I am going to look at the Lions season in three parts. First, my thoughts on the progress (or lack there off) and improvements from last year. Part two will look at players and coaches that I want to keep or get cut. Part three will look at who and what I want to target in free agency and the draft. Here is the first article of the trilogy that was the 2009 Detroit Lions season.
I came into this season expecting the Lions to be pretty bad but win 4-6 wins. I came up short on that prediction but at least they didn't set any huge losing records. I am happy to have won football games but luckily I have not been satisfied, and neither has this coaching staff.
I am most pleased with the play of our rookies and Schwartz as our head coach. Stafford, Pettigrew, Delmas and Levy have all shown that they can be very good players and a foundation to build upon for this franchise. Sammie Hill has the potential to be very good and played far better than the project we all thought he would be this season. Stafford has a powerful arm and showed he is a tough leader that this city and team can appreciate. He made some mistakes but improved as the season went on until he was hampered by knee and shoulder problems. Pettigrew also came on late but a knee injury ended his season. He looked like the big physical touchdown machine we all hoped for. Delmas looked like a missile and the hard hitter Detroit has lacked for years. I love his physical play and he looks like a pro bowler in the making. I wish he had softer hands since he missed three or four interceptions this year but had his share of turnovers. Levy looks like an eventual starter at middle linebacker and tackling machine we have missed since Stephen Boyd. Hill needs to continue to work hard and improve and could be a good starter in the NFL. Our other rookies have been hit and miss. Follett looks like a special teams beast and occasional backup linebacker. He could be a captain someday. Lydon Murtha was released, picked up by Miami then got injured. He could still be a nice project. Aaron Brown looks like a shifty third down back and good kick returner. He could be a solid piece in rebuilding. Derrick Williams has been disappointing. He had a solid preseason receiving and did all right kick returning but has hardly played all season and could be cut. Looks like if he doesn't turn it around, he will be a bust. Dan Gronkowski played in one game, got cut and resigned to the practice squad. He may just be a guy who floats around a few years then gets cut for good.
Coach Schwartz has been awesome. Yeah, it hasn't turned into wins but his passion is contagious. He is laying a foundation of winning he believes in. He plays the best players and doesn't have favorites. He is a rookie too and still learning and hopefully he can learn from failures. Linehan has been a solid OC but has made some dumb play calls. He looks to be mentoring Stafford well. No real complaints here. Cunningham has been solid and aggressive as a defensive coordinator but has such awful players and depth it doesn't really matter how good he is. Luckily, Stan Kwan has been fired.
Outside of personnel improvements, I enjoyed watching a real offensive and defensive strategies being used. The Lions made in game adjustments and only gave up once (at Baltimore). Sure they were blown out a few times but that was to be expected. The roster turnover injected life into this team. Four games even sold out this year. Not bad considering how awful the economy is. Things are definitely moving in the right direction.