Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007.
The day that the Lions could have defeated one of the best teams in the NFC, but ended in a disappointing 28-27 loss.
But, even through this loss, I noticed a diamond in the rough.
How many players in the NFL have stopped Marion Barber, in full stride, dead in his tracks on the three yard line? Not many that I've witnessed.
Barber is known as one of the most powerful running backs in all the NFL, and rarely do you watch him take a hand-off and not gain at least two or three yards.
Well on this day in Detroit, Barber was punished at the goal line by a young safety out of Georgia by the name of Greg Blue (No. 24). In this game, Blue recorded six tackles (four solo) and had forced a fumble that could have won the game for the Lions.
What struck me as amazing was that he was the only player on the Lions' defense that day who absolutely crushed Barber multiple times, stopping him on contact and forcing a fumble off one of the premier RBs in the NFL.
Regrettably, Blue didn't see too much more action after this game, recording only seven tackles for the season (not including special teams), one fumble forced, and one pass deflection.
The question I ask is, why wasn't he given more of a chance?
This year, our secondary was one of the worst tackling groups of professional athletes I've seen. Consistently bouncing off the opposing offense and needing two or more men to bring down one guy on a regular basis.
I saw Blue as being an answer to that problem. If he could stop Barber in the open field by himself, he could stop anyone. But I guess the Lions' coaching staff thought otherwise, keeping Kennedy as the starter for the rest of the season and limiting Blue's time on the field.
But even the home crowd loved him, chanting "Bluuuuuuuue.....Bluuuuuuuue" whenever he came out onto the field.
I really believe that if Blue was just given the chance to start alongside Gerald Alexander, or whoever will be in the other safety position in '08, we definitely could have a pair of feared safeties on our hands.
So Mr. Marinelli, if you happen to read this, check back over the film from the Dallas game, and look to see how one of your players is actually going out and giving 110 percent on every play, just like you say they should.
Greg Blue's Résumé
- 6-foot-2, 216 pounds
- Known as one of the hardest-hitting safeties during his time at Georgia (check highlights from YouTube.com)
- Played in 49 games with 28 starts during his four years at Georgia
- Started the final 25 games of his career at Georgia
- Semi-finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (given to the nation's top DB) as a senior
- First team All-America choice by Walter Camp, the Associated Press, AFCA and The Sporting News as a senior
- First team All-SEC as a senior
- Invited to play in the Senior Bowl
- Selected in the fifth round (149th overall) by the Vikings in 2006
- Only rookie to start in the Vikings' season opener (9/11/06)
- Finished his 2006 rookie season with eight tackles (seven solo)