Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Will the Lions Ever Be Normal?

I am sure Roy Williams heart was in the right place Monday when he guaranteed a Lions victory Sunday at Chicago. But it was the last thing the team needed. Too often, the Lions get sidetracked by weirdness. Since the start of the year, the Lions have been busted for violating the league rules on off-season workouts, released the second and third overall picks in recent NFL drafts, flew out to Oakland and returned the same day for a preseason game and had an assistant coach arrested for pulling up to a drive-thru window at Wendy's and ordering a single combo while totally naked. It has to be disheartening for those fans who have bought into Rod Marinelli's disciplined approach. That, and losing the opening game on the final drive. Williams is an elite talent, but he is not an elite player. He should go about his business properly and only try to get in the spotlight for what he accomplishes on the field. He has not done nearly enough in the NFL to spout off like that. Few players have. And it is only more unnecessary distraction heading into a game that figures to be difficult enough for the Lions to win.

Random thoughts

- The Lions signing Az Zahir Hakim points out just how thin they are at the receiving position. He was not exactly known for his leadership qualities or sure hands during his first stint with the Lions.

- The Tigers won Tuesday because of their pitching and defense. Kenny Rogers was brilliant. Can we put to rest any notion he is not a good second half pitcher? If the Tigers do make the postseason, he should be their starter in Game 1.

20 Comments:

Anonymous golf guru said...

Pat, I initially also found Roy's prediction a bit disheartening. After all, to paraphrase Marinelli, it's about what you deliver and is seen on tape, not what you promise.

However, Roy Williams, if not articulate, is nonetheless a talker; he's not the strong, silent type. I prefer to believe that his popping off reflects his personal intentions and his belief in both the system and his teammates.

It will be interesting to watch this game and how it all plays out.

I would not dwell on the past, however. Again, to paraphrase Marinelli, let's move on. It's about how they practice for the next few days and then how they think, react, and perform on Sunday.

9:57 AM 
Anonymous MG said...

Capootz,

Best line in a long time.."He has elite talent, but he is not an elite player". That sums it up perfectly!!! By the way another homework blunder by Millen, that was exactly the rap on him coming out of Texas. Hope he can mature enough to run every pattern hard for Martz, it's a key to the offense. If he does that 2 things will happen, If he draws double coverage the other receivers will be open. Once Kitna is able to hit the secondary guys a few times Roy opportunities will likely increase. It's a process. Hope Roy is up to it!!!

Do you think the players will embrace Marinelli message and play hard for the whole season??? Or will they tire of his exacting style??

10:08 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Golf Guru,
Marinelli's theme plays out great in theory, but reality and rhetoric are not matching with the Lions. In order to finally get their collective act together, the goofball stuff must end. I agree. What Williams said is not that big a deal in of itself - or any of the other things I mentioned (although that thing with the D-line coach is beyond weird). It's just they start to add up - just like they have added up over the years. If the Lions are ultimately going to turn it around, I strongly believe the antics must stop. It's professional football. The Lions, in every way, need to emphasize the word "professional."
Caputo

10:27 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

MG,
Roy Williams has a lot to prove. He has always been a good player, but should be better given his extraordinary talent. His best games at Texas did not come in the biggest games. His play as a pro has been spotty. As you know, I have predicted great things from him. I may have overstated my position. As for the players buying into Marinelli, I believe they have. I believe he is genuine and sincere. Those are endearing qualities to athletes, who smell out the phonies quickly. I'm sure they are wondering what we are, though. You know, whether he is in over his head. Time will tell, probably sooner instead of later.
Caputo

10:33 AM 
Anonymous Allan said...

I would have lost my a** betting on this game. I thought the Lions would be blown out, so I have to give props to the defense.

The offense gave the same sorry performance that we have grown accustomed to. I have to wonder how soon the house of cards will take to tumble, as the defense takes injuries from pounding their collective heads against the same brick wall.

It has to get old trying to carry that poor collection of talent game after game.

10:51 AM 
Blogger garold said...

Pat,

I'm not that disheartened about Williams ridiculous statements. It probably has had the effect of a pin prick on a balloon, over all the talk we would have had about how bad the Bears would be drilling the Lions on Sunday. The Lions are all about diversion, and sometimes it is good for a temporary peace of mind. Roy must have had inside knowledge that Az Hakim was going to be in uniform! *LOL* Now if Shaun Rogers decides to go Bear hunting on Sunday, it might be an interesting game... he HAS to be considered the most intimidating DT in the NFL today; just a one-man wrecking crew!

You gotta love Kenny Rogers; another masterful performance! He must have ice water running through his veins, and that comfort especially was picked-up on by Craig Monroe and Carlos Guillen. What heart he shows, and Nate Robertson appears to be his most attentive student. He'll likely be helping Mike Maroth and Andrew Miller to a few moments to remember, as the chase for the Central winds down down.

I loved your article in today's Oakland Press. I agree with you about Rogers leading-off in the playoffs. At this point, I'd follow him up with Verlander and Robertson, and put Bonderman in long relief. The team will get a huge lift, when Polanco returns. In addition to his prowess at the top of the order, he is also their best hitter by far, with RISP, (.374) along with being their best hitter (.342) in late innings. I think he'll also bring a psychological lift to the Tigers small-ball efforts.

As far as tonight goes, with Casey struggling, and especially against right-handers, I'd hope to see Shelton spelling him, as he's owned Texas... .533, 2 HRs in 15 AB. Casey will get back on track eventually, but I think he needs to sit this one out... two 3-baggers the last time Shelton faced Millwood! Hmmmmm....

11:25 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not going to question all the people-probably smarter than me- that claim this Bozo's talent to be so supreme. I will say, though, that i have yet to see it on the field. A couple of highlite catches in a game or two that the Lions lose by 20 points means nothing to me. This guy should shut up and play.

12:17 PM 
Blogger I rule said...

Rogers has been our most consistent starter, although Robertson deserves some mention as well. I was amused by a Lynn Henning column the first week of August suggesting Rogers be moved to the bullpen based on his post-All Star game track record and a couple of shaky outings. Had Leyland followed that advice we'd probably be in third as we speak.

Very nice column today. Polanco and Guillen are vital to the lineup, and I hope it's been an eye opener for Tiger fans how badly we've missed them. It was pretty encouraging to see Guillen get two huge hits last night. He needs to be hitting in the 3-hole, because he's our best hitter, he can either drive runs in or set the table for Ordonez and Monroe.

Polanco simply does things that we have no one else capable of. He can advance runners to set the table for the big guys, hits for average, and almost never strikes out. It's not a coincidence that our success in the first half of the season happened while Granderson was getting on base and Polanco was hitting behind him.

There are a lot of positive signs despite the concern. Maggio looks like his stroke is returning. Having Guillen back in place of Perez can't even be measured. Polanco is apparently less than a week away. If Granderson returns to his early season form, we could leave both Minnesota and Chicago to fight for the opportunity to face the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.

12:31 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Allan,
The defense was impressive - right up to the point where it had to win the game with a stop, and it couldn't get it done. I don't know about Jon Kitna as QB. I have to admit I'm a bit skeptical about that one. Also, their receiving corps must be in dire straits if they sign Hakim.
Caputo

2:39 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Garold,
I don't see where they would have much to lose by playing Shelton tonight instead of Casey, who hasn't been hitting much, but I doubt they will. They won't put a right-hander in to replace a lefty against a right-handed pitcher. Also, Leyland doesn't seem to have a lot of confidence in Shelton at this point. He tore up Texas, but it was in April when he tore up every pitcher.
Caputo

2:42 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
You're a little harsh on Roy Williams. He has done more good things than maybe you are giving him credit for. However, I understand the basic premise of what you're thinking and agree with it.
Caputo

2:44 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Anonymous,
You're a little harsh on Roy Williams. He has done more good things than maybe you are giving him credit for. However, I understand the basic premise of what you're thinking and agree with it.
Caputo

2:44 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I Rule,
Polanco will probably be longer than a week. Seems like wishful thinking to me he'll be in the lineup by Monday. But that is what they are hoping for - and for obvious reasons. The more I see Kenny Rogers pitch, the more impressed I am. It's fun to watch a crafty pitcher like that go to work.
Caputo

2:47 PM 
Anonymous Allan said...

Pat,

Do you think the Tigers offensive woe's may be due in part to their failure lately to manufacture runs, and thus their gun's are swinging for the fences all the time?

I don't know the exact stats, but it sure feels like they are stranding a ton of baserunners lately. Solo home runs won't take them very far.

4:57 PM 
Anonymous L.T. said...

You know what Pat? If ANYBODY other than Roy Williams makes these comments.....I might be happy that the Lions have a bit of confidence.

The problem I have, is for Roy, this is just another in a long string of foolish acts. This is just like when he did the buddah act after scoring a touchdown in a game last year where the Lions were down 17 or 20 points in the 4th quarter.

This is like his wild celebrations after making great catches in games long decided. It seems like he picks the worst times to show enthusiasm, and here it is....Roy strikes again.

9:55 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I.T.
There is a maturation process athletes go through. Roy Williams strikes me as a player who hasn't figured it out yet. He seems bright enough. He is so gifted he is always going to be pretty good, but if he applied himself a little more, he could be great. I think that's where the frustration lies when people observe him.
Caputo

3:57 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Allan,
I just think they are in a horrible slump. It's a cliche, I know, but hitting is contagious. It just is. It is so much easier for major league hitters to perform if those around them are hitting. Conversely, a collective slump works in the same way - dragging everyone down. Compounding the Tigers' issue is they don't have that one big hitter who can put them on his back and carry them for awhile.
Caputo

4:01 AM 
Anonymous Rob said...

Looks like Verlander fell in love with his off speed stuff against Texas like when NY came to town in late May. He wasn't painting the corners with the fastball, so he threw (and hung) a lot of breaking balls. I don't chart pitches, but I'd guess that's what happened.

Baltimore is the first all around horrible team the Tigers will face in 5 or 6 weeks. The O's pitching could be the spark to ignite this offense again.

It's a shame about Liriano. Hopefully he can get healthy this off season, because he is a tremendous strikeout pitcher.

11:01 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Rob,
Liriano looked so good in the first two innings of that game with Oakland, it was scary. His slider was as good as I've seen it. Verlander didn't have any of his pitches working for Wednesday and the Rangers have a strong lineup.
Caputo

1:12 PM 
Anonymous Brian said...

The quick and easy answer to the question Pat poses in his title:

"Not in our lifetime"

Who'd have thought in April that we'd need to win a series against the Orioles to keep our playoff hopes in drive?

8:43 AM 

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