By Imperical Evidence
Now, what have Detroit Lions fans really been looking for these last few years? What if I told you it wasn't wins?
There is something the Lions haven't had in many years that Lions fans want to see, and if they saw this, it might make losses more bearable. What the heck am I going on about?
Well, a recent article on Mlive helps clarify my idea, an article about continuity on the offensive line. Continuity is very important on any NFL team, and it is something the Lions haven't had in recent years. This is a team that has let the leading tackler on defense walk the last two years in a row. This is a team that seems to be obsessed with finding a kick returner. This is a team that has been desperatly looking for a #2 receiver to free up Calvin Johnson from double and triple teams. Continuity?
From what I see happening with the Lions, this will be a very important year for this team, and even more important for the coaching staff. The coaching staff of the Detroit Lions must get the players they have to believe in them, and their ideas. This leads to a team identity, something the Lions haven't had in years. Remember Barry Sanders? That offense had an identity, and it was him. Now Matthew Stafford and company must step up to the plate and deliver a consistent offense. The Detroit Lions looked very sloppy on offense last year, they had no rhythm or identity. They looked lost except for a few bright spots.
The offensive line is returning 4 starters from last year, with Rob Sims the new addition expected to start at left guard from the Seattle Seahawks in a trade. Sadly, I don't think that this line playing together for two years with the same coaches and mostly players helps much. The offensive line is a weak spot as I see it.
The addition of Nate Burleson at wide receiver should help free up Calvin Johnson, but we have heard that before. The great news is that Brandon Pettigrew is going into year #2 in this offense, and now has lots of help with the Lions getting Tony Scheffler in a three team trade that involved Ernie Sims.
The addition of Jahvid Best with the 30th overall draft pick should add to the running game. He brings explosiveness to get through the line of scrimmage very fast, something Kevin Smith lacks. Smith should still play a part in this offense, mainly as a third down back. He has good hands out of the back field and can pick up the blitz.
The main thing with the Detroit Lions offense is that they need to become more focused, and stop making the mistakes that hurt them. The offense also needs a much higher catch percentage with two tight ends. The dropped passes need to stop. Linehan needs to put his mark on this offense, and the fans need to start seeing that this season.
On the defensive side of the ball, I think Gunther Cunningham wants a defense that hits hard and puts pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Louis Delmas at Safety going into his second year is a plus. The addition of Ndamukong Suh with the #2 overall pick in the draft will help the defensive line tremendously. I think it's time Lions fans watched some opposing quarterbacks have to scramble, and make some mistakes in the process. Kyle Vanden Bosch at DE also helps, and I think this sets the table for Cliff Avril to have a breakout year.
One thing I think is certain is that Lions fans will see the beginning of a 'Gunther' defense. The coaches start to put their identity on the field. That makes watching any football game more enjoyable, and Lions fans have waited long enough.
Jim Schwartz isn't a rookie head coach anymore, so it's time to see the chess master in action. There were many games last year that adjustments could have been made. The sloppy play needs to get cleaned up, on both sides of the ball. I would also like to see more urgency from this offense when behind in the final four or five minutes. Last season, they were in the huddle burning clock instead of trying to get down the field.
One last thing on Jim Schwartz, the Lions need to come out of a buy week more prepared and ready to play. Last season they lost to the Rams, at the time winless, at Ford field, after a buy week. No slack this year, be prepared.
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