Monday, December 18, 2006

Harbaugh On The Farm

I just read that former Michigan star and ex-NFL QB Jim Harbaugh is going to be named Stanford's head coach tomorrow. I think selecting Harbaugh is an excellent move on the part of The Cardinal administration. Harbaugh is a younger coach with a solid background and ties to the program. I'm not a fan, in general, of hiring retreads and handing Harbaugh the keys is definitely a bold decision.

The former Wolverine will have his hands full on The Farm, though. Stanford football has been mediocre historically and below that since Ty Willingham took the Notre Dame job.

One does wonder if Harbaugh has success at Stanford, if his next head coaching gig might be in Ann Arbor?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Part Of My Detroit Lions Makeover Plan

Just in case someone from the Ford Family stops by, I want them to know that if I was named as Matt Millen's replacement with the Detroit Lions, I do have a plan heading into the 2007 season. For the sake of this discussion, I'll limit my thoughts to player acquistion via the draft. However, don't think for a moment that the coaching staff would automatically be safe. They wouldn't. (More on that later.)

However, as we all know the Lions need better players and more of them. To that end, here's what I would look to do heading into the 2007 NFL Draft.

Attempt to trade Shaun Rogers for a first round draft choice. Yes, Rogers is the Lions best defensive player. The problem is, of course, that's only on the days Mr. Rogers wishes to be a dominant interior lineman. Alas, that's not every Sunday. Rogers has also been around the losing for too long and a change of scenery would appear appropriate. If I can get a first rounder for him, even a low first rounder, he's bye-bye.

Then, I peddle Dre Bly. Again, a decent defensive player, but not as good as many think. Nor am I too impressed with his willingness to point fingers and toss teammates under busses. He's another guy I want gone just to clear the air in the lockeroom. If another NFL team wants to give me a second round pick, Bly would be an ex-Lion, as well. I might be willing to settle for a third rounder, too.

If the Lions land the first pick overall, as it appears they will, I'm looking to move down and trade the rights to Brady Quinn. I want a couple of first rounders, minimum. I'm not expecting a Herschel Walker deal, just one that gives me as many high draft picks as possible.

Let's assume, I'm able to pull all this off. Presuming Millen hasn't already traded away some early Lions picks in 2007, Detroit should have, at minimum, three first round picks in this draft. The Lions should also have two seconds. Or a second and two third round picks. That's the kind of immediate overhaul that needs to take place on this roster.

With those picks, and those that follow, I select only offensive lineman and defensive players. Nothing else. Not to the point of stupidity, of course. If there's a quality WR available in the third round and he grades out higher than any lineman, we take the WR. I just want to focus our attention on building the defense and a new offensive line. This strategy will hold true for the 2008 draft, as well.

If Artose Pinner's three TD, 100 yard afternoon revealed nothing else, it showed that nearly anyone can look good behind solid offensive line. The Lions OL has to improve significantly. Detroit almost needs five entirely new lineman, but one step at a time. Let's see how many we can get in the '07 draft.

You might say, "Brian, why trade away two of your better defensive guys and then draft all kinds of D?". Well, boys and girls, I still believe you win games on defense, even in this offensive-freindly league. Like everyone else, I'm underwhelmed with the Lions D. It's needs even more work than the less-than-impressive offense does. I also want players who haven't been around this debacle for years. The Lions need to bring in some desire and speed on the defensive side of the ball. I'm willing to trade off one or two good pieces for the opportunity to acquire several new faces and revamp the defense and the organziation in the process.

"What if you can't unload Rogers, Bly and trade down?" A good question, Mr. Ford. Then, after a long discussion with the football people I bring in, I defer to their opinion. However, I'm not opposed to going against my overall draft strategy for one pick and selecting young Mr. Quinn with the first overall choice. (Again, my focus is the D and OL, it's not a blind committment.)

At some point, the Lions need to stop this merry-go-round with their signal callers. I don't buy for one moment that Jon Kitna's the end-all, be-all. I don't care what Rod Marinelli or Mike Martz tell me about Kitna. Four turnovers a game from a thirty-something QB whose been mostly a back-up or temporary fill-in throughout his career, isn't going to be a consistent player. The mere fact both the head coach and the o-coordinator sing the praises of Kitna only makes me wonder about their collective sanity.

Yet, once Mr. Quinn is in the fold, it's back to nothing but O-lineman and defensive guys, even if Rogers and Bly stay put. Barring an injury, Quinn sits the bench in '07 and Kitna does what he has always done -- hold down the fort until the kid is ready to play. Then, we try to find young men who will block and tackle with passion. It's the essence of the game and we all know the Lions fail on the most basic aspects of this game routinely.

Mr. Ford, also be aware that I'm probably going to cut a few guys, as well. Josh McCown is one of them. If our back-up QB can't beat out our starter when the first team guy is coming off back-to-back four turnover games amidst a two win season, he's never going to play. With drafting Quinn a possibility and McCown seeing more time at wideout than QB, it's time to go.

This is only a brief glimpse into my plan to re-vitalize the team. I'd probably change any number of things, from the kind of hotdogs sold to the scheme on the ticket design. Mr. Ford, if you are still reading this, I'd probably dismiss some people who have been with the Lions for years. That probably won't sit well with you, but maintaining the status quo is no longer an option. This organization needs to act like a classic, professional football team even when the results on the field don't reflect that.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tigers Need To Sign Bonderman Now

Don't the Detroit Tigers need to sign Jeremy Bonderman, pronto? After seeing the Texas Rangers shell out $33 million over three years to Vincente Padilla and amid rumors that Ted Lilly could command ten million a season, I believe the Tigers can't get Bonderman to sign an extension quickly enough.

I can't see allowing Bonderman to go either the arbitration or free agency route. Even with whatever perceived shortcomings he has, Bonderman has four big league seasons under his belt (45 career wins), a 1-0 record in the post-season, a ton of talent and hasn't reached his twenty-fifth birthday. If Padilla, who is 29 and has 66 career wins in eight years, can get $11 million on season on the open market, what is Bonderman worth? $12 million a season? $14 million? More?

Ask yourself these questions: Who would you rather have in 2007, Padilla or Bonderman? How about in 2010? Or 2012? I'd take Bonderman. If my guess is right, so would every single general manager in Major League Baseball. That would make Bonderman very, very popular on the open market. The Tigers shouldn't even contemplate that thought long. They should sign the Bonderman as soon as is possible.

Here's another way of looking at it. If Bonderman were on another team, wouldn't you want him on the Tigers? Wouldn't he be the kind of young, yet big league tested, power arm the Tigers and every other team are in constant search of?

Certainly, a big money, long term deal is a risk. Any number of things can derail a pitcher's career. However, in light of the market on pitchers, signing Bonderman long term is a risk well worth taking.