Detroit Lions weekly update
Lions head to “A-Town” for first regular season game
The Detroit Lions got the 2007 season off to a hot start by going 6-2 in their first eight games. That would conclude the excitement for Lions’ fans for the remainder of the season as they finished 7-9, missing the playoffs and quarterback Jon Kitna’s prediction of at least ten wins season entirely.
The off-season brought a few major changes to provide more stability to the team. Offensive coordinator (OC) Mike Martz was fired and offensive line coach Jim Coletto was promoted to the coordinator position in an attempt to find the run attack its been missing since the departure of Hall of Famer Barry Sanders in 1999. Head coach Rod Marinelli stocked the team with some key defensive free agents, mostly “his” guys from Tampa Bay. The team took a “smart” approach in this year’s draft by not choosing a wide receiver and actually filling some holes, most notably o-line and running back with top picks T Gosdar Cherilus and HB Kevin Smith.
Jim Coletto brings in the zone-blocking scheme most popularly ran out of Denver. Zone blocking lets the offensive line set up their particular assignments according to what the defense “gives” them. The scheme especially helps in situations where there’s an overload on one side of the d-line or even an obvious blitzer cramping the line. The idea here is to get the running back the ball deep in the backfield to give him ample time to find a running lane.
During the preseason, the Lions looked like a defensive monster holding the four teams it played to a combined thirty-two points, just eights points per contest. It wasn’t just the points they held other teams to, it was the way in which they achieved it. The d-line got penetration at an alarming rate and it came from a platoon of different players. The secondary threatened teams with huge plays and huge hits each time the ball was released from the opposing quarterback’s hand, just ask Bengal’s WR Chad Ocho Cinco “Johnson.” He fell victim to a torn labrum after one of “Rod’s” newly acquired guys CB Brian Kelly hit Ocho Cinco and stripped the ball from him while still in air. The only question about the Lion’s defense heading into the season is the linebacking corp. Losing Boss Bailey and Paris Lenon, both starters last season, leaves some uncertainty and depth issues at the position, although you would have never noticed by watching the preseason.
With a potentially weak schedule and division the Lion’s should FINALLY take that step to get them into the playoffs. Expectations have continuously been laid on the table by this team to be the league-leader in effort and if that’s the case, look for the Lions to return to the “glory days” of the mid-90’s when they competed for the division on a yearly basis.
My prediction for the Lion’s season: 11-5, win the NFC North, and lose either first or second round of playoffs.
Week 1 Preview
Heading into week 1, the Lions are the buzz of Michigan. Not just because the Tigers let us down for the second consecutive year, or because U of M lost the opener in the Rich Rodriguez era, but because of the extraordinary play of the team this preseason. Spirits are high and hopes are lingering for this team to do something special in ’08. Look for Detroit to fuel that fire in week 1 as they head to Atlanta for a 1 p.m. kickoff Sunday afternoon.
With a rookie QB in Matt Ryan starting for the Falcons, the Lions d-line will be licking their chops the whole plane ride down thinking about the opportunity to give the “rook” his first taste of turf in the regular season. With virtually no weapons on offense, it should be a field day for the Lion’s “D” as this game should serve as a tune-up for week 2 against nemesis Green Bay.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, the defensive side of the ball should prove even tougher-a-task. Committing to use all of the offense this year (instead of just passing 100 times a game), look for Kitna to cut down on a lot of senseless interceptions and turn out a stellar year. And with weapons all around him, Kitna should lead the Lions downfield with no trouble against the “unheard-ofs” that make up the Falcon defense.
I’m giving the Lions the definite edge with my prediction in this one: Lions 42, Atlanta 13.