Nate Caminata (A): One thing most defenses are weary of is blitzing any Mike Martz offense, because the architect of the ‘Greatest Show on Turf' is usually one or two steps ahead of the defensive coordinator with improvisation plays to capitalize on a blitz. But Martz's offense will only work if his quarterback has the proper protection from its tackles, and both Jeff Backus (LT) and Rex Tucker (RT) are capable veterans.
The preseason hasn't
yielded much, due to a watered-down playbook and Tucker's knee injury, so it
will be interesting to see how they handle Seattle's defensive ends.
Q: On to Detroit's front seven – it seems to be a unit in transition. Who are the stars here? Who does Seattle's offensive line need to watch out for?
A: Shaun Rogers and Shaun Cody should prove to be quite the duo during the regular season, flanked by capable ends in Cory Redding, James Hall and situational pass rusher Kalimba Edwards. Rogers, however, is the key to the front seven, often times drawing double teams but opening up possibilities for his teammates.
Behind the defensive line lies a group of linebackers with two things in common: ridiculous speed and a penchant for the big play. Boss Bailey will play the middle, joined by Sims (weakside) and likely Alex Lewis on the strong-side. The problem is that the only realistic term that follows this group is ‘potential,' because the player with the most experience – the five-year veteran Bailey – has missed a chunk of his career due to injury.
Detroit will likely
utilize that speed against Seattle, and blitz the strong-side occasionally while
giving Sims the option if he feels inclined to do so. Bailey will patrol the
middle, and there are few running backs in the league that his speed is
unequipped to handle.
Q: How is first-round pick Ernie Sims looking at linebacker? What does he add to that unit?
A: The first hit Sims ever laid at training camp was a forearm shiver that floored running back Brian Calhoun. And ever since then, his destroy-anything-that-is-moving reputation has been one of substance.
Sims has played himself
into a starting position in Detroit. Obviously, his speed blends well with the
rest of the defensive unit, but his hard-hitting, aggressive approach is sure to
rub off on his teammates.
Q: Cornerback Dre Bly is the leader of the secondary. How does the rest of that unit look? How is second-round pick Daniel Bullocks coming along?
A: There is a question mark across from Bly in veteran cover corner Fernando Bryant. Bryant's tenure in Detroit has been plagued by injuries, and he struggled a bit during the preseason. If he can regain the form he possessed in Jacksonville, there won't be as much concern at the position, but until he proves he can be the player he was the jury will be out.
Behind Bryant and Bly, the
safety positions belong to
and Kenoy Kennedy.
Both players have a playmaking mentality, but also possess a veteran presence.
Neither will make many mistakes. Interestingly, Holt was outplayed by Bullocks
in the preseason, but Detroit preferred Holt's experience. It isn't out of the
question that the faster, more athletic Bullocks could eventually unseat Holt
during the season.
Q: The NFC North seems to be a 1 ½-horse race, with Chicago as the obvious favorite and Minnesota as a "maybe". What do the Lions need to do if they want to see the right side of .500 and make any difference in the division?
cliché as it sounds, the North is really up for grabs.
If the Lions buy into Marinelli, and vice-versa, they are more than capable of making a significant impact and improvement in the division. However, with a coaching change and new faces, strategy, etc, the adjustment to the learning curve might cost them dearly during the regular season.