Where We Were, Part 2

Last week, we laid out the 2008 rosters of the Denver Broncos and NJ Jets and where the players that comprised those rosters are now. The purpose was to see how much work Denver coach Josh McDaniels and GM Brian Xanders had on their hands when they were hired, as compared with the Jets, who also replaced their coach following the 2008 season.

Today, at the suggestion of IAOFM reader Chibronx, we’ll take a look at another franchise which overhauled their front office following a rough (historically bad, actually) 2008 - the Detroit Lions.

Those Lions, of course, went 0-16 and were rightfully the laughingstock of the NFL, if not all of professional sports. It’s not necessary to rehash all the gory details of Matt Millen’s disastrous tenure as Detroit’s GM, but perhaps the names Joey Harrington, Charlie Rogers and Mike Williams ring a bell? The Ford family (who owns the Lions), like Pat Bowlen in Denver, decided to start over with a young duo, if not as young as Denver’s. Ex-player Martin Mayhew was retained as GM, while Titans DC Jim Schwartz, a math guy like McDaniels, was hired to be the head coach.

We’ve divided these rosters to show which players remain with their teams, which are elsewhere in the league (or on IR), and finally those players who have since retired or been unable to find a job playing football in the NFL. What we’re doing here is a bit of crowdsourcing - that is, if 30 NFL franchises may qualify as a crowd. That crowd, if we may, has deemed 29 players from Denver’s 2008 roster as currently unworthy of putting on the pads for their teams (or just too old). By comparison, that same fate only befell 10 of the Jets’ 2008 players.

But what of the Lions? As the only team to go winless over the course of a 16-game season, that 2008 roster must have been a complete shambles, right? Well, let’s take a look…

1Champ BaileyHamza AbdullahJosh BarrettBoss Bailey
2Ryan CladyDre’ BlyJosh BellTatum Bell
3Elvis DumervilTim CrowderJack WilliamsCory Boyd
4Daniel GrahamJay Cutler Nic Clemons
5Mario HagganBen Hamilton Keary Colbert
6Ryan HarrisPeyton Hillis Ebenezer Ekuban
7Chris KuperBrett Kern John Engelberger
8Spencer LarsenNiko Koutouvides Vernon Fox
9Jarvis MossMike Leach Louis Green
10Matt PraterKory Lichtensteiger Andre Hall
11Eddie RoyalBrandon Marshall Chad Jackson
12Marcus ThomasKarl Paymah Darrell Jackson
13D.J. WilliamsTyler Polumbus Nate Jackson
14Wesley WoodyardPatrick Ramsey Herana-Daze Jones
15 Tony Scheffler Calvin Lowry
16 Brandon Stokley Marquand Manuel
17 Ryan Torain Glenn Martinez
18 Casey Wiegmann Marlon McCree
19 Jamie Winborn Chad Mustard
20   Kenny Peterson
21   Michael Pittman
22   P.J. Pope
23   Jeb Putzier
24   Dewayne Robertson
25   Roderick Rogers
26   Cliff Russell
27   Josh Shaw
28   Nate Webster
29   Selvin Young

1Cliff AvrilIkaika Alama-Francis Darian Barnes
2Jeff BackusGerald Alexander Daniel Bullocks
3Gosder CherilusDarnell Bing Daniel Campbell
4Jared DeVriesLeigh Bodden Anthony Cannon
5Jordon DizonShaun Cody Aveion Cason
6Jerome FeltonLandon Cohen Keary Colbert
7Andre FluellenTravis Fisher Damion Cook
8Jason HansonMike Furrey Daunte Culpepper
9Nick HarrisJon Kitna Chartric Darby
10Calvin JohnsonParis Lenon Casey Fitzsimmons
11Don MuhlbachMoran Norris George Foster
12Stephen PetermanDan Orlovsky Michael Gaines
13Dominic RaiolaJohn Owens Gilbert Gardner
14Manuel RamirezCory Redding Drew Henson
15Kevin SmithRamzee Robinson LaMarcus Hicks
16Drew StantonErnie Sims Adam Jennings
17 Roy E. Williams Rudi Johnson
18   Brian Kelly
19   Alex Lewis
20   Andy McCollum
21   Shaun McDonald
22   Brandon Middleton
23   Langston Moore
24   Edwin Mulitalo
25   Ryan Nece
26   Kalvin Pearson
27   Chris Roberson
28   Stuart Schweigert
29   Corey Smith
30   Dwight Smith
31   Keith Smith
32   John Standeford
33   Marcus Thomas
34   Dewayne White
35   Dexter Wynn

Surprisingly, not that different:

- The 2008 Lions dressed 68 players, or three more than Denver did that season.
- Detroit has actually retained two more players than Denver has, including 4/5 of its current starting offensive line.
- The Lions have 17 former players littered throughout the league, two fewer than Denver has.
- Including players currently on IR, 36 of the 2008 Broncos are still in the NFL, as compared to 33 of the 2008 Lions.
- 35 members of that infamous Lions squad are now out of the NFL, including our old friend George Foster and temporary visitor Keary Colbert (no relation to Stephen).

As always, take whatever you will of this. Whether you compare the numbers or study the names is up to you. But do not mistake this for a deep statistical analysis - it’s not, and we’re not about to go around comparing Denver to every other franchise in this manner. But here you have it - a frame of reference for just how much rebuilding Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders have had to accomplish relative to that of the Jets and Lions.

That’s not to say they’re anywhere near done with the process (they’re not), nor that several of the current players won’t find themselves on the trash heap in a couple of months (they will). This is simply a look backwards, to see from whence the Broncos have come - and on some level, why they are currently where they are today.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM