Tag Archives: Detroit Lions

Jon Gruden Fired By Bucs! WTF? Chuckie’s Gone!!

17 Jan

And so the blood letting continues among the coaching ranks.  Biting the dust tonight?  None other than Chuckie himself, notorious bad sleeper Jon Gruden.

Gruden was done it, it seems, by the Buccaneers end of season collapse.  Tampa slid from 9-3 at one point to missing out on the playoffs completely.  For that sin, so ends the Gruden Era.  And for good measure, the Glazer family canned GM Bruce Allen too.

So there you go.  No internal power struggle in which ownership sided with someone other than their coach.  Pure and simple the Bucs decided that 9-7 just wasn’t good enough.

Part of me says good for them.  Sure, Jon Gruden won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay and not that long ago. But, he’s been mediocre since.  Gruden’s records since his first glorious year in which he went 12-4 and won a title are as follows:  7-9, 5-11, 11-5, 4-12 and then back to back 9-7 records.  He’s gotten to the playoffs twice since winning it all and both times Tampa lost in their first and only game.  Last year, he seemed to make a serious error by resting his starters way too early in the regular season and dropping late season games and losing at home to the miracle Giants in round one of the playoffs. 

The other part of me says who the heck does Tampa Bay think they are?  Tony Dungy, who preceded Gruden, had guided the Bucs into respectability.  Four times in his six years in Florida, Tony Dungy got his Tampa teams into the playoffs.  They had talent.  They just never seemed to be able to put it all together for a sustained post-season run.  When Dungy went 9-7 in 2001 and got slaughtered in round one of the playoffs by the Eagles for the second straight year, the Glazers fired Tony Dungy.  Next, they ponied up a ton of cash and draft picks to bring boy genius Chuckie to town.

It worked.  I know I said it earlier in this post, but Gruden managed to win a Super Bowl in Tampa in year one.  It’s true that Dungy had handed him a winning organization and deserves a great deal of credit for Tampa’s title he didn’t get to see.  Still, it bears repeating Gruden won it all in Tampa Bay of all places.

And now he’s gone.  Only in his mid-40s, you get the feeling there’s a lot more football left in Jon Gruden.  It will be interesting to see how his availability changes any plans teams with coaching openings have.  For my money, the Rams and Jets could do a lot worse.  It’s fitting, of course, that Detroit just hired somebody and so won’t be in the hunt for Gruden, a guy who’s won in both Tampa and Oakland.  Who’s to say he couldn’t turn around Detroit?

As for Tampa, it’s a gutsy move on their part and tells us who they think they are.  The Glazer family wants their franchise to be one of the upper echelon teams and is signaling they won’t settle  for less.  The Glazers have always liked big names.  How many times, after all, did they woo Bill Parcells only to be left at the alter embarrassed and humiliated? 

Names like Cowher, Shanahan and Parcells (doesn’t he always find a way out of his deals?) are out there.  It will be interesting to see what big fish Tampa tries to reel in this time.

Could The Winless Lions Beat The Last NFL Team to Start 0-14? And Who Were They??

18 Dec

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The last NFL team to start a season with 14 straight loses before the Detroit Lions did it this very year was the 1980 New Orleans Saints.  It got me thinking what a true accomplishment losing 14 straight is.  It also got me wondering if 2008’s Detroit Lions played that historic Saints squad, who would win?

I think the first thing we can all agree upon is that most likely there would be a winner.  Being the true losers they are however, I do feel I must mention that I see some potential for a tie that would wipe out both teams’ chances for a rare win.

Be that as it may, let’s take a look at the two teams.  The 1980 Saints finished up 1-15.  They got their lone win in game 15 by beating the Jets by one point.  Did I mention that the Jets managed to win only four games themselves that year?  The rough year resulted in a mid-season coaching change and after 12 losses in a row, head coach Dick Nolan was let go.  The vastly more successful Dick Stanfel went 1-3 to finish out the year.

In contrast, Detroit seems unlikely to let Rod Marinelli go until after the season.  Reports are, in fact, that he’s kept the team together and fighting despite the non-relenting losses.  Good for him.  I’ve read he’s a good guy who doesn’t deserve this fate.  But, how many of us would trade places with him right now?

THE STATS

The ’80 Saints weren’t good on offense or defense.  They were significantly better on O  than D however.  They managed to score 18 points per game (21st out of 28 teams in the league at that time).  Call their offense a D or C-. 

Whatever you call the offense, there’s nothing to call their defense other than failing, F all the way.  They were dead last in the NFL giving up 30 points per game.  Some of the Saints’ more impressive losses that year were: 22-3 to Chicago, 40-7  to St. Louis, 41-14 to Atlanta, 45-31 to LA’sRams, 31-13 to Atlanta again (who loses to Atlanta twice in a year let alone getting slaughtered both times?).

Contrast that with Detroit’s putrid performance this year and it’s eerily similar.  Detroit is scoring 17 points per game, which is good for 27th place out of 32 NFL teams today.  So the Lion’s offense is bad, but the D is historically horrific.  Detroit is last in the NFL on defense and to date is giving up an average of 32 points per game.  Detroit’s best losses are: 35-21 to the Falcons of all people, 48-25 to Green Bay minus Favre, 31-13 to San Fran while still under Mike Nolan (Dick Nolan’s son – eery!), 34-7 to Chicago, 38-14 to Jacksonville, 38-20 to Tampa Bay and best of all 47-10 to Tennessee.  Yikes!

Going strictly by the numbers, you have to give an edge to the Saints.  1980’s Saints scored more points (1 per game) and gave up less points per game (2) than today’s Lions.  And the Saints were markedly higher in team offense coming in at 17 in the league versus the Lion’s current 27th place.

THE PLAYERS

But of course, statistics never tell the whole story.  There’s the human element.  Let’s compare some of the more noteworthy players on both rosters…  They are not all terrible.

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The Saints had Archie Manning at quarterback.  Archie is known as a great QB who suffered terribly by being destined to spend most of his time with a Saint’s franchise that hadn’t figured out how yet to approach mediocrity.  If there is any karma in the world, the proof might be in the pleasure the success of his sons in the NFL have given him.  But back to Daddy Manning’s career… in 1980 he finished third in the league for yards thrown.  He was just under 4,000 yards that year.  That’s not too much of a surprise, as Archie had made the Pro Bowl in ’78  and ’79.  But, 1980 must have worn on him.  After that year, Manning started in New Orleans for only one more season.  Then, he played out the string by going 0-10 over three seasons during which he spent time in New Orleans, Houston and Minnesota.

In the backfield with Manning, you see the names of Tony Galbreath and Chuck Muncie listed.  When you see that and know how many yards Manning gunned for that year, you begin to wonder how the Saints could have been so inept offensively.  Galbreath was only 26 and rushed for about 300 yards that year while showing his true worth in the passing game.  He had 57 catches.  Then you look at Chuck Muncie’s line and you see that he went for over 800 yards rushing that season.  Unfortunately, very few of them were for the Saints as he was traded to the Chargers early in the year.

Why was Muncie traded?  I’ve heard two versions.  After the ’79 season, Muncie asked for a trade despite having made his first Pro Bowl (he’d go onto two more as a Charger).  Muncie said there was too much racism in New Orleans in one report I read.  In the other report, from a Louisiana newspaper, it gave credit for the bad trade to Muncie’s coke problems and resulting disruption to the Saints’ team.  Whatever the case,  the loss of Muncie hurt the Saints.  They didn’t have much of a ground game without him and it helps us get a better idea why Manning was throwing the ball so often.

Also notable on that Saints team?  Wes Chandler was a 24 year old receiver who caught 65 of Manning’s passes.  He too was later traded to San Diego and achieved even greater success there.  Stan Brock was a rookie tackle who despite winning only one game in his first year would go on to play in 234 games in his career, starting over 220.  Not a small feat for a tackle or any NFL player.

In Detroit this year, the quarterback has been a three headed monster: Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky and Dante Culpepper.  Kitna was injured early in the year and despite putting up gaudy stats in years past under Mike Martz’ tutelage, Kitna at 36 was no Archie Manning.  Orlovsky at 25 got a chance to break into the starting lineup and he has been the best of the three (80.3 passer rating compared to Kitna’s 72.2), but the losses never stopped coming.  Then Dante Culpepper, 30ish and presumed retired, came back only to understandably play poorly (63.9 passer rating while barely completing 50% of his passes in the 2008 version of the NFL).

Like Muncie, Detroit has a big name at running back, Rudy Johnson.  Only like Muncie, he’s done very little for Detroit this year.  At 29 and with his former Cincinnati glory behind him, Johnson looks done.  On the bright side, rookie Kevin Smith is averaging over four yards a carry while totaling 773 years to date.  Here’s to future days, people!

Speaking of which, there’s Calvin Johnson.  He’s all of 23 has 65 catches for over one thousand yards and almost 18 yards per catch.  This is all without a quarterback.  Oh, and did we mention that Roy Williams, another wide receiver who had been counted on by the Lions for future stardom was dealt to Dallas in mid-season?

It’s interesting and makes sense that both teams lost big time players to injuries or trades during their runs to OH and 14.  Looking at the key players on both sides, and acknowledging I’ve focused on offense (but does either D scare you?), I think it all comes down to which version of each team you pick.  I think the fair thing is to assume  the two teams would play as they were after losing straight 14 games.

So, that’s no Muncie for New Orleans.  No Roy Williams for Detroit and Dante at QB.  Hmmmm… 

Here again, I have to go with New Orleans.  Neither team would be able to stop the other.  Detroit would be able to run more effectively but it’s not like they’re a great rushing team.  Archie Manning would be at QB getting balls to a young Wes Chandler and Tony Galbreath all day.  Detroit would have Dante Culpepper, unfairly but of his own will thrown into a starting job, dragging down the performance of Calvin Johnson.  This is even more true following the Williams’ trade.  The Saints would concentrate whatever defense they could muster to slow down Johnson.  I think they would do it just enough to eke out a win.

Verdict:  1980’s Saints beat 2008’s Lions.

What do you think?

BONUS QUESTION

Could either team lose to Tampa Bay’s debut squad which achieved the losing perfection of an 0-14 season record?

Short answer.  No.

The ’76 Bucs were absolutely awful.  They scored at a 9 point per game rate.  That’s half of what the ’80 Saints and ’08 Lions managed!  Defensively, Tampa is actually a little better than both of our other losers.  The Bicentennial Bucs gave up just under 30 points a game, but maybe people just stopped trying to score.

Looking at the Tampa roster, it’s a crime the NFL or any professional league would have allowed a new team to come into their league so barren.  There are almost no notables on the team.

Steve Spurrier, AKA “The Ol’ Ball Coach” started at quarterback but Spurrier was always better in college than the pros.  He won a Heisman in college and then was mostly a backup with San Fransisco in the NFL, although he did thrown 18 TDs in just nine games one year.  Anyway, like Manning, the losing most have gotten to him and that was his last year with any significant NFL playing time.  Unlike Manning, Spurrier retired and never played again. 

Smart move.  Next year, Tampa managed only two wins.

Even Favre Can’t Help The Lions Win! Is That So Wrong?

21 Oct

If one can believe Fox Sports, than it seems Brett Favre might have spent an hour on the phone with Lions’ coaches going over how to beat the Packers in the week prior to their match up.  This wouldn’t be such a big deal if:
a – Favre was QB-ing the hapless Lions rather than the looking more and more hapless Jets

b – Favre was retired

c – The Packers weren’t his old team and if Green Bay fans still didn’t view him as the second coming

But, sadly items a, b and c are all not true.  According to Fox, Brett Favre did take time away from learning his new team’s playbook to spend quite some time making it easier for Detroit to match up against his former teammates in Green Bay.  The Lions being the Lions.  They lost anyway.

As odd as this all is, there’s nothing against the NFL rules in Favre’s behavior.  In fact, in a Yahoo article, I just saw, it says Favre was known for making such calls before, but that they usually didn’t take up so much of his time.

Guess he really wanted the Lions to beat the Pack, huh?

While I’ll never understand why Favre would bother, I can’t fathom why the NFL doesn’t make this against the rules.  I get that if you’re a waiver wire pick up that the first thing you do is download all you know about your old team to the team now writing out your checks.

That’s not the situation in the Favre case.  Isn’t this tampering?  If Favre had done this before, why did he?  As a Packer, was he trying to help Green Bay by seeing to it that their rivals had a tougher road?  If not.  Then why?  Couldn’t behavior like Favre’s, if widespread, lead to accusations of gambling interests at play?  And is ANY of this in the spirit of fair competition?

I don’t think so.  I think each team should be left to their own resources and should not have access to inside information from other teams.  The NFL should put in a rule pronto.

In fact it’s shocking that the NFL, which is accused of being the “no fun league” has soooooo many rules, yet none for this.

Once again, Brett Favre is changing how the game is played…

Never Like To See Anyone Lose Their Job, But!!! (Part 2)

9 Oct

The Berlin Wall fell.  The Red Sox won not one but two championships.  Matt Millen finally took the fall in Detroit.  And now this!

Elgin Baylor is out as the GM/VP of Ops for the LA Clippers.  Baylor had been with the Clippers since the mid ’80s.  1986 to be exact.  Twenty two years of Donald T. Sterling.  Elgin Baylor should probably get a medal for that.

Elgin Baylor, with Donald Sterling, is responsible for twenty two years of mostly REALLY bad basketball.  A few years ago, the Clips woke up a little bit and Baylor even got Exec of the Year honors.  But, a winning tradition still hasn’t taken hold.  At 74, Baylor decided he’d seen enough losing and resigned.

As some of you who read this blog know, I’m in my early 40s (yet still incredibly sexy).  The unfortunate part of all this to me isn’t that Elgin Baylor lost his job.  It’s that since I’ve been following basketball Mr. Baylor has become synonymous with losing.  The Clips are a joke and he’s been a bigger joke as a GM regardless of his one Exec of the Year trophy.

Elgin Baylor deserves more than that.  For people older than me, Elgin Baylor is more than that. 

Elgin Baylor is an NBA legend.  He was Dr. J before Dr. J.  And he was a winner.  Although, in a cruel twist of fate, he never played for a team that won it all in the finals.  As if to rub it in, following his in season retirement, his Lakers teammates went on to win it all without him. 

Elgin Baylor was a great NBA player, but he had horrible luck including the misfortune of coming up against Bill Russell way too often.  It’s too bad more of us don’t remember him as a fantastic player rather than an overmatched GM.

To start correcting that, here’s a quick NBA bio and shots of Elgin Baylor at his best:

Enjoy your retirement, Mr. Baylor.  You’ve earned it!

Never Want To See Someone Fired, But!!

25 Sep

I lost a job once.  They actually didn’t call it firing and it was my whole department that left.  I think they called it downsizing.  Whatever they called it, it sure felt like being fired.  I tell you that so you will understand that I never am cavalier about calling for someone to lose their job.

But, all that said….

It was about damn time the Lions finally wised up and ditched Matt Millen.  Seven long years.  That’s how long Detroit fans have suffered under the former Super Bowl winning linebacker’s regime.  Of course, Millen isn’t the first to fail in Detroit.  Not by a long shot.

I was shocked to read that in my lifetime & I’m in my early 40s (but look much younger although that’s neither hear nor there…), the Lions have won exactly one playoff game.  The whole time the team has been owned by the Ford Family.  Talk about a hideous ownership record.

Matt Millen, shown in a 2006 file photo, is reportedly out as a president and general manager of the Detroit Lions.  (UPI Photo/Art Foxall)You’d think that if you were an owner who in 40 years had tasted postseason glory exactly once that you’d be impatient for success.  Not the case here.  Although it would have been perfectly understandable had ownership given Millen the early axe, they never did.  His Detroit teams won five games in his first two years and ownership kept right on believing.  The players and coaches came and went over the last seven years of underachievement, but Millen was never touched.

Today, the Lions finally wised up.  Here’s hoping the move gets the Lions their next playoff victory before I’ve gone off to football heaven.

And I don’t think we have to feel so bad for Matt Millen. He’s been collecting big checks for years and prior to ruining the Detroit franchise, he made a nice living as an in demand sports commentator. 

Plus, he’s got a super cool mustache…

More Important Than McCain! The NFL Is Back!

5 Sep

If summer has to end than at least we can console ourselves that it’s time for some football.  And I’m not talking that rinky dink distantly related cousin know as college football.  I’m talking NFL, baby!

Just a few thoughts, as it’s late and I’ve just finished a long McCain post. 

First, as a Giants’ fan.  What a great night!  After all the doubting and injuries to the D-Line, Big Blue comes through even after being the only team unable to convince someone to come out of retirement (Michael Strahan).  It pains me to say it, but I still don’t think they’ll be defending their Super Bowl crown come February 09.  But, I’m going to keep rooting for them to do it no matter what!  Comon sense and you can’t stop me!

This has been a weird start to the NFL season already.  Maybe the NFL is trying to match the kind of drama we’ve seen in the presidential race so far.  Here’s a few odd ways to kick off the season.

OK – the biggest one first.  Favre in green is one thing.  Farve in Jet green is unbelievable.  Still not going to turn out too well though…

The last name “OCHO CINCO” will be on an NFL jersey this year.  I thought Chad Johnson made a lot of noise about never playing for the Bengals again.  I guess he just meant under the name “Johnson”.

Detroit signs Rudy Johnson formerly of the aforementioned Bengals only to have him show up and accuse the guy he’s replacing at RB, Tatum Bell, of stealing the contents of his luggage.  Whatever happened to going the Steve Smith route and just punching out your teammate?

And here’s a sure sign of the coming end of the world.  Several credible sports columnists have clearly begun smoking crack and have predicted that the Philadelphia Eagles will win the Super Bowl.  Their predictions gloss over Donovan McNabb’s injury tendencies.  Plus, even if he stays healthy, who’s he throwing to?  He’s got no wide receivers.

Finally, Dante Culpepper who not long ago posted one of the greatest QB seasons ever, decided to retired.  He claims that teams aren’t giving him a fair shot.  I loved Dante during his time in Minnesota and I do think he’s got a point that there are other guys in the league getting shots that have never achieved the things he has.  However, he’s ignoring his two bad knees and two bad seasons in Miami and Oakland.  Finally, he’s proof positive that when you act as your own agent or lawyer, you’ve got a fool for a client.

No matter, I’m sure it won’t be too long before Culpepper un-retires.  Maybe he can replace Brett Favre in a year or two when he bails out on the Jets!

And here’s wishing a happy football season to all (except the Cowboys and their fans)!  Did you really expect anything less from a Giants’ fan?

PS – Does anyone else find it odd that the Miami Dolphins are now led by a tuna?  Sorry, it’s late and I’m lacking the judgement to resist.