Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oh, right. The Lions.

After finally scoring their first victory of the season (in Week 6) over Buffalo, the Lions - now swishing that winning feeling around in their mouths - would surely march into the Meadowlands and try their best to take a two-game winning streak into their bye week. Even if it resulted in a loss, the Jets would know they were in a battle with a team that is coming together, that is ready to pound the rest of the NFL like they've been pounding Sgt. Marinelli's rock. Right?

Well, no. Because these are, after all, the Detroit Lions. Maybe it was expecting too much for the Lions to go on the road (where they've hardly been competitive) and hang tough with an improving Jets team. But if you were still thinking this is a team that's getting close, Sunday's game should probably tell you otherwise.

What's the sign of a bad team? How about when they can't even do something they'd previously been good at all season? If the 2006 Lions could brag about anything - if they even dared to try - it would've been their run defense. They didn't allow a 100-yard rusher until Week 5. The reigning MVP, Shaun Alexander, only notched 51 yards against Detroit. If there was one thing these Lions could do, it was stop the run. That should keep them in most games.

And then there was Sunday's game against the Jets. Leon Washington gained 129 yards. Kevan Barlow added another 49. Brad Smith - who was playing quarterback for Missouri last year - needed only three carries to gain 16 yards. Even wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery had big plays on end-arounds. It was like watching a monster truck rally. The Lions may as well have had tire marks on their jerseys, as New York rolled up 221 yards on the ground.

Go ahead and point out Shaun Rogers' absence, due to his four-game suspension. He's the Lions' best defensive lineman. But, c'mon - does he mean that much to the run defense? Shouldn't they have been able to contain a previously-less-than-impressive Jets' running attack? Apparently not. So much for the depth the Lions supposedly had at the position.

Now, at 1-6 heading into the bye week, the Lions look well on their way to another top 10 draft pick for Matt Millen to screw up. That is, unless you believe the false rallies of Jon Kitna and Roy Williams, who are saying things like "Why can't we win nine games in a row?" with a straight face.

Game Balls & Extra Laps will be moving over here to Sweaty Men Endeavors for the foreseeable future. So if you're interested, they're after the jump. Enjoy the bye week. It comes at a great time, actually, giving the Tigers - who will hopefully be celebrating a World Series victory - the complete spotlight they deserve (although, really, they already had it).

Game Balls & Extra Laps

Game Balls

♦ The offensive line – Is it possible that the Lions' offensive line is playing better since Damien Woody was lost for the season? Considering Woody's lackluster play since coming to Detroit, that probably shouldn't be a surprise. But Kevin Jones likely would've gotten his second-straight 100-yard game, had the Lions not fallen so far behind. And Jon Kitna was only sacked once.

♦ Mike Furrey – With the Jets double-covering Roy Williams all day, Kitna needed to find someone else in the passing game. And Furrey made the most of his opportunity, catching nine passes for 109 yards. It was easily his best game in a Lions uniform, and maybe gives the offense a credible second receiving threat to give Roy some room.

Extra Laps

♦ The defensive line – I think I covered this already. You don't want me to repeat it, do you?

♦ The linebackers – Even Boss Bailey admitted they missed plenty of tackles, which was frustrating because "it's not something that's real hard to do." Somehow, the Lions made it look difficult, though Ernie Sims still managed 10 tackles.

♦ Jason Hanson – It feels like I'm picking on the guy, but his short kickoff after the Lions made it a 31-24 game did not help the comeback attempt. Instead of starting from around their 20, the Jets had the ball near midfield.


  • At October 24, 2006 11:15 PM, Anonymous Evan said…

    You know what? Here's something some people are bound to disagree with: THE LIONS ARE A BETTER FOOTBALL TEAM THAN THEY WERE LAST YEAR. While it's their job to count wins as their sole measurement, fans get to look at the bigger picture. And rather than eeking out meaningless wins in boring games that ressemble that episode of South Park where the two retarded kids get into the "cripple fight," the Lions at least lose with some f-ing dignity -- and, oh yeah, some points on the board.

    Playing with only 2/5 starters on the OL, 2/4 starters on the DL, and 2/3 starters at LB for most of the season, and occasionally playing with only 2/4 DBs, they have managed to look good on offense not just in spurts but for an entire series of several games. They are clearly not excuting on defense, but they look like they're at least learning from their boatload of mistakes.

    Marinelli likes to say everyone has talent, and that's true to some extent. But if the Lions can get a REAL pass rusher and a corner to play opposite Dre Bly in this heavy coverage defense next year, I see no reason they can't be a legitimately solid team.

    More importantly, they never seem to stop playing, and you don't hear the mouthing off to the media the way you did last year. And when Marinelli says "this is a team issue, we won't discuss it," they stick to that and don't let the media drag anyone's name through the mud beyond the obvious first day or two (e.g., Cullen and Kennedy).

    As for winning nine in a row... I agree it's unlikely. But at the same time, who would have thought last year's Dolphins would have won their last 6? Or that the Steelers would have made the playoffs and would have had to eek out a tiny win over the Lions to do it en route to a Super Bowl. There's a reason they play the games, and if a healthy Cody and Rogers get that run defense back in the top ten while the team improves a little in the cover game, there's no reason the offense can't carry them to a few big wins against the 49ers, Cardinals, Dolphins, Packers, and Cowboys.

    While I'm definitely convinced that Millen either doesn't know how to draft or let Mooch push him around too much with the Mike Williams pick (a la the Jeff Garcia signing), I'm also definitely buying into what Rod is selling.

    Go Lions -- and way to keep pointing out my man Ernie Sims. I love that guy.

    (Random note: For all the crap Millen takes about Joey, Chuck, and Mike Williams, he also brought us Jeff Backus, Roy Williams, Kevin Jones, and Ernie Sims. Win some, lose some?)

  • At October 25, 2006 12:09 PM, Blogger Big Al said…

    I read the RW quote this morning, and all I could do was roll my eyes... Even, I don't agree, and neither does Sgt. Marinelli. I remember he was asked in one of the recent pressers something to the effect that if he thought they were better than their record, and he bluntly said, "No." They are what they are, and they are seriously lacking in talent.

    I'll give you Williams, as he's an elite talent. Jones is, at the very least, a legit NFL tailback. But Backus is average, and grossly overpaid to boot. He was at the right place at the right time in that there were next to no FA right tackle options in the last off season, and the Lions had little choice but to keep him. The jury is still out on Sims. He's been good, but the Tampa 2 defense is designed for linebackers to get all the tackles. I still have this feeling that the Lions are going to be kicking themselves for not taking Matt Lineart.

    The damning evidence on Millen is with the picks below the 2nd round over the past 5 years. That's where you have to find some starters and develop depth, and the Lions have done neither.

    The jury is still out on the Sarge, but he's got to show something positive recordwise over the last half of the season. Till then, the Lions are worse than they were under Mooch and Marty. 1-6 says it all.


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