Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Call me a Contrarian but I like the Move

Well it happened. A season of horrific and historical proportions came to a merciful end with the Detroit Lions scoring zero wins against 16 losses. This was an NFL record that no other team will want to match. And the poor Lions can only hope that another team may join them one day in their misery.

The first thing Monday morning the Lions fired the coach and a few of his assistants. Somebody had to fall on their sword and the coach was all to willing. The poor guy was so over-matched and as bad as the team and the players were, I have to think smart coaching can get you a win or two per season.

Unfortunately, the architects of the disaster (or even worse the lackeyz of the architect) were given promotions and put in charge. Their names are Martin Mayhew (the new GM) and Tom Lewand (the new President.)

You can imagine the fan's ire that the owner (the octogenarian recluse William Clay Ford) would keep these guys around. Let's blow the whole thing up and start over, screamed the masses when given their time on sports radio. Myself, divorced from my emotions, am okay with this move and only request they honestly give the very rational reasons for keeping them around and seeing what they can do.

Because the Lions have and will pay A LOT of money to guys who delivered some of the most horrible results in the history of pro sports. They just got done paying Steve Marrauichi $6 million dollars for not coaching their team in 2006 and 2007. Likewise, they will be paying Matt Millen $5 million in 2009 and 2010 to not be the GM. Crazy money. So why not give these low risk, low pay guys left standing a chance to see what they can do.

Also, there is the matter of the new CBA the owners have to negotiate with their players and the real likelihood that the 2010 season will suffer a lockout by the owners. It seems smart not to promise a lot of money to guy you'll need to pay even if the team doesn't play.

In their introductory press conference, the M & L boys did mention Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as blueprints, which I hope they don't really feel is the Lions blueprint. Because if you are a dome team you need to look at the dome teams that have won Super Bowls and there are only two: Indianapolis and St. Louis. Both of those teams had a high-powered offense. So for all the talk of building a big tough defense (which you will need) you need to have offense.

Now if Bill Parcells becomes available you got to take that. He is the only guy that you are pretty much guaranteed a winning team two or three years after the introductory press conference.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Geting Misty Eyed over Joey

There is an interesting piece in a recent New Yorker magazine about the difficulty in assessing what star college quarterbacks will be successful in the NFL. (It actually was about how it is hard to find and evaluate good teachers but that is similar to the hunt for that elusive NFL quarterback.)

It includes an interview with a hardened pro scout who after decades of evaluating college quarterbacks still can't determine to any degree of certainty who will make a great NFL quarterback or who will, more likely, turn into a huge bust.

And he had his kindest words for Joey Harrington.

"I tell you I saw Joey live," he (pro scout Dan Shonka) said. "This guy threw lasers, he could under tight spots, he had the arm strength, he had the size, he had the intelligence." Shonka got misty as a two-hundred-and-eighty-pound ex-linebacker in a black track suit can get. "He's a concert pianist, you know? I really -- I mean really -- liked Joey."

Of course, Joey did have the misfortune of being drafted by the Detroit Lions.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Free Rod

It's time for the Detroit Lions to show some compassion and fire their head coach. And they should also include his son-in law, who happens to be their defensive coordinator. Let's end this nepotistic anti-dynasty, give the jaws of life to some other poor soul and attempt to salvage this wreck of a season.

The firing arguments have evolved over the season. First, you had the sports radio die-hards who were onto coach Rod and how he talked a good game but couldn't help but notice the lack of wins, the lack of improvement of the Lions players and how they did the same things over and over again with the same unsuccessful results. Maybe this Tampa 2 defense is how you win games but when you hire a defensive coach and your defense is always at the bottom of the league in defense, something is wrong here. And, even worse than that, he is a defensive line coach and we've seen no improvement with our defensive line in three years while we've thrown big contracts at under performers.

Not it would be the compassionate thing to do to fire him. He hasn't been given the talent and he is drowning in this. He's too close to the action to see what's really happening. Set him free.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lions Lose

And I was oh so close in predicting the outcome. I said Redskins 27-16 and it turned out to be 25-17 with the Redskins just covering the 7 and half point spread.

Granted, we are talking about the Lions but still they had the lead at halftime. But as per the case in 14 of their past 15 games, they could not get the job done.

This is bad. Really bad. They will win one maybe two games if they are lucky but that's it. There is really nothing to look forward to until late January or early February when they hire their new GM.

There are calls in the local papers to fire the coach Rod Marinelli. Not so much because he is a bad coach, although based on the results I don't know why he might have the potential to be a good coach. No they are suggesting he get fired for humanitarian reasons. That he is too invested in this horrible team and since he'll be fired at the end of the season anyway, why make him go through this season where every Sunday will be like Groundhog's Day, with the Lions getting run over by whatever team they are playing.

I can see the signs at Ford Field now: Free Rod.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lions Game #7 Preview: The Redskins

This Sunday it's the Lions vs. the Redskins. A classic blowout in the making.

Hopefully not as bad as last year. The Redskins beat the Lions 34-3, dropping the Lions record to 0-21 vs the Redskins in Washington, D.C.

Now the Lions and Redskins play the first non-sell out Ford Field home game ever. Feels appropriate.

Redskins are 7 and a 1/2 point favorites (The Lions are 2-0 against the spread in the post matt millen era.)

Brutal Reality


Run offense 158.1 yards per game (3rd)
Run defense 86.4 yards (7th)


Run defense 167.5 (31st)
Rushing yards 77.7 (30th)

Looks like we'll be airing it out. (Oh wait, we fired Mike Martz after last season.) Hopefully we can stop the redskins running game. Fantasy football players who have Clinton Portis are licking their chops. Most likely, won't happen. Redskins 27-16

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Update on Lions vs. Vikings

This is a nice microcosm of how the Lions season is going. After recovering the ball on their one yard one line, they put this drive together.

Detroit - 0:31
1st-10, DET1 0:31 D. Orlovsky incomplete pass to the right
2nd-10, DET1 0:27 D. Orlovsky incomplete pass to the left
3rd-10, DET1 0:18 D. Orlovsky sacked by J. Allen. D. Orlovsky sacked for a safety

This weeks numbers: $8.5 million and 13 1/2 points

The Lions have reached new depths of futility. This is the worst they have ever been. They will be lucky to win 2 games and have a good opportunity to be become the first NFL team to go 0-16.

They did score a victory of sorts this week. Former first round wide receiver Charles Rogers was ordered by a court to give back his $8.5 million dollar signing bonus. Not sure how they will actually get that money back, maybe they can send over some muscle; maybe some of the eleven defensive lineman they have on their roster are actually good for something.

Also, just to give an idea on how bad things are, the Lions are 13 and half point underdogs to a 2-3 Minnesota Vikings team. I have to think this is unprecedented. It makes me wonder whether the Lions are due for an upset.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Good News for Masochistic Lions Fans

A new act at the Waterford Grill

The Matt Millen Clown and Lounge Show, with Joey Harrington on keyboards and backup singers Mike Williams and Charles Rogers.

They can no longer harm Lions fans so let them entertain with hits like "Morningwhig, Marinelli and Mooch....my kind of guys" and "First Round Wide Receiver...I Think I'm in Love."

The band pays you to show up...part of a $100 million plan to pay back all the money they received for their unprecedented run of failure.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Down with the Tigers, Up with the Cubs.

It's been a while since I took a look at the major league baseball standings. With me, it's always about the home team and for baseball that means the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers came into this season with high expectations sporting all kinds of newly acquired talent and a bloated payroll usually seen only in New York or Boston. And from the get go they stunk - real bad. After losing their first eight games of the season, they have barely played .500 baseball and are now way back in the AL Central. I know this because I checked today for the first time since June. Yes, I am a fair weather fan. Which can be an advantage, I'm sure the Lions wish people would stop paying attention to them.

But, man, the standings told a great a story and with baseball playoffs almost here, it's time to get myself a seat on the bandwagon. And I have my team. The Chicago Cubs. Could this be the year that the lovable yet hapless Cubbies finally overcome their century long jinx. That is the kind of story that world needs now. Go Cubs!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Q&A #1

Question: What's eating Jon Kitna?

Answer: He wishes he was J.T O'Sullivan

Kitna wants to be a christian robot in the mark martz scheme. Not be where he is right now where he needs to make plays and throw good passes.

And all he can think about for this Sunday's game, "if only i was mike martz's bitch. Things would be so much better." Then maybe Jesus would be that much prouder.

The poor guy, knew the team was a fraud. He knew it was over with three straight touchdowns in the first half of the first quarter of the first game and knew the defense sucked balls and the offensive line was worthless and it was all on him to win. And he knew he couldn't do it.

But I pick on one man, what about the Lions as the pathetic uncompetitive organization they are. The people in charge need to wake up. Long standing institutions with a much better record of success are going down as I write this.

So true

Spoken by Stephen Smith on the ESPN network.

"This (Lions) team is just atrocious and Matt Millen is a walking football atrocity. He is the worst executive, in my opinion, in the history of team sports.

"He is flat-out garbage. The fact that he is allowed to have a job, the fact that he is allowed to walk though the streets of Detroit to enter Ford Field is an abomination in and of itself.

"There should be barricades keeping this man out of the city limits. He should not be allowed to be employed by the Detroit Lions. He is a disgrace of the highest order.

"And that's why you can't take anything Aaron Rodgers did yesterday seriously, because we are talking about the Detroit Lions, who are absolute garbage. ...

"(Millen) is clueless, he doesn't know what he's doing. Until they get rid of him, we're going to be saying that a whole bunch of people look good when they play the Detroit Lions."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Lions 2008 Season - One and Done

This email from a friend says it all about the Lions opening game.

Oh my god,
I didnt think it was going to be that bad.
I really thought six - nine wins.

This season is DOA.

The first quarter was brutal. The Lions were like a basketball team that couldn't get a defensive stop. The Falcons scored on their first three possessions like the defense was not there.

The Atlanta Falcons then ran and ran and ran all afternoon. More than 300 yards on the ground.

It was pathetic. Even for the Lions, it was disappointing and a little bit shocking. But not completely unexpected.

This was a major meltdown.

And it comes back to the fundamental problem with the Detroit Lions. Their complete lack of competitiveness. They just do not have the desire or talent to be a respectable NFL team.

Now comes the Monday morning recriminations. The coach insisting that he believes in this team. And the players who do not show up on Sunday are all there to make excuses for the reporters.

And how did the veteran leadership do?

Jeff Backus? The seven year veteran (?) had a false start on his second play of the game. Apparently, the other offensive tackle got pushed around too. I think it is time to put in the rookie. I think it's time to seriously clean house, man. Play the young guys. Please.

And Jon Kitna, the veteran quarterback and resident bible thumper. What a douche! He was yelling at the receiver's coach like a jackass, making questionable decisions on the field that ruined any chances to get back in the game and will come to define this season. This guy is on the very back-end of an extremely mediocre career. You got to be kidding that we'll try to squeeze out four or five wins with a guy who won't be able to walk two years from now.

Where do you start to build with this team?

I thought it was going to work with this coach. In Rod We Trust. A nice slogan but I don't think it's going to happen. If a team can't get motivated for the first game of the season and in fact suffers a meltdown (that was eerily similar to the one that happened in Philadelphia last year after starting 2-0) what can you really expect.

I'll be watching this season like one gawks at the remains of a bad traffic accident.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Thank God it's Week 1

It's time for that uncomfortable summer heat and humidity to go away, for tropical storms and hurricanes to form somewhere out there in the the Atlantic and for the Detroit Lions to take to the field and prove their doubters right once again.

The slogan for the Lions has changed from "Wait til the next Decade" to "Do You Believe in Now.' And it does appear there are reasons for optimism. The Lions are coming off their best pre-season since 1993. That was back in the Wayne Fontes era, which are now referred to as the golden years.

Of course, there are still uncomfortable realities to consider. The Lions gave up more points (27.8) and yards (377.6) per game than any defense last year. Their offense had the 31st rated running game averaging (80.5) yards per game. Teams with stats like that typically don't do well in the NFL, kind of like the Lions last season.

Luckily, the Lions are fortunate enough to play the Atlanta Falcons in their season opener. This fellow sad sack franchise had a monumentally bad season last year with their starting quarterback going to prison and their coach suddenly quitting halfway through the season. And this year they will start a rookie quarterback. In other words, there are few better opponents to open your season against.

So, for the Lions, this is a make or break game. Because if the Lions hold out hopes of winning, say, five or six games this season, they need to win this game.

Among the things to feel good about is the Lions will start an all-rookie backfield. It's always nice to have new blood back there and they will not suffer the taint of last year's disgrace. Things to not feel so good about is starting pretty much the same offensive line as last season. And even worse, new offensive tackle first-rounder Gosder Cherilous is not starting but hopefully this means he could soon replace our hopelessly mediocre and extremely overpaid left tackle Jeff Backus.

Going out on a limb, I am going to make a prediction for this game.

The Lions will try to run but this won't work too well. They go to the pass and make some big plays.

The much improved defense, which had a nearly complete makeover in the secondary, will try to rattle the rookie quarterback.

The special teams will blow the favorable field position the offense and defense earn.

We'll score some touchdowns but as per the Lions M.O. we'll have to settle for field goals.

Lions 20-16.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Two Trailer Park Girls Go Round the Outside

Okay, yes, it has been a spell since I fed my little baby.

My excuse is a general lack of excitement in Detroit sports lately (I know, bear with me for a second here.)

True, the Red Wings did go ahead and win the Stanley Cup (as Scotty predicted) but I was too busy in my revelry to get analytical. How can the mere words of an amateur compete alongside the visceral feeling of millions celebrating another Stanley Cup victory? I will say that I believe (or maybe more hope) that the Wings are heading for a new dynasty.( A New Dynasty for the New Century. I like the sound of that.) If Lidstrom can hold out a few more years and with Zetterberg and Datsyk coming into their primes, along with a strong supporting cast of characters like Johan Franzen, it's possible for the Wings to get a couple more Stanley Cups in the next five years. I am one greedy bastard when it comes to Red Wings and Stanley Cups. Now we got Marian Hossa, who, I hope (again), will put this team on his shoulders and win a few games in next year’s playoffs. (BTW, do you think Mike Illitch signed him because he has the same first name as his wife.)

The Tigers were a huge disappointment. In less than two years they went from the overachieving and lovable underdogs to bloated overpaid underperformers led by their poster child (and bad luck charm) Gary Sheffeld. (Though I can’t help but identify with disgruntled/underperforming worker – that’s my shtick!) Hopefully, something can be salvaged after they dismantle this monstrosity of a payroll.

Which all gets me to the Lions. The reason I am back from my hiatus! The Detroit Lions are 3-0. Granted, this is the pre-season. And they were 6-2 at one point last year. But I am ready to believe in now (or today) or whatever their cheesy slogan is. My expectations are low; let’s just not suck this year boys. I think we can get there. Because the NFL really does have a lot of crappy teams.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It's All About The Red Wings Now

Ok, it's time to get really excited about the Red Wings. We are in the conference finals and typically when we make it this far we make it all the way (except for last year, but the wings much more healthy this go round.) It's always those pesky early rounds that provide the serious trouble.

We cruised so fast through that second round I did not have a chance to let the good people of Nashville know that as hockey fans, they are not so bad. They were loud and behind their team and played in a role in beating the wings in that game 3 or 4, or whatever game that was. I can't remember if the series even went six games? What I do know is that the Wings have won six games in a row and that I would still like Nashville to lose their franchise to a Canada city, preferably London or Kitchener. Huh, got that.

So i say it's all about the Red Wings because the Pistons just drive me crazy. I can't get handle on what's going with those dudes. They seem as indifferent to winning as this casual fan. I can take it or I can leave it. I am even feeling sorry for the overmatched Orlando Magic. At least they want to win, even though the Pistons seem to own them.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hopelessly Optimistic After This Year's Lion's Draft

"So that happened."

You think this is what Matt Millen says after every draft, curious and confused as to why he has not been fired yet.

Remember Daryl Rogers begging and pleading "What does a guy have to do to get fired around here?" For Matt Millen, there appears to be no answer to this question. He keeps on losing, keeps on wasting money on first round draft picks that bust, keeps making him and the Lions the biggest embarrassments in the league. Anytime the sport's punditry needs to fill in some air time, they can always hop on the meme of the Detroit Lions woeful draft record, their 31-81 record the last six years, the unexplainable fetish a hall-of-fame middle linebacker has for diva wide receivers.

So it was not a large surprise when this year's draft was in the books the majority feeling that the Lions did not do well. Of course, this could because the Lions never do well. Never even come close to doing well.

But despite the fact everybody seems to think they have a pretty good opinion, nobody really knows.

The good news is the Lions actually drafted for positions where they need players. And these players appear to actually enjoy playing football.

They needed a right tackle. And they got one in the first round. (Some said it was a reach but if you are drafting top five offensive tackle or defensive end in the first round, i think you are pretty much on target.)

In the second round, they got that middle linebacker they've needed forever, who seems quite a bit like one they cut recently but maybe this guy will work out. Because he has to work out.

Then in the third round they got a running back and two defensive linemen.

All needs. So whether they are good or not they should get a chance to make the team and play.

So would everybody shut up about how the Lions messed up this year's draft. Again. Because we don't know that yet. That is why we play the games.

Trust me, this is a lot easier to take if you drink the kool aid and eat the corn bread.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Scotty Sez Red Wings a Go Go for the Cup

Yeah kid's it's spring and you know what that means...NHL playoff hockey. Here is hoping that we'll be sun bathing by the time the Red Wings stop playing. And though he is not the most objective source, Scotty Bowman likes the Red Wings to be doing triumphant laps around the rink come the middle of June.

These choice cuts from his Q&A with the New York Times:

"As for who will win the Cup, I might be prejudiced in this, but I’m a big supporter of the Red Wings. I think they’re poised to have a good run and I think they have the best chance to win the Cup."

Okay, but give me reasons to believe Scotty.

"I think one of the main reasons the Wings are well poised for the Cup this year is because, in February, some of their veterans — Lidstrom, Rafalski and Hasek — suffered injuries which forced them to rest. That wouldn’t have happened otherwise. So the veteran players are rested and the best offensive players, Datsyuk and Zetterberg, are not that old."


"The team this year had some adversity toward the end of the season to win the Presidents’ Trophy, with some injuries and big lead. I think the adversity in this case is a good thing for them rather than bad."

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Nav Bar Don't Lie

More proof that the NHL is slipping in its status as one of the top four sports. Yahoo Sports has refreshed their navigation bar and moved the NHL a few places to the right. It now lives "below" NASCAR and just left of Mixed Martial Arts. I have to assume that Yahoo did this based on the amount of visitors to these sections. Ironically, maybe hockey could have maintained its popularity by adopting some of the moves of MMA fighting, instead of catering to the 'no fighting and every player wear a visor' crowd.

The evidence:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

"We've Looked Like a Dead Club"

Some people say that the Red Wings are the New York Yankees of hockey. But after being the the only MLB team swept in this season's opening salvos, could the Tigers be the update to the overpaid under achieving team? As it now stands, the Tigers have the second highest payroll in baseball (more than the Red Sox and the Mets!) along with bullpen problems, injuries and, so far, a winless season.

And losing and lack of excitement could be bad for business, as blogcritic.org points out.

At an average ticket price in the mid $20 range in Detroit and an anticipated attendance of around 3 million for the season, the Tigers can’t make payroll on ticket prices alone. Luxury boxes, concessions and local broadcast rights fees figure into the mix but it still hard to fathom that those other revenue streams can completely make up the difference.

Of course, basically, we have all of the season left, so no panic here. But the cinderella Tigers of two years ago have been transformed into a team loaded with superstars and expectations. Is the joy gone?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NFL Mock Drafts

The prognosticaters have the Lions putting the proverbial cart before the horse, choosing Running Back over Offensive Line. Maybe Millen figures the wide receivers can do the blocking.

CBS, ESPN & NFL Draftcountdown : Rashard Mendenhall (RB) Illinois
Sports Illustrated: Chris Williams (OT) Vanderbilt
Rivals.com: Derrick Harvey (DE) Florida

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Matt Millen's April Fools Day Interview

Maybe this is not an April Fool's article, but the the "Freep" quotes Matt Millen in today's edition as saying, "I don't think we have painted ourselves into a hole. We have options draft wise."

Perhaps he is referring to the fact that so many former draft picks have been released and/or not re-signed. ("That's what we in the business call roster space.") They have unburdened themselves from former first round pick (Kevin Jones) and four second round picks (Shaun Rogers, Boss Bailey, Ted Lehman and Kalimba Edwards) in just the past month. And that doesn't take into account their trifecta of big-time busts of years past: Joey, Chuck and Mikey.

Also, they have an interview with Boy Wonder Ford and you have to love this vote of confidence for Millen:

It’s no secret you were high on Millen in the beginning. Do you have the same feeling now?

“Matt doesn’t report to me, and as a result, it’s probably not right that I comment on it.

It's not right that I comment that Millen sucks. 31-81. If he was a vehicle in our Ford lineup, he would be the Ford Expedition. Grotesquely big, lumbering and slow; a gas guzzling, bullshit spewing vessel from another era.

One commenter said that Ford could have mentioned he was a good broadcaster. But I always thought he sucked at that too. He talked in cliches and said the most obvious things and reveled in his buffoon persona. The guy could play football. He needed to keep it there.

Matt Millen. Here's to you keeping it April Fool's Day all year long.

(And I know this has been mentioned before, but the NFL must have put him on the competition committee as an April Fool's joke and forget to take him off.)

Tigers Lose Opener in Extra Innings Classic

"Oh my goodness gracious isn't that terrible, Henny Penny the sky is going to fall."

Okay maybe not, even after the Tiger lose their opener to their lowly division rivals, the Kansas City Royals. For me anyway, this makes sense because I met some Royals fans traveling through Costa Rica in December, and they were the first to inform me of that big Cabrera/Willis trade. They were concerned that this move was not a win/win, that it seriously impacted the Royals chances of winning the pennant, But I assured them "don't worry, it doesn't matter how good the Tigers will be because the Royal's suck!" Sorry Tiger fans, I jinxed it for everybody,

But i digress. People (and I mean the media and sports radio) take it easy on the bullpen. These guys are pretty sensitive and will need some confidence for the next 161 games (and hopefully more.) I think we left like 10 guys on base, so that can't happen. They're talking the Tigers possibly scoring a 1000 runs this season, which averages more than 7 runs a game. So if that was the case, we would have won this thing. And I think the Royals might actually be a good, scrappy young team. And don't the Royals seem to always beat us. They kept us being from central division champs in the last weekend of the 2006 team and now they have spoiled our undefeated season.

Keep the faith. This kind of stuff would not shake Uncle Donny.

"You go to war with the bullpen you have..not the bullpen you wish you had."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Can't Stop Talking Those Lions (Honolulu) Blues

What's happening in Detroit sports? The Tigers start their 2008 season Monday after trading and signing one of the best young talents in baseball with a good chance to get back to the World Series. The Pistons will finish second in their conference and try to make it six straight Eastern Conference Finals appearance. The Red Wings begin their 17th straight playoff quest for the Stanley Cup after finishing with the NHL's best record. But of course all Detroit sports radio can discuss (beside Mayor Kwame's recent criminal indictment) is the Detroit Lions.

In 2007, the Lions had their usual train wreck of a season. They started with one of the shakiest 6-2 starts ever, losing in 50 point blow outs to Washington and Philadelphia. Still, there was reason for optimism as fully 80 percent of teams that start 6-2 make the playoffs.

But as the second half wore on, we were once again reminded that the Lions are not like other teams, or really, any other professional sports team. They went 1-7 in their final eight games for a 7-9 record, which in the perverse recent history of the Lions made that their best record since the 2000 season. (The year before Matt Millen began his quest to become the worst front office executive of all time.)

Their first off season move was firing their genius offensive coordinator and replacing him with the offensive line coach. This was a bit curious as their offensive line was one of the worst in the league all season, one that was causing quarterback Jon Kitna to see miracles all season (what the less evangelistic might call concussions.) Apparently, it was just that the blocking schemes were too complicated, and they figure once those are dumbed down, by their new coordinator, they will find that running game that can never quite put together.

But the Lions are a few key pieces short of a running game: mainly an effective offensive line especially at the tackle positions and a running back. Despite the lack of excitement such a pick brings, Detroit media and sports radio callers are begging the Lions to take a OT. But it seems like they have other ideas, and I think it is time they drafted for defense. Which might be the plan for the Lions. Because as bad as the offense was last year, the defense was a whole lot worse.

Whatever happens we can be pretty sure it will be the wrong one, and the player will most likely eventually be waived, traded for a third round draft pick or go to prison for manslaughter.

Lions 2008 Calendar Update: (Gift for Christmas)

January - Jon "10 Win" Kitna
February - Kenoy Kennedy
March - Jeff "False Start" Backus
April - Boss Bailey
May - MIke "Call Me' Furrey
June - Ernie "You See, the Lions Can't Mess Up All Their First Round Draft Picks" Sims
July - Dan "Are You Sure He's on the Team" Campbell
August - Cory "Better Step Up This Year" Redding
September - Kalimba Edwards
October - Kevin Jones
November - Fernando Bryant
December - Roy "Not Here Much Longer" Williams

The Wings hit some Milestones

"They said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high."

These words came to mind after the Wings made it three straight 50 win seasons. If you remember, after the NHL returned from its suicidal lock-out, many pundits and prognosticators predicted a steady decline and/or rapid demise for the Red Wings. No longer could the Wings pad their roster and pay rolls with their rent-an-overpriced veteran policy, as they did through much of the 90s. Without the money bags of Mike Ilitch to outspend the competition, "they" said, the Wings would need to compete with their competition on an equal footing.

But the salary cap era came about the same time the high payroll strategy was already wearing pretty thin anyway. So it was time to focus more on what the Wings do best. And in recent years, that is scouting Russia and Europe, and more specifically Sweden, for young players that fit the Wings puck possession style.

And the results are in. The Wings will be the President's Cup Trophy Winners for the 2007-2008 season. Though we have seen this before, being the best during the regular season, only to suffer lethal gut punches in the first and second rounds of the playoffs, let's chill at the excellence of this team. Because in addition to that third consecutive 50 win season, this will also be the Wings 17th straight playoff appearance. That is the longest streak in professional sports. (They are about as good as the Lions are hapless.)

And though you can never know what will happen in the playoffs, I like our chances to go deep like we did last season. (The conference finals.) It's time the new generation won a cup.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Ever Quotable Jim Leyland

Sportswriters who cover the Tigers must love the words that come out of Jim Leyland's mouth. (Of course nothing like having Rasheed Wallace to write your copy.)

Leyland's recent explanation of Jason Verlander's troubles and their possible causes:

“I’m not worried about Justin,” the manager told the Detroit Free Press. “He just has to work harder to keep the ball down. He got all out of sync and he never got back into it. He got radar gun conscious and he started to feel all macho.”

More quotes courtesy of the Motor City Forum:

"I remember somebody telling me, 'You can't trade (Tony) Pena. He's our most popular player,' " Leyland said. "Look, when you lose 100 games two years in a row and draw 700,000 (fans), you don't got no popular players."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Let's Get the NHL Playoffs Started Already

Though I do not have the blood lust for the Nashville Predators like other villains of Red Wings past, it was nice to see the Wings dispatch them handily last night and in their own building. (Now that they can't win at home- I guess the Predators have lost six straight in their building - maybe it's time to move the team north, where hockey is meant to played, like London Ontario or Kitchener.)

I especially like how the Predators took the early lead only to be answered by three straight Red Wings goals. Then they come back to tie the game at 3 and the Wings again score three straight, for an impressive 6-3 victory. Johan Franzen was the hero, getting the game winning goal in the third. Gotta love those Swedes.

I like the way we can score this year. We had some droughts this season and no doubt we’ll hit the skids in the playoffs as we so often do, but we got more offensive fire power this year than we have for a long time. (And now that I take a closer look, Hank Z. gets a hat trick Wednesday, scoring all three goals in a 3-1 win over Columbus.) Yes, I do love those swedes, with a special kind of love for Hank.

Down with (Columbus) Ohio. Down with the South (Nashville).

And pinch me if I’m dreaming, but it looks like we may get the Avalanche in round one of the playoffs. How nice would that be? Get that rivalry greased up again.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Detroit Lions: Rebuilding Since 1957

The recent release of Kevin Jones has fired up the word processors of many a NFL columnist. It is an oft-told and sad tale about the ineptitude of Matt Millen and his disastrous reign as the president of the Detroit Lions. Hubris. Arrogance. Incompetence. Maybe it’s a good thing that he is running a football franchise rather than calling the shots in say, U.S. foreign policy. Or maybe he is doing that on the side too, which would explain a few things.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated gives a run down of drafts in the Matt Millen era (though I do disagree a bit with his evaluation of Jeff Backus as a "Very good player" ):

2001: Round 1, 18th overall, T Jeff Backus. Very good player --112 career games, all starts. Round 2, (50), C Dominic Raiola. Above-average five-year starter. Round 2 (61) DT Shaun Rogers. Perennial tease just traded to Browns.
2002: Round 1 (3) QB Joey Harrington. Booed out of town in '05. Now a Falcon. Round 2 (35) DE Kalimba Edwards. Six seasons, 26 sacks. Just cut.
2003: Round 1 (2) WR Charles Rogers. Injuries, substance abuse made him a bust. Round 2 (34) LB Boss Bailey. Five years, moderate impact. Now a Bronco.
2004: Round 1 (7) WR Roy Williams. Very good wideout. Unhappy. On the block. Round 1 (30) RB Kevin Jones. Cut after one good and three nothing years. Round 2 (37) LB Teddy Lehman. Hurt too much. Just signed with Bucs.
2005: Round 1 (10) WR Mike Williams. Lasted two pathetic years before being cut. Round 2 (37) DT Shaun Cody. Backup DT. Seven career starts.
2006: Round 1 (9) LB Ernie Sims. Genuine item. Solid player, great leader. Round 2 (40) FS Daniel Bullocks. Good rookie year. Hurt second year. Can he rebound?

The good news is the Lions can’t possibly draft worse in the next seven draft years (or can they?) And while pundits may now rain down contempt at Matt Millen's draft record, he usually does receive decent grades on draft day. And, even though there is major incompetence at work here, there is also some bad luck too (i.e. the Kevin Jones injury situation, Charlie Roger's broken collar bones)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Patriots and Lions share similar lack of success

The football season is over. The New York Giants are the champions after their improbable victory over the New England Patriots.

Of course, the Detroit Lions didn’t even come close to the playoffs despite a 6-2 start. The minute the players sniffed any sort of success somebody reminded them they were Detroit Lions. The second half of the season was a more familiar and comfortable 1-7. (I was lucky enough to see that uninspiring victory over the hapless Kansas City Chiefs. I was the one actively rooting against the Lions so they could break a record they should own - the first team to lose their last 8 games after going 6-2.)

Well some NFL teams did better than others, Matt Millen, has his own definition of success and failure in the top league of professional football, Because and I quote from the Lions web site, “For Lions President and CEO Matt Millen, success in the National Football League is simple: “The team that wins the Super Bowl is successful and the 31 other teams are not.”

If we are to believe this philosophy then the New England Patroits 18-1 are every bit as successful as the Lions 31-81 record the last seven years. I'll say this for Matt Millen, he's got some balls on him.