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. An ESPN analyst said that Delmas is a top 5 NFL safety when healthy....agree? From Tyler.
A. When I think of the top five safeties in the league I think of Baltimore’s Ed Reed, San Diego’s Eric Weddle, San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson, Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu and Seattle’s Earl Thomas.
I’d lump Delmas into the next group with guys like Eric Berry, Adrian Wilson and Michael Griffin. I consider him a top 10 safety – when healthy. We all saw what his impact can be on the Lions’ defense last Sunday in Philadelphia. Delmas has to prove he can stay healthy (hasn’t played a full 16-game season in his career) and if he does and continues to progress, he can be listed in the top 5 in no time.
Q. I have a question about
A. It would be smart to hang onto Cliff. That will ultimately be up to Avril, though. The Lions tried to sign him to a long-term contract this offseason, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement. The team then did what it had to do and placed the franchise tag on Avril for $10.6 million this year.
The last reported offer by the Lions to Avril’s camp was for three years and $30 million. The Lions will probably have to go much higher than that to keep him beyond this year and I’m not sure they can afford it. The Lions have a lot of money invested in
The problem the Lions face is that after Avril, there are a lot of question marks at the defensive end position. Like you mentioned, Vanden Bosch is inching toward the end of his career, though he is playing pretty well this season (2.5 sacks). He will be entering the final year of his contract next year and will turn 35 during the 2013 season.
I’d venture to guess the Lions thought they’d be getting more production than three combined tackles and zero sacks from both
The Lions have a very uncertain future at the defensive end position heading into offseason. Avril’s return would be huge, but it might be hard to keep him from a salary cap standpoint. He’s in his prime and pass rushers are expensive on the open market.
Q. What's your assessment of special teams this week (aside from the fact that Philly didn't score on them)? Any significant changes on personnel or scheme? From Guest
A. The thing with special teams is that there isn’t a whole lot you can do in terms of personnel. Special terms consist mostly of bottom-of-the-roster guys and there isn’t much you can do midseason to improve the personnel - besides putting a few starters on the unit. But can you imagine the outrage from the fans if the Lions were to lose a starter on special teams, say a cornerback or linebacker? People would be calling for some heads to roll.
The Lions got rookie
The special teams played better against the Eagles, but let’s wait to pat them on the back until they get through the Bears game with their terrific special teams units.
Q. I know it’s not till next year, but the cap situation looks pretty bad and we will probably lose some players. What’s your take on that? From Guest
A. Already thinking about the offseason? We’re only in Week 7.
It will be a very interesting offseason for the Lions, though. They have a number of key free agents, including: safety Louis Delmas, defensive end Cliff Avril, cornerback
Its unlikely the Lions will be able to keep all of those players. I’m sure general manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand have a priority list.
Among the top of my list would be Delmas and Houston.
I sat down with Lions Vice Chairman Bill Ford last offseason and one of the things he’s said in that interview was very telling:
“You look at the best teams in the league and they don't get sentimental. The one thing about the New England Patriots is they reload on the run. If they feel like somebody they considered untouchable even a year ago is no longer untouchable, they'll make that decision and go.
"Martin (Mayhew) and Tom (Lewand) certainly understand this. Again, that's what the salary cap forces upon you. The other thing it does is: it forces you to play your draft picks.”
Moving forward, the Lions have to pay their stars (I.E. Johnson and Stafford) and play their young players.
Q. Is the biggest difference between the 4th quarter and the rest of the game aggressive play calling? From Terry
A. That’s part of it, The Lions have been behind in every game they’ve played this season and you have to force the issue and make a play when that’s the situation.
I think those are the times when Stafford shows what kind of a quarterback he is. Stafford is very good at adlibbing. He’s good at turning a broken play or a play that doesn’t follow the script into a big one.
Stafford is always looking to make a play down the field and hen the reins are off in the fourth quarter and the Lions need a play, he’s been able to produce. Stafford is good when a play breaks down. The 57-yard pass to tight end
You can’t win every week in the NFL like that, though. Ideally, the Lions would like to establish the run and play with the lead and take their shots that way.
Q. I'm concerned about Matt Stafford's accuracy, is there something going on we don't know about? From Mark S.
A. There are no injuries, if that’s what you’re talking about.
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski recently broke down some film on Stafford and questioned some of his mechanics. There’s something to that, I think. Stafford can get a little sloppy with his footwork at times.
Stafford is completing 62 percent of his passes this season, though, and I’m okay with that. I think anything in the mid-60’s or better is pretty good, and Stafford is almost there.
He missed some throws against the Eagles – a couple easy ones – but I don’t think it’s a big issue. He’s still same player that threw for 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns last year.
I think Lions fans are going to have to accept what Stafford is. He’s a gunslinger with strong arm, who’s going to make some amazing throws, but maybe miss a few throws, too.
Are you okay with that?
Q. Do you think pairing Fairley and Suh for the majority of snaps helped lead to front four successes in Philadelphia Sunday?
A. The Lions have been waiting for Fairley to have a performance like he did Sunday.
The Eagles’ offensive line isn’t among the leagues best, but it’s a testament to the Lions’ defensive line - considered among one of the better defensive lines in the NFL – that it came out and handled its business against an inferior unit.
Veteran defensive tackle Corey Williams has been very effective this year and he’s returned to practice this week. If Fairley can continue to play the way he did Sunday, and Williams can come back and be effective after knee surgery, the Lions might be back in business upfront.
I’ll say this, Suh and Fairley are the most athletic defensive tackles the Lions have. Fairley might have the best set of hands in the bunch. If Fairley can keep it up the unit just got a lot better.
I still like Williams to start, but Fairley is earning more snaps, certainly.
Q. You think lions can still get to 9 wins after slow start? From George
A. The Lions have a good shot to get to nine wins with a win this upcoming Monday at Chicago. A victory gives them a 3-3 record with their next three opponents being the Seahawks, Jaguars and Vikings – all winnable games.
After that the Lions will have a very winnable game against the Colts, which is among five of their last seven at home. If the Lions get a victory Monday, I think they have a good shot to get to nine. If they lose, it’ll be a tough road coming back from 2-4 with the likes of the Packers (twice), Texans, Falcons, Bears and Cardinals still remaining on the schedule.
Q. Reiff looked quick and understood what he was doing out there... do we see more jumbo packages with him out there? From MarsLionsFan
A. If it isn’t broken don’t fix it. It appears the Lions might be onto something with the Jumbo package using Reiff as an extra lineman. I’m not sure its just coincidence that the Lions had their most efficient rushing effort of the season (4.9 yards per carry) in a game where Reiff more than doubled his snaps (22) from the previous four games combined (9).
It’s a nice package, but the Lions can’t be predictable in it, either. They are going to have to throw out of it and not just throw to throw, either, but be effective throwing out of it. It’s like anything else, defenses in the NFL figure it out. Like the Wildcat formation, it will go the way of the Dodo Bird if it becomes predictable.
Reiff was impressive on tape and a few of his teammates took notice on Monday too. It looks like Reiff is going to be a good one. It just so happens the entire offensive line is playing pretty good right now and he’s a part of that.
Q. With the
A. The Lions have a three week window after Week 6 to get their PUP players on the practice field and a roster decision must be made, either to activate to the 53 or to IR the player, within that three-week timeframe.
Best would have to get clearance from the independent neurologists in the next couple weeks to get back on the practice field. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said that was still in the cards, though I can’t imagine how much will change with Best’s status in a couple weeks that hasn’t changed over the last year. I certainly don’t know the details of his case, though.
If the team ends up putting Best on IR, his season is over. He told reporters a couple weeks ago when we spoke to him in the locker room that if he wasn’t cleared, he still wasn’t going to consider retiring. He was going to sit down and see what options were still on the table and go from there.
Best is still under contract for another two seasons, so I’m guessing the team monitors his status during the offseason and makes a determination then, probably before the draft.