The Detroit Lions released rookie safety Randy Phillips on the last day of September. A curious move, in my opinion, as the Lions felt a greater need to have Dante Wesley on the active roster as a special teams player.
Was it not Phillips who burst upon the scene in training camp? Phillips seemed to have the starting strong safety job locked up. He clearly outclassed C.C. Brown in every phase of playing the position. He demonstrated superior speed, ball skills, and tackling skills.
Gunther Cunningham, the Lions defensive coordinator, gushed proudly to me during training camp:
“Phillips! He’s my guy!”
“Phillips! He’s my guy!”
The only thing that recommended C.C. Brown over Phillips was experience.
That experience thing apparently trumped the youth of an undrafted rookie free agent who blatantly overachieved, while Brown’s “experience” has left many to wonder why?
Very, very curious.
Phillips was never called out in practices in the way that another rookie, Amari Spievey was repeatedly called out by Lions coaches. Spievey, a third round draft pick, was slow to respond as a cornerback, and at times seemed lost.
The solution for the Lions was to move Spievey to safety. The move seemed logical, and still does make sense. It starts with that hip twitch skill that enables cornerbacks to convert from a back peddle to sprint coverage.
Spievey did not possess this critical attribute sufficiently to warrant him a job at the corner. Much was made of Spivey’s “tightness” in his hips owing to a suspected injury sustained during OTA’s.
Now, never let it be said that the Lions will give up on any third round draft choice. Wide receiver Derrick Williams is a case in point. Williams has under whelmed us with his play at wide receiver and as a return specialist.
Has Kevin Smith, another third round pick dazzled us yet? No.
Andre Fluellen? Uh uh.
Cliff Avril is the only solid third round pick in a starting position.
Now, we have Spievey playing safety, while Randy Phillips, who showed us so much promise, is gone. The victim of the old numbers game.
Or, is it?
Will Phillips clear waivers? I rather doubt it.
Phillips is young, and a rough talent that will be polished in a short period of time. If Phillips is a project, then what does that make Spievey?
Curiouser, and curiouser.
The Lions had a chance to rid themselves of C.C. Brown, and his contract.
The Lions had a chance to develop Phillips at a point in this season where they could have easily afforded to. The Lions are mired in an 0-3 slump and are obviously going to be a bottom tier team.
Safety Louis Delmas will have groin issues all year long. The Lions should have played the kids (Spievey, and Phillips). Now, they are stuck with Brown and Spievey.
I am curious.
Was there something going on in Phillips’ personal affairs that scared the Lions? He recently became a proud father and has exhibited maturity far exceeding his years. I just don’t get it.
All things considered, the release of Randy Phillips was just plain curious.
Mike Sudds is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.