I haven’t written an opinion piece or done anything fun since the preseason, so I’m long overdue. Since we’re now four weeks away from the postseason, it’s time to take a look at the fans’ reaction to many of the Lions moves…or non moves…from this offseason and how they’ve worked out for their respective teams. Since January, I’ve kept a list of all of the players that, for one reason or another, Detroit Lions fans were calling for the team to sign or draft in the 2013 offseason. For this season it’s the guys we didn’t draft and the Free Agents we didn’t sign (taking into account those that we did). For the most part this season, it’s the reactionary folks claiming “We should have picked up X Player and NOW look where we’re at!” Some of that was absolutely warranted, since the Lions have made some missteps and ended last season a pathetic 4-12. It’s been a long time since the 2012 season, however, and a lot has changed. The Lions offseason moves in 2013 has been amazing not only for the players the Lions took but how many of the moves the Lions did NOT make have worked out in the Lions’ favor. For this study, I excluded players that were financially impossible (So no Mike Wallace, for instance) since there was never a chance of signing in the first place. So let’s dive right in folks and answer the eternal question: How’s that working out for you?
Adam Levitre was a fantastic Guard for Buffalo. A punishing run blocker that made defensive linemen pay every time they lined up across from him, he came into Free Agency the biggest name on the Interior Offensive Line market. Levitre would ultimately sign with the Tennessee Titans.
How did that work out for the Lions? Obviously Larry Warford has been a stud. He is presently the 2nd ranked Guard in the NFL according to Profootballfocus.com and hasn’t allowed a sack all year. His 9 QB pressures allowed are TWENTY less than Stephen Peterman had allowed at this point last season. How is Levitre doing? Levitre became the 4th highest paid Guard in the NFL, but had his knee scoped in the offseason and it was clear it was hampering him. Levitre struggled to start the season, but eventually started to come on and play like they were hoping he would. Both players have done very well for themselves, but considering the consistency and tiny rookie contract for Warford, who has outperformed Levitre even though he’s doing well, this is a definite win for the Lions.
2013 Free Agency – Jake Long
Lions chose instead: Starting 2012 1st round pick Riley Reiff at LT, gamble at RT
Jake Long has always been a favorite of many Lions fans due to his 1st overall pick status and having come from U of M. The past few years were unkind to him, however, as he struggled with injuries and never played up the the excellent form he had early in his career when he was considered one of the best LTs in the NFL.
How did that work out for the Lions? Riley Reiff was often questioned about whether he could successfully transition to Franchise Left Tackle. He has answered those questions in spades as he has been the anchor the Lions were looking for when they drafted him. The biggest surprise has been how the Lions have handled Right Tackle. Initially, fans wanted Long so they could move Reiff to RT where his skillset would presumably be more potent, but the Lions decided to roll with Jason Fox. Injured immediately (Surprise), he was replaced by Corey Hilliard who became the weakest spot on an otherwise excellent line. Hilliard would be replaced later by LaAdrian Waddle who not only took his opportunity and ran with it, but locked it the hell down so nobody could touch it. The Lions have their bookends, and combined cost so much less than Long it’s silly.