10 Questions with Twentyman: Young's performance and Delmas' status

Posted Nov 2, 2012

Lions' Insider Tim Twentyman expands on 10 questions from his weekly chat including Ryan Broyles' contributions and why the Lions passed on corner Aqib Talib.

Every week during the season I’ll be participating in a live chat on 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. Do you think that Titus Young is officially ready now? From E Fizz

A. I think Titus Young is healthy, and that’s really what’s been holding him back. Tendonititis in the knee is a tricky thing to deal with for a guy who’s whole game is predicated on speed, quickness and using those tools to gain separation from defenders.

He’s certainly going to get more opportunities now that Nate Burleson is out for the season with broken leg. There's also a boost when all the sudden you have to be the guy. That has just so happen to coincide with Young feeling better physically.

If he stays healthy, I don’t see why we won’t see the Titus Young of the second half of last season (six touchdowns in last nine games), instead of the Young we’ve seen at the beginning of both the last two seasons when he's been dealing with injuries.

Q. Being old-school, I think a team should fix the defense first, run the ball second, anything else third. Lions haven't fixed their secondary since Schwartz has been here. When will they do that? From WyattBurp

A. Is this really my dad? Ron, is that you? I had this same conversation with him the other day. The problem is, this is my generation's NFL.

I’ve said this before, but I don’t think you can win in this league anymore with a quarterback and a passing game. Just can’t do it. That’s the first priority.

That's not taking anything away from the importance of having a good defense, because it’s a close second, but you can't win without a quarterback. I also think the best way to build a defense is upfront. You win in today’s NFL by throwing the football and rushing the quarterback.

The Giants have won two Super Bowls recently with that formula. The Giants and Patriots – last year’s Super Bowl matchup – ranked in the bottom of the league in rushing.

Now that that’s out of the way, I do expect the Lions to start shifting more attention to their secondary. We saw that a little bit this offseason with the drafting of three corners. Before you say it, I know none of them were taken in the first two rounds, but the Lions weren’t going to get the top-tier talent (four corners) in the top two rounds without making a trade or taking a big gamble on Janoris Jenkins in the first round at a time when the Lions had real off-the-field issues they were dealing with.

The Lions did trade for Chris Houston in 2010, and then re-signed him in 2011, which has turned out to be a brilliant move by general manager Martin Mayhew and Schwartz.

I suspect the Lions continue to upgrade their secondary this offseason and in the draft.

But the Lions had to first get their quarterback, give him weapons and then build their pass rush. That’s a good formula for victory in today’s NFL.

Q. What's your gut feeling on safety Louis Delmas? Really day-to-day or is this 'Jim Schwartz day-to-day'? From TKIY

A. Schwartz has certainly adopted the Bill Belichick philosophy on talking about injuries, but he is pretty good when letting the media know if we’re talking about something more serious with players. He uses words like “long-term” and “week-to-week.”

When one of his players is having surgery, or Schwartz expects him to out for a little bit, he’ll tell us he's week-to-week so we don’t have to ask him every day. Us media folks can be annoying like that.

It’s certainly concerning that Delmas’ most recent injury is to the same knee he had surgery on Aug. 7. He hasn’t practiced all week and he isn’t expected to play  at Jacksonville.

Right now he’s day-to-day. We’ll have to just see how it goes from there. Hopefully the knee reacts well to rest, because the Lions need him.

Q. Tim, Why can't Leshoure finish out football games, always seems to be Bell in the end when the game is on the line. From Ron Dartt

A. I wrote about this Thursday in the lead to my notebook. But here it is again.

Here’s a stat that will begin to tell you why: Bell is second among all NFC running backs with 227 receiving yards, only trailing the Saints' Darren Sproles (323).

Bell’s been on the field more late in games because he's a terrific receiver in the two-minute offense and the Lions have been in a lot of those situations in the fourth quarter of games trying to come from behind.

"Well, one of the things is Joique's proven to be a real effective receiver out of the backfield since we haven't had Jahvid, in those situations when we're in obvious passing situations," said Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

"Joique has really come through for us in two-minute and situations where we're getting good matchups on our running backs. And Mikel can do it too, but Joique's been doing a really nice job for us and his role's increased because of it."

During the game-winning 16-play drive at the end of the fourth quarter last week, Bell had three catches for 24 yards, including a crucial 11-yard reception on 3rd-and-10 that kept the drive alive and allowed the go-ahead touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Titus Young three plays later.

Leshoure is a good receiver out of the backfield too, but Bell is a little better.

Q. What is your take on Broyles contributions? Two touchdowns in two games and only played about half the snaps last week.  Ready to play more? From Garrett

A. The Lions preached patience following the draft when it came to Broyles and so did I. It’s not always about instant gratification with picks. Look at it this way, if you’re relying on rookies at the beginning of the season, you’re probably not a good football team.

Broyles has been healthy the last two weeks and is getting his opportunity because of an injury. Now we’ve seen what the kid can do in the middle of the field. He’s one of those players who just has a knack for getting open.

He played 34 snaps last week (47 percent), which is actually less than he played the week before in Chicago (35, 51 percent). Those numbers are likely to increase if Broyles continues to be productive – depending on how many two tight end sets we see.

Some fans didn’t give Broyles a fair shake in April because they wanted a cornerback instead. But in my opinion, after Morris Claiborne, Stephone Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins, there was a group of about five or six corners -including Bill Bentley – who were the next tier. They weren’t going to get those top four guys without making a trade.

You could argue the Packers had a nice pick with cornerback Casey Hayward at No. 62, who was the NFL’s rookie of the month, but Broyles was a first-round talent because of his production in college and his knowledge of the slot, who fell to the second round because of his knee.

Mark it down, Broyles is going to be a very good weapon for Stafford in the years to come.

Q. So the Patriots picked up cornerback AqibTalib from Buccanneers. Why didn’t Lions? From MMarcelloni.

A. Talib is long and talented and when he’s on his game he’s one of the better cover corners in the league. That being said, no thanks.

He’d have come with too much baggage. Have we forgotten the offseason? I haven’t. Talib has served three games of a four-game suspension for Adderall use, violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances.

He’s has a string of off-field incidents, including a reported scuffle at the NFL rookie symposium. He was arrested after he assaulted a cab driver in Tampa and then resisted arrest in 2009. Last year, Texas police issued a warrant on suspicion Talib pistol-whipped and shot at the live-in boyfriend of his sister in 2011. Charges in that case were dropped.

Besides all that, keep in mind the Lions didn’t have a fourth-round pick - which the Patriots gave up for Talib – because of their draft-day move this year to get linebacker Tahir Whitehead.

Not to mention Talib is in the last year of his contract. The Lions would have likely had to give up a third-round pick (with no fourth rounder) to get a rented player entering free agency.

As much of a talent that he is… the baggage, the pending free agency and the price the Lions would have had to pay would have been too much.

No thanks.

Q. Hey Tim, is KVB starting to show his age, or just in a quiet stretch? From Guest

A. I don't really agree that it’s been all that quiet. He has 17 tackles and 3.5 sacks through the team’s first seven games.

If we compare that to last year -- when he finished with 35 tackles, eight sacks and four forced fumbles – he has 17 tackles and 4 sacks through the first seven games a year ago.

You can say he’s dropped off has been in the forced fumble department. He doesn’t have a forced fumble yet this season.

The regimen of sitting him out during Wednesday practice has been really good for him.

No one is arguing that KVB isn't at the tail end of his career, but no one in that locker room works harder than him, either, so I wouldn’t worry about his production. He’ll turn 34 later this month and he’s in line for another decent season. I wouldn't worry about it.

Q. Where in your opinion does the problem lie with the special teams? Its real frustrating  ... From Rick

A. You have to admit they’ve been a lot better since that Vikings game. They’ve faced the likes of DeSean Jackson, Devin Hester and Leon Washington the last three weeks and have held all three in check.

I think part of the problem early on this season was that the Lions have a lot of young players on the bottom of their roster and those are the guys that make up special teams units. You have to remember that those guys were stars in high school and college and never played special teams – for the most part – and now they are asked to get off blocks and tackle guys in space at the highest level. That takes a little time to learn It’s less than ideal to throw a rookie in that position.

I think the injuries didn’t help, either. Special teams stalwarts like John Wendling and Erik Coleman had to play defense, which, in my opinion, took away from their effectiveness on special teams.

It seems like it’s been coming together the last couple weeks, we’ll see if it continues.

In terms of the return game, Stefan Logan has to be better, and so does the blocking. Logan had a nice punt return against the Eagles a few weeks ago that set up a field goal, but the Lions need more from their return game, especially on kickoff return.

The Lions rank 29th in kick return average, but to be fair, they’ve only returned 11 kickoffs, which is second-fewest in the NFL (Cardinals 10). They’ve taken a cautious approach to returning kicks in the end zone, partly because they don’t want to put their offense in bad situations. But it's fair to argue that approach isn’t putting their offense in good situations, either. Maybe it’s a confidence issue.

Logan and the Lions have been much better returning punts. They’re averaging 9.2 yards per return and rank 12th in the league.

We’ll see if Mike Thomas starts to play a role in special teams moving forward.

Q. Why is everyone hating on Suh lately?  He’s a force who controls the middle, whether it’s taking on two blockers and just plugging holes. Your thoughts? From Chad

A. The worst thing that could have happened to Suh was coming out and having 10 sacks as a rookie and making the Pro Bowl and All Pro team. That is one of those career years Suh had in 2010 and the fact that it came as a rookie meant that’s what everyone was going to expect from then on. It just wasn’t realistic.

I think some of the decline Suh saw last year was part of his own doing, though. He reverted back to some bad habits and at times relied too much on his strength and not his technique. He also got frustrated by the constant double teams and lack of production.

Suh is a polarizing figure off the field because he doesn’t let a lot of people into his circle and I think that lends itself to critism. He certainly didn’t help himself with the stomp on national television and the bad presser that followed.

On the field, Suh has been good. He has 3.5 sacks and 13 tackles vs. constant double teams. He’s playing hard, he’s hiting hard and as long as he keeps doing that, the most disliked players polls and all that other stuff doesn’t really mean anything but a few more papers sold.

Q. Afternoon, Tim what are your thoughts on the Lions as a team, where do you see them in your eyes? Contenders or Pretenders? From B-rad

A. I still see them as contenders. Like I said above, they have a franchise quarterback who’s the real deal, and when you have that, you always have a chance.

The Lions win Sunday in Jacksonville and they’re back to .500 and it’s a whole new ball game. That leaves them eight games left in the season and they have to at the very least go 5-3 and hope 9-7 gets them in. Five of those last eight games are at home, too.

It’s a tough road win with the Packers, Texans and Falcons on that schedule, but I’m not ready to write them off just yet. Lose to Jacksonville on Sunday, though, and you'll have to ask me that again.