A Red Flag For Lions Fans?

Why Brad Holmes first big move as Lions’ GM has me concerned

A new era has started in Detroit and the first few months of the new regime don’t have me optimistic. Granted, as a Lions fan, pessimism is in our nature. We’ve seen it all before. The new pair of GM Brad Holmes and Head Coach Dan Campbell have already earned national attention…for all of the wrong reasons thanks to the biting of knee caps. Despite this poor analogy and being quite under-qualified, Dan Campbell is not the epicenter of my concern with the Lions. My biggest concern lies on history repeating itself and if Holmes’ is going to display patterns we’re all too familiar with following Bob Quinn.

When Quinn and Patricia came to town, they brought the “Patriot way” with them. What worked in New England, they were going to bring to Detroit. However, as we’re now seeing with the Patriots, their “way” seems to be more “Tom Brady” than a successful culture. Tom’s now playing in the Super Bowl with his new team as the Pats are one of the least talented teams in the league with little light at the end of the tunnel. That is the Patriots Way Quintnricia brought with them. They brought in former Patriot after former Patriot to the point where it was laughable. The experiment failed miserably.

Now the Lions introduce Brad Holmes as General Manager, and his first big move? Moving Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams. Where did Brad Holmes come from before being hired in Detroit? Why, The Los Angeles Rams. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I know what you’re thinking, the Lions didn’t get fleeced in this deal. They had to move on from Stafford and got two first round picks, a third, and a potential starting quarterback in Jared Goff. That’s not a bad return, in fact, it’s pretty good and can’t complain about it. However, there are now reports that better offers were on the table from places like Carolina, who reportedly offered their first round pick (the 8th pick in this years draft) which would have given the Lions two picks in the top ten this year. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater also might have been involved in that deal. The Washington Football Team, San Francisco 49ers, and Indianapolis Colts also had offers in; while the New York Jets and Chicago Bears made calls to test the temperature of the water.

Most fans will say in the end the Lions won the deal, and I would be one of them. However, I’m going to be hoping they start making moves with other teams instead of focusing everything on turning the Lions into the Rams. If that’s what the front office is going to try then we are doomed to repeat history. Brad Holmes will suffer the same fate as Bob Quinn. Dan Campbell is not Sean McVay. The Rams success, in my opinion, stems from McVay and the system he’s running and what he brings to the table. You can try to copy that but you’re just going to end up with a lesser version of the original product. The sequel is never as good as the original. Except for Deuce Bigalow.

How are you feeling about the start of the new regime? Reach out on twitter @CortFreeman

Pick ‘Em Pickle: NFL Week 15

I should start by apologizing for last week. No, not for my performance (which hey! wasn’t bad last week) but for being rushed and leaving out descriptions. You may not care, may not have even noticed. But I apologize nonetheless!

Two games being played tonight (Saturday) so I thought I’d get this out early. Is there anything better than this time of year for football fans? Feels like we get a game every night. Could you imagine? Anyways let’s get to the picks and win you some Christmas green.

Panthers @ Packers Line: GB -8.0

Packers need that number one sees and it’s in reach. Rodgers is also out for an MVP so I expect him to want to put up big numbers in the win.

Pick: GB -8.0 Packers 33 Panthers 24

Bills @ Broncos Line: BUF -5.5

I like the Broncos defense and almost picked them to beat the spread but this Bills team is rolling. I think they can win by a touchdown.

Pick: BUF -5.5 Bills 27 Broncos 20

Lions @ Titans Line: TEN -10.0

Titans strength? Running the football. Lions weakness? The run. This could get ugly, especially if Stafford doesn’t play.

Pick: TEN -10.0 Titans 28 Lions 16

Buccaneers @ Falcons Line: TB -6.5

Brady struggles against the pass rush. Falcons lack that. Matt Ryan and company would usually put up a shoot out here and compete. Not this year, though.

Pick: TB -6.5 Bucs 33 Falcons 23

49ers @ Cowboys Line: SF -3.0

Ugh. Ugly game. Who cares. 49ers win low scoring game finally ending the Cowboys sad season.

Pick: SF -3.0 49ers 23 Cowboys 17

Texans @ Colts Line: IND -7.5

Colts are looking great and primed for playoffs. Rivers isn’t making mistakes, the run game is working, and defense is one of the best in the league. Watson will need more help than he’s getting.

Pick: IND -7.5 Colts 28 Texans 20

Patriots @ Dolphins Line: MIA -3.0

Game of the week? Feel like this one is a toss up but I’m betting on the hotter team right now.

Pick: MIA -3.0 Dolphins 21 Patriots 17

Bears @ Vikings Line: MIN -3.0

Vikings are more talented but Bears defense is still something to note. Don’t love this pick but I had to take a risk and go against the spread somewhere this week!

Pick: CHI +3 Bears 23 Vikings 20

Seahawks @ Football Team Line: SEA -6.5

A lot of people liking the Football Team here. I get the Seahawks have been inconsistent even against teams they should easily beat but…Haskins was basically kicked off the team months ago! Now he’s starting. Give me the Seahawks.

Pick: SEA -6.5 Seahawks 26 Football Team 16

Jaguars @ Ravens Line: BAL -13.0

13 points is a lot but with Jackson healthy it shouldn’t be a problem.

Pick: BAL -13.0 Ravens 35 Jaguars 14

Jets @ Rams Line: LAR -17.0

Again, a huge spread. But it’s the Jets!

Pick: LAR -17.0 Rams 42 Jets 12

Eagles @ Cardinals Line: ARI -6.5

I like the Cardinals in this game. Could be close but they should win by a touchdown. Their defense should be used to going up against a mobile quarterback, they do it every day in practice.

Pick: ARI -6.5 Cardinals 24 Eagles 17

Chiefs @ Saints Line: KC -3.0

Saints are getting a lot of love this game. Brees is back but Thomas is out. I just don’t like this matchup for Brees’ return. Could be kept close but I still think Chiefs should win handsomely.

Pick: KC -3.0 Chiefs 30 Saints 23

Browns @ Giants Line: CLE -6.0

Browns looked great in a loss against a good team last week. One of the hotter teams heading into the playoffs.

Pick: CLE -6.0 Browns 24 Giants 16

Steelers @ Bengals Line: PIT -12.5

Steelers are starting to show their true colors the past couple of weeks. A lot of people now doubting them…I expect a statement game against the Bengals and a back up QB.

Pick: PIT -12.5 Steelers 30 Bengals 13

Pickle Parlay: TB -6.5, TEN -10, GB -8

Good luck!

Pick ‘Em Pickle: NFL Week 13

An era is over in Detroit. But as they say…SOL. Big week with playoffs on the line for fantasy managers. Expect injuries to start making an impact on the outcomes of games. Let’s win some money!

Lions @ Bears Line: CHI -3.0

You have to expect the Lions to come out fired up ready to prove Patricia was the problem. The want to win this game. The problem? They aren’t that good. “But Cort, it’s Trubisky!” Yeah, and unfortunately he’s had the Lions number of late. Would love to see the Lions make a statement…but I’m not betting on it.

Pick: CHI -3.0 Chicago 27 Lions 21

Eagles @ Packers Line: GB -8.5

Eagles are a joke. Rodgers is out for another MVP. Take the Pack and the over, whatever it is.

Pick: GB -8.5 Green Bay 30 Eagles 17

Saints @ Falcons Line: NO -3.0

The Taysom Hill thing has to come to an end soon right?? This could be the week. The Falcons are better than their record and played well against a playoff contender in the Raiders last week. An upset could be in the making.

Pick: ATL +3.0 Atlanta 24 New Orleans 20

Browns @ Titans Line: TEN -4.0

This is going to be an old school football game. Trenches. Run game. Defense. I expect the Browns to be able to hang in there with the return of Myles Garrett. They could keep the score low enough to win or at least beat the spread.

Pick: CLE +4.0 Cleveland 17 Tennessee 20

Bengals @ Dolphins Line: MIA -10

Dolphins defense is one of the best in the league. I’d take this spread even if Burrow was playing…and he’s not. Yikes.

Pick: MIA -10 Miami 21 Cincinnati 10

Jaguars @ Vikings Line: MIN -10.0

The Vikings get Theilen back this week. They’re going to put up points against a horrible Jaguars team.

Pick: MINN -10.0 Minnesota 28 Jacksonville 17

Raiders @ Jets Line: LV -7.5

Raiders still have a shot at the playoffs despite that poor performance last week. No better way to bounce back than facing the Jets.

Pick: LV -7.5 Las Vegas 28 New York 17

Colts @ Texans Line: IND -3.0

The Texans are missing some valuable pieces. It’s going to be hard to compete with the Colts and their D.

Pick: IND -3.0 Indianapolis 24 Houston 20

Rams @ Cardinals Line: LAR -3.0

Bounce back seems to be the theme this week. Goff is off a horrible game and is out to prove he’s the guy now. Still can’t figure out who the Cardinals are week to week. I like the Rams in this one.

Pick: LAR -3.0 Los Angeles 27 Arizona 21

Giants @ Seahawks Line: SEA -10.0

Daniel Jones is out, Colt McCoy is in. Yes, that Colt McCoy. Somehow still in the league. Bet on the Seahawks.

Pick: SEA -10.0 Seattle 31 New York 13

Patriots @ Chargers Line: LAC -2.0

This one is a toss up. Both teams have potential to put up points or lay a dud. I want to see Herbert step up here and get a big win for his team. But can the Chargers finish a game?

Pick: LAC -2.0 Los Angeles 26 Patriots 20

Broncos @ Chiefs Line: KC -13.5

It’s a big spread but this is the best offense we’ve possibly ever seen. How do you bet against that?

Pick: KC -13.5 Kansas City 35 Broncos 20

Football Team @ Steelers Line: PITT -7.0

Tomlin rightfully called his team out. Yeah, they’re undefeated…but they don’t look great. They need to step it up and will against a team in the NFC East.

Pick: PITT -7.0 Pittsburgh 27 Washington 16

Bills @ 49ers Line: SF -1.0

Very excited to watch this game. Two teams who matchup nicely. Give me the better quarterback in this one.

Pick: BUFF +1 Buffalo 24 San Francisco 23

Cowboys @ Ravens Line: BAL -8.5

Jackson comes back but still so many question marks with this Baltimore team. However I expect them to still win against the Cowboys. Don’t love the spread but what have I been saying about betting on the NFC East?

Pick: BAL -8.5 Baltimore 23 Dallas 13

Grand Rapids: Michigan’s Grub Capital

The Green Well Gastropub in Grand Rapids

The Green Well Gastropub in Grand Rapids

Detroit is making a comeback.  It’s picking up the pieces (of rubble) and rebuilding after decades of urban blight, white flight, and corruption.  Now, the city is looking for an identity change, a new way to brand itself in a positive light; to find the perfect model that Detroit should follow, you don’t have to look very far.

Grand Rapids is where it’s at, there’s no doubt about it.  Being a Spartan, I love Lansing–but, as a city, it doesn’t hold a candle to Grand Rapids.  I have no problem admitting Ann Arbor is a beautiful place, but is too, let’s call it, quaint next to the urban-feel you get in Grand Rapids.  Having said that, with all three of those previously mentioned cities being college towns, you won’t have a hard time finding fun in any of these areas–but when you sit down to eat, you’ll see what really makes Grand Rapids so…can I say grand?

Grand Rapids is very liberal, to sum up its population: the city is young, dreadlocked, and studying graphic design at GVSU.  That creative nature and earth-friendly attitude really comes out with the food scene that has developed in the area recently. Most restaurants are going local and organic, giving the city a comfortable community feel.  The beer you’re drinking, the bread you’re eating, and the person cooking it up for you are all local.  If you’re into microbrews, then walking through the city is like your own personal tour of Wonka.  Last weekend, I made a trip to the city with the sole purpose of grubbing down on some out-of-the-box eats and sharing some recommendations with you so you can go check it out for yourself.  Farm-to-table isn’t the only kind of grub you’ll find on your culinary crusade of Grand Rapids.  The city has an eclectic mix of ethnic cuisine: Mexican, Dutch, Italian, Mediterranean, fresh markets, anything you could want to eat is within reach. With limited time in town, I had to make choices on where I wanted to eat, so I opted to try all new places.  So, this meant I that, today, I would not be showcasing San Chez, a tapas bistro, and home of my favorite sandwich ever–EVER: the Pork Belly and Pretzel B.L.T. Sandwich. Sweet, succulent, glazed pork belly, contrasted with cold, creamy apple slaw, fresh tomato, topped with a spicy jalapeño honey mustard, all enclosed in a steamy pretzel bun.  So good that it hurt to write all of that.  I do my best to sample all of the food showcased on the Travel Channel’s Man v Food and Adam Richman’s Best Sandiwch in America, and this sandwich truly trumps the field.  This “only new restaurants” rule also meant I would not be going to another personal favorite, Marie Catrib’s–home of outstanding food that you don’t feel guilty devouring because it’s healthy and made from scratch.  Definitely check out their falafel and desserts.

Good meals are something meant to be shared, and not eaten alone, so my dad and I arrived to town for a late dinner and decided to hit up the Green Well Gastropub.  I may be a sucker, but I always get excited about places that refer to themselves as gastropubs.  Some may consider gastronomy a snobby, bourgeois way to label food; but to me, it means you’re going to get something unique–and the Green Well menu is one of a kind. They have wines made exclusively for them by a local winery (Black Star Farms) and fresh baked bread baked right in town.  Oh, that bread.  We started with an order of their Breads & Spreads and were blown away. Great artesian breads, but the spreads were the talking point.  Three spreads were given with the assortment of breads: a curry lentil dip, that was the perfect mix of spice creating layers of different tastes in the mouth; a blueberry jalapeño spread, an amazing union of heat from the pepper and cool from the yogurt-esque blueberry, interesting take on taste similar to the hot wing-ranch/bleu cheese combo; then, there was the tomato basil dip, perfect for a cool and crisp bite between the spicier spreads.

The Green Well's Bread & Spread (Dips: curry lentil, tomato basil, and blueberry jalapeño)

The Green Well’s Bread & Spread (Dips: curry lentil, tomato basil, and blueberry jalapeño)

The appetizer was good enough to make a meal, but the carbs seemed a bit overwhelming so a real meal was to be had.  I cannot recall the last time I was that overwhelmed looking at a menu.  Everything sounded good.  Korean braised beef and noodles? Yes, please. Fish tacos? All day. Chicken and Waffles, too? After many internal battles and episodes of cognitive dissonance, I finally made up my mind and ordered the Cuban Sandwich and pops went with the Green Well Pad Thai with braised beef.

The Green Well Cuban Sandwich

The Green Well Cuban Sandwich

Despite the plethora of other great choices on the menu, I did not regret my choice for a minute.  It was the type of sandwich where before you even clamp your teeth down you get the rush of flavors to the mouth.  You could probably sit there and just breathe the sandwich in and get your moneys worth (and you save the calories!).  The spices on the pork merge with the bitterness of the Swiss cheese and tangy sweet mustard to create a gift to the taste buds, ending with a crunch of the fresh local bread. Perfection. After every bite I couldn’t help but let out a muttered “Dammit” or “holy hell.”  It was so good it made me angry that I couldn’t have it in my life every day.  You know a food is up your alley when it’s so good that you roll your eyes.  I don’t know why that happens, but I have no problem with it.

Fish Lad's Menu Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Fish Lad’s Menu Grand Rapids Downtown Market

The next morning, I woke up excited for the next venture.  I did some quick research on my phone and found our next chowdown spot–we’d be heading to the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.  To anyone who describes themselves as a foodie, markets are always a utopia, and Grand Rapids didn’t dissapoint.  Everything you’d want to find at a market you could find here.  Fresh produce, butchers, artesian bakers, fresh squeezed juice, sushi, gourmet cheeses, the market is your oyster–they have those, too!  After several laps around the building, stopping to stare at the sausage menu, the taco restaurant, and several other eye grabbing eats I ended at Fish Lad’s.  I can’t see Po’ Boy on a menu and not indulge.  I’m weak like that.  It’s not often that you find a stellar Po’ Boy in Michigan.  I had the option of shrimp, oyster, and soft shell crab; all of them sounded just as amazing as the next so I asked homeboy behind the counter what the go-to is.  Before I could finish the sentence he exclaimed, “Crab. Gotta do the crab.” He looked trustworthy, so I followed his lead and went with the soft shell.  I’ve never had one but it always looks good and I was (and continue to be) intrigued by how one can eat the entire crab shell and all.  It was just as good as I had hoped it would be (paying as much as I did for it).  Each bite a delightful crunch with a fresh seafood flavor that took you out of the frigid Michigan cold and straight to somewhere tropical.  Good seafood makes me nostalgic, I can’t help it.

Fish Lad's Po Boy

Fish Lad’s Po Boy

Take a trip to Grand Rapids, catch a Griffin game, get kicked out of the B.O.B., and find something new to eat.  You won’t regret it. Now we need to take that creative gastronomy innovation going on in Grand Rapids and bring it to Detroit.  Food brings people together, and creating a happening food scene is one way to start bringing in intelligent, young people who want to create something impactful from the ground up.

GR Market Fish

Tacos, juice, and Soft shell crab Po Boy.

Tacos, juice, and Soft shell crab Po Boy.

Coney 2014: Detroit’s Top Dog

Two Big Chiefs from Bob E.'s Super Chief in Pontiac.

Two Big Chiefs from Bob E.’s Super Chief in Pontiac.

Texas has it’s brisket, Chicago is known for deep dish, and in Detroit we have our Coney Dogs. Brought to Michigan in the early 1900’s by Greek immigrants—you know what, forget the history lesson. Hot dog, onions, mustard, and a meaty (typically beanless) chili sauce—experienced veterans go “heavy, heavy.” They’re cheap, never keep you waiting, and a traditional classic—making it the ideal food for the blue-collar Detroiter. Just like any city you may find yourself in, the food is a reflection of its people—and people in Detroit aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves. Like the city, Coney Dogs are simple, disheveled, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Downtown, there are two famous Coney powerhouses, Lafayette and American Coney Island. Next-door neighbors creating a debate among Detroiters that has stretched several generations: who makes the best Coney Dog? It’s a pretty big deal here. The wrong loyalty has been known to end relationships and divide the happiest of homes. Personally, I come from a family with a strong allegiance to Lafayette. If you ever visit, make sure to check out their bathroom—it’s worth the trip. Lafayette and American Coney Island get all the national attention when it comes to Detroit Coney Dogs, but they face a lot of competition. Chains like National Coney Island and Leo’s Coney Island can be found in just about every strip mall in the state. Then, there are the small unheard of Coney joints. The hole in the walls, and well-kept secrets; the types of places even Guy Fieri hasn’t heard of—and it was inside a place like this, about twenty-five minutes outside of the city, that I found Detroit’s best Coney.

Pontiac’s ‘Bob E.’s Super Chief’ holds a special place in my heart. It’s like that indie song you found a year before it started getting plays on the radio. I’m torn between wanting to tell the world about it, and wanting it all for myself. But enough is enough; people have to know about this place. It’s small, fitting maybe fifty people at its maximum capacity. The ambiance is rustic and old fashion—a very nostalgic feel, how it would look if your Grandma were to open her own diner. It feels a lot like home, and the staff always goes out of their way to make you feel like family. However, it’s not the outstanding service or feng shui that makes Super Chief the Top Dog—it’s their Coney. That Coney and its delicious, grilled, buttery bun. Food Porn is an appropriate name. Hold photographs of their buns next to Nikki’s and see which set really make you salivate. The grilled bun adds a satisfying crunch to start and end each bite in ecstasy.

What else separates Super Chief from its competitors? About six inches. Super Chief specializes in footlongs—the perfect solution to their problem of people devouring their product so quickly. I went today and ordered two. After I finished, another pair didn’t sound too bad. They’re so good they always leave you wanting more. Well, except for that time, inspired by Adam Richman, I boldly proclaimed that I could eat six footlongs in a sitting—so my dad took me up on it. Turns out once you get around four, they lose a lot of appeal.

You can never have just one...

You can never have just one…

If you’re in Detroit and looking for a quick and easy fix, it won’t be hard to find somewhere to chowdown. But if you’re looking for the best Coney around, take the trip to Bob E.’s Super Chief on Walton Road in Pontiac. Make a day of it; turn it into a Harold and Kumar type road trip—a journey to get Super Chief’d.

Bob E.'s Super Chief on Walton Rd. in Pontiac

Bob E.’s Super Chief on Walton Rd. in Pontiac