LIONS INSIDER

10 Questions with Twentyman: Broyles becoming the next Welker, Stafford's mechanics and Suh's style

Posted Nov 30, 2012

Lions Insider Tim Twentyman answers 10 questions from his weekly chat including: why the Lions should keep safety Louis Delmas, what happened between this year and last and punter Nick Harris' production.

Every week during the season I’ll be participating in a live chat on Detroitlions.com sponsored by Huntington Bank. I can never get to all the questions in the chat because of the time constraints and the fact that I'm not the world's fastest typist. The nature of online chats don't lend themselves to expansive answers, either.

So, each week, I'll pick 10 good questions that I either didn't get to or would like to expand upon. I might also throw in a few here and there from my Twitter account, @ttwentyman.

Q. Is the coaching staff concerned with Matthew Stafford’s recent mechanics and his habit of throwing sidearm a lot lately? From Kirk

A. Not really. The thing people don’t realize is that Stafford never had what you would call "good mechanics." He plays the position more from feel. His mechanics are no different than they were last year. He threw from different arm slots a year ago and made plays on the fly.

I’d say maybe the one thing he has done more of this year is thrown off his back foot. That has caused some more inaccurate throws.

His completion percentage last year was 63.7. This year he’s at 60.7. He’s been the victim of more drops than he was last year, but it’s safe to say he’s missed more throws and has been less accurate than a season ago.

Look, Stafford’s never going to be a 70 percent completion percentage quarterback. He’s never been over 64 percent in his entire college or pro career. He pushes the ball down the field and pushes the envelope of available windows to put balls in. That’s what makes him Matthew Stafford.

He's more of the solution than the problem, that's put it that way.

The ESPN analysts can talk about mechanics and everything else all they want, the truth is he’s never been a great mechanical quarterback and he never will be. Neither was Brett Favre.

Q. Is Broyles the second coming of a Wes Welker ? Or better? From Mike

A. Slow down, Mike. He’s had one good game.

I will say this though, he surely looks the part. And he’s not 100 percent yet. We still haven’t seen Broyles at his fastest or quickest because of the ACL. He’ll be even better when he comes to camp next year --same with Leshoure (Achilles).

I sat down with former NFL quarterback and current CBS analyst Phil Simms last week and he said he sees a young Welker in Broyles.

There’s a reason the Lions drafted him in the second round. He’s the NCAA’s all-time leading receiver, but he didn’t earn that record by being the most physically gifted receiver in the game. He earned it because he’s smart. He understands zone vs. man concepts and where the open areas are going to be. To me, Broyles looks at the game like a quarterback. That’s rare for a receiver.

I sat down with head coach Jim Schwartz this week to break down a key third-down catch of Broyles’ in last week’s loss to the Texans. Listen to Schwartz break down the little subtleties that allowed Broyles to get open.

Broyles is a long way from even being mentioned on the same page as a Wes Welker, but he certainly has all the tools to be a really good slot receiver for a long time in this league.

Q. Tim, tell me why the Lions should keep Delmas. He hasn’t played a full season yet and he is very injury prone. Why not get somebody that can stand up to injuries? From William Rhoads

A. The Lions should try to keep Louis Delmas because he’s a good player – plain and simple. The Lions shouldn’t be in the business of getting rid of good players.

Now, should they give him a $50 million contract this offseason? Of course not. But they have plenty of options to keep him, including the franchise tag, which is relatively cheap for a safety.

Before I go that route if I’m Lions brass, though, I want to get a real good gauge on that knee. Is this something that will linger for the rest of his career? Is it something more surgery and a whole offseason of rest will take care of? I’d have to know those answers before I do anything.

If the Lions are confident the knee issue can get behind him, I'd try to keep him. His speed and instincts is a difference maker in the back end. The safety position is so key to having a good defense, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to let the best safety the team has walk out the door.

Consider this with Delmas, his troubles have really been over the last year and a half. He was fine until the Thanksgiving Day game vs. Green Bay last year. He played in 15 games in each of his first two years in the league and the first 11 games last year.

People had the same concerns about Matthew Stafford and that shoulder when it continued to pop out of socket and he missed all those games. He had surgery, had an offseason of rest, and he hasn’t missed a game since.

The safety position lends itself to injury, it’s just by the very nature of the position.

I think this decision really becomes a medical one with Delmas and how they ultimately feel about the long-term health of that knee.

Q. Do you think Suh is waiting on the first opportunity to leave the Lions? Should the Lions trade him? From Larry

A. He spoke to the media on Wednesday and said that he wouldn’t have purchased a house in the Metro Detroit area at the end of last year if he didn’t want to stay. I can only take him for his word on that. In an ESPN The Magazine interview to be released soon, he said he expected to win “multiple” Super Bowls with the Lions.

His peers voted Suh as a top 50 player in the league. He’s disruptive in the middle and every coach and scout I talk to says he’s a guy that has to be accounted for on every play.

Everyone looks at the stats and thinks he’s having a down year. That’s a bunch of crap. Plain and simple. Look at defensive tackle play around the league. Haloti Ngata (Ravens) doesn’t get a lot of sacks. Neither does the Vikings’ Kevin Williams. But they effect the game. It’s not always about the tackles and sacks a defensive tackle gets, it’s about the tackles and sacks they cause. Suh had five hits on the quarterback last week. Think about that.

You don’t trade players like that unless…

It comes down to a cap issue. If the Lions don’t think they can re-sign him for a good deal or really get up against the cap then that option is on the table, just as it would be with any other player.

The Lions are paying Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Suh a lot of money. The first two aren’t going anywhere.

Personally, I like Suh and Nick Fairley together in the middle moving forward. I think that’s a really good duo. If the money doesn’t work out, then tough decisions have to be made. That’s just the reality of the salary cap era.

Q. I think all this crap about Suh being dirty is going a little overboard, especially if you compare him to players like Joe Green and others in that era.  What do you think Tim? From James

A. I actually had a really good conversation about this with Ken Brown and Mitch Albom on “The Mitch Albom Show” on WJR earlier this week. We all agreed that if Suh were playing in the 70’s with guys like Joe Green, Deacon Jones and Conrad Dobler, he’d fit right in. He’s a tough player and he’ll do anything is his power to beat his man and get to the quarterback. I don’t have any problem with that as long as it’s within the rules.

Suh has one offside penalty this year.

This is a different kind of NFL. It's now more of finesse game.

I used the example of Ed Reed in that interview with Mitch and Ken. Ed Reed earned a reputation for being one of the best safeties in the league because of his big-play ability and his hard hitting.  When Reed hit a receiver, the ball usually didn’t stay with him.

That style of play nowadays is considered “dirty” and Reed was just recently facing a suspension. Is he a “dirty” player? No. He just belongs in another era.

 Q. Do you think the lions would be interested in Michigan’s Denard Robinson as a punt or kickoff return man. From M. Morgan

A. I think Robinson will be more than just a return man in the NFL. He has the one thing every NFL coach can’t get enough of – speed. It’s the best commodity in the NFL.

Robinson is one of those guys that you want to get in space. I think he’d fit in nicely to most any offense in a Percy Harvin type role. Give him a few carries, let him catch ball out of the backfield, play in the slot, and return kicks.

The only thing I would worry about with Robinson is his ability to hold up in pass protection. Can he pick up a blitzing linebacker or safety on third down, if needed. That might be where he struggles and where he’s a liability. It’ll be interesting to see what he runs the 40-yard dash in at the combine and what drills he goes through.

He’s certainly an interesting prospect, and some creative offensive mind will find a use for his open-field running and speed.

The Lions currently have an opening for that type of player.

Q. What happened between last year and this year?  Just lucky to win those come from behind games last year? From ASLAN7777

A. I’ve said this before, but I really thought last year’s team was closer to a 8-8 team than a 10-6 team. That’s just my opinion. Look, they earned those come-from-behind wins in Minnesota and Dallas last year, but there was a little bit of emplosion on those teams' part, too.

I thought that another year together with the same group and the benefit of an offseason would make essentially the same team a true 10-6 one this year – which is what I predicted their record would be before the season. It obviously hasn’t worked out that way.

I don’t think they’re far from a 10-6 team. They’d like the Tennessee and first Minnesota games back. They are 3-6 in games decided by one possession or less. They’ve had opportunities to win the last three games at the end and have come up short in all three. To me, they are one more playmaker on each side of the ball away.

The one question I ask myself is whether the team did enough this offseason to get better. They looked at those 10 wins and looked at their salary cap and made the decision that their core group of guys could get it done again. Obviously, that hasn’t been the case. With so many free agents this year, expect the roster to look a little different next year. They aren’t going to keep all eight free-agent starters on defense. The core group of players will still be here (Stafford, Johnson, Leshoure, Tulloch, Suh), but I suspect there will be some added/different complimentary parts. Let’s hope a few of those can make a few more plays – especially at the end of game – than the current bunch and get them to be a consistent 10-win team.

Q. Tim, if the Lions lose Chris Houston to free agency this offseason, do you think little Bill Bentley can be the team’s #1 corner? From Suzuki

A. I don’t think the Lions can approach the season with that mentality. They simply haven’t seen enough of Bentley to make that determintation. What I saw of Bentley didn’t tell me that he’s ready to be a No. 1 corner. In fact, if I had to chose any of the three rookie cornerbacks taken by the team in the draft last year to play right away and be counted on, it would be Jonte Green.

I think Bentley has the chance to be a good No. 2 corner or a nickel corner. At least that’s how I view him right now having seen him play for portions of four games.

The Lions are in trouble if they lose Houston and don’t find someone with equal or more talent. That’s already a position of need for the Lions and they can’t afford to lose their best cover corner when replacements on the open market are expensive. Houston will be expensive, too, but worth the money, in my opinion.

Q. I know Brandon Pettigrew is a top tight end, but ever consider benching him for his drops costing us plays an maybe games? From Bob F.

A. I’d argue that Pettigrew hasn’t earned the status of “top” tight end – yet. I still think he can get there, but the drops and the fumbles have to get behind him, and he has to score more touchdowns.

When I think of the top tight ends in the league I picture Ron Gronkowski  (10 touchdowns), Tony Gonzalez (8), Jimmy Graham (8), Heath Miller (6), Owen Daniels (6).

Pettigrew is a big, strong tight end, who has made a lot of plays for the Lions. But he’s also left a lot of plays on the field. He scored five touchdowns last season, which was a career high. I know he plays with Calvin Johnson and Johnson gets a lot of balls thrown his way in the red zone, but in my opinion, the fact that he plays with Calvin Johnson should mean Pettigrew has MORE of a chance to see a linebacker on him close to the goal line and more of a chance to score touchdowns

Pettigrew will catch 70 passes for 700 yards for a third straight season this year, but he needs to have more games where he has a bigger impact. The best way to do that is to score points.

Q. What do you think about punter Nick Harris? It seems like he can never really flip the field? From Juston

A. I have to start by saying I’m not in the special teams meetings and I’m not there to hear what Harris is being told to do. Maybe it’s strategy.

I’m more with you, though, Juston. The stats don’t lie and Harris is dead last in the NFL in punt average (40.4). There are a few times when I’m watching other teams on television and their punter makes the return man go back to catch a punt. When have you seen that this year with the Lions?

Again, maybe that’s a coaching thing to let the coverage have an opportunity to make a play. I’d personally take a boomer any day of the week and try to flip the field.