Monday, September 27, 2010

Vikings cruise thru Lions 24-10

Coming off of back to back dramatic endings that resulted in L’s, the Lions decided to give fans a rest and simply hand the game over to the Vikings at the end. This was clearly a game that Detroit missed injured starting QB Matthew Stafford. Sean Hill completed 67% of his passes but only averaged 8 yards per completion. Minnesota once again struggled through the air but did just fine on the ground thanks to Adrian Peterson. This game also saw 6 combined turnovers that led to all 10 points scored by the Lions and 7 points for the Vikings.

The Lions offense was dealt yet another injury blow when Jahvid Best went out in the 1st quarter with a toe injury. The Lions only managed 63 yards on the ground and have averaged just 83 yards per game for the season so far. The passing game showed the effects of losing starting wide receiver Nate Burleson. Hill was forced to rely on screens and safety check downs that led to 21 catches by non receivers. Hill was also responsible for the final nails in the coffin by throwing back to back end zone interceptions late in the 4th quarter.

The Vikings on the other had no problem running the ball with Adrian Peterson going for 160 yards and 2 scores on 23 carries. The front seven of the Lions could only hold up so long against the constant pounding by Peterson. This inevitably led to his longest scoring run of his career on an 80 yard score late in the 3rd quarter.

Brett Favre on the other hand won’t be feeling to well Monday morning. He was only sacked once but had constant pressure in his face. The defensive line knocked him down several times and forced several errant throws that resulted in two interceptions. Even when the Lions didn’t get pressure on him his lackluster chemistry with the receivers continued. He was clearly frustrated and not on the same page as his receivers were running routes and reading the defense.

The Vikings can walk away from the game knowing they avoided a disastrous 0-3 start but still have work to do on offense. The Lions on the other hand are seeing yet another season goes by the wayside and will complete their road division schedule against Green Bay next week.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lions lose heartbreaker to Bears 19-14

This game has so many storylines I almost don’t know where to start. I could talk about the Bear’s overwhelming edge in total yards 463 to 168 for the Lions. I could bring up the 4 turnovers the Bear’s had that led to 14 points for the Lions. I could actually defend the Lion’s defense for giving up that many yards but holding the Bears scoreless for 95% of the 2nd half. I could also bring up the Lions went from being up 14-3 with 1:30 left in the first half to total disaster in the remaining 90 seconds of the half.

All of the above starting points are valid yet pale in comparison to the single biggest factor/play/story of the game. The old cliché “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck” comes to mind. Just insert if Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has 2 feet down in the end zone, clearly displays possession to the refs, has his knee and rear end hit the ground, it’s a touchdown right. Wrong according to the mystifying rules of the N.F.L. none of that was good enough to “quote” complete the “process” of the catch. I guess they wanted Calvin Johnson to gift wrap the ball complete with a bow and present it to the officials. There is not a football fan from here to Timbuktu that would watch that play and not say it’s a touchdown.

The Lions running game and offensive line that looked so good in pre season provided an anemic 20 yard game total. And in case you’re wondering, that wasn’t a typo only 20 total rushing yards or as many yards Chris Johnson can get blindfolded with one hand tied behind his back. The Bears offense showed the growing pains of going thru year 1 of the Mike Martz offensive system. Jay Cutler was completely out of sync with his receivers on numerous occasions and others just wildly inaccurate. Jay Cutler has a weak Lions secondary to thank for his 23 completions on 35 attempts for 362 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception day.

As a lifelong Lions fan myself what occurred in the last 1:30 falls into the typical “it’s the Lions” category of bad luck, bad calls, bad injuries etc… After scoring their second touch down off of a Bears turnover a 14-3 halftime lead seemed all but guaranteed right. Not so fast because this is the Lions and one 89 yard screen pass touchdown pass to Matt Forte later it was 14-10 all of a sudden. Ok, disheartening and momentum killing but still a four point lead and starting the third quarter with the ball. But wait a minute, here comes Julius Peppers around the corner to sack Matt Stafford and cause a potential season crushing shoulder injury to Stafford. Initial reports have him missing several weeks pending further medical testing. Lion’s fans can take heart that it’s not the same shoulder he hurt last year right, oh never mind it is his throwing shoulder this time around.

I would not want to be a Bear’s fan right now either, if it took all of this to eek out a win against the Lions. Jay Cutler has a very steep learning curve to run this offense. The defense will eventually play teams that run an actual N.F.L. caliber offense to test their mettle. The Lions on the other hand have no hope if they are forced to rely on their back up QB Sean Hill for any length of time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

U of M opens up with 30-10 win over University of Connecticut

The newly renovated Big House was christened by the Denard Robinson show. U of M’s dual threat quarter back ran for 197 yards and passed for 186 yards for 383 total yards of offense. Connecticut’s offense did their defense no favors and let Michigan control the ball for 37 minutes overall. UConn’s defense saw a steady dose of quarterback runs and screen passes throughout the game.

The game opened up with several dazzling runs by Robinson that helped Michigan gain 287 yards on the ground for the game. The offensive line showed itself to be a unit of strength, paving the way for Robinson and the running back duo of Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith who combined for 99 yards themselves. Michigan’s offense used the running game to set up the passing game to perfection. Robinson threw a healthy dose of screen passes with a few deep balls going 19 of 22 completed passes for 186 yards and 1 touchdown. Michigan knows what it has with his legs but his improvement throwing the ball could make or break the entire season.

Unfortunately as impressive as the Michigan offense was their defense was equally unimpressive. The defensive line is average at best. The secondary is very weak to say the least. The halftime score would have been much closer if Connecticut’s wide receivers had not dropped several wide open deep passes. This put a lot of pressure on the UConn defense that it could not withstand. The defense can only hope that the offense will be able to put up shoot out like point totals game in and game out to bail them out. Of course, this will be much easier in non-conference play compared to conference play but only time will tell.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Detroit Lions Victorious in Great Lakes Classic

On Saturday night in that ever important 3rd pre season game against the Cleveland Browns the Lions did just enough to capitalize on 3 Cleveland turn overs to emerge as winners 35-27.

I do have to say coming on the heels of a pretty good first 2 games this one was pretty disappointing for the most part with a few bright spots and exposing more problems down the road.

The good was a lightning quick 1:28 3 play scoring drive on their first possession of the game highlighted by Jahvid Best 51 yard opening run followed by a 10 yard reception and capped nicely by a Stafford to the other Johnson,Bryant touchdown pass. The other pleasant trend that continued is good run blocking by not only the starters but also the second unit (omg could this mean actual talented depth)that helped Aaron Brown to a very nice 5 carries for 34 yards and 2 td game. This along with his 4 solid kick off returns for 95 yards may have just cemented his roster spot. Another bright spot was the return of Louis Delmas at safety who saw his first pre season action in the first 2 defensive series of the game. He responded with a couple of nice red zone pass coverage plays and had 1 tackle for loss in run pursuit.

The bad of course is that Best came out of the game after his spectacular first series with tightness in his legs and one can only hope it is just a minor couple day thing and Kevin Smith given his first significant playing time was largely disappointing. He got 8 carries for just 20 yards and 1 touchdown but fumbled once and slipped on another rushing play. The Defense was just all around terrible giving up 414 total yards of offense is unacceptable pre season game or not. Even the starting defensive line got done in by a good offensive line anchored by Pro-Bowler Joe Thomas and some nice game planning by the Browns. It was evident that Cleveland watched the tape and decided to go up tempo no huddle quick short throws to negate the pass rush as evident by Jake Delhomme starting connecting on 10 of his first 13 throws for only 73 yards. I sure hope this is not a trend of things to come in the regular season.

The Lions also added to their injury list by placing Jared DeVries on the Injured Reserve list for the list and watching their starting middle line backer DeAndre Levy go down with a pulled groin muscle on the very first play of the game. In what could be a truly debilitating loss to an already weak line backing unit.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

1st Lions Pre-season game ends with Pittsburg claiming a 23-7 Victory

The Lions visited Heinz field and not only had to contend with the Steelers but Mother Nature reared her ugly head and forced a 73 minute weather delay due to lightning and excessive rain.

2 areas jumped out at me from the game, the play of the starting defensive line and the play of Stafford and his developing chemistry with Calvin Johnson.

Kyle Vanden Bosh led the charge of the D-line and showed why Coach Jim Schwartz was on his front porch at 12:01 of the Free Agency signing period. His motor was revved up and pumping from the opening play as he made 2 plays in the backfield on Pittsburgs 1st offensive series. His play was contagious as his defensive end counterpart Cliff Avril followed up with a nice speed rush sack on Leftwich. Holding the Steelers to 25 yds in the 1st quarter was a very nice way to start out. It also seems our defense might be able to generate some turnovers as they forced 2 fumbles early on. Of course I didn’t see the linebackers or secondary do much of anything thru out the entire game but that was more or less expected. Of course no pre-season game is complete without a key injury and up and coming 2nd year 1st rnd Linebacker Jordan Dizon obliged by going down in the 2nd quarter with an apparent knee injury. With Jim Schwartz offering the comment that it could be of the serious variety but will have to wait for the full medical evaluation to come.

The Lions offense tried setting the tone early with a heavy dose of newly minted 1st round RB pick Jahvid Best between the tackles and the results were far from overwhelming. The offensive line as usual needs to show some improvement for Best to do better than 4 rushes for 10 yards early on featuring a failed 3rd and short rush on the first drive. Best did show off his speed on his best carry of the night when he got around the corner and down the sidelines in a display all Lions fans hope to see plenty of this season. Best also showed a very nice acumen for catching the ball and picking up his blitzing blocking assignments on passing downs, 2 crucial areas for any running back starting of in the NFL.

Matthew Stafford showed he is very capable of making that big 2nd year leap that so many Lions fans are craving from our bonus baby 1st round pick. Everyone knows he has a rocket of an arm and that was clearly on display with one laser pass after another. However, I came away most impressed with his precision and accuracy as he went 8 for 11 for 68 yards and a touchdown to who else but Calvin Johnson. I only counted 2 throws that were off target, one that went off the receivers fingertips and was intercepted and an under throw to Johnson in the end zone. It was great to see him targeting the Lions top threat in Calvin Johnson so often including 3 end zone throws that led to the td.

It wasn’t all roses though with the back ups needing a lot of work in an effort to build up much needed depth on the defensive end. The 1st team only committed 2 penalties when they were in but the rest of the team drew an alarming 9 more the rest of the game to go with all of there missed tackles that let Pittsburgh’s back ups march down the field at will.

All in All a very good overall result for the beginning of Pre-season football and a sign of good things to come for the up coming season.

Jason Behr

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Detroit Tigers go on roll at just the right time

The Detroit Tigers have shown impeccable timing with there current hot streak that coincides nicely with them becoming the sole team sport that Detroit still has going.

Last week was particularly rewarding with series wins at home against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in a variety of ways. Some of them were from dominating pitching performances others was pure ball mashing and one awesome Saturday night comeback to save a disastrous Dontrelle Willis performance.

Of course they have had the very good fortune of an older vet going down in Guillen only to see a rookie phenom in Brennan Boesch come up and start hammering the ball. Who would have thought that the first 2 rookie of the month winners would come from the Tigers with Austin Jackson winning the first and Boesch winning the second. Jackson sure has done a lot to make us forget about the Curtis Granderson trade. The ultimate question of course is can one or both of these rookies keep this up for the entire season.

The strongest and most consistent part of the team so far has been there bullpen far and way. They have been lights out so far with Zumaya learning how to become a pitcher instead of just a thrower but still the capability of hitting triple digits on the radar gun when needed. The biggest question mark is the starting pitching with only Justin Verlander shining on a consistent basis and lots of inconsistency with all the rest. It also seems like Miquel Cabrera has taken some huge steps in maturing as a person and cleaning up his personnel life. I don't think his MVP start to the season coming on the heels of him giving up alcohol is a coincidence.

Here's to another fun and exciting summer of Tigers Baseball

Monday, May 10, 2010

Red Wings Season comes to an end

The title pretty much says it all and we are left with a slightly longer summer without hockey than most fans are accustomed to after Saturdays 2-1 defeat by the Sharks.

This certainly has been one of the most difficult seasons to judge in recent Red Wing history given all the adversity they had to fight thru. Of course I felt a profound sense of disappointment and sadness but it was more of a resigned contentment. This season had so many obstacles to it from the rash of early season injuries, compressed Olympic year schedule and the wear and tear of the last 3 deep playoff runs in the last 3 years. Needless to say aside from Pittsburgh with its much younger roster there isn't another team in the NHL that has played more hockey than the Red Wings these past 3 years. It was strange going into the Playoffs without the usual Stanly Cup or bust realistic expectation but that was the reality this year. There wasn't the usual finger pointing about this star or that one under performing or riding the goalie out of town. Jimmy Howard did a remarkable job as a rookie and showed he has the mental toughness to take on the toughest position in Detroit Sports (along with Lions QB of course). I don't even blame the refs with all of the missed calls and bad penalties thru out the playoffs. The Red Wings just had the unfortunate timing of running into a team that finally learned how to turn regular season success into playoff success after many years of disappointment in the San Jose Sharks.

Of course this summer will be very very busy for Ken Holland and the Red Wing brain trust with all the issues they have to deal with. From dealing with player's free agency with Lidstrom at the top of the pile to long time Wings like Maltby and Holmstrom and not so long time Wings player Bertuzi. They also have a host of restricted free agents in Helm, Eaves and Miller. I also can't imagine "the captain" deciding he wants to tackle that open GM job down in Tampa Bay and leaving the only organization he has ever known.

For a nice wrap up on The Red Wing Season feel free to look up this link.