When you earn the title of the youngest team in the National Football League, that really is not a bad thing, it’s a great thing. It means future growth and development, the ability for youngsters to bond together and create team chemistry on the field and in the locker room. When Coach Fisher was asked about his young team he had this comment .”It’s exciting. These guys are anxious and eager, they’ve got confidence. I’d much rather coach a young team than an old team.”
Does the style or technique change in the direction you coach these players? “Nothing changes. You take the same approach, preparation-wise. You just have to maybe spend a little extra time with some of the younger guys to let them know what the regular season is all about. 17 rookies on this roster and that doesn’t include practice squad. There’s a good chance that quite a few of them are going to be in this ballgame,” Fisher said.
We all know that respect is something that is not given to you; it’s something that is earned. Starting Sunday in Detroit, Coach Fisher will march his team on to Ford Field with not only youth on his side, but a talented group of men that are finding their way. In this battle between the youngest team in the NFL and the oldest team, the Lions are hoping the Rams don’t find their chemistry in the season opener.
The Detroit Lions are a good football team. They are well coached, have one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL in Matthew Stafford, who threw for over 5,000 yards and passed for 40 touchdowns in 2011, which put him in pretty good company alongside Dan Marino and Drew Brees. Detroit has the best receiver and football player in the league in my opinion, in Calvin Johnson who was nicknamed “Megatron” by one of his peers because he can’t be stopped. They also have several other weapons outside the numbers in veteran Nate Burelson and second year player Titus Young, and they have two capable tight ends in Brandon Pettigrew, a inline blocker with receiving skills to work the middle of the field, and Tony Scheffler, who has the speed and athletic skill set to stretch the middle of the secondary. If they have a negative on offense it is the lack of a true running game. Lions’ offensive coordinator Scott Linehan likes a well balanced attack while spreading the field out with multiple receiver formations, but he will also opt to take advantage of any weakness within an opponent’s defense and abandon the well balanced attack rather quickly for the air game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions front four is damn good. They are athletic, have girth with quickness and strength to stuff the run and put pressure on the pocket against the pass, led by DT Ndamuknog Suh, DT Corey Williams, back-up interior linemen in DT Nick Fairley and DT Sammie Hill who will roll in and out of the line-up. They also have highly productive edge players that will squeeze the pocket in long time vet Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avrill who really complement each other.
For this young Rams team to be successful on Sunday, the offensive line must protect Sam Bradford, keeping him upright and allowing him time to throw strikes, while opening holes in the run game. The Big Easy must also create outside the pocket to slide, avoid and escape pressure with accuracy on the move. Give the Lions a heavy dose of Steven Jackson, with production inside the tackles in order to set up play action pass. Punching the Lions in the mouth at their own game, the Rams will need to hit a big play outside the numbers and score when in the red zone.
The Rams defense will need to keep a close eye on Calvin Johnson on every play, but don’t get it twisted, at the same time don’t allow the other weapons to beat you. The key in stopping the Lions offense is putting Matt Stafford’s fire out early with consistent and constant pressure for four quarters and getting sack production. Rams special teams are in good hands with two rookies in PK Greg Zuerlein and PT John Hekker. These young guns like “Greg the Leg” will score points and Hekker gives them great field position, kicking inside a dome will help both these young players.
I have the Rams winning seven (7-9) games in 2012, but I don’t see this game on the road as one of those victories. Look for the Lions to win this game, but it will be closer then everyone thinks.
Coming tomorrow is the prediction of the Rams 2012 win/loss record and why, don’t miss it!