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Lions Free Agent Haul Recap: Some Good, Some Still Missing

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 18: Donald Brown #31 of the Indianapolis Colts avoids the tackle of Jason Jones #91 of the Tennessee Titans during their game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Titans 27-13. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – DECEMBER 18: Donald Brown #31 of the Indianapolis Colts avoids the tackle of Jason Jones #91 of the Tennessee Titans during their game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Titans 27-13. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

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By: Eric Thomas

The Lions started yesterday with two huge problems: They couldn’t run the ball and had cavernous holes in the defensive secondary. By the time the dinner bell rang, they had Reggie Bush and Glover Quin. The secondary still stinks on the whole, but it got better. Any talent in their secondary is significant; it’s that bad.

Signing Chris Houston can’t be ignored. He’s a known commodity to the team, the one positive in a squad that would have to stand on a chair to rise to the level of anemic. Houston can defend, he can pick off some passes, and he’s paired with a safety that can stay on the field.

We would all love it if the Lions could sign one of these corners still on the market. The Lions could still restructure Stafford’s deal and get some more help in the defensive secondary. This would mean they can draft a DE at number five in the draft and be a lot better next year.

Some people grumble, they have every right. This team has burned many but fans can take heart. The usual Lions pattern is this: They way overpay for a guy who doesn’t fit their needs. Instead, they paid fair market value for guys whose skills are exactly what they need. Bush said himself, “It just made sense. It felt right from the beginning.”

The Lions do well when there is an available pass to the backfield. Jahvid Best played the part of the underneath dump off, a pick your poison for defenses who bracket Calvin. The offense never looked good last year, struggling even against the Rams in the opening game. If Pettigrew can work on his hands this off-season, along with Bush in the backfield, Safford will have weapons.

You can make the argument that their free agent haul proves their recent draft mistakes. Well, DUH. Sometimes some criticism is correct but unfair at the same time. When you have to build an entire team through the draft, as the Lions have, you’re going to miss. People heap praise on Baltimore, New England and Pittsburgh for their outstanding draft ability, but they weren’t starting from scratch. The Patriots haven’t been perfect. They’ve drafted almost as many receivers as the Lions and they’ve rolled snake eyes on most of them. Didn’t they sign Albert Haynesworth and Ocho Stink-o two years ago and both were busts? You have a margin of error when you have legends surrounding your rookies. Where do you think Megatron, Stafford and Suh came from?!

The most encouraging thing out if Allen Park yesterday was their statement that they want to “win now.” Good for them. They have the young players; now build around them with veterans. If you go get a rookie corner, yes even Milliner, you have to wait through rookie mistakes and the sophomore slump. Haven’t they been rebuilding long enough for you? Sixty years isn’t enough?!?!?

As it stands, the Lions are better right now than they ever were last year. They’ve gotten veteran help in the two places of most glaring need. If the team makes a move on one of those veteran corners they will compete for the North title. Green Bay will battle, but they have an awful defense that hasn’t gotten better yet. The Bears are rebuilding, and the Vikings are never good two years in a row. If the Lions adopt and execute a “win now” strategy, they could find themselves in the playoffs again. And the all will be right with the world.

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