Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

No competitive Thanksgiving games for you!

November 30, 2009

 

Happier times: A Lions' Thanksgiving victory celebration after the 1999 triumph over Chicago. Since '99, the Lions have compiled a dismal 2-8 record on Thanksgiving

So Thanksgiving, one of the greatest holidays in the history of holidays, has come and gone in 2009.

For those who retained enough energy to overcome the inevitable tryptophan-driven coma and were able to catch some NFL action, well, if you’re a fan of Green Bay, Dallas, or Denver, congrats!

If you’re a fan of Detroit, Oakland, or the New York football Giants, or parity-laden football in general, Thanksgiving was a cruel, cruel day/night.

Going into Thanksgiving day, uncertainty swirled in the realm of Detroit football:

The statuses of both Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson were unclear until mere hours before kickoff (Calvin caught a TD and was otherwise blanketed by shoo-in All-Pro and Michigan alum, Charles Woodson, while Stafford channeled his inner rookie and tossed the football to Woodson and the Packers a grand total of four times).

Daunte Culpepper, he of the year 2004 greatness, seemed so blindsided by the Lions’ decision to start the injured Stafford (see: separated non-throwing shoulder), that what appeared to be a heated exchange between Daunte and GM Martin Mayhew ensued in plain view of tv cameras prior to the beginning of the game.

Ko Simpson, a decidedly mediocre NFL safety who took over for his decidedly mediocre predecessor, Marquand Manuel, when Manuel went down with an injury, was injured himself (the season-ending variety) against Cleveland. As a result, the Lions continued their rich tradition of embracing a patchwork secondary by inserting Marvin White, a relative unknown, into the lineup, and bringing Jahi Word-Daniels, a complete unknown, into the fold.

To make matters worse, although Stafford and Calvin were able to valiantly take the field and gut out 4 quarters of losing football, Brandon Pettigrew, the Lions’ stud TE and second 1st round pick from the 2009 draft, went down with a knee injury early in the 1st half.

 

Rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew went down with a season-ending knee injury, unrelated to his fan hand-shaking.

 

 

Pettigrew had caught 15 balls, including 2 touchdowns, in the past 3 games, and was really starting to round into form as Stafford’s favorite non-Calvin option. Pettigrew’s knee injury will ultimately be season-ending, thus cutting short a promising rookie season and obliterating the Lions’ TE depth. Only Casey Fitzsimmons, a serviceable albeit unspectacular backup, appears ready to contribute, as he did in stretches of the 2nd half against Green Bay.

So, just to quickly recap where we stand in the world of Lions’ football, the Lions dropped a briefly competitive decision to Green Bay, 34-12, in front of a strong crowd of Honolulu blue and silver-clad fans (until midway through the 4th quarter, when those with any sanity remaining began streaming toward the exits).

The Lions have now lost 6 straight Thanksgiving day tilts by an average of 23 points/game.

Elsewhere around the NFL on Thanksgiving, Oakland played, well, very Oakland-like football, in a fairly routine 24-7 thumping at the hands of the NFC East-leading Cowboys. Tony Romo played well. JaMarcus Russell didn’t play at all.

In the one game that NFL fans were anticipating to be a close, hard-fought affair, Denver capped off the evening by routing Tom Coughlin and friends, 26-6. Denver, which was in an epic free-fall after starting the Josh McDaniels’ era 6-0, picked up its first victory in five games and did so in convincing fashion in front of a packed house at Mile High Stadium.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Giants fell to 3rd place in the NFC East (trailing Dallas and Philadelphia) with a record of 6-5. Is this surprising? Of course it is. Eli Manning’s foot will be a topic of conversation for the rest of the season and the Giants, a team that looked like a surefire playoff team at the outset of the ’09 season, will now have to really turn things around in the face of mounting injury problems in order to avoid missing the playoff fun that Lions’ fans miss just about yearly!

So there you have it. Thanksgiving football was a letdown. But that’s okay. The Lions travel to Cincinnati on Sunday to take on the Bengals, who somehow, some way, are two games up on both Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

Win #3 on the way?

Well, we’ll see about that.

 

Share in camaraderie, share in shame

November 18, 2009

Today, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that two local men (Birmingham residents, to be exact) have begun marketing “The Official We ARE Terrible Towel: A Detroit Original Since 1957.”

The idea is to provide a comic alternative to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ omnipresent terrible towel, which has been a symbol of success for the Steelers for the last 34 years. Fans at Heinz Field wave the towels in a frantic manner. Fans of other teams are seemingly universally irritated by this conduct. A great tradition indeed.

 

The original

 

 

The towel’s creators, Gordon Miller and John Crick, are even making the bold sales move of the year by attempting to market their invention against one of Ford Field’s staple symbols: the almighty bag.

“It’s hard to eat a hot dog or drink a soda with a bag over your head,” Miller said in a news release. “With the official We ARE Terrible Towel, you can eat, drink, boo and still wave your towel.”

 

In danger of becoming obsolete, or, at the very least, not trendy?

Can’t say I disagree with Miller here. I’ve never been the towel-waving type, but I’ve ALWAYS been an over-salted, overpriced stadium food type (in moderation, of course) and as a result, an alternative to a meticulously illustrated brown paper shopping bag is a welcome change.

The timing for the mass release of these $10 towels of shame is extremely apropos, as the Lions (1-8) set to do battle with one of the NFL’s three other 1-8 teams, the Cleveland Browns.

So go out and get the new ‘terrible towel.’ Or don’t. But just remember, if the Lions can’t topple the Browns in an epic clash of NFL bottom dwellers on Sunday, at the very least, you’ll need a good box of tissues to dry your eyes after you come to the indisputable realization that the Lions are, once again, the single worst team in the NFL.

Stay tuned for my preview of “Awful Bowl ’09: The Road to 2 goes through Motown” in advance of Sunday’s game.

 

Updated power(less) rankings : Ineptitude reigns supreme at the bottom

November 9, 2009

After Matt Stafford tossed his fifth INT of the game and Josh Wilson scampered 61 yards into the Lions’ endzone to seal Detroit’s 16th straight road loss, an idea suddenly popped into my head.

With the Lions’ record now standing at 1-7 (2-30 over the last 32 games, for those keeping score at home) and the NFL sporting a plethora of woeful franchises this season, I’ve decided to compile an elite list of the NFL’s bottom 6 teams each week.

Quite frankly, when your team is as poorly prepared for NFL competition as the Lions are on a season-by-season basis, it’s just no fun to scroll all the way down the page on ESPN’s power rankings, past the Colts and Patriots of the world, to find the Lions residing somewhere in the 30-32 range.

So, without further hesitation, I bring you the first “Power(less) Rankings” of 2009.

Chiefs Johnson Football6. Kansas City Chiefs (1-7)—Tied for the worst record in the NFL with Cleveland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and the aforementioned Lions, the Chiefs and new HC Todd Haley’s awful-level has been vaguely palatable. Five of KC’s seven losses have been by an average of 6.4 points/game (blowouts at the hands Philly and SD, not included). The Chiefs also have a solid quarterback (Matt Cassel), a GM with a reputation for greatness (former Pats’ boss, Scott Pioli), and, just today, shed one of the league’s notorious malcontents, the fading Larry Johnson. While the road out of the cellar will be long and winding, the Chiefs have the type of framework in place that, if they can scoop up a couple additional pieces in the offseason (i.e. secondary help, impact RB), they could be competing for a playoff spot sooner rather than later.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7)buccaneers-loss-300x225—After picking up their first win of the season (38-28 over the respectable Packers) behind recently-inserted rookie QB Josh Freeman, the Bucs finally have something to rejoice about. Losses at Washington and Buffalo were defining low points for this once-competitive franchise, but rookie HC Raheem Morris appears willing to let his youngsters run the show despite the rugged conference the Bucs occupy the bottom position in (hello there, unbeaten New Orleans). Time and patience are going to be necessary in Tampa, but a rousing home victory is exactly the type of remedy necessary for the young Bucs’ waning confidence.

Redskins Lions Football 4. Washington Zornskins (2-6)—Owners of a pair of the worst losses in the NFL this season (see: road loss at Detroit, home loss vs. KC) and a pair of the least impressive wins this season (see: home victories over St. Louis and TB), it took a lot for me not to rank the Zornskins lower. Couple the dreadful season-long funk the ‘Skins have been in with the fact that owner Dan Snyder is willing to spend freely (and recklessly) to make his team a contender, and one could certainly argue that the ‘Skins have put together the most dismal half-season in the NFL this year. With an absurdly challenging eight games to close the regular season, in which the Zornskins will only potentially be favored once (@ Oakland in week 14), things could get a whole lot worse for this bumbling train wreck.

3. 58559750St. Louis Rams (1-7)—Having scored the fewest points in the NFL this season (77), while surrendering the 4th-most points in the league (221), the Rams would likely occupy the #1 spot on this list, save for a ‘battle of the titans’ 17-10 road triumph over the Lions. Only two of the Rams’ seven losses have been by single digits (@ Jacksonville and @ Washington) and the only functional offensive skill player on the roster is stud RB Steven Jackson. This franchise has fallen a long way from the “greatest show on turf” days of 2001, but with patience being preached during a massive rebuilding project, the Rams’ time will eventually come again (just not anytime soon).

lions dejected 2. Detroit Lions (1-7)—Perhaps it’s merely bias that prevented me from selecting the Lions as the #1 team in the inaugural “Power(less) Rankings.” Detroit has allowed the second-most points in the NFL (237), while prevailing only once over the lowly Zornskins. Although the ouster of the GM-who-shall-not-be-named has led to increasingly astute drafting (see: Pettigrew, Delmas, Levy) and Matt Stafford certainly has the talent to eventually develop into a franchise QB, the cupboard is simply too bare for HC Schwartz to put a consistently competitive team on the field. Schwartz has the Lions hustling and working harder than at any point last season, but the climb is really just getting started for the Lions.

1. Cleveland Browns (1-7)—SPORTS FBN-STEELERS-BROWNS 2 AKCapturing the dubious #1 spot on the list is Detroit’s opponent in two weeks, the Cleveland Browns. The Browns’ ravenous fans, the Dogpound, have had precious little to cheer about as “Mangenious” and co. have blundered their way to a horrific 8-game stretch. The only win on the Browns’ resume at this point was likely the worst game of the season thus far, a 6-3 road triumph at Buffalo. The Browns have only stayed within single digits in one of their seven losses and have lost by an average of 19 points/game. GM George Kokinis (in his first season) has already been axed and the league’s worst QB tandem (Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn) has done nothing to make up for a punchless defense. If you can’t wait for the Detroit/Cleveland showdown in two weeks, well, friends, you’re not alone.

A brief glimpse of Thanksgiving: Halftime show gets a much-needed shakeup

November 6, 2009

So for the past 14 years (dating back to 1995), I’ve been in attendance at either the old Silverdome or Ford Field for all but one of the Lions’ tradition-laden Thanksgiving day games.

 

medium_lions-thanksgiving

The time-honored tradition of Lions' Thanksgiving football: Making this sort of attire acceptable since the early 1900's

In that time, the Lions have put together a mediocre 6-8 record, including a current, rather shameful 5-game losing streak in which the boys from Detroit have lost by an average of 23 points per game.

Granted, we’re still about 3 weeks away from turkey day and while I’ll have much, much more about this wondrous Detroit tradition as the date approaches, some Thanksgiving-related news caught my eye yesterday and I felt compelled to address it.

According to the Free Press, the Thanksgiving game halftime show will be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the ubiquitous Motown Records. Six acts on the Universal Motown Records roster will perform at Ford Field and another Motown act, Jadyn Maria, will sing the national anthem prior to the game.

Now, I don’t really fancy myself a connoisseur of Motown music (although, if you haven’t grooved and such with a little Marvin Gaye or the Temptations from time to time, you should give it a try), but this whole 50th anniversary business seems to have finally given the Lions’ organization a reason to abandon the truly abysmal lineup of acts that they’ve paraded out the past few years.

By no means am I naive enough to think that the halftime show isn’t geared toward the audience tuning in worldwide, not the thousands in attendance in downtown Detroit. But, truth be told, there comes a point when the acts just become a little too ludicrous for a football game.

As such, it’s been disappointing, somewhat laughable, and downright mind boggling that, over the past few years, acts like Vanessa Carlton (piano and all) and Jessica Simpson have taken the reigns of the halftime show either live from the stadium (Carlton) or via Jumbotron (Simpson).

Last year, at halftime of what was eventually a 47-10 rout, the most lopsided loss in Lions’ history on Thanksgiving, halftime show organizers found a way to one-up their general ineptitude by inviting Jesse McCartney, a sensation amongst 12-year-old girls, to perform.

If there was anything worse than seeing lightning-quick Chris Johnson dancing around, over, and through the Lions’ unspeakably porous defense, it was watching McCartney perform to general disinterest throughout the stands.

The halftime show is a time-honored tradition. Acts can vary and no two acts are alike. Every crowd is going to react in a unique way to the act and sometimes, that’s the most fun part.

I applaud the Lions’ organization two times:

First, for embracing the anniversary of Motown Records (a no-brainer).

Secondly, for at least one year, shying away from the tired pop acts that have been so overtly un-Detroit and a particularly disjointed transition from the first and second halves of the primary reason people across the globe tune in: to watch football.

So here’s to Kem. And Shontelle. And the other Motown acts that are scheduled to grace the Ford Field turf on Thursday Nov. 26.

You are helping to celebrate the rich tradition of Motown music.

And you’re not Jesse McCartney.

I already like where this is going.

 

A Charitable Gesture: Lions sympathize with Rams’ plight, help end 18-game skid

November 4, 2009

The Detroit Free Press’ always entertaining columnist, Michael Rosenberg, provides an excellent account of the general absurdity of the Lions’ home loss to the lowly Rams on Sunday.

With a loss in a game that many had pegged as the Lions’ best chance to secure an elusive second victory, the Lions are left hanging their hats only on their victory over the comically free-spending Zornskins .

 

detroit-lions2

Is it time to get those bags ready again? Yes, yes it is

Sure, statistically speaking, in an historic season of bottom-dwelling NFL franchises, the Lions actually have a BETTER record than three teams (0-7 Tampa Bay and 1-7 St. Louis and Cleveland) and the same record as two other proud teams (Kansas City and Tennessee), but the levels of awful the Lions are achieving right now is truly a sight to behold.

Through seven games, three Lions’ quarterbacks have combined to toss a measly 4 touchdown passes against a robust 11 interceptions. The team’s leading receiver (receptions-wise) is its oft-injured running back. Nobody on the team has intercepted more than 1 pass (5 players have picked 1 apiece), while little-known Buffalo Bills’ rookie, Jairus Byrd, has picked off 7.

Now, almost halfway through the season, the Lions appear to be right in the thick of the race to be the NFL’s worst team.

Last season, the Lions’ beautifully crafted a revolutionary blueprint for achieving futility (re: lose all 16 games, most by comically lopsided scores).

This season, although some facets of the team appear to be headed in the right direction (see: the team’s work ethic under HC Schwartz, torpedo-like rookie Louis Delmas, or the always-stellar-when-healthy Megatron), the team’s lack of talent will inevitably lead them to the NFL’s crowded basement for yet another painfully inept season.

The only questions left to answer, are where, when, and how will win #2 materialize.

 

 

The Countdown Concludes: #1

November 2, 2009

From Dizon to Stanton, Harrington to Rogers, the “Countdown” has revealed and analyzed some of the greatest draft follies in the folly-laden draft strategy of the Detroit Lions.

56261154TP009_Lions

Defense? Nobody wins games with that, I'll just draft some more wide receivers!

Jordon Dizon was a 2nd round-reach for a system that departed Detroit along with Coach Marinelli.

Drew Stanton’s inability to shake the injury bug, coupled with a suspect arm and a general lack of talent, has rendered him virtually irrelevant on a team starved for QB depth.

Joey Harrington was soft and thrown into a situation that overwhelmed him to the point of no return.

Charles Rogers was a disaster waiting to happen, with drug use-related red flags evident at every turn of his short-lived career.

As the “Countdown” reaches its inglorious conclusion, the Lions’ ineptitude rises front and center with one of the worst draft picks of this (or any) decade.

#1 Mike Williams (wide receiver, USC): 1st round, pick #10, 2005.

mike_williams

From star to afterthought in a year: The Mike Williams Story

No draft pick in the GM-wh0-shall-not-be-named era better embodies the complete and utter lack of talent and character evaluation that characterized Lions’ brass than Mike Williams.

Williams put together an illustrious two seasons at USC, setting school and Pac-10 freshman records for receptions (81), yards (1,265), and touchdowns (14) in 2002.

The following season, Williams was named a first team All-American for his stellar sophomore campaign, in which he hauled in 95 passes for 1,314 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Subsequent to his second season, Williams attempted to follow former Ohio St. running back Maurice Clarett’s lead by entering the NFL draft.

Since Williams was only two years removed from high school (players are only permitted to declare for the draft after their junior season), his entry to the draft was contingent on a legal challenge to the NFL’s draft policy.

After a federal judge’s ruling initially cleared the way for Clarett and Williams to enter the 2004 draft, the U.S. Court of Appeals (Second Circuit) proceeded to overturn the ruling. By then, Williams had already hired an agent and as a result, he was ineligible to return to USC for his junior season.

Had Williams been an ’04 draft pick, he would have been a sure-fire first round pick.

Instead, Williams worked out on his own during the 2004 season and entered the draft for 2005.

Despite a poor 40 time at the draft combine (4.56) and the fact that he was out of football for an entire season, the Lions still selected Williams with the 10th pick of the ’05 draft. He was the third receiver in three seasons that the Lions selected in the top 10 (Charles Rogers and Roy Williams were the other two).

Williams lasted just two disastrous seasons in Detroit, catching a mere 37 passes for 449 yards and 2 touchdowns. After brief stints with Oakland and Tennessee, Williams is currently out of the NFL.

Dooming Mike Williams during his time in Detroit were, among other things, a lack of speed, a questionable work ethic, and an entire year off from football in what should have been the prime of his collegiate career.

To make matters worse (check that, infinitely worse), the next 3 picks of the ’05 draft were as follows:

11. DeMarcus Ware (Dallas Cowboys, linebacker, 3-time Pro Bowler)

12. Shawne Merriman (San Diego Chargers, linebacker, 3-time Pro Bowler)

13. Jamaal Brown (New Orleans Saints, offensive tackle, 2-time Pro Bowler)

At the time of the ’05 draft, the Lions were in desperate need of help on both the offensive line and EVERYWHERE on the defense. Drafting a third wideout in three seasons was a decision with negative implications that last even to this day.

Swap a defensive game-changer like Ware or Merriman for that fateful pick four years ago and the Lions would instantly have a defensive centerpiece to lean on. Add in a lineman like Brown and the woeful O-Line would have a successful mainstay.

Sometimes it seems hard to fathom that the Lions could sustain such a lack of success on the gridiron for such an extended period of time. However, when you examine the Lions’ draft tendencies of the past decade, it’s rather easy to see why the team has become the laughingstock of the league.

You can only hope that Marty Mayhew/Tom Lewand and co. can learn from the mistakes of the past and finally bring the Lions back to, well, respectability.

 

 

The Countdown Reaches Epic Proportions: #2

October 26, 2009

Have you showered off that filthy, grimy feeling you were left with after reading numbers 3-5 on “The Countdown to Failure” ?

You know, that feeling you’ve gotten when you watched Jeff Backus commit his 3rd holding penalty of the first half. Or the feeling you got when the “Nolan Ryan” or long snappers, Don Muhlbach, snapped the most errant of snaps against the Vikings. Or the feeling you got when Danny O tried his infamous 120-yard touchdown pass from beyond the endzone.

Well, my friends, it’s about to get worse. A whole lot worse.

Without further ado, I introduce to you the #2 player on this list to end all lists.

#2 Charles Rogers (wide receiver, Michigan St.): 1st round, pick #2, 2003.

One year after drafting “franchise” quarterback Joey Harrington, the GM-who-shall-not-be-named and his cronies went fishing for their first primetime wide receiver since the great Herman Moore.

The Lions’ connections to Charles Rogers ran deep. Too deep.

Rogers grew up in Saginaw, a mere 2ish hours from Detroit. He then headed to East Lansing to don the green and white of the home-state MSU Spartans when it came time to elevate his game to the collegiate level.

Bobby Williams, the Spartans’ head coach from 2000-2002, was integral in the recruitment of Rogers to MSU. He then shifted to Detroit as the Lions’ wide receivers coach for the 2003 season, not coincidentally, the season the Lions grabbed Rogers with the 2nd overall pick.

Former MSU head coach, Bobby Williams, was likely a key figure in the Lions' drafting of local standout, Charles Rogers

Former MSU head coach, Bobby Williams, was likely a key figure in the Lions' drafting of local standout, Charles Rogers

After a monster career at State, including receiving the 2002 Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver, Rogers seemed like a perfect fit for the Lions. Hometown kid makes good with the big club. It’s the oldest story in the book.

Sadly, Rogers quickly became a victim of both uncontrollable circumstances and his own powerful personal demons.

Rogers got off to a fast start in his rookie season of ’03, hauling in 22 passes for 243 yards and 3 touchdowns during his first 5 professional games. Then, during practice before week 6, Rogers broke his collarbone in a drill and missed the rest of the season.

Expected to return at 100% for ’04, Rogers re-injured his collarbone on the third play of the year and, once again, was ruled out for the season.

Subsequent to his second collarbone break, Rogers’ life began to rapidly spiral out of control.

In 2005, the NFL suspended Rogers 4 games for a third violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.

A short time later, the Detroit Free Press reported that Rogers had failed at least one drug test in each of his seasons at Michigan St.

Unable to shake his drug problems and increasingly out of shape, Rogers was sent packing by the Lions in early September of ’06. The Lions have since filed a grievance against him, seeking to recoup much of the bonus money paid to Rogers, claiming that his failed drug test(s) constitute a breach of his contract. The Lions have since won that grievance.

After his rookie season, Rogers caught just 14 passes and 1 touchdown before getting the ax from the Lions.

Had Charles Rogers loved football as much as weed, he would've had a chance to become of the league's bright young stars. Instead, he's out of football.

Had Charles Rogers loved football as much as weed, he would've had a chance to become of the league's bright young stars. Instead, he's out of football.

What seemed on the surface to be a match made in heaven, was clearly a disaster waiting to happen.

Had the Lions done their proper due diligence, perhaps they would have learned about Rogers’ rampant drug use in college. The collarbone injuries are by no means his fault, but spotting a guy who parties too hard and gets by too much on natural talent and not enough on good old fashioned hard work shouldn’t be particularly difficult.

The red flags were there. The Lions’ brass simply failed to see them waving in the breeze.

As if the Lions’ selection wasn’t bad enough, the very next pick in the draft, Andre Johnson (WR, Houston Texans), has become one of the league’s best wideouts.

Additionally, of the first 11 picks in the 2003 NFL Draft, 7 have made at least one Pro Bowl.

That doesn’t even include the other gems of the ’03 first round, like Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, Colts tight end Dallas Clark, and Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, just to name a few.

Sometimes a draft pick fizzles and fails so spectacularly that, as a fan, you can only be left wondering how in the world things could possibly have gone so horribly wrong.

The Lions’ selection of Charles Rogers is one of those terrible instances when incompetence met indifference, producing one of the biggest busts in recent NFL history. As ESPN’s Jemele Hill reported back in August, there is a certain level of sadness associated with the failure of Charles Rogers. Some of that sadness, though, comes from the Lions’ fans who saw his star fade away so suddenly after joining Detroit in ’03.

…Stay tuned for #1 on “The Countdown to Failure.”

Countdown to Failure marches right along: #3

October 19, 2009

As we move ever closer to the coveted #1 spot on the “Countdown to Failure,” the transgressions of those making the upper tier of this list become increasingly glaring.

Although Dizon and Stanton, numbers 5 and 4 respectively on the ‘Countdown,’ were extremely poor choices, both were second rounders. 

Where the Lions have made a killing in the epically terrible drafting department, has been in the first round. 

Often in the top 10.

Reaching #3 on the “Countdown to Failure,” the errors of the Lions’ drafting ways becomes, well, almost too much to bear.

#3 Joey Harrington (quarterback, Oregon): 1st round, pick #3, 2002.

From 2002-2005, Joey piled up an 18-37 record in games he started.

From 2002-2005, Joey piled up an 18-37 record in games he started.

Joey was one of the most high profile and damming missteps the Lions’ front office made during the 2000’s.

In what ended up amounting to one of the worst quarterback classes in recent memory, with the gem of the draft being 4th rounder David Garrard (current mediocre Jaguars starting QB) out of East Carolina, Harrington was selected after the Houston Texans bungled the first overall pick of the draft by nabbing David Carr.

The first mistake the Lions made after selecting Harrington was to throw him under center almost immediately (he saw actions in the first two weeks of the season before taking the reigns in week 3).

Joey tossed 12 touchdown passes and was picked off a rookie-esque 16 times in the 14 games he saw action in as a rookie.

Although Joey showed flashes of the potential that made him a trendy Heisman pick his senior year of college and the 3rd overall pick in the draft, he was simply unable to sustain consistent success as the Lions’ QB.

Sure, the pressure heaped upon him must’ve been awfully tough to bear, but the Lions drafted Joey with the intent of making him the team’s franchise QB.

A big chunk of change, high expectations, and a restless fanbase are all things that Harrington should’ve known he’d have to endure when he took the seemingly unenviable position as quarterback of the Lions.

Unfortunately, initial failure bread a loss of confidence and over time, it became readily apparent that Joey’s mental toughness was waning by the game.

When the Lions finally broke away from Joey after the 2005 season, his place in Detroit sports history had been cemented.

Did he enter a difficult situation? Sure.

Was he thrown into the fire a little too early? Perhaps.

Whatever way you slice it, Joey just didn’t have what it took to be an effective leader in this league.

Subsequent stints in Miami, Atlanta, and New Orleans have further hammered home that point. 

Maybe, at one time, Joey could’ve flourished. Maybe Detroit was just the wrong place for him.

However, at the end of the day, the drafting of Joey Harrington was a dark cloud that hung over the Lions until the day Detroit used another top 3 pick to make another attempt at landing a franchise QB (see: Stafford).

The Joey Harrington era spelled disaster for Lions’ fans everywhere.

Stay tuned for #2 on the “Countdown to Failure.”

The Countdown Continues: #4

October 14, 2009

Now that the Lions have franchise quarterback Matt Stafford in the fold, the question of who would replace the Lions’ most prolific (and I use that term rather loosely) quarterback of the past 20 years, Scott Mitchell, has finally been answered.

However, before the Lions anointed Stafford as the chosen one atop the first round of the 2009 draft, the GM-who-shall-not-be-named attempted to outsmart his counterparts by snagging a local collegiate product in the 2007 draft to potentially become the answer to the Lions QB woes.

And thus, without further ado, we reach the #4 spot on this most dubious of lists:

#4  Drew Stanton (quarterback, Michigan St.): 2nd round, pick #43, 2007.

FAIL

FAIL

This particular draft pick was wrong for oh so many reasons.

First, Stanton was, like the aforementioned Dizon, a substantial reach in the early 2nd round.

A homegrown product from Farmington Hills, MI and Michigan St., Stanton accrued a miserable 7-17 record in Big Ten games during his 3 years at State.

In his first two years at MSU, Stanton tossed 30 TD passes against 18 picks.

Those numbers cratered dramatically in his third and final season, in which he threw 12 TD passes and was intercepted 10 times, all while dealing with a shoulder injury.

Now, clearly, the shoulder injury took a major toll on Stanton’s chances for a productive final season in East Lansing, but, in classic Lions fashion, Stanton still ascended the team’s draft board, despite an unproductive, injury riddled final season.

Since he transitioned to the NFL, Stanton’s career stats are paltry: 9-17, 119 yards, 1:0 TD:INT ratio, and he’s been sacked a whopping 6 times in limited action.

Wait, those guys were available?!

Aside from a complete lack of productivity on the NFL level, the other fact which serves to cement Stanton’s place in recent Lions’ lore is what the Lions passed up in order to draft him.

Now, it’s easy to go back through any draft and find mid and late-round gems that teams kick themselves for not taking once they see how productive these players become, but in this instance, it’s not just the talent of these two players the Lions passed on to take Stanton.

It’s where they’re from.

Just three picks after the Stanton selection, the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the finer organizations in the NFL, scooped up defensive end/linebacker LaMarr Woodley, a University of Michigan star and Saginaw native.

Bigfoot, the Lochness Monster, a Detroit Lion defender gracing the cover of SI; oh, what could have been!

Things you may never see in a lifetime: Bigfoot, the Lochness Monster, a Detroit Lion defender gracing the cover of SI; oh, what could have been!

So, while Stanton was coming off an injury-plagued, decidedly subpar final season at MSU, Woodley was coming off a dominant final season in Ann Arbor.

He took home the Lombardi Award as the nation’s top lineman (offensive or defensive) in 2006, racking up a team-high 12 sacks while leading a defense that was as potent as any in the nation prior to a pair of late-season losses to Ohio St. and USC.

As if passing on Woodley wasn’t bad enough (I mean, it’s not like the Lions needed help on defense, anyway), the New York Jets seamlessly added insult to injury when they grabbed David Harris with the very next pick in the draft.

Harris, a linebacker, played right alongside Woodley at U of M and is a native of Grand Rapids.

He led Michigan in tackles in 2005 and 2006, and was a 2nd-team All American in his senior season.

In 2007, the Lions needed a linebacker. As a result, they drafted Drew Stanton

In 2007, the Lions needed a linebacker. As a result, they drafted Drew Stanton, not this former Wolverine stud

So, for clarity sake, let’s quickly recap the scenario here:

Stanton, Woodley, and Harris are three Michigan natives who became products of a pair of prominent in-state football programs.

Stanton put together an injury-plagued, subpar final season, while Woodley and Harris were stellar in their final seasons.

The Lions were in need of defensive help, as they have been for years (and years, and years).

So, flying in the face of logic, common sense, pragmatism, and just about anything related to football sense, the Lions took Stanton.

Not Woodley. Not Harris.

Woodley has since won a Super Bowl.

Harris has since put together a couple strong seasons and is currently a key cog in the defensive revival taking place in New York.

Stanton is the third string quarterback for the Detroit Lions.

…Stay tuned for #3…

The Countdown to Failure: The 5 Worst Draft Picks Since 2002

October 13, 2009

Few things have been as constant for the Detroit Lions in the 2000’s as totally inept drafting.

From 2002-2006, just one Lion draft pick, linebacker Ernie Sims, is still with the team. Quite honestly, that has to be one of the most mind boggling statistics in the history of mind boggling statistics.

And it’s not like the Lions simply let some solid players walk after their rookie contracts were up. Instead, the Lions managed to take one of the most horrific collections of talent possible, setting player analysis and development back to the lowest of low points.

Over the course of the next week, I will explore the 5 worst selections of the GM-who-shall-not-be-named era (2000-2008) and some of their most well-known follies. I’ll limit myself to the first two rounds of each draft, since, for all intents and purposes, the later rounds were just a chance to draft and cut CFL-level talent.

Heaving darts at a dart board is the best substitute for actual player analysis!

Heaving darts at a dart board is the best substitute for actual player analysis!

Enjoy (because I certainly won’t)!

5) Jordon Dizon (linebacker, Colorado): 2nd round, pick #45, 2008.

Dizon doesn’t necessarily jump off the page as one of the most prominent missteps by Lions’ brass, but this guy is a perfect example of the “what in the world were you thinking?” draft strategy.

In an attempt to draft a linebacker that would fit since-departed coach Rod Marinelli’s cover-two scheme (or cover-no one, take your pick), the Lions used their second round pick on an undersized (6’0, 230 lbs.) player with questionable talent. Perhaps the Lions were lured by Dizon’s collegiate accolades, but few if any other NFL teams had projected Dizon as a second round-level talent.

Not only did he fail to make an impact in his rookie season under Marinelli, but now, with HC Schwartz/DC Gunther Cunningham’s defensive approach, Dizon has been rendered virtually useless on a team that doesn’t even have any depth in the linebacking corps (paging Darnell Bing!).

Despite praise from Lions’ staffers in the offseason, Dizon failed to grab the starting job vacated by Ernie Sims when Sims went down with a shoulder injury, and, since then, his production has continued to be very limited in spotty action.

Dizon is the proverbial square peg in a circular hole at this point and, barring an unforeseen turn of events, his tenure with the Lions may be a short one.

Offseason praise for Jordon Dizon has yet to translate into on-the-field results

Offseason praise for Jordon Dizon has yet to translate into on-the-field results