Friday, November 27, 2009

Charles Woodson Is A Great Player

It's amazing, after all these years, just what a great football player Charles Woodson remains. He is still a tremendous shutdown cornerback. I know Calvin Johnson is playing hurt, but Woodson did a terrific job of staying with him Thursday. It was textbook, actually. The Heisman pose after he returned an interception for a touchdown proved Woodson still has a lot of swagger.
In the last two seasons, Woodson has 14 interceptions, returning four of them for touchdowns. At 33, he is playing the best football of his NFL career. At Michigan, Woodson was one of the greatest college players of all time. That leaping interception he made in the Michigan State game is still the most unbelievable I've ever seen. Woodson's NFL career has kind of floundered at times. Not anymore. He is getting better with age.

Random Thoughts

- I don't think Kevin Smith is a bad football player, but the Lions need another running back. Smith would be fine splitting time with a back that plays at a similar level, but a different style. I don't believe he is an every down, 25-carry, five-reception per game back if the Lions are to be a playoff-caliber team.

- Anybody notice Nicklas Lidstrom has one goal and seven assists this season? One goal? Could it be he is slowing down faster than anticipated? He is still seeing 25 minutes per game of ice time, and playing regularly on the power play. That is alarming. The good news: Lidstrom is plus seven on a team that currently has a lot of minus players

My Column in Friday's Oakland Press on Matthew Stafford:


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On Trading Miguel Cabrera...

...I think it should hinge totally on whether he has taken the proper steps to get his personal life in order. The red flag is flying. He is not that valuable of a player in the state he was in last season. Hallow stats. Mediocre clutch hitter. There were no excuses for what happened the last weekend of the season. None.
Talent-wise, Cabrera is Albert Pujols' equal. But he won't deliver that type of meaningful production until he gets his act together in other ways.
Bottom line.

My column in Wednesday's Oakland Press on Pistons-Cavs:

New Caputo And His Boss video on Michigan football:


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Tigers' Cupboard Bare? Hardly

Did the Tigers overachieve? I don’t think so - not when Justin Verlander finished third in Cy Young voting, Rick Porcello third in Rookie of the Year balloting and Miguel Cabrera fourth in MVP voting. Look how young those players are? The cupboard is hardly bare for the Tigers.

Random Thoughts

- The Red Wings must start winning - and winning now. Here’s why: At the start of the new year, the Red Wings play 14 of 19 games on the road. Many of those are on trips out West. That includes their first five games of the new year.
The Red Wings were playing better, but recent losses to Dallas and Nashville were disappointing. They need to play with a sense of urgency. It’s not that early in the season anymore.
If the playoffs started tonight, the Red Wings would not be in the field.

- Michigan State middle linebacker Greg Jones is a really good football player, but the best in the Big Ten? It didn’t seem like he dominated games like you’d expect from a player given that award.

- Talked to Yale Lary, the Lions’ Hall of Fame safety from the 1950s and 1960s, during Sunday’s game against the Browns.
Lary was also one of the greatest punters of all time, routinely averaging 45 yards or more per punt per season. Punting is one area the game hasn’t really improved over time. I asked him why.
"I think it’s because we had to punt in all different types of weather conditions," Lary said. "Even in practice."
He added that he does think punting is still very good in the NFL.
"The Lions have a really good punter here in Nick Harris," Lary said. "He is one of the best."

My column in Tuesday's Oakland Press about why Lions need to keep Thanksgiving Day game:


Monday, November 23, 2009

NFL TV Blackout Policy A Sham And A Shame For Lions And Their Fans

Maybe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can argue the big picture merits of the league's television blackout policy, but this much is obvious: It doesn't work in 2009 Detroit.
Sunday, the Lions experienced what should have been a marketing gold mine. Matthew Stafford, their rookie quarterback, was brilliant in a 38-37 victory over the Cleveland Browns. It wasn't just his considerable statistics, but rather the way he pulled himself off the turf after being slammed to it by a 300-pound lineman - and then delivered the win with an injured shoulder.
It was the type of performance Lions' fans have been thirsting for from their quarterback for decades. It was the type of thing that always seems to happen to the Lions, not for them.
Yet, nobody saw it. No television because of the blackout. There were maybe 30,000 Lions fans at Ford Field. The rest were from Cleveland. We're talking about a Metro area of more than 3.5 million people - and less than 1 percent of them actually witnessed the thrilling comeback by Stafford and the Lions.
Hearing about it, reading about it, seeing the highlights on newscasts couldn't possibly do justice to the drama that unfolded at Ford Field Sunday. You had to actually watch it for anywhere near the full impact.
You can't tell me in the long run that doesn't hurt ticket sales. You can't tell me that doesn't impact, negatively, the selling of Lions' marketing garb.
This isn't Gary Bettman we're dealing with here. Goodell clearly has a clue. So far he has been a very good commissioner. Just don't understand why he hasn't figured out the NFL's blackout policy is hurting this franchise far more than helping it.
The economics are bad. The team worse than the economy. The Lions win two home games this season, providing the type of melodrama that separates the NFL from other leagues each time. Essentially nobody sees those victories.
The only time 99 percent of the Lions fans see their team play is when they are getting clocked by two, three or four touchdowns at Minnesota, Chicago, Green Bay or New Orleans - or similarly at home when a powerful teams comes in and Ford Field sells out.
How does it makes sense to only have the public see your worst and not your best?
It's like a hamburger joint handing the burned patties and leaving the properly cooked ones in the back.
Makes no sense at all.

Random Thoughts

- Having Bill Martin say Rich Rodriguez "absolutely" will coach Michigan's football team next season doesn't mean it will turn out that way. Don't be surprised if Michigan makes a run at a new athletic director sooner instead of later - and a new football coach arrives shortly afterward as part of the package. The scene Saturday, with all those Buckeyes taking over the Big House, isn't sitting well. Nor should it

- Michigan State's season has to be classified as a step back. Who did the Spartans beat? Michigan? What does that mean these days? Bottom line: They were a mediocre team in a subpar BCS conference. The Spartans didn't take advantage of not having Ohio State on the schedule. They lost to Central Michigan. And Mark Dantonio might have let the big one get away when quarterback Nick Foles transferred to Arizona.

My column in Monday's Oakland Press about the Lions-Browns game:


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ernie's Interview With Costas On MLB Network Terrific

I don’t know how widely available it is on various television systems, but the interview Bob Costas did with Ernie Harwell on the MLB Network is very good.
It was taped during the World Series. Ernie is at his classic best. He discusses his impending death with typical class and grace. There isn’t much of the interview we haven’t heard around here before. No revelations. But it is a one-hour picture book into Ernie’s life. He looks great. His mind is sharp as a tack. I’ve always been amazed by Ernie’s memory. Still am. As usual, his storytelling is terrific. The best part is at the end, though, when Costas asked Ernie to recite the end of his Hall of Fame speech about baseball. And Ernie did so, word-by-word. It was amazing.

Random Thoughts

- If the Pistons play with the same effort the rest of the season, as they have the last two nights in losses to the Lakers and Portland, they will win a lot of games. That’s especially true of their performance last night. They were one long rebound to Steve Blake away from winning that game. Seems like Rodney Stuckey is starting to come on.

- The Red Wings did get a raw deal on the disallowed goal Wednesday night, but the bottom line is they are a better team than the Dallas Stars. And the Stars carried much of the play. The Red Wings, in their current state, can’t allow home games like that to slip away. They had terrific momentum going - and lost it.

- Who cares if Shaun Rogers wants to return to Lions, which he is hinting. He was a horrible locker room influence while here. Look what he’s done for the Browns? They were a 10-6 team before he got there. They’ve been a dysfunctional mess since. Rogers is a really good player, but his sour attitude trumps his ability on the field.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Do You Trust Jimmy Howard In Net?

I see tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars as an important one for Jimmy Howard. He has played well lately, and you can sense trust being gained in him by the organization and its fans. But as we only know too well in this town, it just takes one bad game to break that trust for a Red Wings’ goalie.
That’s what happened to Ty Conklin to a degree last year during a late season game vs. Calgary. It looked like Conklin would be the Red Wings No. 1 goalie in the playoffs, that’s how well he had been playing. The Red Wings had a 4-2 lead in the third period at home - and Conklin allowed three goals in two minutes. That quickly, it became evident they would go with Chris Osgood in the playoffs - despite Ozzie’s considerable struggles at the time.
The Red Wings need Howard to play roughly half their regular season games. Early in the season, it was obvious they didn’t trust him with that type of load. They have been forced into by Osgood’s flu.

Random Thoughts

- Say all the service time and salary issues were the exactly same, would you trade Justin Verlander even up for Zack Greinke or Alex Hernandez. I wouldn’t.

- Call me crazy because Ohio State isn’t that formidable this season - just the best team in an alarmingly down year for the Big Ten. But I do think Michigan has a fighting chance for an upset Saturday in Ann Arbor. I think the Wolverines will move the ball. Just don’t see their defense stopping anybody.

- Despite the Pistons’ loss to the Lakers Tuesday, Will Bynum continues to impress. If he is the real deal, it’d be nice to see a longshot coming in. Last year at this time, it would have literally drawn laughter if anyone suggested Bynum could put together a stretch of games like this.

My column in Wednesday's Oakland Press on the Lions and Browns being kindred spirits:


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Simply Put, Rick Porcello Got Jobbed

Look, I have voted for the American League Rookie of the Year Award before - and all the other major baseball awards. I understand the decisions are subjected to debate.
I am sure my fellow members of the Baseball Writers Association of America did what they felt was right. So it is in that context I write the following:
Rick Porcello finishing third in the balloting was an utter joke. He won more games than any rookie pitcher. He pitched outstanding baseball down the stretch for a team struggling to stay in the race. He was brilliant in a one-game playoff at Minnesota under the most adverse conditions.
Aaron Bailey did not pitch under pressure. Oakland stunk. And you can't tell me winning 14 games, and going 6-3 with a 3.76 ERA under the pressure of a tight pennant race in the second half, doesn't trump Elvis Andrus and his .267-6-40 numbers.
Next Tiger pitcher to get jobbed: Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award voting.

Random Thoughts

- The Silverdome only sold for $583,000? There are a lot of Metro Detroit homes being sold for more than that even in this tough economic environment. Wonder what Tiger Stadium would have brought if it were put up for public auction?

- Sorry. Couldn't help it. I know one is a Hall of Fame coach, the other on the opposite end of the spectrum. But I did think of Marty Mornhinweg Sunday night when Bill Belichick made The Decision. Wonder if he has ever taken the wind instead of the ball in overtime?


Monday, November 16, 2009

Big Difference Between Jackie Robinson And Michael Jordan

LeBron James is off base about his desire to have the NBA retire Michael Jordan’s No. 23 permanently.
They did it in baseball for Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 because he was so courageous while breaking the color barrier in that sport, when it was far and away the most popular in this country, and Jim Crow laws still ruled the South. Robinson was a great player, but certainly not the best of all time. He was, however, the most important player of all time, opening up professional sports to those of color - and it help set off a reaction that is still rippling throughout our society.
Michael Jordan's greatest impact on society was his ability to market himself.

Random Thoughts

- In the "those who hesitate are lost" category, Stanford has decided the economy isn’t so bad it can’t afford to give Jim Harbaugh that contract extension the university had been hemming and hawing about. Wonder if there is an escape clause? It’s more difficult to find out about Stanford in that regard because it is not a public university. It is known, however, the buyout on Harbaugh previous contract was only $600,000. Stanford didn’t just beat USC - it destroyed USC.
I do believe if Stanford played Cincinnati, it would win, and TCU is better than both those teams. Michigan would lose by three touchdowns to all three. Maybe by four. The Spartans would play each tougher - and lose by only a touchdown or two.

- Does seem like some fans and media are overly excited about the Pistons. I mean they are 5-5. They did just lose at home to Dallas. Wasn’t the expectation the Pistons would be about .500 this season?
Maybe it’s because they are doing it without Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince in the lineup, and Will Bynum has surprisingly emerged. A trade is inevitable at some point. Too many players in the backcourt and not enough in the frontcourt. But just because the Pistons are different doesn’t mean they are any better. They did win 39 games and back into the playoffs last season.

- If the Stanley Cup playoffs began today, the Red Wings would be a sixth seed in the Western Conference and facing Chicago on the road.

My column in Monday's Oakland Press on Lions:


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Biggest Game Yet To Get A Read On Stafford's Future

This is a huge week for Lions QB Matthew Stafford. His performance last Sunday at Seattle didn't exactly inspire confidence. This week presents a much more difficult test. The Vikings are much stronger than the Seahawks in just about every way, and have already seen Stafford and what he does and doesn't do well - the first time he's faced a team for the second time. If he plays well this week under the circumstances, it would really mean something. If he doesn't, it's another sign he is lacking the intangible quality to be more than just another NFL QB. And considering he was taken first overall in the draft, is that good enough?

Random Thoughts

- If the Tigers trade Curtis Granderson because of money issues it would be just flatout wrong. Granderson is a way better player than he has been credit for later by many in the Tigers' fan base.

- Looking forward to the Red Wings game tonight. Is Steve Yzerman the most popular athlete ever in Detroit? I'd have to think so.

My column in Thursday's Oakland Press on hockey pioneer Manon Rheaume:


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On The Possibility Of Tigers Trading Edwin Jackson

Probably the most difficult thing for fans to figure out is why Edwin Jackson would be on the trading block. Does seem like he would be a big part of the Tigers' future anchoring the rotation with Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello.
I don't blame them.
The Tigers are paying a lot of money to unproductive veteran players carrying loads of money on contracts. So they can't re-sign Placido Polanco, may not re-sign Fernando Rodney and are looking to trade Edwin Jackson?
Those were three of their better players.
I've been around baseball long enough to understand what is happening here. The Tigers hope to contend next season because their division isn't that good. They do hope to get some value from Jackson, who scouts like because of his arm strength, but who may not be any more productive or less productive in the future than he has been the last two seasons. Jackson hasn't exactly been clutchwith both Tampa Bay and Detroit. Yet, his trade value is still high. Is Jackson worth signing long-term? Because he will soon be eligible for free agency? This is time to do it.
I just don't see where dumping Jackson will make the Tigers a better team, especially if it is just for prospects.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why Harbaugh Over Kelly At Michigan

Should Rich Rodriguez be replaced as head coach at Michigan, there is a groundswell that would suggest Cincinnati's Brian Kelly be the choice. There is little question Kelly is an excellent coach, but this is why Stanford's Jim Harbaugh would be a better fit.

- Harbaugh has had signature wins over opponents that have destroyed Michigan - USC and Oregon. Is there such a thing as a signature victory in the Big East and has Kelly had one? How did his team do in the Orange Bowl? The Pac 10 is much more difficult landscape. And like Kelly, Harbaugh had great success at a lower level of college coaching where pure coaching often makes the difference.

- Harbaugh has deep ties to Michigan football and its patron saint, Bo Schembechler. He was raised in Ann Arbor and played four years at U-M as a great player. Kelly has no ties whatsoever to U-M. And we've seen what that can to do an outsider like Rodriguez.

- Kelly has won with players he didn't recruit, both at CMU and Cincinnati. Harbaugh's teams are getting better at Stanford as his recruits play more. Also, his NFL connections, coupled with Michigan's brand name, would make him a major force in recruiting. Kelly has no NFL ties.

This is my column in Tuesday's Oakland Press about the Michigan coaching situation:


Monday, November 09, 2009

On Lions, Big Ben, Rich Rodriguez And Tom Brookens

As I wrote in my column for Monday (see link below), I put the Lions' loss to the Seahawks Sunday almost entirely on quarterback Matthew Stafford's shoulders. Other than his foibles, I didn't think the Lions played poorly.
They ran the ball and defended it. They bounced back strongly from the disappointing loss to the Rams the previous week to take a 17-0 lead. They didn't let the game get out of hand in the second half. They still had a shot in the waning minutes until Stafford's fifth interception.
The Lions did sellout defensively. They did play and hit hard - several players got hurt as a result. Special teams weren't good. Too many long returns. Jason Hanson's kickoffs aren't very good, either. He did routinely kick a 50-yard field goal, but he might still not be 100 percent from his training camp injury. Or maybe father time is catching up to him.
The disappointing part is the Lions let real progress slip away. They should be 3-5 and pointing to a bright future. Instead, they're 1-7 and the Same Old Lions.

Random Thoughts

- A lot of people panned the Maples Leafs for the Phil Kessel trade. They may be wrong. They are a much better team with him. We saw why Saturday against the Red Wings. Speed does matter. Kessel's got that.

- A Ben Wallace Hat Trick - Two points, no assists, 16 rebounds. Yeah. That was his line Sunday vs. Philly. At 3-4 with Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince hurting, the Pistons are doing all right under the circumstances.

- Rich Rodriguez is in serious trouble at Michigan. His team constantly folding at the first sign of adversity in these games is worst sign of all.

- Tom Brookens is a teriffic person, who had done well as a manager in the Tigers minor league system. Yes. I do believe he is being groomed as Jim Leyland's eventual replacement.

My column in Monday's Oakland Press about Matthew Stafford


Friday, November 06, 2009

The Captain Or Mr. Hockey: Who Is The Greatest Red Wing Of All Time?

Steve Yzerman’s Hall of Fame induction raised this question in my mind: Who is the greatest Red Wings’ player of all time?
Is it Gordie Howe or Yzerman.
Hockey, as much as any sport, is difficult to compare eras. The game Howe played and the one Yzerman played were much different. Equipment has advanced by leaps and bounds in hockey, and that advancement has changed the sport more than any other in that regard. Skates are much better. Composite sticks. Just look at the goalie equipment?
Howe did play at the beginning of the curved-stick era, and very late in his career - with Hartford - when the equipment was quite advanced compared to when he started in the 1940s, and when he was in his prime during the 1950s and early 1960s.
Yzerman did push Howe’s stats as a Red Wing. He was the captain - Howe wasn’t most of his career. Yzerman won nearly as many Stanley Cup titles as Howe. A lot is made of Yzerman’s leadership qualities, but he was also extraordinarily skilled - especially before suffering a knee injury.
I think the bigger view of Yzerman is often overlooked because he played most of his career in the same period as Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. It certainly cut down on how many first- or second-team All Star selections he garnered, or Hart and Art Ross trophies he won.
It is, admittedly, splitting hairs, but I’d still probably take Howe over Yzerman.
Maybe it’s just because I love the term "A Gordie Howe hat trick" for a goal, an assist and a fight.
Might be my favorite hockey term of all.
Oh, and by the way, can’t a case be made that Nicklas Lidstrom is the greatest Red Wings of all time?
How about Chris Osgood?
Oh stop it. I was Just kidding about Ozzie.

Random Thoughts

- I think the Lions will win Sunday in Seattle because Matthew Stafford has a full week of practice under his belt, Calvin Johnson will be back for Stafford to throw to and the Seahawks stink.

- Can we make it official now: The Packers made a huge mistake a couple years ago by not letting Brett Favre return? Aaron Rodgers puts up great stats, but are the Packers nearly the same without Favre? I’ll be honest, I’m shocked how well Favre is playing. Thought the end of last season with the Jets meant it was over for Favre. I was wrong.

My column in Friday's Oakland Press about the Rochester Adams-Birmingham Brother Rice prep football playoff game:


Thursday, November 05, 2009

No, I Don't Think They Should Re-name Comerica Park Ernie Harwell Field

Count me among those who don't think Comerica Park should be re-named Ernie Harwell Field.
I love Ernie. That's not just a throwaway statement. I genuinely do. Everyone who knows me knows that, but lets not get ridiculous.
He is an announcer. The game is about players, and people who manage those players, and put teams together. Describing their exploits is a whole different matter.
Ask yourself this question: Would you have had your radio snuggled up to your ear, after your parents tucked you in bed as a kid listening to Ernie night after night, if the Tigers stunk? Ernie wasn't the '68 Tigers. He described the '68 Tigers.
Ernie wasn't instrumental in getting the stadium build. And he has had a zillion honors. It's not like Ernie has never recognized for his achievements.
Ernie is ill and everybody feels bad about it, but it seems like this falls under the category of getting "carried away."

Random Thoughts

- At 2-3, the Pistons are right about where it was expected. They lost a game they probably shouldn't have to Oklahoma City, but made up for it with an improbable victory over Orlando. Other games went according to script. Have liked what I've been from Jonas Jerebko so far. Tough kid. Wondered why John Kuester wasn't playing Chris Wilcox. After seeing him play, now I understand. Shows you how difficult it is to find good inside players in the NBA.

- I thought it was a terrific World Series. Clearly, these were the two best teams.

- I would have voted for Chase Ultley over Hideki Matsui for the World Series MVP Award. Matsui had one big game. and a big hit before. Utley was the main reason the Phillies made it a relatively close series.

- It'll be interesting to see what the Yankees do this off season with Matsui, Johnny Damon and Andy Pettitte just having played out their contracts. They were so clutch in the postseason. The Yankees are an aging team void of young stars. It could catch up to them in a hurry.

My column in Thursday's Oakland Press: Should Granderson and Inge be Tigers for the remainder of their careers


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

On World Series, Handwriting On Wall For Rip, Who Would Win MSU-CMU Rematch

There is even more attention than usual on the starting pitchers in Game 6 of the World Series tonight. It is an intriguing matchup - Pedro Martinez vs. Andy Pettitte. It’s surprising they haven’t met in the postseason before.
But what it says more at this late stage of their respective careers, particularly considering Pettitte will be working on three days rest, is the bullpens will likely decide the issue.
Coming into the series, I thought the Yankees had the clear edge in that area. But their bullpen hasn’t done that well lately, at least getting to Mariano Rivera. Chan Ho Park and Ryan Madison have been very good for the Phillies. Conversely, Phillip Hughes and Phil Coke have not been as steady in the postseason for the Yankees as they had been during the regular season. Brad Lidge is a concern for Philly, though. A big one. Lets put it this way: A one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth won’t exactly fall under the category of "safe" for the Phillies. A one-run lead in the top of the ninth would be much, much less precarious for the Yankees.
Random Thoughts
- Beating Orlando without Richard Hamilton - while guards Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum and Ben Gordon combined for 63 of their 85 points - only increases the chances the Pistons will trade Hamilton for size or cap space this season
- It’s no-win game for Michigan State Saturday. If the Spartans beat Western Michigan, it will be the expected. If they lose, it’d be two losses to Mid-American Conference teams - and the season becomes an unmitigated failure.
- I think you will see either Michigan or Michigan State in the Little Caesars Bowl. It would be especially interesting if MSU played CMU again. Who would win that game? There was a perception in September State would beat CMU eight times out of 10 - or something like that. I’m not so sure anymore. The Spartans are reeling. Central Michigan’s offense has struggled in road losses at Arizona and Boston College against BCS competition. But Ford Field wouldn’t exactly constitute a road game for the Chips. Familiar territory is more like it.
Honestly, when it comes right down to it, I think Michigan would turn its nose up at the Little Caesars Bowl - even if it meant missing practices.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My Thoughts on Dominic Raiola

- I tend to doubt his comments were to protect his teammate, rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford, as much as to vent on fans at Ford Field. What the fans were saying to Stafford was hardly venomous. "I'm open, I'm open." Come on.

- Raiola is a good player, who would start for most teams in the National Football League. He is undersized and not necessarily a good drive blocker, but he is athletic and strong and compensates for his lack of size in other ways. He is also among the best in the league at making line calls - a real key for the center position.

- Raiola is popular with and respected by his teammates, who consider him a hard-nosed, extremely intense player.

- Joey Harrington was not run out of town by the fans. His poor play did him in. As it did in Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans. Also, Harrington's coach and teammates with the Lions didn't want him as the starter. Steve Mariucci clearly didn't, and felt pressure from Matt Millen to start Harrington. And when Dick Jauron became interim head coach, his first announcement was the best players would play. It was one of his agreements to take the job. He put Jeff Garcia at QB. And it drew private raves in the lockerroom from Lions players because they felt Jauron was supporting them.

- Stafford has been through a lot at Georgia. Heckers are nothing new to him. He'll handle it just fine.

- Jim Schwartz, privately and quietly, needs to nip this in the bud with Raiola. It's clearly a distraction the Lions don't need.

My Column in Tuesday's Oakland Press about Michigan Football "It Isn't A Pretty Picture:


Monday, November 02, 2009

Lions Rookies Need To Get Better

The Lions reminded me of a bad hockey team Sunday. You know, one of those teams that takes off shifts. It was almost as if the Lions took off some of their possessions against the Rams. There seems to be a certain intensity their rookies lack. That's especially true of Matthew Stafford and Louis Delmas, who are both capable of standing out in the league. But not with that sort of inconsistent effort.
It was laughable how Delmas stood over and kind of taunted Steven Jackson after tackling him on one play. Jackson had schooled him all day by breaking his open field tackles and turning short runs into long ones.
Stafford was a lot of things Sunday. An inspiring leader wasn't one of them. He had one drive. And it was terrific. But that was it.

Random Thoughts

- At least the Red Wings ended their road trip out West strongly. That win Saturday at Calgary was crucial and well earned. No big comeback. Just solid hockey against one of the better teams in the Western Conference. At least the Red Wings will be at home or playing in this time zone for awhile. The Red Wings need that type of schedule stability right now. Wouldn't surprise me if they start racking up points.

- If Chris Wilcox doesn't play more and Ben Wallace less, the Pistons are headed for the bottom of the Eastern Conference faster than a bootlegger whose feet have been dipped into cement.

- Michigan's loss at Illinois has to rank as one of the worst in school history in terms of the way it has taken what had been a hopeful season and sent it down the drain. Will the Wolverines ever win on the road again? Doesn't seem like it after that performance.

- The Yankees aren't only a great team, they're a smart team. Johnny Damon's two stolen bases on one play Sunday night was only the latest example. It setup all that happened afterward because Phillies Brad Lidge stopped throwing his breaking ball with a runner on third. Brilliant.

My column in Monday's Oakland Press: Jim Schwartz didn't have his team prepared