Thursday, February 07, 2013

For the Jeff Backus detractors: Be careful what you ask for (you just might get it)

Lions' left tackle Jeff Backus has been a linchpin for controversy in this town from the time he was Matt Millen's initial first-round draft choice.
I've always found it odd. This is not Titus Young Sr. we're talking about here. Backus has been the ultimate "lunch bucket" NFL player in a town where even the white collar workers consider themselves blue collar. He is there every day in practice, and had an extraordinarily long streak of consecutive starts at one of the most demanding positions in the league (186). He went to Michigan, and Backus has been a solid player on mostly bad teams, a part of a solution, really, rather than a problem.
Yet, despite facing such difficult opponents on a regular basis (Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, Clay Mathews Jr in recent years) and mostly holding his own, Backus isn't exactly a beloved figure. he has been more a source of consternation.
Backus has been solid facing the best like Allen
When Jim Schwartz came to the Lions, he talked about how Backus played at a Pro Bowl level. I felt that was a stretch, but that he is certainly a better player than the countless people calling sports talk radio and vilifying him. I've always figured he was in the middle of left tackles in the NFL - better than half the starters, and not as proficient as the elite players at his spot. When the Lions put the franchise tag on Backus in 2006, and then signed him to long extension, he was probably overpaid. But the Lions, at the time, weren't exactly salary capped-strapped because they had premier players. Backus' current contract is reasonable - reportedly a $3.5 million cap hit for next season, and they need him.
He has had some injuries in recent seasons and will turn 36 in September, but he performed reasonably well last season and the Lions might be wise to use Riley Reiff, their first-round draft choice from last year, at another spot on their re-tooled offensive line now that Stephen Peterman has been released. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus is a free agent and to be re-signed by the Lions would be costly given his play has been spotty and there will be a market for him. Ideally, the Lions plug the guard spot, have Backus back at left tackle and Reiff starting at right tackle.
If Backus decides to retire, which he is reportedly contemplating, it would complicate matters for the Lions.


Blogger Barry said...

Pat, your absolutely correct concerning Backus and I hope he comes back. If the big men Werner, Moore, Joeckel or even Jones are not there at 5 would it be a stretch to take Warmack?

8:40 AM 

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