Blogs > Lions Lowdown

One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.


Five thoughts on Super Bowl XLIX; plus prediction

Can’t wait until Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and Seahawks.

Here are five things I’ve been thinking:

1. I am over Marshawn Lynch. His juvenile behavior is more sad than funny.
The Seahawks running back has been declining to say anything. He showed up at Media Day and answered every question with the same line — he was just there so he wouldn’t get fined.
Not every athlete is good with the media, but they usually make the most of it.
NFL players are paid handsomely and it’s not just for their on-the-field efforts. Part of their job is to talk to the media. 
Lynch needs to grow up.
Imagine how many NFL players are sitting at home this week, wishing they were at the Super Bowl.

2. I’m also over Deflate Gate. So many different stories. I understand the need for a thorough investigation by the NFL. But if the Patriots are exonerated, I agree with Patriots owner Robert Kraft who says the NFL will owe the team an apology.

3. It's a gut feeling. I think Tom Brady is going to have a great game. The Seahawks defense certainly will challenge the Patriots, but I have a hunch Bill Belichick is saving his best for this game.

4. Am very curious to see if Russell Wilson is the quarterback from the first half against the Packers, or the one who came back late in the game to win the NFC Championship.

5. Actually looking forward to the Katy Perry half-time show. Don’t think I could name one of her songs, but she’s an entertainer (like Bruno Mars from a year ago) who has been working diligently on her 12.5 minutes for the show. Lynch could take some lessons from Perry on how to handle the media. She was perfect at her press conference on Thursday. When asked since she’s single if she had her eyes on any of the players, she smiled and said she was only up there to not get fined. She answered the rest of the questions with poise and a sense of humor.

Prediction: Patriots 24, Seahawks 17

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Check out transcript from chat on Detroit Lions

If you missed Thursday's chat on the Lions, please check out the transcript here.

Plenty of discussion on Ndamukong Suh, Rob Sims, the offensive line, possible free agents and much more.

Join me for the next chat at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5.


Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford shows he belongs in Pro Bowl

It had been a long time since a Detroit Lions quarterback had played in the Pro Bowl.

Matthew Stafford made up for lost time in Sunday night’s Pro Bowl when he finished with a pair of touchdowns and 316 passing yards, second-most in Pro Bowl history.

For his efforts he won the Offensive MVP. 

Afterward he said it was a blast and gave credit to his Pro Bowl teammates.

He connected with wide receiver Golden Tate on a 60-yard pass play that set up the first touchdown. Tate had two catches for 98 yards. His touchdown passes were caught by Emmanuel Sanders and Odell Beckham Jr.

Stafford, who was a fourth alternate and played in place of Peyton Manning, proved he belonged.

In the game he was reunited with Scott Linehan, the Lions’ offensive coordinator for Stafford’s first five seasons. Linehan is a member of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff that worked the Pro Bowl.

Lions safety Glover Quin finished with five tackles and a pass deflection.

Houston’s J.J. Watt was the defensive MVP.

Greg Landry was the last Lions’ quarterback to appear in a Pro Bowl in 1972.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions — Rookie class offered a few gems, a few disappointments

With steady development in recent seasons, the Detroit Lions didn’t have as many vital roles to fill through the draft and rookie free agent signings for the 2014 season.
Among the draft class and two rookie free agents, there were a few gems along with a few disappointments.
Much is expected from all of them when they start the preparation for their second seasons.
Here’s a look at the 2014 draft class and the rookie free agents:

Eric Ebron (first round) — Much was made of the possibilities that Ebron brought to the offense — how he could create mismatches for the opposing defenses. It just didn’t happen. Coming out of camp he was the third tight end on the depth chart behind Brandon Pettigrew and Joe Fauria. Ebron made strides later in the season, but early on he often appeared lost — didn’t run right routes, missed blocks and didn’t make catches he should have had. 
In June, after spring workouts Ebron admitted his head had been spinning trying to learn the offense. The Lions wanted to use him like the Saints use Jimmy Graham.  As a rookie Graham had 31 catches for 356 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games. In comparison, in 13 games Ebron had 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. EBRON'S SEASON IN PHOTOS
The offseason will be key for Ebron. He needs to get the offense down and step up his game. Yes, the Lions have plenty of offensive weapons, but the door is open for Ebron to step up and take a larger role.

Kyle Van Noy (second round) — The pass-rush specialist was slowed down considerably by sports hernia surgery in August. He sat out the first half of the season and then was gently eased into the defense. He didn’t see many snaps on defense in the final eight games. In his first game he was on the field for two defensive snaps. It varied but he never had more than 14 and was mostly in single digits. In the playoff game he was in on three defensive snaps. It’s an indication that he wasn’t able to step up and earn more time on the field. Van Noy needs a good offseason and to get a better understanding of the defense. He practices with linebackers and defensive ends. Yes, he has plenty to learn. He has to stay healthy and earn more snaps. This coaching staff doesn’t award playing time on the basis of draft order.

Travis Swanson (third round) — The offensive guard/center was not expected to start the 2014 season — he was drafted to fill holes on the offensive line when Rob Sims and Dom Raiola are gone. With the announcement this week that Raiola won’t return, expect Swanson to be the new starting center. Last season due to injury Swanson had to step in at right guard with four starts at the position. He wasn’t as good as Larry Warford but gained tremendous experience especially considering he was a four-year starter in college at center. He also started at center for the final regular season game when Raiola was suspended. A few of his snaps were a little shaky but Matthew Stafford was able to handle them. Overall it was a good rookie season for Swanson and much is expected for him when he takes over at center.
Nevin Lawson (fourth round) — The cornerback gets an incomplete since he suffered a season-ending injury in the second game. It was a dislocated foot severe enough that he required immediate surgery that afternoon in Carolina. He had replaced Bill Bentley at nickel after Bentley’s season was ended with a torn ACL.

Larry Webster (fourth round) — The big defensive end didn’t play one snap, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For the most part the defensive ends stayed healthy, so the coaching staff was able to bring Webster around slowly. Coach Jim Caldwell raved about Webster in December saying he’s made leaps and bounds in his ability to rush the passer in practice. He’s 6-foot-6, speedy (4.58 40-yard dash) and has quite a vertical leap (36.5 inches at the Combine). Nothing but upside. He made the 53-man roster out of camp because they didn’t want to put him on the practice squad and risk losing him.

Caraun Reid (fifth round) —  The Princeton grad got thrown into the fire with so many injuries at defensive tackle. The Ivy Leaguer needs to take the next step in the offseason. Playing with Ndamukong Suh he was able to learn from the best. He saw limited time in a dozen games.

TJ Jones (sixth round) — The wide receiver was out all season, never able to return from offseason shoulder surgery. The wide receivers were basically a healthy group so his absence wasn’t really noticed. He’ll have a ton to prove in the offseason to find a spot on the 53-man roster.

Nate Freese (seventh round) — Gone after going three of seven on field goal attempts in his first three games.

Cornelius Lucas (undrafted) — The offensive tackle started three games (two right, one left) and played in 15. His star is rising, although much work to do for the 6-foot-9 Kansas State product. He can also move to guard if needed which it was this season with injuries to right guard Larry Warford and right tackle LaAdrian Waddle. 

Mohammed Seisay (undrafted) — Rookie cornerbacks in the NFL take time to mature. Seisay, who played at Nebraska, saw action in 13 games after a variety of injuries to defensive backs. He started the season on the practice squad, but was promoted in mid-September to the 53-man roster.


Check out transcript from Lions chat

If you missed Thursday's chat discussing the Detroit Lions, check out the transcript here.

Lots of discussion on possible roster moves, the NFL draft and more.

Join the next chat at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29.

Detroit Lions 'in good hands' with Travis Swanson

Dominic Raiola is thankful he got a year to work with Travis Swanson who is expected to be his replacement at center for the Detroit Lions.

Swanson was drafted in the third round in May to eventually become the starter at center.

“He’s going to do great. He’s tough, his track record, he’s a proven guy who can play, he’s durable,’’ Raiola said in a conference call on Tuesday. “I’m just thankful that I got the year to work with him and just get to know him. He’s a tough dude. He’s smart. I mean, you’ve got to be smart to be a center.’’

Raiola had been the starting center for 13 seasons.

When he missed the final regular season game due to an NFL suspension, Swanson started for him at center.  The rookie also started four games at right guard for the injured Larry Warford.

At Arkansas, Swanson started 50 consecutive games at center.

“The Lions are in good hands with him and I’m glad I can leave what I did and move on to Travis. Couldn’t happen to a better guy,’’ Raiola said.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions — Dominic Raiola had an amazing run

Dominic Raiola will be missed.

Inexplicably, there are many Detroit Lions fans who don’t like the guy who has been the Lions center for 14 years, the starter for 13 seasons.

He is from Hawaii, but he is more like Detroiters than some will ever know.
He worked hard, wanted to win and was all about the team.

Yes, he could be prickly that’s just who he was. Don’t think for a moment he didn’t appreciate the fans, he did. 

He loves Detroit and is a big fan of the Tigers and Red Wings, not to mention Kid Rock.

Really through the brutal seasons (and there were too many) he gutted it out. He always was optimistic (never moreso than this season) and fought hard to keep his spot on the roster. He played for five head coaches and never lost his starting role. He took a pay cut after the 2012 season, had one of his best seasons in 2013 and earned a pay raise.

But it wasn’t all about the money.

If you ever would have a chance to see Raiola after a big win or a devastating loss you would know he took it personally.

There are tears in football and Raiola shed a few of them.

Raiola knew that 2014 might have been his last season. He wanted at least one more. It’s likely what made the playoff loss at Dallas more painful for him.

Raiola turned 36 on Dec. 30 which, as we all know, is old in the NFL.

All good things must come to an end. The Lions have told Raiola they won't re-sign him for 2015.

To Raiola’s credit, he is the one who helped prep Travis Swanson to eventually take over his job. And really he seemed happy to do so. Again, he was all about the team and earned the utmost respect from his teammates.

Raiola’s career should be celebrated, not dismissed.

He was always there and he always fought hard. In 14 seasons he missed just one four-game stretch in 2008 with a hand injury. He also sat out the final regular season game in 2014 due to a suspension.

Fourteen seasons, five games missed. Every one played with all he had. That is remarkable.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)


Detroit Lions hold onto Jim Bob Cooter

A year ago, Jim Bob Cooter was the final piece put in place for the new coaching staff. The Detroit Lions had to wait because he was busy preparing for the Super Bowl as an offensive assistant for the Denver Broncos.

Cooter has proven to be a hot commodity.

The Lions have turned down a request by the Chicago Bears to interview Cooter for the offensive coordinator opening, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

With the Broncos he was an offensive assistant who worked with Peyton Manning. They wanted to keep him but he couldn’t promote him at the time. So he took the promotion to quarterbacks coach in Detroit to work with Jim Caldwell. The two had worked together with the Indianapolis Colts where Cooter also worked with Manning.

He’s worked closely with Matthew Stafford in the past season and the results showed in better footwork and decision making. In the last five regular season games Stafford threw nine touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Cooter was a quarterback at Tennessee and started his coaching career there as a graduate assistant in 2007.

The Lions had no choice but to allow defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to interview for head coaching positions. In fact, Caldwell was happy for him to get the opportunity. But it looks like he’ll be returning to Detroit. The Falcons have the only head coach opening and they are fully expected to hire Seahawks’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn after the Super Bowl.

(Follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Order her book,  “100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’’ here. It’s also available at bookstores.)