It is time for the Lions to revert to draft mode. There is no point in winning any more games this season. They won’t make the playoffs and nobody cares how many wins you have if you aren’t a playoff team. Momentum doesn’t span over the off-season either. Just ask the Houston Texans. You’re either good, or not good. The Lions have a pretty formidable defense with a decent group of playmakers on offense. But, no amount of shakeup will turn this team into a winner unless the Lions fix the problem. The two reasons why the Lions can’t win with the current team is the incompetence at the quarterback and coaching positions. We can only hope that Matt Millen brings in a coaching staff that isn’t using a playbook circa 1980. Assuming the Lions can do us all a favor and lose the rest of their games, Millen will have an excellent shot at drafting either Matt Leinart or Vince Young. The Longhorn Gazelle stated that he would return to Texas for his senior season. However, he also said that he could change his mind. I doubt he would come back to Texas if he won the Heisman and Texas wins the National Championship. If Vince Young doesn’t enter the draft, then the Lions will probably not have a high enough pick to draft Matt Leinart. The Lions are in a good situation since Houston, San Francisco, NY Jets, and Green Bay won’t be drafting a quarterback. However, just about every other lousy team would love to including; Arizona, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami.
There is no question in my mind that Vince Young can equal what Michael Vick has done on the field. Young is an underrated thrower and an all-world runner. His cast on offense leaves a lot to be desired at Texas yet his Longhorns are averaging 50 points per game. Young could be the ignition to light the Lions offense. The only way the Lions would have a prayer of drafting Vince Young is if they finish within the top seven picks. For all I know, Young could go in the top five or even first overall. But, if Young is available, the Lions must bring him to Detroit. You can talk about how many offensive draft picks the Lions have made under Millen but the fact of the matter is that the defense is not what’s holding this team back. The two things that are holding this team back are the quarterback and the coach (and possibly Matt Millen himself). Vince Young solves one of those problems.
As I mentioned above, the Lions need to lose their last five games. I know it’s going to be hard with New Orleans and Green Bay still on the schedule, but I really think the Lions have what it takes to lose to those teams. If they can pull off that feat, the Lions would likely be in good enough position to take one of the two quarterbacks. If they win just one of those five games, the Lions might be out of luck. As most of you know, the Lions can’t do anything right. Even when they win, they beat the wrong teams. In beating Baltimore, Arizona, Green Bay, and Cleveland, the Lions have made it very difficult to finish with a top five pick. The Lions would own the head to head tiebreaker over all of those teams. Unfortunately, three of those teams are in dire need of a quarterback. Here is where the Lions stand now in the NFL standings and a look at how they could possibly climb into the top five.
1). Houston 1-10
The Texans are a sure bet to finish with a higher draft pick than the Lions. However, the Texans are actually an ally for the Lions from here on out. First, the Texans surely won’t draft Matt Leinart or Vince Young since David Carr is still their franchise quarterback. Second, the Texans are going to play a big part in determining how good of a pick the Lions get. Houston’s next three games are against Baltimore, Tennessee, and Arizona. Since Houston has a pretty good lock on the first pick, Lions fans need to root for the Texans to lose all three of those games. Each of those three teams is one game behind the Lions in the standings. The Lions could make a big jump into the top five if Houston can drop those three games.
2). NY Jets 2-9
The Jets are also an ally to the Lions. Much like the Texans, the Jets won’t invest a top five pick in a quarterback with Chad Pennington as their number one quarterback. Also, the Jets play Oakland, Miami and Buffalo who are all tied with the Lions at 4-7. The ideal situation for the Lions would be for the Jets to drop all three of those games.
3). San Francisco 2-9
San Francisco probably won’t play much of a factor in determining the Lions draft pick. They’re two full games behind the Lions and I doubt SF will even get two more victories the rest of the season. The Niners do play Arizona. A SF loss to the Cardinals would help the Lions considerably. The Niners will most certainly end up with a top three pick in the draft.
4). Green Bay 2-9
The Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers last year which will probably preclude them from taking a quarterback with their first round pick. Despite that, I’m still confident that the Packers can finish ahead of the Lions in the standings. They should beat the Lions in Lambeau field. I also think the Packers should beat the Bears once and they get to play the Ravens. I suppose it doesn’t matter if Green Bay finishes with a better pick than Detroit but it would be nice for the Lions to finish as high up the board as possible.
5). New Orleans 3-8
The Lions will play their biggest game of the season on Saturday, December 24. This game will be for all the marbles. If the Lions can pull out the loss against the Saints, they should finish with a top five pick in the draft and be in excellent position to draft Leinart or Young. New Orleans will likely lose the rest of its games so this game is really the only chance that the Lions have of pulling even with New Orleans. Aaron Brooks certainly will not keep the Saints from taking a quarterback.
6). Baltimore 3-8
Baltimore is Detroit’s worst nightmare. Not only do the Ravens own the head to head tiebreaker over Detroit, they also need a new quarterback just as bad as the Lions. The Ravens would love to take Matt Leinart. This is where the Texans come in. If Houston can lose to Baltimore, that would pull the Lions and the Ravens into a tie. With games against Green Bay and Cleveland, the Ravens might just have enough left in the tank to beat out the Lions in the standings.
7). Arizona 3-8
If San Francisco and Houston can lay down for the Cardinals, the Lions could be in the clear. The Cardinals have been playing well as of late and should be able to win those two games. That would put the Cardinals at 5-11 and could finish with a better record than the Lions.
8). Tennessee 3-8
Tennessee is an interesting team when it comes to forecasting their needs come draft time. The Lions were aided greatly by the Titans victory over San Francisco. The Titans still play Houston and Miami. Hopefully they can win both but the Titans are a rare team on this list that the Lions don’t hold the tiebreaker over. It would be nice to see the Titans win two more games but one could be enough.
9). Oakland 4-7
J-E-T-S!!!! The Jets get to do their part in bringing a quarterback to Detroit via the 2006 draft. The Raiders should easily beat the Jets and possibly beat Cleveland. That would give Oakland a minimum of a 5-11 record. The Raiders are also good enough to upset a better team so the Lions should be in the clear in terms of the Raiders.
10). Miami 4-7
J-E-T-S!!!! Miami did the Lions a BIG favor by upsetting the Raiders. Miami and wins have not gone together very well this season. I was beginning to think that the Dolphins might not win another game this year. However, they’re now tied with the Lions and have two winnable games left on the schedule in the Jets and Titans.
11) Buffalo 4-7
J-E-T-S!!!! I have faith that the Bills will beat the Jets on the last day of the season. They should also beat Miami at home next week. The Bills should easily beat the Lions in the standings.
12). Detroit 4-7
Like I mentioned above, the New Orleans game is going to be huge. It really could be the most important Lions game of the last five years. A win over New Orleans would put the Lions in an ugly situation with a plethora of other teams. A loss to the Saints could really separate the Lions from the pack and firmly entrench them into the top five. In the back of my mind, I know the Lions will do something ridiculous like beat Pittsburgh on the last game of the season or win at Lambeau Field.
Even if the Lions can’t finish high enough to draft Leinart or Young, there are still a few extremely talented players that would immediately help the Lions. Most of these players won’t be available outside of the top seven so it’s imperative for the Lions to win no more than one of their remaining games. Here is the list of players the Lions would be looking at if they can sneak into the top five.
1). Matt Leinart QB USC
NFL Equivalent: Carson Palmer
2). Vince Young QB Texas
NFL Equivalent: Michael Vick
3). D’Brickashaw Ferguson OT Virginia
NFL Equivalent: Johnathan Ogden
4). A.J. Hawk LB Ohio St.
NFL Equivalent: Brian Urlacher
5). Reggie Bush RB USC
NFL Equivalent: nobody
6). Mathias Kiwanuka DE Boston College
NFL Equivalent: Simeon Rice
7). JimmyWilliams DB Virginia Tech
NFL Equivalent: Shawn Springs
After each week, I’ll take a look at where the Lions are in the standings and how things are looking for a top five pick. Just as an FYI, this is by far my favorite part of the season. The Lions only have hope in the off-season when the team doesn’t actually have to play games. The NFL Draft is like the Super Bowl for Lions fans. I know the Lions have the intestinal fortitude to drop the last five games. If they can get it done, Lions fans will have a “Super” June as usual. In all honesty, the Lions should just approach the rest of the teams in the NFL about making a deal for a permanent draft pick slot every year. They could agree on a pre-determined 4-12 record every year. The teams on the Lions schedule could divvy up the wins and losses as they see fit and the Lions fans could get excited about a top five pick each year. I’d sign off on that in a second.