2011 Detroit Lions: Why Dre' Bly Makes Sense for the Lions Secondary
Bly has been a member of the Detroit Lions twice in his career already but seems to be coming back for more.
He started out as a second-round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams in 1999. In 2003, he was traded to the Detroit Lions where he played until 2006.
Bly had been picked up by, then-head coach Steve Mariucci. One season after Mariucci was fired (2005), Bly was traded to the Denver Broncos.
Rod Marinelli (head coach from 2007-2008) traded Bly for running back Tatum Bell, offensive tackle George Foster and a fifth-round draft pick. Bly finished the 2007 season as the Broncos leader in interceptions with five.
While playing for Detroit from 2003 to 2006, Bly posted 19 out of his career 43 interceptions and played in two Pro Bowls.
Last year, in July, Bly signed a two-year contract as Detroit hoped to fill the cornerback position with a veteran who had played in Detroit before. It was a signing that brought hope to Lions fans who loved Bly and to Bly himself who loved the Lions.
"I feel like I played my best ball here in Detroit," said Bly. "I feel like it’s home and to come back and have the chance to finish my career where I played my best ball—where I feel like I’m part of the community—is a great feeling."
Unfortunately, Bly ended up being cut from the team when they brought in another veteran player, Alphonso Smith, who beat him out for the last CB roster spot.
Bly did not play in the NFL last year but he was not forgotten.
In late April of this year, the St. Louis Rams posted an article reminiscing about Dre Bly and placing him in the top 10 of their past draft successes.
By mid-May, Bly was working out with the Detroit Lions offense. In fact, for the first two days of practice, he was the only cornerback to show up and he isn't even on the team. To be honest I have not heard about any corner showing up for the first player led practice this offseason.
Is it any wonder why safety Louis Delmas suggested that it wouldn't be a bad idea to pick Bly up and add him to the roster?
Interestingly, it was Bly who was excited about working in the secondary along with Delmas in 2010.
"Delmas—I’ve heard he’s an enthusiastic player, energetic, talks just like I talk, and he’s a great guy to be around," said Bly.
I don't know about you, but I have not heard a lot of positive comments made by our current corners and Chris Houston was not happy about the Lions waiting to offer him a tender instead of just re-signing him.
It's possible that Houston won't even be in Detroit next season if he is traded. I don't know how likely that scenario actually would be really as it seems that the front office would like to try to keep Houston.
But here's the deal, Bly wants to play in Detroit. That means something to me.
Okay, I know that he "embarrassed" the San Francisco 49ers when he celebrated an interception too early and left the ball vulnerable to a Roddy White punch and take-back for a TD. It was a bad day all around for the 49ers, and Bly's interception of Matt Ryan's pass could have helped with a momentum change. What it did instead was anger a lot of 49ers fans.
Ironically, it also eventually led to increasing the respect he received from the players.
Remember who the QB was for the 49ers in 2009? Our very own back-up QB, Shaun Hill. At the time of this incident, Hill had a few words to say about Bly.
"He's a high-character guy," quarterback Shaun Hill said. "We have a lot of high-character guys in this locker room. People stand up for their mistakes. That's a good thing. Just guys being accountable. It's not something I expect somebody to do [apologize to the team]. It speaks to the character he has."
High-character guys are the kind of players Jim Schwartz (current head coach) likes in Detroit.
I know it's been a few years, but let's look at Bly's stats with the San Francisco 49ers in 2009 (his first season with them and last regular season in the NFL) and compare them to the current veteran CB's stats in Detroit from last season. The reason for doing this is to see how they compare when they are playing in their first season with a new team.
It is important to note that when Bly played for the Rams, Lions and Broncos, his position was on the right side. When he played for the 49ers he was switched to the left side, which may be reflected in his numbers (they also played in a 3-4 defensive scheme).
Bly played as a back-up CB in 16 games for the 49ers and started in six of them. He had 26 tackles, one sack, three interceptions (ran back for a total of 66 yards), 13 passes defended and two forced fumbles.
Houston (starter) played in 15 games and started in all of them. He recorded 56 tackles, one interception (no gain), 12 passes defended and one forced fumble.
A. Smith (starter) played in 12 games and started in 10 of them. He posted 39 tackles, five interceptions (ran back for a total of 48 yards and one TD), eight passes defended and one forced fumble.
Nathan Vasher played as a back-up CB and played in 14 games while starting in five. He recorded 19 tackles, one interception (no gain) and five passes defended.
Bly would probably be best compared with Vasher in terms of games played in and games started. Just purely looking at the numbers, it would appear that Bly produced at a higher level than Vasher. The Lions really didn't have any other back-ups to speak of once Aaron Berry went down in the first regular season game last year.
I believe that Schwartz will want to keep Houston, Smith, Aaron Berry and Nathan Vasher. I do not believe that they will keep Paul Pratt and Tye Hill is gone. They may decide to keep Prince Miller as a project player. Either way there could be two or more roster spots to be filled.
Even if Bly doesn't have the same ability that he used to have I can see him being a motivational player like KVB and be in a rotation with the starting cornerbacks.
The Lions could barely keep two healthy cornerbacks on the field at the same time last season.
Even though Jim Schwartz (head coach) and Gunther Cunningham (defensive coordinator) didn't address the secondary during the draft, they did add depth to the front defensive line. The whole idea of drafting another DT is so that Ndamukong Suh does not have to be on the line for every snap. They will rotate Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh and Sammie Hill to keep them all healthy.
What if we could do the same thing at CB? I understand that corners don't get the same kind of pounding that DT's do, but keeping fresh legs and motivated players in the game is one way to keep them off of the injured list. It also adds another layer of durability to a team.
I am with Delmas when it comes to most things including giving Bly another shot at making the Detroit Lions roster.
Where is Houston working out? Who is he working out with? The same questions apply to all of our corners.
Where was Bly? Working out with the Lions.
If Detroit is going to be a playoff team this year (and I believe they will be given we have a full season), they need players who are committed to excellence and committed to the team. Bly wants to retire as a Lion. He wants to play in Detroit. He has stayed in shape so he could try to come back this season.
Final analysis: Let Bly compete for a job again as a Detroit Lion.
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