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Motor City MoJo: Detroit Lion updates

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The Lions used their first-round draft pick on tight end T.J. Hockenson, and they plan to use him a lot. But that doesn’t mean they won’t use their other tight ends regularly as well. In fact, based on how the Lions have lined up during minicamp, they are likely to use three-tight end formations regularly, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/06/04/lions-practicing-plenty-of-three-tight-end-formations/

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Alright Patricia...bring back the T Formation too.  

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Same idea as the 22 personnel set Belichick used on the Pats Super Bowl winning drive last year: 

Quote

Detroit signed Jesse James away from the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason after he produced 112 receptions over the past 3 seasons. Also in free agency, the Lions signed uber-athletic Logan Thomas away from the Buffalo Bills. Continuing to add to the position in the NFL Draft, Detroit drafted T.J. Hockenson with the 8th overall pick, then selected Isaac Nauta out of Georgia in the 7th round. Needless to say, the position was a priority for Detroit this offseason.

The main advantage of playing with extra tight ends in the modern game is the ability to be multiple in play-calling against specific defensive personnel. This only works if the tight ends are well-rounded, with the ability to be effective in both the pass and run game. 

The general idea is this: enter the game with 12, 13 personnel or even 22 personnel for a particular play. If the defense counters with the modern “base” personnel that includes 5 defensive backs, then they’ll be relying on those defensive backs to fit and fill against the run. Therefore, defenses are likely to counter with an extra linebacker or two in order to be more stout against the run. However, this may leave the defense vulnerable against passing looks. If those tight ends are capable pass catchers, there is likely to be one too many matchups that the offense can exploit. On top of that, defensive players are intuitively more likely to bite on play-action looks when heavier sets are inserted into the game.

https://thedraftnetwork.com/articles/lions-mini-camp--advantages-of-playing-multiple-tight-ends

What the Lions are trying to do is smart. Kerryon Johnson running out of 3 TE sets is going to be heavy work for defenses. Playing power football will keep Stafford cleaner and limit his mistakes, help him do better as a game manager on early downs.

Vikings could have a hard time with that offense. If they counter with their usual base personnel, they’re asking Gedeon to cover one of the TEs or a RB on any passing play, which is a mismatch. They may try to use Cam Smith instead (a better athlete), if he shows he’s good enough to start as a rookie (as LBs often can). Eric Wilson is another option, he’s great in coverage at least against smaller targets, but he’s a liability against the run. 

They could play big nickel with Kearse as a LB, but having Kearse come down in the box to stop the run while blocked by Hockensen or an OL is also a mismatch, though at least there they’d have 3 good man coverage options vs TEs in Kearse, Smith and Barr. 

That might be part of the idea of bringing back Stephen as another DT/NT — make it a priority to clog the middle with the DTs on early downs rather than trying to get upfield, trying to protect the LBs and DBs on the second level. Even if Holmes and/or Mata’afa show out well as pass rushers, we might only see them in obvious passing situations mostly on 3rd downs, with a Linval/Shamar/Jaleel rotation used otherwise. 

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On 6/4/2019 at 9:24 AM, Krauser said:

Darius Slay and Damon "Snacks" Harrison are skipping minicamp, looking for extensions with 2 years remaining on their contracts. 

https://www.prideofdetroit.com/2019/6/3/18651222/darius-slay-says-hes-skipping-mandatory-minicamp

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/06/04/damon-harrison-will-skip-lions-mandatory-minicamp/

...

Slay has 2 years left on a $48M/4 extension signed in 2016, compare to Rhodes who got $70M/5 a year later

Harrison has 2 years left on a $46M/5 deal originally signed with the Giants in 2016. Compare to Linval Joseph who got $50M/4 a year later.

The Lions defense should be good this year as long as they get Slay and Harrison back in the fold. Their secondary is the weak spot, after Slay and Justin Coleman, but the DL could be one of the best in the league. 

I agree.  The Lions could sneak up on a lot of teams this year.  This is going to be a tough division.

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34 minutes ago, Uncle Buck said:

I agree.  The Lions could sneak up on a lot of teams this year.  This is going to be a tough division.

Yeah, agreed. I wrote a longer take on their roster a couple weeks ago on the Lions board. Copy-pasting here:

I think the Lions will be quite a bit better this year. 

I was skeptical of them last year, in preseason. 

That post and others following in the thread pick out some problems that turned out to be ongoing issues. The Lions offense turned out worse than I expected, as the OL play was disappointing despite what seemed to be decent personnel, while they lost talent at receiver with Jones getting hurt and Tate getting traded. Their defense was better than expected with the emergence of Robinson, Hand's excellent performance as a rookie, and trading for Snacks Harrison. They did predictably suffer from lack of edge rushing talent once Ansah predictably got hurt again, and their depth in the secondary was exploited.

Belichick assistants famously have never met expectations as head coaches, and obviously the media has it out for Patricia, but I think he's got a better shot than the previous products of the Patriots system to be successful over the long term. Patricia spent his entire NFL coaching career with BB, working up from the lowest level as an assistant, coached both sides of the ball (OL before moving to LB), and was the Pats D-coordinator for 6 years. Most of the other ex-Patriots coaches were either coaches at multiple stops before moving to NE and/or only spent a year in charge in New England before getting hired away. Josh McDaniels is the only real comparable for Patricia -- similar ages, spent entire career working up from the bottom with Belichick -- and while he flamed out at the young age of 33 as a HC in Denver, Patricia is starting in his mid-40s and seems to be handling the situation better, aside from trading barbs with the media. And he's an incredibly intelligent guy, rocket scientist and all that. 

All that to say I have some faith that Patricia is capable of figuring out how to put a strong team together in Detroit. The first year was a bit of a mess, but in retrospect they had to clear away some players who didn't fit or who were on the decline. A year plus now into the process, the improvement in the Lions roster is striking, especially the DL/edge. 

End of 2017: Ansah, Zettel, Robinson (PFF grade in 2017: 66.4), Spence, Washington, Ledbetter

Start of 2019: Flowers (78 pressures last year, PFF grade 89.7), Robinson (PFF: 89.8), Hand (PFF: 87.4), Harrison (PFF: 91.9), Okwara (39 pressures last year), Kennard (36 pressures last year)

That's so much better. 

The front 7 in general could be very strong, depending on how Tavai does as a rookie (I guess they're expecting him to play the Hightower role as a big SLB) and if Davis finally lives up to his potential. 

The secondary is still a concern after Slay, though Justin Coleman will help. They desperately need someone to beat out Tabor as an outside corner, maybe that can be the rookie they stole in the 5th round, Oruwariye. I don't know much about their safeties now that Quin retired.

I like the Lions offense more with the addition of Hockenson. Tight ends supposedly aren't worth a pick that high but given the way the Lions are put together, he just might. Jesse James was a nice signing too. You can see what they're trying to do -- play power football with Kerryon Johnson while keeping defense off balance with a possession passing game. Amendola will help as a possession target on 3rd downs, if he stays healthy. I've never been a big fan of Stafford, but if he can play more of a game manager role, that could work. I think the interior OL is still a question mark, and they didn't really upgrade there this year, though moving Ragnow back to C could help. Darrell Bevell is a good choice as an OC, he had a lot of success with the Seahawks taking a similar approach. 

Overall I think the Lions are probably still a year away from contending for the division. But I think they're on the right track. It wouldn't surprise me if they win 9 games this year. 

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The Lions added some veteran depth at receiver, who should be familiar with their new offense. The team announced the signing of wideout Jermaine Kearse, who had worked out for them a few weeks ago. Kearse caught 37 passes for 371 yards and a touchdown last year for the Jets, though he had a solid season for them in 2017.

Coming to Detroit reunites him with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who he played for in Seattle.

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/06/06/lions-sign-jermaine-kearse/

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The Lions will certainly be better, but the Bears will be worse, so it'll all even out in the end.  :D;)

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According to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, the Lions are trading tight end Michael Roberts to New England in exchange for a future late-round draft pick. Roberts might not have made the roster in Detroit, after the Lions used a first-round pick on T.J. Hockenson and signed Jesse James and Logan Thomas in free agency.

He might not make the roster in New England either, but the path is clearer, after the retirement of Rob Gronkowski and the recent release of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and the suspension which will take Benjamin Watson out of the first four games.

Roberts was a fourth-round pick in 2017. He finished last year on injured reserve after a shoulder injury.

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/06/13/lions-trading-tight-end-michael-roberts-to-patriots/

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On 6/13/2019 at 6:15 AM, vike daddy said:

According to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, the Lions are trading tight end Michael Roberts to New England in exchange for a future late-round draft pick. Roberts might not have made the roster in Detroit, after the Lions used a first-round pick on T.J. Hockenson and signed Jesse James and Logan Thomas in free agency.

He might not make the roster in New England either, but the path is clearer, after the retirement of Rob Gronkowski and the recent release of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and the suspension which will take Benjamin Watson out of the first four games.

Roberts was a fourth-round pick in 2017. He finished last year on injured reserve after a shoulder injury.

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/06/13/lions-trading-tight-end-michael-roberts-to-patriots/

The Lions won’t be getting a 2020 seventh-round pick from the Patriots in exchange for tight end Michael Roberts. Detroit sent Roberts to New England in exchange for a conditional draft choice on Thursday, but the trade is off. The Lions announced that Roberts was returned to their roster on Friday and that they subsequently waived him.

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/06/14/lions-waive-michael-roberts-after-trade-with-patriots-is-rescinded/

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That's messed up, he must have failed the physical...or he just showed up and p'd off Belichick.  

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