Phillip Buchanon Tries to Save the Lions
Well, we asked cornerback Phillip Buchanon the other day why he left the Bucs, who finished third in the NFC South, for the Lions, and his answer was simple.
"I did want to stay in Florida," Buchanon said. "Tampa was going in a different direction and I truly feel like I'm still a starter, and Detroit was one of the teams that was actually there. There were a few other teams, but Tampa was taking their time and I didn't want to wait. You either want me or you don't."
Tampa Bay decided a youth movement was the right thing to do after a 9-7 season. The Bucs did offer Buchanon a contract but not a starting job. Coach Raheem Morris liked Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber as his starters at corner. Buchanon would have to compete for the nickel corner spot.
The Lions, coming off a 0-16 season, wanted help. The defensive scheme was changing from the Tampa 2 to a more aggressive alignment where the pass rushers get to attack more and the corners play more man-to-man.
In the offseason, the Lions traded quarterback Jon Kitna to the Cowboys for Anthony Henry. Buchanon and Henry combined for three interceptions last season. That's one fewer than what the Lions had all of 2008.
There were 465 interceptions in the NFL last season and the Lions had only four of them, good for last in the NFL. Four NFL teams finished with fewer than 10 interceptions: the Lions, Cowboys, Broncos and Seahawks -- and all of them missed the postseason.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz liked the bigger corner in Henry who he hopes can contain the Donald Drivers of the world. Buchanon is being asked to contain the shorter speedy receivers such as Devin Hester of the Bears.
"Henry and I have a lot of things in common," Buchanon said. "We grew up in the same neighborhood (in Florida). He's a very humble guy, a bigger guy and I'm a nice sized guy and I'm very talented and athletic. Anthony is very smart and with his worth ethic we can learn a lot from each other."
Buchanon said he's not thinking about last season in Motown. Not thinking about why the Lions went 0-16. Not thinking about how to save the Lions from this mess that they're in.
"Last year is last year," he said. "So many elements go into a team going 0-16. I don't want to get into coaching or playing chemistry. But it's about the coaching when teams really go that bad."
The NFC North is different now.
Brett Favre is coming to the Vikings -- it's not official yet, but you know its coming. Jay Cutler is in Chicago. The Packers are going with a 3-4. Then there's the Lions.
Could the Lions get their first victory of the season in Week 1 at New Orleans? How about a Week 2 contest vs. the Vikings?
"This division has upgraded," Buchanon said. "A lot of players have shifted teams to make it a strong division. In Detroit, it will be magnified and everything I do will be magnified because right now we have no place to go but up. It's only so much losing we can do but I think we can go up."