This week we exchanged Q&A with Al Beaton, the Detroit Lions blogger on the Bloguin network. Al was at the Justin Tuck Subway breakfast promo on the Detroit side with Ndamukong Suh. Below are answers to our questions. Go over to Al's site, the Wayne Fontes Experience, to check out his questions on the Giants and our answers.
1) Can the Lions OL keep Shaun Hill (and/or Matthew Stafford) upright?
Uh...no. Hill will get the Jay Cutler treatment. Next question. Oh, you want more?
First, it will be the backup, Shaun Hill, under center. I don't anticipate Matthew Stafford playing until after the Lions' bye, which is next weekend.
Hill isn't the most mobile of quarterbacks or have an arm close to the howitzer on Stafford. He's your stereotypical game manager, trying to minimize mistakes. The Lions' offensive line is better than the sieve it was in 2009, but I wouldn't say it's anything more than average...on a good day.
I'm not anticipating a good day against the Giants.
As the Lions know the Giants' D is playing at an elite level over the past couple of weeks, I would anticipate their scaling back on the downfield passing game (and they'll have even more reason to do so, as you'll see below). In order to protect Hill, the Lions will throw quick passes out of the backfield to Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith out of the backfield, and bail out often to the tight ends, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, both of whom are capable of making big plays.
Regardless, Hill will get hurried, hit and sacked...it's just a matter of how hard and how often. As I said, I'm not anticipating a good day.
2) Can the Giants stop Jahvid Best from running wild?
They can, because the Giants have a dominant defense, and Best is dealing with a turf toe that is limiting his practice time and carries. Best sat out Wednesday's work out, so he's not 100%.
I'm on record saying Best is already the third best Lions' running back in my lifetime, behind Barry Sanders and Billy Sims. But he needs to stay healthy, as that was the con against Best going into the draft. And so far, Best has only been healthy for the first two games of his NFL career.
Unfortunately, Best hasn't been close to 100% since his breakout game against the Eagles (232 yards from scrimmage, 3 TD's, five explosion plays of more than 17 yards). There were a handful of plays in the win over the Rams where his trouble making cuts kept him from breaking a long run.
As long as the Giants don't over pursue, they should be able to keep five yard runs from becoming 50 yard bursts. But Best is a home run hitter, so I wouldn't count on the Giants containing him all game. Get Best the ball in space, and good things usually happen.
3) In our Draft Project, which gets our experts on record so that they can be graded 3 and 5 years down the road, we loved Ndamukong Suh. Pete had him as 6th in the draft and Wonder had him 1 overall. So far he looks very good. What are your impressions?
My thoughts on Suh can be expressed in just 4 words. He is a BEAST.
Suh also has Hulk-like strength, absolutely has to be double teamed, makes the players around him better, is going to win NFC defensive rookie of the year, and will make multiple Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams. Suh may be the best Lions' lineman since Alex Karras was terrorizing quarterbacks in the 50's and 60's.
Remember, Suh is just a kid who will be playing in his 6th NFL game. He is going to get better as he gains experience and the team around him gets better.
Without question, Suh was the best player in the 2010 draft, and the Lions got a steal getting him 2nd overall. Suh has done nothing but impress us both on and off the field in Detroit.
(UltimateNYG note- I had the opportunity to ask Suh some questions via Skype, and got to warn him about the Adam Koets leg whips. He was a really nice guy, and was respectful of his place within the game. He wants to make his own mark and just be Suh, but he noted that two players he respected as DLinemen growing up that he looks up to are Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan.)
4) Will Calvin Johnson play on Sunday? If so, will he be effective?
Head coach Jim Schwartz comes from the Bill Belichick school of dealing with the media. He keeps them in the dark, especially when it comes to injuries. Since taking over the Lions, Schwartz has treated all information in regard to his team as classified, top secret, for my eyes only. Schwartz gives out intel on a need to know basis...and in his mind, no one needs to know.So all we know about Calvin Johnson's shoulder is...it's injured. And the only way we know for sure is from seeing Megatron wrapped up much like Matthew Stafford was after his shoulder injury (and the Lions have never confirmed the rumors, that Stafford suffered a separated shoulder)
Johnson is working out lightly in practice, running routes and the like...but he is not doing anything that would involve using his dinged up right shoulder. You know, like catching passes.
At Wednesday's practice, Johnson wasn't using his right arm at all. So I honestly doubt Johnson plays Sunday. If by some miracle he does, I don't see how Megatron could do anything, save for being a decoy, and not a very effective one at that.
The Lions' downfield passing game goes out the window without their best wide out. It's a damn shame, as when healthy, Calvin Johnson is man amongst boys.
5) The Detroit secondary looks questionable to us. Will they be able to stay with the Giants WRs? Or at least contain them? (which begs the question..If Eli gets time, he'll have a field day- can the Lions get pressure on the Giants?)
Questionable? You're being generous. For much of the season, the secondary has been a combination of God awful and please kill me now so I don't have to watch this Hell on earth crush my soul. But over the last couple of weeks, the secondary have progressed from God awful, to merely bad, with a glimmer of hope.
Most of the improvement has come from the addition of Broncos reject Alphonso Smith to the regular cornerback rotation, Chis Houston solidifying the other side, and Amari Spivey joining a gimpy but still effective Louis Delmas at safety.
Smith, the 2009 2nd round pick whom the Lions acquired by trading a practice squad tight end to Denver (Grand theft cornerback by Lions' GM Martin Mayhew), has been a ball hawk with picks in three consecutive games. Houston isn't spectacular, but he won't embarrass himself...something corners did regularly during the Matt Millen era. 2nd year man Delmas is going to be a Pro Bowl safety in the next few seasons, but is nursing a lingering groin injury. Spivey is a rookie 3rd round pick who was drafted as a corner, then moved to safety during camp. He's learning on the job, but he's got a much higher upside than the safety you Giants fans love to hate, Can't Cover Brown.
Even though things are looking up in the secondary, the Giants will still have plenty of opportunities to make plays. Lions have absolutely no depth in the defensive back seven, and I guarantee there will be blown coverages. I'd expect a 100 yards receiving from Hakeem Nicks, and 300 yards through the air from Eli Manning.
The Lions only shot at stopping the Giants' passing game is to pressure Manning, and Lions are quite capable of doing so. The defensive line is vastly improved from last season, as they already have 14 sacks compared to getting 25 total in 2009. The rebuilt front four of Kyle Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams, Ndamukong Suh and Cliff Avril can get to Manning without the help of a blitz.
Trust me, Manning will get hit. Just not often enough to stop the Giants from making big plays and beating the Lions.
Thanks, Al. Good luck to the Lions this weekend. And Better Luck to the Gmen!
UltimateNYG note: Make your prediction of who wins and who covers the spread for all Giants games from Game 6 through the end of the season. Winner gets the Justin Tuck signed football. Scoring: 1 pt for submitting your entry each week. 2 points for correctly guessing who wins the game and 2 points for correctly guessing who covers. You must submit your guess as a comment on any post in the week preceeding the game with a timestamp at least one day before the game. We'll use a line from Monday or Tuesday from PinnacleSports.com. (This week, it is Giants -10.) Winner is the one with the most points after 11 games.