Chat with Michael Rothstein
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN NFL Nation Detroit Lions reporter Michael Rothstein drops by to chat and answer all of your Lions questions.
Rothstein joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the University of Michigan for AnnArbor.com, Notre Dame for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette and a host of colleges for the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.). A Syracuse graduate and an East Meadow, N.Y. native, he lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Send your questions now and join Rothstein Tuesday at noon ET!
Michael Rothstein (12:00 PM)
Hey everyone and greetings from Allen Park, Michigan, where I'm sitting staring out a window waiting to see what rookies will show up since they report today for the Lions. I'll be here at the chat for a while, but fair warning, if a player shows up I need to chat with, I'm going to duck out for a little bit.Now, on to your questions.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Where is the Detroit Lions Summer Training Camp?
Michael Rothstein (12:01 PM)
It is right here in Allen Park, Michigan, Chris, except for one practice at Wayne State and a couple at Ford Field.
Rick (Thousand Oaks, CA)
Glad to See you are on twitter and facebook. I look forward to reading your comments throughout training camp. Thank you.
Michael Rothstein (12:02 PM)
You're welcome. I'll quickly plug both here...The twitter account is @mikerothstein. The link to the new public facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/michaelrothsteinjournalistCome hang out.
Daniel Wayland (New York)
Just how much of an offensive boost do you expect Eric Ebron will provide over Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria?
Michael Rothstein (12:04 PM)
If he can hold on to the ball, he will because he has elite athleticism and can stretch the field. That is certainly better than what Pettigrew is able to do as a receiver and Ebron has a faster speed component than Fauria. Fauria is probably still a better red zone target and almost certainly has better hands than Ebron, but the hope for the Lions is that Ebron's skill set takes attention away from Calvin Johnson for opposing defenses.
Daniel Wayland (New York)
How will the Lions shore up a secondary that ranked 23rd in Passing Yards Allowed and lost Chris Houston and Louis Delmas?
Michael Rothstein (12:06 PM)
Let's start with the losses. Houston wasn't healthy so I'm not sure how much he contributes anyway. Anything the Lions got from him would be a bonus. The issue with Delmas has been and for the rest of his career will be his knees. There is little-to-no way the Lions could chance him being able to hold up over 16 games again. The safeties should be OK between Glover Quin and James Ihedigbo along with Don Carey.Corner is certainly a question from the starters (Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay) on down either from experience or, in Mathis' case, age. The problem for Detroit is right now there doesn't seem to be an obvious fix on the market.
Daniel Wayland (New York)
Who deserves the "lions" share of the carries, Reggie Bush or Joique Bell?
Michael Rothstein (12:07 PM)
My guess is they end up being somewhat equal and both see a lot of passes out of the backfield as well. If Joe Lombardi's system ends up truly resembling New Orleans, then expect to see both guys around 150-175 carries and 50-60 receptions.
Lou (Let Suh go)
It appears to me that the Lions' new defensive scheme will be a lot less dependent on the strong (and incredibly expensive) D-Line we've seen in recent years. I think the Lions should let Suh go after this season, and use the money to upgrade overall depth. Winning teams are the ones that can survive injuries. What do you think, Michael?
Michael Rothstein (12:08 PM)
I would certainly agree with your last statement, Lou. That is without question. Football is so much a game of attrition from injuries on the pro level and guys just staying on the roster in college. As far as Suh, if he wants to be here, the Lions want to keep him. That much has been established. Even if the Lions switch to a 3-4, which would appear possible after this season, Suh can still fit well in that defense. He is an elite player.
Bigger story this summer for the Lions. No players arrested/offseason issues or no longtime deal for Suh?
Michael Rothstein (12:09 PM)
I would say Suh, because he impacts the future of the franchise more than a player being arrested. Now, if that player had been a top-end starter, maybe it is a different case, but possibly not having Suh after this season would be a dramatic defensive shift for the Lions.
If Suh goes unsigned can he be franchised next year?
Michael Rothstein (12:10 PM)
Yes, Detroit can do that but it would come at a very, very expensive price.
Joshua Hurst (Mountain View, CA)
As a lifetime Lions fan, I seem to find a way every year to convince myself that this will be the year they break through. What would you name as the two greatest reasons for optimism this year, and the two greatest reasons we may see the 'same old Lions'?
Michael Rothstein (12:13 PM)
Good question, Joshua.Optimism:-What the Saints offense looked like and the pieces the Lions have that correlate to those pieces in New Orleans.-Nick Fairley being in shape and playing for a contract alongside Ndamukong Suh. Those two together could be devastating.Same old Lions:-Still not sold on Jim Caldwell as a head coach. Was having this discussion with someone earlier. Still think the Lions should have expanded their search to look at college coaches or consider a guy like Mike Zimmer, now in Minnesota. Add to that first-time NFL coordinators in Lombardi and Teryl Austin.-The Lions really did nothing to upgrade their secondary. James Ihedigbo truly is just a stop-gap player and the corners either show their age or prove to not be starting NFL caliber. That work?
Rick (Thousand Oaks, CA)
Who is going to be the Third QB if any?
Michael Rothstein (12:14 PM)
It'll be a competition between Kellen Moore and James Franklin, Rick. I think it'll depend on if the team wants to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. If they do, it'll be an interesting battle. If they don't, then don't be surprised if James Franklin ends up on the practice squad.
You look like my friend Colin's younger brother. He's a dork.
Michael Rothstein (12:15 PM)
Season results -- no playoffs, Mayhew is canned?
Michael Rothstein (12:17 PM)
Probably so, Doug, but I'll say that with a caveat. If there is a significant injury to a truly key player (i.e. Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh, Glover Quin), that would probably change the metric of success for the season for Mayhew. But if everyone is healthy and this team doesn't at least have a winning record, that is bad news for Martin Mayhew. A winning season and no playoffs would be an interesting case, although probably enough of a sign the team is going in the right direction for him to stay on. Listen, this team is talented. There is little doubt about that. Much of this season will rest on Stafford and Jim Caldwell.
Todd (Rochester, NY) [via mobile]
Does Mikel Leshoure have any shot to make the team?
Michael Rothstein (12:18 PM)
Sure. Using New Orleans as a metric, the Saints use a lot of backs and the Lions just don't have a lot on the roster. He could easily make the team as a fourth running back. Where he could end up in trouble is if the team views Montell Owens as a viable option at both running back and fullback. That might be Leshoure's biggest impediment to a roster spot.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Better #1 overall pick up to this point - Suh or Staff?
Michael Rothstein (12:19 PM)
Tough question, but I would say Suh. Suh has, without question, been one of the top players at his position. Stafford has put up some amazing numbers and had some big comebacks, but has also made some critical mistakes at key times to hurt Detroit as well. He also hasn't had the consistency Suh has had. So I'd say Suh.
How does our FG kicker situation look? Never realized how spoiled we became with Hanson for all those years.
Michael Rothstein (12:20 PM)
It's a two-player matchup, Eric, between this year's seventh-round pick, Nate Freese, and free agent Giorgio Tavecchio. Tavecchio has the stronger leg. Freese is more accurate. Should be a close competition.
Harbaugh's Dad Pants (Dockers)
I think the back end of the Lions schedule is more difficult, so what would you think their first 8 game record should be to have a shot at the playoffs?
Michael Rothstein (12:22 PM)
OK, we'll do it this way. I've said before I think the Lions need to have 10 wins by the end of Week 15 to make the playoffs because the final two games are at Green Bay and Chicago -- two extremely tough places to win in December. At the midway point, Detroit would be in legitimate contention with six wins. Five is reasonable. Seven is obviously in great shape. Less than five and Detroit would be in real trouble.
Who do you think will be the most surprising cut for the lions this preason?.... and the question that is probably on everyones mind, would you trade wiggins for love?
Michael Rothstein (12:24 PM)
Second question first -- I would trade Wiggins for Love, yes. Love is still 25 years old and would be a great compelement to LeBron James. ... To the Lions question -- I don't know if any cuts would be surprising at this point because I think a lot of the top-end starters are in pretty good shape. Ashlee Palmer's job could be in trouble if Kyle Van Noy beats him out handily. I'm also curious to see how Rob Sims looks during camp after missing portions of spring practice. I don't think he gets cut, but I think he's pushed a lot harder than people expect to hold on to his job at left guard.
Cory Griffin (Tallhassee, FL)
Do you think Stafford's upcoming wedding will take much of his attention away from the upcoming season?
Michael Rothstein (12:25 PM)
No. He's got a little bit for that and I'm guessing they hired a wedding planner.
Detroit, MI [via mobile]
With one of the strongest D-Lines in the league how much will Suh not being under contract take away from his effort on the field. And do you believe there is anybody ready to step up an fill in in the secondary if anyone goes down.
Michael Rothstein (12:26 PM)
Detroit, I think it could be the opposite effect. If Suh puts himself in a position where he is in a contract year, I'd expect him to play even better than he has in the past (and that is a pretty high level). That Nick Fairley is also in a contract year makes the interior of the defensive line a potential nightmare for opponents.
Eric - Killeen tx [via mobile]
How involved will Jeremy Ross be with the receiving team? Or is he limited to just a return specialist?
Michael Rothstein (12:28 PM)
If it is up to Ross, he'll end up winning the third receiver job behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Realistically, as long as Ryan Broyles is healthy, Ross is no more than the team's No. 4 receiver. That he can play inside and outside will help, but he is a dynamic returner. He knows he would help his future in the league immensely, though, if he can become a valued receiver as well.
Victor (Starring at Ford Field)
Which from this group is more likely to survive final cut day: Greenwood, Green or Saddler-McQueen?
Michael Rothstein (12:30 PM)
Great question. I'd say Chris Greenwood (assuming you meant him instead of Cory). I like Greenwood's skills a little bit better than Green's skills and I believe they are really competing for one roster spot. I have a tough time seeing Jimmy Saddler-McQueen making the 53-man roster because of the four guys almost certain to make the roster in front of him: Suh, Nick Fairley, Caraun Reid and C.J. Mosley. On my 53-man projection I had Greenwood and not Green, so I'll stick with that but so much of camp will be fluid. I just wasn't impressed at all by Green in the spring or during last season.
Joshua (North Carolina)
Why does there seem to be a "fix stafford" mentality? Yes, he's thrown more interceptions, but many of those were sloppy play by receivers. Obviously with the highest drop rate in the league, Stafford has been hitting targets, but the ball has just been bouncing off and hitting the ground. He's a gun slinger and has a cannon for an arm. Even the "sure handed" Ebron looks like he's getting adjusted to the speed balls coming his way as seen earlier this summer. So is it Stafford or just sloppy receivers? (sorry for long post!)
Michael Rothstein (12:31 PM)
That's a fair question and we'll start here. Some of Stafford's throws that caused the drops and interceptions were not the best throws by him. There are times where it looks like he sacrifices touch to just fire the balls in there. That could be tough for receivers at short distances. I'd say the pass catching issues is a combination of Stafford and the receivers. The receivers need to be better and the team knows that. But Stafford has to do his part, too.
You mentioned Franchising Suh would be expensive but wouldn't it be cheaper than his salary this year? I thought his cap hit was 22 million and the franchise tag is an average of the top 5 players at the position. If he is already the top paid player at his position wouldn't an average be less?
Michael Rothstein (12:34 PM)
His cap hit is massive this season, but that isn't his salary and other players have already received deals. A franchise tag on Suh -- while the number isn't definitively known yet -- would likely be north of the $22 million now. I just have a hard time seeing Detroit making that move, especially since it would seem like they should be able to get a deal done before it gets to that point. If the Lions and Suh can't manage to do that, I don't know if they would want to franchise him at a massive amount of money.
Andrew (Detroit, MI)
Let's just say for discussion's sake that Stafford has another bad year.... Do the Lions need to start to look for another player at QB?
Michael Rothstein (12:37 PM)
If he has a rough 2014, I would not be surprised if the Lions took a quarterback early in 2015 and gave Stafford one more year to prove it. If Stafford is on the roster the third day of the next league year, $8 million of his salary is guaranteed and there would be almost $20 million in dead money if he were gone. To me, that means he won't be going anywhere in 2015. However, if he has a bad year, the Lions should take a quarterback to either groom or to challenge him.
Which NFC North team has the best WR group?
Michael Rothstein (12:38 PM)
Tough to say anyone but Chicago when the Bears have Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. That is a high-quality group and both those guys could end up in the Pro Bowl. It starts there, in my opinion. After that, it is probably the Lions with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, but I also like Green Bay's duo of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. A lot of talent in this division.
Michael (San Diego)
How do the Lions intend to address there CB problems, since they didn't do it during the draft?
Michael Rothstein (12:40 PM)
Michael, it would appear Detroit is going to go with who it has at corner for the time being, but we'll see what happens once rosters around the league begin to shuffle a little bit more. Let's face it, the team is putting a lot of faith in unproven quantities (Darius Slay, Chris Greenwood, Jonte Green, Bill Bentley to an extent) and someone who is chasing off Father Time (Rashean Mathis). Definitely some risk there, so it wouldn't be shocking if a player they felt had value popped up if they made a run at him.
Mike do you know the reason for pushing back the date of training camp?
Michael Rothstein (12:43 PM)
I do not, John, but that is something that will get asked when Jim Caldwell chats with us for the first time Sunday. So far only rookies have shown up (well, and Steven Miller).
Scott (Westminster, CO)
If a team was offering a 6th or 7th rounder for LeShoure, would the Lions take it?
Michael Rothstein (12:44 PM)
That's a tough question, Scott. Right now, I'd say no because there just aren't a lot of options at running back on the roster compared to how the team is likely to use backs. That said, if the right offer came along, I could see the team making a move. Let's flip that, however, and ask the actual trade value of Leshoure right now. That might be the bigger question.
Chris, Grand Rapids, MI [via mobile]
Who is most likely to be the third receiver?
Michael Rothstein (12:45 PM)
If he is healthy, it'll be Ryan Broyles more than likely. If not, look for Jeremy Ross and TJ Jones to really challenge for that, along with Kevin Ogletree. Of course, the real answer is Eric Ebron, because he's going to be lining up all over the place.
Brennen [via mobile]
Which rookie and vet has the most to prove this camp/season?
Michael Rothstein (12:46 PM)
From a perception standpoint, Eric Ebron is the rookie with the most to prove this season since he was a first round pick and viewed as a luxury pick in some ways. From a veteran, it is Matthew Stafford. He has to show improved decision-making and that he can be a strong NFL quarterback beyond just putting up great numbers for fantasy players across the country.
House Of Beers (Middleville MI)
What are your reservations about Jim Caldwell as head coach? I am trying like crazy to come around and see it as an acceptable hire, but I have reservations myself.
Michael Rothstein (12:50 PM)
Well, House of Beers (and how are you different from World of Beer???), it starts with his actual performance as a head coach without one of the best quarterbacks to ever play. I really did not like what I saw once he didn't have Peyton Manning. I also questioned some of his decision making then. Add to that what Baltimore did offensively last season (read: not much) and there are some questions there. Plus, he was a very mediocre head coach in college at Wake Forest. Those would be my reasons.
Michael Rothstein (12:51 PM)
Only have time for maybe one or two more questions here, so let's get them in. If I don't get to your question, I'll answer some more Wednesday morning on the site.
Zack (Cincinnati, OH)
How will the defensive backs look this year? It seems to always be a weak spot.
Michael Rothstein (12:52 PM)
The safeties appear a little bit better -- I'm really high on Glover Quin and I think the depth is there. The corners are still a massive question between a lack of established experience and, in Rashean Mathis' case, the potential for age to catch up to him. How the DBs do will be a major question throughout the preseason and could be a huge factor for success this season. Not as big a factor as Matthew Stafford, but a pretty big one.
I personally was hoping the Lions would take a shot on a guy like Pep Hamilton instead of retreading a mediocre coach.
Michael Rothstein (12:53 PM)
That would have been an interesting hire. Brian Kelly always intrigued me.
Hey Michael, do you think Mathew Stafford's biggest challenge this season will be learning a new offensive scheme and terminology or working on his mechanics, specifically his footwork and delivery?
Michael Rothstein (12:54 PM)
Last question here....I wouldn't be worried about Stafford when it comes to scheme. He is a very, very intelligent quarterback and show have no issues picking up what the Lions are trying to run by the time the season starts. The concerns with him go back to his decisions, his footwork and his accuracy. Those have been his challenges in the past and will continue to be there in the future until he can prove otherwise.
Michael Rothstein (12:55 PM)
Thanks everyone for a great chat. If I didn't get to your question, I will try to tomorrow morning. If you have others, feel free to drop by on Twitter @mikerothstein or give a like to my new public Facebook page right here at this link: https://www.facebook.com/michaelrothsteinjournalist/Have a great week everyone. Camp gets started Sunday.