Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Nationwide's view of the Lions and their future

Every now and then, I see a post out there that is good enough that I think I need to save it for prosperity, even when it's not my own stuff. This one is that good. I don't necessarily agree 100% with everything in it, and I'll post my comments on it after the initial post. This comes from Nationwide, another regular poster over at The Den.


That’s It, I’ve had enough of the know nothings!

For the last few days, I have heard every talking head in America blame Joey, Millen, Chuck, Roy, Mike, Damien, Jeff, Dominic, Marcus, Kelly, and Kevin for the Lions woes and for getting Mooch fired. BULL CRAP!

Let’s examine this a bit shall we, but lets go back 2 years prior to Mooch getting here; Marty is hired, because he will install Steve’s offense. We have been running the Mooch offense for 5 years now, and it has been bad the entire time. Before I tell you why the Mooch 2 yard and a puff of smoke offense is so bad and why it is to blame for the Lions futility for the past 5 years, let’s examine a few things.

1. On draft day, Millen’s drafts get high marks.
2. Each of Millen’s 6 first round picks have been offensive players.
3. Every one of those players was highly successful, physically gifted players.
4. They all have under-produced.
5. Players who come to our offense via free agency, suck when the get here.
6. Sure-handed players can’t catch a football anymore.
7. Good blockers can no longer block.
8. Players Millen has drafted for the defense in rounds 2 through 7 have had some success to a lot of success.

These are amazing coincidences. But are they? No, they are not. For the past 5 years, we have run the same offense and it hasn’t worked. WR’s are not productive. None of our QB’s has been productive. Our offensive line has been poor. Our running game is been inconsistent at best. Why? It is the underneath philosophy of Mooch’s system first run by Marty, and then by Steve. This offense thinks two dimensionally. We don’t attack the entire field. We only attack around 4 yards of the line of scrimmage from side line to side line. And we seldom if ever attack weak points of a Defense. Opposing defenses simply squat all 11 of their players in this box. From this position, they can all blitz, and they are all there to defend the run. Our 5 offensive lineman are essentially blocking 11 men. Our RB is now trying to elude 11 men. Our WR’s are being covered by an entire defense.

In normal Pro Style offenses, the entire field is used. It is normal for there to be at least on WR running a deep route of plus 20 yards. Most teams to defend this send not only a CB, but one of the safeties as well. That leaves the other 10 offensive players against only 9 defenders. Some teams actually send out two WR’s running deeper routes. I am not talking about 60 yard bombs here. I am talking about 18 to 25 yard outs, flys, posts, and flag routes. When a team does send out two WR’s running these routes, it requires 4 DB’s to cover it safely. That only leaves 7 defenders against 9 offensive players. That gives our running game no more then 7 in the box. And if you employ a TE and or a slot receiver, even fewer. In fact, if you have 3 WR’s and one TE someone is either uncovered, or the RB has a major advantage. Take two WR’s running deep, drag another WR in a crossing route, and run your TE on an out to the strong side. Either one of your deep WR’s is in single coverage, your TE is uncovered, your slot receiver is uncovered, or there are only 5 defenders in the box against 5 offensive lineman; a major run advantage. When you attack the entire field, if a team blitzes, it will leave at least one of your weapons either uncovered, or under-covered. Most of you know this stuff already, and I am not telling you anything you don’t already know.

But let’s examine our weaknesses on offense by position again, considering Mooch’s offense;

Lets start with the O Line; when you don’t use the entire field and pull the corners and safeties out of the box, our O line is defending 11 players instead of the 5 players that would be in the box when we employ either a 4 WR set, or a 3 Wide one Tight set. With a fullback, there would only be 6 in the box. Our O line was improved in the off season so we thought. But they got worse. Why? Perhaps defeating Mooch’s system has become known league wide now and we have put all of our O lineman in near impossible situations. We have a lot of high profile FA’s or high draft pick O lineman on our Line. But they all suck? No it is the system. And it is the same system that affects our WR’s adversely.

WR’s. Let’s see, every FA we bring in sucks and all of our top 10 draft pick WR’s suck. None of the current WR’s or TE’s used to have problems with drops, but now they do. In fact isn’t it true that since the Mooch Offense was installed 5 years ago, dropped passes have gone way up? Yes it has. Here is why. Instead of a WR’s trying to defeat either a single corner 15 yards down field, or a corner and a safety, and most of these DB’s have major size and speed disadvantages with our receivers, they are running 6 yard routes right in the middle of the LB’ers. Is there a wonder we have so many drops and injuries in our receiving corp. If they catch the ball they get crushed by 6’4”, 260 Linebackers instead of 5’9” corners. I think even Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, or Steve Smith would start hearing footsteps. What is more likely; Every WR Millen brings to our team via FA or the Draft, sucks despite their accolades, prior production, and their physical attributes, or Mooch’s system sets them up to get creamed, and they start developing alligator arms? One more point to the WR’s. In Mooch’s system only one WR’s gets very many looks. IF you are not that guy, you get very few opportunities.

Question: How do you make a WR happy?
Answer: Let him make TD catches!

I wonder why Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, and Mike Williams are upset. Let’s see. When the QB has enough time to get them the ball, they are running a 5 yard route right toward Brian Urlacher or Ray Lewis. HMM. I wonder why they don’t get much YAC and are always injured……………


Question: How do you make a first round pick running back happy?
Answer: Give him more then 4 carries a game!

No one has questioned Kevin Jones work ethic. Everyone knows how productive he was in the last 7-8 games last season. But, Shaun Bryson and Artoose Pinner often get more carries then he does. I am sure you have often heard RB’s say that they need about 20 carries a game to be productive. How many times this year have we given KJ the rock 20 times? Let’s talk about why he hasn’t been very productive. Hint, it is the same reason the WR’s and the Offensive line haven’t. The entire offense is run within the box. KJ doesn’t run against 5, or 6, or 7, or 8 players. He has to beat 11 of them. Why have there been so few runs of more then 20 yards by KJ? Because the entire defense is within 6 yards of the line of scrimmage!

QB. I don’t care who the QB is on this team, he would never been successful in this system. We can’t run. If we complete a pass, it won’t be a first down. We have completed 3 passes in a row and still not had a first down. Joey sucked. Jeff sucked. Danny O sucked. When Mooch, Marty, or Tedd calls the plays, Joey has a very hard time. But when Jeff Tetford called the plays, Joey was a number 3 overall pick and a Heisman finalist. When Greg Olsen called the plays in the last 3 games of last season, Joey threw for almost 900 yards. My guess is that if the team doesn’t just flat out quit after Dre Bly has run down his QB and the media and the fans haven’t thrown Joey under the buss, then Joey will have 5 very good games.

I fully expect our offense and our entire team to play much better without Mooch. I believe totality if given a chance next year with a HC and OC not from the Mooch 1 yard offensive system, Joey will succeed as will our RB, our O Line, and our WR’s and TE’s.

Batch couldn’t get it done. McMahon couldn’t get it done. Joey couldn’t get it done. Jeff couldn’t get it done. Danny O couldn’t get it done. See a pattern? Perhaps it is all about Mooch’s system. That is what I believe.

And proof is forth coming. I can almost guarantee that we will finish this season very strong. The only thing I am worried about is if we do, Millen will be forced to hire Dick Jurron to coach this team next year. He is a wussy just like Mooch. Anyone who doesn’t blitz a rookie QB is a freaking idiot. But I do want to win the next 5 games and I think we can.

Lastly. I do hold Millen accountable for a few things.

1. Most importantly, he did not search for his head coaches in the past. He locked in on one guy and hired him without even looking for anyone else. I didn’t criticize him for this before as I was happy with the Mooch hire at the time. In fact, I for one am on record stating that I believe the Marty hiring was only done with the intention of firing him when Mooch became available. I believe Millen instructed him to set this team up in accordance with Mooch’s philosophy so the transition would be smooth. I don’t think he ever told Marty that he would be fired as soon as Mooch became free, but I believe Millen had planned it all along. If for any reason Marty did work out, then great. But Millen knew that this was going to be a tough first two years as he tore the team apart in an attempt to rebuild it, and Marty would do just fine as a throw away coach. Now Millen must learn from his mistakes and do an exhaustive search for a new HC. He now knows a lot more about coaching and the type of coach that he A. doesn’t want. And B. Knows the qualities of the coach he does. Here is hoping that Millen bring us the right guy.
2. The second biggest mistake Millen has made was not firing Mooch, 4 weeks ago. We knew he was unhappy with many of Mooch’s actions and philosophies. Why wait until the season was all but over to make a switch. If he would have done this after the second Bears loss, we could have still made the playoffs. This criticism will get much stronger if we go on a tear and win the next 5 games but miss the playoffs by a game.
3. Not insisting that Greg Olsen take over as OC for this season at the start.
4. Letting Mooch hire Dick Juron.
5. Letting Mooch fire Carl Mauck and replace him with another Mooch crony.
6. Letting Mooch run a club med training camp.
7. Letting Mooch publicly run down Harrington.
8. If he doesn’t call Dre Bly into his office and tear him a new one.


Now, my comments on it...

Nationwide - Great post. I must have missed it after I basically quit checking the board because I was getting tired of reading all the repetitive Dre Bly / Joey / Millen posts. I'm not sure I'm ready to agree with the premise that it's all coaching though. As in everything else with football, everything is inter-related. Is it because of coaching that the players underperform, or is because of a lack of their own ability? It's very difficult to separate the two, and the only way we really will see the difference with most players is when they leave the club.

So far, the only player I can think of to leave the team in the last three years to have a decent season away from the Lions is Az Hakim this year. His is a classic case of being mis-used in our system. He was a #3 in St. Louis, and excelled there. He came here to be a #1, and simply was out of position along with dropping a lot of passes. He leaves, goes to New Orleans behind Horn and Stallworth as the #3, and he's back to producing like he did in St. Louis. He is truly the example of how bad coaching mis-uses the player.

But what about some other players that have been jettisoned? We haven't seen or heard of any of our other receivers since they left. No former RB's either. Ditto QB's, OL's, and TE's. They leave here and are never heard from again, or if they are, it's because they are underperforming in their new digs. McDougle got benched within a few weeks in Miami - a team that was desperate for O-Line help. McMahon is still missing more throws than he makes. Alexander and Ricks are M.I.A. Remember how everyone thought Scotty Anderson was going to be so good? I won't even mention B.S. by anything more than his initials. Again, it's not all coaching, sometimes it's the players. And these guys were all key players for us over the last few seasons, whether starting or filling in as injury replacements. It's not coincidental that the Lions were so bad and these guys haven't made a mark with any other NFL team.

Believe me, I think Mooch's coaching was horrible. I wrote up all my opinions in my blog as the post So Long Mooch. I do think a lot of it falls directly on him. But I'm not ready to say that the Players simply need a new scheme and they'll excel. I'm a bit gunshy about that as all our O players have underperformed this year.

Oh well, I hope I'm wrong, and we see significant improvement today. Somehow I just don't see it happening. One week is too short of a time to see a drastic scheme change, and playcalling will only make a difference if there were plays that they just weren't calling. Prove me wrong Olsen. Please...

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