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 The Myth of building in the trenches 
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Building in the trenches is important for a football team. However, Left tackles are usually only found in the top 2 round with the majority in the first.


May 10th, 2009, 9:12 pm
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Blueskies and S&C,

You two just don't seem to be understanding. The issue here is two-fold:

1. The Lions are weak on offensive line and defensive line. Can we at least agree on that?

2. The Lions current FO did say that they intended to rebuild this team by addressing the needs along the lines. Can we agree on that?

If you answered no to either question, you haven't been paying attention, and this discussion stops here.

If you answered yes to BOTH questions, then you MUST understand two things.

1. What other teams have done is inconsequential to what the Lions need to do and have needed to do for the past few years.

2. Nobody has said that the Lions MUST take linemen in the first round. What we've said was that the Lions had an opportunity to fulfill their promise to season ticket holders, fans and media alike, and could have used high draft picks on linemen instead of who they did take.

Also, nobody said that the Lions MUST take linemen with high picks in every draft. What has been said is the the Lions continue to ignore the glaring needs along the offensive line and defensive line, and that the top talent is typically found toward the top of the draft. We have said that you BUILD the team in the trenches. The Lions have been trying to build a winner in the opposite fashion, much to the dismay of some of us. As the Lions continue to take skill position after skill position in their drafts, they continue to attempt building the team using the same blueprint as Millen. I'm sorry if you don't like that comparison, but it is what it is.

Yes, we have two first round tackles and a second round center. So what? My question to you, do you think that they are first or second round talents in comparison to the rest of the starters at their respective positions across the NFL? Answer: No way in Hell are they even close.

That being said, you don't win in the NFL without having respectable talent along your lines. It just doesn't happen. Irregardless of where those players were drafted, you must judge how well do they play in comparison to the rest of the league. The Lions haven't had a well regarded offensive lineman since Lomas Brown. Shaun Rogers was a well regarded defensive lineman, and the Lions braintrust didn't give him any talent to help support him.

I have brought up the number of linemen drafted since 2001 as a way of showing how the Lions have ignored their lines. You continue to show examples of what other teams have done and how the number of players taken along the lines has no bearing. IT DOES FOR THIS TEAM. This is the first non-expansion team to go 0-16. This is the considered to be one of the worst, if not THE worst, professional franchise in the United States. Is it all because of the Lions not drafting linemen? Of course not. But does that have something to do with their continued misery and failures as a team? YES, it does.

If you don't believe that, then you can continue to cheer the Lions continued losing seasons. You can continue to accept their drafting skill position after skill position with complete disregard to the lines. You can continue to say "woulda, shoulda, coulda" and applaud them when they, yet again, ignore drafting talent up front.

So, I agree that good line talent can be found in the later rounds, or as UDFA's. But that is true for EVERY NFL position, including QB. None of us are hoping that the Lions current crop of picks fails miserably to prove our point, because it really wouldn't prove our point and in the end we all want the same thing; for the Lions to put a respectable team on the field and become a winner. If Stafford/Pettigrew/Delmas/Levy are the cornerstones of that happening, I'd be more than happy to give credit where credit is due. But I will bet my bottom dollar that it WON'T happen with our current group of offensive linemen or defensive linemen.

I am not just giving Schwart and Mayhew one year to build this team. My concern is for the future. Will they continue to ignore line needs? I don't know. What I DO know is that they plainly stated that they intended on addressing needs along the lines, and they haven't done it. I can only judge them on that.


May 11th, 2009, 8:53 am
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M2K,

Never once in any of my posts in this topic did I say that the Lions should ignore lineman, in the previous or future drafts. That is not my argument, do not try to interpret it as such.

What I am merely attempting to disprove is this notion:

"Millen failed as a GM because he did not draft enough lineman."

It pops up on this board all the time. Perhaps Millen did not draft enough lineman numerically, but I contend that it wouldn't have mattered.

We can all agree that he drafted a lot of skilled position players, and the majority of them busted. He did draft SOME lineman, and the majority of them busted. Therefore, it is not a stretch to say that, had he drafted more lineman, there just would've been more lineman busts on this team.

That said, does this team have glaring needs along the lines? Yes. Were they passed up in the draft to target other positions? (also needs; perhaps not as big of needs, needs none the less) Yes.

But (as Millen's drafts have shown) lineman bust too. If you give the new FO the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they are competent, then perhaps they acknowledged the gaps on the line, but ultimately chose to ignore them given the players available.

When I was doing my research, I noticed that there were years when the Patriots took virtually NO lineman in the draft. There were other years where they spent the majority of their picks on the lines. The draft has a limited pool of talent. Perhaps Mayhew didn't like line talent in this draft, and maybe he's right.

It's true that the Lions will suck until they fix their lines. But this past draft was not their only chance to do so, as some posters on this board seem to suggest. Give them two more subsequent drafts, and some off seasons before you rule that they did not address the lines.


May 11th, 2009, 2:00 pm
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Blueskies, I can't argue with a thing you said. I never said that Millen failed because he didn't draft enough linemen. He failed because he NEVER had a clear plan of direction, he NEVER listened fully to his staff of coaches and scouts, and in the end he proved to be too much of an egotist for his own good. He reached in every round, and I fully agree that IF he had drafted more linemen, they would have likely been busts along with the rest. From what I've heard, there were times when it was advised for him to take linemen, and he chose not to. I have even heard that last seasons selection of Cherilus and Dizon caused major dissension among the scouts toward Millen, because most of them felt both picks were incredible reaches.

The Lions suck for one standout reason; terrible drafts from 2001-2008. Regardless of how many of what position would/could/should have been taken, the fact is that the players dumbass chose didn't pan out because they didn't have talent for this league. We have ZERO players from our 2002, 2003 and 2005 drafts on our roster. That's 26 picks shot to Hell. We have only two each from 2001, 2004 and 2006. That's six picks out of 19. I don't think anyone can argue that is represenatative of good drafting.

I think that this years draft WAS better than anything we've seen from the Mustachioed Moron. The Lions got very good players and, though I felt they reached a bit for Delmas, Levy and Hill, I don't think those players will be complete and utter failures such as Wilson, Lehman and Cody.


May 11th, 2009, 3:06 pm
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m2karateman wrote:
Blueskies and S&C,

You two just don't seem to be understanding. The issue here is two-fold:

1. The Lions are weak on offensive line and defensive line. Can we at least agree on that?

2. The Lions current FO did say that they intended to rebuild this team by addressing the needs along the lines. Can we agree on that?

If you answered no to either question, you haven't been paying attention, and this discussion stops here.

If you answered yes to BOTH questions, then you MUST understand two things.

1. What other teams have done is inconsequential to what the Lions need to do and have needed to do for the past few years.

2. Nobody has said that the Lions MUST take linemen in the first round. What we've said was that the Lions had an opportunity to fulfill their promise to season ticket holders, fans and media alike, and could have used high draft picks on linemen instead of who they did take.

Also, nobody said that the Lions MUST take linemen with high picks in every draft. What has been said is the the Lions continue to ignore the glaring needs along the offensive line and defensive line, and that the top talent is typically found toward the top of the draft. We have said that you BUILD the team in the trenches. The Lions have been trying to build a winner in the opposite fashion, much to the dismay of some of us. As the Lions continue to take skill position after skill position in their drafts, they continue to attempt building the team using the same blueprint as "Moron of the Millenium". I'm sorry if you don't like that comparison, but it is what it is.

Yes, we have two first round tackles and a second round center. So what? My question to you, do you think that they are first or second round talents in comparison to the rest of the starters at their respective positions across the NFL? Answer: No way in Hell are they even close.

That being said, you don't win in the NFL without having respectable talent along your lines. It just doesn't happen. Irregardless of where those players were drafted, you must judge how well do they play in comparison to the rest of the league. The Lions haven't had a well regarded offensive lineman since Lomas Brown. Shaun Rogers was a well regarded defensive lineman, and the Lions braintrust didn't give him any talent to help support him.

I have brought up the number of linemen drafted since 2001 as a way of showing how the Lions have ignored their lines. You continue to show examples of what other teams have done and how the number of players taken along the lines has no bearing. IT DOES FOR THIS TEAM. This is the first non-expansion team to go 0-16. This is the considered to be one of the worst, if not THE worst, professional franchise in the United States. Is it all because of the Lions not drafting linemen? Of course not. But does that have something to do with their continued misery and failures as a team? YES, it does.

If you don't believe that, then you can continue to cheer the Lions continued losing seasons. You can continue to accept their drafting skill position after skill position with complete disregard to the lines. You can continue to say "woulda, shoulda, coulda" and applaud them when they, yet again, ignore drafting talent up front.

So, I agree that good line talent can be found in the later rounds, or as UDFA's. But that is true for EVERY NFL position, including QB. None of us are hoping that the Lions current crop of picks fails miserably to prove our point, because it really wouldn't prove our point and in the end we all want the same thing; for the Lions to put a respectable team on the field and become a winner. If Stafford/Pettigrew/Delmas/Levy are the cornerstones of that happening, I'd be more than happy to give credit where credit is due. But I will bet my bottom dollar that it WON'T happen with our current group of offensive linemen or defensive linemen.

I am not just giving Schwart and Mayhew one year to build this team. My concern is for the future. Will they continue to ignore line needs? I don't know. What I DO know is that they plainly stated that they intended on addressing needs along the lines, and they haven't done it. I can only judge them on that.


M2K,

I pretty much agree with everything you said, and I think you are misunderstanding my position and Blueskies'. The point of the original post was that blindly drafting linemen does not ensure that your team will be good--the point is to take the right linemen. The point was made as a general point about how teams are built. I consider that myth busted as a general proposition. The key word is GENERAL. You made the statement that Blueskies' research proved nothing, and I disagreed with that contention. It proved something as a general proposition, which is perfectly fair.

That said, I wholeheartedly agree with your reasoning as applied to the Detroit Lions and their recent drafts. They have passed up talent at the line to reach for players at non-premium positions and have serious problems up front.

For instance, here is what I did on my blog for my annual "Me vs. Millen/Mayhew" Draft where I made picks live in the Lions' spots:

1(1) Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
1(20) Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
2(33) Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
3(76) Kraig Urbik, OG, Wisconsin
3(82) Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina
4(101) Jason Phillips, ILB, TCU
4(115) Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
6(192) Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati
7(228) Sammie Stroughter, WR, Oregon State
7(235) Zack Follett, OLB, California
7(255) Mitch King, DT/DE, Iowa

Based on your comments on this forum, I would guess that you would be happier with my draft than Mayhew's? That's five guys on the line, none of which would have been considered "reaches." If I was drafting for the FO the past two years, the offensive line would look much better: with Gosder and Jason Smith as bookends and the young, promising Anthony Collins either on the bench or starting at guard.

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May 11th, 2009, 8:42 pm
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I agree...his premise was not specific to the Lions. It was more about people always throwing around what has become cliche in building from the trenches...all of which Ross said, Millen said, Marty said, Nelli said, Schwartz said. I believe it's in the handbook called "Things Every New Coach Must Say".

I think it's also a misnomer to assume that these are the real critical positions and others can be neglected. The team has to be solid through to have any shot at succes. I could have the best dline and the DB's and I will not have success. Yes, a great dline can definately help out bad DB's by putting pressure on the QB and stuff the run. That's huge...but one could argue that great DB's in a similar way change the dynamics for the opponents offense to play in a different way and focus more on the run. This is where I think the trench building becomes just something to say. Does that negate the importance of a strong oline or having a dominant dline? Not at all...they are keys to having success. But a complete team should be the goal.

In respect to the Lions I don't think there is a person that would argue a strong neglect of especially the oline. We have thrown retreads at the oline and not seriously drafted anyone in there under Millens watch. 8 years of ignoring anything will make it a weakness...but IMO that's the entire team and I believe thats how Schwartz and Mayhew see the Lions, as a complete rebuild. That doesn't mean that they are excused to completely ignore adding to the lines though. They need to build that line through schrewd FA moves and finding quality draft picks. But I also firmly believe that a team that can build a strong oline with 3rd rounders and later gives themselves the opportunity to really draft special players above that. I think the 1st round picks should IMO always be game changers and simply building blocks.

That's my personal opinion though...which is essentially what anyones opinion on drafting is rather than fact or law. From the Goose to me, it's all subject opinions. The real fact is that there is no perfect strategy. These owners who for the most part have built up extremely successful businesses hire these presidents and GM's who for the most part (aside from Millen) are experienced and successful people should have much more of an inside track and understanding than you or I. They have access to much more information and complete staffs professionals to evaluate talent and aide in these decisions. If there was 1 pattern to success one would think everyone and their brother would attempt to follow it. But in Blueskies explanation and my outline of the lack of super high picks in oline talent on successful teams it shows that there is no such pattern at all. Too much variability to predict what will success.

But, what is a key component in a solid and success team is integrity. Integrity meaning that the team has a strong core of talent and the remainder of the team is very capable. That means there are very few if any holes througout the entire team. No weak oline or dline or Db's or LBs and they have a running game and passing game. That is what I see as the real blueprint. Build a solid core and that definately includes the trenches.

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May 12th, 2009, 10:33 am
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Strawberries&Chocolat wrote:
M2K,

I pretty much agree with everything you said, and I think you are misunderstanding my position and Blueskies'. The point of the original post was that blindly drafting linemen does not ensure that your team will be good--the point is to take the right linemen. The point was made as a general point about how teams are built. I consider that myth busted as a general proposition. The key word is GENERAL. You made the statement that Blueskies' research proved nothing, and I disagreed with that contention. It proved something as a general proposition, which is perfectly fair.

That said, I wholeheartedly agree with your reasoning as applied to the Detroit Lions and their recent drafts. They have passed up talent at the line to reach for players at non-premium positions and have serious problems up front.

For instance, here is what I did on my blog for my annual "Me vs. "Moron of the Millenium"/Mayhew" Draft where I made picks live in the Lions' spots:

1(1) Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
1(20) Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
2(33) Darius Butler, CB, Connecticut
3(76) Kraig Urbik, OG, Wisconsin
3(82) Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina
4(101) Jason Phillips, ILB, TCU
4(115) Duke Robinson, OG, Oklahoma
6(192) Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati
7(228) Sammie Stroughter, WR, Oregon State
7(235) Zack Follett, OLB, California
7(255) Mitch King, DT/DE, Iowa

Based on your comments on this forum, I would guess that you would be happier with my draft than Mayhew's? That's five guys on the line, none of which would have been considered "reaches." If I was drafting for the FO the past two years, the offensive line would look much better: with Gosder and Jason Smith as bookends and the young, promising Anthony Collins either on the bench or starting at guard.


S & C,

In truth, I think your draft plan addressed more dire needs, so I would have been very happy with it. I agree that blindly drafting ANY player/position is a stupid move. It is basically what we've lived with for the past eight years. Likewise, I think that taking the pure BPA can be a similarly foolish move. That is why, in some of my past posts, I've endorsed taking the BPV-Best Player of Value. This decision would be based on a combination of things-the players overall skillset, his value at that draft position, the position he plays and the amount of need for that position on the team. Other things such as leadership skills and other intangibles would be included as part of the players value as well. I can see where Schwartz and company may have drafted Delmas as high as they did because he seems to be a very vocal type, and comfortable with the idea of leading an entire defense, not just the secondary.

As I said before, I believe the Lions have gotten some VERY good players in this draft, and for that I am very happy. My concern is that some of the same things seemed to take place as have happened in the past; not adequately addressing needs along the lines, not adequately addressing the defense and selecting players with the intent of their changing position. I understand this may come off as hypocritical, since I really was an advocate of taking Aaron Curry. However, we are talking about a first overall pick versus a third or seventh round pick...big difference in talent and adaptability in those players.

I am willing to sit back (like I really have a choice :wink: ) and watch as the players develop and work their way into their roles. Should the new schemes, new coaches, new players and new attitude show vast improvement over last season, I will be as happy as everyone else. If Levy shows great promise in the middle, I will be happy. If Stafford shows the ability to play well in the NFL, I will be happy. If Pettigrew becomes a contributor to both the run and pass game, I will be happy. If SLH gets into shape and can contribute along the defensive line this year, I'll be happy. If Derrick Williams and/or Aaron Brown add a dimension to our team that we haven't had since the early days of Eddie Drummond, I will be happy.

I think the improvements in our coaching staff are going to pay huge dividends, bigger than even the player changes. I don't expect a turn around similar to the Dolphins of last season, but this team could end up being slightly better than some may believe.

Any Lions fan that say they would be happy with a three or four win season should be ashamed of themselves. I might expect that, but I wouldn't be happy with it. I would be happy if the Lions go 7-9 or 8-8 and aren't completely blown out in the games they lose. To me, that would be a big step in reviving this team to respectability. If Schwartz and company can show that level of improvement, I think they'd be heroes without even taking this team to the playoffs (yet). I recall the high hopes many fans had after the 7-9 finish a couple years ago. It'd be nice if we had those hopes again, but with some better results in the following year.


May 13th, 2009, 9:59 am
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