The loss to New Orleans in the PLAYOFFS really put the secondary of the Detroit Lions on the defensive. If they were as defensive on the field as they were on twitter, we would have had a chance in that game. I would like to take the time to give my opinion of our DB's based on the year not just Saturday night. I know my opinions will be challenged and that is fine, but I call it as I see it, not as talk radio or SportCenter sees it. I may be right and I may be wrong, but I put my NAME behind what I say.
I will start at the top and work my way down.
Clearly our starting corners are Detroit's best DB's. Wright and Houston are good all around corners. Both can cover, both can play the man or the ball. Both can tackle. Wright probably has the edge in tackling where Houston probably has the edge in coverage even though Wright had less thrown his way, indicating the opponents respect him. But Houston took that step this year and made QB's pay for throwing his way. He learned to turn his head, locate the ball and make a play. I give them both B+
These two grade out the same to me but are completely different ballers. Aaron Berry gets the playing time for two reasons. The first is his consistency, he doesn't give up the big play. He is where he should be and is a pretty good tackler. The problem I have with him is his ball skills. He is at the point Chris Houston was last year. He is in the pocket of the WR he is covering but doesn't make the play on the ball. Some of this is confidence. It takes some stones to turn your head away from a WR, who has great speed, to locate the ball. I think Schwartz believes he can take that next step and that is why he comes in at nickel and is gaining valuable playing time. Berry has a pretty good upside . The second reason is Alphonso Smith was injured at the beginning of the season. The year before Smith got the playing time because Berry was injured.
Smith is the opposite of Berry in his development. He may have an even bigger upside than Berry, but his consistency is dangerous at this point. Dangerous for both teams. He is capable on any given play to take it to the house with a pick six or allow his opponent to break a big one. This inconsistency is going to hurt his playing time and slow his development. But Smith has the ca hones to go for the ball and has the athletic ability to cover almost anyone. His height may be a issue with a few receivers but he has shown he can play a big guy. What kills him is his peeking in the backfield and jumping routes on double moves and getting fried. If he is going to take the next step he will need to "know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em".
These two grade out at a B- in my opinion.
Amari Spievey is a guy who was drafted as a corner and converted to safety. If I remember correctly, he didn't even play corner until late in his career and has now played the position of safety for about two years total. That is remarkable that he can start for NFL team in a position he has never played. With that being said he has a way to go. Safety is such an important position, many times you are the last line of defense and a mistake can be fatal. He is pretty good considering, he is a very good tackler. I think where he can grow is still is overall understanding of the defenses and his responsibility within it. I think Spievey has the potential to be a B+ type of safety. His lack of speed keeps his potential below an A. He needs time and right now is a solid C.
Chris Harris has been with us a very short time and has filled in at safety. He and Spievey looked as good as any safety we have against San Diego. But Harris took a large step back against Green Bay and looked as bad as any safety we have. Really too limited to grade but if I had to grade him I would say C-.
John Wendling is a guy that is capable of playing safety in a pinch but we are not trying to get him more field time. He is a special teamer first. He was not very impressive at the beginning of the year at special teams but as the year went along he, Carey and Silva became the names you heard after kick and punt coverage. Wendling has good speed and size and is decent tackler. Wendling can take some bad angles which hurt him but his special teams play helps him. I give him a C-
Louis Delmas is under achieving. His rookie year he was awesome. He was the Lions only play maker on defense. Then there are his last two years. I wonder if Delmas looked good during our 2-14 season because there was absolutely no talent around him, and as the talent has increased he has looked less impressive. I was highly criticized for being enamored with Ricardo Silva in preseason but listen to this: Silva had as many interceptions in about 5 quarters of football as Delmas has had in three full seasons AND preseasons. To be fair to Delmas he missed a few games because of injury. But three years as a starter should yield a bit more than Delmas has provided. Speivey has double the passes defended and more than double the interceptions as Delmas in his first two years as a Safety compared to three full years of Delmas. Chris Harris has been a Lion for how long now? Six weeks? He has more interceptions than Delmas' last two years. This isn't a coincidence or luck. Delmas just isn't that good. His problem, as I can see it, is he takes bad angles. That is a tough problem to fix. In the NFL, bad angles means you are late. It means you will have no impact on the play, run or pass, and that is exactly his contribution in the game of play. He is a good tackler when he gets the angle but that is about 50/50. He consistently shows up late after the play helping the other safety up after they make the play. He is considered the SOUL of the defense. I accept that if they mean hard to define and invisible. If he had potential I would give him a C- but he should be peaking right about now so he gets a D+ from me.
As you can see Delmas gets the worst grade of ALL Detroit DB's. You all think I am crazy, I know. But it is what it is. He has been on our defense longer than anyone else and has less to show for it. He may be the best dancer and have the strongest personality but he doesn't get it done.
Brandon McDonald is a hard guy to grade as well. It is clear he thinks he is an A, but obviously the coaching staff doesn't. He looked VERY good in preseason and then never got playing time. I think some of it may be attitude related but I am not sure. Then he was cut to make room and then resigned. Don Carey hasn't played enough to grade, Ricardo Silva hasn't had enough playing time to grade but I love his potential. I have to give them all an Incomplete.
There are guys on IR that i didn't mention.
I know this article will rub some of you the wrong way and it is NOT intended to do so. Please feel free to give me your comments.