It doesn’t necessarily take a special athlete who knows when to call it quits, but it does take a special individual who knows when his time is up. Many NFL fans felt it was selfish when Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders chose to walk away from the Detroit Lions at the height of his career and well on the way to breaking the all-time career rushing record . Sanders is still beloved by fans of the Lions , many of his contemporaries and peers. Though Emmitt Smith’s record still remains intact , there are many who believe the record was Barry Sanders’ for the taking , had he prolonged his career in the NFL . From my own perspective I believe Sanders was never afforded a team which complemented his skill-set and it should be remembered upon his retirement the Detroit Lions would go on to record their own moment in history went down in history as being the only team in recent history to record a 0-16 win-less season , since the NFL went to regular sixteen-game schedule.
In the subsequent years since the Detroit Lions’ win-less season the franchise’s fortunes have been erratic with a great deal of changes being seen among the playing staff , coaches and front office. The Ford family still remain in control of the NFC North based franchise. Head coach Jim Caldwell , his coaching staff and GM Bob Quinn did their best in making sure the NFL Draft would at least serve the organization’s best interests . However, with the announcement by the Lions’ best player over the past six seasons, wide receiver Calvin Johnson has since announced, his retirement, having become the franchise leader in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns . Johnson’s abrupt retirement has shocked the NFL world as well fans of the Detroit Lions.
Courtesy of The Detroit Free Press
By Dave Birkett , Detroit Free Press
Maybe Matthew Stafford was onto something.
Stafford told Sirius XM NFL radio this week that the Lions might actually be tougher to defend now that Calvin Johnson is retired because they’ll take a more balanced approach to offense.
Johnson, speaking at his free youth football camp Saturday, said in his first comments since he announced his retirement that there’s an element of truth to his former quarterback’s statement.
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►Related: Calvin Johnson talks retirement, says he was fed up with football
“Well, I felt like it should have been easier because they were going to double me a lot of the time, especially in certain situations, so it’s breakout time for somebody to make something happen,” Johnson said. “One on one, that’s what you want. So, put it like this year, I don’t know who if anybody’s going to get double-teamed, so I think they have the play-makers. So if Matt can get them the ball, they make the plays, they can be good, man.”
Johnson led the Lions with 1,214 yards receiving on 88 catches last year and finished his career as the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
The Lions didn’t always surround Johnson with reliable talent during his nine-year NFL career – no teammate reached even 60 catches in four of his seasons – but they appear to have a balanced group of pass catchers heading into this fall.
Golden Tate led the Lions in receptions the last two years, Marvin Jones takes over the X receiver position coming off a 65-catch season with the Cincinnati Bengals, Theo Riddick tied for the league lead among running backs with 80 catches last year, and the team is counting on continued improvement from tight end Eric Ebron.
Johnson said he hasn’t followed much football since announcing his retirement just before the start of free agency in March.
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Calvin Johnson has stated his decision is final and he is unlikely to change his mind. Much as in the same way Barry Sanders’ abrupt departure came as something as a shock . I do believe there are similarities in the circumstances which has led to the decisions made by both of these players ! The front office has failed to build a competitive team capable of winning a Superbowl , much less the Detroit Lions being able to win their division. Quarterback Matt Stafford remains an enigma and a player who has failed to meet the expectations sought .
The loss of Calvin Johnson to this Detroit Lions’ roster will be impactful and I certainly do not believe there is a player on the team capable providing the type offensive productivity sought by Jim Caldwell’s coaching staff. Johnson made Matt Stafford look good on days when the quarterback was simply mediocre . Heading into this upcoming season it will be interesting to see how the Detroit Lions will fare against their divisional rivals in particular, where I believe the NFC North will likely be a two-horse race between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings , with the Chicago Bears and Detroit looking feed off the table scraps left at the bottom of the division ! The Detroit Lions’ preseason schedule will consist of the four customary exhibition games , where their rookies will get the chance to prove themselves while hoping to influence the coaching staff and their possibly making a roster spot roster spot for the Lions’ regular season opener. Detroit’s opening game of the preseason will see them face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in , Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania on August 12th ,2016.
If the Detroit Lions are to be considered among the elite teams in the NFC this season then team on both sides of the ball will have proved themselves worthy on both counts. If there is a player who might be now viewed as the best offensive threat for the Lions currently on the team’s roster , then it would have to be wide receiver Golden Tate . Though a case could also be made for running back Stevan Ridley , but I believe not having Calvin Johnson as part of the offense could prove to be fateful for the Lions this upcoming season. While questions still arise concerning the inconsistency of Matt Stafford , player who this season will have a great deal to prove. I can’t help but wonder if GM Bob Quinn’s predecessor Tom Lewand could not have been more persuasive in trying to get Johnson change his mind about retirement , but better yet , seeking to put together a team competitive enough to be considered a legitimate contender for the Superbowl.
A fast start to the regular season will be needed for the Detroit Lions if they are to be in with a chance of winning the NFC North . Anything less than 3-2 by their fifth game of the schedule and I believe we might as well count them out for the divisional crown ! The conference and a postseason berth might well be their best option , but even with that in mind , I still do not believe this team is even capable of making it a reality.
Peyton Manning went out on top and at his own wish , rather than being forced out . Granted the five-time League MVP did not have one of his best seasons in the NFL but when it mattered the most , the player proved himself up to the task as he guided the Denver Broncos to their third Superbowl title and Manning’s second win of a championship. As for the idiocy of some fans, who stated the quarterback was never good enough to lead the Broncos to another title. I’d say this to those idiots , given what you all witnessed from Brock Osweiler as Manning’s back-up during the regular season , do you honestly believe he would have been good enough to have led Denver to victory over the Carolina Panthers in the championship game ? Osweiler has since departed for pastures new . where he is expected to lead the Houston Texans this upcoming season.
From my own perspective I believe the Texans simply to be a moderately average team , where hype over JJ Watt as the best defensive player in the NFL is nothing more than sensationalism, much as it was with the claims of Nnamdi Asomugha being a shutdown corner and one of the best corner-backs to have ever played the game. On his best day Asomugha would be no match for the likes of Rod Woodson or a litany of other corner-backs to have played the position down the years who are now enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Far too often the media will be too quick to heap undue praise on a player, who has yet to achieve anything of note. Watt is a very good player , but I do not believe him to be the best defensive player in the league. He is certainly among the top-ten and quite possibly top-five .
With Peyton Manning’s retirement and the departure of Brock Osweiler , John Elway as Head of Football Operations for the Denver Broncos , brought in Mark Sanchez to succeed the two former quarterbacks of the Broncos’ franchise. This might be the last for Sanchez to prove himself as a quarterback of renown in the league , given the misfires over the course of his career in the NFL . But for his postseason glories with the New York Jets , there has been little which could be described as awe-inspiring to his tenure. There is no denying the strengths of the Denver Broncos last season was their defense and the offense while not firing on all cylinders , when needed there was some firepower there , specifically among their receiving corps . Wide receivers Demariyus Thomas and Emanuel Sanders proved to be a great tandem alongside a rush offense led by Ronnie Hillman and C J Anderson .
Gary Kubiak and his Denver Broncos’ coaching staff will be looking to show their fans the team in its new guise will be able to play with a great deal of determination over the course of the season. It will all start with the preseason schedule and assessing his fresh recruit of rookies and acquired free agents from this off-season. Denver’s first game of their exhibition schedule will see them face the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field , Chicago , Illinois , with the Bears and Jay Cutler looking to get off to a winning start to their preseason schedule. I have no doubt the Denver Broncos will be able to make a successful defense of the AFC West divisional title , simply because the case to be made for the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers remains so dire . Denver’s opening game of the regular season will pit them against the Carolina Panthers in a rematch of last season’s Superbowl . The game itself will be the first of the regularly scheduled games on a Thursday night as part of the NFL scheduling.
Drew Brees might be the most beloved player in New Orleans Saints’ history and holding several of the franchise’s passing records , there can be no denying he is a Hall of Fame bound player. His career statistics speaks volumes and he has been one of the most prolific passers of his generation alongside , both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Yet I can’t help but wonder after the Saints’ disappointing season in 2015 , will be Brees be motivated enough to recapture the form which made him and the franchise one of the most feared in the NFL ? In the twilight of a playing career when he has won a Superbowl , captured the hearts of residents in the Crescent City after ‘Hurricane Katrina’ .
Saints’ head coach Sean Payton will be looking to regroup while also seeking to stop the recent dominance of the Carolina Panthers within the NFC South . Brees in his encounters against the Panthers has always held the upper hand , but since the emergence of Cam Newton with the Carolina Panthers , it has been the current League MVP holding sway over his divisional rival. These two teams will meet twice over the course of this season and I fully expect if either can win the season series , it provides them with the inside track to the divisional title. I certainly don’t believe the Atlanta Falcons will provide a credible challenge within the NFC South and the inconsistency seen with Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers simply indicates the freshman quarterback’s learning curve has yet to take an upward spike for the better.
The New Orleans Saints will begin their foray into the 2016 regular season with a game against the Oakland Raiders at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium , in New Orleans, Louisiana ,. Drew Brees and the Saints should feel assured of a victory in their opening game of the season . Brees as a fifteen-year veteran of the NFL might well be entering his last season with the New Orleans Saints and will likely want to leave on a high . Whether or not this comes by way of a deep run in the postseason, with the ultimate goal of winning a second Superbowl for the franchise will be dependent upon the mindset of the quarterback and his teammates , as well as the coaching staff .
The shelf-life of an NFL running back and wide receiver , is said to be six to seven-years on average , with a quarterback the longevity is thought to be closer to twelve years . When you consider Peyton Manning , Tom Brady , Drew Brees and Philip Rivers have now been in the NFL for the better part of ten years or more gracing us with their skill-set . Then you can understand the reasons why these players have such a difficult time in making the decision to walk away from the game. Personal goals asides , sometimes it is pride or the financial need which forces a number of these athletes to prolong their careers. If these players can have a moderate amount of success while along the way , earning a healthy living then the resulting endeavors can be something they can feel entirely happy with.
A s with previous NFL seasons, the league this year could prove to be very exciting, with their being a heightened sense of expectation for several teams. The New England Patriots will have a great deal to prove , with the Tom Brady suspension looming large over the league and the player likely to appeal his case with the US Supreme Court , this chapter concerning the franchise and the NFL hierarchy is far from over . A verdict in Brady’s favor will certainly bring to an end one of the more unsavory aspects of the whole Deflate-Gate fiasco altogether. Elsewhere, this continued idiocy that the NFL should be lauded for all of the great work it is doing in the community , when the league itself continues its deceptive practices and conceit concerning the treatment of NFL veterans , speaks volumes as to the duplicity of the NFL team owners and the hierarchy led by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . Yet this is all somehow lost among apathetic fans , who simply overlook such issues.
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As an NFL fan do you believe Calvin Johnson’s retirement will have an adverse effect on the fortunes of the Detroit Lions this upcoming season ? Also which players and teams do you believe will be making the headlines throughout much of this season ?
NFL upcoming milestones for 2016 :