Detroit Lions Analysis: 6 Position Improvements Needed For Lions to Contend

Ali HammoudCorrespondent INovember 9, 2010

Detroit Lions Analysis: 6 Position Improvements Needed For Lions to Contend

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    DETROIT , MI - JANUARY 16:  Jim Schwartz, center, head coach of the Detroit Lions poses with General Manager Martin Mayhew, left, and Tom Lewand team president after a press conference to introduce him as the Lions new head coach on January 16, 2009 at Fo
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Ok, Mr Mayhew, this has not been the best week for you, but I am here to deliver some good news.  Sure, you lost your starting QB, K, CB, S, and DE in a span of seven days but all is not lost.  You see, other than a few of us delusional fans, no one expected you to make the playoffs this year, so while these losses hurt, all they do is give you a better draft position next year.

    The thing you must do is make it count.  You have done a good job so far.  Compared to you predecessor you have done a miraculous job, but you have missed on a few as well.  But all in all, I would give you a B+

    Today, I am going to list for you the six positions you must improve in order for the playoffs to be within reach.

    I am going to list them in increasing urgency so make sure you pay attention and not drift off halfway through. 

    One thing before I start, I am going to assume your QB is going to get over his injury issues and play a lot of games in the next few years. 

Back Up Corner Back

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    MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Alphonso Smith #27 of the Detroit Lions catches for an interception against the Minnesota Vikings during the game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 26, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Ima
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    I have to tell you Mr. Mayhew, you pulled a rabbit out of a hat with your acquisitions of Alphonso Smith and Chris Houston.  Both of those guys have played beyond anybody's expectations.

    But, injuries happen, and when any of these guys get hurt, I would rather not see guys named Vasher trying to hold down the fort.

    Now this is only for a backup so not too urgent, but make sure you look at it.

No. 3 Receiver

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 17: Bryant Johnson #80 of the Detroit Lions against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 17, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    I am going to play teacher, and Martin Mayhew, you can be the student.


    Name two wide receivers that do not belong on the 2011 roster?

    Give up?

    I will give you the answer, Bryant Johnson and Derrick Williams.

    It is time to admit that all these guys do is take up space.  Your coach gave you a good idea of what he thinks of Williams when Nate Burleson got injured.  At that time, he decided to use Tony Scheffler, instead of Williams, as the third wideout.

    Just so we understand each other, do not under any condition go Millen and draft a wide receiver in the top two rounds.


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    DETROIT - OCTOBER 10:  Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams runs through the tackle of Amari Spievey #42 of the Detroit Lions on October 10, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When we look at the 2010 roster, safety is one of the primary positions of need, but I dont put much urgency on it, because you might already have a player on your roster to fix this problem.

    This is why you need to talk to Coach Schwartz and make sure that Amari Spievey gets all the playing time he needs to get better. 

    Does C.C. Brown give you a better opportunity to win right now?  Well, that is debatable, but it doesnt matter.  This is about next year, and you need to find out what you have in Spievey.

    If he proves to be the real deal, than you are all set—otherwise this is a top two need for 2011.

Outside Linebacker No. 1

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    GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 03: Jermichael Finley #88 of the Green Bay Packers catches a touchdown pass between C.C. Brown #39 and Julian Peterson #98 of the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on October 3, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    At one point Julian Peterson was a Pro Bowl player.  At one point.  This is a player on the decline.  Is he serviceable? You could say that, but only if everyone around him is better than he is.

    Look at the picture on this page and it gives you a good idea what has been wrong with Peterson this year, he has been a step slow.  I dont need to tell you, but a step slow in the NFL is the difference between 6-10 and 10-6.

Starting Center

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Dominic Raiola #51 of the Detroit Lions prepares to snap the ball to Matthew Stafford #9 during the NFL season opening game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated t
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Martin, I can call you Martin, right? I know how you feel about Dominic Raiola.  In fact, I feel the same way about him.  He is my favorite Lion, after all, he does bleed Honolulu blue.

    But let's face it, he is not good enough. 

    In a never ending attempt at establishing a run game, you, and the previous GM whose name I already mentioned one too many times in this article, have, at one time or another, replaced the RB, both Guards, RT, FB and TE, but still you cant run the ball. 

    Do you see a constant here?  Yes, I know LT Jeff Backus has not been replaced, but we both know he is an above average run blocker, so who does that leave us? That's right, Raiola.

    Let me see if can explain it a little better.  Have you ever been on the freeway and seen a beautiful sports car driving really slow.  As you come up closer you realize that the car must have a had a flat tire because it has a donut spare in its place.  The donut, Raiola, is good enough to keep the car going as long as you stay below 55 MPH, but this sports car, Lions offense, is built to go over 100 MPH—it is time to replace the donut. 

    If you dont believe me on this one, ask your old buddy, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert.  Ask him how worried he was when it looked like Maurkice Pouncey will be lost for the remainder of the season.  Now, ask him how he felt when he found out Pouncey will be ok. He will tell you that Pouncey is the main reason a suspect offensive line in 2009 has been much better in 2010. 

    Now you go do the same, dont be afraid to spend your second round pick on a stud C.

Outside Linebacker No. 2

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    GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 18: Zack Follett #49 of the Detroit Lions participates in warm-ups before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 18, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 26-0. (Photo by Jonathan Da
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Martin, were you relieved like the rest of us that Zack Follett is going to be ok?  Of course you were, that is a silly question.  Now do the kid a favor, demote him to backup.

    There is a reason he was there for you to draft in the seventh round, he is not a starting linebacker in the NFL.

    I dont care how you do it.  Draft or free agency, your primary mission this off season is to get a major upgrade over follett at OLB. 

    If you fail to do this, nothing else you do will matter.  Defensive coordinators will continue to run the ball on you, because they will know this is the weakness in your defense. 

Extra Credit

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    MINNEAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 15:  Stephen Peterman #66  of the Detroit Lions is carted off the field in the second half against the Minnesota Vikings on November 15, 2009 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Lions
    Elsa/Getty Images

    If you happen to do everything I told you, and still have the time and resources to do one more thing, feel free to get a new RG. 

    Sure, Peterman got jobbed on those two chop block penalties last week, but he has committed other sins, and a demotion to backup shouldnt be out of the question.