SBS Stadium Series: The glass palace of Minnesota

Written by :
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.

 

 


Calvin Johnson has the right to speak his mind

Written by :
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.

 

 


Waiting on Aaron Rodgers

Written by :
Published on : May 31, 2017

 

I wait tables at a diner in Los Angeles. It’s not a glamorous job but it keeps bread in my basket. It’s a tip based gig so good customer service is the name of the game. And I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at my job but it definitely wears on me from time to time. Recently, I had a night to remember. This is my story of waiting on Aaron Rodgers, star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.

 

First, let’s set the scene. I started my shift at 9pm. It normally goes until around 2am (we close at 4am) but a funny thing happened, the other server showed up wasted and was instantly sent home. That means I’m now closing. Great. Also one of the bussers didn’t show so we were even more short staffed. Plus the kitchen didn’t prep the daily special that everyone keeps ordering. Needless to say, I was cranky pants for most of the night.

 

Around 2:30 am it happened, a group of five takes my big booth. I go get drink orders and that’s when I realize. Seat 3 is Aaron Fucking Rodgers. The cherry on top of a shit sundae of a shift. Now, I have to play nice to the one pro athlete I hate the most. What a joke. I’ve watched Aaron Rodgers single-handedly destroy my Detroit Lions for the last decade. I legit despise this guy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s real good at football, that’s why I dislike him. Because he always guts me and my team. I’d list all the terrible moments but it would just get me all worked up. So, I smile and nod, while Rodger’s buddies order oreo milkshakes. I tried to find someone on the staff who could understand my predicament but with no other football fans around, I went into the back and sent a text to Alex.

 

Aaron Rodger text message

 

Alex brought up a good point. What am I going to do with this opportunity? Spit in his food? Turn my back on my city and ask for a photo? Do nothing and stew quietly (my traditional go-to)? Or maybe something bold? I had a little time to game plan. I went back and got orders. Aaron Rodgers orderd the breakfast burrito and as quick as he can read a cover-2 defense, I up-sell him on adding bacon (extra $2.50!). He bites hard on my offer. Point Bruno. Rodger’s little sidekick dittos the order, “I’ll have the same.” I can tell this happens a lot with this guy. The others get cheese fries, a breakfast sandwich and a club sandwich (no tomatoes).

 

Aaron Rodgers & Co eat their food, I check in, all gravy. No dessert, no coffee, they are ready for the check. Shit. Game time. I follow Alex’s lead and write “Go Lions” on the bottom of the receipt. I fold it lengthwise, as per usual, and go to drop it to everyone’s favorite NFL star. But before I can get there, the short blonde pulls out her Amex and insists I take it. Fuck, he may not see my message now. I run the card and return to the table, the check is unfolded, face up. Maybe he saw it? We’ll never know.

 

Rodgers check

 

The table stands and slowly makes their way to the door. I’m at the computer, closest to the the front. Aaron Rodgers is 5 feet from me. I get the idea, I should tackle him. I push that idea out of my head and then another thought creeps in. I look at Rodgers and say “Hey man”, he looks at me. We lock eyes, I say “we’ll see you at Ford Field this year” he rolls his eyes and gives a sarcastic “yeah” and then walks out.

 

I was on cloud nine. I felt so cool and tough. In my head, I told off a millionaire. The reality is, I’m not even going to the Packers at Lions game, I was just saying that as the royal ‘we’, like the Lions and I will see you later this year. Even funnier is to think of this story from Aaron Rodger’s perspective. He came in, got some okay food, decent service, then a stranger made a vague reference to seeing him later. End of story.

 

Short blonde friend did tip $20 on $75.69 which is like 26%, which I’ll take all day. There was also a moment where I considered, “what if Aaron Rodgers gets mad about the ‘Go Lions’ thing and doesn’t tip me?” but I already hate him, if he didn’t tip me, then this would be a very different story. Either way, worth it.

 

Nobody eats for free.

 

 


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.

 

 


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 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.

 

 


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

Written by :
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.

 

 


Matthew Stafford and the Lions can overcome the finger injury

Written by :
Published on : December 13, 2016

 

The Detroit Lions are 9-4. This isn’t something football fans are accustomed to. The team currently sits in the 2nd seed in the NFC with a chance to have a first-round bye in the playoffs and host a home playoff game for the first time since 1993. It would be the first ever playoff game at Ford Field.

 

Hopes are high in the Motor City and while some of the team’s wins seemed like a fluke two months ago, the fact that they keep winning means that this team is legit. These wins are coming on the back of some amazing play from the team’s quarterback, Matthew Stafford. He has been playing at an elite, MVP level recently. Leading his team to wins in eight of their last nine games and with eight 4th quarter comebacks on the season. That’s the most since 1950.

 

 Could it be a magic glove?

 

With Matthew Stafford playing at this level, the Lions have been competitive in every single game. But during the Lions 20-17 win over the Chicago Bears last Sunday, fans were given cause for concern in regards to their young gunslinger. During the game, Stafford injured his throwing hand and was forced to wear a glove for the rest of the game. He went on to throw two ugly interceptions but ultimately brought his team back from the brink with a late rushing touchdown to take the lead.

 

After the game, news got considerably worse for the Lions. It is now known that he dislocated his middle finger and that there is ligament damage in the hand. Matthew Stafford will have to wear a glove on his throwing hand for the rest of the season in order to deal with the injury, and will almost certainly need surgery in the offseason. The first reaction is to think that the Lions are now doomed. After all, last time Stafford was forced to wear a glove on his throwing hand was in 2011, and he threw 9 interceptions over the course of 3 games. But I say the Detroit Lions will still be successful for the rest of the season and will be hosting a playoff game in January. Here are a few reason why.

 

The Defense

 Teryl Austin has his defense playing great recently.

 

With all of the well-deserved praise being heaped upon Matthew Stafford for his leadership and big play ability this season, the defense hasn’t gotten the credit that they deserve. It has now been seven straight weeks that they have held opposing offenses under 20 points, something the Lions haven’t done since 1961. They seem to come up with huge plays just when the team needs them most.

 

While big names guys like DeAndre Levy and Ziggy Ansah have struggled with injuries, the unit as a whole has performed very well. The secondary has been especially clutch and have sealed games late with big interceptions on multiple occasions. This defense even went to the Superdome and held Drew Brees without a touchdown, while forcing him into three interceptions.

 

Teryl Austin, the Lions defensive coordinator deserves a ton of credit for how the defense has performed. After a poor start to the season, he has his guys buying into the scheme and though they do allow a fair amount of yards, they do not let opposing offenses into the end zone. After interviewing for multiple head coaching gigs over the last two offseasons, it seems very likely that he will land a top job this year. But before he departs, he will help this team host a playoff game by keeping his opportunistic defense one step ahead of the opposition.

 

Special teams

 He may look like Nick Swardson but there’s nothing funny about Matt Prater’s skills.

 

This is always an underrated unit on any football team, but the Lions have been exceptional all season. Returner, Andre Roberts has not only made several clutch catches with the offense this year but also has two punts returned for touchdowns on the year. He routinely puts the offense in good position to succeed and has cemented his role as the team’s returner. As important as Roberts has been to the offense in the field position game, punter Sam Martin has been very important to the defense. He is a former 5th round pick who has consistently ranked among the best at his position since entering the league in 2013. He only has two punts that have gone for a touchback this year, meaning that more often than not he leaves opposing offenses backed up against their own end zone.

 

The real star of the Detroit Lions special teams is kicker, Matt Prater. All this guy does is make big kicks. In the last month he has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the week three times. They should just name the award after him at this point. Prater has hit the game-winning kick in four of the Lions nine wins this season and he accounted for 16 points in the Lions 28-13 win over the Saints a few weeks ago. Along with Stafford, Prater is proving that sometimes two Matts equal a win.

 

Stafford is still the man

 One little finger injury can’t keep this guy out of the end zone.

 

It’s clear that Matthew Stafford was at least somewhat limited by his finger injury during Sunday’s win over the Bears. He even admitted as much to his teammates in the huddle by telling them that they were going to have to bear with him, as some of his throws might not be as spot on as they are accustomed to. While it’s true that he will have to play with a glove for the rest of the year and will almost certainly lose a bit of velocity and accuracy, that doesn’t change the fact that Stafford is playing some of the best football of his life.

 

It didn’t always show in the win over the Bears, but Matthew has improved his decision making greatly this season and because of that the Lions should continue to be a solid team. After throwing an ugly pick-6 he led his team down the field and got them into the end zone to take the lead late. As is the characteristic of any good quarterback, he brushed off his mistake and did what he needed to do. He is the leader of this team and without him they would have very few, if any, wins. He is the man in Detroit and the only one who can lead this team to a playoff birth and a home game.

 

9-4 is nice but this team’s work is not yet done. They travel to play the Giants on the road this Sunday, followed by a Monday Night Football game in Dallas before they close the season out at home against the red hot Packers. Winning one of these games all but guarantees a playoff birth, while two wins gives them the division and a home playoff game. The real prize is a first round bye and the chance to give Matthew Stafford’s finger a little extra rest. Head Coach Jim Caldwell has gone from offseason hot seat to a potential coach of the year candidate. It seems like everyone else is starting to believe in these Lions but they have always believed in themselves. Especially Matthew Stafford, who seems to have this team on a path with destiny. Messed up finger and all.

 

 


The New Normal

Written by :
Published on : November 26, 2016

 

 

SOL – A term meant to convey the feeling amongst fans of the NFL’s Detroit Lions that the team will forever be mired in mediocrity due to the fact that they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Same Old Lions.

 

For years and years, the Detroit Lions have been among the worst teams in all of football. Only 8 years ago, the team set the record for most losses in a season by going 0-16. That is no easy feat, regardless of how bad you are. You’re almost guaranteed to win one game just by accident. From Matt Millen to Joey Harrington to Rod Marinelli, fans of the team have had to put up with a whole lot of garbage. They have one playoff victory since 1957. It’s easy to see why SOL is a common term. When you’ve been beaten down by so much losing it just comes to seem like the way of the world. Like it’s normal.

 

Being a fan of the Lions has never been easy.

 

But this year is different, and there just might be a new normal for Lions’ fans.

 

The Detroit Lions sit at 7-4, on top of the NFC North with a full game lead on the Minnesota Vikings. After a 16-13 win over Minnesota on Thanksgiving, things are starting to get a little weird. As a fan of the Lions, I’m not sure how to react to this success, but I think I could get used to it. There’s still a ton of football to be played but the Lions control their own destiny at this point and a spot in the playoffs is their’s to lose.

 

It’s not to say that these 7 wins have been pretty, or necessarily convincing, but a win is a win. What looked like a fluke after 3 or 4 victories, is starting to look like a real football team that knows how to win. The Lions have had all 11 of their games decided by 7 or less points, so even in their losses they are keeping it close. They have also been trailing at some point in the 4th quarter of all 11 games. Since 2008, there have been 8 teams who have done that, and they are a combined 4-73. The fact that this team has pulled 7 wins out of that stretch is a testament to the beginning of a new era of Detroit Lions football.

 

What is at the center of this new normal?

 

 THE BOSS.

 

That’s hard to tell but it seems like a change in organizational culture associated with new owner Martha Firestone Ford (wife of former owner, the late William Clay Ford Sr) and first year general manager Bob Quinn, along with QB Matthew Stafford taking full ownership of the Lions’ identity are what separates this Lions squad from the rest. Bob Quinn came from the New England Patriots organization and knows what it takes to build a winner. He has brought a new style of management to the team and early returns have been very good on his first draft class. If the first season is any indication, this roster will continue to improve markedly from year to year.

 

Matthew Stafford has been the guy in Detroit since 2009, but with the retirement of Calvin Johnson last offseason, the spotlight is now fully on him. He has stepped into the role and delivered in a big way. Statistically he is having the best season of his career and where Calvin Johnson led by example, Matthew Stafford is a vocal leader on the field who commands the respect of his teammates and opponents. He is the type of quarterback that the Lions have needed for decades. He is the man, the King in the North.

 

 The King in the North.

 

For the first part of this season, the Lions were forced to relay almost solely on Stafford to win games, but now the entire team is contributing. The defense has now held opposing teams to 20 points or less in five consecutive games, something the team hasn’t done since 1991, which is also the last time they won a playoff game. Multiple times this year, a win has been sealed by a big play from the defense and they seem to step up when they are needed the most.

 

Add in the two special teams touchdowns and a kicker in Matt Prater who is now 25-for-25 on kicks that tie or win the game in his career, and it’s clear that the Lions are a more complete team than people give them credit for. They may not be big blowout wins, but they are team wins. And in football that means a lot. Who knows what will happen in the team’s last five games, but whatever happens they have sent a message to their fans and the rest of the league.

 

This is not the Same Old Lions. They are nobody’s doormat anymore and this team will give anybody a run for their money. They might even win a few games too. Don’t sleep on Matthew Stafford or his team of cardiac cats will bite you when you least expect it. No lead is safe against them. There is finally a new normal in Detroit.

 

 


Trump won. The Wolverines lost. And the Lions are in 1st place. Welcome to our strange new reality.

Written by :
Published on : November 14, 2016

 

What a week this has been. If you asked me on Monday November 7, 2016 what life would be like after that day, I probably would have told you that it would be pretty much the same. The world would keep moving on in the same direction it had been moving. No big shakeups other than the usual cyclical hiccups we experience as a society from time to time. Business as usual.

 

I was wrong. We were all wrong. We were all so very wrong.

 

 Presidential.

 

On election day, America decided to hand the keys over to Donald Trump. He is the first ever person to win the office of president despite having zero experience governing in any capacity. The country rejected one of the most qualified candidates in history, in favor of the least qualified. Actually, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by about 2 million votes, but in a country that is still bows to rural farmers, despite not being an agrarian society for more than 100 years, there is a system to offset that actual will of the people in presidential elections. So now, we as a people are forced to stomach an uncouth, white-rage fueled demagogue and his bigot-laden administration for four years. That’s cool. Whatever. I guess we all knew we were headed in this direction.

 

 What is happening?

 

But then things kept getting weirder.

 

On Saturday November 12, 2016, the 3rd ranked University of Michigan Wolverines traveled to unranked Iowa for a matchup with the Hawkeyes. The Harbaugh coached Wolverines have done a great job of taking care of business all season, and because of that they came into the game undefeated. Iowa had been pretty bad all season and was sitting at 5-4. Once the game started, it didn’t take long to realize that Michigan was in for a long night out in corn country. The Hawkeyes won on a last minute field goal. Michigan joined #2 Clemson and #4 Washington to complete the trifecta of losers and mark the first time since 1985 that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranked teams in the country all lost on the same day. College football fans were shocked from coast to coast.

 

But the weird just kept coming.

 

On Sunday November 13, 2016, the NFL went on with its usual slate of Sunday games. The Detroit Lions were at home resting on their bye week. A chance to get healthy and come back refreshed and ready to fight for the division. But somehow, they won without even playing. Thanks to the continued implosion of a Minnesota Vikings team that is being critically hampered by its offense (or lack there of), and a blow out loss for the Green Bay Packers at the hands of the Tennessee Titans, the Lions are sitting in 1st place in the NFC North. That’s right the Lions are in 1st place in the division in mid-November. I don’t even really know how to process that.

 

 That 1st place feeling.

 

After the election of Trump, I was sure that our country was screwed. Once the rest of last weeks events played out, I started to think that things were getting a little too weird to just be a coincidence. All of this has led me to question our entire existence, and after some deep introspective mental toiling and examination of the world around us, I have come to believe that this is not real life.

 

Sometime before those first east coast polls closed last Tuesday, our timeline split and we are now traveling through some alternate reality where the craziest things that you thought were impossible are, in fact, possible. Many of us are still trying to put the pieces of ourselves back together and make sense of last week. But maybe we can’t make sense of it because nothing will ever make sense again.

 

Now that I think of it, this split may have occurred earlier than originally suspected. The Cubs won the World Series. Cleveland once again has a championship team. PRESIDENT DONALD J TRUMP. What is happening? My own selfishness says that if all of this means that the Lions are going to win a Super Bowl then I support our immersion in this alternate universe. But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever understand it. And that doesn’t mean I’ll ever be able to reconcile a Trump presidency with my now deeply hurt American pride. But what choice do I have?

 

Detroit Lions, Super Bowl LI Champions.

 

God help us all.

 

 


The Detroit Lions saved their season, and maybe their coach’s job

Written by :
Published on : October 11, 2016

 

 

It was a scene that we are all too familiar with. The Detroit Lions have a lead at halftime and everything seems to be going their way. The offense is scoring points and the defense is holding up. If they can just maintain the momentum of the first half, they should win the game handily. Then the second half rolls around and everything goes to shit. The offense can’t get going and the defense gets torn to shreds. Then the Lions do just enough to make you think they can pull it off, only to screw it up in the end and lose in painful fashion. It’s a story that everyone in the Lions fandom universe knows very well.

 

That’s how it was at Ford Field on Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles came to town. The Lions scored touchdowns on all three of their first half drives and managed to hold the Eagles to 10 points. The perfect storm of good fortune and the type of scenario that is ripe for another Lions letdown. But this time was different. And for once in this harrowing 2016 campaign, the defense of the Detroit Lions did enough to win, forcing two late turnovers and sending the Eagles back to Philly to drown themselves in tears and cheese whiz.

 

   

Both of those late turnovers were forced by cornerback Darius ‘Big Play’ Slay. The first was a fumble by Eagles RB, Ryan Mathews, and the second was a great interception on an ill-advised deep ball thrown by rookie QB, Carson Wentz. It was the type of deep ball that you can see beating the Lions in your nightmares. Except Slay made a great play on the ball and Nelson Agholor wasn’t even looking for it. This was the first game this season where Slay has shown the type of talent that got him a fat contract extension over the summer. And by finally showing that top-tier talent, he may have saved his team’s season and his head coach’s job.  

 

One of those things makes me very happy. The other, not so much.  

 

If the Lions had lost this one, after once again holding a sizable lead, then that would have been curtains on the 2016 season. The team is still dangerously close to unraveling and there are considerable issues involving injuries, depth, discipline, and overall talent on the roster. But with that win over the Eagles, this team lives to fight another day. And the same goes for their coach, Jim Caldwell.      

 

 Big Play Slay saves the day!

 

Jim Caldwell has underwhelmed as head coach of the Detroit Lions and he seems destined to be relieved of his duties by 1st year general manager, Bob Quinn. The different issues facing this team can and should be placed on the shoulders of Caldwell. Lack of concentration, sloppy play, guys giving up on plays, failure to make adjustments in game. These are things that should be corrected after a few games, yet they seem to keep popping up. When it keeps happening you have to think that it’s systematic. Most would agree that Caldwell should go, but while saving the Lions season, did Darius Slay save Caldwell’s job too?    

 

 

It seems unlikely, but the Lions are great at doing just enough, or just little enough, to fuck everything up. Doing well enough to justify keeping Jim Caldwell would be a typical Lions move that would continue to keep the team mired in mediocrity for years to come. Through five games, it’s obvious that Caldwell is not the guy to take this team to the next level. I would never hope for my team to lose, and while I still hope they can get it together and make a playoff run, I sure hope it doesn’t save Caldwell’s job.

 

This Lions team has proven that they have the talent to win. They have been competitive in every game this season, despite missing some of their biggest playmakers for a majority of the games. They will be getting some of those guys back soon and that should make them better, but this inconsistency will be their downfall in the end. That’s on Jim Caldwell. So while Darius Slay and his teammates may have saved their head coach for the time being, they won’t be able to overcome his inadequacies for the entire season, and eventually he’ll be gone.

 

 


A Case of the Mondays: Detroit Edition

Written by :
Published on : September 26, 2016

 

 

This Monday is a tough one for Detroit sports fans to swallow. The Motor City collectively limps into the week after one of the tougher Sundays in recent memory. Both the Tigers and Lions had big games, and both teams failed to come ready-to-play, leaving fans (or at least this one) wondering why they put themselves through this pain. The Tigers, in the middle of a race for the second wild card spot, played the Royals at home. The Lions, trying to rebound from a painful loss in a game that they should have won against the Titans last week, traveled to Lambeau Field to play the Packers.

 

Both team started off slow and were punched in the mouth by the opposition. Both teams got it together eventually and made a game of it, but lost in the end. It was too little, too late.

 

 The Royals celebrate the Tigers demise.

 

Neither the Lions nor Tigers deserved to win yesterday, yet they had the chance to steal the game away. That should be encouraging, but that doesn’t mean that fans should overlook the fact that these teams are flawed, and aren’t getting a lot of help from the guys that are running the show. That’s right, both of these professional sports teams located in Detroit have coaches or managers that just aren’t very good.

 

It’s already pretty well documented how I feel about Detroit Tigers’ manager, Brad Ausmus. He just hasn’t been all that good during his time with the Tigers. He inherited a team that was in the middle of years-long domination of the AL Central and has had a hand in the teams underperformance ever since. The team started this season with an awful 15-21 record, but somehow managed to hang around long enough to be competing for the second wild card spot. With yesterday’s loss, the team now sits 1.5 games back of the Baltimore Orioles for that last playoff spot. Ausmus deserves some credit for helping the team stick around this long, but also deserves the blame for not getting the most out of a roster with some serious talent.

 

 “Promise me you’ll write after they can my ass.

 

Same goes for Lions’ coach, Jim Caldwell. In his first year with the Lions, he took them to the playoffs with a 11-5 regular season record. After a brutal playoff loss at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, he followed 2014 up with a 7-9 record in 2015. In this, his third year with the team, he is off to 1-2 start following a game that the team pissed away against Tennessee and the debacle in Green Bay yesterday. He has shown a lack of ability to get his teams motivated and the blame for the sloppy play and penalties almost certainly lies with him. If it’s not the head coach’s job to make sure his team is properly prepared then whose job is it?

 

No one really expected this Lions team to go win in Green Bay, but the fact is the Packers aren’t that good. If the Lions had come ready-to-play and didn’t have to dig themselves out of a 31-3 hole, maybe they could have done it. If the 34-27 final score is any indication of what this team is capable of, then maybe they will be alright. But not if their coach doesn’t get them to come out and play for all 4 quarters.

 

 The Packers came out strong and hung on for the win.

 

No one really expected this Tigers team to make the playoffs. When you start the season like that and then go on to have a 2-13 record against the division leading rival, Cleveland Indians, playoffs seem like a pipe dream. But the Tigers are still in the hunt. Sadly, with only 7 games to play they start a 4-game home series against the Indians today, likely spelling an end to those wild card hopes.

 

Mondays can be rough, especially with Sundays like yesterday. The Tigers season might be wrapping up in similar fashion to how it started, with a whimper. The Lions season is just starting off and has already given fans plenty of reasons to drink. Both teams have coaches that could very well be gone next year. And most fans probably wouldn’t be mad. This Case of the Mondays goes to you Detroit. Hopefully this week will be better than the last.

 

 


It’s not time for the Lions to panic just yet

Written by :
Published on : September 24, 2016

 

 

Last Sunday’s loss to the Titans was a sloppy mess that was brutal for fans of the Lions to endure. There were many factors that contributed to the heartbreaking 16-15 score, and it might be easy for some to give up on the 2016 NFL season. As one of the more battered and abused fanbases in the league, the people can turn against the team on a dime. It’s a defense mechanism that helps fans stop the pain before it gets too bad.

 

I’m here to try and quell that urge and tell you that it’s too early to panic. Last week’s game was bad, but the NFL season is long and even the best team’s have games like the one the Lions had against Tennessee. In a 16 game season, 1-1 after two games isn’t the worst position to be in. There are reasons to be encouraged with this team, and reasons to believe that the team can move on from the loss and still compete. Here are a few of them.

 

This Sunday is a whole new game

The amount of penalties in last Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans was enough to make a Lions’ fans head spin. Same goes for the injuries. It was so Lions that it hurt. Eventually the hurt got so bad that the team lost. They still should have won in spite of all the adversity, and had the chance to do so, but they couldn’t seal the deal, and all the penalties and injuries certainly weren’t helping.

 

 

These teams were playing some very sloppy football, but the refs in this game also had their heads up their own asses on a few occasions. Both teams benefited from some bad officiating at one point or another. The Titans got a gift when an Eric Ebron touchdown was called back on a make believe offensive pass interference call. The Lions got to keep the ball when the refs twice failed to notice Lions fumbles that were recovered by the Titans, instead calling the plays dead. The Lions need to clean their play up to be sure, but fans also need to realize that things like holding happen on every single NFL play. Officials will not normally call the game like this and there will be many crews that will be more apt to let the teams play and decide the game between themselves.

 

As for the injuries, it was a bad, bad day for the Detroit Lions. The worst thing to happen was the Ameer Abdullah injury. He was forced to have surgery on his foot this week and the team placed him on IR. He is eligible to return in time for the Jaguars game on November 20, but the team hasn’t indicated if they believe that is possible and it doesn’t seem likely. The team also lost Ziggy Ansah for an undetermined amount of time with a high ankle sprain, but the real hit was to the linebacking corps.

 

The team was already without DeAndre Levy who missed the game with another mystery injury (quadricep), then they began to drop like flies. By the time Kyle Van Noy and Antoine Williams had gone down with injuries, the only two linebackers left were Tahir Whitehead and a guy I’ve never heard of named Thurston Armbrister. The team was forced to move Brandon Copeland off the line and was obviously hampered by it.

 

 

The truth is that while these injuries are a concern, every team in the NFL has to deal with them and it’s better for some of these to happen now rather than in November or December. If the team can continue to play .500 ball while getting healthy, they can finish out the season and push for a spot in the playoffs. You never want to get injured but luckily it looks like none of them, except Abdullah’s will be too long term.

 

The offense is good enough to keep the team competitive

It was a sloppy game where the Lions left points on the field via penalties or poor play, but still, the offense has looked pretty solid this season. Especially the offensive line. Pro Football Focus has them graded out as the third best line in the league through the first two weeks. I know that doesn’t really mean anything but it sounds nice and I like saying it. But for real, this line has looked pretty good. There have been some shakey moments in pass protection from guys like rookie Taylor Decker, and I’m pretty sure Laken Tomlinson will never be all that good (certainly not good enough to justify a 1st round pick), but the early returns on this group are good overall.

 

 Taylor Decker has been solid in his first year.

 

The big boys up front are opening up holes and keep Matt Stafford upright for the most part (5 sacks given up). The fact that this group is gelling only means good things for the Lions and this offense. With Travis Swanson finally playing up to his potential and Larry Warford and Riley Reiff owning the right side of the line, the run game should continue to excel. Even in Ameer Abdullah’s absence.

 

Aside from the proficient play of the offensive line, another reason to be optomisitic about the offense is the emergence of Theo Riddick as a quality runner. He has always been a threat in the pass game, with his ability to get open and make defenders miss in the open field, but never before has he looked good rushing the ball. He’s seeing the holes that his line is opening up and making defenses pay with agility and speed. The fact that the Lions gave him a new contract on the eve of the season means they believe in his ability as a complete back. You don’t give a guy almost $13 million over three years if you think he is solely a pass-catching back. Theo Riddick will make the the loss of Ameer Abdullah a little easier to deal with and the run game should be decent at worst.

 


With a competent run game and Matthew Stafford continuing to have thrive in Jim Bob Cooter’s system, this offense will keep the team competitive. Eric Ebron has looked great, and was the team’s best receiver last week. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones won’t continue to drop the football and the passing offense should be one of the better ones in the league this year. If the defense can hold it together and be decent, this team will be in every game this year. And if you can get that far, there’s always a chance in the NFL.

 

Especially when you consider my next point.

 

The NFC North is up for grabs

 

As we talked about early, the NFL season is still very young. Nothing is getting set in stone after week 2 and the NFC North is still wide open. The Bears were never really a threat, and with the loss of Jay Cutler that’s even more true. But the two teams that everyone picked to be playing for the division title, the Packers and Vikings, have got some serious issues of their own. Because of those issues, if the Lions can manage to avoid a total implosion, they have a chance to be playing for the division come December.

 

 Did the Vikings season go down with AP?

 

On August 29, the Minnesota Vikings were the favorite pick to win the NFC North. Then things began to seriously unravel. Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the year and the team quickly made a move to acquire Sam Bradford. He may not be the best quarterback but he certainly isn’t terrible and has looked okay through two games. But the injuries have continued to pile up and now running back Adrian Peterson and starting left tackle Matt Kalil are likely done for the year. The defense is great but it’s unclear if the offense can weather the storm of injuries it has faced. Because of that, the Vikings are no longer a lock to take the division.

 

As for the Green Bay Packers, they too have some issues to deal with. In week 1, they almost fell to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and in week 2 they lost to the aforementioned Vikings. The offense doesn’t look great. Receivers aren’t getting much separation and Jordy Nelson doesn’t look like he has quite returned to pre-injury form yet. Another person who hasn’t looked quite like their old self is QB Aaron Rodgers. Stretching back to last season, there looks to be something wrong with him. He hasn’t surpassed 300 passing yards in 11 games and has gone 14 straight contests with a sub-100 passer rating. Long story short, this team is flawed, just like the rest of the teams in the NFC North.

 

 If Aaron is on tilt, the Lions have a chance.

 

Tomorrow’s game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau field will be an important one. Both the Lions and the Packers are still getting their acts together. If the Lions can pull out a win on the road in Green Bay for the second year in a row, then they will be in a very good position to contend for the division. If they lose, see above. It won’t be the end of the world and there will still be a chance to contend for the division. It’s early in the season and there’s a long way to go.

 

 


Sam Bradford is now a Viking

Written by :
Published on : September 5, 2016

 

 

When the Eagles traded up for NDSU Quarterback Carson Wentz in the April draft, Sam Bradford was not thrilled. Bradford, who finished the 2015 season with the Philadelphia Eagles in good fashion, demanded to be traded. Understandably, NFL teams balked at what it would cost to get Bradford, as NJ.com reported, it was going to cost, “more than a second round pick.” Fast forward to Tuesday, August 31st: The Eagles got more than they could ever bargain for by trading Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2017 1st round pick and a 2018 4th round pick.

 

Bradford has never lit up the league or taken any teams to the playoffs, but in his defense, the playmakers around him over his years with the Rams and his one year with the Eagles were rather non existent. The best name to come out of that group was Danny Amendola in St.Louis. Bradford now goes to a team with Charles Johnson and Stefon Diggs on the outside, Kyle Rudolph at TE, and Adrian Peterson in the backfield. There’s also Laquon Treadwell waiting in the wings to take over Charles Johnson’s starting spot.

 

Several talking heads in the NFL considered the Vikings to be contenders for the Super Bowl with Bridgewater under center and now there’s no reason why Minnesota couldn’t have the same hopes and dreams. Mike Zimmer has built the Vikings to be a contender with an old school style of ball. Zimmer is going to grind Adrian Peterson to the bone with Jerrick McKinnon as a change of pace running back. It doesn’t hurt that the defense is filled with young studs (Barr, Smith, Floyd, Kendricks, Hunter) and savvy veterans (Newman, Griffen, Joseph) and were at the top of the league last year in points allowed (17.1 per game).

 

 

When news broke about QB Teddy Bridgewater’s injury last Tuesday, I immediately was banging the drum for Colin Kaepernick to get to Minnesota. The idea of Kaepernick, McKinnon, and Peterson coming out of the backfield and making people look foolish with their legs sounded really intriguing over potential vanilla veterans that Vikings’ offensive coordinator Norv Turner has worked with: Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer, or current backup Shaun Hill. Most people around the league never thought that Vikings General Manager, Rick Spielman, would make such a bold trade to try and save the season. Bradford does’t need to put up elite stats for the Vikings to contend for a playoff birth. Zimmer is going to preach ball control and mistake-free football. It’s exactly how Zimmer wants Teddy Bridgewater to run the offensive unit. Bradford can do the same, and arguably push the ball down field a bit better.

 

Here’s an interesting fact from Pro Football Focus: “Last season, Bradford played with the worst receiving corps in the league, a group that dropped 7.6 percent of his passes to lead the league. He missed all of 2014, and while there was some early-season rust, he was one of the top-graded quarterbacks during the second half of the season. On the year, he actually finished 12th in PFF quarterback grades, at 85.3, one spot ahead of 13th-place Bridgewater at 82.6.”

 

Spielman was indeed bold with this move, but the Vikings are built to go deep into the playoffs now. It’s not so much that they don’t trust Shaun Hill to win a couple of games, but I don’t think the front office viewed him as a 16 game starter and remaining healthy. Bradford has been bitten by the injury bug since joining the NFL, but he won’t have to throw as much with the Vikings. My only concern is that the Vikings run the most plays with 7-step drop backs and frequently use the play-action pass. Getting Bradford up to speed on the playbook will be a priority for the Vikings and we’ll more than likely see Hill split reps with Bradford during practices.  Another thing to consider: Bridgewater may not be ready to go next season.

 

 

One major plus going for Bradford in Minnesota is that tight ends coach, Pat Shurmur, was Bradford’s offensive coordinator during his rookie campaign in 2010 with St.Louis and his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia last year. Although Shurmur doesn’t call the plays, I am guessing that Shurmur and Norv Turner can help Bradford with the playbook and the terminology at an accelerated rate. For me, this doesn’t stink of another Josh Freeman disaster.

 

One thing that the Vikings will miss with Teddy Bridgewater being out: mobility in and out of the pocket. Teddy Bridgewater has underrated wheels and elusiveness and the fact is Bradford just doesn’t match up with him there. I had the Vikings at 11-5 with Bridgewater as the QB, but I think they drop off a game to go 10-6, but still make the wildcard spot for the playoffs.

 

Take a deep breathe Vikings fans….it’s either going to be a really smooth or really rocky flight.

 

 


The NFC North will be the most competitive division in 2016

Written by :
Published on : August 21, 2016

 

 

Everyone is always talking about the great rivalries NFC West, or the AFC East, or even the NFC East. People love to stroke the egos of teams like the Cowboys and Giants, Broncos and Chiefs, or Patriots and Jets, but what about the teams that have been playing each other the longest? I’m talking about rivalries that began in years like 1921 and 1930. The real old school heated rivalries lie in the snowy lands dominated by the NFC North.

 

The Packers, Bears and Lions have all been playing each other since the prohibition era. The Vikings joined the fun later on in 1961, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be included in the conversation. This has been one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL over the history of the game and I think that this year will be no different. The talking heads are already handing the division title this year to either the Packers or Vikings, and I get it. These are going to be two of the better teams in the league but I also think people are unfairly dismissing the Lions and Bears.

 

By the time December rolls around, I could see a situation where there may be somewhat of a three team race in the NFC North. This situation involves the Vikings and Packers jockeying for first place in the division and one of the other two teams sitting in striking distance and not yet mathematically eliminated. With most of the NFC North’s teams all playing each other toward the end of the season, who knows what could happen. Maybe my Lions hang around long enough that they steal away the division title from Green Bay at home in week 17. This is of course following a Packers loss at home to the Vikings in week 16 and a Vikings loss at home to the Bears in week 17.

 

There are reasons on each of these teams for fans to be optimistic. The division is going to end up being a lot closer than most people think at this point. Here are a few reason any given team could take home the title of NFC North Champion.

 

Green Bay Packers

 

This is the historical darling in the division. The Packers are always good because even when their roster isn’t all that great (you know like last year and maybe even this year?), they still have the man who is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. That’s right, Aaron Rodgers is still among the best of the best at his position. It’s starting to get old, but the fact is that this guy is awesome. Sure, they still have Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews is back to his natural position, but it’s because of number-12 that the Packers are always in the hunt. Last year they had injuries all over the field, including their top receiver Jordy Nelson, and their running back was a bloated mess and Aaron still almost won them the division. This team lives and dies with Aaron Rodgers and if they win the division it’ll be off of his arm.

 

Minnesota Vikings

 

The Vikings are everybody’s trendy pick to win the division for the second consecutive year in 2016. If that does indeed come to pass it will be for two reasons. The defense and Adrian Peterson. I’m still not sold on Teddy Bridgewater, but all he really needs to do at this point is not make mistakes so big that it loses his team the game. The defense has the tools to have the top squad in the league and because of that, they should be competitive in every game they are in this year. Anthony Barr & company play as a unit and can stifle opposing offenses. If Adrian Peterson can continue to be dominant, as he has been almost every year of his career, the Vikings will be a very good team. If they can get competent and mistake free quarterback play they could be downright great. Last year they were an 11 win team and if they can build off of that campaign then they are a lock to win the division.

 

Detroit Lions

 

Admittedly, we have to start grasping at some straws when looking for reasons why these last two teams will win the division. Most people find it laughable to suggest that the Lions might win the NFC North this year but just bear with me. Matt Stafford looked awesome during the last 7 or so games in 2015. If he can carry that performance over to this year, and the Lions can find and sustain at least a mediocre run game, then the offense should be good enough to supplement the real reason the Lions have a shot at the division, the defense. In 2014, the Lions had one of the scariest defenses in the league. In 2015, they took a big step back due to the loss of Ndamukong Suh, but more importantly due to the fact that DeAndre Levy missed all but a single half of one game with a hip injury. In 2016, there are rumors that the retooled defensive line might be one of the leagues best and it looks like DeAndre Levy will be back and healthy. When combined with the fact that the Lions secondary could be much better than the last few years, the Levy factor along with a nasty d-line led by Ziggy Ansah, could return the Lions’ defense to greatness. If that happens, there’s a good chance the Lions are contenders in the NFC North.

 

Chicago Bears

 

If the Chicago Bears are to somehow win the division in 2016 it will be completely on the back of the defense. I hate this offense. They may have been able to retain Alshon Jeffrey, but they don’t have much else and as long as Jay Cutler is still behind center they will continue to turn the ball over on offense. For as many reasons as there are to be pessimistic about the offense, there are as many to be optimistic about the defense. The team brought in Danny Trevathan (who I wanted the Lions to sign) and Jerrell Freeman to bolster the linebacker corp and give Pernell McPhee a little help. The secondary isn’t awe-inspiring but if McPhee, Eddie Goldman, and rookies Leonard Floyd and Jonathan Bullard can generate a consistent pass rush, they might not need to be. With the pieces in place for a decent pass rush and two linebackers who excel against the run, anything can happen. Who knows, if Jay Cutler doesn’t shit the bed for a few weeks in a row, the Bears could be in the hunt come December.

 

I don’t care what anyone else says, the NFC North is the greatest division in the NFL. This year most of the teams are bookending their seasons with division games, with the end of the season being particularly loaded with rivalry games. Everybody thinks they have it figured out until the games are played and all preconceived notions get turned upside down. We’ve seen it all before. Once the games start it will all get sorted out, but at this point the division could belong to anyone and that’s that the NFL is all about. The NFC North is up for grabs. Will our team seize it or will they fall on their faces?

 

 


Support Us
Support ScoreBoredSports on patreon!

patreon-medium-button
Sponsors

Hide Error message here!

Forgot your password?

Error message here!

Error message here!

Hide Error message here!

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Error message here!

Back to log-in

Close