Anwar Richardson – of MLive.com – has been making the same argument for quite some time this off-season. In an article posted today — Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew willing to bring in players with leadership qualities this off-season – he states his thesis twice:
- Detroit’s lack of leadership was clearly evident during last year’s 4-12 season.
- Detroit’s lack of leadership resulted in an eight-game losing streak to close out this past season.
Of course, there are some numbers to consider. For example
- The Lions were 3rd in yards per game this past season
- The Lions were 13th in yards allowed this past season
So the Lions were above average with respect to both offense and defense this past season.
- only the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs had a worse turnover differential.
- the Lions led the NFL with returns for touchdowns. Detroit’s opponents returned two kick-offs, two punts, two fumbles, and four interceptions for touchdowns. So the Lions gave up 70 points on plays that did not involve their defense.
- and that is not counting all the times their special teams and offense left the Lions defense defending a very short field. In one game against Arizona, the Lions surrendered 38 points to a team who managed to move the ball less than 100 yards on all their scoring drives combined. Time and time again the Cardinals simply took over with a very short field.
So it appears the Lions were a victim this year of turnovers and poor special teams. Past research – and this is in Stumbling on Wins and a paper I wrote with Brian Burke of AdvancedNFLStats – indicates that turnovers are very hard to predict. In essence, turnovers do not seem to reflect an underlying skill.
Special teams might be a skill. And maybe if the Lions’ special teams were “special”, the team would have won a few more games.
So maybe this team really needs better leadership. Consequently, with the 5th pick in the 2013 draft, the Lions will select Colin Powell.
Powell recently wrote a book — It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership – on leadership (a book I am very much enjoying at the moment). And as the title suggests, he has been a very good leader all his life. With Powell on the team, the Lions will have more leadership than any other team in the NFL. In fact, the Lions will have more leadership than any team in NFL history.
So expect the Powell-led Lions to dominate in 2013. With this much leadership, the Lions cannot be stopped (unless, of course, the Lions turn the ball over a bunch and can’t tackle on special teams again!).
P.S. In case anyone is sarcasm-impaired… my thesis is that “leadership” probably can’t solve the turnover and special teams problem. Maybe before looking at “leadership”, Richardson could have thought about those issues first. He certainly should understand that Ray Lewis wasn’t a great player because he yelled a lot.