Detroit Lions linebackers

Detroit Lions linebackers breakdown

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league and defenses have long been trying to find ways to shut down the opposing quarterback. Some build the defensive line and try to pressure him, others find defensive backs to shut down the guys running routes.

Moreover, the linebacker is the quarterback and leader of the defense. He will be making adjustments, calling plays for the defense and communicating with the sideline in between plays.

The debate for the Lions’ greatest linebacker of all time has to start with Chris Spielman. Some of the greatest in NFL history are Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Jack Lambert and Mike Singletary. These men led great defenses.

When discussing the greatest defenses of all time, great leadership and dominance at the linebacker position is a common theme.


The 2018 Detroit Lions linebacker group is unknown and unproven for the most part. Promisingly, an experienced coach, Al Golden, will be leading this group. Golden previously was the head coach at the University of Miami (2011-15) and Temple University (2006-10).

He started his coaching career at Virginia (1994-96) as a graduate assistant. From 1997-99 he was the linebackers coach at Boston College, then at Penn State in the same position during the 2000 season. From there, he went on to be the defensive coordinator at Virginia from 2001-05. He brings years of coaching experience (23 at the college level) to a young group of players. However, he is somewhat new to the NFL as this is only his third year in the league and his first as a linebackers coach (previous two as the tight ends coach for the Lions).

old faces

Jarrad Davis, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Nick Bellore and Steve Longa

The meeting room for linebackers features many new faces, almost as many new as familiar.

Detroit Lions linebackers

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Jarrad Davis returns as the unquestionable leader and face of the group. He produced well in his first season with 96 tackles, two sacks and one interception. Davis showed potential to be the leader of the Lions defense for years to come.

The other returning Lions are Reeves-Maybin, Bellore and Longa. Reeves-Maybin began to gain more of a role late in the season as he tallied 14 tackles and a half sack in the final four games and could compete for a starting position in 2018.

Bellore figures to impact special teams. Bellore, out of Central Michigan University, showed his ability to be a leader and has quickly become one of the most versatile players on the Lions roster. In addition to special teams, he contributed two starts in Week 3 and 4. Furthermore, he took on the new role of fullback on offense. He even caught his first career touchdown pass against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.

Longa is another contributor to special teams who will compete with Bellore for backup reps on the defense. He could see an increased role due to Bellore’s increase in usage on offense.

new faces

Devon Kennard (NYG), Christian Jones (CHI) and Jonathan Freeny (NE)

Detroit Lions linebackers

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Newly added linebackers Devon Kennard, Christian Jones and Jonathan Freeny will compete for starting roles.

Kennard comes to Detroit from the Giants and looks to be a solid scheme fit in 3-4 packages. The Lions will incorporate Matt Patricia’s multiple defensive system. Thus, adding players to fit multiple packages adds depth and versatility to that side of the ball.

Jones joins the Lions from division rival, Chicago. He will be in competition for a starting role after a breakout 2017 season. Jones started 16 games and recorded 90 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.

Freeny is a signing made for depth. He has been an experienced locker room presence and has worked with Patricia in New England, winning Super Bowl LI.


The group features a lot of new faces and young returning players. It will be a position to watch going into OTAs and training camp.

Who will distance themselves as the starters and show playmaking ability within Coach Patricia’s new system? Will the Lions add more talent in the draft to increase competitiveness? The Lions linebackers will be important to help stop the run and assist in pressuring the quarterback.

Are they up to the task? Can Jarrad Davis take the next step toward becoming a stalwart in the Lions defense like Chris Spielman?


Featured image by AP Photo

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Why does everyone love to hate Terrell Owens?

It is said that “numbers don’t lie” or “the numbers, they speak for themselves”. The Hall of Fame is coveted by the numbers. In a league where legacies are recognized by the numbers, they have to tell it all. For the greats, they have left the league with unforgettable performances. Unfortunately, for the ones outside of our era, those performances will only reminisce inside of the minds of who were able to witness them in person. Today, we hear stories about those greats before Sunday kickoffs by old fans that long for the return of the golden age.

For the rest, we have the numbers. Numbers that have been edged in stone and their history to live on forever. The greats know about numbers. In the NFL, these greats are enshrined in its Hall of Fame. On the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will announce the Class of 2018. Ray Lewis, Brian Dawkins and Tony Boselli are amongst the fifteen finalists that head line this year’s potential selections.

Among those few, to no surprise, some will not make it. While these finalists will finally make it one day, this year casts a shadow of some that have been outspoken about their lack of acceptance. One in particular is Terrell Owens.

Among the stars

AP images

First, if numbers tell it all, then for Owens it must be a lie. Terrell Owens is all about the numbers. After a prosperous sixteen-year career, the five time all pro receiver left behind a legacy that would intimidate the bronze mantel heads in Canton.

Surprisingly, this is his third go around to the Hall of Fame and as the experts predict, this will not be his last. For Owens, his legacy will not be measured by numbers but by merit. Oddly, for a league that recognizes players by numbers, why is it so detrimental to judge Terrell Owens by character? This is why or at least what they tell you.

“I love me some me!” A phrased coined by the six-time Pro Bowler described just the player he was. Owens was a child under the lights, but a man among boys on the gridiron. And teams felt it. While performances where the talk of nightly sport television highlights, Terrell Owens made a name for himself with trash talk, high stepping between downs and his notorious touchdown celebrations. It made teams blood boil the way he mocked each and everyone them. “The Eagle flap” in Philly, “the Ray Lewis dance” against Baltimore and the coveted “Owen’s Stance on the Dallas Star”.

Terrell Owens… the divider?

While some looked on with disgust, others praised Owens’ outgoing persona on the field. But Owens’ play wasn’t up for discussion.  A quote from Carolina Panther quarterback Cam Newton when asked about his own touchdown celebrations,” If they don’t want me to celebrate, keep me out of the end zone then.”

Teams were hopeless. They couldn’t stop Terrell Owens so they watched along the sidelines as he paraded up and down the field over and over and over again. Owens’ passion to be great wasn’t just a show on the field, it was felt everywhere, even in the locker rooms. In his prominent stops in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas, Terrell Owens had problems with players, coaches and even management.

Whether it was Owens’ criticism of coach Steve Mariucci, especially during an outing against Chicago when Owens criticized the coach after blowing a fifteen-point lead, or in Philly where Owens butted heads with starting quarterback Donovan McNabb or even rumors around the Dallas organization about concerns on Owens’ mental fitness after circulation of an alleged suicide attempt there was always a story.

In trying to mend the bad blood between each and every team, the organizations and teams took sides. From locker room banters that led to fights, Terrell Owens was accused of dividing the teams. Festering chemistry and ultimately playing a role in causing the team to lack the moral fiber to compete for a championship. This has played one of the prominent roles for keeping Terrell Owens out of the discussion of the greats.


Numbers don’t lie… the numbers, they speak for themselves

Like said before, the sport of football is recorded in numbers. In points, in yards and in minutes. The numbers are objective. They don’t have a perspective or equate to certain occasions. The numbers tell it how it is and for Owens, it speaks in his favor. For all who have doubted the character of Owens can’t deny his talent.

Terrell was known for his prowess and passion between fifty-three yards. In his prime, he resembled the play of NFL titans like Michael Irvin, Andre Reed, Lynn Swann and Jerry Rice. Owens’ games was recognized as a product of the NFL played in the 80’s and 90’s of grit and toughness.

(Joseph Kaczmarek, AP)

He had memorable performances like his twenty-catch game on Jerry Rice day and an amazing game against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl after fracturing his tibia. While some saw his antics as childish, one could recognize them as passion. Terrell Owens passionate play mirrored the likes of sport greats like ray Lewis, Joe Namath, Kevin Garnett and even Michael Jordan.

For a career total, Owens snagged 1,078 receptions for 15,934 with 153 touchdowns, which rank in the NFL books fifth, second and third respectively. When people take sides on character, you can’t argue with the stats. Where Terrell Owens ranks among the elite in his position is still up for discussion. Arguably, Terrell Owens is at most the second-best receiver to play in the NFL.

Road to Canton

The ongoing criticism of Terrell Owens has been broadcasted by people who share a bad taste in their mouths when discussing his career. Writers, who were shoveled down to the lowest on the totem pole, now have the chance to get back at Owens. It is written. We have seen it before.

Pro Hall of Famer Kenny Stabler was subjected to the same treatment. Ostracized because some of his off-field behaviors, the Hall of Fame committee put Stabler on the back burner. When discussing his place in Canton. he was brutalized. Though he was selected in 2016, Stabler died in 2015 and went to his grave without seeing if he made it or not. While people don’t believe this will happen to Owens, you can’t tell the future. The idea that Owens would receive validation for his career after looking back thirty years from now is downright torturous.

As said by Shannon Sharpe himself. “The Hall of Fame is about the numbers”. With those stats, Terrell Owens should not just be a Hall of Famer, but be selected on his first ballot.

The writers’ criteria of what a Hall of Famer should be doesn’t quite match up to what a Hall of Famer is. If this is the case, why don’t the Hall of Famers themselves get a vote? If you ask the vast majority of gold jackets, they will tell you that Terrell Owens deserves a place in Canton. Hall of Famers like Cris Carter, Mike Haynes and Shannon Sharpe have publicly defended Owens’ place in the Pro Hall of Fame.

The verdict

Unfortunately, it is not up to them. The Class of 2018 looks to pass on Owens. Players like Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Dawkins all look to receive first ballot recognitions. Taking nothing from those guys, they were and ARE special to the game of football. They are part of the history of the NFL. For that, you cannot write the history without putting Terrell Owens towards the top of many lists. If the committee is trying to make a case and using Terrell Owens as the poster child, the damage is already done. For many of us, we questioned what a first ballot Hall of Famer is if Terrell Owens isn’t one.

(Ted S. Warren/AP file)

Any player that molds his career after Owens’, would be talked about for centuries. If this is the case, should Owens’ be the sacrificial lamb? Maybe. Fortunately, many of us still remember the great moments of Terrell Owens’ career. The time when Owens’ entertained millions. His number don’t need interpretation. And looking how Terrell Owens “loves him some him”, he doesn’t need the validation of writers. As quoted “If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed”.


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College football week 11 picks

Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger make college football picks for week 11, which includes all games involving FBS teams. There have been plenty of touchdowns, sacks and big plays with more to come. Here are the picks for the week:


Away Home Location Rob Joe
Akron Miami (OH) Yager Stadium, Oxford, OH Akron Miami
Bowling Green Buffalo UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY Buffalo Buffalo
Kent State Western Michigan Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI W. Mich WMU
Toledo Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Toledo Toledo
Eastern Michigan Central Michigan Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, MI C. Mich CMU
Ball State Northern Illinois Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, IL NIU NIU
Georgia Southern Appalachian State Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, NC App St App St
North Carolina Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA Pitt Pitt
Temple Cincinnati Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH Cincy UC
#9 Washington Stanford Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA Washington Washington
BYU UNLV Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV UNLV BYU
#12 Michigan State #13 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH OSU OSU
Rutgers #14 Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Penn St PSU
#15 Oklahoma State #21 Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA OK State Ok State
Connecticut #18 UCF Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
Margin of Victory 41 33
Does the winner leave with the Civil ConFLiCT trophy? No No
#23 NC State Boston College Alumni Stadium , Chestnut Hill, MA BC NC State
Arkansas #24 LSU Tiger Stadium , Baton Rouge, LA LSU LSU
Duke Army Michie Stadium, West Point, NY Army Army
Texas Tech Baylor AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX Texas Tech TTU
Louisiana Ole Miss Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS Ole Miss Ole Miss
Florida South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC SC SC
Indiana Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL Indiana Indiana
Nebraska Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Nebraska Nebaska
#17 Virginia Tech Georgia Tech Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA VT VT
Middle Tennessee Charlotte McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, NC MTSU MTSU
Wake Forest Syracuse Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY Syracuse Cuse
#1 Georgia #10 Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Georgia Georgia
Florida State #4 Clemson Memorial Stadium , Clemson, SC Clemson Clemson
#20 Iowa #8 Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI Wisconsin Wisconsin
Virginia Louisville Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY Louisville Louisville
Michigan Maryland Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD Michigan Michigan
West Virginia Kansas State Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS WVU WVU
SMU Navy Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD Navy Navy
Florida Atlantic Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA FAU Louisiana Tech
Southern Mississippi Rice Rice Stadium, Houston, TX So Miss USM
#11 USC Colorado Folsom Field, Boulder, CO USC USC
Maine UMass Fenway Park, Boston, MA Umass Umass
Georgia State Texas State Bobcat Stadium , San Marcos, TX Ga St Ga State
San Jose State Nevada Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV Nevada Nevada
Kentucky Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN Vandy Vandy
Troy Coastal Carolina Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC Troy Troy
Arkansas State South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL Ark St Ark State
UTEP North Texas Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX UNT UNT
#19 Washington State Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Wash St Wazzu
Kansas Texas Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX Texas Texas
Western Kentucky Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV Marshall Marshall
#2 Alabama #16 Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Alabama Alabama
Purdue #25 Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW NW
UAB UT San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX UAB UAB
Tulane East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC ECU ECU
New Mexico Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX A&M TAMU
Old Dominion Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL FIU FIU
Tennessee Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Mizzou Missouri
#3 Notre Dame #7 Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL ND ND
#6 TCU #5 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
Arizona State UCLA Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA Arizona St ASU
Oregon State Arizona Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ Arizona Zona
Wyoming Air Force Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO AFA AFA
Boise State Colorado State CSU Stadium, Fort Collins, CO Colorado St CSU
Fresno State Hawai’i Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI Fresno Fresno
Gameday Guest Picker (Miami) The Rock Ray Lewis

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Week Eleven NFL Picks Against the Spread

Week 11 in the NFL started with a familiar script, special teams dooming the Saints and me being on the wrong side of a Thursday night spread, even though it was by just a half point. I posted a 7-7 mark last week. Highlights were calling the Broncos’ and Seahawks’ upset wins. 71-77-6 is where I start the week. My picks are bolded, upsets have an asterisk and all spreads are from at the time of my writing. Let’s go.

*Cardinals at Vikings (-2.5) – I have no feel for this game at all. Despite their four game losing streak, the Vikings defense is still giving up just 17 points a game. Again, they are on a four game losing streak. So, what that really means is the offense cannot move the ball against anyone at the moment, including the hot and cold Cardinals… I think. Ari 17 Min 12

*Ravens at Cowboys (-7.5) – This is one of two games I feel very strongly about this week. Folks, I have been saying it all year as well as before the season. The Ravens are a really dangerous team that will be around in January. The offense has come alive after two divisional wins. With Joe Flacco and those receivers, it was just a matter of time. On the other side of the ball, gone are names like Ray Lewis, Chris McAllister and Ed Reed, but they have finally been suitably replaced by names like CJ Mosley, Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan. This is easily the best defense the Cowboys have seen all year. They are top-ranked against the rush.


As a general rule, great defense stops great offense. As good as Dak Prescott has been, Ezekiel Elliott will be at least somewhat neutralized here. I do not think Prescott can do it all on his own. The Cowboys are a good football team, but other good football teams should be able to exploit their flaws. They finally run into one of those here. Bal 31 Dal 20

Bills at Bengals (-2.5) – I am excited to be going to this game. It is a coin flip. These teams are similar. Both are loaded with firepower, particularly on offense, but they find themselves fading in the AFC playoff race. This is an elimination game. Buffalo’s back may already be broken. They really outplayed Seattle last time out, but have nothing to show for it. Given preseason expectations, the Bengals should be more desperate and play well. As a native Cincinnatian (who is by no means a fan), that is terrible logic to use when evaluating the Bengals, but it is all I have got. Cin 27 Buf 23

Bears at Giants (-7.5) – We are getting late enough into the season that it is not a bad idea to start looking at trends. There is one that made me change my pick here. This season, all but one of New York’s games have been decided by seven points or fewer. The Bears are awful and after getting annihilated last week in Tampa Bay, the resurgence of Jay Cutler appears to have only lasted one week, but a trend like that should never be ignored. NYG 23 Chi 17

Jaguars at Lions (-6.5) – With division rivals Green Bay and Minnesota limping along at the moment, this may be Detroit’s year to make a real run at the big time. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is playing at an MVP level. I have seen nothing from Jacksonville this year that makes me think this will be close. Det 40 Jac 21

Steelers (-7.5) at BrownsFor the first time in my almost 24 years of life, the Steelers are flat out bad on defense. Giving up 380+ yards per game including well over 100 yards per game on the ground will not get you in the playoffs. It does not matter how good the offense is. There are major issues that need correcting in Steelers country. Fortunately for them, the Browns are all that is on tap this week. The Steelers are still plenty good enough to handle that task. Pit 34 Cle 24

Bucs at Chiefs (-7.5)- Boy, there are certainly easier places to go than Arrowhead Stadium if you are trying to build off a win last week the way the Bucs are. Kansas City continues to win games by playing mistake free football, having an opportunistic defense, and doing just enough on offense. As always, that style may have a ceiling on it come playoff time, but it will do the trick for now. KC 20 TB 10

Titans at Colts (-3)- It has been a very long time since I whiffed on a football game as bad as I did be Tennessee/Green Bay game last week. The Titans are a legitimate contender in that division and a lot better than I thought. Also, it is so nice to see running back DeMarco Murray back in a system that suits his skill set. However, much like the Titans, the Colts may have really found something their last time out, which was also against Green Bay. In what could be a shootout between two young and hot quarterbacks, I trust Andrew Luck a bit more than Marcus Mariota. Ind 30 Ten 24

Dolphins (-1) at Rams- This is the other game I feel very strongly about. In my house, we call this a “Nova game.” A game my dad and I would bet our beloved dog, Nova on. Thankfully, this is only hypothetical. We would have lost her many times by now. In all seriousness, Miami is rolling behind Jay Ajayi. Conversely, while his debut does add a layer of intrigue here, one can only assume that there is a good reason why Jeff Fisher and the Rams had to be dragged, kicking, and screaming to start top draft pick Jared Goff at quarterback. Mia 35 LA 17

photo from

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Patriots (-13) at 49ers- As good as the Patriots are, the 49ers are that bad. However, the match-up is not terrible for them here. Without Rob Gronkowski, none of New England’s pass catchers are to be feared. The extra attention defenses must pay to Gronk creates more favorable match-ups for everyone else. Chip Kelly’s Eagles gave Bill Belichick’s Pats fits last year. These two things are enough to make this much closer than most people think. NE 35 SF 30

Eagles at Seahawks (-6.5) – The NFL’s surprise of the year is the way the Eagles have played. With a rookie head coach and quarterback, they are right there in the playoff race, but this is a tall order for Carson Wentz and company. With Russell Wilson finally healthy and the defense playing up to their capabilities, Seattle gets my vote for the best team in football right now. I am not sure how much the opponent matters to the Seahawks at the moment. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they get a rookie quarterback in their building. This week will be the start of Seattle catching Dallas for the number one seed in the NFC. Sea 31 Phi 17.

*Packers at Redskins (-3) – I am giving the Packers one more week before I bail on them. The good news is Aaron Rodgers and the offense were not the problem last week. If you give up 47 points, you are not going to win. The Redskins always put up huge yardage numbers, but really struggle in the red zone. They will lose by kicking one too many field goals Sunday night. GB 35 Was 32

MNF from Mexico City: Texans at Raiders (-5.5) – If the NFL is insistent on playing games outside our borders, this is how it should be done, in Mexico featuring two teams from cities with significant Mexican populations. As for the game itself, I struggle to buy into both these first place clubs long term. The Raiders are still committing way too many penalties. Meanwhile, Brock Osweiler is the weak link in Houston. You can’t hide the quarterback forever in this league. Houston’ defense is carrying them and the Raiders offense is doing the same in Oakland. This will be really close. The team with the MVP candidate at quarterback will do just enough to get over the finish line, but taking the points is smart here. Oak 24 Hou 21


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