July 24, 2010
Random Thoughts of a Sports Reporter
The batting numbers that are most relevant in my decisions on any free agent hitter are the sum of
Brian McCann Runs (42) plus RBI (45) Minus Hits (75) = +12
Kelly Johnson Runs (57) plus RBI (46) Minus Hits (94) = +9
Chone Figgins Runs (41) plus RBI (22) Minus Hits (80) = -17
REVIEW OF MY PRE-SEASON PICKS:
The earlier articles regarding the AL Rookies and NL Rookies Reviewed by me at the beginning of this season shows me to be 88% Correct and with plenty of time to go. It can only get better. Ask and receive the actual list with my markers or read the two earlier posts.
After Summer League Games:
I believe in Joe Dumars but there are some flaws, last year he pulled out the heavy wallet signing both Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva both natural SG/SF as their playing style has proven. Regardless of anyone’s opinion, action speaks volumes and both have been around for enough years for the reality to hit home. This is the same team who has been fruitless in moving Rip Hamilton and T. Prince who play SG/SF … hmmmm. Have we over valued both sets of SG/SF? We have certainly cornered the SG/SF marketplace; nope, we then added Austin Daye and Terrico White.
After the free-agent frenzy settles I will hope Dumars does pick-up someone of value to the team; each day goes by with another team signing another player and that reduces the available players list to mostly bait for chumming.
DETROIT LIONS IN REVIEW
The much improved roster has allowed the Lions to NOT sign certain free-agents such as Albert Haynesworth; especially at a time when the Lions were unable to tackle a turtle. The fact they are no longer under such duress to fill a roster that now requires more tweaking than replacing. The major hurdle is that they play in the same Division as the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears all expected to be better than a .500 record – they all are expected to gather at least 8 Wins. An improved Detroit team may not look so improved after the 2010 season has been completed with a less than .500 winning percentage. It has been about 50 years since Detroit has had this high quality leadership portrayed by both the GM (Martin Mayhew) and Coach Jim Schwartz. Given less time than the Millen Regime had we will have a far superior product in half that time with these people intact for years.
The newest Lions and newest starters are incredibly better than the team was building just three years ago, plus this roster is younger, much more talented, bigger and faster than every Lion’s team during the past 15 years or more. They have built a decent 2010 Paper Lion team and soon we will see if they are a better team on the field than on paper.
QB Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill – Stafford will be aided by a more amiable relationship with Hill (and not Daunte Culpepper), who'll provide a conservative veteran who is both ‘Heady’ and helpful.
RB Kevin Smith, Jahvid Best – a Mr. Inside (Kevin Smith) and Mister Outside (Jahvid Best) and both are very good receivers as well. Smith may have lost ‘something’ from his off season surgery … or not. Best does need to prove his little body and frame can survive in the NFL; this seemingly is more important to me than the other sports reporters.
FB Jerome Felton – Quote last season, “He will be used more than just a blocker” has yet to occur. Felton is a better runner than a blocker and he is above average in both categories.
WR Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Bryant Johnson, - Still needs major improvement, Burleson is never at 100% and missed many games during his career before coming here to Detroit. If he goes down we are in serious trouble, expect him to be injured. Bryant Johnson moving to 3rd receiver means that position is now well below average; his career has proven he is best during practice but cannot achieve getting open on the field enough to be at least a distraction and not a flea. We need 3 more players who will get open and catch the football. We will be concerned next lesson on running with the ball after catching it. This is the weakest area on the team and critically so.
TE Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, Will Heller - Scheffler's ability as a receiver creates serious match up problems so he will play extremely often, Will Heller is the perfect blocking tight end and can grab the football too. Pettigrew is in a difficult career situation, he must stay healthy; if he misses games from injury this season he is highly likely to be considered ‘fragile’ and ‘inconsistent’ for years to come; superb hands, speed and the ability to run after the catch are all within him.
OT Jeff Backus, Gosder Cherilus Jon Jansen, Jason Fox, Dylan Gandy – Enough meat here in starters to protect the QB and open holes for the running backs; outside of Jansen all the others need time and have a NFL future. Fox will supplant Cherilus soon, and if not, then I offer my daughter who will block without penalties being called.
OG Rob Sims, Stephen Peterman, Roy Schuening, Manny Ramirez, – Sims will prove to be better than expected and will open holes for all who heed, Peterman went from “Who” to a good blocker but does get over anxious causing himself injury. Schuening is a good one and likely will be a starter during the season depending upon Peterman.
C Dominic Raiola – He is far better than the fans think, pick EA’s Madden NFL Football game for any season during the past 5 years, they list him as very good. He leaves his heart on the field and eventually will be appreciated; after retiring.
DE Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jared DeVries, Jason Hunter, Turk McBride, Willie Young, Chima Ihekwoaba – Avril may double his team leading 5.5 Sacks this year; he can be hard to stop when he is a little ‘crazy’ and his speed and agility are on display. Vanden Bosch may not play as he did 5 years ago but he does impart the knowledge those years have earned. Two-thirds of a Vanden Bosch is far better than any DE on last season’s team. DeVries is returning but the system has changed and he is older; a sure tackler. Hunter and Young are thought of as projects, not just any project, they project as future starters. Ihekwoaba was highly scouted and the Lions may have a future All-Pro with not much to lose based upon his play in Canada.
DT Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Sammie Hill, Landon Cohen, Andre Fluellen, Joe Cohen, Robert Callaway – WOW what one can do when focused; Suh, Corey Williams, Hill and Fluellen are all real NFL players. This group is now the Team’s strength. Landon Cohen can be a surprise. Suh, Williams and Hill figure to be the heavy rotation for inside while applying plenty of variations.
LB Zack Follett, DeAndre Levy, Julian Peterson, Jordon Dizon, Ashlee Palmer, Landon Johnson, Vinny Ciurciu, Caleb Campbell – Follett’s special-teams ability earned him his roster spot; and then he impressed coaches playing more late in 2009. Levy will be expected to call the defensive signals and play the middle; that is a lot to handle for a second year player who will also be playing a new position as well. If he does well, so will the Lions; if he fails or is mediocre so shall the Lions defense be. Campbell and Dizon could surprise otherwise nobody will notice them.
CB Chris Houston, Jonathan Wade, Dre' Bly, Amari Spievey, Eric King, Dante Wesley, Aaron Berry, Jack Williams – Last year the horrible defensive line put almost zero pressure on opposing QBs allowing them hours to locate open receivers. This season we built a quality DL group that should remove some of that free range while adding a couple of healthy coverage men in Houston, Spievey and Williams. Bly is an interesting player to bring from the bench; he is a gifted ball-hawk with speed, attitude and will coach some day.
S Louis Delmas, C.C. Brown, Jonathan Hefney, Ko Simpson, Marvin White, Marquand Manuel - Delmas has the difficult job of following up on last year and either he soon will suffer some injuries or play a bit more under control, lets hope for the latter. Brown’s experience will likely allow him to begin the season as the starter. Hefney and his ball skills may replace Brown at some point.
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