With Draft day nearly upon us, I regret that I won’t be able to get to all thirty two teams as I had hoped. I hope that by the time Draft day comes around that I will have previewed for you 62% of the league (20 teams). I hope you all don’t hold it against me. With that said for this eleventh preview edition, let us take a look at the Detroit Lions.
I think the most important signing the Lions made this offseason was the hiring of Jim Caldwell as the head coach. Caldwell was Peyton Manning’s quarterback coach and later head coach in Indianapolis. If Caldwell can teach Matthew Stafford the patience he needs not to throw stupid interceptions then the Lions should be one of the best teams in the NFC. Stafford’s 1.6 Touchdown/Interception Differential(TID) is one of the reasons for the Lions meltdown at the end of the year. Analysis shows that overall a quarterback with a 2.0 or better TID led his team to a winning record. The hope therefore is that Caldwell will be a positive influence on Matthew Stafford, because we know with a quarterback who is savvy enough to protect the ball Caldwell is winning coach.
The second biggest addition for the Lions this offseason is former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate. Tate is great addition to be a number two receiver behind Calvin Johnson. Tate for his career has a 62% Reception Ratio (RR). Tate last season was averaging 8.1 yards after the catch with a RR of 65.3%. Signing a younger Tate is a much better move then retaining the aging Nate Burleson.
Pass protection is always a good thing as well as having a lead blocker for Joique Bell and Reggie Bush so Jed Collins is a great pickup at fullback. Plus he is an extra target out of the backfield. Collins last season had 14 receptions a RR of 77% and had a YACAVG of 5.1 pretty good numbers from a true fullback.
James Ihedigbo will replace Louis Delmas at safety. Ihedigbo has the advantage of playing for the Lions defensive coordinator in Baltimore. That said Ihedigbo seems more durable than Delmas even though he has been in the league a little longer. Ihedigbo is coming off a career year with 101 tackles that’s an average of 6.3 tackles a game, he also had a 11 passes defensed for an average of 0.68 a game. The value in this choice lies in the fact that Ihedigbo will not need to learn a new system even though he is with a new team as he enters his eighth season in the league.
The Lions countered their losses of Israel Idonije and Willie Young with Daryl Tapp from Washington, George Johnson from Minnesota and Vaughn Martin from Miami all career backups. I have to say Idonije with his stats from last season can easily be swapped with Daryl Tapp so that doesn’t really hurt the Lions. The thing is Willie Young was tied for 6th on the team in tackles last season so unless this was a salary cap move this is a player that they should not have let get away. Vaughn Martin had all of 1 tackle last season. George Johnson didn’t play a single snap last year.