Calvin Johnson has the right to speak his mind

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Published on : July 16, 2017

 

 

The Detroit Lions world is once again in an uproar over comments made by Calvin Johnson. The best receiver to ever don a Lions uniform is getting a ton of flak from fans and pundits after a recent trip to Italy. When prodded by the Italian media about his early retirement, he stated that in addition to the well-noted breakdown of his body and its declining ability to recover from the rigors of playing in the NFL, he didn’t see a shot at a Super Bowl with the Lions. This has fans all over the internet hating on Megatron and complaining that he is dragging the organization, the same one that made him a very rich man, through the mud.

 


Everyone needs dial back the talk of Calvin Johnson bashing the organization and remember that he is entitled to his opinion and he is no longer an employee of the team. Not only can he say whatever he wants but he was the only bright spot in a horribly mis-managed operation for years. He suffered through so much as a Lion and always did it with class. He showed up to work, did his job and did it well. And through all the losing, and the coaching blunders, and awful rosters, he never once complained. Or demanded a trade. He was a Lion for his entire career, and when his body couldn’t take the abuse anymore he walked away from the game. That he didn’t see a Super Bowl in the immediate future for the team factored into the decision, big deal.

 

Megatron also added that he was “stuck” in his contract and had approached the team about possibly being released, which the Lions were never going to do. The only thing I really take issue with is him saying he was stuck when he chose to sign the contract in the first place. He could have entered free agency and went to any number of teams but he signed a 7 year/ $132 million extension in 2012 to be sure he would retire a Lion. If he was stuck it was his own doing.

 

Other than that I don’t really see a reason to be mad at Calvin. Can a man who is retired and not on the team not answer a question candidly? He no longer owes anything to the team and should be able to say what’s on his mind. Everyone already knew this was the case. Fans need to stop getting their feelings hurt by what was plain to see.

 

With all that said, the ongoing Calvin Johnson post-career drama is getting old. Sadly, we as fans are going to have to get used to it. Unless Calvin Johnson becomes a hermit and is never seen in public again, the conversation will eventually always come back to a career that was far too short. And most people will place the blame for that on the Lions and try to bait him into admitting that the team is the reason the world was robbed of Megatron too soon.

 

 


The Lions get it wrong again

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Published on : June 11, 2017

 

 

There’s probably nothing to it.

 

I hope there’s nothing to it.

 

Dear God, this can’t be happening again.

 

In a situation that is sadly familiar to fans of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, it seems that their most recent mega-star has walked into early retirement holding onto some hard feelings against the team. With shades of Barry Sanders, who retired in his prime via a fax on the eve of training camp, the Lions have bid farewell to Megatron, who was still one of the league’s top receivers when he walked away. Calvin Johnson didn’t screw the team over like Sanders; the team knew he had been contemplating retirement because his body was breaking down from the beating it took over the years. Sanders actions had made it clear that he was displeased with the team, but as far as regular Lions fans were concerned, the team and Calvin Johnson were all good when he retired. But we all may have been wrong.

 

A couple weeks ago, Calvin was asked about the possibility of having his jersey number retired in Detroit, to which he responded “I don’t even like to talk Lions too much just because of the way our relationship ended.” For Lions fans, it was hard to hear that the team may have soured another relationship with a player that means so much to the city. Calvin insists that there’s no hard feelings but it sure doesn’t seem like things are cool between him and the team. So what could it be that has caused this possible rift between the two sides?

 

Calvin-Johnson1

 

Well, it turns out that the team asked him to repay a portion of the $3.2 million signing bonus from his $100 million contract. The team’s logic would seem to be that since the contract was not yet completed, and in cap terms, the signing bonus split evenly over the years of a contract, that the team was still owed a portion of the bonus. Player’s on the other hand, see a signing bonus as money already earned because it’s a bonus given at time the contract is signed.

 

Now technically speaking, I would have to agree that the team is entitled to ask for a portion of that money back, but it also seems like kind of a dick move. At first it was reported that Johnson had repaid $320,ooo but a more recent report claims that the amount may have been as high as one million. Either is a paltry amount to Johnson to be sure, but also a truly insignificant amount to any NFL franchise. Especially when you consider that neither the Seahawks or Cowboys, two successful franchises with Lombardi hardware, asked for any amount of money back from Marshawn Lynch or Tony Romo when they retired before fulfilling their contracts.

 

The Lions would have been much better off letting Calvin Johnson, a guy who destroyed his own body in the name of the team, keep that money. The Seahawks and the Cowboys did it with their superstars because it was the right thing to do. When you think about the kind of money that a player of Calvin Johnson’s caliber can bring to an organization in the way of ticket and jersey sales, it just seems petty and cheap. We fans can only hope that they haven’t permanently destroyed the relationship.

 

052317-johnson-cp

 

After Barry Sanders retired, the team filed a grievance in order to recoup part of his signing bonus and it led to the team and Sanders being disassociated from each other for years. Now, as the second season since Calvin walked away rolls around, he is attending Oakland Raiders OTAs as a guest. When coupled with the fact that he seems to be lukewarm at best to the idea of the Lions as an entity in general, fans should be sad and maybe even outraged.

 

With Barry Sanders it was maybe just a case of him screwing the team and the team screwing him back. But when it happens with another football icon, maybe the team needs to look in the mirror and reevaluate. The Lions might be incapable to having anything but a toxic relationship. Maybe they should talk to someone, and quick. Because Calvin Johnson must have his jersey hanging in the rafters at Ford Field and he must be part of the Detroit Lions family. He needs to be attending Lions OTAs and be seen as a prominent figure in Detroit football and Detroit the city. If he isn’t, then I can’t see any reason that the team’s next phenom would want to be part of the family for the long haul.

 

 


Putting the fun back in the NFL, one rule change at a time

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Published on : May 25, 2017

 

In an about-face from the way the league has been operating in recent years, the NFL has voted to give its players a chance to express themselves. The league has spent years stifling their players’ creative instincts by penalizing them for end zone celebrations. Instead of embracing something that fans and players both enjoy, the No Fun League has been throwing flags and even fining players for putting a little soul in the game, but it appears that Roger Goodell and the powers that be have seen the error of their ways.

 

At the spring league meeting, the owners voted to ease restrictions on touchdown celebrations and proponents of common sense everywhere rejoiced. What was it about dancing in the end zone or celebrating a touchdown that irked all these owners so bad in the first place? Maybe they were jealous of the dance moves, or maybe they are so far removed from our meager plebeian society that they forgot how normal, non-billionaires have fun and express joy. Either way, they are starting to get their heads out of their asses and come around on this one. I, for one, can’t wait to see some of the pent up celebrations that people have been sitting on during these dark days of prohibition.

 

The obvious winners in this decision are the fans. If football fans wanted to see a bunch of soulless robots they would watch baseball. Pigskin aficionados like the unpredictable nature of the game and want their favorite players to surprise them in new and exciting ways, and with the game being damn near a century old, it’s time to get creative. That’s where celebrations on big plays come in. The players still aren’t allowed to do anything that might be seen as taunting (throat slash), or anything sexually suggestive, but they are allowed to do group celebrations and to use the ball as a prop.

 

 

The players who will no longer have to risk being fined for getting excited are winners in this too. By extension the teams also win because they won’t have to endure ridiculous penalties when players inevitably celebrate regardless of the rules. Guys like Antonio Brown are excited to get the whole team in on the fun and we should be too. I imagine Odell Beckham Jr has a few things up his sleeve and I’m sure Cam Newton will hop on whatever dance trend is happening and then beat it to death.  

 

While the rule change is definitely a step in the right direction, I’m not sure that the NFL went far enough. There’s still a few annoying things, like that you reportedly still can’t dunk the ball through the uprights like Calvin Johnson used to (despite what the below video says). Also, the 40 second play clock starts immediately after a touchdown, meaning that teams could risk a delay of game if the TD scoring player isn’t quick about his celebration. Think of the wonderfully choreographed masterpieces that we will miss out on. For a little more explanation on what is, and what isn’t allowed, check out this informative video featuring former Detroit Lions TE and TD celebrations pro, Joe Fauria.  

 


I say let these guys go to town. Maybe they could even work on dance numbers with predetermined music. The crowd would love it and so would the players. These guys got soul and they need to share it with the world.

 

Let them dance.

 

 


The Lions’ success is a blemish on Calvin Johnson’s HOF resume

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Published on : December 22, 2016

 

 

When Calvin Johnson retired at the end of last season, the prevailing theory was that the Detroit Lions were doomed. They were once again losing one of the most prolific offensive superstars ever to play the game. Instead of having a long storied career, Megatron decided to walk away from the game after just nine seasons. Shades of Barry Sanders had fans of the team up in arms. Once again a transcendent offensive weapon was choosing to hang it up early as opposed to continuing on with an organization that was heading nowhere.

 

Like many others, I was fearful that the loss of Calvin Johnson would negatively impact the team, and the offense specifically. I also had an opposing suspicion that losing the Megatron security blanket, could actually help advance Matthew Stafford’s progression as a quarterback. Through 14 games this season, it seems as though the latter turned out to be true. Stafford is in the midst of one of the best stretches of his career, and while a new offensive coordinator deserves a lot of credit for that, you can’t help but notice that he is spreading the ball around like never before. No longer does he have one of the best wide receivers in the game to lock in on, and it seems to have benefited the team in a big way. Does all of this hurt Calvin Johnson’s already much-disputed case for the Hall of Fame?

 

 He was great, but did the offense’s focus on him hinder the team as a whole?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still think the unbelievable physical talent that Calvin Johnson brought to the NFL merits his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But with how the Detroit Lions have performed this season without him, I think his case has been hurt in a big way. After the team’s 1-3 start, it was easy to start pointing fingers, and some people surely looked to the void left by Johnson’s departure as a contributing factor. Since then, however, the team has gone on a complete tear, winning 8 of their last 10 games. The team sits at 9-5 and is on the verge of possibly winning their first division title since 1993.

 

This works against Calvin Johnson’s case for the Hall of Fame. Where people were pointing at his lack of longevity as the biggest mark against him, people will now also look at the team’s success this season in his absence when making a case against his induction. During Megatron’s nine seasons in Detroit the team only threatened for the division title once or twice, and now in his first season as a professional dancer, they have a two game lead with only three games to play.

 

 From football to Dancing with the Stars.

 

In five years, when the time comes to start considering the man known as Megatron for Canton people will surely point to this season as a reason for his exclusion. For reasons that are beyond me, it was already an uphill battle for Calvin Johnson. If the team should win the division, and somehow manage to win a playoff game, you can be almost certain that there will never be a bust of Megatron in Canton, Ohio.

 

Are the Lions a better team this year? Almost certainly. Does that have something to do with Calvin Johnson’s departure? There’s no way to tell for sure, but you better believe that people will paint it that way.

 

 


Calvin and Andre. Two Johnsons that should go to the Hall

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Published on : November 10, 2016

 

The NFL has lost two monster receivers in the last year. Calvin Johnson announced his retirement following last season. Victim of a mediocre franchise and a body that could no longer withstand the beating it had endured over 9 years as the focal point of the Lions offense. He decided the best thing for him and his family was to walk away from the game. Much like Barry Sanders a decade and a half earlier, he left fans in Detroit clamoring for more. But who are we to judge? It’s not like we were the ones risking being a cripple by the age of 40. His hands were mangled and he was in pain. It was too soon. He still had gas left in the tank. But he had to go.

 

Andre Johnson announced his retirement following week 8, in the middle of the his 14th NFL season. The longtime member of the Houston Texans walked away from the game after it became obvious that he couldn’t play at a high level anymore. He was released by the Texans following the 2014 season, spent last season with the Colts and was on the Tennessee Titans roster this season. He spent the entire season as a backup and hadn’t registered a catch since week 5. Clearly his time has passed, and unlike Calvin Johnson at the time of his retirement, he was no longer able to produce. He knew it was time to walk away.

 

 

With the retirement of both of these giants, the question has been asked if one or both of these guys belong in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. I don’t really understand the argument against either. For a decade they were two of the most feared wideouts in football and defenses routinely were forced to game plan around them. In their respective primes they were borderline unstoppable. In my opinion both the Johnsons belong in the Hall of Fame.

 

Calvin only played for 9 seasons, and because of that he sits further down the list for most of the major receiving statistics. But did have the most yards ever in a season back in 2012 (1,964). He was the ONLY weapon on the Lions’ offense for years at a time, and gave the fans in Detroit a reason to watch. His nickname was Megatron because he constantly made plays that seemed inhuman. Calvin Johnson was a machine and changed the way people viewed the wide receiver position.

 

Andre has some things in his resume that Calvin lacks. He played for 14 seasons and and has 2 playoffs wins under his belt (2011 and 2012). His longevity shows that he was able to be an important part of the Texans offense for years, despite having worse quarterback play for most of his career. Andre never had quite the monster season that Megatron did in 2012, but he still averaged over 1,000 yards per season for his entire career. That’s impressive. He is also the only player in NFL history to have 60+ receptions in his first 8 seasons.

 

 

In the NFL of today, where defenses are able to game plan around specific players and try to minimize their impact, these two players were as impactful as any. They were famous for their big play ability and their knack for making eye-popping catches. One defender, two defenders or three. It didn’t matter. These two could make opposing cornerbacks look silly at any moment. It’s not Calvin’s fault that he doesn’t have a playoff win (he appeared in 2 game with the Lions in 2011 and 2014). It’s not his fault that he played in an era that actually puts value on player’s quality of life during and after football, as opposed to running these guys into an early grave. Megatron doesn’t have the longevity of players from past eras and he may not have the playoff resume, but for almost a decade he was transcendent. Andre might not have had quite the same aura of dominance, but he was damn sure dominant on the field. He didn’t have the bad ass nickname but he had the skills to be sure. He was every bit the receiver as the other Johnson.

 

Shouldn’t the Hall of Fame have something to do with the level of fame that the player achieved? In a league with 32 teams, not everyone gets to the playoffs and not everyone gets a Super Bowl. Neither of these two players has a championship ring but they had the fame and the reputation as guys not to be taken lightly or underestimated on the field. They both deserve to be in the Hall of Fame because for years, they were the best of the best. In 7 years, when it’s time to put their names into consideration, and their legend has had a chance to grow, I’m confident they will both be there.

 

 


Marvin Jones or Golden Tate, who will have the bigger year?

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Published on : August 9, 2016

 

 

The new-look receiver corps for the Detroit Lions has fans of the team full of uncertainty. For years, Calvin Johnson was the ultimate safety blanket in the passing game. He made quarterbacks and fans alike feel all warm and safe and scared away the monsters under our beds. But now he’s gone and he’s never coming back. It’s time we get over it and look towards the future.

 

Thankfully, the team has two very talented guys catching the ball who can help us forget Megatron and all the good times he brought to us. Fans around Detroit are already familiar with one of those guys and his name is Golden Tate. He came to the team via free agency from Seattle in 2014 and has been as solid as they come for the last two seasons. With a knack for catching everything that comes his way, his relationship with Matt Stafford should ascend to new heights as he is the heir-apparent to the role of go-to-guy.

 

The team, however, was not content to put all of their hopes into the hands of one man alone. As far as they were concerned the job of filling Megatron’s cleats was far to big of a burden for Tate to shoulder all by himself. New GM, Bob Quinn, acted quickly and snagged the consensus best receiver on the market in Marvin Jones. By adding Jones to play across from Golden Tate the Lions now have some of the surest hands in the game, something that Matt Stafford has definitely not had throughout his career.

 

With two quick, athletic, sure-handed receivers vying for catches the Lions passing game should recover nicely from the loss of Calvin Johnson. The pieces to be successful are there but I beg the question, who will have the bigger year, Marvin Jones or Golden Tate.

 

Mr Jones

 

Much like how Golden Tate really took off once he left Seattle, I believe that Marvin Jones is going to have huge year in his first campaign outside of Cincinnati. Getting out of AJ Green’s shadow will give him a chance to be the focal point of the passing game (along with Tate), and put his skills on a stage unlike any he has yet seen. Matt Stafford should be very happy that management went out and got Jones because the guy can do it all. Contrary to one uninformed analysts opinion, Marvin Jones has some of the best hands in the NFL. He dropped only 1.9% (2 out of 103) of his catchable targets last season according to sportingcharts.com. That’s better than guys like Calvin Johnson (2.7%), Demaryius Thomas (5.1%),  Dez Bryant (6.9%) and Odell Beckham Jr (3.2%).

 

So the kid can catch, but what else does he have in his bag of tricks?

 

A lot, actually. He is a complete receiver who runs great routes at all depths and is more of a deep threat than most people give him credit for. He tracks the ball very well, and more often than not he is able to get behind the defender. If he gets a clean release he is gone but he is also able to fight through jams from opposing corners. I expect to see some deep touchdowns between him and Stafford this season. As far as shorter passes are concerned, he catches everything that comes his way. He definitely doesn’t have the agility or elusiveness of Golden Tate, but if he gets the chance to try and outrun the defense, the Lions are going to be putting 6 points on the scoreboard. Signing Marvin Jones was the best thing the Lions could have done to try and compensate for the loss of Calvin Johnson and he will have a career year in 2016

 

Prediction for the 2016 Season: 87 receptions, 1168 yards, 9 touchdowns.

 

 

Golden Child

 

Lions’ fans already know what they have in Golden Tate. He is a monster after the catch and his ability to make defenders miss is unparalleled in the NFL. Every time I watch him I’m amazed at how he is able to get out of the most precarious situations on the field. The dude can flat out ball. And if his ability to get out of tackles and gain yards after the catch wasn’t enough, he has some of the best hands in all of the NFL. He catches everything. He only dropped 3 of his 90 catchable targets last year, which is pretty good when you consider the heat that Matt Stafford regularly puts on his passes. The Lions have had issues with drops in the the past and management has clearly made fixing those issues a priority in recent years.

 

Last year with Calvin Johnson playing in all 16 games and half a season worth of garbage offense under Joe Lombardi, Tate’s production took a bit of a dive from the year before. In 2015, he had 90 receptions for 813 yards and 6 touchdowns, but in 2014 when Calvin Johnson was clearly unhealthy he amassed 99 receptions for 1,331 yards. He may have come in with less touchdowns in 2014 (4) but that seems like a fluke. When called upon, Golden Tate is very productive. Marvin Jones is more of a deep threat to be sure, but Golden Tate’s versatility and his rapport with Matt Stafford can’t be understated.

 

Prediction for the 2016 Season: 101 receptions, 1368 yards, 11 touchdowns.

 

 Expect to see a lot of this in 2016.

 

I foresee a very successful year for the Detroit Lions offense with Marvin Jones and Golden Tate leading the charge at wide receiver. Matt Stafford should thank his lucky stars (and his front office) that he has two guys who are so talented in so many different ways. Both of these guys are going to have the best years of their careers, with Golden Tate emerging at his quarterback’s favorite target. He will just edge out Marvin Jones in all of the important statistical categories due to his familiarity with Stafford,  but both will be important in helping the Lions’ passing game be one of the better ones in the league.

 

 


Fantasy Football Draft Strategies

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Published on : August 1, 2016

 

 

Thank God, football is coming back. And with it, comes the evil step brother known simply as fantasy. Many drafts are still weeks away but some crazy leagues do them at the start of training camp. So it’s not too early to start talking about it, even though my girlfriend would disagree. But for once, this isn’t about her. This is all about the fantasy football draft and how you should decide to pick players. I’m talking Winston Churchill war room level. The draft is one of the biggest determining factors to who wins the championship. Waiver wire is hugely important but if you select a top trio of QB, RB, WR and they all stay healthy and productive then your path to a trophy is much easier. The big question is, who do you take? And when?

 

If the draft scares you or you think this sounds like too much work then just set your team to auto-draft and sleep easy. We call these people “draft dodgers.” To be fair, I’ve had some pretty decent squads the few times I let the computer pick. My first team back in 2003 was auto drafted and I made the playoffs. Another year, I was hungover and a slept through the draft. Still made the playoffs. Damn, maybe the robots know more than me? Fuck that. I reject that theory. Let’s get to business.

 

1st pick

 

The old fantasy football draft rule was go running back, running back with your first two picks. This is still a viable route because the value of a solid RB is unmatched. Then we saw freak wide receivers and quarterbacks going in the top ten. Players like Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson changed the game. These guys are fantasy studs. No question. But is it smart to use your first pick on a WR or a QB? I say no, because of the the drop off between the production of ball-carriers versus other positions is way out of balance.

 

That means a top QB may get 30 points in a week while a waiver QB may score 20. But when it comes to RB’s it will be a difference of 30 to 3. If you play in a 10+ team league then there just aren’t quality and consistent players available to add. You can find a serviceable QB while there will be zero starting RB’s. For example, last year, I used a combo of Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick (both claimed off the waiver wire) in the final weeks and playoffs. They equaled or out performed my highly drafted competition. I also won the championship. There will always be these type of finds.

 

So, your first pick should be a running back. You can never guess who will get hurt but try and draft someone with a decent o-line and hopefully, a short injury history.

 

2nd pick

 

With your second pick, go either a top pass-catcher (WR/TE) or another clear starting RB. If the back is in a timeshare situation then I go with the receiver who is most likely to either see higher volume and or lots of red zone targets.

 

Note: tight end is another role that has little middle class. Getting an every week starter is a blessing. One less slot to stress over. Just leave Gronk in the lineup until the bye.

 

3rd pick

So we have an elite running back, a big WR and we are back on the clock. I’d still go after a RB. There are lots of attractive QB’s and number two wideouts but they will mostly be there next round. Get that other bell cow now and then you can move to deep threats while everyone else is scrambling and buying high on guys who only see 10 carries a game.

 

4th round and beyond

So far we picked RB, WR, RB. Now get that TE. The top three names will be gone but there’s plenty talent left. If for some reason, all good the tight ends are drafted then grab another WR or your favorite of the remaining QB’s. These are the suggestions for next round anyways. After rounds 4 or 5, it’s hard to recommend position picks, mainly because we don’t know what the board will look like. The draft is all about finding value.

 

The one stat that would best explain this concept is the baseball metric WAR (Wins Above Replacement). WAR relates to a players performance against the average athlete. Keep that idea in mind when you are picking. Where are you finding the best values? And don’t fall into trends. If WR’s are going like hot cakes, don’t sell out your plan just to not be left out. Because after all those teams have receivers, they are going to start taking the other things you need. Stick to your guns.

 

The double down and handcuffing

 

No, I’m not talking about a wild weekend in Las Vegas, I mean the double down aka the double dip, which is drafting players on the same team. Like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. So when Ben tosses a TD to Antonio, you get points from both players for one touchdown. It’s nice when it can happen but I try and not count on it. Don’t move up/change your draft plan just for a double down. The NFL season is crazy. Tons will get hurt, traded, arrested. Who knows. Diversity is key to a deep squad. Don’t bet the farm on Tony Romo playing all year with Dez Bryant.

 

Handcuffing is when you draft the backup to a popular player. Just in case they get injured. I like this for one skill player per roster. Find that guy you would be screwed without and invest in their nightmare. Look, if your first round pick goes down and someone else scoops the backup then your team lost a huge asset and you handed it to your jerk friend. At least this way, no other franchise gains because of your loss.

 

Wrap up

Take backs early and often, then top pass catchers and more backs. Wait on the QB and stock up on depth. Standard formats see lineups with two RB and two WR with one TE and a FLEX (can be any RB, WR, TE) so it makes sense to address the biggest need. Yes to hand cuffing but no to the double down. And always beware of the celebrity trap. It tricks us, makes us take Russell Wilson too early or draft a defense in the 6th round. Stay strong and you can get through this.

 

Champs

 

 


The Detroit Lions offense will be fine without Calvin Johnson

Written by :
Published on : July 24, 2016

 

 

We gon’ be alright.

 

 

After many months, I have stopped mourning the loss of another Hall of Fame (fuck you if you don’t agree) Lions player who retired far too early. Now that I have had time to process the loss of Calvin Johnson, I’m here to tell all my fellow Lions fans that things will be okay, and despite popular opinion, the Detroit Lions offense is going to be alright.

 

I don’t aim to diminish everything that the man known as Megatron meant to the team and the city of Detroit, but in the game of football you need to deal with these kind of things. If you don’t adapt, you die. And I think that the Lions are very much alive right now. Before you jump all over me and say that the Lions are a five win team, just hear me out…

 

The Offensive Line

Last year the Lions offensive line was a mess. They haven’t had a decent right tackle since Gosder Cherilus, and that’s debatable. We’ve signed a succession of veritable turnstiles at the position, who aren’t worth naming, ever since. The center position has also been bad for a few years now, because of the lack of development by Travis Swanson. When two of your five starters in the unit are liabilities it means that you aren’t going to run the ball very well and, more importantly, your quarterback is going to get destroyed. The only thing that could make it worse would be having a system of blocking that is ill-suited for your personnel group. The Lions had that too. It was a mess.

 

 Seems like just yesterday Taylor was on the podium with Goodell, now he’s getting work at LT.

 

This offseason, the Lions finally got serious about adding some talent along the offensive line. It started by adding Geoff Schwartz, who has had a nice career, when healthy, and has the versatility to fill in at multiple spots. After that, they addressed the tackle position, much to the joy of the fanbase, by adding Ohio State tackle, Taylor Decker in the first round of the draft. The team also added a little fire under the ass of Travis Swanson by drafting Graham Glasgow out of Michigan in the third round. Both of these young monsters of the Big 10 will be on the team for years to come but it is Decker who will have an immediate impact.

 

I figured he would earn his bones at right tackle and eventually supplant Riley Reiff on the left side, but it seems as though the team might try him out at left tackle from the jump. People have been saying for a long time that Reiff is more suited to play on the right side, so if Decker really is good enough to play on the left side from the start, the Lions could be looking very good along the offensive line. He is an absolute mauler in the run game that will open up some big holes for Ameer Abdulah from day one.

 

But perhaps even more significant than the solid additions to the roster is the continued development of….

 

Cooter-ball!

When Jim Caldwell was hired and brought in football legacy Joe Lombardi as offensive coordinator, hopes were high in Motown. It became clear very early on that something was not working, and in my opinion, Lombardi should have been shown the door prior to that second season, regardless of the playoff appearance. After that terrible start last year, he was finally given his walking papers mid-season. The team promoted QB coach, Jim Bob Cooter, to fill the play-calling void and the team very quickly started to turn things around. Gone was the slow developing, precision passing game from New Orleans and in its place was something more tailored to our QB, a man who is definitely not Drew Brees and should not be forced to try to become him.

 

 The man himself.

 

More important than any change in play-calling was the fact that Jim Bob Cooter wisely scraped the entire offensive blocking scheme. It was very apparent that our group of big guys could not run Joe Lomardi’s complex, zone blocking system. There were too many times early on last season when guys were left blocking no one, while three defensive linemen were busy making Stafford eat the turf. The change to a power-blocking system, where our guys were allowed to hit the guys in front of them, greatly benefited the offense.

 

After the Lions week 9 bye last year, the offense, and especially Matt Stafford, really started to take off. Interceptions were down, and completion percentage and yards per carry were up. In the second half of the season, Stafford was a top QB in the league and the team wasn’t turning the ball over. And it’s because of these things that Jim Bob Cooter, the man with the best name in football, was asked to return and bring the Detroit Lions’ offense to the next level. With a full offseason under his belt, I believe Cooter-ball is going to be a household name very soon.

 

The Other Weapons

The Detroit Lions aren’t strangers to making due without Calvin Johnson. For the last handful of seasons, he has been injured quite often. There were times when he would be used merely as a decoy or miss games altogether. The team has been forced to adapt in those situations, and most of the time they have done a pretty good job. A recent successful situation that comes to mind is the 2014 season. For much of the season Johnson was obviously hurt and probably should have missed more games than he actually did. The thing is that Matt Stafford might have been a better quarterback with Megatron missing or limited. It forced him to go through his progressions completely and spread the ball around. He wasn’t able to automatically revert to throwing up jump balls to the best receiver in the game and instead had to find the best option on the field among one of his other weapons. And he didn’t have very many.

 

 Look for Golden Tate in an end zone nearest you this year.

 

One weapon that he did have, and leaned on heavily, was Golden Tate and this year he will be a main focal point once again. Tate is as sure-handed as they come and is a big play waiting to happen once he has the ball in his hands. We’ve seen what he can do and we know he is capable of great things when the offense is clicking, but he isn’t the only one on the roster who can make big plays. The Lions also added Marvin Jones, formerly of the Bengals, to take the spot opposite Tate and (try) to fill the void left by Calvin. He is a complete receiver coming off of his best season and is only 26 years old. While some people think that the Lions overpaid for him, he was the consensus-number one at his position in free agency, and the Lions had a need. I applaud the decisiveness of new GM Bob Quinn. Jones is more of a deep threat than people give him credit for and has some of the surest hands in the league, along with Golden Tate, which is good when you consider the Lions’ other two big weapons on offense.

 

The team has some other hopefuls at wide receiver in TJ Jones, Jeremy Kerley and Andre Roberts but much of the season depends on if running back Ameer Abdullah and tight end Eric Ebron can step up their game. As Ameer Abdullah showed on his very first touch in the NFL, he is an explosive runner who can find the end zone on any given play. He should have a huge season behind that revamped offensive line as long as he can overcome his fumbling problem from last year. Eric Ebron has all the physical tools to be a monster of a tight end, but he needs to continue to develop and stop making mental mistakes (like dropping the ball). I personally think that both of these guys will come into their own this year and help the Lions’ offense be among the best in football.

 

 With the holes created by the Lions this coming season, Abdullah will get a chance to work his magic.

 

Have no fear, Lions fans, Calvin Johnson’s retirement may be sad, but it is most certainly not the end of the world. In similar fashion to Barry Sanders, who retired in 1999 following a 5-11 season, we were all blindsided by the departure of an offensive juggernaut. But the Lions followed up the Sanders retirement with a trip to the playoffs, and I think the team can do it again. Along with a defense that is welcoming back DeAndre Levy and still has mastermind Teryl Austin calling the shots, this offense is going to continue to develop. And once they hit their stride, Cooter-ball will reign supreme in the National Football League.

 

 


Pro Football’s Changing of the Guard

Written by :
Published on : March 12, 2016

 

The NFL lost some of it’s all time greats this offseason. A handful of Pro Football’s best players at their respective positions decided to walk away from the game. Some before their time, and some who had long and fruitful careers before deciding to hang up the cleats. Whether too soon or at the right time, the game of football, the NFL and the sports world in general will miss them.

 

Luckily for all of us, the game is in good hands. Those who decided to walk away this offseason will be passing the torch to the new generation of superstars, who will make sure that our Sunday afternoons are still full of joy and wonder. Let’s take a minute to reflect on the great players we are losing and see which players will help us forget about them.

 

intothesunset

 

 

Megatron shutting down

 

This is especially hard for me to process. Calvin Johnson is a future hall of famer, despite what some people might say. He played for nine seasons and for more than half of that period he was the undisputed best wide receiver in football. He consistently faced double and triple coverage and still caught almost everything thrown in his direction. I’ve never seen someone of his size have that kind of speed, agility and body control. You don’t earn the nickname Megatron for nothing and while I’m sad to see him go, the next big star wide receiver is nothing to sneeze at either.

 

I really think Antonio Brown is going to be the one to carry Calvin’s torch for years come. I’ve already thought that he is the best wideout in the league for a year or two now. He has a knack for making eye popping plays just like Megatron, and with LeVeon Bell’s rash of recent injuries, I see him as the most important part of that Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense. He’s lucky to have had the same quarterback for his entire career and their chemistry is something to behold. If I were a Steelers fan it might even be enough to feel better about Calvin Johnson’s early retirement, but at least I’ll still get to see someone making unbelievable catches every week.

 

 

The Sheriff has turned in his badge

 

I think we all knew that Peyton Manning was going to retire after he and his Broncos won Super Bowl 50. It shouldn’t be surprising, especially when you consider that he wasn’t exactly propelling his team to victory in that game, or the playoffs for that matter. It was the Broncos’ defense that was the driving force behind that championship run and anyone with cursory knowledge of the game could tell that Manning was struggling out there. Like Megatron, injuries had begun to wear away his ability to stay on the field for a full season, but unlike Megatron, those injuries had also begun to take a huge toll on his ability to make plays. For most of the last two decades he was the best QB in the league but it is now evident that his arm can’t keep up with his beautiful football mind. There’s not a more perfect time to walk away and that’s exactly what he did, but don’t fret, the game is in good hands.

 

It’s kind of fitting that Peyton would be handing the torch off to Cam Newton, the losing QB of Super Bowl 50. Cam gets a lot of criticism from people because of his attitude or the way he carried himself after losing the big game, but you can’t deny this kid’s talent. It took me a little while to come around, but now that he has fully developed his pocket passing, it’s clear that he isn’t going anywhere and we should expect him to be one of the best quarterbacks in football for years to come. Last year he had 35 passing touchdowns to go along with 10 on the ground, and only had 10 interceptions. Expect to see him in a few more Super Bowls because he is finally putting it all together and that should be scary for defenses around the league.

 

 

Charles Woodson’s next phase

 

Man, what a career this dude has had. He was the first and only defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy and won a National Championship with the Michigan Wolverines that same year in college (1997). In the NFL, he won AP Defensive Rookie of the year (1998), Defensive Player of the Year (2009), was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times, and won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers. He literally has nothing left to accomplish, as a player at least… I think the next phase of this amazing player’s life should be a foray into coaching. With few years as an assistant he can eventually ascend the ranks and become a head coach. First in college, where he obviously wins the College Football Playoff, then into the NFL where he wins a Super Bowl. After that he will transcend his earthly vessel and rise to the heavens as the greatest soul ever to participate in the sport of football, on any level. They’ll probably rename the Lombardi trophy after him. But until then, let’s see who will be filling the void that Chuck is leaving.

 

There were quite a few different players that I had to choose from here but I decided that Chuck Woodson would be handing his torch off to Arizona Cardinals defensive back, Tyrann Mathieu. I put him at the top of the defensive back totem poll because of his knack for making big plays and his ability to play all over the field. In the Cardinals aggressive, hybrid style defense, he is asked to play both cornerback and safety and he excels no matter where he’s at. He can play the run, he can rush the passer, he can play man, he can play zone. There’s really nothing that he can’t do in that defense, or any defense for that matter. There might be some defensive backs who are slightly better in coverage but there’s none that can to the variety of things that he can. It’s a shame that he tore his ACL in week 15 last year and missed the Cardinals’ playoff run because he could have been a difference maker. But he’s only 23 years old and will be making a difference for many years to come.

 

 

So long, Beast Mode

 

Oh Beast Mode, the NFL is really going to miss you, but not as much as I will. Marshawn Lynch was always a unique personality but just as unique was the talent he displayed out there on the football field. Fellow SBS sage, Roger Pretzel, talks a little more about his demeanor here, but I’m here to reminisce about his ability to run through an entire defense and leave them in his dust. I’ve never seen someone get swallowed up by tacklers only to come out on the other end of the pile and keep running the way that he did. He won’t go down as the best running back ever, but if you ask me, he’s the best tackle breaker ever to carry the rock. Fans in Seattle will be left wanting more from their now departed running back but at least NFL fans as a whole will have a new back to look forward to.

 

When the Rams, who at that point were still in St Louis, drafted Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft, I was both surprised and relieved. Surprised because he was still coming off of an ACL tear that was going to make him miss at least some of his rookie season, and relieved that he didn’t fall to the Lions. I was scared that they would jump on the chance to draft him because of his high level of potential despite recovering from such a serious injury. I was an idiot because I now realize that my team, and every other team in the league, would be very lucky to have this guy. He won the offensive rookie of the year award and was selected to the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Rams. It’s obvious that this kid is going places. I can easily see him being the best running back in football next year and beyond.

 

newdawn

 

As the sun sets on one group of legends, the dawn of a new age of NFL superstars is upon us. While there’s nothing wrong with remembering all of the good times that these now-retired legends brought us, we shouldn’t be sad. Life goes on, and with the talent that these young badasses have, it won’t be long before we are forget all about those old fogies. So pour out a little liquor for guys like Megatron and Beast Mode and get over it, because next season will be here soon and then it’ll be time to move on and enjoy some highlights from the new kids on the block.

 

 


If I was GM: Lions Offseason Edition

Written by :
Published on : March 6, 2016

 

Free Agency begins on Wednesday and with it, the season of hopes and dreams. This is the time when you get to imagine all the amazing things your team can accomplish in the offseason. I usually have a wish list of sorts for all the things that I hope my beloved Detroit Lions will do during free agency and the draft. This time of the league year is pretty much a crap shoot and most of what I hope for never comes to pass.

 

There are just too many variables. Too many other teams willing to be reckless with their spending and too many other top notch destinations for free agents. Let’s face it, Detroit isn’t exactly the ideal spot to relocate for work. That doesn’t mean that the Lions can’t have a successful offseason, they just shouldn’t expect to land any marquee free agents. In fact, while everyone loves an over-hyped free agent acquisition, I don’t really want them to overspend. The recipe for a successful franchise involves finding value in free agency and building your roster through the draft, just look at the Patriots and Packers. If I was GM, here are a few things I’d like to see this offseason.

 

Trench warfare

 Larry Warford is a piece you can build around but he needs some help.

 

Football games are won in the trenches and for that reason the Lions have got to make some major improvements along both the defensive and offensive lines. If they can add a few pieces to the foundation they have then there is a chance the defensive line can be as dominant as they have been in recent years. The offensive line is going to need a little more love though and the team should not be shy about spending serious money there if necessary.

 

The offensive line is the weakest part of the team in my opinion, so let’s start there. Matthew Stafford has been getting his ass kicked for the last couple of seasons and if they don’t want to absolutely ruin their (relatively) young franchise QB then they’ve got to make figuring out the o-line priority one. The line already has three solid, if not remarkable, pieces in place. Last year’s first round pick, Laken Tomlinson, wasn’t jaw dropping in his rookie campaign at left guard but he showed some flashes of what he can be capable of once he fully adjusts to the pro game. At right guard is former third round pick, Larry Warford, who was one of the best interior linemen in the league during his rookie season. He followed it up with a much less impressive showing last season, but I think that he improved once the zone blocking scheme was ditched along with Joe Lomardi. His future remains bright. Currently sitting at left guard is the much maligned, Riley Reiff. A lot of people inside and outside of Detroit love to trash him but the reality is that he is serviceable at worst. I personally would love to see him slide over to right tackle so that a more athletic tackle could cover Stafford’s backside, but franchise left tackles don’t grow on trees so that might not be so easy.

 

Anyway you slice it, the Lions are in dire need of a tackle who can protect their quarterback. The last two seasons have seen them start undrafted free agents at right tackle, and the reasons for them going undrafted were evident in the game film. While I do think that it is important for them to draft someone this year, I don’t like the idea of counting on them to develop in their rookie season. Tackle is the one position I would love to see them spend some money on if the right player is out there. As far as center goes, we could give Travis Swanson another chance to show he can cut it in the NFL, but I definitely want to add some depth as insurance.

 

The defensive line is in pretty good shape with Ziggy Ansah leading the charge but there are still a couple unplugged holes. The team already made a good move in getting Tyrunn Walker back on a cheap one year deal. He showed some very good potential in four games last year before a dirty play by the Seahawks defense ended his season. If the injury hasn’t set him back too much, he should be one of the starters at defensive tackle. For the other d tackle position I would love to see Haloti Ngata come back, but not for too much money. The draft is also pretty deep at that position so that should be an option too. We also need to decide if we want to bring Jason Jones back at the defensive end position opposite Ansah. I like him as a player but he is also getting a little long in the tooth, so I wouldn’t be too upset if they let him walk and got someone just as good who might be a little younger.

 

Someone to catch the ball

 Please don’t go.

 

By the time you read this article there is a very good chance the Calvin Johnson will have announced his retirement from the NFL. That makes me sad but the truth hurts sometimes. My dream scenario is that he comes back for one more year, but it would have to be at a reduced rate because his cap hit of $24 million is pretty hard to swallow. Even if that happens, the Lions need some help at receiver because after Megatron and Golden Tate, that position group doesn’t have a whole lot of talent and I’m not comfortable with counting too much on Eric Ebron.

 

I would like to see the team add someone in both free agency and the draft. A deep threat is the real need in my opinion so I hope it’s someone with some speed who can take the top off opposing defenses and take some pressure off of Tate and Ebron over the middle. Some deep speed at receiver combined with improvements on the offensive line to keep Stafford upright will make the Lions’ offense great again and strike fear into the hearts of NFL defenses.

 

Levy…… and who else?

 Let’s get this guy in a Lions jersey!

 

In just two seasons the Linebacker position has gone from serious strength to serious question mark. DeAndre Levy is a stud, who missed all of last season with a hip injury. That’s scary for someone whose strength is lateral movement, but I’m going to pray he fully recovers. The other two spots next to him are up in the air. Stephen Tulloch is no longer with us because it’s obvious that he can’t be a three down middle linebacker anymore. He’s still strong against the run but is regularly exposed in the pass game, and our defense can’t live with that. Tahir Whitehead is a free agent who I would like to see the team re-sign so that he can continue to fill the other outside linebacker position. Kyle Van Noy was drafted a couple of seasons ago to eventually fill that role but he hasn’t looked like anything other than lost during most of his NFL game action.

 

I’m kind of torn on if I want the Lions to add a Linebacker through the draft or through free agency. I’ve heard the idea of the them going after a guy like Alabama’s Reggie Ragland in the draft and I wouldn’t be mad about that but I have my eye on Danny Trevathan. He won a Super Bowl last year with the Broncos and led the team with 109 tackles. He was a big part of that defense and was rated by Pro Football Focus as the 10th best linebacker in the league. With him and DeAndre Levy, the Lions defense would have two very athletic linebackers who can play the run and the pass.

 

Secondary opinions

 Bring Isa back but don’t stop there.

 

I could see the Lions adding another mid level starter at corner through free agency but I was pretty impressed with how Nevin Lawson handled himself across from Darius Slay last season. With Quandre Diggs in the slot and Alex Carter’s development, I don’t see the Lions acquiring any big name cornerbacks but they do need some help at safety. Glover Quin has been great since the Lions signed him a few years back, but the other spot needs some attention.

 

The team has decided to let James Ihedigbo walk after it became evident that age is beginning to catch up with him when it comes to his coverage skills. Isa Abdul-Guddus took over for him halfway through last season and showed some very good stuff. He is a free agent and I really want the team to bring him back but the jury is still out on if he can be a full time starter. He is great for depth and special teams but relying on him for 16-plus is a gamble. I’d like to see him come back along with a new addition to the safety position.

 

There you have it. Without getting too technical, these are the types of things that need to happen for the Detroit Lions to have a successful offseason and get back into playoff contention. The only thing I didn’t mention is that I would look for the Lions to draft a quarterback in a later round to be groomed as the new back up to Matt Stafford. This isn’t really a glaring need though and could easily be put on the back burner until next season. So here’s to a good offseason and a Lions Super Bowl run in 2016-17!

 

 


Thank you, Calvin Johnson

Written by :
Published on : February 2, 2016

 

Back in 2007, when the Lions spent their fourth top ten draft pick in six years on a wide receiver, I was apprehensive to say the least. I figured it was just another bone headed move by our then general manager, Matt Millen. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It quickly became apparent that Calvin Johnson was the real deal, and he quickly became the best player on our team.

 

In fact, for many years he was our entire team. He was the only reason to watch. He was everything. Through the 0-16 season, and all the other seasons of awful football, Calvin Johnson was a God among men and made plays that no one else in the league could make. He was so good that he was nicknamed Megatron, after the monstrous leader of the Decepticons. But he wasn’t a monster, in fact he always seemed like one of the all around best guys in sports. He never complained about the state of the franchise, even though no one would blame him, or threatened to hold out for more money. He just showed up everyday, worked hard and made big plays.

 

 Calvin Johnson makes plays that no one else can make.

 

For his efforts, he was rewarded with one of the richest contracts ever in sports at the time a few years ago, one that would have him count for $24 million against the Lions’ salary cap. He deserved every bit of that money, but everyone knew that number would have to be reworked somehow this offseason. Then, during the last few games of the 2015 season, it started to look as though Calvin Johnson was contemplating retirement. He was saving game balls and having what seemed to be, moments on the field that were far too emotional for someone who was only saying goodbye to his team for a few months until OTAs and training camp.

 

We found out after the last game that he was in fact thinking of hanging up his cleats and walking away, and then this past Sunday reports from reputable sources began saying that Megatron has made his decision to retire. These reports are yet to be confirmed by Calvin Johnson himself or the Lions organization, and word is that the team is trying to convince him to stick it out for another year or two. Apparently, they want him to sign an extension or restructure in order to lower his cap number this season, which could complicate things, but either way it seems as though the clock is ticking on one of the greatest receivers ever to play the game. And that makes me very sad.

 

So, for no other reason than me being a selfish fan, I beg you Calvin Johnson, please don’t leave us yet. If you do, I will try my hardest to understand. I know you’re body has been feeling the toll of jumping 10 feet in the air and falling on your ass repeatedly for the last decade-plus, and it isn’t healing like it used to, but I think there is still so much you could do in the game. I’m afraid that once you’re gone, we will never see another one like you. You, similar to Barry Sanders, deserve better than what the Lions organization has built around you for most of your career. But unlike Barry, you’re being a stand up guy about the whole thing. You aren’t going to leave the team high and dry the night before training camp. As usual you are the consummate professional, and if you do decide to leave the game you are giving the team enough time to replace you on the roster.

 

 Triple covered against the Bengals and still catches the touchdown.

 

The only problem is that a guy like you can’t be replaced. I don’t need to talk about the records and stats. You can look those up anywhere. But any highlight reel of your body of work will show how important of a piece you have been to the Lions. People say that you won’t be a first ballot hall of famer because of only playing 9 years, or because other guys that in the top 10 in a lot of receiving categories, like Isaac Bruce, aren’t yet in the hall yet. To that I say, bullshit.

 

There was never another receiver that took over the game in the way that you did. For three or four years you were the best football player on the planet, period. Never before had I seen opposing teams put two DBs on the line to jam a receiver. Double and triple coverage meant nothing. Toss it up to Megatron and he could come down with it. That’s special. That’s Hall of Fame special.

 

I know you’re body is hurting, but so is my heart, along with the hearts of Lions fans everywhere. We love you Calvin, and for our own selfish reasons we don’t want to see you go just yet. If you do, there’s no hard feelings. We have nothing but respect, admiration and gratitude for everything you’ve done for our team and for the game of football. Until you come out yourself and tell the world your decision, we will keep on hoping that you aren’t done just yet. And if it happens that you are done, then from the bottom of my heart, thanks for everything.

 

 

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Playoff Staff Picks: Wild Card Round

Written by :
Published on : January 8, 2016

 

 

Wow, what a crazy NFL regular season it has been. Tons of surprises on all fronts. Like the Carolina Panthers, who turned out to be absolutely amazing. Meanwhile, their cat-bros up north, my Detroit Lions, started the 2015 campaign off so poorly (1-7) that their above-average finish (6-2) turned out to be meaningless. Unless you count how it probably saved the job of their below-average head coach, Jim Caldwell. Add that to all of these horribly depressing rumors regarding Calvin Johnson’s possible retirement, and we are about par-for-the-course in terms of end of the year misery for us Lions fans.

 

As for the ScoreBoredSports Regular Season NFL Staff Picks, they went about how we thought they would for most of the year. Ryan had about one bad week all season and was never in any real danger of losing the contest. That’s ok guys, we will get him next year. And hats off to you Mr Jaquith. It’s about time for you to start putting those skills to use and get your sports gambling career off the ground.

 

Now that the pain of the regular season has been dealt with, we turn our attention to the time of year when I don’t have to worry about my emotional state because my team is never around for the playoffs. For the ScoreBoredSports NFL Playoff Staff Picks, the slate has been wiped clean and everybody starts from the same place. It’s like an entirely new contest all together. So suck on that, Ryan.

 

It looks like the road teams are getting a ton of love from the SBS Staff and that seems a bit surprising. The only road team that I think is a lock to win is the Seahawks. If you’ve seen them play recently then you understand what I mean. Sorry Bryce, it’s not like I don’t think the Vikings are any good, because I do, it’s just that Seattle has been here before and their defense and QB are playing pretty out of this world right now. And Marshawn Lynch is back at full speed, and running on a fresh set of legs. Prepare for some classic ‘beast mode’ moments. I know it hurts, but it’s ok. There’s always next year….

 

The Wild Card Picks:

Divisional Round

 

Week 17

 

 


Hit it and Quidditch

Written by :
Published on : November 30, 2015

 

Quidditch is the coolest fake sport ever. Made popular by the Harry Potter series of books and films, quidditch combines polo, Australian-rules football and flying for intense sports action. Sure it’s not real but it’s super awesome. Imagine if broomsticks could fly and we had a pro league with teams in all the major cities. If you owned a quidditch squad which real life athletes would you want on it?

Well first let’s do a quick refresher on how quidditch works. The object of the game is to outscore your opponent. Each team is made up of seven players: 1 Seeker, 1 Keeper, 2 Beaters and 3 Chasers.

Chasers get points for successfully getting the Quaffle (a weird football shaped thing) through one of three hoops that the opposing Keeper protects. Two grapefruit sized balls called Bludgers magically dart around the arena smashing players off their brooms. The Beaters use a bat to redirect the Bludgers into the other players. All while the tiny Golden Snitch zips around elusively. The Seeker from each team tries to catch the Snitch, which nets you 150 points and ends the game. So now we know the rules, lets pick our team.

 

This kid knows what’s up

 

The Chasers

You want good versatility at this position. Someone with a nice combo of speed and strength with a knack for scoring. It should be known that the Chasers work together so being able to pass is just as important as finishing.

1. LeBron James, forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He can pass, he can shoot, he can do it all. Easy choice. James will run the floor and dish the Quaffle for easy baskets. He totally Quafflied.

2. Blake Griffin, forward for the Los Angeles Clippers. Blake can nearly fly now. Giving him magic only turns this hardwood terror into an arial monster. Plus his name fits the Harry Potter world nicely.

3. Calvin Johnson, wide receiver for the Detroit Lions. His size and solid hands make him a perfect Chaser. Megatron’s ability to shake off punishment will force teams to pay extra attention to him, this will free up the others for easy points.

 

Step aside

The Beaters

These are your biggest and strongest. But we are still looking for precision here. You need skill to effectively use that bat.

1. Mike Trout, outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels. He has all the power you need, can cover great on defense and kills it with the bat.

2. Zdeno Chara, defenseman for the Boston Bruins is one of hockey’s best. He’s 6’9” and can swing that stick. I’m sure the transition to a bat will be easy for him. The Bludger is way bigger than a puck. I was going to put Brock Lesnar here but Chara seems more athletic overall. Also, Gronk wouldn’t be a terrible choice.

 

Get him a broom!

 

The Keeper

The brains of the outfit. The Keeper must decide which of the three hoops to defend. This job screams for someone with strong veteran leadership. Sports logic suggests maybe a soccer or hockey goalie but that is a very narrow translation of the job.

1. Travis Pastrana, motorsports and stunt competitor. He’s is super comfortable in the air, stays calm under pressure and can make those lighting fast calculations needed to pull off the impossible. Travis would own the broom and provide that stable backbone the rest of the crew would feed off of. Plus I hear he gets free Red Bull.

 

Soar Travis, soar

 

The Seeker

This is your fastest and usually best player. Being small helps but vision, guts and quickness is the real recipe for success. Like a mix of a fighter pilot and race horse jockey.

1. Harry Potter, Seeker for House Gryffindor. He is the best. Why would I pick anyone else? (eat it Viktor Krum) I thought about picking a NASCAR driver like Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch because those guys can go fast but are they really on Harry’s level? Don’t think so. Usain Bolt? Maybe. I do think Lionel Messi could probably do a solid job but he is only a wizard on the soccer pitch.

 

quidditch snitch

 

That’s my team. I feel pretty good about it. Leave a comment and tell me your seven. Can you dig it Cedric Diggory? Oh also, kids started playing quidditch on foot. I don’t like that. The flying is the cool part, take that away and it’s just a bunch of dummies running around with broom between their legs. Not magical, not cool. Get a job.

 

 

 


Champ and Chump: Thanksgiving Day Edition

Written by :
Published on : November 28, 2015

 

 

After having a bye week last week, the Champ and Chump column returns for a festive edition to celebrate the best and worst performances from the holiday. While we all were filling our plates and stuffing our bellies, some athletes were filling the boxscores and stuffing their stat sheets while others imploded like the famous turkey from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Hopefully we all found many things and people to be thankful for during the holiday, causing us to feel like a champ. But after passing out from a tryptophan overdose from the delicious turkey or entering a food coma by forcing one more piece of pumpkin pie down our throats, we too may have found ourselves feeling like a chump. Let’s take a look who takes home the prestigious honors for this holiday edition of Champ and Chump.

 

 

Champ: Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson

It was like the good ol’ days for Stafford and Johnson on Thanksgiving.

 

While the Detroit Lions’ season appears to be all but over, they earned themselves a 3-game winning streak when they routed the Philadelphia Eagles on Thanksgiving in Detroit 45-14, and are mathematically still in the playoff hunt, though it may require them to win out. However, with the way that quarterback Matthew Stafford played, maybe anything is possible. It was refreshing for Detroit fans to seemingly have their Lions turn back the clock to when the Stafford-Johnson connection was one of the most lethal combos in the National Football League. Stafford finished 27-38 for 337 yards and 5 touchdowns without turning the ball over. Calvin caught 8 of those balls for 93 yards but most importantly hauled in 3 touchdown passes while dominating the Eagles’ secondary. It could be too little too late for the Lions, but for this one day, they can feel like champions and for the last 50-some years, that’s the closest they have ever been to being one.

 

Honorable Mention:

Luke Kuechly- Kuechly picked off Tony Romo twice, returning one to the house for a touchdown to go along with 7 tackles, anchoring the stout Panther defense in a win over the Cowboys

Denzel Valentine- Notching his second triple-double of the season already, Valentine led the Michigan State Spartans to a victory over the Boston College Eagles finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Chris Warren and Jared Brownridge- Both in losing efforts, Warren ran for 276 yards and 4 touchdowns for the Texas Longhorns against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Brownridge put up a John Wooden Classic tournament record 44 points against the Arizona Wildcats, but his Santa Clara Broncos fell in overtime.

 

 

Chump: Chip Kelly

More like “Chump” Kelly as of late.

 

The Philadelphia Eagles handed the keys to Chip Kelly to build a champion a few years back and now in his third season, the Eagles are yet to even win a playoff game. After going 10-6 in his first two years, Kelly changed the offense completely this year by acquiring Sam Bradford and dealing away Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy, who seemingly fit his offense well, before the team signed former Cowboy DeMarco Murray. So far the makeover has not been pretty as the Eagles lost their third straight and fell to 4-7 on the season. While the offense is hardly the only problem (the defense has given up 45+ points in consecutive weeks to average to below average opponents), it is supposed to be Kelly’s forte. While it has only been three seasons, and Kelly currently has a winning record with the Eagles, his scheme doesn’t seem to really translate to the NFL, and many people feel his job very well may be on the line. In a whacky year in college football with many big programs set to be looking for new coaches, I can’t help but feel like Chip returning to the PAC 12 and leading the Trojans in Southern Cal would be a perfect fit.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Tony Romo- Finished with just 106 yards and 0 touchdowns while throwing 3 picks (2 returned for touchdowns) in a loss to the Carolina Panthers before fracturing his collarbone, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season.

Darren McFadden and DeMarco Murray- With both their teams losing on Turkey day, neither running back was able to get anything going for their respective teams. McFadden finished the day with just 11 yards on 10 carries and Murray found a little more success reaching 30 yards on 14 carries.

Wichita State Shockers- The Shockers took the world by storm a couple years back when they entered the NCAA Tournament undefeated before falling in the 3rd round, and last year had just four losses during the regular season. Already this year, the Shockers find themselves at 2-3. They have finally outgrown that slipper and we may just have a new Cinderella story come March.

 

 


Zebras in the Mist: NFL Officiating and What Needs to be Done

Written by :
Published on : November 9, 2015

 

What’s the deal?

NFL officiating has been really bad this season, and sadly, that’s nothing new. It seem like it’s always been this way. From the ‘replacement refs’ to the Calvin Johnson rule, to the tuck rule, to the Fail Mary, it just never ends. Perhaps, it’s because my beloved Lions have been victimized by inept officiating so often, that I feel so strongly on this matter. I mean, in the span of 4 games stretching back to last season, the Lions had the insane sequence where the refs picked up a pass interference flag during a playoff game and the blatant illegal batting that was missed on Monday Night Football in Seattle.

 

I still don’t understand how this was a touchdown.

 

I’m probably overly sensitive to the issue but I think everyone can agree that too many games have been adversely affected, or even decided, by the blind bums wearing stripes in recent years. Something has to be done. There was a time when it could be understood due to lack of technology or lack of knowing better, but that time has passed. Fans need to stand up and demand changes, and here are a few things that I think could help improve the situation.

 

 

What can be done about it?

Most people say that the NFL should make its game officials full time employees. That’s right, the officials for the multi-billion dollar media giant that is the NFL, are in fact, part time employees. It seems ludicrous that a business that generates so much money for so many people would put the fate of the game and the integrity of the product in the hands of people that they don’t employ full time. They should be utilizing the offseason to give them ongoing training so that they know the rules and how to apply them, like it’s second nature. But what do I know? I’m just the guy whose team keeps getting fucked over.

 

Second, I think it’s high time that an organization that has pushed the envelope in developing technology to view the game started using the full range of technology available in order to officiate the game properly. Camera’s everywhere… And lasers. There’s got to be someway that lasers can help. Maybe it’s to ensure pinpoint location accuracy for the ball and players on the goal line or to give a quick and corrective shock to officials who make mistakes on the field. Lasers, cameras, and maybe even RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, should be implemented in every possible situation that could help NFL officials pinpoint the location of both the ball and players.

 

Teams and fans shouldn’t have to bend over and take it when refs drop the ball.

 

The third thing that can be done is something that the NFL already did once this season. In a somewhat unprecedented move, the league has begun penalizing referees that make egregious and game-altering mistakes on the field. Following a game-clock error by side judge Rob Vernatchi in the Monday Night Football game between the Steelers and Chargers that robbed the Steelers of 18 seconds of time at the end of the game, he was suspended for a week with pay. It may not seem like much since he still got paid, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. The league should continue this trend and hold officials accountable for the mistakes they make.

 

Finally, the league should expand the review of plays on the field. No more of this “we don’t want to review judgement calls” bullshit. You have the capabilities and it won’t slow the game down that much. Penalties, possession, field position. Review it all! The fans and players deserve to see the right calls made on the field and if that means going under the hood, or making the league office in New York review the play, then that’s what should be done.

 

I’m sure that there’s more than what I mentioned that can be done to make sure that it’s the players and coaches alone who decide the outcome of games. NFL Officiating is far from perfect and the fact that the league doesn’t use all of the tools available to improve it is disconcerting. Typical of giant corporations, the league has been content to let change come slowly and the only ones who can change that are the fans. Public sentiment is the ultimate driver of change, and if fans voice their displeasure and ‘vote with their dollars’ then maybe NFL Officiating can become as good as the actual games themselves.

 

 


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