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Online Lions Lines & Predictions - Detroit Future Odds - Free NFL Betting Previews

2006 Detroit Lions Season Preview

2006 Lions NFL News - August 30th, 2006
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The Detroit Lions have tried the proven route. They hired Bobby Ross when he was just three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance with the Chargers, and Ross failed to win more than nine games or notch a playoff win before

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abruptly walking away three-and-a-half years into his tenure.

The Lions have tried the offensive mastermind route, bringing in Steve Mariucci and his west coast attack, which produced three No. 1 draft picks at receiver, a grand total of 15 wins in two-plus seasons, and a great deal of frustration in the Motor City.

The hotshot young assistant route? Check. Marty Mornhinweg, two years, 5-27.

The loyal soldier route? Yup. Wayne Fontes, the elevated defensive coordinator and only Lions coach to win a playoff game since 1957, who despite some success left town with a losing record.

Up steps Rod Marinelli, the wizened and ever-toiling lifelong assistant, who gets his first crack at being a head coach at the age of 57. Marinelli is well respected in NFL circles, but understandably jaded Lions fans have grown a bit weary of pronouncements of imminent success when it comes to their leaders.

Could Marinelli actually be the answer, swaying the masses in his favor and leading one of the NFL's oldest and most-storied franchises into an era of sustained success?

If so, he will be guiding the Lions on a route they have taken ever-so- infrequently during the past half-century.

Below we take a capsule look at the 2006 edition of the Detroit Lions, with a personnel evaluation and prognosis included therein:

2005 RECORD: 5-11 (3rd, NFC North)

LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 1999, lost to Washington, 27-13, in NFC Wild Card Game

COACH (RECORD): Rod Marinelli (first season with Lions, first overall)



OFFENSIVE STAR: Roy Williams, WR (45 receptions, 687 yards, 8 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Dre' Bly, CB (62 tackles, 6 INT)

OFFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 26th rushing, 26th passing, 28th scoring

DEFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 24th rushing, 13th passing, 21st scoring

FIVE KEY GAMES: at Chicago (9/17), Detroit (9/24), at Minnesota (10/8), Miami (11/23), Chicago (12/24)

KEY ADDITIONS: QB Josh McCown (from Cardinals), QB Jon Kitna (from Bengals), RB Arlen Harris (from Rams), RB Brian Calhoun (3rd Round, Wisconsin), WR Corey Bradford (from Texans), TE Dan Campbell (from Cowboys), T Barry Stokes (from Falcons), OL Ross Verba (from Browns), OL Rex Tucker (from Rams), DE Tyoka Jackson (from Rams), LB Ernie Sims (1st Round, Florida State), LB Paris Lenon (from Lions), CB Jamar Fletcher (from Chargers), S/WR Mike Furrey (from Rams), S Idrees Bashir (from Panthers), S Daniel Bullocks (2nd Round, Nebraska)

KEY DEPARTURES: QB Joey Harrington (to Dolphins), QB Jeff Garcia (to Eagles), RB Paul Smith (to Rams), WR Troy Edwards (to Jaguars), OL Kyle Kosier (to Cowboys), DT Dan Wilkinson (released), LB Earl Holmes (not tendered), LB Nate Wayne (released), LB Wali Rainer (to Texans), CB R.W. McQuarters (to Giants), CB Andre' Goodman (to Dolphins), S Bracy Walker (not tendered)

QB: The Lions finally turned the page on the Joey Harrington (2021 passing yards, 12 TD, 12 INT) era, allowing the former No. 3 overall pick to escape to Miami after producing just 18 wins in four years as a starter. The spotlight is now on a couple of castoffs, ex-Seahawk and Bengal Jon Kitna (99 passing yards, 2 INT with Cincinnati) and former Cardinal Josh McCown (1836 passing yards, 9 TD, 11 INT with Arizona). The soon-to-be 34-year-old Kitna has the experience edge over McCown (79 NFL starts to McCown's 22), and thus was named the opening-day starter, but the 27-year-old McCown has the stronger arm and better long-term prospects. Dan Orlovsky, a 2005 fifth-round pick out of UConn who appeared in two games as a rookie, will hold the clipboard for at least another season.

RB: Martz is seen as being a pass-first guy, but that doesn't mean a running back can't thrive in his system (see: Marshall Faulk). Martz and the Lions are hoping that Kevin Jones (664 rushing yards, 5 TD, 20 receptions), the 2004 first-round pick, can shake off a weak sophomore season in which he failed to post a 100-yard outing and become that player. The battle for backup duties was fierce in the preseason, as ex-Ram Arlen Harris (21 rushing yards, 1 TD with St. Louis), holdovers Shawn Bryson (306 rushing yards, 1 TD, 37 receptions) and Artose Pinner (349 rushing yards, 3 TD, 21 receptions), and third-round draft pick Brian Calhoun (Wisconsin) were all competing for carries. It looked that Pinner, who was being dangled as trade bait during the preseason, could be the odd man out. Cory Schlesinger (8 receptions, 1 TD) begins his 12th year as the Lions fullback.

WR/TE: The coupling of Martz's supposed offensive genius with a receiving corps that includes former No. 1 picks Roy Williams (45 receptions, 8 TD), Charles Rogers (14 receptions, 1 TD), and Mike Williams (29 receptions, 1 TD) had many Lions fans and NFL observers salivating. But Rogers and the latter Williams almost immediately occupied spots in the coaching staff's doghouse, and it appeared throughout the preseason that Rogers' release was imminent. Roy Williams was the only member of the trio with a handle on a starting spot, and has the potential for a breakout season in his third year in the league. The leading candidate to start opposite Williams is former Texan Corey Bradford (34 receptions, 5 TD with Houston), who was in out of the starting lineup during four seasons with that franchise. The bizarre NFL journey of Mike Furrey continues, as the player who started 11 games and led the Rams in interceptions as a safety last season is back at his original receiver position. Furrey and Mike Williams will compete for third receiver duties, and holdovers Glenn Martinez (1 reception) and Eddie Drummond will be in the mix as well. Scottie Vines (40 receptions), who came out of nowhere to become the Lions' second-most productive wideout last season, could begin the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list due to a groin injury. The same goes for tight end Casey FitzSimmons (10 receptions, 1 TD), who suffered a broken wrist in training camp. Holdover Marcus Pollard (46 receptions, 3 TD) will probably serve in more of an h-back role, while Dan Campbell (3 receptions, 1 TD with Dallas) will be featured in more of a traditional tight end role.

OL: The Lions will require stronger play from their offensive line if they wish to move the football at anything resembling a prolific pace, but didn't do much to upgrade this unit in the offseason. Rex Tucker (ex-Rams) and Barry Stokes (ex-Falcons) were brought into compete with incumbent starter Kelly Butler at right tackle, but neither is considered a reliable NFL starter. Ross Verba, who started 16 games with the Browns in 2004 but was out of football last season, is penciled it at left guard. The starting holdovers up front are left tackle Jeff Backus, center Dominic Raiola, and right guard Damien Woody, each of whom started 16 games last season. Woody was bothered by a wrist injury during training camp, leaving 2005 part-time starter Rick DeMulling to take most of his first-team reps. DeMulling should stick around as a backup, along with the odd men out in the right tackle competition, returning backup Brock Gutierrez, and perhaps rookies Jonathan Scott (5th Round, Texas) and Fred Matua (7th Round, USC).

DL: There is less turnover here than in any area of the team, as only tackle Dan Wilkinson has departed from last year's starting group. That shouldn't be a major problem, since 2005 second-round pick Shaun Cody (27 tackles, 1.5 sacks) is ready for a starting role on the interior alongside two-time Pro Bowler Shaun Rogers (39 tackles, 5.5 sacks). Rogers was to miss the entire preseason with a shoulder injury, but was expected to be ready in time for the regular season. The team has a solid rotation at end, with James Hall (59 tackles, 5 sacks) and Cory Redding (31 tackles, 1 sack) playing in run- stopping situations and Kalimba Edwards (32 tackles, 7 sacks) supplanting Redding on passing downs. Jared DeVries (22 tackles, 3 sacks) will continue to provide depth at end, and Marcus Bell (20 tackles) and former Ram Tyoka Jackson (16 tackles, 2.5 sacks) will spell Rogers and Cody on the interior.

LB: The Lions used the ninth overall pick in the 2006 draft on Florida State's Ernie Sims, an undersized, high-motor linebacker who will step into a starting job immediately on the weak side. Boss Bailey (59 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) has endured almost constant injury problems since breaking into the league, but has a chance to be one of the league's better middle linebackers if healthy. Ex-Packer Paris Lenon (65 tackles, 1.5 sacks with GB) will start on the left side unless Teddy Lehman (13 tackles, 1 INT) can recover from foot surgery that shelved him for most of the 2005 season and into 2006 training camp. James Davis (59 tackles), who started all 16 games a year ago, can spell either outside spot, and fellow holdovers Alex Lewis and Donte' Curry (38 tackles) also have experience. Rookie Anthony Cannon (7th Round, Tulane) will probably end up on the practice squad

DB: Detroit is in decent shape at corner, where Dre' Bly (42 tackles, 6 INT) has been among the team's top playmakers and Fernando Bryant (8 tackles) appears recovered from a shoulder injury that limited him to two games last season. Kenoy Kennedy (98 tackles, 2 INT) is back for another year at strong safety, but the second-round selection of Daniel Bullocks (Nebraska) in the April draft could mean Terrence Holt's (41 tackles, 2 INT) days as the team's starting free safety are numbered. If ex-Colt and Panther Idrees Bashir (2 tackles with Carolina) makes the team, he figures to play primarily on special teams. Two former third-round picks, Stanley Wilson (10 tackles) and Keith Smith (20 tackles, 1 sack), will push for time at corner along with ex-Charger Jamar Fletcher (29 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) and rookie Dee McCann (6th Round, West Virginia).

SPECIAL TEAMS: The jobs of both kicker Jason Hanson (19-24 FG) and punter Nick Harris (43.5 avg.) are secure, and Eddie Drummond (6.0 punt return avg., 22.0 kickoff return avg.) will be the team's primary kick returner if healthy. Don Muhlbach has played 21 games as Detroit's long snapper in the past two seasons, and should remain in that role.

PROGNOSIS: On paper, the Lions do not look like a strong candidate to make a giant leap and contend for a playoff berth in 2006. The upgrades the team made personnel-wise look marginal, with the quarterback switch at the top of that list, and it will probably take some time for the new staff and the players to get on the same page. But the main reason for hope in Detroit is that the Lions play in the NFC North, where there is not a standout club and a hot stretch could insert a team immediately into the division title hunt. If Martz's offense takes hold sooner than expected and the Lions are able to score some points, while the defense remains healthy and plays with some renewed enthusiasm under Marinelli and Henderson, the Lions could post eight or nine wins and have something to play for in the final month of the year. The more likely scenario has Detroit turning in its sixth straight losing season, with an eye toward a serious postseason run in 2007, but a little luck might see the team arrive ahead of schedule.

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