10 questions with TwentymanPosted May 5, 2012
Every week I try and do a live chat on Detroitlions.com but I can never get to all the questions because of the time constraints and the fact that I'm not the world's fasted typist. The nature of online chats don't lend themselves to expansive answers, either.
So, each week, I'll pick 10 good questions that I either didn't get to or would like to expand upon.Q. The Lions have Best, Leshoure, and Smith at the RB position. Why go after Ryan Grant? What happens if one of those guys gets upset about lack of carries?
A. I don’t think running backs coach Sam Gash or head coach Jim Schwartz lose any sleep worrying about getting all their running backs the proper amount of carries. I’d actually like to be in the room to hear Schwartz’s response if one of them ever did raise a concern.
The Lions extended an offer to Grant because Best and Leshoure are coming off major injuries and Smith hasn’t played 16 games in a season since he was a rookie in 2008. Grant, 29, is a veteran running back who showed last season that he could still be effective (4.2 yards per carry).
I distinctly remember Grant catching a screen pass against the Lions in Week 17 last year and outrunning all of the Lions defense 80 yards to the end zone. I wouldn’t mind that going the other way for the right price.Q. What do you expect from the Lions defense this year? Are they going to be better in the secondary?
A. I think the defense will be better with the benefit of a nine-week offseason program. The Lions return 10-of-11 starters on defense and it just makes sense that those guys will be better one more year into the scheme and one more year playing together.
I think Ndamukong Suh will have a bigger impact this year and a healthy Nick Fairley will add a lot to the defense.
It was key to get linebacker Stephen Tulloch back.
As for the secondary, I’m still not convinced they’ll be better. Can Aaron Berry stay healthy and become more consistent? Does Jacob Lacey compete for a starting spot? Is Bill Bentley or the other rookie cornerbacks the real deal? Does Amari Spievey take a leap forward in his development in year three? Those are all questions we’ll start to get answers to during organized team activities. We’ll have a better picture in training camp.
I think that’s really yet to be determined.Q. What would you think about the Lions going with four wide receivers with Broyles as the fourth and either Best or Leshoure in the backfield?
A. I could see that happening more this season than in other years, now that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has the personnel to run those kinds of sets. Don’t forget that takes Brandon Pettigrew off the field, though, not sure I’m a huge fan of that.
In certain situations, though, I think the Lions would be extremely difficult to defend with Calvin Johnson, Titus Young, Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles out wide with Jahvid Best as a receiver out of the backfield.
It’s similar to what the Packers do with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and
James Jones. It’s tough to defend without a deep secondary.Q. What's your take on Riley Reiff's impact on the offense this year? Will he be a starter on the line, either at tackle or guard, or will he simply be utilized as solid depth?
A. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew recently told Mike O’Hara and Ken Brown in an interview on WJR that it’ll be very difficult to keep Reiff off the field.
“He’s certainly a really good fit for us,” Mayhew said in the interview. “He’s a guy that can eventually play left tackle for us and he can also play right tackle or guard. I think we’ll have a really tough time keeping him off the field next year.”
I’m not a big fan of converting tackles to guard, and then asking them to convert back to tackle later on. I just don’t see how that’s helping their development any.
I think Reiff is in the mix for the left tackle spot, but I suspect it’ll be difficult for him to supplant Jeff Backus unless he’s really head–and-shoulders above where the Lions think he is.
I could certainly see him challenging Gosder Cherilus on the right side. Given Cherilus’ knees and contract, I think that makes sense if they’re close in skill level.Q. Who are the starting corners to this point? Chris Houston and Aaron Berry with Alphonso Smith as the nickel and Jacob Lacey as No. 4? Where does Bill Bentley fit in?
A. Behind Houston, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. I recently talked to Aaron Berry and he’s put on seven pounds and is looking pretty good and expects the job to be his. http://www.detroitlions.com/news/lions- ... 7714300512
Lions defensive backs and third-down package coach Tim Walton says its an open competition between all of the above mentioned names.
I think Bentley will have as much a chance to win the spot as Berry or Lacey, but I really think Berry has the edge at this point. Berry’s been in the system the last two years and being a physical corner who can run. Putting on the weight helps, too.Q. Do you think that Fairley and Suh will be on the field at the same time much this year? I know lots of fans are eager to see that pairing.
A. Some people have suggested that they can’t be on the field together because they play the same position. That’s just not true.
I think because there wasn’t an offseason last year, and Fairley got hurt the second day of training camp, the Lions didn’t get to experiment with different defensive line combinations. I think they’ll mix those guys up a lot this offseason to see which combinations work. I could certainly see Suh and Fairley on the field together on third downs or in passing situations. To me, they’re the two most explosive tackles we have.Q. Why do you suppose the Lions drafted Broyles when Rueben Randle was on the board and seemed to have a higher ranking?
A. First, the Lions had Broyles rated higher on their board. Always keep in mind that team grades are sometimes very different than those of Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr. and Mike Mayock.
Second, the Lions had a very specific role in mind for Broyles, which was to play the slot. Randle is an outside receiver. The Lions already have Calvin Johnson, Titus Young and Nate Burleson, who can all play outside.
Broyles can also contribute on special teams returning kicks. It’s all about team needs and having a specific role for players within the scheme.Q. Do you feel like maybe we should have shopped Vanden Bosch around to try and get value out of him maybe some picks in the draft?
A. I’ve heard others talk about that scenario and I’ve never been a big fan of it. Vanden Bosch did have eight sacks and four forced fumbles last year. That’s great production. He’s also been a team player, who’s restructured his deal in the past.
Vanden Bosch is owed $10 million dollars over the next two years, and that’s not a lot considering his production in 2011.
Besides the sacks and the forced fumbles and the tackles, Vanden Bosch is just one of those guys you want on your football team.
One week after Vanden Bosch got here in 2010, I saw four defensive lineman running 20 yards downfield to make a tackle. Before he got here, I never saw that.
That’s why guys like Vanden Bosch are invaluable, regardless of cap situation or anything else. I’d rather see a number of other players have to go before KVB.Q. Where do you see the Avril situation going?
A. Hope I’m wrong, but I see this ending with Avril signing his franchise tag and being an unrestricted free agent again next offseason.
Lions president Tom Lewand told season ticketholders last month that the team had offered Avril a number of multi-year offers that he’s turned down. In fairness to Avril, I don’t know what those offers were and they could have been low.
Avril mentioned after the season that he’s looking to get something similar to the $60 million Tamba Hali got from the Chiefs or the $72 million Charles Johnson received from the Panthers.
I don’t see the Lions going that high at all. I’m guessing that where the impasse is.
Avril isn’t going to hold out then entire season and leave $10.6 million on the table. I think Avril plays for the Lions this season and we do this all again next offseason.
I’m guessing the Lions wish they would have signed him to a long-term deal last offseason.Q. How does Matthew Stafford improve on the success of last season?
A. This one is easy. Win more than 10 games.
Stafford doesn’t give a hoot about 5,000 yards passing and 41 touchdowns. The Lions are probably a better team in 2012 if Stafford throws for 4,000 yards with 35-40 touchdowns and has a 1,000-yard rusher behind him.
Quarterbacks are judged by wins and Super Bowl titles. That’s it. Stafford is more successful this year if he takes the Lions past the first round of the playoffs. If he doesn’t, even if he throws for 5,500 yards and 50 touchdowns, he didn’t have as good a season as 2011.