Detroit Lions – A Model for Mediocrity

Lion Confused

So the Lions are now 0-3 and have less than a 2% chance of getting into the playoffs.

No big loss there, they haven’t won in the playoffs in 24 years, why the heck should we expect anymore?

Back on September 12, I wrote an article Detroit Lions – I Gotta Believe.  Looking back on it, I think I spoke to soon.

The Detroit Lions, over their entire 84 year history (and I am including the fours they were the Portsmouth Spartans) have a winning percentage of .459.

Now there were some fantastic years, like the six year run they had from 1952 to 1957, getting the NFL Championship game four times and winning it three…all before I was born.  To put that into perspective, I am 57 years old…and this team has never won a championship, literally, in my lifetime.

The most recent success of any length of time was from 1991 to 1999 where in that nine year span, they made the playoffs six times and only winning once….and they didn’t get back to the playoffs until 2011, 12 years later.

And now after this 0-3 start, I have little faith they will even 5 games this year.

But you know what?  I don’t place the entire blame on the players or the coaching staff…sure, they can do better and there is talent there.  What isn’t there is an intangible thing…I believe what this team is missing is “heart.”

With the exception of a very few players (Calvin Johnson, Joique Bell, Golden Tate and DeAndre Levy), most of these guys are just really good technicians and will rarely stretch themselves to do as much as they can to help the team.

Where it really boils down to is the management team of the Detroit Lions.  Yes, I’m talking about you Martin Mayhew…and you Tom Lewand and yes, even you Mr. William Clay Ford, Jr.

These guys, since Matt Millen was shown the door in 2008, have said all the right things…but have done little to back it up…and have even done less to get this team where it needs to be.  They have made poor choices in coaches…poor choices in draft picks….poor choices in free agents.

The numbers back me up.  I chose eight teams that I believe that have  been the most consistent performers over the past decade.  Below will be the team, the average number of wins from 2004 to 2014 and the winning percentage during that time:

NFL Team Comparison

 

As much as I despise the New England Patriots, there is no one that can deny the success they have had over the past decade.  Bill Belichick, for as grumpy and ornery as he is, is a freakin genius when it comes to out-thinking and out-coaching opponents.

The Green Bay Packers have done some remarkable things in the past 10 years and they got themselves a great quarterback in Aaron Rodgers and found the players that will jump in front of a truck for him.  And he replaced a pretty good QB in his time, Brett Favre.

The Detroit Lions ownership, such as it is, needs to bring someone in that is on the level of a Bill Belichick or Packer GM Ted Thompson and give him free reign to tear down this team and build it into a sustainable, successful team.

There is blame on the current coaching staff that can be spread around as well.  Jim Caldwell, despite his record, inherited a Tony Dungy team that went to the Super Bowl in 2010 while head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.  After Peyton Manning got hurt, he could do no better than 2-14 in 2011 and was fired after the season.

His stint with the Baltimore Ravens, while successful as the quarterbacks coach in 2012 and then as offensive coordinator in 2013 where he earned a Super Bowl ring, could be construed as that he is a great assistant but when sitting in the big chair, he has little to offer.

As for our franchise quarterback, Matthew Stafford?  I have to admit, when the Lions drafted him, I was sure it was the second coming of Bobby Layne.  But any passion that Stafford had has been coached out of him by Caldwell and staff.  He has no guts, no drive and certainly doesn’t have the heart to lead this team.  He is a technician, much like Jeff George was.  Stafford isn’t nearly the jerk that George was but there are similarities between the two.  I’m sure you can find them if you look hard enough.

There is more wrong with the Lions than right…and if they don’t look back at their own dismal history and learn from it, this team will never be any better than mediocre…and I think I am being generous with that.

I’ll still watch and I’ll still cheer…why you ask?  I grew up in Detroit, I was born there so it’s coded into my DNA…and you just can’t fight Mother Nature.

 

Detroit Lions – I Gotta Believe!

Roaring Lion

The most wonderful time of the year?  It ain’t Christmas baby…it’s the start of a new NFL season!

And yet another hopeful and optimistic start for my hometown Detroit Lions.

There have been a lot of changes to the Lions, most notably the departure of Ndamukong Suh to the Miami Dolphins.  While I was sad to see him go since he was such a disruption on the defensive line, part of me thinks his leaving will be a good thing in the long run.

Also gone are fellow defensive tackler Nick Fairley, running back Reggie Bush and offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds.

Its too bad Reggie Bush didn’t pan out with the Lions as we all hoped he would.  He showed flashes of brilliance during his time here but injuries caught up with him and he was never able to bring consistency to the running game.

New additions are defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to replace Suh as well as three other defensive tackles Corey Wooten, Tyrunn Walker and rookie Gabe Wright.  Rookie CB Alex Carter comes in to the secondary with some high expectations.

On the offensive side of the ball to help Stafford is highly touted rookie running back Ameer Abdullah who, along with Joique Bell, should give the running game some credibility.

To bolster the offensive line, Manny Ramirez comes back to the Lions after four years with the Denver Broncos along with rookie Laken Tomlinson.  The O-Line showed some promise in the run game during the pre-season.  As for protection in the passing game, I think once the O-line gels, they will be OK.  That and along with the work that Stafford has done to get rid of the ball quicker should help mitigate the sacks.

Lions have two legitimate Pro Bowl wide receivers right now, the incredible Calvin Johnson as well as the tough Golden Tate.  With Lance Moore coming on to give even more veteran savvy, I don’t see any issues there…just need to stay healthy!

How Brandon Pettigrew stays on this team is beyond me.  But he must be doing something right.  He is a good blocking tight end and has had some good receiving games but not really someone you can count on in the clutch.  I think Stafford will look more toward Eric Ebron in clutch situations.

In most of the pre-season predictions, I have seen the Lions having a single digit win season, anywhere from 6-10 to 9-7.  My gut tells me that the Lions could be the surprise team in the NFL this year and the win total could go as high as 12 games.

Key games:

10/5, Monday night in Seattle – Huge test in a very hostile environment.  I don’t think they can have the talent to pull it off here but I do believe they play the Hawks very tough.  Why have this as a key game?  It prepares them for going into Lambeau to get that fricking monkey off their backs.

10/25, at home against Minnesota –  Despite the Vikings 7-9 finish last year, many pundits have them vaulting over the Lions to a double digit win season this year.  Yes, I know that AP is back but historically, the Lions have contained him pretty well.

11/15, at Green Bay – It has been nearly a quarter century since the Lions posted a victory at Lambeau.  If the Lions want to have any shot at getting by the Packers, they need to sweep them and a victory here would give them momentum to have back to back playoff appearances for the first time since the 1990’s.

11/26, Thanksgiving Day at home against Philadelphia – Turkey Day is always key.  And it isn’t going to be easy against the fast-paced, Chip Kelly offense.  Lions have to take care of business at home and a win on Thanksgiving always gives us Detroit Lions fans a better Thanksgiving, right?

As for the playoffs, when the Lions get there, I see them getting to the NFC conference game against the Seahawks.  And unfortunately, that’s where the run will end but this will cap off a great season and hopefully build for 2017.  If this nuclease can stay in place, then the Lions are in the Super Bowl next year.

Here is to a great season!