As a very resilient Lions fan, I'm trying my best to put some kind of positive spin on this season and the most recent loss to the Texans. It's a bit of a daunting task, really. I try to look for something good in all things by nature, yet these Lions are truly testing my resolve. As I sat in disgust once again last Sunday, I started to realize who was on the field. Kitna? Nope, not there. Roy? Hmmm.. absent as well. Is that a number 96 and 97 on the D-line? Well, that's an unexpected surprise. Hey, that's a number 23 in the secondary! And over there, a number 38!? What the heck is going on here?
Okay, I'm being overly facetious. But clearly, my point is that some of the young guys are starting to get a little playing time. Not to the point that the fans are content, but slowly and surely the coaching staff is facing the reality that they must look to the future - not only for the fans and ownership, but for their own jobs as well. I know... the whole Cherilus and Dizon not playing thing is still pissing you off. Well, me too. Actually, it's more than pissing me off, it's downright ridiculous, but I'll get back to that in a minute. The positive point here is that we've got the Rock of Gibraltar as a head coach, who really only wants to play veterans that he trusts, playing quite a few first and second year players - more than you know that he is comfortable with. I think maybe ol' Rod realizes that if he is here next year, the worst thing he could do is not get these young guys on tape. Even if the tape is bad, you've got to know.
Which brings me back to the Cherilus benching. If you can't tell, I think it's one of the dumbest personnel moves in quite some time - by the Lions or any other franchise. But I have my reasons for being upset. I tape the games and usually watch them again to see the games within the game (I know, pathetic). I'm not a football coach, but I watch an unhealthy amount of football. I know the basic ins-and outs of the game, understand the basic offensive and defensive schemes and can at least tell you if I thought that a player performed well - using an informed opinion. I reviewed the Minnesota game and keyed on the offensive line - and Cherilus in particular. What I saw was a young player going up against a very tough, veteran defensive line and playing next to another young player getting his first start. Manny Ramirez did not play well at all and I believe that his performance hurt Gosder's overall performance. Minnesota constantly brought the pressure on the right side and those two couldn't hold up. Okay, so he didn't have his best game. But in watching the other games in which he started or played, I thought he was very solid.
So, let me ask a question, because there seems to be some confusion in Detroit on what the answer is. The question is "How do you best screw up a young player with potential"? Marinelli seems to think you screw him up by giving him something he doesn't deserve. Really? You draft a guy in the first round, give him a big fat signing bonus and a five year contract and he's not entitled to play? Give me a freakin' break! That is the biggest load of horse puckey I've ever heard. I understand Rod's passion for the game and his belief that you need to respect the game. I actually admire him for it. It puts the T.O.'s of the league in perspective. But this notion that your first round player - a guy you've invested your future in - has to earn the right to play is complete and utter nonsense. When you pulled the trigger in the first round, you entitled this guy to his spot on the roster... as a STARTER! Same goes for Dizon in the second round. I'm even okay with Lenon starting for now, but for cryin' out loud, let the guy get on the field for, get this... meaningful snaps... no garbage time (which, sorry Rod, does exist and that what Jordon is currently getting).
I know, this was supposed to be a positive article about what the Lions are doing right. See... this is what they do to you. I'll tell you what I do like, though, is the decision to put the Kitster on IR and give Danny O and Stanton snaps. I actually like the way Orlovsky has played the last two games. Let's be honest, he doesn't have much to work with - a porous line and constant double-coverage on Johnson (although he was open way more than they threw to him in Houston - that's on Colleto). The question with Orlovsky is, if he starts to win a game or two, do you still bench him to get a look at Stanton? I think so. To be honest, I'm kind of excited to see Stanton. Yeah, I know. It's the cardinal sin of football... the lure of a young unknown QB. Can't help it though.
So I guess this blog turned into a bunch of random thoughts. Oh well, I'll give you a few more before I wrap it up (I have too much time on my hands). They need to bench Rudi Johnson and only play him to spell Smith or in the case of injury. Smith looks like a game changer and they need to find out what he can do with 20+ carries. This rotation for the sake of rotation makes no sense. Must be a Colleto-ism. The only thing it does is keep the rusher from getting in a groove. They also need to inactivate Cody and Darby for the rest of the year... heck, IR them for all I care. Do you think either will be here next year anyway? If they re-sign Cody, I'll know we don't have the right GM. The D-Line should be Avril, Fluellen, Redding and White, with Alama-Francis and Cohen first off the bench from here on out. I don't care if they allow 300+ rushing yards a game, these guys represent something for the future. Cody, DeVries and Darby do not. I'd say let's make some offensive line changes too, but there's no one to go to. It's in a truly sad state. No starters and no depth. I think that we need three new lineman next year - two guards and a left tackle.
Once again, I've rambled far too long, but the venting is so good for the football soul. I'll at least try ending on a positive note: I do like that the Lions are taking some initial steps to previewing the younger players. And get this... I think that they win a game or two this year! My bet is that they'll take down Minnesota and/or New Orleans at home. Here's looking to April for that first overall pick! Heck, here's looking to a time when February, not April is the Lions Fan's Christmas. I'll always remain positive, but I'll be happy this year when Stanton, Cherilus and Dizon are all starting - whether we're winning or not.