Monday, July 28, 2008

Nicky Goes Thru 2 a Days- Bears/Lions


The Bears had a nice little run of winning a lot of games despite rolling out a parade of inconsistent and/or incompetent quarterbacks the past couple of years. That run came to an end in 2007.

This team's offensive struggles have been well documented over the years. From Good Rex to Bad Rex, and 2005 4th overall pick Cedric Benson's failure and subsequent dismissal from the team. Everyone knows all about that stuff.

What people don't talk about though was the reason shit finally fell apart was because while the defense had been very good in the past, it sucked just as bad as the offense did last year. The Bears defense ranked in the bottom third of the league in Y/A (yards per attempt) against both the run and the pass.

The one bright spot in a miserable 7-9 season was Devin Hester. The second year dynamo had 6 special teams touchdowns, and 2 more as a wide receiver. With the exception of Randy Moss, nobody was a bigger game changer than he was. It became a weekly guessing game as to how teams would deal with Hester each week, with teams that opted to kick to him invariably paying for it dearly.

The plan to improve the offense was to get rid of everyone except the guy who probably deserves to be launched the most, Rex Grossman. The Bears gave free agent Rex a one year make good deal, and declared an open (wink wink) competition between him and Kyle Orton for the starting QB job. Both starting wideouts from last year are gone, so whoever "wins" this job has the unenviable task of working with an offense whose #1 receiver is a fossil who hasn't been productive in 4 years (Marty Booker), and a starting running back who is a rookie from Tulane (Matt Forte). The offensive line, which was average at best last year, brings most of the same crew back, another year older. This could be a historically bad offense.

Making things worse, the Bears labor under the illusion that they still have an elite defense, which they do not. No additions were made to shore up what was in fact a bad defense last year. There isn't a whole lot of youth on the defense either, so another year probably won't make them better, it will make them worse.

This is going to be a very bad team. The Bears under GM Jerry Angelo have long operated with a hubris that indicates they think they are smarter than they are everyone else. They're not. This team will struggle on both sides of the ball, and be ridiculously bad on offense. Devin Hester will help provide field position, but that's about all this team's got going for it this year.



The Lions were actually 6-2 at one point last year and I am not making this up. Unfortunately for Matt Millen, Rod Marinelli, and Mike Martz, this strange electromagnetic anomaly that produced a dimension where the Lions were good and people threw ducks at ballloons and nothing was as it seemed didn't last, and the Lions lost 7 out of their last 8 to finish with a losing record for the 7th consecutive season.

7 losing seasons in a row is not an easy feat to pull off in the NFL. The league is set up to ensure that doesn't happen. But then, the league didn't account for Matt Millen's incompetent boobery either.

Things disintegrated in the second half of the season because the defense was absolutely atrocious. In the last 6 games of the season, the Lions gave up an average of 35.3 points per game. Things weren't helped by Mike Martz's wacky offense where he'd throw the ball 50 times a game, ensuring the clock would stop a lot and that awful defense would get a lot more chances to be scored upon.


Millen's response to last year's collapse was to get rid of Martz, and get rid of just about everyone who was on the defense last year and bring in a bunch of rejects from Tampa to play the Tampa 2. The biggest offseason move was to trade DT Shaun Rogers, who was the Lions best player on either side of the ball and the only guy who generated any sort of pass rush, for Browns oft-injured corner Leigh Bodden. Bodden is good if he's healthy, but the secondary is now going to be even more taxed than it was last year because opposing quarterbacks are going to have all day to throw.

On offense, the plan is to do a 180 from the Arena Football offense they ran last year, and install a conservative offense centered around the running game. The guys doing the bulk of that running will be former Bronco Tatum Bell, who ran for a whole 182 yards with the Lions last year, and rookie Kevin Smith, who carried the ball like 500 times in college last year so I'm sure there's a lot of life left in those legs or not.

There's 2 really bad teams in the NFC North this year, and the Lions are one of them. There ain't gonna be any 6-2 start this year, and there certainly won't be 7 wins. There will be an 8th consecutive losing season, and an ugly one at that.

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