Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Three and out: Lions Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
As part of an ongoing NFL preview airing on ESPNEWS, we offer three quick hits on the Detroit Lions:
1. You can never have enough quarterbacks. As of Tuesday morning, the Lions have five on their roster: Matthew Stafford, Daunte Culpepper, Drew Stanton, Brooks Bollinger and Kevin O’Connell. Culpepper (toe) and Stanton (knee) are injured, and the turn of events has left Stafford in the driver’s seat to win the starting job. The glut of bodies is symbolic of a roster that will be in flux throughout the season. Stafford is without question the team’s future, and likely the present. But nothing about the positions behind him are permanent.
The Football Outsiders use their unique brand of analysis to break down each of the league's 32 teams.
2. The Lions weren’t 0-16 last season by accident. Years of poor drafting left them with the thinnest personnel situation in the NFL. There is no easy cleanup to this mess, and new general manager Martin Mayhew seems to have taken a two-pronged approach. He’s filled the gaps with more than a dozen veterans acquired via free agency or trades, hoping they can provide credible performances while he builds young depth behind them. Players such as linebackers Julian Peterson and Larry Foote, cornerbacks Philip Buchanon and Anthony Henry, and defensive tackle Grady Jackson are all short-term gap-fillers for what the Lions hope is a wave of young players who will develop over the next few years.
3. New coach Jim Schwartz hired experienced coordinators on both sides of the ball to help with the development process. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan not only works well with young quarterbacks, but he also knows how to mix a power running game with downfield passing. Linehan will adapt his scheme to the strength of his personnel, once he determines what it is. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, meanwhile, is known for his blitz-oriented schemes and has predicted he will send an extra pass rusher 40 percent of the time this season. That approach will generate excitement and could help cover for personnel weaknesses at certain positions.