The next team up on our Gridiron Blitz is the Detroit Lions
Music to listen to: Icky Thump by The White Stripes
These are the artists I had to choose from: Fred Hammond, The Winans, Madonna, Aaliyah, all of Motown, The Stooges, MC5, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Bob Segar, J.Giles Band, The White Stripes, Kid Rock, techno music, Patti Smith and Eminem.
My man John D. or as we called him back in school, JD ‘93, suggested some White Stripes so that’s what I will go with.
I would have personally gone with Stevie Wonder then Eminem then Nugent than the White Stripes but I’m the voice of the people but Jack White is awesome so no beefs with this choice at all.
Current State: When the Lions lost each of its games in 2008 to finish the season 0-16, it looked like the franchise would take years, maybe even a decade to return to respectability. However, behind new quarterback and number-one overall pick in the 2009 draft, Matthew Stafford, and some nice signings and draft picks, Detroit actually has optimism coming into this upcoming season.
While Lions fans shouldn’t print up Super Bowl tickets yet, at least reaching six wins isn’t outside of a possibility and after going through a winless season, that must feel good.
Biggest Offseason Change: The biggest change for the Lions is that there were no major changes accept for the addition of talent.
I’ll get to the coaches later but the Lions were able to retain the head coach and both top coordinators for the first time in an offseason in over a decade.
The Lions made two crucial offseason draft picks that will help determine the direction of the franchise for years to come.
Detroit drafted Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh with its first round pick and he will anchor an improved defensive unit that has also added veterans such as another lineman, Kyle Vanden Bosch and cornerback Dre Bly. Look out for the addition of d-lineman Corey Williams possibly being the steal of the offseason.
In the second round of the draft, the Lions took Cal running back Jahvid Best to compliment fellow running back Kevin Jones to take pressure off of Stafford. Also added to the offense was wide receiver Nate Burleson to start along side star receiver Calvin Johnson.
Instead of the Lions losing free agents and starting over again with a new coach, they are building on its moderate success from last season.
Uniform Grade: Every few years, the Lions make minor tweaks to the uniforms but still stick with the base colors of silver and blue. After the disastrous 2008 season, some suggested that the team should change colors and even its name. They couldn’t do that. The Lions have gone through some rough times but its still (pun not intended) a proud franchise and a fan base that identifies with it. Grade: B+
Best Player: Based on pure talent, Calvin Johnson may be the best wide receiver in football. His combination of size and speed makes him a difficult matchup for any defense to combat against.
He does need to stay healthy and be more consistent in his route running but there is no reason why he can’t have a 100 catch, 1,500 yard, 15 touchdown season.
Most Important Player: When you look at the state of the franchise before it got there and where it is trying to go in the future, Stafford may be the fourth-most important quarterback to his organization behind Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
I’m not saying Stafford is the fourth-best quarterback in the league, he’s not there yet, but with continued improvement, he can get there. He needs to make improvements, especially with accuracy. He completed only 53% of his passes and tossed 20 interceptions.
The hope is that another year of maturation and improvements to the offensive line will help build his career and keep him healthy. He only played in ten games last season and obviously that’s not what you want from your most important player.
Best Case: The Lions continue to grow in the positive direction and they notch six wins.
Worst Case: The growth process continues but the wins don’t come. Stafford continues to struggle with his turnovers. Best’s concussion issues come back into play and he can’t perform. The defense is still figuring itself out. Another last place finish in the NFC North but with only two wins.
Coaching: Head coach Jim Schwartz, offensive coordinator Scott Lineham and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham are all back this season and that’s a good thing.
For any organization to reach its top level, the continuity in the coaching staff must be present and the Lions have done a good job of doing that.
First memory of team: Similar to Bo Jackson and the Raiders, Barry Sanders and the Lions…that is all
Schedule: The Lions will have to deal with Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota in the division.
The home games are against Philadelphia, St. Louis, Washington, the New York Jets and New England Patriots. The away games are at the New York Giants, Buffalo, Dallas, Tampa and Miami.
City Nicknames: Motor City is always a good option.
Fantasy Focus: Calvin Johnson is going to have the best year of his career, mark it down.
Overall Outlook: Things are looking good for Detroit but its too soon to expect a winning season. I do think there is an outside chance that the Lions can be better than the Bears though.
Final Record: 5-11
Gridiron Blitz 2010 Season Previews: