Friday, March 5, 2010

Time Out For The Lions Fan

I'm well past the point of being thoroughly cynical about the Lions and I will probably be among the last to come around.

But hope springs eternal and it is very rare to see Detroit headline the first day of free agency. Usually they have to wait a week or two for the plums to get picked before begging midline aging players to come to fill some of their gaping holes, an exercise that guarantees they will be doing the same thing the following year.

Last year Mayhew showed he would be active, adding starters through free agency and trade all summer long. But even so, their best pickup was probably Larry Foote and the Lions are letting him walk, along with most of the others. Other higher profile players acquired last year, Philip Buchanon, Bryant Johnson, Julian Peterson, were either pedestrian or flat-out disappointing.

This is a story the Lions fan has seen repeated ah ... repeatedly. They acquire veteran players entering the decline phase of their careers who promptly go right over the cliff. This was never more pronounced than in 2008 when Detroit brought in Dwight Smith, Brian Kelly and Chuck Darby to start on defense. Each was terrible. Each contributed meaningfully to the winless season. Each was cut and hasn't played since.

So it is with no more than cautious optimism that I embrace the Lions current moves. On paper, they seem to be very well targeted to the Lions' needs. Corey Williams is an above average 4-3 under tackle. The Packers traded him to the Browns because he doesn't fit the 3-4 and the Browns are doing the same. Nate Burleson has been a productive receiver for two different teams. Kyle Vanden Bosch a couple of Pro Bowl years playing next to Albert Haynesworth. None of these players appears to have reached the drop off point, but each is around age 30 and unlikely to complete his contract as well.

Realistically, at least one of these moves won't work out, but if the Lions get 2 average starters out of this they are doing well. Any of these players would replace a player who is well below average, and the move from 'bad' to 'average' is almost as significant to a team as a move from 'average' to 'very good' would be.

But still, the ghosts of Lion moves past haunt this team and until they move past it we can expect no more than a year or two of production from these players before they leave another gaping hole to be filled.

That's if these moves work out at all.


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