Tag Archives: Detroit Lions

The Prototype Of Futility

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You have to go back to 1957 to find the last time that the Detroit Lions won the National Football League Championship. The Lions are one of four NFL franchises that have never appeared in the Super Bowl, while they have only won one playoff game since 1957. The Lions are also the only NFL franchise to go 0-16 as they did this in 2016. As a team the Lions have been inept, but that hasn’t stopped great individual efforts by the some of the men who have worn the “Honolulu blue”. Players such as Lem Barney, Charlie Sanders, and Barry Sanders enjoyed stellar NFL careers which led to them being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But as good as these players were individually, they were enable to catapult the Lions to success as the organization has been passed by. And unfortunately for the Lions, you can add another player to that list.

Calvin Johnson

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson was the second overall pick of the 2007 National Football League Draft by the Lions. At 6’5″, Johnson had tremendous size for a wide receiver and he was able to blend that with rare speed for a person his size. It didn’t take Johnson that long show that he was the real deal as by his second season with the Lions, he was able to record 78 receptions for 1,331 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. By 2010, Johnson would be selected to his first Pro Bowl, and the following season would see him lead the league in receiving yards with 1,681 yards, while tallying 96 receptions. In 2012, Johnson would lead the NFL in receptions with 122, while he would also set a single-season league record with 1,964 receiving yards. By this point Johnson had been given the nickname “Megatron” after the character from Transformers due to his freakish ability as he had the respect of everyone around football. However as good as Johnson was individually, he could not help the Lions elevate to the next level.

Since the NFC North was formed in 2002, the Lions are the only team that calls the division home to have never finished in first place. The Lions made the playoffs twice with Johnson on the roster, but he was never able to help them get that elusive playoff victory, while Detroit never had consecutive winning seasons with him. And as the losing continued in Detroit while the injuries were beginning to mount for Johnson, he abruptly decided to retire from the National Football League at the end of the 2015 season at the age of 30.

Barry Sanders

Johnson’s retirement sparked numerous debates as him walking away from the Lions while leaving some quality years on the table brought back memories when Barry Sanders retired following the conclusion of the 1998 National Football League season at the age of 30. Sanders retired as the NFL’s second all-time leading rusher with 15,269 rushing yards. And like Johnson, Sanders simply got tired of the losing as he was a part of the only Lions playoff victory since 1957 when Detroit defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the 1991 NFC Divisional Playoffs. But whereas it was bad enough to see two of the best players in Lions franchise history walk away from the game early, it is how they have been treated since then by the franchise in which they played for.

When Sanders walked away, the Lions held a grudge against him as they felt that this was a ploy on his part to get out of his contract in order to play for another team. However Sanders was done and the losing by the Lions continued once he left. After initially being quiet about walking away from the National Football League, Johnson has recently opened up about leaving and how he has been treated by the Lions.

Since Johnson retired he had to pay back part of a roster bonus to the Lions, and he also let it be known that he would not be let out of his contract or traded to another team because he simply wanted to win. And when you hear cases such as that of Sanders and Johnson, it is no wonder why the Lions have been as bad as they are.

The issues with the Lions go back to “The Curse of Bobby Layne”. Layne was the Lions starting quarterback as he helped Detroit win three National Football League Championships during the 1950’s. But when Layne was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958, he claimed that the Lions would not win for another 50 years. But the Lions have taken it a step further as it has been 60 years and they still have not won.

Some people might be critical of Johnson’s comments, but what is the purpose of keeping a player on the roster who simply does not want to be there? Just like it was with Sanders in 1998, it would have been very easy for the Lions to have traded Johnson to a contender and wish him all the best with his new team. However the Lions decided to take the low road which makes them continuously look like the bad guy.

Johnson finished his National Football League career with 731 receptions, 11,619 receiving yards, and 83 receiving touchdowns. Johnson was selected to six Pro Bowl teams and although that there are some people who would have liked to see him stick around for a few more years in order to solidify his Hall of Fame resume, he should be commended for walking away instead of padding his stats on a losing team.

The Lions never did right by Johnson as they never put a championship team around him. There were talented players on the Lions such as quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, but the losing culture of the Lions has reigned supreme. And as good as Johnson was, that was simply too difficult to overcome.

So now as training camp is set to open in a few days for the Lions, there will once again be some optimism for them; just like it is for the other 31 teams around the National Football League. But whereas the Ford family who has owned the Lions since 1963 has never done right by the team or its fanbase, I don;t see things changing anytime soon in Motown. And as for anyone who is expecting anything different other than the same old futility on the part of the Lions might want to get their heads examined.

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2017 NFC North Draft Grades

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Green Bay Packers

First-Round Pick: (N/A)

Best Pick: Round Seven-Malachi Dupre-Wide Receiver-LSU

Grade: B

The Green Bay Packers are hardly ever in contention when it comes to signing the top-tier free agents which means that their focus is always on the National Football League Draft in regards to making roster upgrades. That was once again the case this year as Packers general manager Ted Thompson sought to make things happen for his team at the NFL Draft and maintain their status as the team to beat in the NFC North.

After making a deal with the Cleveland Browns, the Packers traded out of the first round, but they would obtain the first selection of the second round which is where Thompson began to go to work.

After the Packers secondary was torched in their NFC Championship Game loss to the Atlanta Falcons, upgrading the unit became a top priority here in the off-season. The Packers used their first choice of the draft on Washington Huskies cornerback Kevin King which was followed by using their second pick of the round on North Carolina State Wolfpack safety Josh Jones. The Packers would keep the defensive theme going in the third round when they selected Auburn Tigers defensive tackle Montravius Adams, but they may have found a steal in the fourth round when they selected Wisconsin Badgers outside linebacker Vince Biegel.

Vince Biegel

At Wisconsin, Biegel played opposite of outside linebacker T.J. Watt who went on to be a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Biegel has a motor like no other, and that determination should see him crack the Packers linebacker rotation rather quickly.

Later in the fourth round the Packers selected BYU Cougars running back Jamaal Williams who won’t completely solve Green Bay’s issues at running back, but he can provide them with a player who will be good in short yardage situations as he continues to familiarize himself with the nuances of the team.

The Packers got themselves a steal in the seventh round when they selected LSU Tigers wide receiver Malachi Dupre. Dupre entered college as one of the nation’s top prep players, but a stagnant passing game at LSU didn’t allow him to shine. And now it will be interesting to see if Dupre will be able to take his game to the next level in the National Football League in the same fashion that former LSU Tigers wide receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants and Jarvis Landry of the Miami Dolphins are currently doing.

If you want to question how and why the Packers have made the playoffs in each of the last eight years, just look at what Thompson has been able to consistently do at the draft as he goes in with a plan of attack, and more importantly he sticks with it.

Detroit Lions

First-Round Pick: Jarrad Davis-Linebacker-Florida

Best Pick: Jarrad Davis

Grade: C

It was going to be interesting to see what the Detroit Lions would do to build off of their surprising trip to the postseason last season as all signs pointed to them attempting to fix the defense. But the Lions main issue on defense in 2016 were a lack of sacks as they were only able to tally 26. And when the Lions were ready to make their first choice of the 2017 National Football League Draft, they had both Missouri Tigers defensive end Charles Harris and Michigan Wolverines defensive end Taco Charlton sitting there for the taking. However Lions general manager Bob Quinn decided to taking Florida Gators inside linebacker Jarrad Davis. Davis does fill a need for the Lions at middle linebacker, but if Davis was their guy they probably could have gotten him in the second round, while still being able to pick up a pass rusher in the first.

Teez Tabor

Three of the Lions first four picks in the draft were used on defense which included taking Davis’ college teammate in cornerback Teez Tabor in the second round. Tabor had first-round potential, but he slipped to the second and only time will tell if the Lions got themselves a steal.

The Lions didn’t take a pass rusher until the sixth round when they selected Arkansas Razorbacks defensive end Jeremiah Ledbetter which is not going to help their issues as far as getting to the quarterback. And until the Lions find a way to consistently put pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, they will continue to play second fiddle to them in the NFC North.

Minnesota Vikings

First-Round Pick: (N/A)

Best Pick: Round Two-Dalvin Cook-Running Back-Florida State

Grade: B

After the Minnesota Vikings acquired quarterback Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles last year, they knew that they wouldn’t be picking in the first round of this year’s National Football League Draft. But that didn’t prevent Vikings general manager Rick Spielman from coming out of the draft smelling like a rose. The Vikings watched the first round train pass them by, but they struck it rich in the second round with their selection of Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook.

Dalvin Cook

Cook enters the National Football League as a two-time All-American, while also being one of the most decorated ball carriers in the history of the Florida State program. The Vikings needed to replace running back Adrian Peterson who joined the New Orleans Saints and their rushing attack shouldn’t skip a beat with Cook as the feature ball carrier.

This draft was all about getting better in the trenches for the Vikings which saw them make a run through Big Ten country as in the third round they would select Ohio State Buckeyes center Pat Elflein, while taking Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson and Michigan Wolverines inside linebacker Ben Gedeon in the fourth round.

In all the Vikies made 11 selections in the draft as they added depth. And whereas that Cook will rightfully grab the headlines of this draft class, there will be other impact players who’ll emerge from this group.

Chicago Bears

First-Round Pick: Mitchell Trubisky-Quarterback-North Carolina

Best Pick: Round Four-Eddie Jackson-Safety-Alabama

Grade: F

The last three years have seen the Chicago Bears combine to lose 34 games and after their performance at the National Football League Draft, they aren’t any closer to turning things around. This off-season has already seen the Bears sign former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon to a three-year deal that is worth $45 million with $19 million guaranteed. The Bears entered the draft with the third overall pick with all signs pointing to them improving their defense. However Bears general manager Ryan Pace got trigger happy when he made a trade with the San Francisco 49ers to move up one slot to select North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Mitch Trubisky

In making the deal the Bears sent three additional picks to San Francisco this year, while also parting with their third-round pick next year for a player in Trubisky who some people feel might be a one-year wonder. The Bears bet against themselves since there wasn’t going to be another team that was seeking to move up to select Trubisky and have now mortgaged their future in the process.

The Bears failed to address their issues in the secondary until the fourth round when they selected Alabama Crimson Tide free safety Eddie Jackson who missed the majority of the 2016 college football season due to an injury.

In all the Bears only had five picks as they failed to properly address their needs on the offensive and defensive line, as well as in the secondary. And thus it could be another long season in Chicago for the Bears and their fan base.

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2016 Week 17 NFL Picks

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Week 17’s showdown against the Green Bay Packers could be a defining moment for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

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2016 Week 14 NFL Picks

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Quarterback Dak Prescott has the Dallas Cowboys on the verge of an NFC East Title?

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2016 Week 9 NFL Picks

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After starring for the Ohio State Buckeyes, running back Ezekiel makes his return to the State of Ohio, but now he is shining for the Dallas Cowboys?

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2016 Week 4 NFL Picks

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The New York Jets need quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to get back on track.

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2016 Week 3 NFL Picks

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Is Trevor Siemian ready for his first road test as the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos?

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