The Lions? Their Feet Are On Backwards

Any suggestion that the Cowboys' pass rush will be a non-factor in Sunday's visit to Detroit – and of course, Lions QB Jon Kitna is on record as making such a suggestion – seems as twisted as that lady in China with the backwards feet.

"I'm like everyone else - except of course that I put my shoes on backwards,'' says Wang Fang, 27, of Chongqing city, who is a waitress at her family's restaurant. "I can run faster than most of my friends.''

There are many lessons to take from Wang Fang. For instance, stay positive, even if you're a waitress in Chongqing city. And, be glad your feet are attached front-ways. Oh, and specifically for Jon Kitna: Be ready to "run faster than most of your friends'' – especially if your "friends'' are defensive predators from Dallas.

Much as been made of the verbal game of Ping-Pong started by Kitna last winter, when he downgraded the Cowboys' pass rush even after having been sacked five times in a Lions upset win. He specifically singled out Bradie James as an allegedly clueless Cowboy, saying James didn't know "where he was at'' and that generally, Dallas' "interior linebackers were (not) very effective.'' He also said there was no reason to "be scared of'' cornerback Terence Newman.

James has responded vocally. … with a prediction that he'll respond violently. Newman has done the same, even suggesting he's willing to take a $15,000 fine for an illegal hit on Kitna (a silly statement that now has the NFL focusing its behavioral microscope on T-New.) At least one of Kitna's offensive linemen has entered the debate, Dominic Raiola saying of Newman, "Who the hell does he think he is?''

Kitna himself is still not completely done talking. "Are they going to hit me harder (than they would otherwise)? I doubt it,'' he said.

Finally, on the eve of kickoff, can we eliminate the hyperbole and focus on some pass-pressure-related facts?

FACT: James said, "Everybody knows that a guy on the opposing team has been talking a little too much. But Kitna has in fact put a cork in it, even deciding to bail out of his scheduled phone-conference call with the DFW media. At the same time: Kitna is the guy who says God is on the Lions' side. Kitna is the guy who predicted Detroit would win 10. Kitna is the guy who said this week that some of his teammates had jumped ship.

So yeah, he talks too much.

FACT: The Lions have allowed 51 sacks. That's the worst figure in the league. For the Lions to suggest in any way that ANY team will struggle to get to the quarterback is a miscalculation.

FACT: And this is a tough one to swallow. … but remember, Kitna's comments were about LAST YEAR's Cowboys. And his comments were meant to preview the Dallas-Seattle playoff game for a Seattle radio station. And, in the end, his apparent belief that Dallas' defense wouldn't be good enough to top the Seahawks was, in the end, correct.

FACT: As a follow-up to the above: Last year's defense totaled 34 sacks in 16 games. This year's defense has 33 sacks in 12 games. Combine Detroit's 51 allowed with Dallas' 33 accomplished and. … what's the over/under on sacks of Kitna in this game? Four? Five? Six?

FACT: Most talent evaluators do in fact think Terence Newman has a "scary'' level of talent and performance. But it is weird to have him talking of hitting the QB, given that he is not a very accomplished blitzer. Nate Jones blitzing from the secondary? Yes. Demarcus Ware and Greg Ellis terrorizing Kitna from outside the tackles? Yes. But not Newman. And as for Bradie James, the Cowboys themselves believe he's Pro Bowl-worthy. Or at least that he "knows where he's at.''

FACT: Remember Stephen Peterman? The Cowboy draftee washout? He starts at right guard for Detroit. The guy he beat out is veteran interior lineman Damien Woody. Woody now starts at right tackle, where he's never played as a pro. So the right side of Detroit's line is Peterman + A Guy Worse Than Peterman Who Can't Play Tackle. Which = A Field Day For Ellis.

FACT: If Las Vegas is correct, the Cowboys will be in control of this game, ahead by 11 or so. That means Detroit will need to throw. (Not that they should bother running, given the fact that in their 42-10 loss to Minnesota last week, the Lions ran only three times in the first 44 minutes of the game). That means the Cowboys will be free to worry about one facet of Detroit's offense. That means more unrelenting pressure on the pocket.

FACT: Leading Lions receiver Roy Williams is out. Tight end Sean McHugh often stays in to block (and not very effectively against the Vikings.) And suddenly, the weaponry in O-coordinator Mike Martz' vaunted offense is effectively reduced to rookie wideout Calvin Johnson. The trickle-down effect figures to lead to more blitzing than usually from The Phillips 3-4.

FACT: The bulletin-board-motivation stuff almost never matters once the ball is kicked off. That's where Kitna's "What, are they gonna hit me harder?'' take comes from. But Dallas coach Wade Phillips straddled the fence here. He tried to dismiss some of the jibber-jabber as being a factor, saying, "We'll play a clean game. (We) will play like they always play. They got a little riled up because of what was said last year. …'' But then he added, "But it's just motivation and that's OK.''

I guess it can be added motivation if a team really wants it to be. Judging by Wade's comments, the Cowboys really want it to be.

Still, it seems odd that a Detroit team that had been 6-2 but has now lost four straight would say ANYTHING about the upcoming opponent, especially one that is an NFC-best 11-1. Oddly, though, the most resonant thing about the 2007 Detroit Lions is that their quarterback talks too much. Maybe he really should take a lesson from Wang Fang. Because if Kitna's feet were on backwards, it'd be more difficult for him to keep sticking those feet in his mouth.

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