Friday Football Preview

BY:DALTON

Michigan State Bye: Usually I hate when a bye week comes early in a teams season. But, after a Utah State scare during week one and an upset loss in the late desert to Arizona State, this bye couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the Spartans. As a Michigan fan, it kills me to say this, but I still think MSU has a good team this year. I can’t explain the slow start this year, but Lewerke is a good quarterback and Dantonio is a good coach so this ship isn’t sunk. They have a lot of figuring out to do on the defensive side of the ball and I expect them to get it done before their tilt against Indiana.

 

SMU Mustangs @ Michigan Wolverines: This is a pretty straightforward preview. As long as the Wolverines don’t choke on their own spit, they should easily role the ‘Stangs. In every facet of the game, Michigan is considered better. Now, an upset is always possible so please don’t screenshot this article and paste it all over social media. PREDICTION: UM 42- SMU 7

 

Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers: The Lions STINK out loud. The defense is porous and the offense is non-existent, not a great combo. The 49ers are a solid squad despite a loss to the Vikings last week. Garrapolo didn’t have a great performance against Minnesota but the defense he plays this week will be a lot easier to toss against so the Jimmy G hype train will get right back on track. Lions can win this game is if they somehow hold San Francisco to 21 points or less. Sadly, that won’t happen. Despite me being in attendance, Lions still lose. PREDICTION: SF 28- DET 17

DOWN THE FIELD: Week One

BY: DALTON

What a roller coaster of a game. By roller coaster, I mean:

Holy fuck what an awful game. Absolutely disgusting, embarrassing, and downright unacceptable. I was willing to give this team a chance after their shit preseason. Hoping, wishing, praying that it was just guys getting reps in different positions. Alas, it was not the case. After a rookie mistake by Sam Darnold, the Lions looked under coached, underprepared, uninspired, and every other word that describes our team as being absolute trash. I hope all the players and coaches remember that on the opening night, at home, in primetime, that by the middle of the fourth quarter the only sounds echoing through the tomb known as Ford Field were” J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets”. It’s the most embarrassing day to be a Lions fan since they lost to the Packers in week 17 of 2008 when they completed the 0-16 season. I cant put into words how disgusted and shocked I am in this game. But, why should I be shocked? Have the Lions ever been anything but a steaming pile of a team that gets horrible QBs paid (Matt Flynn) and the punchline of any NFL joke not involving the Browns? And maybe that’s the worst part. The Lions are a significantly worse franchise than Cleveland and we never get any of the credit. What’s funny? After the opening drive of the second half, it was tied 17-17. I want to say the wheels fell off, but that would imply we had wheels. Or a car. Or a chance.

Let’s start with the offense, I guess. It was absolutely atrocious.  This was the worst Matt Stafford has looked in his entire career. I’m usually a hardcore Stafford defender but there is no excusing that shit show. Four interceptions and I’m not even going to look up the yards or attempts/completions. Not worth my time because Stafford made that game look like it wasn’t worth his. I was hoping that this offense was going to be different than the one last year, and I guess I was right. It was much worse. The offensive line that we bolstered up the past couple of years couldn’t open any holes up and allowed constant pressure. The two new running backs we got this offseason combined for a total of 39 yards. Why the hell would we draft Kerryon Johnson if he doesn’t get any reps until the second quarter? Let me remind everyone that the offense had negative two yards in the first quarter. Jim Bob Cooter took this offense two steps backward. The receivers, outside of Golladay, couldn’t catch a single thing. Multiple opportunities for touchdowns or at least drive-extending catches and the Lions just decided they would be better off to let the ball hit the turf. NEWS FLASH, we aren’t better off not catching balls.

Now for the defense. Have you no pride? Besides getting ran over to the tune of 169 yards, you let a rookie quarterback complete 75% of passes. You guys weren’t even close to stopping them on third down. No pass rush, no run stop, bad tackling, and awful coverage will result in a blow out loss to a team that finished with five wins in the last two seasons. They couldn’t even force Darnold into third and long situations. Matt Patricia is supposed to be a defensive guy and the defense looked worse than the offense, in my opinion. At least the offense showed a little something (Golladay, two-minute drill, first drive of the second half). The defense had absolutely nothing outside of the worst thrown ball in history by Darnold. Ziggy is hurt again and I’m ready to let him walk. A hell of a talent when healthy but I’d rather take a mediocre guy for 16 games than an elite talent for three. Jared Davis looks slower than frozen molasses and he still doesn’t understand that when you shoot the hole and see the ball carrier in the backfield, you have to tackle him. Maybe next year he will get it.

Special teams even sucked eggs. Gave up multiple long punt returns, including a 78-yard touchdown, and missed a couple of field goals. Thing is? I’m not even that mad. These were kind of like “of course they would miss those/give up that return”. Not mad, just disappointed.

After tonight, looking at their schedule through poop-colored glasses, they have a legit chance to start off the season 0-12. But, we’ve been there before. I guess if you have to look for a silver lining, its probably that the Lions have shattered all of our hopes and dreams in the first week so that way the emotional stress of when we lose by 30 points at home in December, it isn’t as bad. I am ashamed of the product that was on the field on national television. It would be awesome if there was a single player or unit or coach that we could blame, but there isn’t. It was everyone involved. I’ll even take some of the blame for believing that this team could be something different. If there is any life lesson that I can learn from the Lions, its that I should never believe in anything and always set the bar so low that if I ever succeed, no one will ever care because they know embarrassing failure is just around the corner. Fuck this team.

P.S. Just learned via Dave Birkett that the loss tonight was the second worse loss for a Lions coach in their first game. SECOND LMAO!!!!!

9/9 MAILBAG​!!!!!!!!

BY: DALTON

Darin, Mt. Pleasant, Mi: “Are you discouraged by a less-than-awesome preseason?”

Well, it certainly was “less-than-awesome”. With a new head coach, it is tough to pass judgment about what we’ve seen in the preseason. You just don’t know if the team doesn’t look great because they are bad or are they just working in players into situations that are uncomfortable to them because of new schemes. This first game against the Jets will be a sign to if it will be a long season or not. If they come out prepared and ready, then this preseason was just a fluke. If not, I don’t want to talk about it.

Zack, Mt. Pleasant, Mi: “Thoughts on the Zettel release?”

It came as a shock to many of the Detroit Lions faithful. My best guess is that he just simply wasn’t a scheme fit. After a great start to the 2017 campaign, he trailed off only having half of a sack for the last seven games of the seasons. I certainly wish him the best of luck with Cleveland.

Dave, Standish, Mi: “Thoughts on the defensive line and a lack of a pass rush”

What a perfect question to follow the Zettel one. Last season the pass rush, or lack thereof, was the biggest issue on the defense. Getting Ziggy Ansah back is going to help a lot and hopefully, the acquisition of Romeo Okawa and Eli Harold will help. To say I’m skeptical would be an optimistic viewpoint to say the least. The Lions will have to get to the quarterback without linebacker help if they want to contain teams to some decent scoring averages.

Will, Oakland, Ca: “Will Kerryon Johnson be a top 10 running back this year? If not how good will he be?”

If Kerryon Johnson is a top ten running back this season, then the Lions rushing attack will make Emmit Smith look like a lost child just wandering lost without a care in the world. In other words, no. Not this season, anyway. How good can he be? I have absolutely no idea. We didn’t get to see much of him in the preseason so his role is still in question for this season but going forward, there is no reason to not think he will be the lead back. I would stay away from him for fantasy purposes.

Blake, Standish, Mi: “Do you see the Lions making the playoffs? If so will they make it over the hump and get their first playoff win since 91?”

Yes, because I’m an optimist. No, because they’re the Lions.

Eli, Baltimore, Md: “What’s the optimal way to watch non-national Lions games from outside of their normal coverage area? Preferably Legal”

Sunday Ticket, and if you don’t want to pay for it, there’s always “totally legal” Reddit streams.

Trent, Auburn Hills, Mi: “How many different pencils will coach put in his ear?”

If we are talking about the game on Monday night, I’ll set the over/under at 1.5 and hammer the under. For the whole season? I’d say a California Redwood’s worth.

Andrew, Grand Rapids, Mi: “As of now what position do you think the Lions need to address in the first round next year? What free agents currently do you think could make an instant impact on our team, if any?”

Going with my gut, I would have to say the Lions will need to address the pass rush via the draft. Obviously, who they draft all depends on who’s available when they draft because the Lions are still a far way away from being able to afford a draft reach. As for free agents, I have faith enough in Bob Quinn that if there was a free agent that could make an instant impact that they would be signed. So, essentially, there isn’t a free agent that would make an instant impact.

Ashton, Fort Myers Beach, Fl: “Do you see the Lions winning more games than the Wolverines?”

Out of all the questions people submitted, this one was probably my favorite. I obviously love both the Wolverines and the Lions. It’s like asking me to pick which child I think will be more successful in life. I simply can’t do it. But, for the sake of the article, I’ll say the Wolverines finish with more wins. Michigan will finish with 10 wins, including a bowl win. The Lions will finish with 9 wins.

Austin, Ann Arbor, Mi: “What is the optimal length of Matt Patricia’s for the Lions to be successful?”

I’m going to assume that the word “beard” is supposed to be in there. If that is the question, it will have to be between Lumberjack and Tom Hanks from Castaway length.

Evan, Ann Arbor, Mi: “Is Matt Stafford a top 31 quarterback in the NFL?”

Not even close. Give me Tebow or give me death.

Danny, Parts Unknown, USA: “Is Ameer Abdullah on the roster by the end of the season? Does Golden Tate resign? Best place to buy jeans?”

Abdullah will be on the roster by the end of the year. It is tough to trade players for equal return in the NFL and given how early in the season the trade deadline is, I would assume the Lions will just keep Ameer on the roster for the sake of special teams/insurance policy. As for Tate, I actually think the Lions get a deal done with him. Not sure why but I think both sides understand the strengths and weaknesses of each. Best place for jeans is either Kohls (when you have a 30% off) or any type of discount retailer. They’re just jeans. No need to get fancy.

Matt, Austin, Tx: “Are we eternally cursed? If not, what would break the curse?”

So, for spring break my senior year we went to New Orleans. On one of the first days we were there, we went into a magic shop. Me, quite inebriated, asked what the only ways to prevent black magic were. Black magic is one of the things I fear most in life. The lovely shop keep gave me the worst possible answer, “You can’t really fend off black magic”. At that point in time, I knew I had to piss really bad and that the Lions will never win a Super Bowl.

 

Michigan or God?

BY: DALTON

Lord Almighty, its here at last! After a painstakingly long offseason of twists and turns, the fruits of our fandom labor are about to be harvested. Whether those passion pomegranates are sweet or sour will be known by 7:30 pm EST. On the road, versus a higher ranked opponent, week one is not a must-win football game by any means. What tonight is, to borrow a term from my Catholic brethren,  is a chance at perception salvation. Last football season, the Maize and Blue had the dullest, most unimaginative, and frustrating offense ever put onto a football field. It didn’t help that the Wolverines were forced to game plan with John O’Korn under center, but the coaching staff didn’t do themselves any favors, either. So, in a very un-Catholic move, Jim Harbaugh saw a glaring problem and replaced those in charge. A whole new offensive staff has moved into Schembechler Hall and, come tonight, will be under the spotlight of anxious fans. Nobody is worried about the defense. Don Brown has proven every year that he can coach his unit to be one of the best in the country. This season they return 10 starters, the most Brown has had return during his tenure at Michigan. Obviously, replacing Mo Hurst is going to be the biggest personnel challenge this season and should not be overlooked. Hell, Hurst was possibly the best interior defensive lineman to ever wear the winged helmet. But, I think its safe to say that if this year’s defense isn’t ranked in the top five nationally, something went horribly wrong.

Tonight’s game is more than just a game. I would love a Michigan victory, make no qualms about it. But, if they lose tonight it will be the way in which they lose that will determine how we should feel about this season. So no matter the result, Michigan football needs to move on to step “I” of the D.E.N.N.I.S. System. Inspire hope. If the Wolverines come out and Shae Patterson is 70% of what the beat writers have said he is, the offense looks balanced and competent, and the defense is as stingy as a rusted out hinge and still somehow lose, I’ll be alright. I won’t be happy that they lost, but my hope for this season will not be left on the field in South Bend. Harbaugh and Company just need to show me that something has changed since the end of last season. Show me progress, show me some creativity, show me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, show me there is a reason to believe!

Now, we come to the headline question of the article. When the Michigan Wolverines take the field against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend tonight, who’s side will I ultimately be on? Michigan, the school I grew up loving, went to, paid tuition to, and graduated from? Or, Notre Dame, the school with the foremost connection to eternal salvation? It’s not an easy decision, that’s for sure. I’m not sure I can give a definitive answer because my soul rests in the balance. I will say though, that come January, I’d rather be staying up late on a Monday night than waking up early on a Sunday morning.

 

 

Lions Training Camp: What to Watch For

BY: DALTON

Lions training camp is this Friday (thank god football is back) and here are 5 things the I am really looking forward to:

  1. Running Back Battles: As of now, I fully expect LeGarrette Blount to be getting most of the first-team reps on day one. The role of Theo Riddick is pretty well cemented as the 3rd down back but that leaves a big question mark for the newest Lion RB, Kerryon Johnson. Will he be used in certain sets? Which sets? Are we not going to see much of Johnson because of Blount/Riddick? Then, in all of this RB mess, there is still Ameer Abdullah. It will be interesting to see these internal battles play out because, I think its safe to say, this is the first time in a while the Lions have had a logjam at running back.
  2. Cornerbacks: We all know Big Play is one of the top corners in the NFL, but who is going to play opposite of him? Will it be, free agent addition, DeShawn Shead or, the second-year player, Teez Tabor? If I had to put some money on it, I would say Shead is going to start out as the starter along with Slay. Tabor showed some promise at the end of last season but Shead is a professional who was an important member in the Legion of Boom out in Seattle.
  3. Kerry Hyder: The defensive line was one of the personnel groups on the Lions last season, but they also didn’t have Hyder the entire season. He suffered a torn Achilles a couple seasons ago and its one of the toughest injuries to come back from because it limits your explosiveness. We see it all the time in the NBA, a sport where explosiveness is considerably more important. If Hyder can return to 80% of what he was in the 2016-2016 campaign, then it is a major upgrade for the defensive front.
  4. How Players React to Patricia: This one is pretty straightforward. A new coaching staff means a new way of practice. You don’t have to be a genius either to recognize that Matt Patricia and Jim Caldwell MIGHT have some different coaching styles. How the players react to a more fiery coach will determine how the season starts and which players (special teams) will earn spots at the bottom of the roster.
  5. Offensive Line: I’m not worried about this group at all, in fact, the only positions I am more confident about are quarterbacks and wide receivers. If this group can just stay healthy through camp and develop a little bit of chemistry then they will be a lot of fun to watch.

Dwane Casey is the Newest Pistons Coach

BY:DALTON

In a move that shocked very few, the Detroit Pistons announced today that Dwane Casey was hired to coach the salary cap mess of Blake, Andre, and Reggie. Once John Beilein dropped out, it seemed like the no-brainer move for Tom Gores to make. Personally, I like this move by the Pistons owner. Not because its a splashy hire or a win now move, but it was the smart move. In an ownership era where smart moves have been few and far between, its nice to see a move that wont set the franchise back. It will be interesting to see what Casey can do with the current Pistons roster. Obviously the Pistons dont have the guard play the the Raptors do but when a coach wins 60+ games, he has to be decent. I think the biggest improvement we will see this year is on the defensive end. At the end of the regular season, the Pistons were a middle of the pack team defensively and the Raptors were the number 1 defensive team in the East and I dont think its that hot of a take to say that the Pistons have better defensive pieces than the Raptors. Offensively, I have no clue what to expect. It could be awesome if Reggie stays healthy and Casey finds a way to work Griffin and Drummond together, but if he cant it wont be pretty. Again.  I’m not going to get my expectations up until after the summer/free agency/draft/hiring of a GM. After that, I’m sure I can convince myself of an ECF appearance but we will wait till September for that.

SHORT SYNOPSIS: Thank god the Pistons hired, at the very least, good coach. It was clear the team had tuned out SVG so a new voice will be refreshing.

The Anatomy of Superstition

BY NEW WRITER DANNY RYAN

When I was younger I was weird(er). For years I had this weird little OCD tick where I had to touch my face and glasses an even number of times for good luck. I could be seen, fidgeting, whenever I was incredibly nervous about the future. This would be heightened in high-anxiety situations, most notably when I was around women I found attractive and during big sports games. Trust me, it made sense at the time. When the fate of the universe is dependent on how many times you touch your face, life can be stressful. While I have since partially grown out of that routine in my everyday life, superstition has always played a part in my short-lived sports career and long-term fandom. Every athlete has their pregame routines, but mine bordered on obsessive. Before lacrosse games, I would always do everything identically to how I did it the game before. I would say goodbye to my dog right before I left the house, making sure to pet him an even number of times and reminding him that he was indeed a good boy and always would be. It was comforting to know that even if I did die during the game, at least he would know how I truly felt about him (I did not do this for anyone else in my family). Once I got into my car and drove to the game, I had a strict order of songs I would play on the way to the game, culminating in me bumping “Welcome to the Black Parade” by the TIMELESS band My Chemical Romance alone in the parking lot. When I got in the locker room, I would always get dressed halfway before getting my ankles taped (bender). After I was ready, I would always play catch with the same kid, to warm up our sticks. For some reason, I always insisted on the throwing session ending in a hug instead of a handshake which is a lot weirder in hindsight, but I digress. After, I’d get fully dressed before having my teammate do my eye-black for me. My senior year we won more when I just wrote “Lion” on my face, so that became my staple. This was because I started trying to go by Dan Lion instead of Dan Ryan. It did not catch on. When we went out on the field I would always be in the second row, enough to make noise but not be a focal point. We would touch the field and I would always immediately yell “Cabs are here!”, in honor of Dj Pauly D and to symbolize that we were indeed in this motherfucker. Everything about each day was systematic and precise to a key and it usually produced results, so I persisted. Even though my athletic career did not continue (shocker), my anxiety/OCD still thinks I play a humongous part in every game for my favorite teams.

Now, during Michigan’s dream run to the national championship, it has been in full force. Today, right before the biggest game of my basketball career, I have my new rituals. I will be wearing the same clothes I have worn every game: a yellow Michigan long sleeve, black jeans and Sandlot edition PF flyers. No, they have not been washed yet. They still reek of beer and terrible body odor, but anything for the team the team the team. I will be watching with one of my oldest friends, because we win when we watch together. Naturally, I did not get a lot of sleep. Every dream I had ended with me dunking on Miles Bridges and for some reason I’d wake up screaming “HOWS YOUR HEART NOW URBAN.” Luckily, this morning I abused my cold brew consumption and listened to 400 Meek Mill songs to guarantee that I’ll be up till 2021. The final hours leading up to the game will be grueling, but, much like Duncan scoring at least 6, I know I’m doing my part.

Moments away from leaving, my dog is now sitting next to me waiting for me to say goodbye to him (he can sense anxiety, rain and victory). This could be our final goodbye, because there is an 80% chance that I don’t survive this game. Villanova is the most talented team in the country and is capable of blowing out any team. But luckily, we have a secret weapon they can’t create a game plan for: me.