Detroit Lions Fans Dreaming of Revis Island? Not So Fast, My Friends

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Detroit Lions Fans Dreaming of Revis Island? Not So Fast, My Friends
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Do you turn on the computer every day hoping to see there was a little Mayhew Magic happening while you were away?

Do you listen for the rumors, who might get cut and who isn't happy with their current team now?

Me too.

Maybe you dream of seeing Darrelle Revis in Honolulu Blue or hope Al Davis decides to move Nnamdi Asomugha. Maybe your flavor is the Offensive Line and you have your eye on Marcus McNeil or Logan Mankins.

The belief is just the right player or two might put us over the hump.

I have I feeling I am not alone here. It's pretty easy to fantasize about the impact Revis would have on that defense and wouldn't that OL look good with a franchise LT that moves Backus over to RT.

Wow, let's take a moment to dream about that fantasy.

Wouldn't they be legitimate Super Bowl contenders with Revis and McNeil?

Okay, back to reality here.

First, who is really available and right now it's probably none of the above. If things carry into the season maybe one of those guys could be available but at what price?

So let's skip by the big names, what if the Lions added a pretty good corner and maybe a LB, wouldn't that make them true contenders?

Yeah, maybe.

Sure couldn't hurt. Right?

ehhhhh maybe not.

The devil is in the details - we need to know who are we talking about and what's it going to cost before we can answer that.

Maybe we should consider some other things too.

Like just who do we think we are.

Are the Lions really a player or two away from their goal?

The Lions are just about to embark on their second year of the Martin Mayhew, Jim Lewand and Jim Schwartz era. History will call this the Stafford era but we know when this really started so maybe we should call it the after Millen era.

Hate to invoke his name but if we want to know who we are we can't forget who we were. We don't have to talk about it but we shouldn't forget about how it left us.

Mayhew, Lewand and Schwartz probably got more sympathy cards than congratulations and Lion fans were replenishing their supplies, this drought was going to last a little longer.

Sure, we have seen the Miami's and Atlanta's turn it around in a year but the Lions were different. Respectable wasn't a goal, it was a dream and it was a three if not a five year dream at least.

But the new Lion management didn't agree, they didn't set a timetable, they didn't talk about a grand plan or tell us about the players that fell just out of their grasp.

When they added that coordinator they wanted or stumbled on a good player they didn't act like they won the Super Bowl. It was always, yeah we liked him and we wanted him but we'll see.

They didn't waste their time with smoke and mirrors, this wasn't a public relations job; press conferences and schmoozing the media wasn't the answer.

At times they even seemed to go out of their way to alienate the media by playing their cards so close to their vests. That's okay, nobody was here to make friends.

I'm sure they knew how angry and tired the fan base was, Mayhew and Lewand saw all those empty seats at Ford Field last year and I can't imagine it took long for Schwartz to read the signs.

But they were smart enough to realize words or publicity stunts were not what we wanted. The only thing Lion nation wanted was a real NFL team and they knew there is only one way to be a good football franchise. They needed to start acting like a good football franchise.

I'm not talking about pretending you only need a player or two or you just need to put in the latest scheme or hire the hottest coordinators. It's not who has the best rhetoric or the most inspirational coaches.

No, good teams simply never stop trying to improve their talent at every opportunity and give that talent the best platform possible to produce. It takes everyone involved knowing exactly what to do and than doing it to the best of their ability.

If your job is handing out towels make sure you are the best damned towel passer outer you can be.

It's no different than a position coach making sure he is using the best teaching methods or a scout watching one more tape. You do your job the best you possible can today and tomorrow you do it just a little better.

It's not shocking that they were able to change the organization that fast. I've been there, done that. It's no different than a company that was struggling because of mismanagement getting a new management team. If they know what they are doing the employees will respond.

But that's the easy part, if there is a parking lot attendant who isn't doing their job you get a new parking lot attendant. You can change the coaches or buy new weight lifting equipment but what do you do when it's a player who just isn't getting the job done?

Not so easy to find 53 NFL quality players, that takes time and your mistakes stick with you a little longer.

Sure, you have the draft but at seven players a year this job will never get done. You do the best job you can picking those players but obviously you need other avenues to upgrade the talent level.

Yes, there is free agency and the waiver wire but there are reasons why those players are available. Some are borderline NFL quality while some want too much money and some have other issues. Same way with trades, teams don't make a habit of giving away quality players with friendly contracts.

It's a minefield but Mayhew had no choice, with the talent on this team when he took over he had to take some chances. Besides, how hard was it to upgrade that talent.

Things are different now, those waiver cuts don't look so good now if it means they have to cut a player they like. I don't think we will see the Lions claim any defensive linemen for example.

Maybe there be a player who is better than the Lions' tenth DB but it won't be a case of someone they hope can get some snaps after a few practice weeks.

Those 30 year old veterans that might have a little gas left don't look as good if it means they would take snaps away from some 24 year old who you hope can be a good player for the next five years.

Let's take a look at the DBs a minute.

Right now they have Louis Delmas, Randy Phillips and CC Brown as the top safeties while Chris Houston, Jonathan Wade and Dre' Bly will handle the main corner back duties.

That might sound a little scary - okay maybe a whole lot scary and maybe we should all take a moment to wish Delmas a little good health - okay maybe a whole lot of good heath and maybe something a little stronger than a wish.

But don't forget the plan.

After that 2009 season the Lions made it clear they were cleaning house and bringing in as many young DBs with talent they could get. By now Schwartz has them sorted out and it's an interesting mix.

From everything we are hearing Houston, Wade and Phillips all had pretty good camps going against an offense we expect will give a lot of secondaries fits this year. It's not often will they face a passing attack the equal of the Lions.

If the plan was to give the best of those young players a chance to prove themselves there is no reason to turn away from that plan now. They have some good candidates, let's get on with the next step.

Besides, it sure isn't unusual for DBs to take a couple of years to adjust to the NFL. Just look at Asomugha, he intercepted his first pass in his fourth year and he was a full time starter the year before.

One often overlooked part of this plan is Dre' Bly - it's similar to the KVB signing in that he brings a little extra for his teammates.

While KVB brings a mental toughness that we hope rubs off on the defensive line, Bly could be just what the doctor ordered for these young DBs. Schwartz likes his DBs cocky and confident and we know Bly has plenty of both, hopefully enough to share.

Maybe Mayhew can find a DB good enough to crack that top six but I don't want some aging veteran taking snaps away from those young guys. We don't need the next William James playing over Jonathan Wade right now.

Maybe there is a better option than CC Brown but I don't want to see Phillips on the bench unless we see a top young safety added.

Now we also need to consider the potential of Amari Spivey back there and wonder do we really want to see just a decent starter added.

Linebacker is a little more complicated because of the DeAndre Levy injury plus losing Jordan Dizon was a concern but it's important not to go overboard here either.

If we believe what Schwartz is saying in his press conferences they are happy with Zach Follett's play so far. They knew this wasn't going to be pretty and they are no where near throwing in the towel on him.

Levy might miss some time this year so they need to make sure they have a good back-up but the appointed QB of the defense needs to play when ever he can.

Maybe we see someone who can challenge for that 4th CB or LB spot but I don't want to stunt the growth of these young players. They need to play this year before the Lions can make an intelligent decision on them.

Chances are they won't all pan out but consider this.

Last year at this time the defensive line was in similar shape. We had some veterans like Grady Jackson mentoring Sammie Hill and they gave Cliff Avril and Landon Cohen among others playing time.

The young players got better and the Lions got a better handle on what they had. In the off-season they took that information and added the right players to the players the Lions kept. Within one year this defensive line went from the dregs of the NFL to a force to reckoned with.

What if they do the same thing with the back seven now. Let's play those young guys and figure out who's a keeper and what do they need to add.

What if they have a handful of these guys develop nicely this year and the Lions attack the holes in the next off-season like they did the DL this year.

If the question is do we want to trade a premium pick for a pretty good corner I say we pass. With the batting average Mayhew has in the draft I don't make him bunt - I want him swinging for the fences.

Their shopping list will be smaller next year so they can use more of their assets on the secondary.

There will be a free agent they like, maybe it's Gun and Mayhew sitting in a driveway at midnight next year and look at how they targeted Jahvid Best in the draft. If they like someone they will go get him.

Maybe this team is a player or two away from true playoff contender status but maybe this isn't the time to worry about contender status. The goal isn't playoff contender status, the goal is perennial playoff participant and Super Bowl contender.

That's a much harder goal to reach and seemingly good choices at the time can sour in hind sight. That player they could get might fill a hole so maybe they can win a few more games with him now but we need a couple more players who can help us win because of him. That kind of player often takes a little development and they don't get that by sitting on the bench.

Difference makers are much harder to find and it takes time to gather enough of them to compete for a Super Bowl. In two off-seasons the Lions have gone from a small handful to having a nice mix through out most of the team.

If it takes the Lions another year to get that handful more they need I sure won't complain. Anybody claiming that after the 2009 season they believed the Lions could be Super Bowl contenders by 2011 was either another slappy or apparently part of Lion management.

But it's better than that.

They could have sold out the future to bring in a bunch of veterans. Maybe they could have built a better team for right now and maybe that team could have been a playoff team this year.

But I am glad Mayhew, Lewand and Schwartz didn't let that be the dream. There are many teams that built like that and they had their playoff games but they soon faded, never getting over that hump to grab that brass ring.

The Lions aren't aiming for the moon in the hopes they can reach the stars from there. Instead they are carefully building a team that can reach the stars and stay there a while.

You don't do that by grabbing whatever part fits the best at the moment. You get there by waiting for the exact part you need.

In the meantime you keep working, keep trying to make what you have better. Let's marry some potential with opportunity and see what kind of kids we get before we start looking elsewhere.

Keep upgrading the talent with more deals like the Jackson trade, keep your stick on the ice for these cuts coming up and trust what you have already done by playing the kids.

Don't look for shortcuts, don't make moves out of desperation, especially a perceived desperation. Let those kids prove they can't play before we start trading away assets.

So far we haven't found many reasons to doubt this management team and if they can do to the secondary next off season what they did to the defensive line this year this team will be reaching for the stars with plans of hanging around a while.

Now that's the kind of dream that might push those cheerleader dreams aside.

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