Twentyman: PFW article delivers a low blow to Lions via unnamed sources

Posted Oct 9, 2012

It appears at least one "rival" general manager doesn't think the Lions will be able to climb out of the 1-3 hole they've dug themselves into.

In an article posted on Pro Football Weekly's website, several NFL executives gave a less-than-stellar critique of the current state of the Lions.

"The one thing that is clear – they are not as close as people have tried to make it seem," one GM told PFW. "They are a one-dimensional offensive team that if the quarterback (Matthew Stafford) is not on, people are figuring it out. If you take (WR Calvin) Johnson out of the game (one TD through four games, compared to eight TDs at the same stage last season), who else do they have that can beat you?

"They are not a team that I think is ready. If I am going there to take over the job, I am not thinking that is a quick fix."

Those are bold statements conveniently expressed under the anonymity of "rival general manager."

Another "unnamed" source went on to say that general manager Martin Mayhew, head coach Jim Schwartz, Ndamukong Suh and the Lions' defensive line are overrated.

"They don't have enough good players, and the players they think are good are not that good," the GM said in the report. "Suh belongs on the All-Hype team. (DE Cliff) Avril is not that good — put on any game and you can watch him get blocked time and time again. Corey Williams is solid, but nothing that wows you or makes you wonder how you are going to block him. The other guy (DE Kyle Vanden Bosch) is a try-hard guy getting up in years that does not really threaten you. For as much as people talk about that D-line and all its depth, where are all the players?

"I have listened to the media hype about Suh since he got in the league — what has he done? Even the year he had all those garbage sacks, the guy took a million plays off and got pushed around in the run game. I have never thought he was a very good pro player. I liked him coming out and thought he had a chance. But I also never thought he was going to be the second coming that he was labeled. I am not sure who bestowed that on him, but it is kind of a joke."

Criticism was also directed at both Mayhew and Schwartz, calling both of them "overrated."

Those comments are an NFL executive's opinion and he's welcome to them, but it seems to me he either has a personal vendetta here or obviously doesn't know the current state of the Lions very well. The Lions are off to a 1-3 start. The record is what it is and both Mayhew and Schwartz aren't making excuses for it.

But to say the Lions "don't have enough good players" is kind of silly, really. The Lions have plenty of talent but haven't had the luxury of fully displaying it.

Running back Jahvid Best and safety Louis Delmas are game-changers on either side of the football and anyone who knows football would agree. Neither has played a down this season because of injuries, though Delmas has returned to the practice field and could play this week against the Eagles.

There's a reason Delmas was voted a Pro Bowl alternate by players and coaches last season despite missing the last five games of the regular season.

Best, who is probably the biggest mismatch the Lions can exploit outside of Calvin Johnson, is eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list next week.

Schwartz has said time and time again that injuries are no excuse and is quoted as saying: it's not if they happen but when and you have to be able to play through them.

Even so, those are two pretty big pieces of the puzzle for the Lions.

Stafford, Johnson, running back Mikel Leshoure, linebacker Stephen Tulloch and cornerback Chris Houston are good players. On tape, Suh is a player who commands the full attention of the opposing offense and more often you'll see him taking on double teams rather than taking "a million plays off." Suh also is tied for the most sacks (16.5) of any defensive tackle since being drafted in 2010.

If the Lions are so devoid of talent, as these "unnamed" sources says, how do they rank in the top 10 in both offense (third) and defense (ninth)?

Have the Lions had their share of problems this year? Absolutely. They've given up six non-defensive touchdowns and four of those have been on special teams. They've dropped passes. They've had some inopportune penalties. But those are all things that are fixable, in my opinion.
The Lions don't have a talent issue. They have an execution issue. Those are two very different things.

As for the criticism of Mayhew and Schwartz, let's not forget where this team was just five seasons ago. They were 0-16 and so devoid of talent that if a player got cut from the Lions, he was out of football. In three seasons, Mayhew and Schwartz have orchestrated a turnaround that produced a 10-win season.

Mayhew and Schwartz elevated the Lions to respectability and it's now up to them to keep climbing.

The beginning of this season has been a stumble, but they've been dealt some bad cards with the injuries to Delmas and Best. Let's see what hand they lay on the table with a full deck of cards. If they continue to lose with all the pieces, then maybe some of the criticism is warranted and they'd probably be the first ones to admit it.

It's hard to take these opinions too serious when the ones making the evaluations aren't confident enough in them to put their names on it.