I know it's not just me who gets exhausted hearing pundits like Warren Sapp, Donovan McNabb, and other EPSN talking heads continuously not know anything about the Lions. Please, do a little research before you spew your drivel.
So I, being the nice person that I am, decided to round up some actual stats and figures to help debunk these myths that ESPN and Lions haters seem to love so much. Let's get to it.
#1: That Damn Discipline Problem!
A trendy new myth that keeps popping up since last year, is that the Lions are notoriously bad in the personal foul/dirty play category. Granted, if you don't follow the Lions, this first statement seems totally in line. Sure, in 2010 and 2011, the Lions were near the top in this category, but those numbers are going down, and the trouble makers are no longer. Suh had 1 penalty last year, and Titus is thankfully gone.
The NFL had a total of 83 personal foul penalties, and the Lions committed 4 of them. Baltimore comes in first with 11, yet no one talks about how undisciplined they are. Winning really does cure all I suppose.
There were 12 teams that were ahead of the Lions last year in total penalites, and the total number of penalties has decreased by 32 from 2011, and I expect to see even less this upcoming year. The 2011 arrests and Suh's stomp has made this team from a loveable loser to a hated "penalty driven" team. But it's getting pretty tiring to see everyone come down on this team for these reasons when they're clearly on the way down.
#2: The Lions have a shoddy secondary that will end up losing them games in 2013.
This one is my favorite, mainly because just about everyone on this site already knows that this is completely false. Is this secondary the best in the NFL? No, of course not. Is it going to lose them games? No.
Last year, the Lions had a 14th ranked pass defense. You read that right. The counter argument, of course, is that the Lions aren't passed on as much as other teams for various reasons (suspect run defense, lack of leads in games, etc). However, the lions are near the middle of passing attempts against last year with 544.
When it dawns on you that this "suspect" secondary was filled with guys like Drayton Florence, Jacob Lacey, and 6th rounder rookie Jonte Green for the majority of the season, this ranking looks even more impressive. Considering that this "suspect" secondary was without a healthy Delmas (oxymoron) for most of the season, and that the Lions re-signed Chris Houston, drafted an intriguing Darius Slay, and went out in FA and got a rock solid Safety in Glover Quin, as well as getting Bentley and Greenwood healthy and a veteran Ron Bartell, how can anyone say that this ranking will get worse? An improving D-line can only help matters. Which brings me to my next point...
#3: The Lions have the best D-line in football!
Stop it. The Lions surely have the most interesting and possibly most promising defensive line in football, but the best, or one of the best? No.
Surely then it's top 10 or 15 right? I'd still argue otherwise. Detroit had a measly 34 sacks last year, which comes in at tied for 20th in the NFL. With 25.675 million dollars tied up in the starting 4 (KVB, SUH, Fairley, Avril) last year, that number looks even worse. That's 3/4 of a million dollars per sack. Not a bad gig. Comparing that to St. Louis (who came in tied for first in sacks with 54), they had 10.440 million dollars in starting 4 salary. Things start to look worse. This year, it's entirely possible that two rookies will be starting on this D-line, and I can't see them passing over Avril's #'s in their first year. Potential? Sure. Best in the NFL? Not close.
If you look at rush defense, things don't get a whole lot better, coming smack dab in the middle at 16th. Now don't get me wrong, I realize that some of this is on the LB's and the scheme, but just knowing that KVB had a whopping 3.5 sacks last year is sad enough.
#4: Stafford is nothing without Calvin Johnson.
Gag me now. One of the most frustrating myths about the Lions and Stafford is that he's a shell of a QB without the best WR in the game. Not only is this statement ridiculous in itself (who can judge Stafford for throwing to Calvin more than this fuggin guy?) but it's also completely false. Let's take a look at some numbers.
In 2011, Stafford had one of the best years by a Lions QB ever. He threw for 5000+ yards and 41 TD's, 1681 yards and 16 TD's went to Megatron. That means Stafford had 3,357 yards and 25 TD's WITHOUT the best WR in the game right now. Most of you guys have seen that stat, or know of it. I want to dig a little deeper. Stafford attempted 663 passes in 2011. He completed 421 of them for a 63.5% completion percentage. Comparatively, Stafford threw at Calvin 158 times the same year, and completed 96 passes for a 61% completion percentage. So really, Stafford was more accurate (albeit, very little) when throwing to someone not named Calvin Johnson. Take away Calvin, here are Stafford's 2011 stats:
3,357 yards, 25 td's, 64.4% completion percentage.
In 2012, as well all know very well by now, Stafford took a hefty step back in his growth. He threw for 4,967 yards, 20 td's and 17 int's. 1,964 yards and 5 of those went to Calvin. So Stafford had 3,003 yards and 15 TD's without Calvin. Stafford attempted 727 passes this year, completing 435 of them for a 59.8% completion percentage. Comparing this to Calvin again: Staff threw at Calvin a whopping 205 times, completing 122 of them, for a 59.5% completion percentage. Again, we see a better completion percentage to guys who aren't transformers, and that's even more impressive when you realize who Stafford was throwing to at the end of the year. Without Calvin, here's 2012 Stafford:
3,003 yards, 15 TD's, 59.9% completion percentage.
Does having a 6 ft 5 monster with glue for hands and a 4.3 40 time help when you're a QB? Sure. Does it mean that Stafford isn't a good QB without him? No.
What other myths do you guys want to expose? I'm sure there are more. Let's hear them in the comments!