Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Two Questions, One And A Half Answers

I have extra-sensory perception, or ESP, today. I have a really strong feeling that there are two questions burning up your mind on this last Tuesday of August.

One: What is wrong with Jeremy Bonderman?

Two: What is wrong with the Lions?

I know the answer to #2, but I confess I'm a tad lost on #1, but I'll give it a shot.

First, the Lions. Frankly, there is nothing wrong with this team that a pass rush, some pass coverage, an offensive line worth a nickel, and a few playmakers -- on both sides of the ball -- can't cure. I attended last night's debacle against the St. Louis Rams and I gotta tell ya, the closer you sit, the worse it gets. I snagged some corporate freebies -- 40 yard-line, 8th row lower level -- and from that perspective, you can really see how far behind the Lions are from 8-8, which is what the Rams were in 2004.

You can see, up close and personal, how much time the opposing quarterback has to look for receivers. I've seen my wife take less time to pick out an outfit than Marc Bulger had to spot an open man. And speaking of open men, I don't want to say the Lions' secondary is soft, but I've consumed marshmallows with more density.

You can witness with remarkable clarity the mass collapse of an offensive line. A house of cards comes to mind. Joey Harrington's pass protection was about as reliable and trustworthy as a Rafael Palmeiro congressional testimony. I know now why the Lions' offensive coaches preach the three-step drop when it comes to their passers: that's all the steps they are able to take before being overwhelmed by defensive linemen.

Then there are the penalties. The Lions, late in the first half, had a 1st-and-goal at the Rams' 5. Two holding penalties later, they had 1st-and-goal from the Rams' 25. Actually, it was three holding penalties -- two on one play. The Lions' offense and the opposing end zone are like double positives on a magnet; they repel each other. So until we can get the league to change the point value of a Jason Hanson field goal from three to seven points, it don't look too promising, folks.

My prediction: based on what I saw last night, the Lions will be lucky to win four games.

Now, on to Jeremy Bonderman. This young man is struggling mightily right now -- 1-5 in his last six decisions with another shellacking last night in Cleveland -- and you can only hope it's part of the maturation process for what I still believe will be an outstanding pitcher for years to come. He's been getting shelled lately, not giving his team much of a chance to win, and that's what is disturbing. In the season's first few months, you could almost look at Bonderman as that stud starter that can end losing streaks and always give you a good chance for a win. But since the All-Star break he's been frustrated, confused and downright awful.

The Bonderman situation is a question for which I don't have a ready answer, but here's my theory: he's still young, still learning how to pitch in the big leagues, and he still has to work on his stamina for a 162-game schedule. His 4.44 ERA is nothing special, but that will come down in the future. I just hope he doesn't wallow too much in self-disgust with his performances. Pitching coach Bob Cluck better watch this kid's emotions closely.

Just don't watch the Lions too closely -- or up too close. They'll do a number on you.


dolphinfan said...

The Lions were aweful last night and I was disapointed because I had predicted much more from them this season.

Ian C. said...

Last night was a night that made me question whether I should watch sports anymore, Greg. I'm just sorry you had to witness that vomit pool of a debacle by the Lions in person.