Today, the subject is the Detroit Lions.
To everybody who has been following this series, I will be out this next week on vacation. I will resume with the Green Bay Packers next Monday!
Biggest Strength: Tight End
Brandon Pettigrew has all the makings of a franchise tight end. He is a fantastic blocker, but is a little raw in terms of receiving ability. If Pettigrew can further develop his route running, I could see him catching 50 to 60 balls this year.
One thing that might be preventing him from playing at full strength is a torn ACL he suffered in Week 12 against the Packers. While it may take him awhile to get to full strength, that is exactly why the Lions went and got an insurance policy from Denver.
Tony Scheffler plays slot receiver in a tight end's body. Scheffler creates matchup problems with safeties with his size, while most linebackers are too slow to cover him in man coverage. I could see the Lions using a lot of two tight end sets this season, especially with the lack of a good slot receiver option.
Will Heller also provides nice depth. Heller has limited athleticism, but provides a solid blocking option behind Pettigrew.
Other Strengths: QB, WR, DT, FS
Biggest Weakness: Left Tackle, Jeff Backus
Jeff Backus is just not good enough anymore.
I realize that Ndamukong Suh is a special player. I am confident Suh will be an excellent player for the Lions for years to come. However, I am also confident that Matt Stafford will be laid flat on his back more times than Tiger Woods after a golf tournament.
If the Lions want Stafford to take a beating, then more power to them!
Russell Okung was a top five player in the draft, and was certainly worth being drafted number two by the Lions.
Since they did not address the position this offseason (except for Jason Fox), the Lions have to settle with Jeff Backus. Backus' biggest issues are that he is no longer powerful enough to stop the bull rush. That's evidenced by James Harrison absolutely handling him last season.
Backus actually has good technique. However, the fact that his feet are no longer as quick as they were really hurt him last season.
Backus can no longer handle the speed rush off the outside without extra help. Clay Matthews also had his way with Backus off the edge.
These are the elite right defensive ends/linebackers Backus will be going up against this coming season: Jared Allen (twice), Julius Peppers (twice), Clay Matthews (twice), Osi Umenyiora, DeMarcus Ware, and Calvin Pace. In another words, have a great time, Jeff!
Since offensive tackle looks to be a weak spot in the 2011 draft, this position doesn't look to get any better any time soon.
Other Weaknesses: G, DE, Linebackers, SS, CB
This is the 11th of a 32-part series where I examine the strengths and weaknesses of every NFL team. Please put your disagreements in the comment section cordially. To view previous editions, click the following links: