Lions must focus on defense in the draft

Written by :
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.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Weeks 11 & 12 and “Night of the Lepus”

Written by :
Published on : November 30, 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…

 

Old Roger Pretzel loves him a Thanksgiving feast and this year was no exception, as friends and travel put me out of commission for the entire week. Now it’s back to work and we got some catching up to do!

 

Week 11: Steven Nelson Robs Mike Evans

 

VIDEO HERE

 

Cornerback is the hardest position in the league to play since you’re not allowed to sneeze on receivers, let alone touch them. Kansas City’s Steven Nelson shows great skill and dedication on this play, craftily slipping an arm between Mike Evans’s body and the ball, allowing him to tear it free from number 13 as the two went to the ground.

 

I’m seeing more and more plays like this as the rules and officiating evolve, with defenders playing to stop the ball with arms and hands, up close and personal with their target as opposed to more physical body positioning and plays where the defender tries to pull off flawless glove-like coverage. I like it. Let the ball come in and play it from there.

 

Week 12: Ndamukong Suh Stuffs Kaepernick For the Showstopper


The Niners have had an expectedly dismal season, but surprisingly the Miami Dolphins have been on a hell of a run as of late. Chip Kelly’s potentially tying drive in the game’s final minute showed pep and promise with some good throws by Kap and a great play by Torrey Smith to get out of bounds.

 

But with 2 seconds left on 2nd and goal Colin Kaepernick dithers for just a second as he decides whether to throw or run. Personally, I think he might have had this one if he committed to the run and turned on the jets, but ultimately one of football’s hardest working and most reviled bad guys, Ndamukong Suh, came back to pull Kaepernick down from behind as Kiko Alonso provided some steam-rolling insurance up front.

 

Weeks 11 & 12: Night of the Lepus

night_of_lepus_poster_02.jpg.html

Director: William F. Claxton
Released: 1972

 

The giant-animal-on-a-rampage film had its golden age in the 1950’s with nuclear and commie paranoia getting conjured up into massive ants, lizards, and tarantulas, amongst other beasties. The genre had a bit of resurgence, as well as a modification, with the “revenge of nature” films in the 1970’s as the country’s concerns about rampant pollution increased. This period provided us with gems like Food of the Gods (1976), and stinkers like Frogs (1972), but the most preposterous of them all was Night of the Lepus.

 

Night-of-the-Lepus

 

This is a movie about giant bunny rabbits that terrorize an Arizona town. Giant killer bunny rabbits.

 

Admittedly, the visual effects are pretty strong here with some great miniature sets and the occasional matte painting background. It also boasts performances by Psycho (1960) shower-scene victim Janet Leigh and Star Trek’s own Dr. Bones, DeForest Kelley, slumming it for the drive-in crowd. Oh, and let’s not forget the great Rory Calhoun either. Puppets are generally used for the attack scenes and while the picture’s questionable subject matter benefits from a deadly serious tone, the liberal use of paint-red blood in the wake of the carnivorous rodents is comically over the top.

 

lepus kelly and cast

 

The mad science behind the wascally wabbits is pretty well thought out for a film of this ilk with a hormone serum in testing, and a rabbit that is accidentally liberated from the researchers’ control group. There’s also some worthwhile social commentary with the rabbits becoming local pests in the first place due to humans killing off all the coyotes who were once the rabbits’ natural predators.

 

It’s ultimately a bit hard to watch Night of the Lepus and not struggle with a little cognitive dissonance: how can one take a movie about cattle-sized killer rabbits seriously even if the film is effective and dare I say… good on its own merits? Regardless, whether you’re in it for the novelty or are a true believer this one comes highly recommended.

 

nightofthelepus5

 

Scope out the trailer here:

 

 

Available for rental on Amazon and iTunes.

 


Champ and Chump: Week 2

Written by :
Published on : September 26, 2015

 

 

 

I’m a little late with my winners and losers of the champ and chump awards from this past weekend. But better late than never I suppose, and I used the extra time to nominate someone for an achievement from Tuesday even though it came after the weekend.  It’s my own article after all, so if you take issue with that then I’ll see you in the comments section! Without further adieu, here are my picks for champ and chump from this past weekend.

 

Champ: Jason Day

Won the BMW Championship on Sunday, becoming the #1 ranked player in the world.

Jason Day has been killing it recently.

 

About a month ago, I wrote a piece about how golf was in great hands with a young star like Jordan Spieth. In the article, I gave just a small nod to Jason Day as well by saying he also appeared to be ready for stardom, but apparently that compliment didn’t do him justice because since then, Day has been the one to take over the PGA Tour. By winning this past weekend’s event, Day has now won 4 out of his last 6 tournaments and is within striking distance this weekend to take home another prize. The winner of the Tour Championship this weekend ultimately could also decide the PGA Player of the Year award, an award that is likely up for grabs between Spieth and Day.

 

Honorable Mention:

Chicago Cub Starter Jake Arrieta- First pitcher in MLB to reach 20 wins this season. 2015 stats- 20-6, 1.88 ERA, 0.90 WHIP

LSU Running Back Leonard Fournette- Heisman hopeful ran for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 45-21 thumping of Auburn.

Our very own Treasure Gutierrez- Perhaps less knowledgable than some of us here at ScoreBoredSports when it comes to football, but comes out and wins the week in NFL Staff Picks, going 9-7 here at the site, making the rest of us look like the Chumps.

 

 

Chump: DeMarco Murray

By far the coolest thing DeMarco has done this season.

 

DeMarco Murray was the catalyst behind the Cowboy’s season last year, rushing for over 1,800 yards. As he went, so did the rest of the offense. This past off-season, Murray decided to sign with the division rival Philadelphia Eagles and was expected to put up similar numbers in Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense. Through two games however, that has not been the case at all, as Murray was completely shut down against his former team. Murray finished with 2 just yards rushing and has just 11 yards for the season on 21 carries. How bad is his start to the 2015 season? Well, consider this, while it’s only been a couple games, last year Murray rushed for almost 2,000 yards, at this rate this season, he is projected to finish with just 88 yards.  Philadelphia is off to an 0-2 start and while Murray isn’t their only problem, averaging 0.5 yards per carry is definitely isn’t helping.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

NFL Survivor Pools- For thousands of leagues, (mine included) week 2 busted many survivor pools this past week. Upsets like Tampa over New Orleans, Oakland beating Baltimore and Jacksonville shocking Miami eliminated a lot of us before we even saw it coming. Damn you Drew Brees!

Ndamukong Suh- This is perhaps unfair because it’s somewhat speculation, but the guy makes the headlines for the wrong reasons seemingly every week. The latest being some reports that Suh “freelances” plays on defense, ignoring his assignment for the plays that are called.

Jamaal Charles- He put up good stats against Denver on Thursday night, but had two critical fumbles. The last one returned 21 yards for the game winning touchdown with 27 seconds left.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: NFC North Predictions

Written by :
Published on : July 29, 2015

 

With the rise of the Lions from laughingstock to “that team no one believes in,” combined with a schizophrenic Vikings squad and a Bears crew struggling to hang on to mediocrity, the NFC North has gotten a little goofy. Besides the Packers no other team is currently considered a viable Super Bowl threat.

But I’m a Lions fan, and the NFC North is my home sweet home, so I’ll be following it much closer than the guys who actually get paid to write about it. Granted, the people who get paid to write about it are professionals as opposed to a disgruntled old crank who talks to his cat.

Enough pretense! The visions are taking substance…

Minnesota Vikings:

 photo vikings_sbs02 copy_zps1tbp8x9j.jpg

The good folks in Minnesota love Teddy Bridgewater, and I can’t blame a fan base hungry for a franchise quarterback, but I found it a little irksome that the media fawned over this kid from the get go. It happens all the time in a hype-fueled profession, but I wish some of these guys could be held accountable for their big mouths. At least put them in a dunk tank or something with Brett Favre throwing footballs over his shoulder at the target. I saw a lot of potential in Bridgewater, but I also saw a lot of kinks that needed ironing out. He can scramble and hit some good passes on the run, but for all those nifty highlights, there were costly interceptions as well.

The return of Adrian Peterson in purple and gold surprised me. I thought the reconciliation to this uncomfortably troubled marriage was possible, but I wasn’t counting on it. Hey, the crystal ball is cloudy after all. Now that AP is back in the game, I’m fascinated to see what happens. I don’t care how good he is: age and expectations are going to be a factor.

The crystal ball says:

Teddy’s gonna have a decent season, but he’s more of a long term threat than a breakout stud. Talking Heads will continue to praise him to high heaven until the last fourth of the season when they turn on him and ask whether or not he’s any good. He’ll stay the same, continuing to grow and improve unless he proves injury prone. Adrian Peterson will have a solid season, keeping his hyperbolic god-like status, but he’s going to be eclipsed on the stats sheet by some of the hungrier young guys.

Chicago Bears:

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Da Bears are hurting right now, and I think there’s an inevitable degree of soul searching going on in the organization regardless of the coaching change. John Fox is certainly going to liven things up as much as he can. Fresh blood will flow, the slate will be cleaned, but there’s no getting around the elephant in the room: Jay Cutler’s competency, commitment, and the club’s decision to stick it out with him. Personally, I’m not as down on Cutler as many people are, but I do feel that his remaining presence in Chicago has metastasized into an untenably toxic relationship. Even if they win a few more games this season with Cutler, the team’s long-term success is going to be in the hands of their next quarterback. And let’s not act like a break with the Bears would be bad for Cutler: he could gracefully transition to a lower-tier team and play with a squad that would actually appreciate him. Not the worst way to play out the rest of your career.

The crystal ball says:

Another abysmal year for Soldier Field’s finest. There’s little hope in restructuring and re-growing without faith in your lynchpin. Chi-town will spend a year taking its losses while John Fox settles in and shows off what he has to offer.

Green Bay Packers:

 photo greenbay2_zpsyo76ecnz.jpg

Green Bay is easily the least fun team to pontificate on in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers is currently in top form with a rock solid team behind him. I won’t be surprised if this group keeps on clicking and humming along together, giving opposing NFC North fans fits. The crew is well-oiled, well-managed, and has that “cool factor” of playing in an open stadium during the rudest of Midwest winters. You can certainly criticize The Pack when it comes to the league as a whole, particularly that they don’t deal well with unexpected loss, but in the NFC North, this is the team that everybody wants to dethrone.

The only real worry is keeping Rodgers healthy. We’ve seen in the past how this team has collapsed without its sometimes-mustachioed heart on the field. If I were Mike McCarthy, I would be spending an inordinate amount of time working with that O-line on QB protection.

The crystal ball says:

A clear division victory for The Cheeseheads, with Detroit and possibly Minnesota nipping at their heels. However, the entire house of cards collapses if Rodgers misses four or more games.

Detroit Lions:

 photo lions_zpsmbfs5wgb.jpg

Like last season, Detroit has a great chance of giving the Packers a run for their money, but it’s not going to be easy. Detroit is currently a team full of potential and unanswered questions. I’d love to see the defense as dominant as it was last season, a tall order considering the loss of Ndamukong Suh. Yet the return of Stephen Tulloch and acquisition of Haloti Ngata are hard to dismiss. Of course I’ll be watching that offensive line closest. It’s the single factor in Stafford having as productive a season he did in his INT-happy, record-breaking slinger days, though he’s likely to have a more disciplined system that actually wins games this time around.

The run game is going to be the x-factor. I love Joique Bell, but he can’t carry the team like a Marshawn Lynch or a Jamaal Charles. He gets you three yards on a 3rd & 2, and punches his way into the end zone in short yardage situations, but he’s not going to break off 15 yard chunks with any regularity. And sure, there’s Theo Riddick and a very “maybe” George Winn. I’m hopeful for Ameer Abdullah, but I also think there’s a lot of bluster and hype for the second round pick.

Crystal ball says:

Detroit has so much talent on the roster, but also has trouble putting it together. I see the defense not being as strong as last year, but staying damn close to that caliber thanks to the prior season’s proof of concept. The offense is going to pop more this year in the passing game, but the running game will remain blue-collar. Green Bay has a good chance of winning both games vs. the Lions, but the really exciting divisional games are going to go down with the Vikings. The division title will most likely go to Green Bay, but the Lions will make the wild card slot and head to the playoffs for the second year in a row.

 

 


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