Bringing the Detroit Lions out of the Endangered List.
With two more games to go, its a fore-gone conclusion as to who will have the No.1 overall pick in the NFL Draft 2009. For the eighth time in the past 10 years, the Lions will have a top 10 draft choice.
The only player worth thinking about twice in what could be described as the 'decade of incompetency' would be Calvin Johnson. After the disastrous tenure of Matt Millen, whose known as the face of the franchise, sadly even after getting canned two months ago. The Lions will look to get a major face-lift. From the upper management, to the coaching staff to the players. They need a complete overhaul, some bold moves need to be made to bring back the roar of the glory years of the 1950s.
Detroit enjoyed its greatest success in the 1950s. Led by quarterback Bobby Layne, and wide receiver Jim Doran, they won the league championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957.
They defeated the Cleveland Browns in each of those NFL Championship Games, but also lost to the Browns in the 1954 Championship Game. In 1958, after leading the Lions to three NFL Championships, and providing Detroit with nearly a decade of Hall of Fame play, the Lions traded Bobby Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Layne responded to the trade by saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years." At least. Now in 2008, it has been 50 years since the trade, and indeed the Lions have not won a championship in that time. During this time, they have accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. In fact, they've only made the playoffs nine times in the last 50 seasons, and only have one post-season win (1991), and only three division titles (1983, 1991, and 1993).
As the Lions look to rebuild from ground up, I thought I would put my insight into what the Lions should do in the upcoming draft and beyond. It's a given that Rod Marinelli, the last coaching hire of the Matt Millen era, will be shown the door. I say this with no secret knowledge of their or their employers intentions about next year.
With Bill Cowher either staying retired, or getting a heavy dose of "kiss @$$" recruiting job done by the Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys, there is another former head coach whose itching to return, Marty Schottenheimer. Even though his first choice is Cleveland, where his long head-coaching career began in 1984. He might be the Browns' fallback plan if there's no Cowher in their future.
However, if Cowher does go the way of the Browns, it would be nice to see the job of rebuilding the Lions go to a veteran coach. And if he's not up for another 3-4 year rebuilding plan, the next choice would be the Baltimore Ravens veteran defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan. He nearly landed the Baltimore job last year, and the Ravens' resurgence this season only makes his résumé that much stronger.
Whoever the headcoach, he will undoubtedly have some serious say in the No.1 overall pick. It may even boil down to him selecting his guy which fits his plan. His future in Detroit and beyond might be riding on the sucess of his selection. Enough Pressure?
And with the No.1 overall pick the Lions should draft Andre Smith OL 6'4", 340lb from Alabama. I understand the myth that the rebuilding has to start with a new franchise quarterback. Recent drafts have shown the offensive linemen hold their own when it comes to getting picked early in the draft.
No matter who your quarterback is, if you do not have a solid line to protect him and give him time in the pocket and make running lanes for the backs, your not moving the chains. Detroit has a face of the franchise in wide-out Calvin Johnson, and with a solid quarterback such as Matt Cassell, Chad Pennington the Lions should be able to move the chains and keep the drives going. A quarterback is a logical choice, but not the right choice.
Smith is a lineman that has the ability to dominate on every snap. He is a good natural athlete, and is light on his feet for a lineman that could tip the scale at 350lbs. He sets up well in pass protection and does a good job shuffling his feet laterally to keep the defender at bay. He is very powerful at the point of attack and can simply man handle college lineman, opening up a lot of running room on his side of the field. Smith has the natural athleticism and strength to play any spot on the offensive line, outside of the center position.
With a solid quarterback acquired from free agency and or trade, the Lions with a decent back Kevin Smith and Calvin Johnson can focus on addressing their other needs. Detroit can also start to groom Drew Stanton if it comes to that. With the abundance of draft picks the Lions have, they can fill some holes on both sides of the ball.
If anything the Miami Dolphins led by the Maestro, Bill Parcells, have shown a team as bad as the Lions can turn it around and have a franchise in a solid state going into the future in a relatively short time. And what was Bill Parcells plan in 2008? Draft a lineman, sign a few veterans, plant the seeds and let it grow.
All the best, Detroit.