here is my assesment.

1) The core players on the 9-7 2000 Lions were OLD. Of the starters on that team, at last count only 5 were still in the league. Not entirely unusual, but it's the first part of the equation. Most teams have younger players ready to come in and take over for those players. Teams count on at least 3 starters from each draft in the 3rd year after the draft. 4-9 year veterans should account for 2/3 of the starters on a given team. But...

2) Bobby Ross drafted HORRBILY. His 5 drafts included 7 first round picks, 5 second round picks, and 3 3rd round picks. The sum total of his drafting - 2 starters in Detroit, 2.5 starters elsewhere, 4 others on NFL rosters, but not starting. Only 1 retired due to injury - Reggie Brown. Only 2 later round picks have had any NFL impact of any sort. If necessary, I can repost the detail of the Bobby Lost drafts, but they effectively put the Lions in a position little better than an expansion team, due to the lack of talent.

3) Bad Salary cap moves by Boss Ross - Did you know that the Lions are still being penalized for Charlie Batch and Herman Moore on our Salary cap? In total, the Lions have over 11 Million counting against this years cap for players no longer with the team. That's the type of sal cap misery that the 49ers and Cowboys went through after their SB runs. Only problem was that the Lions never even sniffed the Super Bowl and had to pay the cap misery. The Lions have had to endure this and will still have a taste of it next year if Luther Elliss, Robert Porcher and James Stewart don't come back.

4) Millen's Free Agent Moves - We FINALLY can talk about the bad moves Millen has made. In fairness he has committed a lot of blunders because he didn't understand how to do things right - especially the first two years. I think everyone here would take Johnny Morton and Jeff Hartings back in a second. We'd all prefer to forget Bill Schroeder and Brenden Stai. Az Hakim has been average, for a superstar's salary. Dan Wilkinson has been a good signing. Dre Bly has been spectacular. He’s done a good job bringing in guys week after week this year as players have gone down at an alarming rate. Overall, he's made more mistakes than successes in free agency, but it looks like he's getting better.

That gets us to where we are today. A lot of things all added up to make this team go therough the garbage we've been through the last few years. Hopefully Millen has learned from his mistakes and makes the moves in this offseason we want him to make. I tend to look at his record each year and see great improvement in his acquisitions, and I think he can and will make the right moves this offseason. But I am keeping my fingers crossed, just in case...

Old Stuff - The Boss Ross Disaster

I haven't posted in a while, so I thought it wouldn't hurt to add a few of my older analysis of the Lions to the blog. Here is my post on how badly Bobby Ross hurt the Lions and how he really is to blame for the 10-38 record...

Originally posted on M-Live Lions message board 12/10/03
I've done a lot of thinking about why this team has had to endure three years of utter futility, and I see three primary reasons. The first is the complete lack of NFL Players from our drafts during the Bobby Ross era. It is an accpeted truth in the NFL that you draft 1st rounder to be immediate starters, 2nd rounders to soon be starters, and 3rd rounders to be eventual starters. Later rounds are usually drafted to provide depth and an occasional starter. Usually the players drafted 3-8 years back form the core of a team, with a few older vets, and a few younger bucks comprising the starters on a particular team.

With that in mind, I went back and looked at the Lions 1st through 3rd round draft choices and where they are now during the Bobby Ross years. When I looked at the Lions draft history, I was amazed at how completely inept the Lions were during Bobby Ross' tenure as Coach. Here is a listing of Boss Ross' draft history with the Lions, and how it has killed this team today...

1a- Reggie Brown - Neck Injury, out of football
1b - Jeff Hartings - Starting Center for Pittsburgh, wanted out of Detroit BAD
3 - Ryan Stewart - out of football, never made impact.

1 - Bryant Westbrook - IR for Packers - was dramatically improving at CB until achilles tendon tore, never the same since.
2a - Juan Roque - out of football - BUST!
2b - Kevin Abrams - out of football, probably still injured too.

1 - Terry Fair - out of football
2a - Germane Crowell - out of football
2b - Charlie Batch - backup QB for Steelers
7 - Chris Liewinski - Starting for Vikings - first of only 2 late round picks of Ross Era to pan out anywhere...

1a - Chris Claiborne - Starting MLB for Vikings - OK player, but overrated
1b - Aaron Gibson - Part-time starting RT for Bears - cut by 3 teams before sticking with Chicago this season.
3 - Jared DeVries - Backup DT for Lions
6- Clint Kriewaldt - backup LB for Pittsburgh - only other late round pick to do anything in the league...

1 - Stockar McDougle - Starting RT for Lions - took a while, but finally showing some of the promise a 1st rounder is supposed to have.
2 - Barrett Green - Starting WLB for Lions - frustrates me with lack of tackling, but good motor and speed.
3 - Reuben Droughns - backup RB for Denver

So there you have it. 5 years of misses and broken hopes. The totals - 15 1-3 round picks, 2 starters in Detroit, 2.5 starters elsewhere, 4 others on NFL rosters. Only 1 retired due to injury - Reggie Brown. Only 2 later round picks having any NFL impact of any sort. That's a horrible draft record in anyone's book. And in itself could explain why the Lions have been so bad the last three years. But there is more...

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

What a playmaker means...

So one topic with the Lions that I've bene meaning to discuss is how little difference there really is in the NFL between the so-called "Great" teams, and a team like the Lions. When push comes to shove, a single player making a single play can make a huge difference in the fortunes of an NFL team. The teams are really that even. We look at statistics and analyze the death out of them to say this team is so much better than this team, but it really misses the point - that even in statistical mismatches that the games are often as close as a single touchdown.

Take the Lions last year - a 5-11 season. In that season, they had 11 games out of 16 that were up for grabs in the 4th quarter. Forget statistics for a minute and follow this arguement. In 11 of those games, only one or 2 plays would have been enough to secure a victory. Take for example, our first game against Minnesota - we lost 23-13. This game was probably the most symbolic of what I'm talking about. Minnesota outgained the Lions 414 to 302. But 205 of Minnesota's yards came on only 3 plays - a 61 yard run by Moe Williams, a 72 yard pass to Randy Moss, and a 72 yard pass to Kelly Campbell. Minnesota also intercepted 2 passes in the end zone in the 4th quarter, and held the Lions out of the endzone on another series when they had 1st and goal on the 1. Minnesota got the big plays, Detroit didn't get even the small ones. Yet the stats and the score look like a much more lopsided game than how the actual game played out.

There are numerous other examples of how big plays, or the lack thereof, can change the outcome of a game. The Lions were within a touchdown in the 4th quarter in both Denver and San Francisco, and couldn't come up with the play to put them over the top. They had a 4th and 2 from the Chicago 3 yard line in the 4th quarter at Chicago and couldn't score. The Vikings scored 17 4th quarter points to beat the Lions in Detroit 24-17. Against San Diego, they had 4 straight incomplete passes from the SanDiego 33 yard line in the final seconds of a 14-7 loss. Against Carolina, the Lions D and Special Teams got them back into the game in the 4th, and then couldn't close the deal, committing penalties that kept Carolina's O on the field.

In all fairness, the Lions also won several games where their opponent had a clear cut opportunity to win in the 4th quarter. Oakland got to within a TD, but the Lions scored on their next possession to make the final 23-13. The Bears game was only a 12-10 win, and the Lions kicked a Field goal with 44 seconds left to get that margin. Likewise, the Packers led 14-13 going into the 4th quarter before giving up 3 field goals to make the final 22-14. The Rams were down 27-20 going into the 4th and couldn't make a play, losing 30-20.

The one thing that is common in nearly all of those games is that either team could have won, had a single player on a single play stepped up and made a big play. The so-called "great" teams always have someone who seems to answer the challenge and does exactly that. How many times has Jerry Rice caught a slant pass, made a move, and ended up in the end zone on what should have been a short completion? How many times did Emmitt Smith break a big run off and score a clinching TD? We all know the superstars for being able to do exactly that - make a game-changing play.

Detroit had 2 Playmakers on the team last year - Dre' Bly, and Charles Rogers - Rogers only for the first 5 games though. They may have 3 more this year in Roy Williams, Kevin Jones and Joey Harrington. This monumental change in the ability of the team to make plays could have a monumental impact on the victory total of this team. When you think about it, they were 4-7 in close games last year. The addition of Jones and Williams and the maturation of Harrington could a) make a few of those wins not so close, b) make a few of the not close losses become close, and c) make a few of the close losses become wins. It's not that far off from happening, especially when you get into the minutae of each game and see how simple things could change the outcome. How many dropped passes last year will be caught this year? How many stupid penalties last year won't happen this year? How many new big plays will emerge? We won't know until these things actually happen, but Based on the additions to the team, chances are good for a significant improvement...

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The trouble with lawyers...

This came from a post on one of my favorite message boards - - about a lawsuit where a drunk hit a couple, and the couple is suing the gas station that sold him the gas, and the oil company. A link to the original message is here.

from "Hound"
You can't "toss out" a "BS" lawsuit until its legally determined to be BS, which necessitates a court case, Unc.

PS: Butch, loser pays is a great idea when you have a level playing field. But when its some Giant corporation with 20 lawyers on staff against the guy who burned up in a F*rd Pinto, it ain't exactly a fair fight is it?

*shakes head* I really don't want to get into an overtly political arguement here, but sometimes that's exactly what needs to happen. To tell you the truth Hound, you sound like a trial lawyer - who are really the only group that believes that we don't need any reform in our legal system. The system is set up such that it encourages lawsuits to be filed, which keep trial lawyers rich, but serve to cost the rest of the nation money. Allow me to explain albeit a bit simplistically...

In the current legal system we have for civil cases - note this does not include criminal cases which are an entirely different subject - what is required to win a case is not "proof beyond a reasonable doubt", but simply "a preponderance of evidence". This simply means that he who has the best evidence and convince a jury that they are more right than the other side wins. This was fine in older times, but in modern times, a few new inventions have greatly skewed this process - namely TV.

What has happened is that someone who feels "victimized" can file a lawsuit against any other party, regardless of how remotely they are connected to the actual case. In the example that started this message, the two plaintiffs are suing the gas station and the oil company. Forget that the driver of the other car was drunk, he doesn't have enough money, so they sue someone who has more money, and who can afford to pay them for their pain and suffering. With the advent of TV, these companies do not want to be associated with a terrible accident on the nightly news, as it may lead to a decrease in revenues due to the bad press. So the companies settle out of court, giving the "victim" something to make the case go away, irregardless of whether they were at fault or not. They view the bad press as costing them far more than they would have to pay to the victims, and the cost of the lawyers that would have to defend them. It makes economic sense to pay up and keep the case out of court.

Where the problem comes up is when you get greedy victims - or as is usually the case, greedy victim's lawyers. Why settle for $500,000 when you think you can get $2,000,000? They play a little hardball, threatening to take the case of the poor victims to the local TV station, which they know - and the company knows - will cost the company far more money than the $2,000,000. But this isn't justice - it's extortion. Cases like this get press because of how ridiculous the idea of someone suing the gas station and the gas company because they supplied gas to the drunk who hit thier car.

But here's the dirty little secret - companies don't pay legal fines - the people who buy their products pay the fines. Comapnies are in business to make money. If, for example, someone sues GM and wins $10,000,000 in a case, GM isn't going to just take the hit. They're going to raise the price of new vehicles to cover the cost. In GM's case, that means about $2 per new vehicle sold for the next year to pay that legal bill. It gets really big when you realize that some recent jury awards have gone over $750,000,000 - about $100 per car sold. Same thing goes when someone sues McDonalds because they spilled their coffee. Someone wins $8,000,000, McDonalds raises the price of Big Mac's. They aren't in business to lose money. In the end, we the consumers pay the bill. The most recent estimates I've seen are that close to 35% of all costs we pay for goods and services are directly the result of legal actions. The examples are everywhere - just look at the AirBag warning stickers on the visor of your Av - they're there as part of a lawsuit settlement in which some idiot thought that they didn't need to wear a seatbelt because they had airbags.

What changing the legal system to a "loser pays" system like most of the rest of the world would do is to eliminate the ridiculous lawsuits. If you still have a valid case that a lawyer thinks they can win, they'll still take it to court. But if you have to pay for both sets of lawyers, you had better have a REALLY strong case, or else you're going to get stuck with some really big bills. It would virtually eliminate the ridiculous cases like the McDonalds coffee case, and people suing the gas station and gas company for a drunk driver hitting them. It wouldn't stop the cases like the exploding pintos, because the victims would likely have a VERY solid case against the company, and any number of lawyers would line up to get in on that gravy train.

I could go on and on about this subject as it has caused me considerable grief and a lot of extra design cost due to ridiculous court cases. But I'll stop here for tonight as I'm getting tired, and this message is already plenty long enough. Let's just say that I really hate frivolous lawsuits...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Lions Preseason Hyperbole…

OK, so I'm the biggest optimist about the Lions and their chances every year. I'm even optimistic in retrospective each year as I assess what I saw on the field – usually after another loss. For example, the last couple of years, while the Lions have struggled to 2-14, 3-13, and 5-11 seasons, I've seen a) the difference between winning and losing is as close as a single play / player, b) the Lions could be significantly better if they didn't get hit by so many injuries, and c) With only a little luck, the Lions could have had records of 10-6 each of those years. Now I know that that is extreme optimism, and I realize that the team was pretty bad. The talent they had was extremely low level, and upgrades have been sorely needed. But I think I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Let me explain…

In 2000, we were all fooled as they came within a Paul Edinger field goal of making the playoffs. What we failed to see was an old, slow team that was living on some incredibly lucky bounces. The Lions led the NFL in turnover margin that season, and it was the single biggest reason they were 9-7. They were no where near being a Super Bowl team, which is what all of us want.

Over the next two dreadful years, we saw what happens when a team is torn apart. It was very difficult to see progress, because so many players had to be replaced. Each year, going into the off-season, there was no real hope for even getting to be a .500 team the following year. There was some hope, as the drafts looked pretty good on paper, but the players were young, and there were far too many injuries to keep up with.

Last year, I started to see the method behind the madness. Again, there was a good draft, and a good free agent signing. As the season progressed, the injuries again crippled the team, but it became very apparent that there were only a few specific holes left that needed to be filled. At the end of last season, I made a list of what I thought needed to happen for the Lions to emerge this year as a top flight team. And they have not only hit every point on that list, they exceeded it.

I was calling for a few players heads at the end of last season. Bill Schroeder, Barrett Green, and Mikhael Ricks were my prime candidates for different reasons. I wanted to see new starters at CB, WLB, RG, LG, WR and TE for those reasons. If we were miracle workers, and we were able to land a fast RB, a young DE, and an upgrade at SS, the team would be SOLID.

Through free agency before the draft, we filled some of those holes spectacularly – LG Damien Woody, WR Tai Streets, and CB Fernando Bryant were all huge upgrades and fantastic signings. Later, we plucked TE Stephen Alexander and SS Brock Marion to further upgrade. Alexander makes me a bit nervous with his injury history, but he's an upgrade, and I still like Casey Fitzsimmons for long term.

In the minicamps, it was revealed that WLB Dirty Davis has bulked up and not lost any speed, making him a candidate to start at a LB spot. DE Kalimba Edwards was also finally recovered from the hernia surgery of last year, and looks potentially very good at the DE spot. So prior to the draft, we were nearly settled at every need position I had picked out, with only one OG spot to fill. We had even addressed some of the "nice to upgrade" positions. Not a bad offseason already heading into the draft.

Then in the draft, we truly hit the jackpot. Roy Williams was either the #1 or 2 WR in the draft depending on who you talked to. RB Kevin Jones was a candidate to be drafted in the #6 spot after the bowl games, and we were lucky to get him. Then we grabbed LB Teddy Lehman in the 2nd, and it was like hitting the lottery. Three elite starting type players in the draft is amazing.

So after all the dust has settled, we significantly upgraded the skill positions, had a huge upgrade at guard, had some pleasant surprises at LB and DE, upgraded SS and CB. The only position of note that hasn't been filled is RG. We signed Dave Loverne, but he may not be quite the answer. But as has been shown on several other web sites, there are plenty of capable guys still out there as free agents that could easily fill that hole.

So this leads to my optimism, albeit cautious. I can easily see this group winning 10+ games this year. The only obstacle in the way is the learning curve for KJ, RW, and CRog (effectively a rookie after only playing 5 games last year). The number of wins will be directly related to how fast the kids learn the offense. If it's slow, we might be in for a roller-coaster season with 8 wins. If they learn fast, the 4 horsemen (Harrington, Jones, Williams, Rogers) could win 10 or more and be terrorizing the league for years to come.

I hope they learn fast…

Why I can't stand John Kerry

This is something I need to get off my chest. I'm not the biggest George W. Bush supporter, as he's a bit of a knucklehead on some things. But I do admire his honesty and conviction, even if it's sometimes misguided. I just wish he didn't come across as so stubborn.

But this John Kerry guy, I can't stand him. He's got Clintonitis in the way he speaks. By that I mean his position on any subject of substance depends completely on his audience. He seems to go out of his way to contradict himself. He's like the ultimate hypocrite. Some examples:

Abortion: Last week, he came out and said he believes life begins at conception. Yet, he remains a strong supporter of the so-called "right to choose", even voting against the ban on partial birth abortion. This is complete BS. In order to make sense of his position, he believes that a woman has the right to kill her living child right up until that child has taken a breath outside her body. He defined that the child is alive by saying that life begins at conception. Therefore, he's pro-infanticide. Absolutely ridiculous.

Health Care: He's now running commercials indicating that the US spends about 1.5 Trillion (That's $1,500,000,000,000) on health care a year, and about 350 Billion ($350,000,000,000) of that is due to paperwork, so he wants to reduce the paperwork to reduce the cost of health care. Now let's see if we can follow the logic – the paperwork is there to protect the patients. The government requires the paperwork in an attempt to reduce the number of lawsuits. The lawsuits are filed by ambulance chasers – like his running mate, John Edwards. NOW I see what he wants – less paperwork for more mistakes for more lawsuits for his VP candidate to cash in on! Simply amazing. If he wants to protect healthcare and reduce costs, he should suggest that we need limits on damage awards to so-called "victims" of medical malpractice, and change the civil suit system to "loser pays" like in the rest of the world. THAT would reduce the cost of health care with every lawsuit that an ambulance chaser files and loses…

The Military: "I actually voted for the $87 billion, before I voted against it". 'nuff said.

There are actually so many of them that I really don't want to regurgitate them all here. Just go to any search engine and type "John Kerry Flip Flops" and you'll get a bunch. I got over 91,000 hits at Google this morning. Probably the best one I read was at George W. Bush's re-election site, but since some people may want to think that it's too biased, there is a really good one at which is about as liberal as they come. Even the Dem's know this guy is fake. And if there's one thing I can't stand, it a guy who's fake…

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Ultimate gadget

Well, for my first post to the blog, it's about a gadget.

I love my electronic gadgets. I have enough of them to do just about anything that I can think of. But I'm really hoping for more digital convergence because of the load I'm toting around. With that in mind, I started thinking about the best features of multiple devices on the market and how I would want them integrated into a single device. I want a PDA-Phone-MP3-GPS device. I want it to connect easily and seamlessly to my everyday life. And I don’t think it's that far off. Here are the components I would integrate to make the "One" device.

PDA Interface – Sony UX-50. I love just about everything about this PDA – the screen, camera, Bluetooth, wi-fi, keyboard, memorystick. I would start with this device as my platform to integrate the other devices into. I wouldn't drop ANYTHING that the UX-50 does, just add to it.

Phone – PalmOne Treo. I love how the phone function works – and how it integrates seamlessly to the Palm OS. Again, I like the UX-50 size of the keyboard better, maybe with slightly better keys like the Treo has. I don't expect to ever use it as a headset, because my device would come with a Bluetooth headset. The device would be used for all phone functions except the microphone and earpiece. As backup, I'd have a standard 2.5mm jack. I guess to allow for phone use without peripherals, I'd allow the UX50 to use it's speaker and microphone as a phone. I just don't like taking a touch-sensitive screen and placing it to my ear while talking. Had one too many issues with my Treo 180 doing that. And while we're at it, make the phone not drop my call and reset if a misbehaving palm app causes the palm device to reset. That was the biggest gripe I had with the Treo – playing nice with other palm apps.

MP3 – Apple iPod. From the iPod, I'd take the hard drive. I like the smooth nature of the iPod, but I prefer the UX-50 interface for all it can do. But I need that hard drive and it's shock resistance for my device. I also love the completely intuitive way the buttons work on the iPod, so maybe I'd try to figure out a way to replace the jog-dial with the touch keys. I'd keep iTunes as my music store though.

GPS – Garmin iQue. Really, it's only the GPS function that I want from the Garmin device. With the hard drive, I can store all the DVD map info on the device.

Camera – Upgrade the 0.3 megapixel camera (that's 640x480 folks) in the UX50 to at least a 2 MP unit (1600x1200). Shouldn't be too hard to do. At leqast not compared to everything else I'm asking for…

Connectivity – BlueTooth and WiFi are already integrated into the UX50, so this is already covered. I just need a car stereo that can connect to it via either standard.

With all these functions, I'd have the ONE device that I would carry around. I want it to stay in the same form factor that the UX50 has right now – larger is not better. Now which company is going to be the one to grant me my wish???

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Start

Here goes nothing - a blog for me. Well, I really have no clue what I'm going to start with on this thing, but I'm sure it will be later today. Patience until I get the hang of this blogging thing...