Detroit Lions: 7 Lions Who Are Not Getting the Respect They Deserve

James Van EttenContributor IOctober 14, 2011

Detroit Lions: 7 Lions Who Are Not Getting the Respect They Deserve

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    No respect, no respect. These seven Lions are not getting the love they deserve.

    The Lions are 5-0 for the first time since first-class postage stamps cost three cents. How long ago was that? The Dodgers still played in Brooklyn and the iconic ’57 Chevy was not even built! We are talking a looong time ago.

    The overhaul of the 53-man roster is almost as impressive as their record.  Within the past 36 months, the roster has undergone a transformation that would make Chaz Bono’s head spin. Sorry, Freudian slip there.

    So how can any Lion be under-appreciated during their perfect five-game start? Given what longtime Lions fans have suffered through, Dave Bing should have already stamped 53 keys to the city.  Maybe that's a bit premature, but restaurateurs should be clamoring for players to patronize their establishments for complimentary meals.

    Wouldn't you enjoy sending an appreciative brewski across the room to your favorite Lion? Hell, let's not stop there; Apu should be giving the ball boys free Squishees!

    With a nod to the great Rodney Dangerfield, who left us seven years ago, I offer you seven of his best one-liners and Lions who have received “no respect!”

Rob Sims

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    Offensive linemen are like children, they should be seen and not heard from.  How many times have you heard Rob Sims’ name called during this run?  For me, I can recall once.

    The former Seattle Seahawk was stolen by Martin Mayhew during the 2010 NFL draft for a fifth-round pick and a seventh-rounder, with Robert Henderson as a kick-in.  Although Henderson did nothing for the Lions and is now an Edmonton Eskimo in the CFL, Sims has been the best offensive lineman for the jungle kings since he stepped foot into the Allen Park facility.

    He is in the prime of his career, entering his fifth season, and is signed through 2014.

    RD:  When I was born the doctor came out to the waiting room and said to my father, “I’m very sorry. We did everything we could…but he pulled through.”

Tony Scheffler

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    His touchdown antics are terrific, and I realize he has only four grabs, but the real value in Tony Scheffler is what he does for the rest of the offense.

    When the Lions bring Scheffler onto the field, they are in their “12 personnel” package.  This means one RB, two TEs and two WRs.  In this package, the Lions are prepared to run the ball with double tights or an overbalanced line with Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson on the opposite side or flare the tight end(s) out to create mismatches with the linebackers.

    The true beauty of this lineup is that it allows the Lions to go no-huddle and force the defense to keep their same personnel on the field while the Lions shift their formations to take advantage of the mismatch.  If the D goes small, they run; go big, they pass.

    The New England Patriots run this same scheme with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. The key ingredient is having two tight ends that can stretch the field and catch the ball.

    The former Western Michigan Bronco came to Detroit as Mayhew was again brooming out The Mustache’s snafus, this time sending Ernie Sims to Philly and getting Scheffler from the Denver Broncos with the Eagles getting a fifth-round pick. 

    The trade was not only insurance for Brandon Pettigrew, who was recovering from an injured ACL in his rookie season, it also has now created the best “12 personnel” package in the NFL. Find me a better grouping than Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Jahvid Best, Pettigrew and Scheffler.  The Patriots are the only team in the conversation.

    RD:  I asked my old man if I could go ice skating on the lake. He told me, “Wait til it gets warmer.”

Nate Burleson

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    With all of the media and defensive attention sliding the way of No. 81, did you realize Nate Burleson actually led the Lions in receiving for the first two weeks?  It’s true. 12 catches for 153 yards.

    Although the fashion-forward WR signed a lucrative $25 million contract last year, the former Seahawk is in no way a diva.  He has stayed quiet as the spotlight continues to shine on Megatron.

    "The good things is, when Calvin wins, we all win," Burleson said. "We're winning, so you'll never hear a peep out of me. If we're struggling as an offense, and I'm not getting the ball, I might say something, but right now, we're polished, we're looking good, and the guys are having a good year. Collectively, we're here to complement Calvin. As long as we can help him get open, and keep that double- and triple-coverage off him, I feel like everybody is doing their job." (

    Burleson has done all the little things professional wide receivers do for winning teams.  He’s played the slot to open up the outside for Titus Young.  He’s also a great downfield blocker, and will take the reverse like a tailback. 

    The most unheralded part of Burleson’s game is his effect in the locker room, specifically on Calvin Johnson. Since Nate's arrival, Calvin has become more assertive, off and on the field; a direct result of Burleson’s veteran leadership and colorful personality.

    The fashionista has been a tremendous asset to the Lions beyond statistics. 

    RD:  I was making love to this girl and she started crying. I said, “Are you going to hate yourself in the morning?” She said, “No, I hate myself now.”

John Wendling

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    Ok, I’ll admit it; I have a special place in my heart for special teamers.

    There’s something about a guy knowingly sacrificing his body in the most dangerous play in football.  So dangerous that the NFL modified the rulebook and moved the kickoff from the 30 to the 35-yard line, in hopes of avoiding a life-threatening injury.

    I can’t imagine the cult following Zack Follett would have if he never suffered his neck injury.  Enter the next special teams superstar, John Wendling.

    At 6’1” and 222 lbs, Wendling could just as easily blend into the crowd at your local cider mill on Saturday carrying a pumpkin in one arm and a toddler in the other as he does firing downfield seeking punt/kick returners.

    He has nine tackles so far this season, and has filled in admirably at the strong safety position against Dallas and started Monday Night against the Bears, as both Amari Spievey and Erik Coleman went down with injuries.

    He’s the kind of everyman Detroiters embrace, just ask Brandon Inge.

    RD:  My father had his own way of showing love. He always carried around the picture of the kid who came with his wallet.

DeAndre Levy

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    With all the off-season moves at linebacker, what may have been lost is the continued improvement of DeAndre Levy.

    The signing of Stephen Tulloch forced Levy to hand over the reins of the defense and move outside to the “Will” backer, and instead of pouting, Levy is flourishing.

    "They got JD (Justin Durant) first and I talked to (Burke) and he told us Tulloch was still in the plans," Levy said. "I said that was fine. Whatever works. Whatever is going to be best." (

    The third-year linebacker from Wisconsin leads the team in tackles with 36, and was all over the field, collecting a career-best 13 tackles in Monday Night’s victory over the Bears.  He has shown he can play both inside and outside, which is exactly what head coach Jim Schwartz envisions for his linebackers. 

    "We emphasize multidimensional players and we feel like all of our players could play outside or inside," Schwartz said. "DeAndre played extremely well (against the Bears)." (

    He may not be quarterbacking the defense anymore, and gone is the green sticker on the helmet, but DeAndre Levy is leading the defense by example.

    RD:  I was tired one night and I went to the bar to have a few drinks. The bartender asked me, “What’ll you have?” I said, “Surprise me.” He showed me a naked picture of my wife.

Eric Wright

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    The cornerback market this summer was pricier than a Kardashian afternoon at Tiffany’s (Kris Humphries, what were you thinking when you handed over your credit card for that boulder?!).  Nnamdi Asomugha and Johnathan Joseph signed mega-deals with the Eagles and Texans, while the Lions were still in desperate need of an upgrade at cornerback.

    Lady luck may have made the Lions blush with the signing of Eric Wright

    The fifth-year veteran signed a one-year deal with the Lions in hopes of resurrecting his suddenly plummeting NFL career.  Although he was offered a larger deal from his previous team, the Cleveland Browns, Wright opted to roll the dice with the Lions; it’s paid off.

    Wright has 23 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble, and appears to be gelling nicely into Gunther Cunningham’s system that attacks often and forces the cornerbacks to play man-to-man 

    With opposing quarterbacks having little time to identify coverage and go through their progressions because of the Lions dominant front four, Eric Wright and the Lions appear to have played their cards perfectly.

    RD:  Once when I was lost I saw a policeman and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him, “Do you think we’ll ever find them?” He said, “I don’t know kid. There are so many places they can hide.”

Ryan Donahue

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    The rookie from Iowa has earned his paychecks thus far.  Donahue is sixth in the league with 28 punts, but more importantly, he’s third in the league with 10 punts inside the 20, and best with 10 punts downed by punt coverage.

    This tells me most of his punts are coming from near midfield and his hang time is excellent; Jim Schwartz acknowledged as much after the Week 3 victory over the Vikings.

    "Donahue, I thought, did an outstanding job punting the ball," Schwartz said. "He averaged 4.65 (seconds) on hang times. He did a really good job of getting balls down there…” (

    Even the crew from Monday Night Football recognized the kicker's talent, as they tracked multiple +4.0 second hang times.

    Kicking them high from midfield is great, and he did negate Devin Hester, but the 52-yard blast he sent from the back of his own end zone at the end of regulation against Minnesota was straight-up clutch.

    If he misses it off the side of his foot, East Dakota gets a chance to run at least one play to set up a game-winning field goal. In that building, heels on the back end line and seconds left in the game, he made a veteran kick; he'll be an All-Pro sooner rather than later.

    So if you have a few bucks burning in your pocket and are thinking about upgrading your Kevin Jones jersey, give these seven guys a thought, they deserve your respect.  Now for Rodney’s final rim shot…

    RD:  I went to see my doctor…I told him once, “Doctor, every morning when I get up and look in the mirror I feel like throwing up. What’s wrong with me? He said, “I don’t know, but your eyesight is perfect.”