Well I decided to wait till after I got some sleep before writing about the Lions playoff game. There were some great moments in the game and definitely some things that we really have to look forward to (the Lions offense). However, there are also some really bad things (the lions defense) that the Lions are going to have to fix before next season. First off I want to say that it really feels good to know that this team has the right guys in place to actually fix the things that are broken with this team. Between Mayhew, Schwartz and the scouts for this team, they really have a good grasp on what this team needs. Even though I have questioned at times why this player was taken or why that player wasn't taken, it seems that almost every choice they have made has come back to truly help this team. For example, when Detroit drafted Brandon Pettigrew I was perplexed as to why they drafted a TE when they needed OL help so badly. But the fact is that some of the players everyone thought Detroit should take that year haven't turned out to be very good. And even though some of you have had problems with some of his drops, he is still a young player that has really performed very well when you look at his numbers. And he seems to be getting better every year.
I still worry about our defensive coordinator position. Simply because I dont think this team has the right players to play in his system. So if Detroit wants to continue with his defensive scheme, and not find another coordinator, they will have to make some changes to the players in that scheme. Considering the wide nine alignment, that has been talked about repeatedly this year, is all about getting to the QB. Detroit needs to draft or sign in free agency some better man to man coverage guys. Players that don't give up all the dink and dunk plays that enables teams to just move the ball down the field at will. They also need LB's that can shed blockers and get to the RB's before allowing 5-50 yards per play. With this in mind I am giving my ideas on what can help the team.
It was painfully obvious that the defensive backs are in desperate need of at least a really good number one DB or a complete rebuilding. Chris Houston seems to be a good number two corner but should not be locked up on other teams number one receiver. And Eric Wright would be a really good nickel corner. But Detroit desperately needs a number one DB. I believe that Asante Samuel would make a huge difference on this team especially teamed up with Houston and Wright. Considering where Detroit is drafting there really aren't any play-making DB's according to the talking heads of ESPN and other networks. But a player like Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama could be available and the Lions should consider him especially if Detroit doesn't resign Houston. A player like Alfonso Dennard from Nebraska would probably be available but I think there would be better options for the Lions than he would be.
As far as the LB's and DL, I am really not sure yet of any available free agents at those positions but there are some interesting players that might be available in the first round of the draft. If by chance a player like Vontaze Burfict of Arizona State was available the Lions should take a long look at him. He has the size and strength to fight through blocks to get to the RB's.
Hopefully Detroit finds a way to resign Cliff Avril but they really need to find someone to, if not replace Kyle Vandenbosch, at least find another DE to to back him up and I don't believe that Willie Young will be that guy. Vandenbosch had a decent year this year but many times just seemed to be a bit slow getting to the QB. A lot of that could be because of the DB's allowing the QB to get the ball out of their hands so fast that the DL never had a chance. But he at least needs a good backup to keep him fresh through the games. According to Mel Kiper, Whitney Mercilus of Illinois is number 25 on his board at the moment. If he is available Detroit should snatch him up fast enough to make our heads spin. He would be a great addition to our DL considering he is a beast. But I really don't think after the year he had and when the combine process is over that he will be available to them at that point. Unless they trade up to get him.
But like every year we really need to address the OL and there are a couple of guys who might be able to help Detroit at their draft position. Mike Adams from Ohio State might be there and while I dont think he could come in and start right away I believe would be a really good LT with a little seasoning. Other options who I think would need even more work before being able to start would be Kelechi Osemele from Iowa State or Zebrie Sanders from Florida State.
Again I think we all feel better going into the off season with the guys we have in charge of the football decisions now. Even when we might not understand the reasons for some of the moves they have made the outcome cant be denied. They have taken the crappiest team in the history of the NFL (0-16 doesn't lie) and turned it into a playoff team in 3 years. Now the really hard part comes into play. They need to turn this team into a perennial playoff team and hopefully a Superbowl team. Things will get a lot harder now because they cant resign everyone they will want and will have to find replacements for those players and upgrade positions that really need it. All while staying under the salary cap. I for one have faith that these guys will be able to do just that and cant wait to see the outcome. I'm sure at some point I am going to shake my head and say what are you doing but at the same time know that they have a plan and that plan seems to be sound and working. Its really nice having confidence in my team, possibly for the first time in my life.