Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Detroit Lions: Season In Review

This was a tale of many seasons for the Lions.  It started off with a huge controversial (wrong) call against the Bears, losing Stafford in the process.  The season seemed lost, and we were mostly right.  The Lions wouldn't be the same, and any hope of seeing Stafford progress into a Pro-Bowl passer were gone. And yet, the team won games, won games we shouldn't have, and gave us hope that things were turning around and the Lions are on their way to contending for the playoffs next season.

I can go on and on about how good the Lions look, their new players, decent depth, and how one more offseason could lead us to the playoffs.  A player here, a backup there, and the Lions will be going for the Super Bowl this time next season.  I do believe things are getting better, and the Lions are moving in the right direction.  We have the right people leading us to the promise land.  But there is more to this than some think.

Some problems were addressed, as the Lions finally improved their special teams, return game, defensive line and general talent level.  But the offensive line was once again a liability.  The Lions couldn't run the ball until later in the season, when they just shoved it down people's throats.  Sims played well, Raiola was solid, and Cherilus/Hiliard were improved.  But none were great, and the Lions should have at least one great lineman for all the money they poured there.  Backus played OK at times, but mostly was giving up kill shots that knocked out every Lions QB at some point in the season for some length of time.  He needs to find a new position, or be moved.  I just don't want to see him let someone bull rush past him on his way to killing Stafford.

The rushing attack was pretty pitiful most season.  We were playing from behind a lot, and Best did have two bad foot injuries, but there really isn't an excuse for how bad we looked.  Best had 3.2 yards per carry, not exactly the game breaker we all were promised.  The Lions tried to open it up, but I feel another running back is necessary, as Smith is always injured (and may not make the team next year) Best isn't a lead back, and Morris isn't a everyday back.  Felton needs to be used more, as a rusher, receiver and blocker.  He needs to have a bigger role.  I think he has some talent and can be played more than now.  We also need to use the TEs more in the running game, at the end of the year, Heller was playing well and contributed to running game.

I know the secondary was rebuilt again, and that Houston looked solid, but the pass defense isn't good.  The Dline got more talented, but they couldn't cover up our flaws.  Smith played well and created turnovers, but was beaten a few times.  I feel better about his 5 INT's than him getting beat by the Patriots.  He is still young.  Delmas and Levy were hurt a lot and that hurt our defense too much at times.  The Lions need CBs and LBs badly.  The defense just can't get better without them.

For the Lions to move forward, they need help with offensive line, linebackers and the secondary.  More talent is still needed, as is depth, to catch up to acceptable NFL levels.  Another running back or pass rusher wouldn't hurt either.  Some position battles will take place, at kicker, running back and wide receiver not named Calvin Johnson.  The Lions need to keep up the hard work and take advantage of all the young talent they have assembled.  This could be a dynamic, fun, good team in as little as a offseason.

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