So the Detroit Lions are finally back on Monday Night Football. This is cause for celebration! This is acknowledgement that yes, the Detroit Lions are actually a real live NFL franchise!
Now the Lions must take advantage of this opportunity. Their last appearance in the NFL's weekly spotlight was a fateful day in 2001. The opponent? None other than the vaunted "greatest show on turf," St. Louis Rams. The result? A 35-0 thrashing that sent the Lions into football purgatory for the last decade. It was the start of the Matt Millen era, a dark shadow cast on these last 10 years of Lions pigskin.
This time around, Detroit will host the Monday night game, their first at Ford Field. Chicago is the opponent and if the Lions have aspirations of getting another Monday night slot in the future, they had better give a better effort than last time.
Taking a look around the rest of the Michigan sports scene...
New University of Michigan football coach Brady Hoke received a luke warm reception upon his hiring. The recently played spring game certainly didn't do much to qualm any naysayers.
Quarterback Denard Robinson wowed the nation as a sophomore, becoming the first player in NCAA history to rush and throw for 1,500 yards in a single season. However, his skills couldn't carry the Wolverines to anything more than a 7-6 record - mediocre by Michigan standards.
Hoke has announced that Robinson will be used differently this season, in part to limit injury to the star quarterback. Fans should expect to see Robinson in more shotgun formations and less designed runs. Sounds good in theory, but what about in practice? Michigan's young offensive line is learning an entirely new system as well. With less designed run plays for Robinson, the new offense could theoretically put the speedy quarterback at more risk for injury.
The Detroit Pistons have a new owner in billionaire Tom Gores. Some on the team think the change in ownership will result in big time change on the court. Personally, I'm all for it. The Pistons have been an absolute mess these last two years. Frankly, It's been embarassing at times. Surely we can remember the seven week benching of Rip Hamilton and the public feuding between players and in-over-his-head coach John Kuester. So yes, let's see some changes. For starters, Kuester can be shown the door. There's been no improvement from his first year to his second and there's no reason for this failed experiment to continue. Tayshaun Prince has also likely played his last game as a Piston. It's just as well. There's no need to hang on to a final remnant of the 2004 championship team for the sake of nostalgia. It's time to make the Pistons Rodney Stuckey and Greg Monroe's team. All future player decisions should be made with those two in mind, which brings me to general manager Joe Dumars.
Should he get a chance to right this ship? Dumars deservedly gets a lot of credit for assembling the 2004 team, but he also deserves just as much credit for the current mess the Pistons are in. That said, Dumars probably should get no more than two years to bring Detroit back to respectability.
No team needed a sweep in the first round of the NHL playoffs like the Detroit Red Wings. It turns out they were the only team to do it, eliminating the Phoenix Coyotes in four games. Their leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg didn't play a single game of the series. Johan Franzen was hobbled during much of Game 3 and sat out Game 4.
Still Detroit outscored Phoenix 18-10 in the series, getting points from 18 of their 21 skaters. It's been a while since we've seen a Detroit team dominate the way they did against hapless Phoenix. That it played out the way it did, despite the injuries makes it all the more impressive. The week off the Red Wings have earned is necessary for the task ahead. Whether it's the San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators or a surprise team in the second round, Detroit will now be able to put a healthy team on the ice. Coach Mike Babcock said as much following Wednesday's 6-3 series clinching victory. Franzen and Zetterberg will play Game 1 of the second round. Bring it on.