At least Detroit got it. They finally got it. They finally came to realize that Jim Schwartz was by far the worst coach in the NFL. So bye-bye Jim – may the Schwartz be with you – enter the Jim Caldwell era. Detroit has been said to have all the talent and no discipline. Schwartz was cocky and arrogant and his team displayed the same behavior on the field. Caldwell has been called upon to set order in the asylum and help Detroit get where they should be. There is one question though Is Caldwell the best Detroit could’ve done? Sure Caldwell has seen his fair share of success, but consider the situations he was in. He inherited a Colts team which was a well oiled machine with Peyton Manning being the lead piston. In a season when Peyton and the Colts were steam-rolling competition, Caldwell pulled the questionable move by resting his stars, to not risk injury before the playoffs – that did not end well. The following season, Caldwell was fired after looking lost coaching a Colts team without Peyton Manning. Caldwell’s second round of success came as offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. He received the job late in the season and then the unexpected happened: Joe Flacco played out of his mind, en-route to winning a Super Bowl. Nobody saw that coming. Nobody. So now Caldwell, who’s success comes blanketed in a blanket of opportunity, inherits a team that supposedly has all the tools but can’t get it together. If Caldwell does not get this Lions team in order, the jury will no longer question the validity of Caldwell’s coaching successes.
It’s rare for a receiver as good and as unstoppable as Calvin Johnson to come along – and NOT be a diva – but low and behold, he’s a blue collar guy with the right attitude. If the rest of the Lions team could take a page out of Johnson’s book, maybe they would see more success and less downward spirals. There are few words to describe Calvin Johnson because the league has never seen a receiver with the size, talent and speed of the one they call “Megatron.” The fact is, defenses know the ball will get thrown to him in double coverage and for sure on third and longs – but that doesn’t stop Detroit from going to him in those situations – he’s that reliable. Calvin Johnson needed help and last year the Lions went out and added running back Reggie Bush to the fold. In total, Bush had 1500 yards and to his credit, only missed two games. Bush is an x-factor on offense and has been since he entered the league. What’s more is that he is joined in the backfield by Joique Bell who is more of the tough yardage, up the middle runner – but don’t get it twisted – he’s got hands as well. Combining his rushing and receiving yards he joined Bush in having over 1000 yards total for the season.
Still not enough help on offense? Okay, this year the Lions decided to sign free agent wide receiver Golden Tate and draft tight end Eric Ebron in the first round. Golden Tate thinks he’s a star and always has. Confidence is great to have but reality is reality and Tate’s been in the league for four years and never totaled over 1000 yards receiving. Detroit still saw enough of Tate to give him a five year $31 million dollar contract. Ebron is a talented athelte who the Lions are hoping can be their Jimmy Graham to some degree. To some degree they are right, but not in a good way. Ebron is a terrible blocker and for a team that has two guys who can excel in the screen pass and drag route game in Bush and Tate, that will become a hinderance. Maybe it was the nature of the UNC locker room, but Ebron is the type to not give it his all in frustration as well. Also, when was the last time any of us saw a tight end excel with Matthew Stafford. . .
Oh yeah, Matthew Stafford.
Stafford is probably the most overpaid athlete in the NFL. He has another $40 million guaranteed to him through 2017 and what has he really done? Matthew Stafford’s record against winning teams is abysmal (that’s not saying “good” teams, just teams that are above .500) and his timing on quick,short patterns and out-routes remains horrific. One can basically say Matthew Stafford earned a lucrative contract extension by throwing jump balls up to Calvin Johnson. If that’s the case, hey Detroit, sign me up. You really have to question how much faith Detroit really has in Stafford. A top flight quarterback makes receivers. Helps them develop along the way. One would think the job would be a lot easier with the best receiver in the league on his side but apparently it hasn’t been, which has led Detroit into spending more money and draft picks on offense and in turn neglecting the other side of the ball.
The Detroit Lions defense has a front line and not much else. Sure, we all know linebacker Stephen Tulloch is Detroit’s leading tackler but once he drops 5 or 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage and into coverage it’s basically as if nobody is even there. The defensive line is the strength and everyone knows it. Last year Ezekial Ansah was added to the already fearsome defensive line with Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh. Ansah was the speed rusher the team needed to attack the outside protection while most of the attention went to the two defensive tackles. With Ansah added, teams found themselves running away from his side of the ball making most running games one dimensional or null. Fairley plugs the hole and annoys guards with his yapping while Suh is feared not only for his talents, but because you never know what he’ll do after the whistle. Detroit fans are hoping that Suh’s antics will be put to a pause now that the disciplinarian, Jim Caldwell has been set to lead this team.
With questions at head coach, quarterback and having nothing worth talking about in the secondary, Detroit may struggle getting to .500.
2014 Prediction: 7-9
Pro Bowl Selections: Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Ezekial Ansah, Ndamukong Suh