Monday, August 29, 2011

Uncle Killer

Let me start out by apologizing for my brevity.  Be assured that I am not short on emotion from the passing of Tom Kowlaski, but, rather, I am uncomfortable and inexperienced writing about topics so personal and devastating.

The passing of Kowlaski hit me, and the entire Lions community, like we had been collectively thrown to the ground by Ndamukong Suh.  Any devoted fan will not only speak of his astute contributions to the Detroit Lions community, but to his endearing personality that bled through his twitter accounts, weekly chats and "email answers" columns.

I interacted with Kowalski personally, only once.  Here's what happened:
Me, being the immature, smart-ass that I am, sarcastically shot this question to Killer not wanting, nor expecting an answer.  But, "Killer" never seemed to pass on the opportunity to give as good as he gets.  He made a living dealing with idiots like me, and never showed signs of frustration or anger.  When interacting with fans, it always seemed like he talked to us as a peer, not as a superior.  We were his drinking buddies, not his readers.  He may have thrown around the word "idiot" now and then, but it always came across the way a father would jokingly chastise his son.

Kowalski's nickname "Killer" always seemed ironic to me, though he would never accept that.  His big stature was in contrast to what seemed like an infinitely-positive demeanor.  The nickname he earned as a radio host always seemed much more fitting: Uncle.

When I'm having a tough day or just want to get away, I usually turn to the Lions to bury my worries.  Today, I can't do that.  We'll all miss you, Uncle Killer.  You're the best.

Friday, August 26, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

That is all.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lions vs. Patriots - The Pefect Kung Fu Movie

Jim Schwartz was just a market boy when he wandered into the Nation of the Foot Ball.  His head was full of numbers and dreams, but he had yet to find a place for such wonderful thoughts.  As he took his first steps on the green pastures of this new land, he felt a strange sensation that told him this would be his new home.

While strolling the streets, Schwartz ran into a drunken, hooded creature.  Schwartz immediately saw there was more to the man than what most peasants saw, and allowed himself to be taken up by the erratic, but wise, sensei.  Belichick-san soon taught him, trained him, even left him scraps to eat.  Schwartz slowly learned the way of The Hood.  It quickly became apparent that he was learning at a much faster rate than his fellow pupils.  This made Belichick-san angry and jealous.  He immediately ended the mentorship between the two.  But when the two split, Schwartz mournfully watched as his sensei turned to the dark side and dominated the land.  By the time officials found out Belichick-san had illegally fenagled his way to the top, it was too late.  His empire was too big to crumble.  Youngster, Jim Schwartz knew his destiny.  He would have to, one day, face his sensei, and brutally punish him, so that the Nation of the Foot Ball could be peaceful again.

Schwartz, determined to one day unseat his fellow sensei, spent the next few years (cue: montage) working his way up to become a sensei of his own.  When he finally learned the secret martial arts form of The Lion, he was being touted as the hottest new master around.

Swelling with confidence and pride, Schwartz-san decided it was time he face his former master on the biggest stage of them all, "The Day of the Infinite Feasts" (I believe Americans call it "Thanksgiving"). At first, the two went toe-to-toe, punch-for-punch.  Schwartz-san even seemed to be leading halfway through the epic battle.  But, eventually, Schwartz-san's youth and naivete caught up with him, and Belichick-san landed a deadly, devastating blow.

The recovery process for Schwartz-san was long and hard.  Bed-ridden for months, he slowly started to recuperate.  Late in the year, he was back on his feet and was defying people with his persistence and workmanship.  Schwartz-san even managed to defeat what most people considered the greatest up-and-coming warrior of all, Rodgers-san.  Schwartz followed up that shocking victory with three more of his own and by the years' end, he was, once again, earning the respect of his peers.

But Schwartz-san knew it wasn't enough. In order to defeat a foe that had not only embarrassed its opponents, but had done so for years, he needed something more.  Schwartz-san spent the offseason gathering new weapons and learning how to utilize them.  He was ready for the long, arduous process of relearning his craft and building an empire that could challenge the mighty Belichick-san.

But then something happened.  Belichick-san decided it was time to send a message to aspiring rulers of the land.  Schwartz-san could only watch as the evil, hooded creature and his cronies destroyed and publicly embarrassed his two closest friends, The Jaguar and The Buc.  As the two lay dying in his arms, Schwartz-san whispered to them, "I will defeat the hooded monster and restore honor to you and the land."

Schwartz-san could wait no longer.  The nation had suffered enough devastation at the hands of Belichick-san and his golden-haired compatriot (see what I did there?).  He called out his former sensei and challenged him to, once again, duel in front of the entire nation.  Does Schwartz-san have what it takes to dethrone his former sensei?  Has Schwartz-san hurried back to quickly to dispose of his former-master?  Will he even have all of his weapons at his disposal?  Am I getting too excited for a basically-meaningless preseason game?  Find out this week on: "The Rise of the Lion!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lions Fans Send Message with Wallets

First came the news that the Lions had sold out their first preseason game since 2005.  Next, regular season tickets went on sale this morning and the Lions sold out the Monday Night Football game in less than 45 minutes.  Soon, the Thanksgiving game will sell out too.  For Lions fans unable to regularly attend home games, this is great news.  But for the Lions organization, this is a message: We Believe.

The Lions fellowship has come a long way in just three years.  In 2008, the Lions managed to only sell out three times.  I'm sure there was a reason for this, but, unfortunately, I have absolutely no recollection of that season.  The following year, half of Lions' homes games sold out, but the local TV market was blacked out for both of the Lions' wins that year, including the incredibly unforgettable Browns game.  Last year, the Lions managed to sell out all but one game, yet they needed several extensions to avoid a blackout (including the Thanksgiving game).

This year, it appears the Lions faithful have bought in, literally and figuratively.  On top of the impressive ticket sales (did I mention 11,200 NEW season ticket packages sold?), bookies are confounded by the amount of bets coming in for the Lions as Super Bowl(!!!) contenders. Additionally, some fans and bloggers have allowed themselves to mention the "P word" as a legitimate possibility.

Some look at this wave of Honolulu blue and scoff at all of the "bandwagoners".  Not me.  The increase in fandom will only bring respectability to a franchise that has lacked it.  Maybe for the first time in a decade, when we pronounce to the world: "We are Lions fans", the immediate reaction will not be "I'm sorry."

However, it won't be easy to keep this momentum going.  The Lions begin the season with back-to-back games against opponents who went 10-6 last year.  They should take one of those games, but it is very possible they drop both.  If that's the case, it's almost certain fans will jump the wagon.  But for old and new fans alike, I urge you to give them time (yes, I know, more time).  By the end of the season, we will all see it was worth our passion and money.

Housekeeping: My Position with Pride of Detroit

Today marks my first day as contributor for the site under the pseudonym "simscity".  If you're reading this blog, you're probably well aware of that site already, but if not, give it a visit.  It's an excellent opportunity for me, and I can't thank Sean Yuille enough for it.

As for how that will affect this website: well...I'm not entirely sure.  I do plan on keep this place alive and at least updating twice a week.  As for what content goes where, I am still collaborating with Sean to get that sorted out.  For now, don't expect much change, but once the season gets started, we'll see.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What it is Ain't Exactly Clear

Those of you who have completed any Psych 101 class are probably well aware of the concept of confirmation bias.  For those who are unfamiliar, confirmation bias is the equivalent to the saying "you hear what you want to hear."  It's the phenomenon when people interpret an event to match their preconceived notions.  If you think Obama will be a bad president, you're more inclined to view each of his subsequent acts as president in a more negative manner.  If you think Final Destination 5 is five too many movies in that series, you're more likely to hate it upon watching.  Friday's 30-28 victory over the Cleveland Browns was the Lions' Confirmation Bias game, and consequently, my opinions of the team did not change much .

Last week's Panic Du Jour* was the running game.  This week, it's a hot bowl of "Oh my god, our defense is terrible!"  On paper, it's easy to see where the hysteria is coming from.  Colt McCoy went 10-18 for 96 yards 3 TD 0 INTs and was not sacked.  By the time he was out of the game, the Browns led 21-10 and the memories of last week's bloodbath had been stabbed into oblivion.

But, in reality, the damage was much less catastrophic.  Just take a look at this drive chart that the local Browns broadcast offered just before halftime:

Note to local Cleveland TV station: No six play drive has ever taken 9:49 off the clock
After four possessions, the Browns had gained only two first downs.  McCoy was a measly 4-10 for 24 yards and a TD (81.3 QB rating).  Running back Brandon Jackson had 5 rushes for 7 yards.  Not exactly stellar numbers.

As for the other two possessions, the Lions started to sub in some second stringers.  On McCoy's second TD pass, Detroit was working with the second-string defensive line, but the rest of the team looked to be first-stringers.  The play was pretty well covered, and on passes like that, you just have to tip your hat to McCoy.

The last possession listed was almost entirely against backups.  It was by far the Browns' most successful drive, yet it was aided by 45 penalty yards (including a weak PI call.  Note to refs: just because a corner's back is turned doesn't mean he's interfering).  No real reason to panic there, either.

That's not to say there aren't troublesome signs.  Detroit's short-range pass defense has looked soft for two consecutive weeks, and the run game continues to struggle.  But these are things that we saw last week and presumed before then.  This team is far from flawless, but much better than any team we've seen in the past decade.

As I mentioned before, though the final result looked much different from last week, my basic thoughts on the Lions remain the same.  Stafford and the first-string offense looked very strong, even in the absence of Calvin Johnson.  Nate Burleson made another awe-inspiring grab.  The offensive line continued to excel in pass protection and struggle in run blocking.  And the defense looks improved but not quite there.

If you were riding a high after last week, there's no reason to come down to Earth after Friday.  Stafford is still Stafford.  The defensive line continues to have their way.  But if you were worried about the running game and the inconsistency of the back seven on defense, Friday didn't do much the quell those fears.  Interpret away, but always remember: it's only preseason.

*Uh...Du...Week?  Sorry, my entire French repertoire (ooo, that's French!) is derived from Muzzy commercials.  For years, I unknowingly referred to myself as "a little girl" in an attempt to impress women.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Running Game, Who Needs It?

After the first preseason game, many of Lions fans' fears have been directed towards the running game.  Lion running backs could only muster 70 yards on 33 carries (2.1 a carry) against the Bengals, and their most successful runner (Aaron Brown) will not likely contribute to the team this year.  

This struggle led author Latif Masud of to write an excellent article detailing the Lions running game and what the Lions need to do to improve it.  He concludes:
"Running behind Right Guard side is one of the most critical parts of a running game in the NFL since most backs are right handed and the Lions only ran 14 times to the right the entire season. That tells me that the Lions are in need of a new right guard unless [Stephen] Peterman is fully healthy from his injury."
The Lions recently brought in guard Leonard Davis for a visit to perhaps replace Peterman.  However, Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan say they aren't panicking yet.  Schwartz recently claimed:
"I don't want to sit here and sound any more alarms on the running game. I think we've turned that into more than it is. Talked about it, and we're going to do our very best there. Each game's going to be a little bit different focus and things like that, but we're certainly not in any kind of red alert when it comes to the run game."
At first, I brushed this off as coach-speech, but then I started to think...why panic?  Do we really need a running game any better than last year to be successful?  We've all been hammered to death by NFL cliches like "You need a running game to keep the defense honest" and "The game is won in the trenches", but do these ideologies still hold true in the era of the quarterback?

I decided to take a look at 2010's data of NFL teams and how their running success related to overall success.  Before I jump into the data, I want to address the shortcomings of my data.  First, to determine overall success, I simply used final team rankings according to draft order.  This is admittedly a crude way to determine which team was better than which (ie: Seattle clearly wasn't the 9th best team), but it was a quick, and more importantly, objective way of looking at it.  Also, I used rushing ranks, rather than raw data (ie: total yards).  This ignores the variance between the rankings.  For example, the first ranked team in Yards Per Carry (YPC) has 0.6 more YPC than the second ranked team, but 0.6 YPC less than second drops you all the way down to 10th.  I chose to do it this way because it makes for a cleaner, more understandable graph.

Limitations aside, I found some pretty interesting results.  First I looked at rushing yards per game (rank) compared to NFL rank.

Click to Enlarge
As you can see, there is only a small trend with plenty of outliers.   Teams like the Packers, Colts, Bears and Saints had plenty of success without the aid of a strong rushing attack.  However, there are team like the Jets, Steelers, and Eagles who relied on their running game to succeed.  Overall, the graph is pretty scattered, meaning there's little proof that rushing yards correlates to wins.  But using rushing yards as a statistic can be misleading by itself.  Teams leading in a game tend to run the ball more late, and therefore accumulate yardage that isn't representative of their true rushing abilities.  Therefore, I have also created a graph using YPC.

Click to Enlarge
Surprisingly, there is actually a (very) small correlation in the opposite direction you'd assume.  Teams with a low YPC (high YPC rank) are actually slightly more likely to do better.  However, this correlation is not significant at all, meaning these two variables are basically unrelated.

Together, these statistics lead to an important conclusion: rushing success does not seem related at all to overall team success.  It is worth noting that this data does not account for variances in a team's passing attack, defense or special teams, but that's kind of the point.  Teams can compensate for a poor rushing attack with other aspects of the game.  The NFL is changing, and there's no blueprint for success.  That's the great thing about the NFL.  No two championship teams are alike, and although we like to point to the most recent Superbowl winner as the correct way to build a team, the truth is there are many paths to success.  It would be great if the Lions had an elite running game.  They would be able to run out the clock late in games, they would have an extremely effective play-action, and they'd pound it in on the goal-line. But, chances are, the Lions will have a mediocre running game.  But having a weakness in the run-game doesn't doom this team to the cellar of the league.  The Lions are just building their own unique blueprint for success.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Don't Forget to Smile

Well that was pretty much perfect, huh?

No one could have expected more of the Detroit Lions of Friday when they tore through the lowly Cincinnati Bengals.  In less than six minutes, the Lions had already accomplished the following:

  1. A 67-yard touchdown drive
  2. A fumble recovery on special teams
  3. Another passing touchdown on a 4th-down conversion
  4. An interception of rookie Andy Dalton
Watching that first six minutes was as surreal of a moment as it gets for Lions fans.  I rocked back-and-forth, like a recovering drug-addict muttering to myself, "It's only the preseason.  It's only the preseason."  But, in the end, I couldn't help myself.  This moment was too much fun to repress.  Friends among me argued whether this was real or not, until we all realized why not just sit back and enjoy watching the Lions on the other side of a beat-down.  Nothing could kill my ear-to-ear grin for the next 3 hours. 

The rest of the game was pretty much a blur as the Bengals suffered a slow and painful death.  At times, the typical Lions fan in me slipped out:  "Ugh, Peterman is going to have another terrible year." "How is a front-seven this talented giving up so many yards on the ground?"  It was impossible not to.  The 2008 preseason has left a permanent scar on the mentality of a Lions fan, and it's no longer possible to fully enjoy a preseason win.  But just as I am giving little credence to the long-term validity of our successes, I must bury my worries of the problematic play by the run offense and defense.  

The game may have been "meaningless", but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy witnessing the slaughter of a Bengal.  You can dissect the game all you want afterwards, but don't forget to savor the moment.  Take Friday for what it was: A fight between two NFL teams, where, on that day, one team was clearly better than the other.  And, for once, that team was the Detroit Lions.   

Friday, August 12, 2011

Calvin Kerfuffle

Let me begin this post by saying I HATE sports lists (sorry bleacherreport).  Top 10 lists mask themselves as analysis, when they're really just opinions based on weak statistics.  ESPN analysis Cris Carter recently listed his Six Elite Wide Receivers and left Calvin Johnson off the list, spiraling Detroit fans into a frenzy on the eve of their first preseason game.  I can see why Carter said what he said, and I can see why Lions fans are mad.  It all boils down to how you analyze stats.

Carter's list seems based entirely on the past two years of performance.  Here's Carter's list:

  1. Andre Johnson
  2. Larry Fitzgerald
  3. Greg Jennings
  4. Reggie Wayne
  5. DeSean Jackson
  6. Roddy White
Now here are the top receivers in the past two years based on yards:
  1. A. Johnson - 2785 yards, 15 TDs
  2. R. Wayne - 2619, 16
  3. R. White - 2542, 21
  4. G. Jennings - 2378, 16
  5. M. Austin - 2361, 18
  6. L. Fitzgerald - 2229, 19
  7. D. Jackson - 2223, 15
  8. W. Welker - 2196, 11
  9. Ca. Johnson - 2104, 17
  10. S. Moss - 2017, 9
Now, it is completely rational to look at previous performances and determine how good players are.  But what Carter, and many others, fail to do is put these statistics in their proper context.  We all know what Calvin had to fight through in the past two years.  But let's look at someone who is getting ignored in this argument completely: Santonio Holmes.

Holmes, has been one of the most game-changing receivers in the league in the past five years.  The 2008 Superbowl MVP is notorious for making clutch catch after clutch catch to bring his team the victory.  Lion fans certainly don't need a reminder of that.  There is no doubt in my mind that he deserves to be in the "Top 10" discussion.

But despite all of Holmes' accomplishments, he failed to make the top 10 list in statistics in the past two years (he was 12th).  Astute fans would note that Holmes missed four games last year with his suspension, but that's not the point.  Holmes' performance dropped from 2009 to 2010 by nearly 16 yards a game (78 to 52.2) and a huge 1.8 yards per catch (6.5 to 4.7).  Did Holmes suddenly become a worse receiver?  Absolutely not.  He went from having a 2-year Superbowl champion at quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) to an unproven youngster (Mark Sanchez) on a team that is more focused on the running game and short-yardage passing.  

Obviously, Johnson has gone through a similar transformation.  In 2009, he dealt with injuries and a rookie quarterback.  Last year, he had to fight through a second-string quarterback then a THIRD-string quarterback, and his stats went UP.  

By putting these numbers in context, we allow ourselves to understand the past more accurately and we put  ourselves in a better position to predict the future.  If you want to list the top 10 wide receivers of the past two years, go to  If you want to name the top 10 receivers for 2011, that list is much more complicated.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Path to Manhood Begins Friday

Editor's note: "On Paper" previews will begin Week 1 of the Regular Season

Friday, it finally begins.  After months of mock drafting, collective bargaining, free-agent signing, camp training and injury, we finally get a glimpse of that beautiful glimmer of the Ford Field lights beaming down on our silver-headed heroes.  Sure it may only be a preseason game, but for many of us, we have awaited this moment with the intensity of an infant hawk determined to penetrate its repressive shell.

Friday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals marks the beginning of the Lions transformation from immature child into a developing adolescent.  We've long suffered the embarrassments of youth.  In 2007, we stood high upon our 6-2 mountain, only to realize we were atop a high-chair and proceeded to fall off.  2008: The Year of the Crapped Pants.  Last year, we took our first major steps.  We learned to walk.  Then we ran.  We learned to talk.  Then we screamed.  We skinned our knee (or shoulder) and didn't cry.

Now begins the next step.  No more talk about potential.  No more empty predictions.  It's time for action.  It's time for football.   And here's what I'm looking for in Friday's game:

Offensive Tackle Depth.  It's no secret that the Lions are struggling with injuries at the tackle position.  However, this provides a unique opportunity for backup tackles to prove their worth against first-string talent. The Bengals don't offer any elite pass rushers, so it should be interesting to see how Corey Hilliard, Tony Ugoh and Johnny Culbreath react.  Keep Stafford healthy, please.

Cornerbacks.  Perhaps the biggest unknown for the Lions, the cornerbacks will be under the microscope on Friday.  Eric Wright has a lot to prove after an extremely disappointing season in Cleveland.  Meanwhile, Aaron Berry has piqued my curiosity since the beginning of training camp.  Last year, he shined in training camp and the preseason, but his season-ending injury in week one last year put an end to his hype.  This year, he has already created some buzz and will likely crack the lineup at some point this season.  Unfortunately, he has been declared out for the Bengals game this week.  This should give Nathan Vasher more playing time.  Vasher played well down the stretch last year, but his ability as a starter remains in question.  The Bengals will be starting rookie Andy Dalton at quarterback, so if the corners struggle, it might be time to worry (though not too much with Berry and Alphonso Smith out).  Also, keep an eye out for Bengals rookie receiver A.J. Green.

Linebackers living up to hype?  The Lions will have a different starter in every linebacker position this year (assuming Stephen Tulloch eventually moves into the middle).  Most are crowning this unit as the most improved during this offseason.  Tulloch's acquisition has been universally praised, many believe Justin Durant is a significant upgrade from last year, and everyone seems to agree that DeAndre Levy is better suited as an outside linebacker.  Well...let's see it.  The defense has been missing gap-clogging play makers and reliable second-level tacklers.  If these guys are as good as they are being touted, the Lions defense could be unrecognizable from last season.

The path to manhood won't be easy, but it may be shorter than you think.  Friday will give us some clue, but, more importantly, it will just allow us to see our team grow again.  And I can't wait.  Go Lions.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why This Year Will Be Different: Stafford to Megatron

In the midst of all the depressing injury news in training camp, I figured now would be the best time to start my new offseason feature: Why This Year Will Be Different.  The Lions have gone through significant improvement in the last couple years and appear ready to make the jump from perennial loser to respected feared opponent.  Perhaps the biggest reason a turnaround is likely is the improved chemistry between Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford.

In the two years they have played together, Stafford and Johnson have shown flashes of what could be the best QB/WR tandem in the league.  Games in which Johnson had 100 yards or more with Stafford behind center, the Lions are 2-1.  However, those games have been few and far between.  They have only played 11.5 games together in which Johnson averaged 4.8 catches for 69.9 yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game.  Johnson only has one game in which he and Stafford connected for multiple touchdowns.

So why will the duo have a breakout year together?  Several reasons.  First, both are healthy (I nearly broke my hand knocking on wood).  The two only played three games together last year because of Stafford's injury and Stafford's rookie season was littered with injuries to both himself and Megatron.  This duo is also getting the benefit of having another "full" training camp to develop chemistry.  According the Lions beat reporters, the improved timing and trust between the two have been evident:

Also, the addition of Titus Young will likely give the Lions another threat that defenses will have to account for.  It's unlikely that opposing teams will move coverage away from Calvin, but Young will make defenders think twice before leaving him open.  I fully expect to see the defense bite on a pump-fake to Young, bomb to Calvin at least once this year.

Finally, Calvin has dominated the NFL with a backup (or 3rd stringer) at the helm.  CJ hit the century mark four times last year and almost single-handedly won the game at Tampa.  He finished 9th in receiving yards and 2nd in TD receptions last year, despite only playing 2.5 games with Stafford.

So take a minute from the doom and gloom of Mikel LeShoure's season-ending injury and remember this team still has what may be the best quarterback/wide receiver duo in league.  Both still have a lot to prove and need to stay healthy, but if all the signs are true, they will have a season that will have defenses scrambling to hold the score below 30.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Zack Follett Likely Out of NFL, Kickoffs Should Follow

After two seasons and only 17 games played, Detroit Lion Zack Follett has been released and will likely be out of the NFL for good.  Follett has been a fan favorite ever since he was drafted in 2009.  From his hard-hitting youtube reel to his supermarket antics, it was hard not to root for the guy.  Unfortunately, Follett has become one of the many victims in the NFL that have had their careers cut short due to special teams.  Before Follett, there was Eagles returner Ellis Hobbs.  Before Hobbs, there was Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand.  Injuries have varied from sore necks, to paralysis, to even death NFL rulemakers have toyed with the rules for awhile trying to protect the players.  In fact, this year will feature a couple differences from years past.  Kickoffs will be pushed forward to the 35 yard line from the 30, and players from the kicking team will only be able to get a 5-yard running start, where they got a 10-15 yard head start previously.  While this is an important step in the right direction, it is the equivalent of putting a bandaid on a spinal-cord injury.  The NFL needs to get serious about solving this problem.  They need to get rid of the kickoff. 

Now I know saying something that drastic will inevitably evoke an emotionally-strong response from many. A major change to the game of football will take a lot of thought and discussion before it is seriously considered.  Although I consider myself a football purist in many ways and have fought against many rule changes that I deemed too drastic (ie: certain roughing the passer penalties asking way too much from defenders), I have always been weary of the brutality of the kickoff.  Give it real thought.  Pretend that teams must start at the 25-yard line at the beginning of every half and after an opponent score (punts can stay).  How much worse would the game of football be?  Different? Yes.  Worse.  Not significantly enough.

There are, no doubt, downfalls to getting rid of the kickoff.  We will lose what some people consider the most exciting play in football: a kickoff return touchdown.  Without the kickoff, there is no “Music City Miracle”.  No “The Play”.  A world where the occasional trombonist isn’t trampled by a giddy cornerback-turned-returner is a scary one indeed.  But think about the actual concept of the kickoff play.  For six or seven plays a game, coaches trot out their third and fourth string linebackers and fullbacks, tells them to run at each other full speed, so that they can determine field position, which typically is somewhere between their own 20 and 30 yard line.  It seems a little archaic, doesn’t it?  Get all of the meager athletes together to do the dirty work, so the real players can be safe to play when it matters.  Players with less talent have been unfairly subjected to dangerous plays so that once in every six games, we get to see a kick return touchdown.

The biggest unintended consequence of abolishing the kickoff is the loss of the onside kick.  This, admittedly, is a tough thing to accept.  Many games that were once considered a close game, would be out of reach for the losing team.  This would, undoubtedly, make a significant percentage of games less entertaining.  My retort?  Tough.  A team that truly deserves to be in a game can do so without the luxury of the onside kick.  Losing the onside kick will be a tough pill to swallow, but given the rarity of the onside kick (in 2009, an expected onside kick was performed every 6.4 games*) and the success rate of the onside kick (around 20% when expecting an onside kick) the actual outcome of games will rarely be altered.

The new rules this year are no doubt steps in the right direction, but they will not likely end the problem.  I understand that violence and injuries are an unavoidable part of the sport.  However, kickoffs are especially dangerous and often an insignificant play.  The elimination of the kickoff would have a minor impact on the sport, but it would save the careers of hard-working players like Follett and it would save the lives of those who weren’t as lucky as him. 

*2010 data not available; source:

Introducing Detroit OnLion

Welcome family members and twitter followers! A special "hello" goes out to the random one or two people who accidentally stumbled upon this page while looking for a strange fetish website.  One day your dream blog will come to fruition.
I have never read the inaugural post of any blog ever, so forgive me if I don't abide by the conventional standards.  Let me tell you a little about who I am, and what to expect of this blog in the future.  I am going to go about this in the most tacky way possible: going through the "Wh" questions.
My name is Jeremy Reisman.  I am a 25 year old male living in Los Angeles.  My hometown is a suburb of Detroit, where I lived for the first 23 years of my life.  I graduated from the University of Michigan where I received a BA in psychology and an irreversible sense of superiority (or so I'm told by my lesser MSU "friends" *).
Now that the okcupid profile stuff is out of the way, let me tell you who I actually am.  I am a die-hard Detroit Lions fan (emphasis on die).  My father instilled this in me, as we have had season tickets to games since I was the age of 5.  It is something I will never forgive him for, but will never stop thanking him for.  Unfortunately, my move to California and his typical elderly pilgrimage to Florida (yes, I am taking a cheap shot at the one person I am sure will be reading this) has put an end to the tradition.
Those of you who have been around the Lions blogosphere, specifically, may know me as the guy who writes the "On Paper" previews.  If you've been stalking me, you may also recall my year as the Lions blogger for in 2008.  Well it's true.  I have decided to reveal my secret identity and step out into the limelight.  Please, out of respect for me and my family, do not flood my inbox with fan letters, and try not to stalk me on the streets of Hollywood.
Here's what you can expect from Detroit OnLion:
  1. My opinion and analysis on Detroit Lions news and games.
  2. My "On Paper" previews will continue, and I am currently working on a cool way to analyze game results.
  3. At least once a year, a report from an away Lions game.  Last year, I attended both games at Tampa Bay and Miami.  It was a phenomenal experience and I promise to make a trip every year.  This year, I am heading to Oakland, where I have already procured tickets inside the Black Hole.  I fully expect to be swallowed up and never seen again.
  4. An occasional dip into other forms of entertainment including, but not limited to, other Detroit sports (my hierarchy goes: Lions > Wings > Wolverines > Tigers > Pistons), TV shows (current favorites include "Community", "30 Rock", and "Breaking Bad"). 
  5. If I draw enough interest, I'd love to give you all a chance to contribute.  Whether it be through live chats, a weekly emails feature, or a "best of..." comments post every week, I haven't decided yet.  But feedback is always welcome.  I promise to answer any email (even especially if its hate mail).
I know that one of the no-no's of blog writing is an non-narrowed focus, but what I've noticed from Lions fans (and sports fans in general) is that we enjoy many of the same things outside of the world of football, so why not talk about them?

Here's what I WON'T be writing about here:

  1. Fantasy football.  I hate it and the culture it created.  What used to be my favorite day of the week when I get to watch my favorite sport with friends has turned into a forum where everyone complains about their "unique" injustices that the fantasy Gods have placed upon them.  In other words, despite being quite knowledgeable about football and the NFL, I suck at fantasy football and the frustration of being destroyed by people who just draft players they've heard of ("Tiki Barber is good, right?") has caused me to ignore its existence.
  2. Wrap ups of Detroit Lions news.  There are already plenty of blogs that summarize the daily happenings of everything Detroit Lions and there's no real way to be superior in the posting of other articles.  (If you are looking for those sorts of sites, I suggest PrideofDetroit and SideLion Report for their "Scanning the Savanna" series)
  3. Extensive pre-draft coverage.  On draft day, I am as excited as anyone else in the football community.  However, I don't get caught up in all of the pre-draft ruckus.  Once again, there are plenty of other outlets for that and a lot of it seems to be a waste of time.  You can expect maybe one mock draft (though I doubt it) and a profile or two on a player I'd like to see the Lions target.  Offseason coverage will be more directed towards assessing the current roster and analyzing the previous season. 

Obviously here at but you can also follow me on twitter @DetroitOnLion.  I am quite active on twitter, and that will likely be the quickest way to interact with me, if you're into that.  You can also guarantee a response by emailing me at  


My current goal during the offseason is to write at least two articles per week.  Obviously, this number will go up during the actual NFL season.  During the regular season, you can expect, at the very least, a preview posted on Friday and an analysis article the following Monday (obviously the Thanksgiving game and MNF game will be exceptions).  I would like to follow a predictable schdule that is admittedly modeled after mgoblog
.  Friday: preview; Monday: summary; Midweek: in-depth analysis.


Living in Los Angeles, I only have a handful of friends to share this passion with.  Sure there's twitter and other blogs I can contribute to, but I'm egotistical and I want to be able to control the discourse of discussion on some level, no matter how small it is.  

As a reader, here's why you should continue to read.  I am trying to create something to compliment an already-strong Lions blogging community.   I'm trying to model myself as a middle-ground between my two favorite Lions blogs: The Lions in Winter and Armchair Linebacker. Ideally, I'd like to create a mix between entertainment and information (not to say that these two blogs don't effectively do both).  Planned non-football related posts include: How "Community" is like "South Park", but better; Why sports movies are almost always terrible; and why you should attend a college hockey game before you die.  

If any or all of that interests you, I suggest you stay for awhile.  Things may be a little rough in the beginning, as I'm still getting used to Blogger and still developing some post ideas.  You may see me mess with the design a little here or there.  Think of it this way: you either get to be one of those people that can say "I was reading Jeremy's stuff when his dad was the only other commenter" (unlikely) or you get to witness a downward spiral that will likely end in some sort of psychotic breakdown where I blame Matt Millen for all of my personal problems in life (likely, and probably more entertaining).

It is an exciting time to be a Detroit Lions fan, and I'm looking forward to connecting back with my brethren in Michigan.  With that out of the way, let the real content begin...  

*joke, please don't jump ship, Sparty**

**Just because I added a footnote doesn't mean I think all MSU fans can't get jokes.  I've never, ever thought that in my life.  Please like me.