Posts Tagged ‘Failure’

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.

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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.

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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 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