Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Lions Have To Be Better, Don't They?

I find the opening of Lions’ training camp, at least since Matt Millen has been in charge - and that seems like forever - bewildering.
I want to look at the Lions, see the changes they have made during the off season and analyze them from purely a football standpoint.
For example, I do like some of the moves the Lions made during to bolster their offense. Acquiring running backs Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett should help. Guard Edwin Mulitalo is a very good player and will improve their inside run blocking. George Foster is an upgrade at right tackle. And rookie wide Calvin Johnson has a chance to be special.
Defensively, the Lions still have tons of holes, journeyman Jon Kitna remains the quarterback and there is no veteran backup. So if Kitna goes down, so will the Lions’ season. But the Lions have to be better than last season. Three wins? The Lions must be headed up if for no other reason than they can’t go down any further. And I don’t want to cast judgement on a team and a coaching staff until they actually play.
I am hardly convinced Rod Marinelli is the answer, but this is just his second season. Maybe he learned something from the first one when he was so shaky.
Then again, I feel compelled to quell these notions because the false sense of hope presented by the organization, and some covering it in the media on a regular basis (I am not knocking them - they have a right to their opinion), that always suggests the corner is right there and will be turned in the upcoming season - when it never is
Honestly, even in a league where every dog seems to have his day, I doubt the Lions will ever win with their current front office structure with Millen at the top. I hope I am wrong for the sake of Lion fans, but the evidence is overwhelming. It seems to trump every other factor.

Random Thoughts

- Just like that, boom, the Yankees are six games behind the Tigers and only 4.5 games behind in the American League wild card race. Amazing.

- There was a fascinating show on ESPN 2 Thursday night about Hank Aaron. It was a repeat of a special Tom Brokaw did for NBC the winter between the 1973 and 1974 seasons on Aaron as he approached Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record. What I found ridiculous is how the commissioner at the time, Bowie Kuhn, snubbed Aaron. Not only didn’t he attend the night Aaron broke the record, he didn’t even congratulate him when Aaron hit his 700th home run. Aaron didn’t like it, met with Kuhn about it, and Kuhn still snubbed him the following year. Strange.

- The biggest two weeks of the Tigers’ season figures to the 13 straight games they play - home and road - against the Indians and the Yankees. Their fate may very well be decided right then and there.


Anonymous Marty said...

I find it a little annoying when I hear everyone say that the Lions are weak at the backup quarterback position, and that is a big concern. First off, the back up usually only plays 2-3 games a year, and that is only if you are unlucky. Secondly, Dan Orlovski has been in this system for a full year now, and understands it. Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger have both proven that a inexperienced QB that understands the system can do great in Martz's offense. Plus Orlovski has more ability than either of these players had. He has proven his toughness in carrying the UConn team on his back, and after he left, that team fell apart. I just don't understand what the big deal is. It is like everyone is grasping at straws looking for problems with the Lions. Don't worry about these things; the Lion's will come up with their own reasons for why they are bad.

I hope that the lions do well, but I REALLY hope that Millen either is fired or steps down. He may get lucky and have a winning team once or twice, but he is a very poor leader. I can't imagine why Ford puts up with him. He has shown no ability to lead whatsoever.

12:48 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...


I am embarrassed to say that when it comes to the Lions, I look to your expertise – to tell me how to think. Literally. This time though, it rings hollow, like your trying to convince yourself as well as us – the Bloglodites. Please don’t be offended by this personal perception.

When I see Calvin Johnson, I don’t see the future face of the Lions. I see the next poor bastard that’s going to get wrecked by this inept organization of Honolulu Blue and Silver. Like Williams, Rogers, Harrington, et al.

Of course none of them actually helped themselves.

Luckily the Lions don’t dictate the atmosphere of professional sports in Detroit.


Lucky again, the Tigers play better against the likes of the Tribe and hopefully the Yankers. We seem to shut down when faced with teams we should beat. Like a vacation.

So we haven’t talked about Hessman yet? Are we expecting to see him platoon with Inge and Casey? I like him a lot so far, but I’m not looking to see Inge or Casey sit more? Am I in the minority?

Last nights loss hurt big-time.

1:11 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You make a valid point. And everybody has to start somewhere. I have little gauge on Orlovsky. He has neither been that good nor that bad in past preseason games. He hasn't played a lick during the regular season. It will be more interesting to watch him play this preseason, in a way, than it will be to see Drew Stanton.

1:34 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I wouldn't expect too much from Hessman. He is a 4-A player. I do like it, though, that they are rewarding somebody for their performance in the minor leagues. Why not give him a shot? It's already paid off to a degree.

1:37 PM 
Anonymous lennyw1971 said...

My being a fan of the Lions should truly be subject of psychological study. There is a part of me that believes that the team will win at least 8 games this year... a BIG part of me!! It's like I actually enjoy being beaten over the head with the same smelly fish over and over again, year after year. There's a freshness with this team that makes me want to believe. The sick part of this is that I've seen this same freshness at least a dozen times before, but yet I'm still willing to drink from the honolulu blue carafe of koolaid. Why not... It still tastes good with the addition of Calvin Johnson. Book, help me stop the pain... oh wait, the pain feels good! I'll still show up at Ford Field this year listening for the ghosts of Jeff Komlo, Rusty Hilger, and Bob Gagliano... they speak to me often, telling me that this year's edition will win at least 11 games, go to the bowl, and will capture the title. I sometimes wonder if the ghosts speak to others in Detroit, then I look at the sellout crowds at Ford Field... you know the rest!

3:20 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Yeah, it seems like every strength the Lions have is countered by a weakness. And Millen overrides any proposed progress. I have a feeling Marinelli isn't the answer as coach, but I am not totally sure. You have to give him time. Millen has had his time.

5:54 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, nice monologue on the radio this evening taking everyone through your whole football experiences and passion for football. I think folks lose sight of that when people are fed up and want to fire Millen.

As the risk of sounding like an idiot, what exactly is a "4-A player". I have a good idea what is meant, but haven't seen or heard the term before except here.


7:47 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

Don't drink the kool-aid, it's been laced with the brown acid! But the Leos remind of a line from the song "Woodstock", you know, "We are stardust, we are golden".

You, the people of Metro Detroit, want a better product on the gridiron? Then stop buying season tickets. Just that simple. As long as they sellout stadium, the fans will continue to be sold down the river.

My fractured prediction for the Leos is that they won't win a game after Thanksgiving Day. But that the management and coaching staff will remain status quo. Don't drink the kool-aid.

I feel for Lenny. With everything our friendly neighbors to the south have legalized across the river, I'm pretty sure that they stopped short on the opium den legalization. We'll have to refer to Fred "Brill the Thrill" for confirmation.

Don't waste your time dreaming of the Leos not having a double digit loss season. I prefer my current sports fantasy of the Tigers and the Cubs in the World Series like in '35. Didn't the Tigers lose to the Cardinals in the '34 series?

Are you familar with the phrase, "If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't beleve what I just saw". I think of that whenever I watch Curtis Granderson
these days.

Is that phrase from Vin Scully? I think it is one of the few not attributed to Yogi.

Bloglodites? Is that anything like a Troglodite?

9:12 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I tell you what about the Lions. The one thing I am looking forward to this year is the mental makeup of this team. Has Marinelli really turned the corner and changed the mindset with this team. Other then that I have no excitment of this team cause all I do is get let down in the end. I am still cheering for the lions. I am not jumping off the band wagon. But I look at it as they need to prove to me that they are legit. I think the secondary and the linebackers are going to be the two biggest keys. And if the O-line can jell. I tell you what no offense to Raiola, but I wouldn't be at all disappointed if they put Woody back at center and made Raiola a reserve center/guard. I think that would improve the o-line.

U mention the Yankees being 6 back considering where they were. That probably wouldn't be the case if the Tigers bull pen didn't lose so many games they should of won. That second game against the Chi-Sox was inexcusable at this point in the game.

I tell you what If Rayburn continues to play well. IF hessman makes good of his chance. What decisions do the Tigers make. ONe guy I am a bit disappointed in is Infante. Especially with Perez out. He isn't shinning like I'd hoped he would.

10:15 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

A 4-A player is somebody who is very good at Triple-A, but not quite good enough to be a long-term major leaguer. It is not a local term, but one used by baseball people throughout the game.

7:34 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
The '34 Cardinals-'35 Cubs thing is an interesting thought. Hadn't thought about it. The Cubbies are right there. People are going to attend the Lions games. There are only eight of them each season and it's an NFL franchise. It's not like baseball or football or basketball where attendance is the overwhelming factor. That's the frustrating part. Fan power is limited because the NFL shares all that TV revenue. It's a license to print momey - regardless of attendance.

7:40 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I couldn't agree with you more. If the Lions win a few more games and play better fundamental football, then Marinelli will be doing his job. Last season, it was all rhetoric. He talked a good game after those things, but his team played sloppy football. The Tigers aren't worried about sending either Raburn or Hessman to the minors. They are just hoping to get something good from them in the short term.

7:43 AM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...


I was at the local hemp shop / strip bar when I read your post - not sure what you're implying? Kool-Aide is federally subsuidized over here. But you have to wait in line for it.

Honolulu blue Kool-Aide is the strong stuff.

I think we should kidnap The Book for a weekend road trip to Toledo to watch the Mud Hens play, and see what other talent we have in the wings down there.

No Kool-Aide required for that trip. Except on my wife so I could sneak off for the trip!

11:35 AM 
Anonymous Marty said...

I know you brought this up before, but I am getting tired of hearing about Barry Bonds on ESPN. I didn't notice it before, because I was busy and didn't get to watch it much. I don't really care about Bonds or the home-run record, I want to know about the penant race! I would much rather hear about training camp stories than Bonds, and yet it seems to be the only thing they want to cover. I mean, does anyone really care about Bonds and his pursuit of a record?

2:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Pat, I really enjoy your work and commonsense approach to all of this.
I left this at another place on this page before I saw your blog. But it goes something this.
Millen will not get fired. I have been reading Caro's book on the history of Lyndon Johnson when he was a young senator amongst the mostly old powerful senators. He would analyze them and figured out how to suck up to them. Noted in this discussion that when men get into their 80's they need certain reassurances. They want friendship and praise. They thrive on being made feel told how successful they are, etc etc. Millen has his number obviously.
Remember WCF failed at Ford and was steamrolled by Hank The Deuce. His son also basically failed at Ford too.
WCF sounds just like one of those old senators being cajoled, conned, sucked up to, tricked, praised etc. by Millen

4:05 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You have to admit, though, if it weren't Bonds, there would be much more hype about him breaking the record. It has actually created surpringly little buzz.

8:45 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Perhaps. I don't claim to be a shrink. But it is clear his relationship with Millen seems more important to Ford than winning football games. There is this, "It's my team and I will do whatever I want with it" element to Ford. And it is not good for the football fans of this area.

8:47 AM 
Anonymous Marty said...


You are right. I shouldn't have written that there was too much emphasis on Bonds. I just happened to have about 15 minutes to actually watch ESPN to see what was going on in the sporting world, because I hadn't really been able to do that recently except through the paper and internet, and all they talked about was Bonds. I was annoyed at that, but it wasn't exactly a big sample. I am sorry for using this as a vent for my frustration that day.


4:17 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

There is nothing to feel sorry about. You feel the way you feel. And I agree as far as EPSN is concerned. They have shoved Bonds down our throats - beginning with that ridiculous TV show last year. It seems like most fans just want to get the inevitible over and move on.

7:07 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

There is nothing to feel sorry about. You feel the way you feel. And I agree as far as EPSN is concerned. They have shoved Bonds down our throats - beginning with that ridiculous TV show last year. It seems like most fans just want to get the inevitible over and move on.

7:07 PM 

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