You may think my diagnosis to be a bit harsh, but I'm going to ask you to hear me out. It'd be easy to say "Look at these miracle turn-around teams as a reason for hope!", but often when you look behind the curtain at those stories, you see a foundation and infrastructure which was laid and nexer truly realized of its potential until a certain point. I would argue that the opposite is true of the Lions, where they have maximized the capability of their current infrastructure, and worse, are looking at having to rebuild it. Let's start by looking at the Offensive Line, with me listing out my rating/look at next year. LT Backus - Over the Hill/Primary T Backup next year LG Sims - Average/Anchor of the line C Raiola - Over the Hill/Possibly replaced by Nagy next year RG Peterman - Black Hole/Probably starting next year RT Cherilus - Mediocre/Free Agent, even odds if he'll be back LT Reiff - Will take a few years to reach potential/probable starter next year
Not exactly a stellar group, primary culprit behind Lions rushing woes. 3 to 4 members of this group may be changed over next year, basically starting from scratch. Only one who is safe is Sims, everyone elses job is a question mark. Let's move on.
DE Cliff Avril - Over-rated/Wants the Moon, Lions have only an asteroid to offer DE Vanden Bosch - Over the Hill/Likely to be cut loose DE Lawrence Jackson - Rotational contributor/free agent in a dismal free agent class Lacking significant depth here, this is a position of concern likely to get patched over. Moving downward.
SLB Durant - Contract player/Had his best year as a Lion, now looking for a new sucker, team that is, in free agency. WLB Levy - Solid starter/Good player, if he chooses to come back it helps the team alot. If not, I hope Tahir Whitehead was worth trading this years 4th rounder for. MLB Tulloch - Solid Player/He's no Ray Lewis, but he's a solid average starter. Getting the picture yet? Let's keep going.
CB Houston - Solid #2 CB/Miscast as Lions #1 CB, likely to garner a fat contract due to this, more than his skills are worth, either from the Lions or someone else. CB Lacy - Below Average/Sporadic competent play overshadowed by steady poor play, free agent CB Florence - Below Average/Lots of love here for a guy who wasn't even good enough to make the Chargers. Not all that good. CB Bentley - Solid #4/Got some staring opportunities this year, should serve him well as a miscast starter next year. CB Green - Solid #5/Hope you like him, may very well be starting opposite Bentley next year due to A. He's actually young and fast enough to RUN with receivers and B. He actually stays healthy unlike anyone else the Lions get at the position. CB Greenwood - ?/Redshirt year last year, may be leaned on heavily next year. This is not the A-Team, not even most teams B-Team, unfortunately there will likely be little done to address this position if prior history is any indication, other than slapping a couple washed up retreads at this group.
S Delmas - Red Cross Symbol/Louis "The Glass Man" Delmas had yet another injury riddled year. S ? - Turnstile/No one person really manned this position last year, and it remains to be seen if anyone on the roster is worthy of it.
Let's back up here, it may be easier to figure out what we actually HAVE to build around. 1 stellar ALL WORLD WR Calvin Johnson - check 1 competent WR #2 Nate Burleson - check 1 franchise calibe QB Matt Stafford - check 2 above average DT's Suh and Fairly - check Not a whole lot else to write home about. Time to face the music folks, like it or not, we are staring the R word (Rebuilding) right square in the face again. And before anyone gets off on the free agent tangent, lets remember the following - We're behind the 8 ball on the salary cap. We're not considered close to being a big dog playoff contender. Players don't come to Detroit for the weather, lovely metro area, or the tax structure.
So where are we? Staring a mediocre draft class in the face, with fewer picks than we have holes to fill. Sounds harsh, but there it is. Offensive linemen take some years in the league to reach their potential, they aren't plug and play like many positions, so if the Lions have a few stellar drafts in a row, we could see them in the Super Bowl, otherwise don't hold your breath.