In this weeks addition of Blogger Q&A we have Sean Yuille with Pride of Detroit to answer five questions I posed to him about the Panthers match-up with the Lions.
Question 1: I'm a GT alum and therefore huge Calvin Johnson fan. Seems I remember the fan base was not happy about drafting another receiver with the overall #2 pick. Has Calvin made believers of yourself and the fan base yet?
POD: Calvin is the real deal. There's no doubt about that. He can make some amazing plays and has turned games around with only a couple catches. What's even better is that he catches throws regardless of how bad they are. That is a great trait to have as a Lions receiver, and it especially came in handy last week in the Jaguars game. Daunte Culpepper simply threw a ball downfield, and Calvin did the rest to make the big play happen.
Since Calvin had Reggie Ball throwing to him in college he had to make great plays (no offense Reggie, just stating the obvious). We always said if this guy ever gets an accurate QB look out.
Question 2: I was surprised to see Detroit sign QB Dante Culpepper rather than start 2nd year man Drew Stanton. Was this a good move or should they just throw Stanton in there and let him sink or swim?
POD: The coaches sadly think of Culpepper as the future quarterback of this team from everything I have heard. They feel like he can get used to the offense for the remainder of the season and become the full-time starter next year. Obviously I don't agree with that one bit and think the coaches are living in a fantasy world if they're planning beyond 2008 anyways since they probably won't have a job. Either way, I do think Stanton should have become the starter. Yes, he doesn't have any experience and has a lot of work to do to become better, but starting him would either accomplish that or show that he is not a viable option in the future. Although there is a very good chance he would get injured as a starter based on the number of sacks he took in the short amount of time he played last week and based on the fact that he is injury prone, the Lions don't have anything else to lose at this point. Well, except for 7 more games.
I would have to agree with throwing Stanton in there to see if he is the answer or not. They need to know if they need to spend next years #1 pick on a QB or not.
Question 3: I see RB Kevin Smith is now the starter over the vet Rudi Johnson. Did Smith earn the job or get it by default? Is Smith the answer at RB for the Lions going forward?
POD: Smith definitely earned the starting job. He and Rudi battled it out and went back and forth for much of the season. Recently, though, Smith has shown great promise and appears to be a legit NFL running back. He doesn't exactly have much to work with since the offensive line is so terrible, but he has played well despite that. What I like about Smith the most is that he can make something out of nothing quite a bit, which is always a plus when your blocking is non-existent for most of the game.
Smith is a guy I thought the Panthers might target in the draft. He's going to take some hits this Sunday as the Panther defense looks to rebound from a less-than stellar run defense performance against the Raiders.
Question 4: The defense seems to be struggling in all areas. Are there any bright spots on the defensive side of the ball for the Lions? Who's been playing well and who needs to get the DeAngelo Hall treatment?
POD: The only bright spots on the Lions' defense are linebacker Ernie Sims and defensive end Dewayne White, who is actually going to miss Sunday's game due to an injury. I honestly would like to give the DeAngelo Hall treatment to the defensive coaches first and then move on to the entire secondary. After that I would likely only pick a few players to keep and would clean house everywhere else. The defense is pathetic and will always be pathetic as long as the current group of players and coaches are around.
I'm sure Jake is looking to rebound from his horrible performance against the Raiders. The Lions secondary should be just the cure.
Question 5: How is the recent rookie class panning out? Any future Pro Bowlers in the class?
POD: A couple of the second-day picks of the rookie class are doing pretty well. The two first-day selections, on the other hand, have been an enormous disappointment. First-round pick Gosder Cherilus was getting benched what seemed like every other week during the first half of the season, and now he is a starter on the worst o-line in football. Second-rounder Jordon Dizon has seen a very small amount of playing time and has been injured for a good part of the season. I didn't like the pick when it was made and I hate it even more right now. Dizon was seen by the coaches as someone that could be starting at one of the linebacker positions, and right now he is nowhere near that level.
Moving on to the second-day picks, Kevin Smith and fullback Jerome Felton are already starting. Cliff Avril is showing some promise and will get a chance to play quite a bit on Sunday with both of Detroit's defensive ends out due to injuries. Defensive tackle Landon Cohen hasn't done much, and the other two second-day picks aren't even on the team anymore. Caleb Campbell, as you may have heard, was forced to stop playing in the NFL due to an Army ruling, and Kenneth Moore is actually on the Panthers now.
I think most people thought Cherilus and Dizon were reaches at spots they were taken. Cherilus will have his hands full this weekend as he gets his first look at Peppers.