Articles From Bodogfantasy.com
February 21, 2006 11:00
Ford Field hosted Super Bowl
XL in early February, and it was the first time
that two quality NFL teams occupied that arena
since 2000. The Matt Millen era (est. January
2001) churned out another sub-par product in
2005, and the lowly Lions finished 5-11. The
poor record cost head coach Steve Mariucci his
job in late November, and defensive coordinator
Dick Jauron wrapped up the campaign before moving
This offseason, Millen flipped
to the "M" section of his phonebook
for the third time and hired Rod Marinelli,
who had been serving as the assistant head coach/defensive
line in Tampa. Marinelli then added former Rams
head coach Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator
and asked former Jets defensive coordinator
Donnie Henderson to make a lateral move.
On offense, Martz will throw
out Mariucci's West Coast structure and install
his "Greatest Show on Turf" style
that played so well in St. Louis. On defense,
Marinelli and Henderson will implement the Cover-2
scheme. Now, the Lions just need to find a whole
bunch of players to fit their new systems.
Yes. With an extensive list of free agents and
a new staff on board, the Lions need help at
pretty much every position save kicker and punter.
Marinelli and Martz have talked
about giving Joey Harrington a clean slate,
which assumes that the team keeps him despite
a $4 million roster bonus due on June 15. At
the least, they'll bring in a veteran free agent
not named Jeff Garcia to provide stability and
possibly challenge for the starting gig.
Along with Harrington, the staff
needs to figure out the fate of wide receiver
Charles Rogers. Two collarbone injuries and
a four-game drug suspension have marred the
former first-round pick's short career, and
the Lions need to decide if he's worth holding
onto. Roy Williams, Mike Williams, and Scottie
Vines are all ahead of Rogers on the depth chart
at this point, and even with a bunch of backup
receivers heading to free agency, the Lions
may release Charles and add a speed receiver
that better suits Martz's offense.
Speaking of Jones, he may have
some new running mates in 2006. Fullback Cory
Schlesinger is under contract, but Shawn Bryson,
Artose Pinner, and Paul Smith are all free agents.
Given that Jones has missed action in each of
his first two seasons, the Lions backfield needs
to be well-stocked.
However, the major need on the
offensive side of the ball lies in the big boys
who are supposed to protect Harrington and open
lanes for Kevin Jones. Left tackle Jeff Backus
has started all 80 games since being drafted
in 2001 but is a free agent. The Lions will
look to re-sign or tag him and then address
their issues at right tackle and left guard,
where Kelly Butler and Kyle Kosier/Rick DeMulling
were often clueless and clawless last season.
All three levels of the defense
could use assistance, although there is talent
throughout with players like Shaun Rogers, Dre
Bly, and Teddy Lehman. Defensive end is a notable
need, even if the Lions re-sign backup Kalimba
Edwards. The club managed only 31 sacks in 2005
and could use a speed rusher.
Injuries to linebackers Lehman,
Boss Bailey, Earl Holmes, and Alex Lewis tore
apart the middle of this defense last season,
and the Lions will want to add depth and talent
to this crew. The same goes for the secondary,
where starting cornerbacks Bly (12 games) and
Fernando Bryant (two) and safety Terrence Holt
(10) failed to stay healthy. The Lions may seek
a starting safety and will certainly need to
add warm bodies, even if they re-sign cornerbacks
Andre Goodman and R.W. McQuarters and safety
The Lions are roughly $9 million under the salary
cap, according to NFL.com.
QB Jeff Garcia, RB Shawn Bryson, RB Paul Smith,
WR Kevin Johnson, WR Eddie Drummond, WR Troy
Edwards, WR David Kircus, T Jeff Backus, T Victor
Rogers, T/G Kyle Kosier, G Tyrone Hopson, G
Brock Gutierrez, DE Kalimba Edwards, DE Jason
DeVries, LB Wali Rainer, LB Nate Wayne, LB LeVar
Woods, CB R.W. McQuarters, CB Andre Goodman,
S Vernon Fox, S Bracy Walker.
RB Artose Pinner, TE Casey FitzSimmons, LB James
Davis, S Terrence Holt.
With the ninth overall selection in the 2006
draft, the Lions select…another wide receiver!
Just kidding. Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler,
USC offensive tackle Winston Justice, Texas
safety Michael Huff, Virginia Tech cornerback
Jimmy Williams, Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway,
and Penn State defensive end Tamba Kali all
make sense in that slot. Ohio State linebacker
A.J. Hawk and North Carolina State defensive
end Mario Williams are expected to be off the
The Lions will give their fourth-round
pick to the Patriots (2005 draft-day trade)
and their seventh-round selection to the Jets
(safety Jon McGraw).
Bailey (ankle), Lehman (knee), Lewis (ankle),
Bryant (shoulder), and Holt (elbow) should all
be at full health come training camp, which
will make this defense look a lot better than
it did at the end of last season. Free agent
receiver Kevin Johnson ruptured his right Achilles
tendon in week seven and might not be ready
for the start of next season.
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