Mike O’Hara, columnist for DetroitLions.com, joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to discuss the Lions preseason campaign, what fans should realistically expect for the upcoming season and his relationship with former Lions quarterback, Erik Kramer, who survived an apparent suicide attempt earlier this week. O’Hara, who has covered the Lions for over 30 years, is hopeful that Detroit has finally turned the corner and has become a team that will consistently contend for an NFC playoff berth. Here are some of the key points that Stephen and O’Hara touched upon:
Lions have a good team, but: O’Hara feels that the Lions have a solid team that should compete for a playoff spot, but as long as the Green Bay Packers have Aaron Rodgers at QB, all roads for an NFC North title lead through Green Bay. As good as the Lions appear to be, O’Hara says they must prove it on the field.
Why Matthew Stafford is better: Stephen tells O’Hara he has noticed that Lions QB, Matthew Stafford seems to have matured and has more of a presence in the pocket. O’Hara agrees and says that’s because the Lions offseason goal was to shore up the interior of the offensive line, which they did by drafting rookie guard Laken Tomlinson in the first round of the NFL Draft and center, Travis Swanson in last year’s draft. Both players are expected to be starters this year. Stafford was sacked 46 times last year, the most sacks given up by any of last year’s 12 playoff teams.
Ameer Abdullah’s and Zach Zenner’s roles: Rookie running backs Abdullah and Zenner have each shined in one preseason game, which has in turn fired up the fan base, although O’Hara cautions that even though Abdullah could become a special player, he is not Barry Sanders. O’Hara also says that Zenner will eventually make an NFL roster, but it’s a “coin flip” if he makes this Lions team.
Lions baseline for wins is 10: O’Hara is optimistic that the Lions could win at least ten games, yet, he says that number is subject to change. Detroit’s offensive line must protect Stafford, the defensive line has to absorb the loss of Ndamukong Suh and the Lions must have a consistent running game, which, so far, O’Hara feels that the Lions have accomplished.
Erik Kramer was a Lions leader: During Kramer’s playing days as the Lions QB, O’Hara got to know Kramer well and described him as leader who had the nickname, “Brass.” He stressed that the NFL has come a long way in their concussion protocol, but doesn’t really know what could have caused Kramer’s attempt to take his life.
To hear the entire conversation, please click the above audio link.