Category Archives: Lions

Predictions NFC North

Chris Schisler

Green Bay Packers: 12-4
Reason: The Packers have arguably the best quarterback in football. The offense may go to new heights. I really love the addition of Devante Adams, especially in the red zone. The offense will stay balanced because of the versatile Eddie Lacey; this will help them win the NFC North’s grind it out games late in the season. The defense will be much better. Julius Peppers gives the Pack another pass rusher. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will help the secondary greatly.

Chicago Bears: 10-6
Reason: There is no doubting the offense (if Cutler can stay healthy). Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall may be the best receiver duo in the NFL. Add Martellus Bennet and Matt Forte and its almost like a video game. The Bears defense was horrible in 2013 however. I do not see it being much better in 2014. This is why they will finish second to the Pack.

Minnesota Vikings: 9-7
Reason: The Vikings fresh start will fall just short of playoff football. Teddy Bridgewater will at some point overthrow Matt Cassell as the starter. This will energize the Vikings. Minnesota has a ton of young talent and it is about to start showing.

Detroit Lions: 7-9
Reason: The Lions play what I call pinball football. They rack up high scores and often their opponent gets the highest score. The Lions have a weak secondary and a flashy but not all that great defense. A good pass rush and Stephen Tulloch does not make up for their defensive issues. I obviously love their new defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin. However you have to give him the talent. The undisciplined Lions did not address key problems and it will hurt them in 2014.

Draft Grades NFC North

Green Bay Packers: A

The Packers selection of Hasean Clinton-Dix at pick 22 was absolute gold. I had Clinton-Dix ranked as the 13th overall player in the entire draft class. The Packers also got high value in the second round, with Fresno State receiver Devante Adams. Adams is a good replacement for James Jones, who Green Bay lost in free agency. Adams gives Aaron Rodgers a red zone threat with his big frame and great jumping ability. Carl Bradford was a steal in the fourth round, if he was a little taller he’d go earlier. Jared Abbrederis is simmilar to the Packers number one reciever Jordy Nelson and was a steal in the 5th round. The Packers made no reaches, making 9 quality picks.

Detroit Lions: C+

Going into the draft the Lions desperately needed secondary help and they did little to ease that situation. Detroit selected the electrifying tight end Eric Ebron with the 10th overall selection. This improves an already potent offense. Detroit resigned Brandon Pettigrew so it looks like we will see many two tight end sets. The lions could have gotten the defensive help they needed, Kyle Fuller or Darqueeze Dennard would have made more sense. In round two the Lions selected Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy is a good outside linebacker but he is not a system fit. Maybe Teryl Austin is trying to convert his defense to a 3-4. Travis Swanson and TJ Jones were good values. Lions got okay players but all but ignored their needs.

Chicago Bears: B+

The Bears got good value with most of their selections. Chicago hit a home run with their first selection, Kyle Fuller. Fuller was the best fit at cornerback for their defense. My favorite selection from their draft us Will Sutton, a beastly defensive lineman from Arizona State. Ka’Deem Carrey is a stron lick in the 4th.

Minnesota Vikings: B+

The Vikings got their franchise quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater trading back into the first round with the Seattle Seahawks. This was by far their most important acquisition. Anthony Barr was not a great fit and a bit of a reach. Scott Chricton and David Yankee were high value selections.

Detroit Hires Jim Caldwell, Good Hire or Not?

Chris Schisler

The Detroit Lions have hired Ravens offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell as their head coach. The prevailing wisdom is that the they chose Caldwell to get the most out of their franchise quarterback, Matthew Stafford. There is little doubt that Caldwell can have a positive impact on Stafford; but will he be good for the team?

Jim Caldwell has a great wealth of experience. He has been coaching for a long time and he has earned a good reputation. He is intelligent and calm mannered. He has always been a great quarterbacks coach.

There is also a lot of reservations I would have about Jim Caldwell, if I was a general manager. Here are the problems with the hire:

1.) Jim Caldwell under performed as the Ravens offensive coordinator. This is not an opinion; it is a cold hard fact. The Ravens had one of the worst rushing attacks in football and ranked 26th offensively.

Yes,the Ravens had other problems offensively. The offensive line was pitiful and with no Dennis Pitta or Anquan Boldin the Ravens offense lacked consistent playmakers. All of this is true but does not afford Jim Caldwell a pass. He took a bad situation and made it worse.

Caldwell did not consider pass protection in his play calling. This was obvious. He used too many 5 man protections. When you’re offensive line can barely block three, how can you expect them to pick up blitzes with no help? The run game was absolutely abysmal. Caldwell also called a painfully predictable offense. Nothing ever changed.

This article is not about the Ravens, so I will move on. Just understand that the offensive coordinator position seemed way over Caldwell’s head.

2.) Jim Caldwell only lasted three seasons as a head coach; and he left them with the number 1 draft pick in 2012. To be fair the Colts were going to have a bad year no matter what happened without Peyton Manning for the entire season. But let’s be honest. Caldwell did not handle a bad situation well as a head coach.

The other two seasons Caldwell rode the Peyton Manning train to the playoffs but made some questionable decisions. He had a chance to have an undefeated season and he rested his starters ( Much to the dismay of Peyton Manning).

He lost to the Jets at home in a playoff game. Who ever would have thought Mark Sanchez could roll into Peyton’s house and beat him? In the Super Bowl against the Saints, Jim Caldwell was severely out coached, at least in my opinion.

3.) Jim Caldwell can’t call the plays and he must have good assistant coaches. Caldwell failed at calling plays as far as I am concerned. If Jim Caldwell is the play caller Stafford will take a beating (protection issues) and the Lions will have a bad run game.

Jim Caldwell is a coach with a specialty. He is a quarterbacks coach. He has failed as an offensive coordinator and a head coach. I hope I am wrong. I really want Jim Caldwell to succeed.
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A Few Notes on Ravens vs Lions

The Ravens are once again in the national spotlight, this time in the form of Monday Night Football. The Ravens go to Detroit for this primetime fight against the Lions. Here are some keys for the Ravens to get just their second road victory this season.

1.) Megatron Is Not Too Old

Matt Elam cannot really think the NFL’s best receiver is too old. Regardless of what he thinks, he gave grade A bulletin board material. Calvin Johnson must be the priority of the Ravens defense.

How do you stop a guy who can bring in the football regardless of the coverage? You do not stop Calvin Johnson, but you can limit his opportunities. Here is my favorite method.

Step 1.) Put your best suited corner on him. Ladarius Webb is the Ravens best corner, but Jimmy Smith is measurably the better matchup. Jimmy Smith has to play tight man coverage but he needs help.

Step 2.) A safety always needs to be over top Calvin Johnson. He can not get behind the safety.

Step 3.) Drop a nickel back or a linebacker in a intermediate outside zone. This will prevent Calvin Johnson from getting “free” or “easy” receptions on inside routes.

2.) Reggie Bush

The Lions have other weapons for quarterback Matthew Stafford then just Calvin Johnson. This is a problematic reality if you accept that you must account for Johnson with 3 players. The 2nd priority is Reggie Bush.

There is perhaps no better receiver at the running back position then Reggie Bush. He is too fast and elusive in the open field for any linebacker or safety.

When he is in the backfield one option is blitzing at him. The purpose of blitzing at Reggie Bush is to make him have to pass protect. If this is effective the Ravens neutralize a weapon from Stafford’s arsenal. There is however a massive risk to this. If Bush has a free release to the route he can burn you.

When he is lined up as a slot receiver, I would not be opposed to putting a nickel back on him. Also Webb is an option, Bush is that dangerous. The Ravens probably need to have a big day from Chykie Brown to win this game.

3.) Protecting Joe Flacco

The Lions defensive line is daunting. Pass protection is going to be huge for the Ravens. If they can keep Joe upright, he should tear apart this secondary.

I have long called for a West Coast attack. I want Joe to be able to systematically and efficiently deliver the mail. This of course will not happen. Like it or not the Ravens are a throw it, and throw it deep kind of offense. This requires pass protection the Ravens don’t have.

The return of Dennis Pitta provides Joe a go to guy ( I refuse to say security blanket. It makes it sound like Joe needs a pacifier. This term only feeds into the mindless Flacco haters. But that is a rant for tonight’s live show at 7:30). Pitta’s return as well as Rice’s improved role in the passing game should help. Flacco now has guys he can hit underneath, no matter what.

5 Quick Notes from Cleveland and Detroit’s Preseason Matchup

5 Quick Notes from Cleveland and Detroit’s Preseason Matchup | Chris Schisler

The Cleveland Browns looked very good to start their game against the Detroit Lions. The starting units played pretty much the whole first half. Here are some quick notes from the starters play.

1.)    Brandon Weeden looked very sharp.

Brandon Weeden is coming into his second year and with a new offense. Weeden looks confident and comfortable in the new offense. The Browns quarterback displayed great footwork and timing. His accuracy was beautiful and consistent. He looked like a whole new quarterback. It will be interesting to see how he continues to develop this year in Cleveland.

2.)    Paul Kruger is overpaid

Former Raven Paul Kruger was given a shocking 5 year $40 million dollar contract by the Cleveland Browns early in free agency. Kruger with exception to one broken down play by Detroit was nowhere to be seen. Kruger could not fight off blocks and was useless on the edge for the Browns defense. Kruger was dramatically overrated in Baltimore and drastically overpaid in Cleveland.

3.)    Reggie Bush is perfect fit with Lions

For a team that is passing happy Bush is a perfect compliment. Out of the backfield Bush should serve as a safety valve. The Lions like to attack vertically and Bush could help them pick up some cheap first downs.

4.)    Jamal Sheard is all over the place

The Browns outside linebacker that was really impressive was Sheard. Sheard displayed more quickness than I expected and in a 3-4 is a nice mix of size, strength and speed on the outside. Sheard tackled well and was busy when Detroit tried to run the ball. I was impressed.

5.)    Injuries all over the place for Cleveland

Thin on the offensive line already it is hard to evaluate Cleveland’s starting offense completely. Jason Pinkston left the game with a right ankle injury of undisclosed severity. Barkaveous Mingo will miss some time with a rib injury. They lost Dion Lewis their back up runningback to a fractured fibula.

 

Are You Even Elite Bro?

Are You Even Elite Bro? | Chris Esposito

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The term “elite” for quarterbacks in the NFL gets thrown around rather loosely this day and age. It seems if a guy throws for over 4000 yards for a couple of seasons, suddenly he is anointed with the label of “elite”. My question is; why do you consider him elite? Has he done anything in crunch time to be mentioned the same breath as Brady, Brees and Manning? I’m an NFL enthusiast, some people may even call it a “die-hard”, but to a finer point, I’m just a guy who calls it how he sees it. Let’s take a look and separate the ELITE from the flash in the pan.
I personally have a certain criteria when it comes to judging if a quarterback is elite. I have 7 rules that a QB must possess. He must meet 5 of these 7 rules. They are as follows:
• Have AT LEAST 5 “elite” seasons
• In those 5 years, have 3500 yards or more per year
• Have a touchdown to interception ration of 2:1 at minimum
• Make the playoffs in 4 of those 5 seasons
• Advance past the first round in 80% of those playoff appearances
• Win a Super Bowl
• Be named Super Bowl MVP

Take a look at a guy like Joe Flacco, there is a 50/50 split from the experts on if he is elite or not. I’m here to say that he most certainly is elite as he meets all but one of those rules. In his first five seasons, Flacco has made the playoffs every year, won at least on playoff game each year, won a Super Bowl and was named Super Bowl MVP. In his Super Bowl MVP season, Flacco had an amazing stat line of 11:0 in his TD to INT ratio, tying Joe Montana for greatest in playoff history. Steve Young had 9 touchdowns and no interceptions in a postseason run. Without Flacco the Baltimore Ravens DO NOT win last year’s Super Bowl. Let’s compare him to a quarterback who just received “elite” money. Matthew Stafford just signed a lucrative extension to stay with the Detroit Lions, but looking at the numbers, is he really worth it? In his first four seasons in the league, Stafford has thrown for 13,000 yards. Yes that’s quite impressive, but if we dig a little deeper on that we will find out he has only played in 2 full seasons. His first two years were plagued with injuries that saw him suit up for 9 games in 2009 and 4 games in 2010. Stafford led the Lions to their first playoff appearance since 1992, however his record against teams with a winning record is 1-26. That’s not elite, that’s not even suitable for the bottom half of quarterbacks in the NFL. Hell, even Tim Tebow has a better record against winning teams. An elite quarterback makes the players around him better. A guy like Torrey Smith was a virtual unknown and Flacco grew with him and turned Smith into a top tier receiver. Stafford needs Calvin Johnson to make himself look better. With a wild arm and erratic throwing motion, Calvin Johnson saves more throws for Stafford than arguably any other qb-receiver tandem in the league.

Well Good For Them

Well Good For Them | Chris Schisler | July 10, 2012

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The news of the NFL was dominated today by two huge contract signings. The first was Matthew Stafford’s mega three extension with $41.5 million guaranteed. The next was Victor Cruz’s $43 million contract with $15.6 million guaranteed over 5 years. The two players are obviously stars of the game, but both contracts seem to be a little too much on the large side.

Matthew Stafford has been statistically great since entering the league in 2009. Stafford has thrown for big yardage and big touchdowns. In 2011 Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. In 2012 he scored 20 touchdowns with 4967 yards through the air.

The two statistics missing from Stafford’s game wins and playoff success. He did have one playoff game with 2011’s 10 win season. But the winning season is sandwiched by the 2010 6 wins and 2012 4 wins and 12 losses. Stafford has been given the 8th highest quarterback contract in terms of guaranteed money. My first question is when did winning stop being a criteria of top 10 pay?

Stafford is obviously a talented quarterback, one the Lions understandably want to keep. My problem with him is his lack of winning and his inconsistency. So often Stafford will have horrible games and come close to winning in the final minutes. While it is admirable that Stafford can turn it on in the games critical moments; its frustrating that he can’t play a entire game that way.

My question is this: with two years on Stafford’s contract why did the Lions feel so compelled to give him such a large contract extension now? I would have let the season play-out. Let Matthew Stafford show you what he’s worth; sealing the contract’s figures with his play. This way If the Lions have a winning season they can pay him every cent. If Stafford were to have a losing season with continuously lower stats they would probably get away with paying him less. Either way from a organizational stand point it would behoove the Lions front office.

The Victor Cruz deal troubled me as well. While Cruz may be as good as they come, this is a more than hefty price-tag on a slot receiver. The contract may mean the Giants having the inability to resign Hakeem Nicks. Nicks is the better overall receiver. Nicks can play any of the receiver roles.
Cruz is strictly a speedy slot. One of the reasons Cruz gets open but the respect the defenses show Nicks has a lot to do with this.

Cruz’s contract is probably what Cruz deserves. He is a playmaker who has chemistry with Giants quarterback. My problem is that I value Hakim Nicks more than Victor Cruz. I think it is rather unlikely that the Giants lock up both receivers for the long term.

If the New York Giants feel good about their decision than good for them. Good for Victor Cruz as well. The same should be said about the Lions and Matthew Stafford. This being said I have my reservations with both deals.