In part II of our question and answer exchange with Al Beaton of The Wayne Fontes Experience, Al will provide some insight about the Tennessee Titans' upcoming opponent: the Detroit Lions.
My questions and his answers are after the jump.
1. Let's cut to the chase: do the Lions have a legitimate chance of going where no team has gone before: 0-16?
The Wayne Fontes Experience
The 5 remaining Lions games are against unquestionably more talented teams, all with playoff aspirations; Tennessee, Minnesota, @ Indy, New Orleans and @ Green Bay. So they have a very legitimate chance. In fact, it may be inevitable, fait accompli. Let's just say I wouldn't bet against it.
It's gotten so bad here in Detroit, many fans (myself included) want the Lions to go winless to insure the entire organization, from the top of the front office, and on down to the waterboy, is blown up. Our greatest fear is the Lions somehow winning a few games towards the end of the season, giving octogenarian owner William Clay Ford an excuse to keep the current regime in place for another season.
As Ford is loathe to fire anyone (the most egregious example is his keeping Matt Millen in charge for 7+ years BECAUSE HE LIKED HIM), and is on record saying he likes coach Rod Marinelli, his returning (along with interim GM Martin "I'm 100% a Millen man" Mayhew) is not out of the realm of possibility. The beat writers say the odds of Marinelli keeping his job are, amazingly enough, 50/50.
Yes, the idea of a coach who has a record of 1-18 since the midpoint of 2007 returning next season is insane. But so are the Lions.
2. What's your take on the Daunte Culpepper experiment? Is he merely a band-aid, or do you expect Pep to contend for the starting QB spot in 2009?
Culpepper will look good in one series, then terrible the next 3. He has shown the same penchant as the exiled to the IR Jon Kitna to make extremely bad decisions while under pressure, as his 5 picks, 1 lost fumble and horrendous 50.8 QB rating (in only 3 games) attest.
The jury is still out, as Culpepper is still visibly rusty after not playing for over a year. He's not getting much help from his surrounding cast, either. But after 3 games Culpepper has been little more than a bigger, younger, even less mobile version of Kitna.
The Lions did sign him to a 2 year deal, so I do expect Culpepper to return. Mostly due to the fact they don't have a better option.
3. Speaking of quarterbacks, what's your take on Drew Stanton? Considering the team's current 0-11 predicament, why isn't the youngster getting the start at QB?
There was a good sized controversy a couple of weeks ago when when Lions offensive coordinator Jim Colletto told the assembled media the following about their 2nd year quarterback:
"He's (Stanton) not ready to do that yet. I'm not going to embarrass the kid just to prove a point to someone else. I'm not going to put the youngster in there and embarrass him in a live NFL game where those guys on the other side don't care who the quarterback is."
Colletto used the "E" word twice. That pretty much says it all about where Stanton stands in the eyes of the Lions coaches.
Stanton has seen the field since since Colletto inserted his size 12 into his mouth and he hasn't "embarrassed" himself. But he did look very raw and unpolished, as shown by him being sacked 5 times in less than a half of play against the Jaguars.
Stanton also played against Tampa Sunday, and he got himself knocked silly during garbage time. He's been ruled out for Thanksgiving Day with a concussion, so the former Michigan Wolverine Drew Henson will backup Culpepper Thursday (Yes, Drew Henson is still in the NFL, if you consider the Lions an NFL team).
Drew Stanton has shown flashes of talent. But he's as fragile as Faberge Egg and the Lions have changed his mechanics twice. It's looking more and more as if Stanton will be another Matt Millen high draft pick bust. The only reason he's getting the benefit of the doubt with the Detroit fanbase is due to him being a born and bred Michigander.
4. Apparently, Calvin Johnson doesn't know the recent history of the Lions' drafting woes at WR. Unlike guys such as Charles Rogers and Mike Williams before him, Johnson looks like he is well on his way to becoming an impact wideout.
What can the Titans do to stop Detroit's talented young WR?
Instead of stopping Calvin Johnson, it'd be more correct to say you want to minimize his impact. He's going to make plays.
To stop one of the few weapons the Lions have, double and triple team Johnson, and pressure Culpepper. It's not as difficult as it sounds, as the Lions' offensive line, to put it bluntly, sucks. The Titans should be able to get to Culpepper with 4 down linemen, and not have to resort to blitzing.
Johnson is on track to have 1300 receiving yards and 12 TD's while averaging only a tad more than 4 catches a game. He's special talent on a BAD team.
5. The Lions have the league's worst run defense. How on earth are they going to stop LenDale White and Chris Johnson, a.k.a. "Smash and Dash" ?
Two word answer: They won't.
Marinelli is totally committed to his Tampa Two defense (or as we call it in the D, Tampa Too), even though he doesn't have the personnel to run it effectively. The Lions' front 7 is God awful. The defensive backfield isn't any better. The Lions won't be able to contain the Titans' offense, period.
The Carolina Panthers have a similar style offense to Tennessee, with 2 talented backs, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Against Detroit, Stewart rushed for 130 yards and 1 TD, Williams 120 yards and 2 TD's. So you can book it right now, Johnson and White will combine for well over 200 rushing yards.
In closing, I have a bit of advice for all your readers. If any of you have a Titan on their fantasy team, START THEM.
That concludes this week's Q&A exchange. Once again, a big thank you goes out to Al Beaton for participating.