SBS Stadium Series: The glass palace of Minnesota

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Published on : October 12, 2017

 

 

The Michigang is back in action for our annual Lions road game meet up. This year takes the crew to Minneapolis, Minnesota for Detroit’s first divisional game against the Vikings.

 

This year’s trip was extra special because we got to visit the newest football arena in the country. US Bank stadium will be home to this year’s Super Bowl and it is clear why. The building is enormous and gorgeous. Let’s get inside and explore the new digs in this installment of the SBS Stadium Series.

 

 

First impressions of Vikings Village (the area outside the building). Kind of lame. All beer stands, which I love but no food, which sucks. Because I was starving and needed something in my belly besides booze. There was also this terrible band playing covers. I wont even dignify them with a joke. Overall, the best part of Viking Village would have to be the view. The glass face of the building is super dope. Also the local train has a stop right in front which is really convenient. But it’s getting close to kickoff so it’s time to head inside. As we made our way to the front gate we came across the witches protesting for social justice. The witches kick ass. Fuck racism and white supremacy.

 

 

The lines to get in moved so fast. Best I’ve ever seen at sporting event. Inside, they scan your tickets like a boarding pass with this fancy laser podium. It’s straight The Fifth Element. First steps inside US Bank are breathtaking. It’s like a football cathedral. The roof is so far above you at all heights. The scale is truly massive.

 

We take the escalators up to the the top level and as we move through the crowds it is clear. There are some Lions fans but not many. Probably the smallest number of Honolulu Blue I’ve witnessed on the road. Bobby joked “these Vikings fans sure do travel well”. We were outnumbered but not outclassed. Our Michigang was 14 deep and rocking our matching custom t-shirts. We drew a lot of attention. But that might be because we were chanting and yelling almost the entire time.

 

 

We find our seats and get ready for the show. But first, it’s time for everyone’s favorite part of a football game, the national anthem! I did not stand for the anthem. Because Trump called NFL anthem protesters, “sons of bitches”, so I stayed seated. Because criticizing protesters who are speaking out against inequality is a trash move. But I did stop eating my pizza which I thought was a very reasonable compromise. From behind me, I hear “it would be nice if all the Lions fans would stand”. I didn’t turn or respond. Facebook comment threads have taught me how to recognize a trigger situation and I’m finally (hopefully) adult enough to not always get sucked in.

 

Then, an epic DRUM BEAT on a brontosaurus sized drum. Like Game of Thrones style viking shit. The room shouts “SKOL!”. Everyone knew what was happening. Everyone but the 14 of us. The crowd claps their hands above their heads with each beat. The drumming gets faster. It’s pretty intense. And admittedly cool. It crescendos it a roar of applause. Super loud. Maybe the loudest I’ve ever heard. This is all being lead by the Skol Line (get it, it’s like goal line) a drum line band that maybe lives in the stadium. Not totally sure on that. But they do get the crowd pretty hype. Also what’s the deal with all the Skol stuff? Do they really like chewing tobacco that much? Apparently they do. Because the entire building is smokeless. No smoking deck or area period. Maybe they have a vape zone? Also not sure on that.

 

 

Finally, it’s kickoff. I get the butterflies in my stomach. I add two beers, a pretzel with cheese and a second slice of pepperoni pizza to that stomach to kill the butterflies. The game is tight. Both defenses are balling. It’s going to be a close one the whole way I can just tell. But hot damn look at the field. The whole place feels so open and new. At one point during the second quarter, the sun peaked from behind the rain clouds and shined down on the glass of the wall and ceiling. The whole building lit up like it was magic in a Disney movie. It was beautiful.

 

Each time the Vikings have a positive play, they blare this awful horn. I’m sure the fans like it. But it gets old quick. The drum is way better than the horn. The NFC North rivals trade points until it’s Detroit 14 and Minnesota 7. But there’s plenty of time left in the game so anything can happen. And for the record, the Viking fight song they play after a touchdown is real bad and I should know, the Lions fight song is not great. But this one is rough. The clock is ticking down and now the gentlemen behind me start chirping. They keep trying to bait me into something. But I surprisingly play it real cool and don’t engage. This was no easy task by the way. I’m petty and very quick with a mean joke so this is kind of my unfortunate specialty but I swallow my insults and let the Lions defense do the talking.

 

 

Lions grind out the clock with a solid ground game and it’s over. We win. 14-7. The row busts into our favorite chant “three and one, three and one, three and one” or for s fun variation, “four and o with an asterisk”. Another huge road win. Seriously, winning on the road in our division is not something I’ve experienced too much of. It was a shock and a real joy. I will remember that day forever.

 

Overall, the stadium is perfect. Not a single flaw to mention. Other than that damn horn. The total experience was great. The Vikings fans were mostly very nice. For example, most had a hard time with trash talk. One guy saw us and yelled “Go Vikings” and then we yelled “Go Lions” and then he went “but seriously that Stafford is my something, I’d say he’s probably my favorite player in the league”. Or another guy tried to heckle by shouting, “Funny hat!” at Tomas with his lion head beanie. Sick burn you guys. It’s almost cute.

 

They say that people who build glass stadiums shouldn’t throw touchdowns. And the Vikings didn’t that day. Go Lions. And who knows, maybe the Michigang will be back in Minnesota watching the Lions in the Super Bowl. A boy can dream can’t he?

 

SKOL.

 

 


Most intriguing games of the upcoming NFL season

Written by :
Published on : August 12, 2017

 

The NFL season is so close I can practically taste it. It’s early August and we are just beginning to get some preseason football action. This is an exciting time of year when football (and Burning Man) is pretty much all I can think about. This is the time when I have an uneasy optimism about my beloved Detroit Lions as I allow myself to believe that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year we overcome the god damned Packers and win the division.

 

Aside from the Lions, I’m excited about the season in general and I’m starting to form opinions (based on nothing other than my own analysis and guess work) about who is going to be worth watching this year. With that in mind, I’ve started to take a look at the schedule and pick out games that I think will be exceptionally entertaining. Here are the most intriguing games of the upcoming NFL season.

 

Chargers at Broncos. Week 1.

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Bruno thought I was crazy for this one but hear me out. The Chargers still have Phillip Rivers and Melvin Gordon, and if the rest of the team can stay healthy they should have a solid squad. The Broncos should have a good defense with Von Miller leading the way and if they can find any semblance of a competent passing game then they should be in the running for the AFC West. This game, though early in the season, should go a long way to sorting out what that division will look like all year.

 

Cowboys at Cardinals. Week 3 MNF: League’s top young running backs (removed).

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Before the Cowboys electrifying young running back, Ezekiel Elliot, got suspended for being an asshole this was one of my favorite early matchups of the season. The Cardinals have my favorite running back and the MVP of my championship fantasy football team last year, David Johnson. This was going to be an epic battle on the ground, but now I just hope David Johnson rushes for 250 yards, has 200 receiving yards and scores 5 touchdowns.

 

Atlanta at New England. Week 7: Super Bowl rematch.

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Remember that one time the Atlanta Falcons had a Super Bowl Victory firmly in their grasp only to choke away a 25 point lead in the second half to Tom Brady and the Patriots? Well this is their chance to get some sort of payback.

 

Dallas at Atlanta. Week 10.

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This is the first of my potential conference championship game previews on the list. Atlanta represented the NFC in the Super Bowl last year and the Cowboys were favorites to make it to the conference final before running into the Green Bay Packers. Theses two teams will be in the running for it again this year and this first matchup should be a good one.

 

New England at Oakland. Week 11: Mexico City.

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In the next potential conference championship game preview, we have the Patriots facing off against the Raiders. I would bet money that the Patriots will be heading back to the AFC Championship game and the Raiders seem poised to build on a successful 2016 campaign that was derailed by an injury to their young QB, Derek Carr. Estadio Azteca in Mexico City will surely be rocking as the greatest quarterback of all time faces off against one of the best young gunslingers in the league.

 

New England at Pittsburgh. Week 15.

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This is a rematch of last years AFC Championship game and if us football fans are lucky, it will be a preview of this year’s. Give me Tom Brady vs Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown any day of the damn week. This is deep enough in the season to have serious playoff implications but not so late that Bill Belichick is resting half his team. Get ready for a barn burner in this one.

 

Green Bay at Detroit. Week 17.

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Normally no one is getting all that excited about any Detroit Lions game, but for the second year in a row the Lions will host the rival Green Bay Packers at home to end the season. Last year this game decided the NFC North and the hope is that it will be the same scenario. And hopefully my Lions will win the NFC North for the first time since the division was created back in 2001.

 

Well there you have it. The most interesting matchups of the upcoming NFL season as I see them. Are there any games that you think shouldn’t have made the list or any marquee games that you think I missed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 


Pay Stafford his money

Written by :
Published on : August 4, 2017

 

 

Lions training camp is underway and the team is looking to get back to the postseason for the third time in four years. This is a big change from the days when Detroit was bottom-of-the-barrel looking up at the playoffs. And quarterback Matthew Stafford is a big reason for this recent success. Because of that, management is working on getting Matt a new contract extension to lock up the young gunslinger for the next half decade. This is the move to make. The Lions need to open their checkbook and pay Matthew Stafford the big bucks he deserves.

 

Haters are going to say Stafford hasn’t won a playoff game yet so he doesn’t deserve $25 million+ per season. Or he throws too many interceptions. Or that Tom Brady isn’t even making that kind of money. Or that he sucks and Detroit needs to move on from him. These type of statements drive me crazy because they are so misguided. Talents like Matthew Stafford do not come around that often and the Lions are lucky enough to have drafted him, the franchise cannot afford to let a commodity like that walk away.

 

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The truth is, the NFL has a quarterback shortage. There are about 10-15 good to great QBs and 32 teams so you do the math. Most GMs are always looking for the next brilliant single caller. But they aren’t there. For comparison, Derek Carr was just given a 5 year/$125 million deal. Carr has never won a playoff game either. This just proves that the rate for a quality man under center has gone up. Carr helped set the price point. So forget all that talk about who is making what. All these numbers are going to shoot up. Stafford just happens to be next in line to get paid.  

 

Brady’s pay was cut because of the suspensions he was going to face. This allowed the team to pay him less in salary and give him most of his money via bonuses and performance incentives. Plus Tom is one of those guys that is already so rich that he doesn’t want to hamstring the rest of the roster with his huge contract. Keeps them so damn competitive. And in terms of interceptions, Stafford threw 10 picks in 2016. His fewest in 6 years. Also the 4th lowest total for QBs that played all 16 regular season games. Speaking of playing all 16 games, Matt was done that the last 6 years as well.  

 

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On to the good stuff. Matt Stafford or as some of my buddies call him, Dad Stafford or Matt Dadford, has thrown for over 4,000 yards in all of the last 6 years. That’s bonkers. He is only 29-years-old but has a wealth of game management experience. Stafford is one of the best clutch players we’ve seen since John Elway. To date, Stafford has 28 comebacks in the 4th quarter or overtime. This is the guy you want to have with the ball in his hands. Plus the dude has a straight cannon. One of the best arms in the league. Hands down. Let’s not forget his legs either. Not known as a mobile guy but he routinely makes plays with his feet. AKA, the total package.

 

Matt Stafford is a recent father. He is maturing, becoming the leader the Lions needs. It’s time to reward him for all his growth and hard work. In the immortal words of John Malkovich’s character in the film Rounders:

 

Pay that man his money

 

Talk is that the contract could be worth somewhere around $30 million a year. That’s wild but Stafford earned every penny of that. And when he wins a Super Bowl, it will look like a real good deal.

 

Cash money.

 

 


I’d rather be the underdog

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Published on : July 28, 2017

 

 

As football season approaches there is a pretty wide range of thoughts and feelings that approach with it. There’s the excitement of finally being able to watch my favorite sport every season. There’s also the uncertainty that comes along with not being a fan of the New England Patriots or the Alabama Crimson Tide. It’s an uncertainty rooted in the volatility of the sport from season to season. Aside from a privileged few who produce top notch teams every single year, there’s no telling for sure who will be any good. For everyone who doesn’t have Bill Belichick or Nick Saban at the helm, it’s a crap shoot on any given year. A few thing go wrong and poof! Season is over.

 

Before any games are played, preseason or otherwise, it’s impossible to predict a team’s performance, but that doesn’t stop the legions of sports media from trying to figure out which teams will rule and which will drool. This leads to endless preseason rankings and in-depth analysis of where every team is thought to stand by people who have no real idea of what will transpire over the course of a football season. No one should put any stock in these preseason lies and conjecture, but alas, they do. And inevitably someone’s favorite team will be picked to be among the worst.

 

 Harbaugh at the helm and still no preseason love.

 

This brings me to my two favorite football teams, the Detroit Lions and the University of Michigan Wolverines. Neither of them are getting a ton of love this summer leading up to the 2017 season. Michigan lost almost all of their starters so there’s reason to temper expectations and the Lions are the punching bag of the NFL, so there’s that. It’s not like everyone is saying that both these teams will suck this year, but most of what I’ve heard about their prospects has been negative. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

I’m not saying that I want the Lions or Wolverines to be a laughingstock, but I would rather have them coming into the year with a chip on their shoulder than have people calling for them to win the Super Bowl or the College Football Playoff. I enjoy being the underdog and without the overblown expectations I like to believe my team is free to just go out there and play the game. Not to mention that every time one of my teams is picked by the talking heads to do big things they inevitably trip over their own feet and do something stupid, like lose to Appalachian State in the season opener.

 

 Give me some Matthew Stafford with something to prove, please.

 

No, no. Better to be overlooked out of the gate and shock the world. There’s no better feeling than be discounted only to come back and shut up all of the naysayers. Because when everyone thinks you ain’t shit, the only way to go is up. It’s so much sweeter that way. Maybe it’s just my Detroit roots, who knows. But I’d rather be the underdog any day. This season and for every season to come.

 

The Patriots can have their next championship handed to them before any games have been played, but as for my Lions, I’d rather have them earn it. Alabama or Ohio State can get crowned before the school year even begins, but I’d rather have the Wolverines ruin someone else’s perfect season out of nowhere. Like a cobra laying in wait for it’s prey, I like my teams to surprise the opposition and the spectators alike. I identify with the little guy and the life of an underdog is the one for me.

 

 


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.

 

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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.

 

 


Lions must focus on defense in the draft

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Published on : April 2, 2017

 

 

The Detroit Lions have spent the better part of the last 50 years as the laughing stock of football. From pee wee to the pros, the Lions like the Browns and other oft-maligned franchises, were synonymous with ineptitude. The team that squandered the careers of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson, two legends of the gridiron. Lions and losing went together like peanut butter and jelly, but in the last few years something crazy has happened. The team has been pretty damn good at times, and mediocre at worst. For the last three seasons the team has been a legitimate contender for the division and they have made the playoffs twice in that period.

 

Gone are the days of planning for the next year’s draft in October and November. Fans in the Motor City expect to be in the running late in the season. The new goal isn’t just having a winning record or even making the playoffs, it’s winning a playoff game; something that hasn’t happened since 1991. If that goal is going to be achieved this season then there is still quite a bit of offseason work to be done. Especially on the defense.

 

 

There is an almost complete consensus that the Detroit Lions are one of the early winners of this year’s free agency. After losing Riley Reiff and Larry Warford, two long time starters on the offensive line, there was concern that an already somewhat porous unit was going to take a big step backward in 2017. Then general manager Bob Quinn surprised many people by spending big money to acquire two of the best offensive linemen available. On the opening day of free agency, right tackle, Rick Wagner, was signed away from the Baltimore Ravens. Days later local boy and longtime Packers guard, TJ Lang, was signed after it seemed like a certainty that he was headed for Seattle. These two are immediate and significant upgrades over their predecessors on the line, especially when it comes to pass blocking, where they rank as two of the best at their positions in the league. Quinn had a goal to upgrade protection for Matt Stafford and he executed his plan swiftly.

 

Those upgrades on the offensive line did not come cheap, however, and depending on who you ask, the Lions now only have about $8 million in cap space. That cap space doesn’t preclude them from making more moves in free agency but it does most likely take them out of the running for the big names like Zach Brown that are still on the market. That could be of concern because the Lions have yet to improve their defense whatsoever this offseason, and if anything the talent pool on that side of the ball has gotten more shallow.

 

Linebacker Paul Worrilow was signed from the Falcons and cornerback DJ Hayden was signed from the Raiders. Worrilow has value as a special teamer but if the Lions are forced to start him then that’s a bad sign. Hayden has the potential to start at the nickel position if he can stay healthy and replicate his performance from last season. Both of the guys are nice depth pieces but they aren’t difference makers. That is troubling on a Lions defense that is in dire need of guys who can make big plays, especially after the team chose to part ways with the once electric but now injury plagued DeAndre Levy.

 

 None of the defensive signing so far are game changers, including Paul Worrilow.

 

A few more depth pieces with some potential have been signed along the defensive line. Akeem Spence, Cornelius Washington and Jordan Hill will all contribute but the team must generate a better pass rush this year. Ever since Ndamukong Suh took his talents to South Beach there has been no pressure up the middle. Last year, that weakness really came back to bite them as opposing quarterbacks were allowed record setting completion percentages against the defense. If there’s no pass rush then the defense will surely flounder again.

 

The cap constraints and a free agency class that is short on defensive playmakers at this point means that the Detroit Lions are going to need a defensive haul of epic proportions in this year’s NFL Draft. There are huge holes on the defensive line and at linebacker and the way that the team sits right now, the offense will need to score 40 points a game for them to be successful. In the NFL, you can’t expect to have sustained success if you’re forced to rely solely on the offense. This team must dedicate the lion’s share of their draft picks to the defense because the guys they have right now simply can’t get the job done.

 

 


The NFL free agency mambo

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Published on : March 15, 2017

 

NFL free agency has only been a few days but already the complete landscape of football has changed. Huge names have moved and found new homes while others have decided to hang up the cleats and retire. Millions are being tossed around and it’s a lot to process. Let ScoreBoredSports ease your weary brain with this helpful review of all the big transactions so far. Strap on your dancing shoes and let’s all do the free agency mambo.

 

WR Brandon Marshall to Giants

2 year/$12 million dollar deal saves Marshall from moving homes or facilities as he switches to the Giants. The former New York Jet will join Odell Beckham Junior in the receiving corps. Should make for a pretty solid unit.

 

WR Pierre Garçon to 49ers

This organization is totally rebuilding. They need offensive weapons. Garçon is nice possession receiver but it’s unsure who will be throwing him the ball. Got to start somewhere, though it looks like San Francisco overpaid.

 

 

OT Ricky Wagner and OL TJ Lang to Lions

Oh boy, the Lions add some beef upfront to help keep Stafford alive. As a fan, I love any effort to improve the o-line and help our lackluster running game.

 

TE Dwayne Allen to Pats

This was a trade with the Colts where Allen and a 6th round pick went to New England for only a 4th round pick. Seems like a small price tag for a guy that will blossom under Brady. But that’s what the Pats do.

 

RB Mike Tolbert to Bills

Mike packs his bags and leaves the Panthers to join Shady McCoy and the other backs in Buffalo. This team loves to the run the ball so look for Tolbert to get the short yardage/goal line duties.

 

 

QB Brian Hoyer to 49ers

I expect the new heads of the organization to draft a QB but this will be their starter for the time being. Hoyer has flashed moments where it looks like he has all the tools for the job. This will be a tough test. Hopefully, they can add a few more pieces around him.

 

S Barry Church to Jags

Jacksonville focused on defense in last year’s draft and maybe those picks will pay off but they couldn’t stop anyone last season. Church is a vet who Jacksonville hopes can bring some leadership to the secondary.

 

WR DeSean Jackson to Bucs

DJax headed to Tampa where his skills should pair well with star WR Mike Evans. This could be a nasty duo. This team has playoff sleeper written all over it.

 

 

K Steve Hauschka to Bills

Hey, kickers matter and Steve is one of the best. The long time Seahawk is bringing his talents to north beach. This is a good pick up for any team.

 

WR Kenny Britt to Browns

Get that money Kenny, but it sucks to be on Cleveland. This team needs tons of help and they don’t seem close to an answer. Would love to be wrong.

 

CB AJ Bouye to Jags

Jacksonville continues to invest on the defensive side of the ball with the splashy signing one of the top cornerbacks available, but they paid for it. 5 year/$67 million.

 

 

WR Alshon Jeffery to Eagles

Philly adds a big time target for a 1 year/$14 million deal. This is all about fit. That’s why the contract was only for a season. If Jeffery soars, expect a huge offer next year.

 

CB Logan Ryan to Titans

The other top defensive back on the market lands in Tennessee. This is another team that is quietly building a real competitor.

 

DE Julius Peppers to Panthers

Homecoming. I love when a player gets a chance to head back to his old team for another tour. Fans bust out their old jerseys and we all have fun.

 

 

WR Terrelle Pryor to Washington

1 year/$8 million and suddenly you are QB Kirk Cousin’s new favorite target. He will replace Jackson and keep the passing attack rolling in the Capitol.

 

TE Martellus Bennett to Packers

Just what Aaron Rodgers needs, a Super Bowl winning-mega talent. Ugh. The only worse headlines are from the real news.

 

WR Brandin Cooks to Pats

God damn it. How do they keep reloading so fast? It’s almost like every player in the league wants to play there and win one of those fancy trophies. New England sent their 1st and 3rd round draft picks to New Orleans for Cooks and a 4th rounder.

 

 

TE Lance Kendricks to Packers

Looks like Green Bay is following the Pats model of the two TE sets as they add another big body pass catcher.

 

WR Kendall Wright to Bears

Chicago needed to do something after losing top wide out Jeffery. Wright becomes the go-t0 guy in the Windy City. The real question is, with Jay Cutler gone, who is throwing the ball?

 

QB Nick Foles to Eagles

Another reunion. Foles will presumedly be the number two quarterback behind Wentz, who just finished his rookie year. Foles should be considered a top tier backup. Someone who is ready to start and win in the event of an injury.

 

 

RB Eddie Lacy to Seahawks

The big back joins Seattle on a 1 year/$5 million deal with $3 mil fully guaranteed. His weight is an issue. Some reports have him at 267 lbs. That’s heavy for a running back. The hope is he becomes the new Marshawn Lynch but that may be unrealistic.

 

QB Mike Glennon to Bears

Chicago has finally cut ties with Jay Cutler and they need a new signal caller. Glennon may not set Chicago on fire but he is young, 6’6″ and has experience. Not a sexy signing but the free agency market for QB’s is slim.

 

Some big names are still available. Guys like Dont’a Hightower, Adrian Peterson and Colin Kaepernick are still looking for a team. The NFL draft is a month away so we can expect to see some more action in the coming days. But most of the high profile talent is already off the board. This is such an exciting time for football. I can’t wait for the season opener.

 

Show me the money.

 

 


Bears to sign Mike Glennon, NFC North rivals rejoice

Written by :
Published on : March 9, 2017

 

The NFL’s new league year is beginning and with it we are seeing a flurry of new signings. This is one of my favorite times of year as teams begin to retool and build their rosters for the new season. It’s an exciting time for fans, who get to play amateur GM and imagine how they would best build their favorite team. And when teams don’t go along with the fan’s ideas of what’s best, they get to light the torches and get out the pitchforks, only to realize once games start that they had no idea what they were talking about. Aside from being excited about what your team might be doing, fans get to revel in the mistakes of their rivals. That’s why I am so excited for what the Chicago Bears are rumored to be working on.

 

 Get this man in a Bears jersey!

 

The Bears are being connected to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Mike Glennon. As a Lions fan, I would love to see the Bears sign Mike Glennon. They will have gone from Jay Cutler, a sub-par, but proven and somewhat talented quarterback to a guy that hasn’t seen the field in two years and has one mediocre rookie season as his body of work. Regardless of what the delusional fans in the Windy City want to believe, the Bears have been the gutter trash of the NFC North for a few years now and this move would make sure that trend continues. With the Packers always awesome (even when they suck) and the Vikings riding their defense, I feel like the Bears being respectable again would be too much for my Lions to handle. Better that they sign a garbage quarterback and leave the competitive football to the big boys.

 

This might be unfair to Mike Glennon. The Buccaneers did offer to make him the highest paid back up QB in the league, after all, so he has to at least have some talent. The Bears are reported to be offering him $14.5 million per year. When you say that out loud it seems like a ton but when you’re talking about a starting quarterback it isn’t really that crazy an amount of money. In fact, it puts him right around 21st when you rank starting QB yearly salary in the league. The Bears are betting big on Glennon’s potential and the fact that tons of people in the Buccaneers organization love the guy, but that doesn’t change the fact that he has only ever won five football games in his career.

 

 John Fox might not survive the Mike Glennon experiment.

 

This move reeks of desperation and that should have the the Lions, Vikings, and Packers licking their chops at the prospect of playing Chicago twice a year. Glennon might have the size (6’6″, 225 lbs), potential, starting experience (albeit limited) and knowledge of the game (he has been watching from the sidelines since Jameis Winston was drafted), but he is definitely unproven. He is also going to a team that just decided to let their best receiving option walk in free agency. When this move inevitably blows up in their face and they win five or six games, they will probably be looking for a new head coach. It seems unlikely John Fox will survive another bad season in a city that so loves football. All of that adds up to another three to four years of mediocrity in Chicago. And that most likely has the rest of the NFC North praying for Mike Glennon in a Bears uniform.

 

 


The Next Step: Detroit Lions offseason needs on offense

Written by :
Published on : February 15, 2017

 

 

In the previous installment of The Next Step we talked about the Detroit Lions and how desperately they need to improve their defense if they want to get to the next level. Defense wins championships and the lack of one can get you bounced from the first round of the playoffs in embarrassing fashion, as was the case when the Lions faced the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round. While improving the defense is paramount to establishing a consistently good team, all parts of the team should be examined every offseason and that brings us to the offense.

 

The Lions offense has carried the team for years now and Matthew Stafford, before his late season finger injury, seemed to prove that he has finally put all the pieces together. He carried the team in 2016 and was the only consistent bright spot. And even that went to hell after the finger injury. It’s time for the team to take some pressure off of Stafford and build a complete offense. Here’s what they should do if they want to accomplish that goal.

 

Offensive Line

The starting offensive line that the Detroit Lion rolled out last season is full of young talent. Rookie first round pick Taylor Decker proved that he is the left tackle of the future and Travis Swanson surprised everyone by becoming one of the better centers in the league, after an extremely rocky first two years in the NFL. Former first round left guard Laken Tomlinson on the other hand proved that he is quickly headed for bust status, but never fear! Rookie Graham Glasgow took over and did a good job. He also showed some versatility by moving to center when Swanson went down with a concussion that would cause him to miss the final five games of the year. All these players will most likely be on the Lions roster in 2017 (unless Tomlinson gets him self cut from the team, which is possible) so the left side of the line is set. But the right side could be a little tricky.

 

 The Lions must re-sign Riley Reiff.

 

At right guard is former third round pick Larry Warford, who has been very good at times but hasn’t lived up to a stellar rookie season four years ago. At right tackle is former first rounder Riley Reiff who moved to the right side after the team drafted Taylor Decker. Both are above average-to-good players but both will be unrestricted free agents this offseason. It will be very hard to keep both so that means a choice must be made. While Larry Warford is probably higher rated at his position compared to other guards around the league than Reiff would be against his peers, good tackles are just too hard to come by. If the price is right, the team should re-sign Reiff, let Warford walk, and move Laken Tomlinson back to his more natural position at right guard. They should also draft some developmental players in the mid/late rounds of the draft, but by no means should they be giving big money to any free agents. If Reiff decides he wants left tackle money then you let him walk and hope Corey Robinson can step up and fill in.

 

The team is also in desperate need of a blocking tight end. Eric Ebron is great for catching passes (when he doesn’t drop the ball) and he gives the offense an explosiveness that it has been missing but having him block has not worked out. The Lions haven’t had a tight end who can block since Brandon Pettigrew so expect them to draft someone to fill this role. If they don’t address this need they will surely regret it.

 

Deep Threat

Let’s face it, with Calvin Johnson gone from the offense the Detroit Lions had no true deep threat. Sure, there were some plays when Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, or even TJ Jones would get behind the defense. But they were few and far between throughout the 2016 season. For the most part, the offense was predicated on getting their shifty receivers the ball near the line of scrimmage and letting them breaks plays after the catch. There were long stretches when receivers could not get separation from opposing defensive backs. This has to change and the way to do that is by finding a speedy guy who can take the top off of the defense and open up the field underneath.

 

 In your dreams, Lions fans.

 

I think the answer here, like with the offensive line, should come from the draft. With as much work as the defense needs, spending big in free agency seems like the wrong move. I’m in favor of re-signing Anquan Boldin (should he choose not to retire) but he isn’t a giant threat to beat anyone deep. DeSean Jackson would be an amazing addition but with all the holes on defense, it seems unlikely that Bob Quinn will pay what it takes to get him on the team. The Lions should spend a mid round pick to find the fastest receiver available who can catch the ball well.

 

Power Runner

The Lions say that Ameer Abdullah is still slated to be the top dog in the backfield in 2017. And there’s no reason he shouldn’t be. He may be considered in an injury concern by some after missing most of last season and part of his rookie season with various injuries but that doesn’t seem fair. In the 18 games he has appeared in he has been absolutely electric and the offense is a totally different machine with him on the field. He should be the top back on the depth chart, but that doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t have other options. Fans love Zach Zenner but the Lions’ offense needs a real powerback.

 

The smartest thing to do would be to draft someone in a late round and hope that they can show enough to become the third option behind Abdullah and pass-catching extraordinaire Theo Riddick. Dwayne Washington, a sixth round pick last year, could blossom into the role but he had a very hard time seeing his holes last year and the team should have other options going into training camp. Should the team look to free agency Eddie Lacy could be an option. If he comes cheap it would be hilarious to see him run over some Green Bay Packers next season. Either way the team needs someone who can punish the defense between the tackles. Something they do not have right now.

 

 Eddie Lacy as a Lion?

 

That does it for the roster needs on offense but I have one more thing to add and it many Lions fans might think that I’m crazy. It’s the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Lions need someone new calling plays for the offense. After a great start to his career as offensive coordinator of the Lions, Jim Bob Cooter seems to have regressed. The play calling was awful at times last year and he has shown an inability to adjust as games wear on. I have no doubt that he will start the season calling plays in Detroit and hopefully he can continue to learn in second full offseason as offensive coordinator but keep an eye on how he performs in the early part of next season. If the offense leaves something to be desired he could be relieved of his duties mid season.

 

What do you think the Detroit Lions need to do on offense? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

 

 


The Next Step: Detroit Lions offseason needs on defense

Written by :
Published on : February 1, 2017

 

 

Some people see the Detroit Lions 2016 campaign as a failure. Some people see it as a success. Regardless of whether you think the team needed to win the division or that Wild Card game in Seattle in order to say that the season was a success, you have to admit that they surpassed most everyone’s preseason expectations. Nine wins and a trip to the playoffs is nothing to scoff at, but the 26-6 thrashing that the Lions took at the hands of the Seahawks proved that there is still a way to go before this team is contending for titles.

 

The team has a few very solid pieces in place and has the luxury of some nice depth on the roster, but there are some big holes still. With a few good moves this team could be a dangerous. General Manager Bob Quinn and head coach Jim Caldwell have a chance to solidify this roster and make the Lions legit. Defense wins championships so we will focus on that unit for this first installment about the Lions offseason.

 

The Detroit Lions defense was historically bad in 2016, especially against the pass. Though opposing quarterbacks carved them up through the air, I actually believe that the Lions’ secondary is the most solid unit on the defense. Darius Slay will be a solid number one cornerback for years. Glover Quin is in his prime and has a year left on his contract. Guys like Nevin Lawson, Quandre Diggs, Tavon Wilson, and Miles Killebrew have a ton of potential and provide solid depth. They could certainly use a solid number two cornerback who can turn and run with faster receivers (Logan Ryan from New England?), but I place most of the blame for the unit’s pass defense woes on the front end, especially the defensive line.

 

Defensive Line

 JPP has proven he can still rush the passer. Will the Lions be willing to pay him?

 

The team gambled on returning Haloti Ngata, Tyrunn Walker, and Devin Taylor back to start at defensive tackle and defensive end along rising star DE, Ziggy Ansah. And they lost big time. With Ziggy battling injury for most of the year, the defensive line was not able to get consistent pressure. Kerry Hyder, a guy I had never heard of before 2016, lead the team in sacks (8) and the team only had 26 overall. They must upgrade here if they want to turn this defense around, and though Hyder certainly earned a spot in the rotation with his efforts this year, everyone except Ansah should be on the chopping block.

 

The team may be interested in a guy like Jason Pierre Paul to start at defensive end across from Ziggy, but he may come at a price tag that is far beyond what GM Bob Quinn is willing to pay. JPP would make the Lions’ starting DEs absolutely terrifying but it seems like a pipe dream at this point. There are too many holes to be filled to spend the likely $11-13 million/year that JPP will command. Other guys like Andre Branch out of Miami or William Gholston from Tampa Bay could be more cost effective options in free agency. Defensive ends Taco Charlton out of Michigan or Daeshon Hall out of Texas A&M could be available when the Lions pick in the draft and they have the size and skills to develop into the type of player they like.

 

As far as defensive tackle, it seems likely that the team will release Haloti Ngata unless he takes a pay cut and Tyrunn Walker should allowed to walk out the door. The Lions already have one replacement starter in A’Shawn Robinson, who was drafted in the second round last year and led the line in passes defended with seven. Robinson needs to develop into a force in the interior if the Lions defense is going to get back on track because I don’t see the team spending big money on a free agent stud, if that even exists this year. I think the focus will be on defensive end and they will allow Robinson to develop while finding a band-aid type player in free agency and a more developmental prospect in the draft.

 

Linebackers

 The Lions could certainly use a linebacker who can generate a turnover or two.

 

Linebacker needs some major help too. When he signed a lucrative contract two offseasons ago, DeAndre Levy looked like the future stud playmaker on the Lions defense. Injuries have derailed his career since then and he has played in only 6 of 32 possible games. He may be healthy, but then again he could get injured again. Or he could retire after showing obvious displeasure with the league and the way it conducts business regarding its players and their health. Hopefully he will still be able to contribute and make plays but the team can’t count on it and even if he does, there are other major holes.

 

Tahir Whitehead has been the starting middle linebacker for two years now and it’s clear that it isn’t working. Three years ago, when he was the third best linebacker on the team and was playing on the strong side, he thrived. The team needs to do everything in their power to make that happen again because when he is the best option at LB, the team is in trouble. That makes finding a new starting middle linebacker priority one. In free agency, the two names that are being floated around are Zach Brown from Buffalo or Dont’a Hightower from New England. The two will definitely come at a high price, but if the team wants to spend the money then Zach Brown is the guy for this team. With Reggie Ragland returning from injury, it seems likely that the Bills will let him walk following his 147 tackle effort in 2016. If the Lions can put him in alongside Tahir Whitehead and (hopefully) DeAndre Levy then this unit can be very solid, but it’s going to cost them. I think it would be money well spent.

 

Should the Lions choose to address the need at linebacker in the draft the big name that has been floated is Zach Cunningham out of Vanderbilt. Reuben Foster from Alabama would be amazing but there is very little chance he drops low enough in the first round for the Lions to snag him. Cunningham has the athleticism, size and speed to step into the role in the middle immediately but is a bit of a problem in the missed tackle department. He would definitely have some learning to do and if the Lions are really in win now mode with head coach Jim Caldwell potentially on the hot seat, then they may opt for a more expensive solution in free agency.

 

 Cunningham could be the MLB of the future if he can clean up his tackling.

 

These are just some of the moves that the team needs to make this offseason. In the NFL you can never rest easy and you always need to be looking for upgrades at all positions. Expect the team to make some moves that don’t correspond to anything I’ve listed here. Stay tuned for the list of offensive needs for the coming offseason.

 

 


The Worst of the Worst: Jeff Triplette

Written by :
Published on : January 10, 2017

 

 

In this new SBS segment, we take a look at the most deplorable of figures in all of sports. From players to coaches to referees to owners, there is no shortage of awful people in the world and that extends to the sports world. We will put the spotlight on those who have done wrong and try to bring their transgressions to the forefront. We do this in hope that by knowing just how horrible they are, they might be banished and the rest of us might be less likely to feel the wrath of their ineptitude.

 

For this inaugural edition of The Worst of the Worst, we put NFL referee, Jeff Triplette, on blast!

 

The Orlando Brown incident

ORLANDO BROWN

 

In 1999, Triplette threw a flag during a Cleveland Browns game. Nothing unusual, right? Except this flag, like all of them, was weighted with ball bearings, and when he threw it, he apparently wasn’t paying much attention to its trajectory. This flag found its home in the eye of Browns’ player, Orlando Brown, who went ballistic and shoved Triplette to the ground. Brown was then suspended but wound up having the suspension lifted after his eye failed to heal. He went on to miss the next three seasons due to partial blindness in his right eye. It was surely a mistake on the part of Triplette but that doesn’t change the fact that he negatively impacted this man’s career and got the NFL sued by the player. They eventually settled with Orlando Brown out of court.

 

Illegal face to the hands

Okay so the last example showed that maybe Triplette is a little careless. While it was an unfortunate occurrence, I don’t really think that it’s a reason that he should be fired from his job. But if you watch the above video you get a glimpse into just how bad this guy sucks. The play begins with Detroit Lions’ running back, Dwayne Washington, running the ball for a 14-yard gain. In typical Lions fashion, there is a flag thrown on the play that negates the run. This time the culprit is center, Graham Glasgow, who has committed a penalty for illegal hands to the face. Except once you rewatch the play it is clear that it is the player with whom Glasgow is engaged, Eddie Goldman, that commits the penalty. Glasgow’s hands never come near Goldman’s face mask. This is probably one of the worst calls of the 2016 season, in all of the NFL. Just one of the most recent examples of the horrors of Jeff Triplette’s officiating.       

 

Words are hard

This example of Jeff Triplette’s ridiculousness also comes to us from the 2016 NFL regular season. In this incident, Aaron Rodgers runs for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans. Upon entering the end zone, Rodgers is laid out by Titans’ defender Perrish Cox. The hit comes late enough that it draws a flag and a scrum between the two teams ensues as the rest of the Packers come to the defense of their quarterback. What follows is one of the most painful explanations of a penalty that I’ve ever seen. This guy really has no idea what is happening around him. Watch, and be amazed.

 

These are by no means the only transgressions that Jeff Triplette has committed over the course of a career that has somehow spanned 20 years. The internet is littered with videos of his infuriating calls and hilarious explanations. He has proven time and again that he has no business officiating the game at its highest levels. Go out for yourself and make your own conclusions. This guy has got to go, and I’m sure that if you look over the long list of supporting evidence you will agree that Jeff Triplette is among The Worst of the Worst.

 

 


The first season with Bob Quinn has given the Lions a solid foundation

Written by :
Published on : January 4, 2017

 

 

The Detroit Lions are headed to the NFL playoffs this weekend. After finishing with a 9-7 record, they will travel to Seattle this Saturday as the #6 seed in the NFC. Three weeks ago, the Lions were in control of the division with a 9-4 record and looked to be in great position to lock up a home playoff game for the first time in forever. Sadly, the team went on to lose three straight games and after dropping the regular season finale to the surging Green Bay Packers, the dream of a division championship is dead, for now.

 

Losing the division after having such a commanding lead on it a month ago is certainly disappointing, we must remember that this is a team that nobody believed in before the season began. Well, almost nobody. I had them winning 10 games in my prediction for how the season would shake out, and though they narrowly missed that win total, most people had them winning 4 to 6 games and getting a high draft pick. I did, however, have the team pegged as the #6 seed in the playoffs, so that just shows that I know what I’m talking about. But enough about me, this is about the Lions and what this season says about their future.

 

 Matthew Stafford is the leader of this team. Now he needs Bob Quinn to build a winner around him.

 

We’ve established that the team ended the season by going a paltry 1-3 in the final quarter. That is coupled with a 1-3 first quarter of the season that had fans of the team getting out their pitchforks and torches, and calling for the head of coach, Jim Caldwell. Luckily for Caldwell (and his employment status) the team was very strong in the middle of the season. Some timely turnovers by the defense and the incredible play of Matthew Stafford has them heading to the playoffs for the second time in three years. For a team with such low expectations (at least from everyone outside of Detroit) this is quite the surprise.

 

For those in Detroit, there’s a lot to feel good about. Besides the fact that their QB cemented himself as the franchise guy this year, it looks like they’ve finally found the right guy to lead the front office, and his name is Bob Quinn. The current general manager of the Lions was brought over from the New England Patriots, where he was the team’s director of pro scouting. After the Lions relieved their former heads of front office during the 2015 season, the team was determined to bring in someone who had experience building a winner. And there has been no bigger winner in the last decade than the New England Patriots.

 

In year one as the top dog in the Detroit Lions organization, Bob Quinn has shown the ability to add productive players to the roster via the draft and free agency, without breaking the bank on over-priced free agents. After the retirement of Calvin Johnson, Quinn went out and snagged the top free agent wide receiver on the market, Marvin Jones, at what now looks like a team friendly price tag. Injuries in the secondary are making it evident that he probably could have done a little more to add depth to that unit, but his acquisition of safeties Rafael Bush and Tavon Wilson and their relative success has shown that he has an eye for talent where others might not see the potential.

 

If Bob Quinn is truly going to turn the Lions into Patriots 2.0, then he has to find the best value he can in the draft, and with what we have seen out of this year’s draft picks, he seems more than capable of doing that. Six of the team’s nine draft picks have seen extensive playing time this season. First r0und left tackle, Taylor Decker, has started since day one and though there have been the usual rookie struggles, he has held up admirably and has proven that he is the future of that position on the team. Third round guard/center Graham Glasgow has also proven to be a great pick and replaced former first round pick, Laken Tomlinson, in the starting lineup early on in the season and has proven he can hold onto the job. The team has also seen a ton of things to be happy about from second round defensive tackle, A’Shawn Robinson (7 passes batted down at the line). Safety Miles Killebrew, running back Dwayne Washington, linebacker Antoine Williams and defensive end Anthony Zettel have also seen a lot of action.

 

 Taylor Decker (68) and Graham Glasgow (60) were drafted this year and are the future of the left side of the Lions’ line.

 

Having that many players from the top to the bottom of your draft board see extended action says two things. That the team has dealt with its fair share of injuries, and that they have a guy in charge who knows how to find talent. Bob Quinn’s eye for talent has helped to add a ton of depth to this team and is a big reason why they are going to the playoffs. While some may be upset that this trip to the postseason almost surely means that Jim Caldwell will be back for at least one more year as head coach of the team, you can’t deny that this team is trending in the right direction.

 

I fully expect the Lions to get bounced from the playoffs this Saturday when they head to Seattle. They’ve withstood a fair amount of injuries and it’s admirable that they’ve made it this far to begin with. But Lions fans should be very encouraged by what transpired this year. Another year under Bob Quinn should see this roster improve dramatically. By building off what he has already done for the team, and assuming they aren’t looking for a new defensive or offensive coordinator, this should be the worst Lions team we see for years to come. And considering that this is a playoff team, that is a big reason to be excited for the future in Detroit.

 

 


SBS Stadium Series: Super Fun at the Superdome

Written by :
Published on : December 16, 2016

 

 

The annual Lions road game/road trip continues. Year five of the pilgrimage finds the Michigang ditching the cars for plane tickets as my friends and I travel down to New Orleans for a matchup with the Saints at the Superdome. Let’s get inside the famous facility for the best live sporting event I have ever witnessed in this installment of the SBS Stadium Series.

 

A noon kickoff means the crew and I arrived to Champions Square outside the arena around 10am with Lions Mardi Gras beads around our necks and as many Coors Light as our pockets could hold. Despite some grey skies and light rain, the place was jumping. Tons of vendors, booze, all manner of snacks, a raffle and even a live band. It was a great atmosphere.

 

champions square

 

We toured the fan zone, destroyed various meats on sticks and took in all the outside had to offer. Later, we discovered a promotional Bulleit Bourbon table where they offered free mini shots of whiskey. You heard right, free whiskey. This could never happen in Detroit. People would kill each other. We hovered around the Bulleit table getting as many samples as we could. RJ and Joe even traded hats in effort to disguise themselves for extra shots. Totally worked. Needless to say, we all felt pretty good.

 

Michigang NOLA

 

We join the masses and head inside. Ramps, escalators and stairs later, we find our row in the 600 level AKA the nosebleeds. But the awesome thing about the Merceded-Benz Superdome is that there are no bad seats. Even at the tippy top, you have amazing views of the field. It’s just like TV but with no commercials!

 

image2 (3)

 

We settle in with fresh beers and watch the dope intro for each squad. Credit where credit is due, the Saints intro is HYPE. The video, the fog, the shower of gold sparks, the giant flames. It’s wild and really sets the tone. No wonder people love watching this team. The house lights come up for the coin toss and I finally have a chance to look around. That’s when I noticed that the roof looks an awful lot like the Death Star.

 

superdome deathstar

 

Kickoff. Saints get the ball first and go three and out after the Lions bring pressure and force a fumble that Brees recovers and throws away. They punt and Stafford gets his first chance with the ball. Lions drive and settle for a field goal. It is at this moment, the man in front of us turns around. He is a porky pig looking father of three, in a black Saints polo. He mimes a kitty cat licking and cleaning himself. As if to say to us, we aren’t Lions but tiny house cats. Needless to say, I was not happy about this act of aggression. Side note, why would you provoke this crew when you are at the game with children? Does he not know that I am loco? For reference, here is a picture of the back of his pumpkin, I mean head.

 

Superdome dad

 

I’m an adult, so I use my words and we move on. More football, the Lions keep rolling and we share nachos and some frozen drinks. The chant “8-4!” becomes our calling card for every first down or anything positive. And for the first time all year, the Detroit Lions have a lead at the start on the 4th quarter. It felt like I was on a wave that was growing and growing. The sensation was incredible. Then the dagger, on 3rd and 10 at the Detroit 34 yard line, Stafford hits Golden Tate who rumbles for a 66 yard touchdown. We explode.

 

Some excessive dancing causes an armed police officer to issue a warning to one of the crew. As soon as the cop leaves, the Saints fans next to me start apologizing, saying they are sorry someone snitched on us for cheering. They praise our enthusiasm and seem genuinely happy for us. This sentiment becomes a theme, where almost every opposing fan we meet for the rest of the trip was super friendly and complimented us on a well played game. I’ve never seen such a thing. The Lions win 28-13 and we “8-4!” our way out of the stadium. It was pouring outside but we didn’t care. Can’t rain on this parade.

 

superdome rain win

 

We don’t know that dude in the Lion suit, he just joined us for a bit. “One of us!” “8-4!”. Honestly, it was the best sporting event I’ve ever seen. It was an exciting game, that we won. Plus it was big for our team’s playoff chances and I got to share it with my best buddies in the breath-taking Superdome with nicest home town fans a traveler could ask for. New Orleans is a class town with wonderful people. Visit once and you’ll fall in love. Guaranteed.

 

NOLA

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Week 14: Matt Stafford Rushes For Game Winning TD and “Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell”

Written by :
Published on : December 14, 2016

 

Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…

 

The lights have dimmed, the blood ritual completed, and the demons have been summoned.

 

Week 14: Matt Stafford Shows Toughness on Rumbling Rushing TD

 

There’s nothing quite like December football with the winning teams battling for playoff spots, and the hopeless ones happy to play spoiler. Week 14 gave us a billion amazing special teams plays, and Vic Beasley Jr. became Jared Goff’s own personal hell, but this week’s highlight comes from none other than the comeback king himself: Matt Stafford.

 

It’s starting to get a little nutty for us Detroit fans as we watch the boys in blue repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. The amount of different opinions and analyses of Stafford over the years have been all over the map, and I would argue that he’s actually one of the more divisive QBs in the game in terms of opinion.

 

One thing I don’t think he gets enough credit for though, is his ability to move within the pocket. He avoids a sack attempt before opting to run, and even breaks a few tackles along the way into the end zone. In the replay it looks like John Timu has a great opportunity to stop the play, but Stafford makes a bit of a cut and ends up home free. It’s a pretty ugly run for sure, and it’s definitely hilarious to see number 9 bowl over teammate Eric Ebron in the end zone, but with each successive season I’m starting to appreciate Stafford’s goofy looking QB scrambles more and more. He’s getting results.

 

Week 14: Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell

goke-body-snatcher-from-hell-1968-1-1160x665

Director: Hajime Sato
Released: 1968

 

I’ve read before that this is apparently a favorite of Quentin Tarantino’s, and it’s so damn good I don’t see why it wouldn’t be.

 

The setup: An airplane is downed on a garishly colored desert island thanks to the passing of a UFO. The alien craft’s occupant is a blob that acts as a parasite, splitting apart the head of one of the surviving passengers and turning him, and successive victims, into vampires.

 

image-w1280

 

The sci-fi/horror mash up works wonders here and director Hajime Sato takes the brilliant Goerge Romero rout of centering much of the drama on how different human personalities react in a crisis situation. The characters are a hoot too, including a corrupt politician, a morally bankrupt businessman and his trophy wife, a would-be terrorist youth, and a grieving American widow.

 

Nothing is quaint or quiet in this picture as the survivors’ predicament is highly politicized, mirroring the turbulent political climate of the late 60’s, with references to the Vietnam War, political assassinations, and the growing rift between socioeconomic classes. All of this is of course made more hysterical with a complete lack of drinking water, leading to a dehydrated fever-pitch of desperation.

 

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The film’s simplistic antiwar statement dressed up in cautionary-tale-clothing makes a great backdrop for all manner of bizarre and terrifying happenings. There’s a wide range of special effects shots on hand from miniatures and models, to the more horrific face molds, oozing slime creatures, and bodies drained of blood.

 

And unlike our glorious Independence Days and Wars Between Worlds, the baddie Gokemidoro alien at the heart of this film knows it’s a little too late for humanity this time around.

 

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This trailer gives you an excellent idea of the wackiness on hand:

 

You can catch the whole movie here, but Criterion Eclipse has a beautiful DVD copy that’s definitely worth tracking down:

 

 


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