February 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Terry Foster

Titus Young will still cause trouble, just not for the Lions

Former Lions receiver Titus Young, left, has been picked up by the St. Louis Rams. (Daniel Mears/Detroit News)

There is some concern in our community that the Lions blew it again. Some fans worry that the Lions did not do enough to help departed wide receiver Titus Young and that he will come back to haunt them.

The Lions exhausted every option and there was no way to reel this guy in. The same demons that whacked him in Detroit will eventually become his undoing with the St. Louis Rams, a team that scooped him up within hours of the Lions' release. For some that is a sign that the Rams know something the Lions do not.

That's not the case. There is always a coach or general manager who believes they can turn a career around. You can bet that Lions coach Jim Schwartz talked to his mentor, Jeff Fisher, and told him Young is worth a gamble.

The Lions could not bring him back because Young would create an explosive dressing room that would have made last season's 4-12 season look tame. Earlier in the season, I wrote a story about Lions wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson. Receivers loved him because he was an explosive and motivating coach. When guys relaxed, he shocked the system.

I spoke to Jefferson twice for the story, for a total of 20 minutes. A good chunk of our conversation concerned Young.

"He is a diamond in the rough but rough around the edges," Jefferson said. "I am trying to reach this guy. I am really trying. We bump heads."

Young even admitted he could be rough to deal with but said he needed and respected Jefferson's old-school approach.

I knew something was up when teammates didn't really defend Young. And this was before we learned about the punch of safety Louis Delmas. This was before he committed treason on the field or started tweeting his exit interview out of Detroit.

Young was a problem from the day he stepped in. Those problems will surface at some point in St. Louis, and the Rams will grow tired of him also.

Lions can't stop with Young

Don't worry about Young haunting the Lions. What you need to focus on is the Lions are transitioning and this is good news. They are tearing down a relic of a building. Team captain Kyle Vanden Bosch and right guard Stephen Peterman joined Young on the streets, victims of declining play and escalating contracts. Actually, Young is victimized by declining social skills and elevated evaluation of his talent.

Young thinks he's as good a player as Calvin Johnson? That's reason enough to ship him. Good luck, St. Louis. You got yourself a dandy.

The teardown is necessary but the Lions cannot stop there.

They've got it all wrong and now they have the chance to make it right. If you noticed this tiny little game on Sunday called the Super Bowl, you saw two teams capable of running the football. The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens were fueled by strong, aggressive lines and powerful running backs.

Better run blocking crucial

Although the forward pass sells tickets and prevents teams from being out of games, it is the fundamentals of running the football and stopping the run that win championships. The Lions are built on putting up statistics and winning a few games. They are not built to win a championship.

Now the process must continue. If it means getting rid of center Dominic Raiola and left tackle Jeff Backus, then so be it. Backus is 36 years old and Raiola is 35. Backus is now injury prone and Raiola is limited in run blocking.

The Lions offensive line protects quarterback Matthew Stafford just fine. What it fails to do too often is pound the rock on third-and-one.

They were so pathetic in short-yardage situations they all but gave up during a dreadful 4-12 season.

Free agents not the way

Change is painful, but it is necessary. The Lions also are shedding payroll, so put down your wish list of high-priced free agents.

It's not the right way to build and it's almost impossible to go that route when you have Ndamukong Suh, Calvin Johnson and Stafford earning a king's ransom as beneficiaries of the old rookie salary cap system.

The Lions must replace the discarded with young and hungry players and hope they develop team chemistry. This team was going nowhere without major change.

It seems as if coach Jim Schwartz knew that even when he proclaimed "it is business as usual here."

It cannot be business as usual because that way does not work.

That's why Young is not here. The Lions need to spit out the bad and come in with the new.


(313) 222-1494


Another sign of the Lions moving forward are the rolls of field turf, ... (Daniel Mears/Detroit News)
More Terry Foster