Saturday, August 1, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Detroit Lions
2008 RECORD: 0-16
(4th in NFC North)
HEAD COACH: Jim Schwartz
Key Additions: RB Maurice Morris (FA/Seahawks) LB Julian Peterson (trade/Seahawks) WR Bryant Johnson (FA/49ers) CB Phillip Buchanon (FA/Buccaneers) CB Anthony Henry (trade/Cowboys) DL Grady Jackson (FA/Falcons) WR Ronald Curry (FA/Raiders) LB Larry Foote (FA/Steelers) RB Terrelle Smith (FA/Cardinals)
Key Losses: CB Leigh Bodden (FA/Patriots) TE Dan Campbell (FA/Saints) WR Shaun McDonald (FA/Steelers) WR Mike Furrey (FA/Browns) QB Jon Kitna (trade/Cowboys) QB Dan Orlovsky (FA/Texans) RB Moran Norris (FA/49ers)
Offense: The Lions chose Quarterback Matthew Stafford with the first pick overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. With veteran QB Daunte Culpepper in the mix, Stafford may have to wait to get his chance for Detroit.
Stafford is obviously the quarterback for the team's future, but the team needs to win now after finishing 0-16 a year ago. Culpepper played sparingly for the Lions after coming back from semi-retirement and threw for 786 yards and four touchdowns as well throwing six interceptions.
The running backs are Kevin Smith and fullback Jerome Felton. Smith ran for 976 yards and scored eight touchdowns as a rookie in '08 and should continue to get better with experience.
Backing him up is Maurice Morris.
The wide receivers include Calvin Johnson, who had a huge second season with 78 catches for 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Gone are Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey, since replaced by Bryant Johnson, Ronald Curry and Derrick Williams. The tight end is Brandon Pettigrew with Michael Gaines in reserve.
The offensive line was horrible in pass protection a year ago when Lions quarterbacks were sacked 52 times. Center Dominic Railoa, along with tackles Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus and guards Dan Loper and Stephan Peterman will be up front opening the holes for Smith and trying to do better at pass protection in 2009.
Defense: Detroit ranked dead last in the NFL in run defense and overall defense as well last year. The pass defense was not much better, ranking 27th overall. The Lions allowed 517 points a year ago, which amounted to a woeful 32.1 points per game.
In addition, they allowed 404 yards a game, including 172 per game on the ground.
Grady Jackson and Chuck darby will ne the defensive tackles and Cliff Avril and Dewayne White are the ends while newcomer Larry Foote (free agent signee from the Steelers) will be the middle linebacker along outside backers Julian Peterson and Ernie Sims. Peterson is another new addition to Detroit after playing for the Seahawks.
The secondary, which had just FOUR interceptions all season in 2008, has free agent Phillip Buchanon and Anthony Henry (acquired in a trade with Dallas) at the cornerback positions.
The safeties include Louis Delmas and Daniel Bullocks as the starters with Kalvin Pearson and Gerald Alexander ready to help out.
OUTLOOK: Wholesale changes were made for a reason in Detroit after last season's disastrous 0-16 record, which was the worst ever in the history of the NFL.
New Head Coach Jim Schwartz inherits a mess after the team fired Rod Marinelli.
The Lions were dead last defensively and allowed better than 32 points per game while scoring an average of 17 points per game with an offense that has two up and coming stars in Kevin Smith and Calvin Johnson.
How many games they can improve by this season will be the measuring stick for Detroit. The Lions have no place to go but up and they should put some wins on the board in 2009. The call here is for the Lions to go 3-13 and continue to build for the future.
Week 1- at New Orleans (Sept. 13)
Week 2- vs. Minnesota (Sept. 20)
Week 3- vs. Washington (Sept. 27)
Week 4- at Chicago (Oct. 4)
Week 5- vs. Pittsburgh (Oct. 11)
Week 6- at Green Bay (Oct. 18)
Week 7- BYE WEEK
Week 8- vs. St. Louis (Nov. 1)
Week 9- at Seattle (Nov. 8)
Week 10- at Minnesota (Nov. 15)
Week 11- vs. Cleveland (Nov. 22)
Week 12- vs. Green Bay (Nov. 26)
Week 13- at Cincinnati (Dec. 6)
Week 14- at Baltimore (Dec. 13)
Week 15- vs. Arizona (Dec. 20)
Week 16- at San Francisco (Dec. 27)
Week 17- vs. Chicago (Jan. 3)