2005 Detroit Lions Preview – Prediction ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>
|NFC Feature: The Detroit Lions
By Tony George www.sportsaudiosahows.com
Out of the NFC Central come rumblings of greatness out of Detroit, andmany experts out there are making the prediction that the DetroitLions can win this division over the Packers, where it couldbe Brett Farve’s last year, the Vikings without Randy Moss, and the upsurging but once again injury depleted Bears. The Black and Blue divisionof football I call it, and all eyes will be on QB Joey Harrington to seeif he can lead a high octane offense led in the West Coast style by headcoach Steve Mariucci in 2005. Lets break down this team and weigh theirchances.
OFFENSE: There is no doubt aboutthe potential on offense, and an insurance policy of sorts in QB JeffGarcia was picked up in free agency this summer, from the Browns, whomhe started for last season. This adds some depth and experience at theQB position, and of course Garcia was Mariucci’s boy when he was at SanFrancisco. An intense training camp battle is in place, but I feel Harringtonis going to win it, he has mobility and a great arm, and a serious triplethreat at WR in Charles Rodgers, rookie Mike Williams, and Roy Williams.These three amigo’s are all 1st rounders with speed, size and talent likenone other in this division, and maybe all of football, but experienceis lacking for a full season, so it will be trial and error. This passingattack, with either Harrington or Garcia will be a big play threat, especiallyon the turf in the dome on a fast track. Running back Kevin Jones, a newcomerlast year, managed 117 yards per game his last 7 games, and if that continuesbehind veteran fullback Cory Schlesinger, this offense could be dangerousand potent with any balance to it at all. The tight end position is alsosolid and deep with Pollard, Alexander and FitzSimmons. The skill positionsare loaded and deep. This offense ranked 24 th in the NFL last year, Iexpect them to be a Top 10 offense in 2005.
The offensive line is above average led by all worldJeff Backus at left tackle, but they have some questions on the rightside. Look for center Dominic Raiola to come out of his shell this yearand be a key player on the line. All in all, with some time to gel, andan experienced QB waiting in the wings if Harrington becomes inconsistent,this offense could put up 27 ppg or more this year.
DEFENSE: No matter how much you can score, ifyou cannot stop the opponent, you cannot win the big one, just ask theColts about that scenario. The good news is the front four is young andtalented and will be better in 2005, led by Shawn Rodgers at tackle. Therush ends have improved and can move around quickly and shift to insidestunts in their schemes with ease. They rotate 3 guys in here, and CoryRedding, James Hall and Kalimba Edwards are a formidable force in passrush situations. The linebackers are young and fast, and look for TeddyLehman to step up on the weakside as Boss Bailey off an injury last yearto step in the middle. This unit is also excellent in zone pass coverage.The secondary is rock solid with Holt at safety and Dry Bly and FernandoBryant at cover corners, and they are also deep here with numerous speedstersin the wings. These guys have no trouble in man-to-man coverage and ina 2 deep cover, they are excellent. All players are big time hitters andhave no fear in playing guys straight up. This defense has the potentialto be the best in the division, and a Top 12 in the NFL this year.
INTANGIBLES: The special teams are awesome withall world returner Eddie Drummond wreaking havoc all over the place, veteranJason Hanson at kicker and Nick Harris at punter, who was 2nd in the NFLat dropping it inside the 20 yard line last year. This unit is solid andHanson rarely misses a field goal inside of 45 yards.
If you look at Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron (defense)and Ted Tollner (offense) as the top 3 coaches, you have 55 years of NFLexperience at the helm, and with a young team, that is a big advantagein motivation and expertise. Add in the skill position players and thesolid foundations on the lines and this team is poised to win this division,and make a possible run at the playoffs, and a wildcard is well withinreason. Opening with Green Bay and closing at Pittsburgh this year, thereis no doubt that the Lions will have to put up points this season to competeat a high level, and if it clicks on offense, with the depth they have,the Lions are my pick to win the NFC Central and make the playoffs thisseason. Mark my words, they open with a win at home against Green Bayin Week 1 of the NFL regular season, and that is crucial is setting thetone for the season.
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