According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, two anonymous NFL execs recently shared their feelings about the Detroit Lions on Pro Football Weekly's website. They didn't pull any punches. Their appraisals were harsh and deeply critical—and to some extent very true.
The first GM spoke about the Lions' defensive line:
“They don’t have enough good players, and the players they think are good are not that good. Suh belongs on the all-hype team. Avril is not that good—put on any game, and you can watch him get blocked time and time again. Corey Williams is solid but nothing that wows you or makes you wonder how you are going to block him. The other guy (defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch) is a try-hard guy getting up in years that does not really threaten you. For as much as people talk about that D-line and all its depth, where are all the players."
He went on to say:
“They are a one-dimensional offensive team that, if the quarterback (Matthew Stafford) is not on, people are figuring it out. If you take (Calvin) Johnson out of the game, who else do they have that can beat you?
The second GM focused on Lions' head coach Jim Schwartz and fellow GM Martin Mayhew:
“They’re both overrated. What has (Mayhew) really accomplished? Matt (Millen) never said he did a good job—he was not ready for it. He did not have enough good people around him. There were things that if he had to do it again, he would not do. And he did not have the experience or the right people around him to get it done. I don’t know that Detroit has all the pieces in place like they think they did, and people are starting to see the cracks.”
These comments reek of one thing: sour grapes.
Head coach Jim Schwartz brought his attitude to Detroit when he took over the team three years ago. It translated into a more intense style of play and the Lions earned a reputation as the "bad boys" of the NFL.
Needless to say, they made a lot of enemies on their journey to respectability. These comments likely came from two people they ran over on their way there.
It's also convenient to throw out criticism when a team is down. Where were these comments when the Lions were making the playoffs? These GMs are eager to kick someone when they're down, but if the Lions turn their season around, will they admit that they were wrong? I doubt it.
If you're a Lions' fan you have every right to be irritated by what they said. No one appreciates outsiders criticising their team, particularly when those outsiders go unnamed. To quote Herm Edwards, "Put your name on it, be a man."
However, fans should also be honest and admit that they hit the nail on the head with some of it.
After four weeks, the Lions do appear to be overrated. Their defensive line—including Suh, Avril and Vanden Bosch—have not lived up to expectations and are far from dominant.
The fact that defenses have contained Detroit's big-play offense is even more surprising—and disappointing. Fans must admit that no one other than Johnson and Stafford has stepped to the plate as legitimate threats.
While those things might be true, the comments missed the mark on one thing. Jim Schwartz and Martin Mayhew are not overrated. The jury is still out on whether they've assembled a championship- caliber team, but they have accomplished a significant feat.
They turned a franchise so deplete of NFL talent that it went 0-16 and made it competitive and relevant on a national level in a short span of time. People are talking about the Detroit Lions now, and they're doing it without a bag on their head for once.
The Lions had a disappointing start this season, but that doesn't make all the work Schwartz and Mayhew did irrelevant. Previous coaches and GMs tried but failed. Those two did it.
In the end, it amounts to a lot of hot air from two know-it-alls who don't have the courage to identify themselves. True or not, they may have provided the Lions exactly what they needed to turn this thing around.
A reason to get mad.