Detroit Lions Review: Team MVP's for Each of the Past 10 Seasons

Kyle Gibbons@@FI2ANCHISEAnalyst IIIJune 27, 2011

Detroit Lions Review: Team MVP's for Each of the Past 10 Seasons

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    In researching statistics for this article, I came across some things that I forgot, and a lot more things that I would like to forget. 

    Virtually all of the mistakes of the last decade of Detroit Lions football can be explained away by uttering only one name: Matt Millen.

    Though Millen brought Megatron to Detroit, he is primarily responsible for some of the biggest draft busts in the history of the Detroit Lions. 

    Let me take a brief moment to name a couple of those busts.

    In honor of this list's 10 year theme, I’ll start in 2001 and go all the way through post-Millen Era 2010:

    Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Kevin Jones, Teddy Lehman, Mike Williams, Shaun Cody, Ernie Sims, Daniel Bullocks, Drew Stanton, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Gerald Alexander, Jordon Dizon, Kevin Smith, Derrick Williams…whoa. I know I said a couple, but I got carried away. 

    Let me retort. 

    This list commemorates the Detroit Lions' Most Valuable Players for each of the past 10 NFL seasons.

    Special Teams players were exempt from this list, and I could have probably named Cory Schlesinger the Lions MVP from 2001 to 2005. 

2001: Linebacker Chris Claiborne

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    Record 2001: 2-14

    NFC Central Standings: 5th (Last)


    2001 was Marty Morhinweg's first year as the head coach of the Detroit Lions. 

    As far as Detroit’s Most Valuable Player in 2001, Claiborne wasn’t an easy pick. 

    He had serious competition from wide receiver Johnnie Morton, who closed the season with a respectable 1,154 yards receiving on 77 receptions. 

    Morton shouldered the load after number one receiver Herman Moore went down with an injury.

    Johnnie would only score four touchdowns on the year though. 

    In 2001 linebacker Chris Claiborne led the Detroit Lions with 119 tackles while defensive tackle Shaun Rogers ranked second on the team registering 81 tackles.

    Claiborne also contributed by picking off two passes and forcing a fumble. 

    Claiborne tied James Hall for second on the team in sacks with four total. The legendary Robert Porcher led the team with 11 sacks in 2001. 

    Other than Morton’s performance, Detroit’s offense was despicable in 2001. 

    Starting quarterback Charlie Batch had a terrible season throwing only 12 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. 

    Running back James Stewart gained only 685 yards and scored just one rushing touchdown. 

    Fullback Cory Schlesinger was second on the team in receptions with 60.

    Two running backs, a fullback, and a tight end made up four of Detroit's top five receivers in 2001.

2002: Running Back James Stewart

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    Record 2002: 3-13

    NFC North Standings: 4th (Last)


    2002 was the Lions' inaugural season at Ford Field.

    Detroit went on to properly christen Ford Field with a six point loss to the Green Bay Packers.

    It was difficult to choose a team MVP for 2002, because both Chris Claiborne and James Stewart had exceptional years.

    I chose Stewart for 2002's MVP because of the impact that his season had on the city of Detroit.

    It was four years A.B. (After Barry) and the team was still in desperate need of a feature back.

    Stewart’s numbers in ‘02 were by no means prolific, but they were the best numbers a Lions running back had posted in years.

    In 2002 Stewart averaged 4.4 yards per carry on 231 carries for 1,021 yards and four touchdowns.

    An overall average year in my opinion.

    The real statistic comes in the form of receptions. In 2002, as a running back, Stewart led the team with 46 receptions.

    On the season, Stewart managed 1354 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns.

    Prior to the 2002 season long-time Lions wide receiver Johnnie Morton left for Kansas City, where he would only record 397 yards receiving in his first season.

    Star wide receiver Herman Moore only played in one game and recorded zero receptions.

2003: Cornerback Dre Bly

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    Record 2003: 5-11

    NFC North Standings: 4th (Last)


    In terms of losing, it was much of the same for Detroit in 2003, though the Lions did manage two more victories than Detroit posted in the two previous seasons. Detroit continued to struggle on the road, losing a majority of their games in that manner.

    With Shawn Bryson leading Detroit’s rushing attack, and rookie quarterback Joey Harrington at the helm, Detroit was destined for failure.

    Detroit’s MVP in 2003 was undoubtedly on the defensive side of the ball.

    Dre Bly had such a fantastic season in his first year with the Detroit Lions that he was selected to his first Pro Bowl.

    In ’03 Bly had 55 tackles, 1 sack, and forced an astonishing five fumbles. He also intercepted six passes and returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown.

    Bly was an easy selection for team MVP in 2003.

2004: Defensive End James Hall

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    Record 2004: 6-10

    NFC North Standings: 3rd


    Led by Kevin Jones and Joey Harrington, Detroit would win four of their first six games in ’04.

    But the Lions would go on to lose eight of their 10 final games.

    Jones and Harrington both had somewhat productive seasons in 2004, but it was University of Michigan product James Hall that I believe was the team's MVP.

    Hall only had 48 tackles in ’04, but he also racked up 11 sacks and forced four fumbles.

    Hall also picked off former University of Michigan quarterback John Navarre in a Week 13 win against the Arizona Cardinals.

2005: Cornerback Dre Bly

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    Record 2005: 5-11

    NFC North Standings3rd


    Here is the quick synopsis of the 2005 Detroit Lions season.

    Harrington was terrible, and Garcia was worse.

    Starting running back Kevin Jones only averaged 3.6 yards per carry, and a tight end, Marcus Pollard, led the team in receptions.

    The Lions were just plain terrible in ’05.

    I don’t know if being the MVP of one of the leagues worst teams is worth anything, but here it is.

    In 2005, Dre Bly was again the MVP of the Detroit Lions.

    Bly played pretty consistent throughout his tenure with Detroit, making the Pro Bowl twice in four years.

    2005 was more of the same.

    He led the team with six interceptions, made quite a few tackles, and forced three fumbles.

    Just another solid year for Dre.

2006: Wide Receiver Mike Furrey

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    Record 2006: 3-13

    NFC North Standings: 4th (Last)


    The 2006 Detroit Lions squad took a few steps back, only winning three games over the course of the Regular Season.

    The ’06 MVP could have gone either to wide receivers Mike Furrey or Roy Williams.

    Since I’m biased against Williams, I chose Furrey.

    In case you want to argue with my selection, just know that Mike Furrey finished second in the league in receptions in ’06 with 98. He finished the season just five receptions short of Houston Texans all-word wide receiver Andre Johnson.

    On the year Furrey went 1,086 yards and six touchdowns, an exceptional year for a team's second receiver.

2007: Linebacker Ernie Sims

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    Record 2007: 7-9

    NFC North Standings: 3rd


    The 2007 season was one of epic collapse.

    The Lions started off hot, winning six of their first eight games.

    They went on to lose all but one of the remaining games of the season.

    It was absolutely atrocious.  The 2007 season marked the eighth consecutive year that Detroit failed to make the postseason.

    It was also the year Detroit drafted current stud wide-out Calvin Johnson.

    In only his second season in the NFL, Ernie Sims made 134 tackles, one sack, one interception, and forced a fumble.

    On a team that finished the season winning only one out of eight games, that’s about the best individual performance you’re going to get.

    Ernie Sims is 2007’s team MVP.

2008: Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson

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    Record 2008: 0-16

    NFC North Standings: 4th (Last) 


    I’m not going to spend a lot of time on 2008. 

    Lions fans are fully aware of the historically awful ’08 season. 

    Rookie Kevin Smith played well, but Calvin Johnson was the teams Most Valuable Player. 

    Johnson’s stat line: 78 receptions for 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

    Calvin had one touchdown reception that was good for 96 yards in Week Seven. 

    Johnson’s 1,331 receiving yards were good for fifth in the league in 2008. 

    Had it not been for Detroit’s winless season, Johnson would have been selected to the Pro Bowl in only his second season in the league. 

2009: (Rookie) Safety Louis Delmas

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    Record 2009: 2-14

    NFC North Standings: 4th (Last)


    2009 was supposed to represent a re-birth for the Detroit Lions.

    New head coach Jim Schwartz brought in a new coaching staff, and the Detroit Lions introduced a new, more fearsome logo.

    The team also introduced new uniforms.

    Detroit would go on to only win two games in ‘09, and finished last in the NFC North…again.

    Rookie safety Louis Delmas was the team's MVP.

    He finished second on the team in tackles with 94.

    Along with eight pass deflections Louis picked off two passes in 2009, one of which went for a 101-yard touchdown versus Arizona in Week 15.

    On the season, Delmas would pick off two passes, and record one sack.

    In his first Regular Season game in the NFL, Delmas picked up a Saints fumble in Week One and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown.

2010: (Rookie) Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh

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    Record 2010: 6-10

    NFC North Standings: 3rd


    The 2010 season was one of great promise, and has led to even greater anticipation for Detroit’s 2011 season.

    Detroit played strong and looked to be competitive in all but one or two games.

    The Lions sent two players to the Pro Bowl: Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson and 2010 Detroit Lions team MVP Ndamukong Suh. 

    Suh posted 10 sacks, a forced fumble, three pass deflections, one interception, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in 2010.

    He came into the league as a rookie and absolutely dominated, earning him Pepsi NFL Rookie of The Year honors.

    If you dominate the league as a Lion…you’re at the very least Detroit’s MVP.