2008 Detroit Lions: Where Are They? Martin Mayhew, Jim Schwartz Deserve Praise

Ali HammoudCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2010

2008 Detroit Lions: Where Are They? Martin Mayhew, Jim Schwartz Deserve Praise

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    Detroit Lions coach Ron Marinelli with president Matt Millen on the sidelines during a game between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois on September 17, 2006.  The Bears won 34 - 7.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty I
    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    While listening to sports talk radio (strictly WDFN 1130 AM, not WXYT for me), I heard some fans question whether Jim Schwartz is the right coach for the Detroit Lions, and that led me to wonder if these guys know anything about football. 

    I mostly ignored it, until I saw this headline here on Bleacher Report, “Should The Lions Fire Jim Schwartz?”The author, Ken Hoehn, talked about how some feel because of penalties, Schwartz should be let go. 

    Now Ken is not part of the fire Schwartz crowd, but he does bring up the same thing that has been bothering me: Why are some calling for Schwartz’s head?

    The problem here is that a lot of fans are suffering from short-term memory; 2008 was only two years ago, yet some are choosing to forget just how horrible a state the Lions were in. 

    Let us look at where the members of the 2008 Detroit Lions are, and what Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz have done to replace the majority of them. 

    I usually don't like to remember the massacre Matt Millen committed against this team, but here it goes.

Quarterbacks

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    GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 28: Dan Orlovsky #6 of the Detroit Lions looses the ball after being tackled by Jason Hunter #57 and Brady Poppinga #51 of the Green Bay Packers on December 28, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated t
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Still with the Lions: Drew Stanton, third-string

    On another NFL team: Dan Orlovsky, Houston Texans, Backup

    UFL: Daunte Culpepper

    Out of football: Drew Henson

Running Backs

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    SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 21: Rudi Johnson #32 of the Detroit Lions runs against Takeo Spikes #51 of the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL game on September 21, 2008 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Still with the Lions: Jerome Felton, starter at fullback, Kevin Smith, backup

    On another NFL team: Moran Norris, San Francisco 49ers, starter at fullback

    UFL: Aveion Cason

    Out of football: Rudi Johnson

Wide Receivers

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    DETROIT - 2009:  Keary Colbert of the Detroit Lions poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by NFL Photos)
    NFL Photos/Getty Images

    Still with the Lions: Calvin Johnson

    On another NFL team: None

    UFL: John Standeford

    Out of football: Keary Colbert, Chris Cannon, Adam Jennings, Travis Taylor

Tight Ends

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    DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 24:  Nick Barnett #56 of the Green Bay Packers tackles Dan Campbell #89 of the Detroit Lions on September 24, 2006 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Still with the Lions: None

    On another NFL team: None

    UFL: None

    Out of football: Casey FitzSimmons, Michael Gaines, John Owens

Offensive Linemen

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    MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Tight end Tony Scheffler #85 of the Detroit Lions carries the ball as teammate Jeff Backus #76 prepares to block against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field on September 26, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikin
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Still with the Lions: Jeff Backus, Gosder Cherilus, Stephen Peterman, Dominic Raiola, starters

    On another NFL team: None

    UFL: Damion Cook, Junius Coston, George Foster

    Out of football: Manny Ramirez, Andy McCollum

Defensive Linemen

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    DETROIT - OCTOBER 05:  Garrett Wolfe #25 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by Dewayne White #99 of the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at Ford Field on October 5, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan.  The Bears won 34-7.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Still with the Lions: Cliff Avril, starter; Andre Fluellen, backup

    On another NFL team: Ikaika Alama-Francis, Miami Dolphins, starter; Shaun Cody, Houston Texans, starter; Landon Cohen, Jacksonville Jaguars, backup

    UFL: Langston Moore

    Out of football: Chuck Darby, Dewayne white, Corey Smith (RIP)

Linebackers

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    GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 28: Paris Lenon #53 of the Detroit Lions prepares for the start of play against the Green Bay Packers on December 28, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 31-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/G
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Still with the Lions: None

    On another NFL team: Paris Lenon, Arizona Cardinals, starter; Ernie Sims, Philadelphia Eagles, starter

    UFL: None

    Out of football: Darnell Bing, Anthony Cannon, Ryan Nece

Defensive Backs

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    DETROIT - OCTOBER 05:  Rashied Davis #81 of the Chicago Bears makes a reception in front of Leigh Bodden #28 of the Detroit Lions during the third quarter at Ford Field on October 5, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan.  The Bears won 34-7.  (Photo by Harry How/Get
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Still with the Lions: None

    On another NFL team: Leigh Boden, New England Patriots, IR

    UFL: Daniel Bullocks, Stuart Schweigert

    Out of football: Travis Fisher, LaMarcus Hicks, Kalvin Pearson, Dexter Wynn

Special Teams

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    MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Kicker Jason Hanson #4 of the Detroit Lions kicks as place kicker Nick Harris #2 holds against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field on September 26, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Still with the Lions: Jason Hanson, Nick Harris, Don Muhlbach

    On another NFL team: None

    UFL: None

    Out of football: None

Players Who Finished 2008 on IR or Practice Squad

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    ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 12: Jon Kitna #3 of the Dallas Cowboys gestures on the sidelines after playing against the Oakland Raiders during the preseason game at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium on August 12, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Gett
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Still with the Lions: Jordon Dizon, LB, IR; Eric Fowler, WR, practice squad; Jake Nordin, TE, IR; Caleb Campbell, LB, practice squad

    On another NFL team: Gerald Alexander, FS, Jacksonville Jaguars, backup; Mike Furrey, WR, Washington Redskins, IR; Jon Kitna, QB, Dallas Cowboys, backup; Cory Redding, DE, Baltimore Ravens, starter; Ben Claxton, C, Arizona Cardinals, backup

    UFL: Jon Bradley, FB; Brian Calhoun, RB, CFL; Alex Lewis, LB

    Out of football: Reggie Ball, WR; Dan Campbell, TE; Jared DeVries, DE; Jon Dunn, OT; Shemiah LeGrande, WR; Shaun McDonald, WR; Edwin Mulitalo, G; Dwight Smith, SS; Keith Smith, CB; Stanley Wilson, CB

Analysis

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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

    There are only three spots where players that the Lions gave up are starting for other NFL teams: fullback, linebacker and defensive line. 

    The Lions could not keep two fullbacks, and kept the younger and cheaper one in Jerome Felton.  They didn't lose a lot in not keeping Moran Norris, who bolted as a free agent to the 49ers.

    The two linebackers starting for other teams are Ernie Sims and Paris Lenon.  The Arizona Cardinals use a 3-4 defense where a player like Lenon fits in much better than he did in the Lions' 4-3 defense.

    Ernie Sims is one player that many Lions fans would probably like to have back.  This is not because of anything special he has done in Philadelphia; it is more of a product of lack of production from the Lions' 2010 linebackers. 

    The defensive line is where what Mayhew and Schwartz have done can truly be appreciated.  This is the spot where they decided to attack and get stronger first.  They were not satisfied with having marginal starters like Cory Redding or Shaun Cody, as the previous management team would have done. They instead went out and got Pro Bowl-caliber players to fill those positions. 

    This is why I think Mayhew and Schwartz are going to throw us a curveball next offseason.  I believe the offensive line is going to be an area they concentrate on in the 2011 NFL draft.  They are going to use at least one high round pick—either a tackle in the first round or a center in the second round—to solidify the offensive line. 

    This Lions front office gets it, and although linebacker is a much weaker position than offensive line, they understand you build a football team from the inside out. 

    Only 22 games removed from 0-16, the Lions have become a competitive team that will win it's fair share of games after the bye week.