Every year, I do my NFL Franchise Rankings , and it amazes me how pitiful the Detroit Lions have remained year after year, decade after decade since the 1950’s.
It is a mentality of losing, and it is showing no sign of changing…
Roy Williams wants to come back to Texas …
Neither player will say it publicly, but two of Detroits best offensive players -- receiver Roy Williams and running back Kevin Jones -- are counting the days until they can leave Detroit.
While the losing seasons have taken their toll on the two players, there are other reasons why they want to leave the Lions organization and their motives arent exactly the same.
Williams and Jones, who were both first-round draft picks in 2004, will become unrestricted free agents after next season and sources close to the players say theyve had enough and want out.
Williams, who could miss the final four games of the regular season with a knee sprain, is averaging almost three yards less per catch than he did last season his 16.0-yard average in 2006 is down to 13.3 yards this year.
At one time, Williams embraced the teaching of coordinator Mike Martz and even endured his sometimes abrasive coaching style, but that situation has changed. Williams has offered thinly veiled criticisms recently of Detroits offensive game plan and his role in it.Still, the overriding factor for Williams is that he simply wants to go home or get closer to it.
The one thing you learn about Williams very quickly is that he loves Texas and would love to return to his home state. Williams is a Texas guy and mentions it in nearly every interview and flies back to his home in Odessa to see his young child every chance he gets. If the Lions get two consecutive days off, Williams bolts for Texas. Theres absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it shows where his heart is.
Last week, Williams brought up his contract situation out of the blue and said he didnt know what his future holds. Williams quickly added that every player wants to stay with the team that originally drafted him but added Its hard to do now with free agency.
In classic Lions fashion, Calvin Johnson is not playing worth his pick …How is that possible? He is amazing. He is Superman! I have not been so sure a WR was going to be great in the NFL since Charles Rogers! Oh wait….
Now that the Detroit Lions have lost for the 10th straight time at the Metrodome, getting whipped 42-10 by the Minnesota Vikings in a game that wasn't even that close, the Lions are searching for answers to a season gone horribly wrong.
Here are some of those questions that need to be addressed:
It's time to ask again: Should the Lions have drafted Adrian Peterson instead of Calvin Johnson with the second overall pick?
Well, first things first. It's difficult to look through the Lions' recent draft history and find someone who they shouldn't have drafted instead. Peterson is an explosive talent, no doubt about it, but so is Johnson. The larger issue is why the Lions aren't getting the most out of him.
Once again, Johnson was a non-factor in the offense on Sunday. Before Roy Williams got hurt, Johnson was in and out of the lineup and wasn't a target in the passing game.
The Lions have made a huge mistake here, either in drafting a guy who didn't deserve to be the second overall pick or not effectively using a guy who did.
Meanwhile, to hoops:
Duncan and Manu could be out for the Mavs trip to San Antonio to play the Spurs …
If Tim Duncan's injury has dulled the shine of tonight's matchup between the Mavericks and Spurs, how much would the absence of San Antonio's Manu Ginobili further diminish the game.
Duncan is sidelined by a bruised right knee and sprained right ankle he sustained in a scary moment Sunday, overshadowing an injury to Ginobili's left index finger. Ginobili stayed in that game but whether he plays will be a game-time decision, potentially reducing the Spurs to Tony Parker and friends.
The Mavericks, who have been shuffling lineups all season, aren't keenly interested in who is and isn't playing for the opposition.
"At this point, where we're at, we've lost a lot of road games already," forward Dirk Nowitzki said, noting the Mavs' 4-5 road record. "We can't focus on who's playing, who's hurt. We want to take advantage of the situation and get a win and move on."
Injuries have scrapped Mavs coach Avery Johnson's rotation plans and inconsistencies have led to losses to Portland, New Orleans, Washington and Milwaukee. Meanwhile, the Spurs are 10-0 at home and 15-3 overall coming off a fourth NBA title in nine seasons. With back-to-back titles seemingly the lone triumph remaining to cement the Spurs as a bona fide dynasty, the Spurs are still sound defensively, allowing 92.1 points a game and winning by an average of 9.5 points, both second to Boston.
San Antonio has a three-game lead over Dallas and New Orleans in the Southwest Division, and has won seven of eight since losing in Dallas on Nov. 15. Once again, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich appears to be scripting the action perfectly for his cast to succeed.
Ginobili is having a career season coming off the bench, averaging 19.4 points, 4.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game. He's shooting 45.2 percent from 3-point range.
Parker, the 2007 NBA Finals MVP, is scoring team highs of 20.7 points (on 52.6 percent shooting) and 7.1 assists.
And, although Duncan, now in his 11th season and still the Spurs' defensive anchor, is averaging career lows of 32.3 minutes, 8.9 rebounds and 17.6 points, the Spurs appear as dominant as ever.
"Is it 17?" Johnson said. "It seems like 27 because, even though he's not averaging the numbers, it still feels like he's getting 27 and 15 [rebounds] every night because he draws so much attention."
The blueprint of using Duncan less to protect his 31-year-old body is not unlike how Johnson envisions this season for Nowitzki, 29 and in his 10th season.
Blockbuster! Tigers with a bold strike in baseball ….
The Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers have agreed in principle on a trade that will send Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for key prospects, sources told ESPN's Peter Gammons on Tuesday.
The Tigers would send outfielder Cameron Maybin, pitcher Andrew Miller, catcher Mike Rabelo and minor league pitchers Eulogio De La Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop to the Marlins.
The deal is expected to be announced Tuesday night when the physicals and paperwork are completed.
"It's very serious, but nothing is finalized yet because some issues need to get worked out," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told The Associated Press.
Miller was Detroit's top pick in the 2006 draft and went 5-5 in 13 starts after being called up last summer. Maybin was the Tigers' first pick in 2005 and shot through the farm system, hitting .143 in 24 major league games, Rabelo batted .256 in 51 games, and 23-year-old De La Cruz appeared in six games for the Tigers, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun.
Willis was on vacation when he heard the news.
"I'm in Mexico right now with my family. I'm kind of busy," he told the AP.
Florida didn't even approach the Tigers until Tuesday morning. The Marlins told the Tigers they could have the two stars for those six players, then Detroit called back about two hours later and agreed.
Evan endorses the Rangers slow and steady approach …
Since the season ended, Jon Daniels has entertained lots of phone calls from his compatriots that include the phrases:
"What do you want for..."
And "Gerald Laird."
Those phone calls became text messages, e-mails and impromptu dialogue as the off-season swapping season started. They have only increased since the Texas Rangers management landed in Nashville.
Daniels would be wise to turn a deaf ear to such conversation.
It's simply not the right time to deal either one. Their values are at all-time lows. Blalock is coming off an injury-shortened season, which followed a sub-par 2006, which continued a downward trend in performance. It could be argued that the only full-time major leaguer who had a worse offensive season than Laird in 2007 was Minnesota's light-hitting Nick Punto.
To deal either right now would be to get less in return than could be expected. Those teams which have called Daniels are searching for bargain pickups. They are offering big salaries, aging vets or troubled teammates. It is not the kind of trade you want to be making, unless you are receiving the one piece you need to finish off a championship-caliber team.
Let's review once more: The Rangers are not currently a championship-caliber team. They may enter the 2008 barely qualified as a major league team.
Barely 27, there is no shortage of upside to Blalock. He still has the ability to be a .300 hitter with slightly above average power for a corner infield spot. His defensive reputation can't be anymore tarnished than it is. He is under control through 2009. Bottom line: There is plenty of room for improvement. Even if he doesn't show much improvement in 2008, the Rangers potential return won't slip by much. If he does rebound and the club can't sign him to a long-term deal, he will still be a more valuable trade commodity than he is right now.
Same goes for Laird. He'll be only 29 at this time next year and he'll still be controllable through 2009. His throwing skills, which make him attractive to a lot of clubs, aren't about to diminish overnight. His hitting can only improve after a season in which he batted .224 with a .627 OPS. He plays a premium position at which the Rangers have some depth. A year from now, if Taylor Teagarden is ready for the majors, the team could be demanding a whole lot more for Laird.
The Rangers may currently have a bad hand, but unlike poker, that's not the time to trade in for different cards. That's the time to hold on to what you've got.
Revo understands the Rangers not moving on Johan ….
Would the Twins even consider a package of Rangers prospects when, as rumor had it Tuesday, they were mulling over at least two attractive offers from the Red Sox, plus proposals from the Yankees and Angels? The Red Sox reportedly had two offers on the table, one with left-handed pitcher Jon Lester as the centerpiece, along with three other players, the other with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury as the focal point, along with two other players.
"I'm not surprised the Twins are taking their time walking through it," general manager Jon Daniels said during the Rangers' media briefing late Tuesday. "You don't get to be in that position very often."
Washington confirmed that the Rangers' package would have to include right-hander Edinson Volquez, who is slated to hold down a spot in the Texas rotation next season, top pitching prospect Eric Hurley and top slugging prospect Chris Davis, among others. It might also have to include Elvis Andrus, identified by many scouts as the Rangers' top overall prospect, and very likely several others as well.
Other than Washington, Rangers officials shied away from talking about Santana.
"From what I've been reading and hearing, it sounds like [the Twins] are going to do a deal with Boston," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "I can't be specific about [what players] we've talked about or what teams we've been talking with."
One Rangers official ranked Andrus No. 1 and Hurley No. 2 among Texas prospects, followed by Davis, young center fielder Engel Beltre and catcher Taylor Teagarden. Teams have constantly been asking Daniels about Texas' younger players.
"We're not interested in moving those guys," Daniels said. "It would have to be something very special for us to do that."
Santana, of course, definitely qualifies as something special.
The Twins have said that they want either a major league-ready starting pitcher, a center fielder, or both in any deal for Santana. The Rangers are looking for a center fielder themselves, so that's not something they can provide.
The addition of Santana would make the Rangers competitive on any day he pitches. It's the other four turns through the rotation that would worry me.
It's not likely to be something any of us have to worry much about, though. The Rangers' brass saw a bona fide ace on the market and couldn't resist the temptation to at least kick the tires and see what it would take to bring him to Texas.
It would be like you and me browsing through Neiman Marcus on a whim. You never know whether you can afford something until you see the price tag.
Now they know.
Stars host the Sharks tonight, and Andrew’s looks at the New Stars …
It's no secret that the Dallas Stars have been a nice roll since owner Tom Hicks decided to make changes in the front office back on November 13. Here are a few statistical tidbits about the Stars, who are 8-2-1 since the changes.
The Stars are scoring at exactly the same clip - 2.82 goals per game - but there have been some noticeable changes in some other statistical categories, most notably the goals against department.
• Prior to the changes on November 13 the Stars were giving up 2.94 goals per game which ranked 20th in the league. They are now ranked 10th in the league with a 2.50 goals against average after giving up just 1.82 goals per game over the last 11 contests.
• They had been giving up giving up 29.4 shots per game, but that's dropped to 27.4 per game after giving up a little more than 24 over since the shakeup.
• The team save percentage was 90.0 prior to November 13, but that has climbed to 90.9 thanks to Marty Turco and Mike Smith stopping 247 of 267 shots (92.5%) over the last 11 games.
• The power play ranked 11th and the penalty kill was tenth at the time of the changes, but both of those have improved and have moved into the top five in the league.
How about 30 NHL Arenas in 30 Days? …
Classic Ref Giving the business
Carmina Burana (don't ask why this is posted)