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 Killer's Korner 
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
I agree mike - even if he's used just for goal line or short yardage situations, he'd be more useful than those regularly inactive guys.

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November 5th, 2011, 11:48 am
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
The Lions were rather busy yesterday:
PFT wrote:
Randle El headlines 24-man Gong Show tryout in Detroit
Posted by Mike Florio on November 5, 2011, 1:49 PM EDT

Most levels and brands of football involve 22 total players on the field at any given time. (At some levels of the sport, there’s less. And in crunch time of the 2009 NFC title game, there was more.) On Friday in Detroit, the Lions brought in enough guys for workouts that they could have played a regulation game, with a pair of subs.

Leading the list, per a league source, was receiver Antwaan Randle El, who once threw a touchdown pass at Detroit’s Ford Field to Hines Ward during Super Bowl XL.

Also trying out for the Lions were receivers Sam Aiken, Aaron Love, Charly Martin, and Terrence Toliver, quarterback Brian Brohm, running backs Aaron Brown, Lonyae Miller, Wynel Seldon, and Kevin Smith (a former Lion), defensive tackles Tony Brown and Jovan Haye, guards Garrett Chisolm and Leonard Davis, defensive end Chauncey Davis, tight ends Ryan Goleski and Jonathan Stupar, linebackers Nic Harris and Lance Laury, long snapper Jake Ingram, punter Jeremy Kapinos, defensive backs Robert McClain and Kevin Payne, and center Chris Morris.

In other news, both Tiki Barber and T.O. are flabbergasted.


http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/11/05/randle-el-headlines-24-man-gong-show-tryout-in-detroit/

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November 5th, 2011, 2:21 pm
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Quote:
Detroit Lions rookie DT Nick Fairley: 'I'm all good to go; second half, here we come'

ALLEN PARK - The bye week came at the right time for Detroit - exactly halfway through the NFL season - but it may have been particularly beneficial for Nick Fairley.

The rookie defensive tackle recovered from a broken foot he suffered early in training camp just in time to face Chicago on Monday Night Football in Week 5 - a game the Lions won, 24-13. Two weeks later, Fairley tweaked the foot against Atlanta. After missing the team's practices leading up to the Denver game, he was ruled inactive in Week 8 against the Broncos.

Thanks to the rest provided by the bye week, though, Fairley is ready to make his presence felt in the second half of the season, beginning on Sunday versus the Bears.

"I'm feeling real good," said Fairley. "The break did a lot for me, especially just being able to sit back and rest up - get off my feet, let it heal on its own without nothing moving, without doing a lot of walking around or whatever. ...

"I'm all good to go, ready to go now. Second half, here we go, here we come."

Fairley didn't have a monumental impact during the 15 or so plays he was in for the Chicago game, but it was his first live NFL action. He didn't get to participate in any of Detroit's preseason games. Though he's only in his fourth preseason game, experience-wise, it's helpful for him to have some idea of what he'll be facing, especially in facing the same opponent for the second time in a month.

"The first time I went out there, I was just doing a lot of thinking," Fairley explained. "So now I've got to go out there and make him adjust - don't think about what his move is going to be, but make him think, 'OK, what's this guy going to do next?'

"Basically, just go out there and play my game will be my best bet."

Fairley isn't trying to say he's a veteran, though. Not by a longshot. With a single tackle under his belt, he's just trying to blend the things he's learning with what he already knows how to do. He doesn't want to forget who he is as a player - and the Lions don't want that either.

"As a rookie, that first year, you're always thinking about learning and picking up new things," he said. "It's just how fast you can adapt to what you pick up. I just have to adapt to it real fast and put it in with my own thing and mix it together, and everything will be good."

Luckily, the defensive scheme he played in at Auburn is similar to what he's doing in Detroit. In a nutshell, both the Tigers and Lions want their defensive front four to disrupt offenses by getting into the backfield as quickly as possible. Even if the linemen aren't making the tackle, their successful play allows their defensive teammates to make the play.

"That was the rule at Auburn: as long as you're in the backfield, you're doing your job," Fairley said. "Take care of your gap and make sure you're in the backfield every play, and everything will go good. Just disrupt things. ...

"It's really not complicated to pick up on; you just have to know your assignments, know what you do during blitzes and just go out there and play ball."

And that's exactly what Fairley - and the Lions - are hoping for in the second half of the season.

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November 10th, 2011, 3:25 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner


Have fun playing!!!



especially if you select Defensive Rank as the criteria :shock:

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November 22nd, 2011, 3:08 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
http://www.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/20 ... _lion.html

Quote:
ALLEN PARK — Here is a transcript of Lions head coach Jim Schwartz's weekly press conference, after Detroit turned back Minnesota's late comeback bid to win, 34-28, and improve to 8-5:

Question: Is Ndamukong Suh in the building today? Have you spoken with him?

Schwartz: He's in the building today, and I did speak with him. We're getting ready for Oakland.

Q: How did he look?

Schwartz: He's obviously healthy. He looked good. He's excited to be back and focused on the Oakland Raiders.

Q: Can you talk about your injury situation?

Schwartz: No. (Laughs) Yeah, we obviously had a lot of guys that weren't able to finish the game. We were in a situation again where we had some offensive help - Rashied (Davis) played a couple of snaps. We had a difficult time those last couple of drives - pretty much that whole fourth quarter - we didn't have a nickle defense. They were using three wide receivers - four if you count Percy Harvin in his role as a running back. It was a difficult situation, but we were able to get through it. However we did, we were able to get through it. But we're going to have a lot of guys that'll be close this week, including guys that didn't play in this last game - so the old adage "it's too early to tell on a Monday." Players are off today, players are off tomorrow; they'll come in and get a workout. We won't have practice on those days, but we're optimistic that we'll get a significant number of those guys back. Again, we don't have anything that's a season-ender.

Q: Can you talk about Rashied's versatility and what he's been able to do?

Schwartz: You've seen it with guys before; back in the day everybody used to play both ways. But even recently, Troy Brown with the Patriots, Julian Edelman with the Patriots, slot receivers, guys that were good special teams players could also play defense, and Rashied's that guy. Always been a great special teams player. Played corner at San Jose (State), played receiver in the Arena League, made a name for himself as a receiver/special teams player; became a starter at wide receiver and we have him as a depth wide receiver/special teams player, but when you only have 46 (active spots) on gameday, and you use a lot of different packages offensively - we have a four wide receiver package, a three tight end package, five defensive backs, six defensive backs - all these different packages, guys have to be versatile because you can't have backups for every single position. You could have bacvkups for one person. We have three tight ends. If one of them gets injured., you have an offensive lineman that can come in and do some of those things. But when you have two injuries at a position, then you're really challeneged, and having a guy like Rashied, that can pull double-duty, helps in that regard.

Q: With Suh's return, is it kind of like getting a player in a trade?

Schwartz: It looks a little more like getting a player back from injury. He's already been here; he's already played here; he's already been productive; he knows the system. We haven't seen him in two weeks, but there's a lot of players that miss games due to injury. It's unfortunate that he missed games not due to injury, but we can't really worry about that now. (We're) excited to get him back on the field, excited to get some of those other defensive linemen back on the field. Again, we were in a situation there where we signed a guy on Friday and he played in the game. Not a ton of snaps, but Jovan played

in the game. It's just that time of year; you're going to have to deal with situations like that. If you can handle it, if you can get through, that's the name of the game.

Q: How confident are you that the suspension will not affect Suh's game, but that the incident won't be repeated?

Schwartz: I'd be very surprised if it showed up on his radar again. He's a very prideful person. He wants to do anything he can to help the team, so I would be surprised if anything like that happened again. And we're not talking about something that happened during the play. To me, like the other day when I held the whistle up, that's a fairly easy line to draw. We need to play as hard as we can and we also need to let the chips fall when we're playing that way. If there's one that's borderline, it's football. Guys are going to try to be tough and physical. There's going to a holding penalty or an illegal contact or something like that. You certainly don't want to try to coach guys to play scared or to play to avoid penalties. You want to play as hard and as physical as they can. You want them to be smart before the snap; you want to be smart after the whistle, and those are the things you expect from Ndamukong.

Q: Since the bye week, you've given up more than 30 points per game. Is that because of injuries?

Schwartz: I think they've been a little different. Some of them have been injuries, some of them have been turnovers. This last game, it wasn't turnovers. There were different situations in evrery single one. We had done a good job of keeping the score down, and we haven't - we've been giving up 28, 30, 31 - and it puts a lot of pressure on the offense to score. We've also scored on defense, particularly in this last game, and that offsets it a little bit, but you don't want to be that team that's giving up 30 points. We need to be able to get back, and hopefully we get some guys back, and get back to full strength, and I think we'll see good things from our defense again.

Q: No one expected Calvin Johnson to keep up his first-half pace, but what can you do to get him back close to that?

Schwartz: I think that anytime anybody does something where they have a really good section of games, it's easy to extrapolate that over 16 games. If Alphonso Smith can play 16 games, that's 32 interceptions, or Cliff Avril will have 32 sacks. Obviously, that's not realistic, even when you're talking about a guy like Calvin, as good as he is. I think he's still about three catches away from his career high with three games to play. You're going to have games where you're very productive and games where defenses are going to try everything they can (to stop him). What's amazing to me is that Calvin is obviously the focal point of just about every defense we play, and he's still able to have that kind of production. And that's very rare in the NFL, when their plan has been to completely eliminate him. He still had three catches (against Carolina). It doesn't sound like a whole lot, but he still was able to contribute. Other guys stepped in, made some plays also. But that's been the whole year. You've seen some other players like that. I remember Jamal Lewis, when he was playing running back for the Ravens, and he gained 2,000 yards. They didn't have a good passing attack; everybody was an eight-man front to stop the run. He still had 2,000 yards. I think Calvin is similar in that regard - people try to take him out, but he's still productive. That's probably an unrealistic pace, but with Calvin, there's really nothing that's unrealistic. I think the other part of that is we're seeing other guys make plays, and we need to continue to see that, also, because as much as we want to get the ball to Calvin, sometimes it's just not going to make sense. Sometimes, you're going to be putting it in a dangerous spot to try to get to him, and we need other guys to step up and make them.

Q: In hindsight, after looking at the film, were there instances where Matthew Stafford should have pushed the envelope a little more to get it to Calvin?

Schwartz: Maybe. We didn't do a very good job protecting. A lot of times, with Calvin, to get him shaken free would've meant the quarterback would have had to hold the ball a long time. There's some where it looks like he's getting open late, but when you're holding the ball for four seconds, and you've got Jared Allen and Kevin Williams and (Brian) Robison and those guys, that's tough to do also. We had no turnovers in the game. I think that's important in this game, the way this thing went with some of our injury situations on defense and some of the other things that happened, the way we were able to take care of the ball and get 100 percent scoring in the red zone - even though they were all touchdowns - I think that was important in this game. We want to try to stay aggressive, we want to try to push the ball down the field, but that's not just a matter of Matt wanting to throw it to him; there's a lot of other things that go into it.

Q: You have the playoffs in your own hands, but what does it say about the playoff race that last week, people were lamenting lost opportunities and seven days later you're back in it?

Schwartz: The only thing we can worry about is the Oakland Raiders. We can't control anything other than that. I know that sounds (familiar). Looking past that, we know what situation we're in. We know that every one of these games more important. That makes the Oakland Raiders more important because of the situation that we are in - we have a three-game schedule. A significant part of that schedule is the Oakland Raiders, so that's the only thing we can worry about right now. We can't play any of the other ones right now. So it's not the time of year to be looking at the scoreboard. I was following the Chicago-Denver game pretty close, and something like that, it's probably the first time all year that I was really following the scoreboard after a game. But this is the time you do that. That was after the game was over, and we didn't have anything else to do. Now we've got the Raiders, and that's all we can worry about. We can't really worry about anything else. If we do a good job of preparing for the Raiders, if we do a good job practicing, and playing on Sunday, then we can move on to the next step.

Q: How much does winning a game like yesterday help when you're in the middle of this three-game "pressure cooker" to make the playoffs?

Schwartz: Yeah, they don't put any asterisks on the games, whether you win'em or you lose'em. We found that out with the Calvin Johnson game (in Chicago last year). I think I said yesterday we were in a similar situation against the 49ers - home game, fourth-down play, we get a stop, we win the game. We didn't get a stop. We end up losing that game. This one, we found a way. Now we had about eight or nine other chances - we dropped a boatload of interceptions, we missed a couple different third-and-1 opportunities. There were a lot of different thing that went on in this game that could have put the proverbial nail in the coffin for the Vikings a little bit earlier. But again, it's a little bit like having eight wins: it doesn't matter how you got them or at what point of the season you got them. You got them. That game, we got the win, and we've lost some games like that. It's good to get the win that way this time.

Q: After watching the film would you acknowledge that you got away with a facemask at the end of the game?

Schwartz: Yeah, we grabbed the facemask, but there are probably about three or four other plays in that game where guys got a facemask or guys got a hold. There's a couple of fourth-down plays where I think we're getting held where they convert fourth down. If they don't convert that play, the end doesn't even matter. There was a horse collar on Stefan Logan that negated a big return. We had a holding penalty on it, but we could've had that ball re-kicked, and Stefan Logan was hot. They were having a hard time handling him, and he was able to make some plays. Every single play in the NFL, there's something the officials are going to miss - get right, get wrong. It's one of the reasons I don't stand up here and talk about officiating. I generally just say, 'It's their job to officiate; it's our job to play,' because we know it's a fast game; it's a very difficult game to officiate. You can't officiate in slow motion. The officials on the field can't. They have to officiate in real time. If there's a loose ball, their eyes are going to the loose ball, and away they go. But it's no different on that play than probably, I dare say, 90 percent of the plays in the NFL, there's something that goes on somewhere that somebody either gets away with, or gets called unrightfully so, or something like that. That's not to be critical; that's just a very, very difficult thing. If you want to take every single play and slow it down, show it again, things like that - they can't officiate that way. They don't have that benefit.

Q: Was there any explanation of why they penalized Tulloch for 15 yards after (Ponder's interception)?

Schwartz: Yeah, they did.

Q: When a guy throws an interception, the quarterback can be hit at that point, can't he?

Schwartz: Yes, he can. I never want to go to playing cards that I've never played before, so I'll just say I got an explanation of the situation, and I'll just leave it there.

Q: Is it proper etiquette in the NFL to talk to officials before the game to alert them of things to keep an eye on? Like Vanden Bosch, it's almost prison rules against him - they can do whatever they want.

Schwartz: Yeah, everybody does. There's concerns they have. It's generally administrative type stuff - unbalanced formations, illegal formations and stuff like that. There's always times that you mention this is something we've seen on film. They're going to officiate the game. I don't know that it puts them on extra high alert or anything like that. They're professionals; they officiate, we coach and players play. That's all we can really do. It sort of falls into this being a fast game, it's the NFL, there's something on pretty much every single play. It's probably the most difficult game to officiate.

Q: Do you attribute the improved kick coverage to the return of some guys from injuries?

Schwartz: I think that's part of it. Those guys are professional special teams cover guys. I think our kick placements have been very good. I know Jason had the one kick out of bounds, I'm sure he'd like that one back, but that probably overshadows, well it doesn't in my mind, but you know, it takes away from the fact that he really kicked off well. I mean, he was hammering the ball in really good location and that was helping there also.

Same thing with Ben (Graham). Ben was doing a good job with kick location - pinning guys to the sideline and that helped significantly. You know, you've seen some other younger guys that are getting a little bit more experience. Guys like Doug Hogue that was coming into the season as an inactive player, you know, backing up a guy like Ike and he, as the season goes on, he gets more experience, he starts making more plays. We still got some things to do, we talked about missed opportunities and things in that game, the dropped interceptions, or a failed 3rdand 1, or you know, a couple missed sacks and things like that that we had. You know, we had a chance to get that ball down on the 1 yard-line. Ben had a great punt late in that game - 3 minutes left in that game - and you know, if we made them go 99 yards instead of 80, it's (a) completely different thing. You have a hard time dropping back to pass in your own end zone like that. We were rushing very well, you know, (with the) potential maybe (to) get a holding penalty - even though we didn't get one the whole game - but potentially of getting one of those and then a safety really changes the dynamic of that game and everything else. But, that's one that we can do a little bit better. Wendling had a shot at it, Hogue had a shot at it, we weren't able to get it down, but I think the...and we can't always control it, because some guys will kick the ball through the end zone, but Logan -- he's been quiet this year, but we still see what he can do. We've done a better job on punt return getting the gunners blocked and that gets him started. We see what he can do if he can get started.

Q: How do you differentiate between how you win a game and just getting the 'W'?

Schwartz: There's no asterisk for the win. That win counts exactly the same as 45-3 against the Chiefs or any of the other ones that we had. That's the whole object. You want to have one more point.

I think the games get scrutinized so much from 'what was your red zone efficiency' or 'how many yards did you allow rushing' and 'what was your third down' and things like that that are obviously important to talk about, but the bottom line is finding a way to winning. We found a way to win that one when earlier in the year we let one of those slip away from us. We've had a couple times in the past were we had some leads. I'm even thinking all the way back to the Jets. We had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. At Seattle, we had a 17-point lead early in the game and let that slip. There were reasons obviously that it happened and again injuries are a part of life in the NFL. We were having a hard time holding on defensively and I think that the bottom line is that we found a way to do it. Maybe that's useful to use down the road. Maybe that's more useful to us finding a way in that game and coming up with that win on the last play of the game. Maybe that serves us better in the future than if we had made a couple of the plays we talked about and won that game by three scores and finished it in a little different way. We've done that this year. Maybe this is good. We really don't care about any of that. All we really care about is we got eight wins and we got Oakland this week."

Q: Is there a carry-over effect from winning a game like the Vikings game in December?

Schwartz: Remains to be seen, but it's better than the alternative. I think that there is something to that that we, as a franchise, haven't played those games and a lot of guys that have been around here. I think that we also need to acknowledge that we have a lot of guys in our locker room that have played in those kind of games. You gain from all kinds of experience. Whether it's in another game in another year or this game this year. However you get it done, you get it done and anybody that stands up here would trade every stat, every failed execution, every penalty, everything for a win. That's the name of the game in this business and that's all we aspire to do is win. All those other things are nice, but we don't aspire to lead the league in rushing or lead the league in passing or anything other than try to win every single game that we play."

Q: What happened in your meeting with Suh?

Schwartz: I saw him, I met with him and that was about it.

Q: How long did you and Suh meet for?

Schwartz: A while. He's excited to look forward to the Oakland Raiders.

Q: Do you get the sense that Suh is energized after having two weeks off?

Schwartz: That's a positive way to look at it. Hopefully, yeah. He is healthy; like I said, it's one thing to get players back from injuries and it's another thing to get players back that haven't been injured.

In some respect we saw that a little bit from Alphonso Smith in this last game. Alphonso missed a lot of time in training camp and early in the season with his foot. And then he was out of the rotation and had a hard time getting back in because other guys were playing well. Well, when other guys got hurt, he had an opportunity and stepped in and made some plays the last couple weeks. He's fresher than some of those other guys. If Ndamukong can do the same thing, then it helps us.

Q: Is there a sense that the cavalry is here now that Suh is back?

Schwartz: No, we have a lot of guys that contribute up there and we need to get them all back. We need to get Nick Fairley back, we're obviously getting Suh back, we need to get Lawrence Jackson back and get back to our full complement there. Like I said, we don't have anything that looks like it's going to be a season-ender. We need to get them back out there. When we are, we're tough to handle.

Q: How has Sammie Hill performed the past two games?

Schwartz: I said about Nick Fairley a couple weeks ago that he affected the game when he was in there and I think you could say that about Sammie in this game. He really did a good job of being active in the backfield. Maybe the production didn't' show from a sack standpoint or things like that, but he was very disruptive. He's played an awful lot of snaps and has done a good job for us. He's a much improved player; he's a good young player in the NFL and when we've had injury situations that we've had, he's had to step up and play a lot of snaps - probably more snaps than he has since his rookie year."

Q: How bad does Aaron Berry's shoulder injury look?

Schwartz: It's still too early to tell, but the initial test or results sort of lead us to believe that he has a chance to be able to come back.

Q: Talk about what Stephen Tulloch has done for you at linebacker?

Schwartz: He's here because he fit the scheme, he's young, he's healthy and he's been productive and I think those are the important things of getting him here. Has he been a good fit? He obviously has and has made a lot of plays for us. He probably had a couple plays in this game that he would like to have back. He had a missed opportunity of a sack that would have been his fourth of the year - he's been good there. He had a couple times that he slipped off of tackles that he normally doesn't. But he also made a lot of other plays: he recovered a fumble, he's around the football an awful lot, he did a good job in pass coverage and has been productive there also. You can't really worry about anything other than what's going to happen with the Oakland Raiders, but we're pleased with him and glad that he's been here this year.

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December 12th, 2011, 7:23 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
USA Today wrote:
NFL's four wild cards far from long shots

But with the NFL playoffs looming, recent history suggests the four teams in the field that did not win their division titles — the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals— have legitimate reason to believe.

Three of the last six Super Bowl winners, including last season's sixth-seeded Green Bay Packers, entered the playoffs as wild cards.

Can it happen again this year?

"You can't look at the wild cards and say that they don't have a chance," says Phil Simms, CBS analyst and retired New York Giants Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

"But this year maybe they don't have as much of a chance as in years past."

It will be put to the test this weekend, when each of the four wild-card teams hits the road to face a division champion.

The wild cards' path to Super Bowl XLVI is undeniably tougher, because the mission includes having to win three consecutive road games.

Yet the Packers survived such a gantlet last season. The Giants took the wild-card route in winning Super Bowl XLII, as did the Steelers on the path to XL.

"It's pretty simple, when you think about why it can happen," Simms says. "There's not a great difference between the so-called elite and the other teams in the playoffs."

No wonder Detroit coach Jim Schwartz, preparing for Saturday night's game at New Orleans, is so adamant in declaring it's not enough that the franchise's 12-year playoff drought has ended.

"This isn't college bowl season, when you're getting a watch and a new warm-up suit and taking a tour of the chamber of commerce and it's like a reward for the season," Schwartz says.

"This is the tournament. This is the chance to win a championship."

Even as a sixth seed.


Meaning in seeding?

Playoff seeding sometimes means only so much.

The Atlanta Falcons, preparing for Sunday's playoff opener at the New York Giants as a fifth-seeded wild card, can vouch for that.

"Last year, we were a No. 1 seed and we ended up losing to a sixth seed that went on to win the Super Bowl," says cornerback Dunta Robinson, mindful of the playoff-opening loss to the Green Bay Packers. "So those things don't matter. It's about your chemistry and how well you're playing this time of year.

"We're not doomed. There's a lot of football left to be played, if we play like we're capable . We're in the playoffs. That's good enough."

Yet given the difficulty of winning three consecutive road games to advance to Super Bowl XLVI -- while higher-seeded teams rest with a first-round bye — you won't find many banking on a current wild-card to repeat the Packers' run.

"You'd think the Steelers would have the best chance to pull it off," says NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes. Pittsburgh opens on Sunday at Denver. "But at the same time, with them losing Rashard Mendenhall (torn ACL) and with Ben Roethlisberger limping around (ankle), I wouldn't be shocked if the Steelers lost this weekend."

So, it's wide open … if.

"When you think about Green Bay doing it, remember they are an all-weather team," says ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson. "I can't see these dome teams -- like the Falcons going up to New York -- winning outdoors.

"If Pittsburgh can stay healthy, they can do it. They can win in New England. And regardless of where they play, I'm not convinced that Baltimore can beat Pittsburgh for a third time. It's so tough to beat a team three times in the same season."

At the heart of Pittsburgh's chances is a No.1-ranked defense that has maintained traditional excellence during the most prolific season of offense in NFL history.

Does defense still win championships?

"They have a group of guys who know what it takes," says CBS analyst Phil Simms. "Guys like Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison. They are some of the biggest names in football for a reason. They have done it on the field. It's not propaganda."

Naturally, pros and cons exist throughout the playoff field.

Dukes likes that Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton was battle-tested in the tough AFC North and that Cincinnati has drawn the injury-stung Houston Texans and their rookie quarterback, T.J. Yates, for Saturday's first-round matchup.

On the flip side, the Bengals are the youngest team in the playoffs and went 0-7 this season against playoff teams.

Another young upstart, Detroit, has struggled similarly against top competition (0-5 vs. NFC playoff teams). But the Lions have one of the NFL's most explosive offenses triggered by 5,000-yard passer Matthew Stafford and all-pro receiver Calvin Johnson.

Simms thinks there's another reason the Lions are dangerous.

"Look, they can rush the passer," he says, alluding to the strength of Detroit's defense. "The game could easily change on a sack, a fumble or something like that."

Dukes considers the Lions one of the hottest teams entering the playoffs because they rebounded to finish strong after stumbling in mid-October and November.

"But since Ndamukong Suh had the issue, they haven't had that defensive swagger," he said, referring to Suh's two-game suspension stemming from a walk-off stomping incident. "I think it left them with an identity crisis. As long as you play within the rules, it's OK to be the 'bad boys.' "


The Lions aren't alone in Dukes' book, when it comes to the need to solidify identity. He cringes when he sees the Falcons lean too heavily on a wide-open passing game, rather than a controlled attack built around the running of Michael Turner. They were 1-5 this season when Matt Ryan threw at least 40 passes.

"If you don't have Joe Thomas at left tackle, you cant do it," Dukes said, underscoring protection issues. "I applaud them for going to get (big-play receiver) Julio Jones, but you also have to recognize how you're built."

This is surely the time of year when second-guessing intensifies.

That applies for the participants, too. In a staff meeting on Monday, Falcons coach Mike Smith pulled out a notebook that detailed the preparation before last year's playoff game and outlined a few tweaks.

Miss having a bye?

"The way that it went down last year," Smith said, "I'd rather be up this week and go ahead and play."

In the end, it's how they play that matters most.

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January 4th, 2012, 5:08 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
CBS Sports wrote:
After Further Review: Saints will repeat Packers' tactics against Lions

The Detroit Lions gave up 480 yards passing last week and Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn threw six touchdown passes against them in that game.

Now all they get for an encore is Drew Brees, the league's top passer this season, when the Lions travel to New Orleans to play Brees and the Saints in a playoff game.

In studying the tape from the Lions-Packers game, there were a lot of things the Packers did in that game that the Saints will surely do this week.

The Packers have a tight end they can move around in Jermichael Finley, and the Saints have Jimmy Graham. The Packers love to scheme up ways to get their receivers open, and did a lot of it against the Lions, while the Saints do a lot of the same things. They don't just ask their receivers to win. They use bunch formations, picks and things like that.

These are not teams that just have receivers win all the time. The schemes they use to get open are as good as any in the league and can create confusion in the secondary.

To get an idea of what the Packers did, and what the Saints might do, I wanted to break down all six touchdown passes thrown by Flynn against the Lions. How did he have so much success? What defense did the Lions play on each of them, and what can they do better?

The Lions did play with backup safety Chris Harris, and he was picked on several times. This week, the team expects to have Louis Delmas back from injury, which will help.

Even so, the Lions have problems on the back end. Like Flynn, Brees gets the ball out quick, which can negate the pass rush.
The book on defending the Saints is to play man. But the Lions don't have the corners to do that. They played a lot of it against the Packers, and they were carved to shreds.

Here's a look at each of the touchdown passes thrown by Flynn. You can bet Brees has watched them all at least five times.

First-and-goal at the Detroit 7: With the Lions in man coverage, the Lions put corner Alphonso Smith on Jordy Nelson, who is lined up wide right. Flynn takes a quick snap, stands up and throws to Nelson, who shakes off Smith's tackle with a stiff-arm and races into the end zone. The safety has no chance to get over and make a play. Easy throw. Easy touchdown.

First-and-10 from the Green Bay 20: The Packers line up with two receivers to the left and one to the right. The Lions are in off-man coverage. At the snap, the Lions blitz linebackers Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy, who is brush blocked by Ryan Grant. But as Grant lets him by, he slips out of the backfield for a perfectly called screen pass. He takes the pass from Flynn, gets blocks from Nelson and Donald Driver and a bad angle by safety Harris and turns it into an 80-yard touchdown catch. This was a great play call at the right time. The Saints, by the way, are a great screen team.

First-and-10 from the Detroit 36: The Lions are in off-man coverage again. Nelson lines up to the left with Smith lined up across from him about 5 yards off. There are two receivers to the right. Nelson runs a go route, gets on top of Smith, and Flynn throws a perfect pass for a touchdown down the left sideline. Nelson makes a great catch. This is just a great play and throw. The coverage was solid. But this is the type of shot Brees likes to take down the field with his outside receivers.

Second-and-7 from the Green Bay 42: The Packers line up with one back behind Flynn, Nelson to the right, Driver to the left. The Lions show cover two, but at the snap Harris blitzes from Flynn's right. That puts Nelson against Chris Houston in man coverage. He fakes an out, runs a post and is wide open. Flynn drops the ball perfectly into his hands as Amari Spievey can't get over from his safety spot. It is a 58-yard touchdown pass. Great route, great read, great throw.

Third-and-8 from the Detroit 34: The Packers line up with one receiver to the right and another to the left. Driver motions from the left side of the formation and settles in at the right slot, just outside Finley. The Lions are in man coverage. But when Driver motions to the slot, it means he has a safety (Harris) on him. Finley has Spievey on him. Finely runs a curl, and kind off picks off Harris, leaving Driver to come underneath on a slant that turns into a 34-yard touchdown. These are the types of things the Saints do in their passing game. The Lions have to be careful of the rubs and picks.

Second-and-goal from the Detroit 4: This is the easiest of the touchdown passes. Finley lines up in-line on the left side of the formation, inside two receivers. Spievey has him in man coverage. The Packers motion Finley wide to the right side. Spievey goes with him. At the snap, Finley looks as if he is going to run a slant, but tries to run a fade. Flynn throws inside and Finely makes a nice play to grab it for a touchdown in front of Spievey. I would imagine the Saints trying something like this with Graham, who is taller than Finley, if the Lions play the same type of defense.

After watching this tape, there's no doubt Brees is excited to face that Lions secondary this week. He should be.

Film Study

1. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has not played as well in 2011 as he did last season. Last week was no exception. Packers right guard Josh Sitton handled him most of the day, much of the time single-blocking him. On one run in the first quarter, he turned Suh out of the play and moved him 5 yards. It was a clinic in guard play by Sitton. When Suh got the sack that led to his Aaron Rodgers taunt -- wiped out by penalty -- he did so by beating left guard Evan Dietrich-Smith, the man he stomped on earlier this season. The Saints have a top-level guard in Jahri Evans on one side and Carl Nicks, maybe the best guard in the NFL, on the other. Suh will get a lot of chances being single-blocked against those two. He has to win some of those battles. If he plays like he did against Sitton, the Saints should have no problem running inside. Sitton destroyed him.


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January 5th, 2012, 2:42 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
ESPN wrote:
Calvin Johnson, Jared Allen top All-Pros
NEW YORK -- Lions receiver Calvin Johnson and Vikings defensive end Jared Allen were the leading vote getters for The Associated Press 2011 NFL All-Pro Team, each falling one vote short of being unanimous choices.

Aaron Rodgers was the quarterback for the first time, easily beating New Orleans' Drew Brees, 47½ to 2½. Rodgers led Green Bay to a league-best 15-1 record, maintaining the brilliance he showed in taking the Packers to the Super Bowl title last February.

Johnson and Allen each received 49 votes Friday from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. It's the fourth All-Pro team for Allen, who led the league with 22 sacks, one-half short of the record. Johnson makes it for the first time after hauling in 96 catches for a 17.5-yard average and scoring 16 touchdowns.

"That's sweet," Johnson said. "That's one of the best honors you can have other than being a Super Bowl champion. To be an All-Pro is a tremendous honor."

Allen liked how adding to his All-Pro spots in 2007 through 2009 reflects on his career.

"The All-Pro Team to me is one of the all-time accomplishments," Allen said. "Pro Bowls are nice, but guys get voted in longer than they should and guys who deserve to go don't always get to. It's the whole league. It's not just an AFC and NFC thing. So to me this is the honor I hold the highest. It's something to put on the resume and tell the grandkids about."

One rookie made the squad: Arizona's Patrick Peterson was selected as the kick returner. Peterson tied an NFL mark when he ran back four punts for touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in overtime to beat the Rams.

"It's special to be the only rookie on the list and a nice way to end my first NFL season," said Peterson, a cornerback.

Another cornerback, Darrelle Revis of the Jets, was behind Johnson and Allen with 48 selections. Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs got 47.

One oddity: Both first-team guards, Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, were from the Saints. That has not occurred since 1953, with Detroit's Lou Creekmur and Dick Stanfel.

In the All-Pro backfield joining Rodgers, whose quarterback rating of 122.5 broke Peyton Manning's single-season mark, were Maurice Jones-Drew of Jacksonville, LeSean McCoy of Philadelphia, and fullback Vonta Leach of Baltimore.

It's the first All-Pro selections for Jones-Drew, the league's rushing leader with 1,606 yards, and McCoy. Leach made it last year with Houston.

"It is a we thing, not a me thing," Jones-Drew said, praising his teammates on offense and his coaches. "The guys who don't get the glory and keep blocking all day, and the coaches who don't get enough credit, it's for them."

McCoy scored 20 touchdowns, 17 rushing, and was the brightest spot in a down year for the hyped Eagles. Yet ...

"There are so many things I can do better," he said. "I look at the numbers and see so many plays I left on the field, so many yards. I can perfect my game a lot more."

Record-setter Rob Gronkowski was the tight end. The Patriot set the single-season mark at his position with 1,327 yards receiving. Teammate Wes Welker (league-high 122 catches) was the other receiver.

Pittsburgh's Maurkice Pouncey was the center, with Philadelphia's Jason Peters and Cleveland's Joe Thomas at tackle.

Joining Allen on the defensive line were ends Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants, and tackles Haloti Ngata of the Ravens and Justin Smith of the 49ers -- who also placed third at DE; the 49ers used him at both spots.

The linebackers were Suggs and DeMarcus Ware of Dallas on the outside, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman of the 49ers and Derrick Johnson of the Chiefs on the inside. Bowman and Johnson tied with 16 votes, half of Willis' total.

Revis and Charles Woodson of the Packers were the cornerbacks, with Troy Polamalu of the Steelers and Eric Weddle of the Chargers at safety.

Both kickers were 49ers: placekicker David Akers and punter Andy Lee.

Repeaters from 2010 were Polamalu, Revis, Willis, Ngata, Evans, Thomas and Leach.

In addition to Johnson, Jones-Drew, McCoy and Peterson, other first-timers were Gronkowski, Nicks, Peters, Pouncey, Pierre-Paul, Smith, Suggs, Bowman, Johnson and Weddle.

The 49ers led the All-Pro Team with five players, a testament to the turnaround in San Francisco under new coach Jim Harbaugh. Baltimore was next with three players. The Ravens are coached by Jim Harbaugh's brother, John, whose team beat the 49ers on Thanksgiving night.

There were 16 players from the NFC and 12 from the AFC.


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/74325 ... selections


Congrats to CJ!

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January 6th, 2012, 3:13 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
49/50... Did Chris Carter have a vote?

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January 6th, 2012, 3:52 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
Pablo wrote:
49/50... Did Chris Carter have a vote?


Zing. But I think he learned his damn lesson after the backlash at the beginning of the season.

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January 6th, 2012, 4:18 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
ESPN wrote:
Digging deeper into Calvin Johnson's future
January, 9, 2012
By Kevin Seifert

As we discussed Saturday night -- or was it early Sunday morning? -- the Detroit Lions deserve to get big-boy treatment and analysis moving forward. First up: what appears to be a sizable conundrum on the financial future of All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

We noted earlier Monday that Johnson finished the season in historic fashion and might be in line for the most lucrative contract extension for a receiver in NFL history. After doing some digging Monday, it appears the NFL's salary-cap rules will leave the Lions with several options -- all of which would require mind-boggling numbers and difficult decisions.

The bottom line: The Lions could be forced to pay Johnson $77 million over the next three seasons alone. That number would cripple the cap structure of many teams, let alone one with as many high draft choices as the Lions have. Here's why and how that would happen:

Johnson's salary cap number is projected to be around $22 million in 2012, thanks to a $14 million base salary, a $4.5 million roster bonus and a debit for the $4.5 million performance bonus he earned in 2011. (I know those numbers don't add up. The debit is part of a bigger cap reconciliation process that hasn't happened yet.)

Obviously, the Lions would like to lower that cap number and could do so with a long-term extension that would spread out the hit over multiple years. But that's where Johnson's unique situation gets tricky. It would be a rare occasion where the NFL's franchise tag rules would work in favor, rather than against, the player.

As you know, the alternative to a long-term contract for a star player is to work under a series of yearly franchise tags. In most cases, the team has the advantage because it doesn't have to guarantee money beyond the current season. But in Johnson's case, it would require monstrous single-season salaries that would actually make the Lions' cap situation worse.

Under the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the franchise tag figure for a player is determined by the higher of the following two values:

    The average of the five highest salary cap figures at the player's position over the past five years

    A figure equal to 120 percent of his prior year's cap number.


Johnson's $22 million cap figure for 2012 is much higher than the projected franchise tag number for receivers. So the alternative to signing Johnson to a long-term deal would be letting him play out the final year of his current contract in 2012 and then franchising him at $26.4 million in 2013. Without a deal at that point, Johnson's franchise tag would rise to $31.7 million for 2014 and would account for perhaps 25 percent of the Lions' total cap structure.

That nuance shifts extraordinary leverage to Johnson in any negotiations that might occur over the next few months. If he does absolutely nothing, the Lions would be required to pay him about $77 million -- and substantially limit their cap flexibility -- to keep him on their roster for the next three seasons.

Often, the average of a series of franchise tags provides a rough starting point for negotiations on long-term deals for star players. The three-year average of $25.6 million in Johnson's case is monstrous. Johnson would have to make a concession for getting more money guaranteed up front than he would in the franchise scenario, but keep in mind that the highest average salary for an NFL receiver is currently about 45 percent lower than that: $15 million for Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, who signed an eight-year deal last summer that included $50 million in guarantees.

What does all of this mean? No matter which way they turn, the Lions will be on the hook for a ceiling-crushing commitment to Johnson. Unless he makes a cash concession to lessen the cap hit, the Lions are in a really, really tough spot.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcnorth/post/_ ... ons-future


and so it begins.......

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January 9th, 2012, 6:07 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
TheRealWags wrote:
ESPN wrote:
Digging deeper into Calvin Johnson's future
January, 9, 2012
By Kevin Seifert

As we discussed Saturday night -- or was it early Sunday morning? -- the Detroit Lions deserve to get big-boy treatment and analysis moving forward. First up: what appears to be a sizable conundrum on the financial future of All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

We noted earlier Monday that Johnson finished the season in historic fashion and might be in line for the most lucrative contract extension for a receiver in NFL history. After doing some digging Monday, it appears the NFL's salary-cap rules will leave the Lions with several options -- all of which would require mind-boggling numbers and difficult decisions.

The bottom line: The Lions could be forced to pay Johnson $77 million over the next three seasons alone. That number would cripple the cap structure of many teams, let alone one with as many high draft choices as the Lions have. Here's why and how that would happen:

Johnson's salary cap number is projected to be around $22 million in 2012, thanks to a $14 million base salary, a $4.5 million roster bonus and a debit for the $4.5 million performance bonus he earned in 2011. (I know those numbers don't add up. The debit is part of a bigger cap reconciliation process that hasn't happened yet.)

Obviously, the Lions would like to lower that cap number and could do so with a long-term extension that would spread out the hit over multiple years. But that's where Johnson's unique situation gets tricky. It would be a rare occasion where the NFL's franchise tag rules would work in favor, rather than against, the player.

As you know, the alternative to a long-term contract for a star player is to work under a series of yearly franchise tags. In most cases, the team has the advantage because it doesn't have to guarantee money beyond the current season. But in Johnson's case, it would require monstrous single-season salaries that would actually make the Lions' cap situation worse.

Under the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the franchise tag figure for a player is determined by the higher of the following two values:

    The average of the five highest salary cap figures at the player's position over the past five years

    A figure equal to 120 percent of his prior year's cap number.


Johnson's $22 million cap figure for 2012 is much higher than the projected franchise tag number for receivers. So the alternative to signing Johnson to a long-term deal would be letting him play out the final year of his current contract in 2012 and then franchising him at $26.4 million in 2013. Without a deal at that point, Johnson's franchise tag would rise to $31.7 million for 2014 and would account for perhaps 25 percent of the Lions' total cap structure.

That nuance shifts extraordinary leverage to Johnson in any negotiations that might occur over the next few months. If he does absolutely nothing, the Lions would be required to pay him about $77 million -- and substantially limit their cap flexibility -- to keep him on their roster for the next three seasons.

Often, the average of a series of franchise tags provides a rough starting point for negotiations on long-term deals for star players. The three-year average of $25.6 million in Johnson's case is monstrous. Johnson would have to make a concession for getting more money guaranteed up front than he would in the franchise scenario, but keep in mind that the highest average salary for an NFL receiver is currently about 45 percent lower than that: $15 million for Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, who signed an eight-year deal last summer that included $50 million in guarantees.

What does all of this mean? No matter which way they turn, the Lions will be on the hook for a ceiling-crushing commitment to Johnson. Unless he makes a cash concession to lessen the cap hit, the Lions are in a really, really tough spot.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcnorth/post/_ ... ons-future



and so it begins.......


And whoever designed Calvin's contract should be set naked on a tree stump, have a nail driven through his nads and be pushed backwards. LOL.


January 9th, 2012, 8:19 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
While the author makes some interesting observations, he's ignored the reason why many players sign the long-term deal before getting franchised:

What if a franchise-caliber player is in the final year of his rookie deal, refuses the team's long-term extension offer before that final season begins (hoping to be a free agent or getting the franchise tag), and then suffers a career-threatening injury during that season. The player ends up losing tens of millions.

If I'm a player in that position--knowing that I'll be the highest paid player at my position no matter what decision I make--I sign the long-term deal now and don't risk the possibility of a freak injury. I think that's what Calvin will do.


Edited to repair my pathetic grammatical oversight.

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Last edited by mwill2 on January 10th, 2012, 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.



January 10th, 2012, 12:55 am
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
mwill2 wrote:
While the author makes some interesting observations, he's ignored the reason why many players sign the long-term deal before getting franchised:

What if a franchise-caliber player is in the final year of his rookie deal, refuses the team's long-term extension offer before that final season begins (hoping to be a free agent or getting the franchise tag), and then suffers a career-threatening injury during that season. The player ends up losing tens of millions.

If I'm a player in that position--knowing that I'll be the highest paid player at my position no matter what decision I make--I sign the long-term deal now and don't risk the possibility that a freak injury. I think that's what Calvin will do.


Agreed. I think Calvin looks at Fitzgeralds deal and looks for an extra Mil a season + a bigger signing bonus, and we are good to go.

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January 10th, 2012, 3:03 pm
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Post Re: Killer's Korner
I was catching up on last weeks MMQB and saw this little bit of info. Dunno if it's been posted yet.

Quote:
Classy move by the Greg Bensel and the Saints PR staff, not filling a prime press box seat at Saturday night's game in honor of the late Detroit beat man Tom Kowalski, who died unexpectedly in August, but leaving this notice in his place: "The New Orleans Saints honor the memory of Tom Kowalski.''


January 17th, 2012, 2:46 am
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