Monday, November 06, 2006

Weekend Compendium

Welcome to my visitation to the weekend that was. You may ask why the big word? Why not just say summary? Well I didn't go to college for 4 years to use little words. I went to college and learned that people tend to listen to you when you use big words in their proper usage. That, and to get a job in a completely unrelated field.
On to how the home teams fared.

The Lions:

They won! That in itself is amazing news. This wasn't a bottom feeder team either. This was Atlanta. A team in the playoff race. The team that leads the NFL in rushing yards. The Lions beat them, with 3 starters missing from their defensive line. Obviously Ron Mexico forgot to drink his Powerade. Seriously though, this is the first Lions game I've sat down and watched all the way through in a long time. whether it was the Tigers playing, other games with fantasy football implication on, or the fact that they have been plain terrible, I can say that I've watched a full 60 minutes of Lion football this year. Well here are three things that I noticed that make me feel the Lions are actually improving:
1) They have a leader at QB, and they want to follow him.
Here's a little photographic evidence.


Everybody's favorite holy roller QB Jon Kitna is seen here on the offensive after a cheap shot was administered to the side of his head. DeAngelo Hall (5'10", 190 lbs.) was the one who delivered it. Kitna is attacking LB Michael Boley (6'3", 236 lbs.) The Lions have a QB willing to fight linebackers. Hopefully he's smart enough to punch with his left hand. If Joey Blue Skies took a hit like that, he'd still be on the turf. Even if he did have a little piss and vinegar (mostly vinegar if you ask me) in him, who would jump to his side in a fight? Center Dominic Raiola has promised he would deliver vindication for Kitna if he should meet Hall on a football field. Could you even say half the players on the team last year would help Harrington up after a sack last year?
2) The "Playmakers" are making plays. Kevin Jones had over 100 yards on the ground, with 2 TD's. Roy "All he does is catch First Downs" Williams had a career long 60 yard TD catch, and a one handed circus grab late in the game. Dre Bly and Kenoy Kennedy had big interceptions. Ernie Sims had a fumble recovery. Here's a prime example of what was different with a couple plays from a drive in the second quarter. It's 3rd and 7, two false start penalties push the Lions back to a 3rd and 17. In years past it would have been either a draw up the middle for 4 yards or a checkdown pass to the TE or RB for a minimal gain and the4th down. But this year's team completes a 18 yard pass to First Down Roy. The drive ends with after a failed 4th and goal from the 1, but 2 plays after the turnover on downs, interception Dre Bly. Next play touchdown Kevin Jones. Stuff like that never happened for the Lions in years past.
3) The defense is hitting people. 17 different people had tackles. Vick only ran for 80 yards and two first downs. One play in particular that stands out was Fernando Bryant hitting Ashlie Lelie the second he touched the ball Lelie was separated from it by Bryant. It was one of many hits that led to a case of alligator arms by the Falcon wide outs. There is no stat for dropped passes, but I counted at least six among the Atlanta receivers. In years past, you would only see Lions defenders in the highlights getting shaken off an offensive player on his way to a big gain.

Now the key is to do all these things this Sunday against a team they should beat in the San Fransisco 49ers.

The Pistons:

After last Wednesday's opening night debacle vs. Milwaukee, the Pistons bounced back nicely with wins over Boston and Memphis. Nazr Mohammed has shown himself to be a nice replacement for Ben Wallace. He has averaged 11 points, 9 rebounds, and a block a game so far. He also is shooting 83% from the line, something Ben Wallace has never done. Making up for the energy missed by Wallace has been Jason Maxiell. Mad Max has been chipping in with a couple blocks and rebounds off the bench. Maxiell could be important seeing as how they will need help in the paint, if/when 'Sheed's temper flares up and gets 2 techs in a game.
Speaking of 'Sheed, another thing that's looking good, is that the Pistons are driving to the net more. 'Sheed looks like he realizes that he can't hang around the three point line with Ben down below to do the dirty work, so he's been setting up shop around the paint. Rip and Chauncey especially have gotten in on the act as well.They still have the ball movement and take they're high percentage jump shot, but they have been taking it to the hoop with consistency. Let's see if they can keep this up on a tough 4 game west coast swing.

The Red Wings:

Can we still call it "Hockeytown" if nobody is paying attention? Lost in all the hoopla over the Tigers world series, Pistons season starting, U of M potential national title run, and the Lions winning, has been the team that used to own this town. The Wings have won six in a row, and they are still showing up near the bottom (or the back if you get the real life paper version) of the sports page. But then again when you lose the face of the franchise, and when your regular season is basically an 82 game prelude to real hockey in April, who can expect many people to notice. Maybe wins over Edmonton and Nashville can turn some attention their way.

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