In this post I would like to shed some light on the whole sale "cultural" changes that have taken place with the Lion’s over the last year and discuss how I feel these changes have had an impact on this year’s draft and ultimately how the final roster will look.
There is an old song by Buffalo Springfield that says:
Something is happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear,
There is a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
You better stop children
Watch that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Side-stepping the literal reference to the gun mentioned above, to me this verse depicts the way I would feel if I was a Lion player these days. There are whole lot of changes going on, what the exact details of those changes are is still unclear. But one thing for sure, there is change, not all of it has to do with a player’s talents. If I were a player I would look around and pay attention the cultural change going down, because PASSION and ATTITUDE I think have a lot more to do with staying on this roster these days than pure talent.It has been written many times that NFL opponents have viewed the Lion’s teams as a talented, but mentally soft, not disciplined. I for one have always agreed with this assessment. However, when Patricia got to Detroit, you can see he is hell bent on changing that culture. All of us over the last couple of months have spent a good deal of time talking about the acumen of each Draftee’s/Players physical talents, and who the Lions should retained on the roster based on this talent. But little has been discussed about the change of culture that is taking place with the Lions right before our eyes.
To see this change, one must only look as far as Glover Quinn. Last year, it was reported that it was Glover who was the one complaining to the press over the hard summer practices…..gone is Glover Quinn. Ziggy Anseh’s best game has seemed to be in the training room,….Gone is Ziggy Ansah. A’Shawn Robinson came to camp last year out of shape with the feeling his high draft status and last years playing time entitled him to walk in and play. Hell, I don’t think A’Shawn played in the first several games last year, and if I recall correctly, he did not even dress for a few of those games. What happen, it lit a fire under his butt and Robinson played very well the last half of the year. I can go on and on with these types of examples that I feel we all see.
And who’s "in "…..well there are a whole lot of retread talent from New England. Players that Patricia knows first hand their work ethic. Players he knows that have a PASSION for the game and work their tail off to be the very best they can be. These guys might not be the most talented players in the league, but they are players he can trust and point to in the lockerroom and say "this is how it should be done" ….. " This is what it takes to be a winner in the NFL".
I for one applaud this cultural change and think this change toward "player/coach accountability" is long overdue in Detroit. In the past I would always cringe when I read in the blogs that "Lion’s management was discussing with Matt Stafford a change of personnel or coaches". This year when Bevell was brought in you did not hear, "well, Stafford thinks he can work well with him". It was, Cooter is gone and here is your new coach.
Getting away from the negative and discussing the positive effects of this new found discipline, the first that comes to mind would be Da’Shawn Hand. One of the best things I have witnessed with the Lions in many years was the aid that DT Ricky Jean Francois gave to then the rookie Hand. If you listen to Da’Shawn, he gives huge kudos to Ricky-Jean. He describes how he would stay after practice and work with Ricky because that’s what Ricky did. Francois was the last player off the field and Hand noticed this. Essentially, François took Hand under his wing and said listen kid, you what to be a pro in this league for 10 years, this is what it takes. Hand listened and became a very solid performer last year, and one of the best draft picks we have had in years. Coincidence, I think not? Montors. Passion. Attitude. Work Ethic. The new, new in Detroit.
This gets me back to the draft and the effect this new norm in Detroit had on this year’s draft selections. I know the draft experts (and even some of us) have panned the Lions selections, but I truly believe that this draft emulates the type of player I have described above, and to me this is what the press is missing. The Lions drafted good players, maybe not the highest ranked, but guys that are passionate for the game, and from programs that Quinn is familiar. These draftees came from programs where Quinn trusted the coach’s word. Again, there are many examples but here are a few that again that come to mind:
Who did the Leo’s draft one: Hockenson. Where did he play: Iowa. Who was the Coach: Kirk Franzen. His rep: a coach known for his toughness, and development of pro ready players. Summary: Cultural Fit.
Who did they Draft 2: Tavai. Reputation: Hardworking,tough nosed LB; a throwback to the old days of LB’s. Film junkie. Smart enough to learn multiple positions. Summary: Cultural Fit.
Lions Third Pick: national NCAA Champion Clemson’s DE. 4th pick DB Penn State. Both from colleges that are known for toughness and coaches that Quinn has had report.
In summary, I think when all of us "arm chair qb’s" weigh in and discuss who we think should make up this new roster, a good deal of consideration must be give to the players general makeup. Ask the question does that player have Passion for the game? Does he have the work ethic to hone his craft? Is he smart and discipline enough to learn and "do his job".As the song says." There is a man with a gun over there", and it does not look like he is afraid to use it if he feels you did not come to work. Thank god…… finally!!!!