Aug 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick (41) is tackled by New England Patriots defense during 2nd half at Ford Field. Lions won 40-9. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a whole new era over there in Allen Park since the Detroit Lions cleaned house and hired new head coach Jim Caldwell. Because the Lions have a brand new coaching staff (one of seven teams to do so), they get a two week head start on their off season workout program. Other teams don’t get to start until April 21st. Commander Caldwell has already stated that all of the players get a clean slate with him. The problems they had with the last administration stay with that administration.
A new coaching staff brings new hope that these are the guys who can finally get it done. Coach Schwartz took them to a new level after the team bottomed out in 2008 with the NFL’s only 0-16 season. Now, Caldwell has been brought in to finish what Schwartz started. Since the Lions are implementing new schemes, which I’m terribly excited to see, some players have a chance to make a new name for themselves with this staff.
These are the players who we need to see more out of than we have previously – players that were on the team last year who have to step up their game:
1. Matthew Stafford: He faded badly last year, and is the number one reason Schwartz got fired. All of the Lions’s offensive hires are designed to straighten out Stafford. As he goes, so go the Lions.
2. Nick Fairley: That loud thud you heard when the Lions announced that they aren’t picking up Fairley’s contract extension was the sound of Fairly putting down his dinner plate. Hopefully Caldwell can make him realize his potential.
3. Theo Riddick: He was only a rookie last year and wasn’t used much in Scott Linehan’s offense. I can see Riddick being used like Darren Sproles was in New Orleans, and being a huge weapon underneath.
4. Darius Slay: He seemed to be in the coaches doghouse all year, but did a respectable job late in the season. Some part of me thinks that somehow Slay is going to be counted on as the number one corner. Hope he watched a lot of film in the off-season.
5. Joseph Fauria: He was a touchdown machine last year, better known for his touchdown dances. He only played in the red zone as a rookie, so hopefully he’s stronger this season and can stretch the field from anywhere on it.
6. Chris Greenwood: His bio is so tantalizing: 4.41 in the 40 yard dash and a 43″ vertical leap, packaged in a 6″1″ 193 pound frame. He showed something last year as his Plus-2.3 rating blew away Chris Houston’s rating.
7. LaAdrian Waddle: A guy who came out of nowhere to take the Right Tackle spot at the end of the year. I’m curious to see how good he can be with an entire off season of reps with the first team.
8. Devin Taylor: He did pretty well for a fourth round draft pick last year. Needs to get better rushing the passer, but what rookie doesn’t? With Willie Young signing with the Bears, Taylor might be the starting end.
9. Kellen Moore: He’s been on the team two years and we have no idea if he can run the team. It would be nice to see him win the back-up quarterback job.
10.Throwback uniforms: It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the Honolulu Blue and silver throwback unis – the best in the NFL.