Detroit Lions – Wins At Home Must Be A Priority

So far for the 2018 season, the Detroit Lions have been, historically, what they have always been:  A team on the cusp of greatness filled with doubt and unwarranted cockiness that leaves them no better than a .500 team.

Let’s talk about the ability (or in this case, the inability) of the Lions winning at home.  There is a lot of doubt that if the Lions ever got to the playoffs and played at home, that they would actually win.  As we all know, the last time the Lions won a playoff game was in 1991, ironically, a home win over the Dallas Cowboys.  After that, Lions played 9 playoff games on the road and lost all of them.

I’ve chosen two other teams to use for comparison, both of which stress the importance of protecting the home turf.  And I’m pretty sure no one is surprised in the teams:  Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots.

I am going to use 3 spans of time, the longest being 28 years and the shortest being 5 years.  I’ve chosen from 1990 to 2017 for the longest amount of time…and no, there is no other reason other than I wanted to start in the 1990’s.

28 years – 1990 to 2017

From 1990 to 2017, the Lions posted a 117-107 record at home, a winning percentage of 0.522.  Being a .500 team at home isn’t going to get a team into the playoffs all that often.  And the 8 years they made the playoffs in that time proves that.

The Green Bay Packers posted a 161-62 home record, a winning percentage of .722.  They averaged, over the 28 years, 6-2 at home.  No wonder they have 19 playoff appearances in 28 years.

New England?  Almost as good as the Pack over that time span, putting up a 155-69 home record with a winning percentage of .692.

The crux of this is that because the Lions are just above .500 for the home games and because they are at .299 on the road, they have averaged a record of 7-9 over 28 years.  While the Packers and Patriots who win at least 5 and 6 games a year at home respectively, their records are guaranteed to be 10-6 and 11-5 overall.

10 years – 2008 to 2017

The Lions, if anything, are at least consistent.  However, over the past 10 seasons, the Lions posted a 38-42 home record.  Most of that can be attributed to the winless 2008 season as well as the 2-14 season that followed.  But again, Lions averaged a 4-4 home record and a 3-5 road record to be a 7-9 team.

Packers made the playoffs in 8 out of the 10 years because of a 59-20 home record.  They were barley above .500 on the road but that’s what you expect.  In this 10 year sample, the Packers average an 11-5 overall record…yep, that will get you into the playoffs just about every year.

As for the Patriots, it didn’t really matter if they were home or away.  Posting a 68-12 home record to go along with a 59-21 away record, they made the playoffs 10 out of 10 times due to an average record of 13-3.  But to lose only 1-2 games a year at home in 10 years shows what a premium that Bill Belichick emphasis on protecting the home turf.

5 years – 2013 to 2017

The last 5 years have been better for the Lions.  In that time period, they have averaged and overall record of 9-7, getting to the playoffs twice.  In 2014, the Lions did a great job in winning at home, posting a 7-1 record and going 4-4 on the road to accomplish an 11-5 record.  Unfortunately, the Packers went 12-4 to take the division and the Lions played in the Wildcard game at Dallas, losing 24-20.  In 2016, the Lions went 6-2 at home  but only 3-5 on the road but still snuck into the playoffs, again losing this time to the Seattle Seahawks 26-6.  But they protected the home turf well and got there which is all we can hope for, right?

The Packers have won at nearly a .700 clip over the past 5 seasons, making the playoffs 4 times.  They have been basically a .500 team on the road but doing well posting a 27-12 record.

The Patriots?  Win/Loss Record average at home:  7-1.  Win/Loss Record average away:  6-2.  It’s hard not to make the playoffs when your team goes 13-3 every year.

Both Green Bay and New England put a premium on winning at home.  And their respective successes proves that winning at home gives them a much better chance to make the playoffs on a consistent basis than going 4-4 at home every year.

Now we can sit here and bring up all of the bad drafts the Lions have had and the fact that neither Green Bay or New England ever had a bad GM as Matt Millen.  But much of the bad decisions made were as a result of the ownership hiring second rate GM’s, Head Coaches and Scouting personnel.  Both the Green Bay and New England had their seasons of crappiness.  There was a stretch from 1972 to 1992 the Pack made the playoffs only twice.  And New England had a stretch from 1971 to 1995 that was almost Lionesque with few double digit win seasons and sporadic playoff appearances.

The Packers righted the ship by hiring Mike Holmgren in 1992.  And in his 6 years, he got the Packers in the playoffs 5 times, putting them in the Super Bowl twice and winning one of them.  He and Ron Wolf made a great team.

As for the Patriots, they did make two Super Bowl appearances prior to the Belichick.  The first was in 1985 and were blown out by Mike Ditka’s Chicago Bears 46-10. Bill Parcels got the Pats to Super Bowl 31 and lost to Holmgren’s Packers 35-21 in 1996.  But in 2000, Tom Kraft brought in Bill Belichick and gave him near complete control of all football operations.  Scott Pelosi was the GM up until 2009 but all final decisions were left to Belichick.

The Lions hire Bob Quinn away from the in 2016, one of the first moves made by Martha Ford since her husband Bill Ford, Sr. passed away in 2014.  In turn, despite Jim Caldwell’s limited success in his 4 years, Quinn hired Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to his first head coaching job in the NFL.  Let’s hope that this combination brings up the talent and skill level across the organization to one that Lions fans have been so desperately wanting since the 1960’s.

Oh, and those wanting Matthew Stafford’s head on a platter?  Let’s cut the nonsense on that right now.

Stafford’s first 9 years in the league compares very favorably with Arron Rodgers first 9 as well as Tom Brady’s first 9.  And just for kicks, since he has been compared to him a lot, I included Brett Farve’s first 9 years

Passing Yards – Average per year

Rodgers – 4,055

Stafford – 3,861

Farve – 3,856

Brady – 3,426

Completion % – Average per year

Rodgers – 65.34

Brady – 63.33

Stafford – 61.4

Farve – 60.91

Touchdowns – Average per year

Rodgers – 31.22

Farve – 28.33

Brady – 25.00

Stafford – 24.00

Interceptions – Average per year

Rodgers – 7.89

Brady – 10.56

Stafford – 13.00

Farve – 16.33

Stafford is right there with all three of these “elite” quarterbacks.  What the other 3 had was consistency at head coach and the GM spots, drafting wisely and making smart free agent signings that gave Rodgers, Brady and Farve the tools they needed to win.  Yes, I know that Stafford had the great Calvin Johnson to throw to but little else.  For most of his career, Stafford didn’t have a running game that was worth a damn, leaky defenses that would give up big plays toward the end of games and just bad play designs that were predictable.

Put Stafford on the Green Bay or New England teams and I think we’d be talking about Stafford in a much different light.  Conversely, put Rodgers or Brady on those Lions teams and we’d be talking about them differently as well.

So I would take Stafford as my starting QB.  But in order to have him be as successful as Rodgers and Brady, let’s give him the same tools as they have had.  Quinn and Patricia are heading that way…I think Patricia needs another year and another draft (another road-grading guard to complement Ragnow)  And while I hate to see Golden Tate go, he was under-utilized and the Lions got a 3rd round pick in 2019 for him in the trade with the Eagles.

Hard choices have to be made…Quinn made his first one in trading Tate.

 

Should The NFL Washington Team Change Their Name?

I know this has been discussed to the nth degree…but I feel that I need to add yet another perspective.

While I am aware that there are other teams in professional sports that refer to Native American heritage, none of them are as disparaging as derogatory as “Redskin.”

For example, in baseball, the teams that refer to Native American heritage are:

Atlanta Braves – While the “Tomahawk chop” is fairly offensive, calling someone a brave isn’t.   The term brave, as used in Indian nomenclature, is an American Indian warrior.  However, the Braves did have their own issues in regards to disparaging Native Americans.  Chief Noc-A-Homa (a play on words of Knock A Homer) was the mascot of the Braves (both in Milwaukee and Atlanta) from the 1950’s until 1986.  While a mascot for the team, he lived in a teepee and came out when the Braves hit a home run.  They also had another mascot name Princess “Win-A-Lotta.”  In 1986, the Braves changed mascots to “Homer” and “Rally.”  The change was an economic one as Levi Walker, Jr., the best known Chief, complained that the Braves didn’t consider him a full-time employee so they didn’t provide any benefits.  The Braves paid him $5,000 and went in a different direction.

Cleveland Indians – Nothing offensive here until you look at the Indians logo, “Chief Wahoo.”  Thankfully, the Indians have announced that the logo will no longer be part of the Cleveland MLB team starting in 2019.  The grinning red-faced Indian is just as offensive as the term “redskin.”  There is little mention of the Indians being offensive to Native Americans…and now Chief Wahoo is on the way out, I’m fairly certain the Indians will be under the radar.

In the NHL:

Chicago Blackhawks – The Blackhawks have long been a target of controversy.  Not based on racial issues but rather concerns of Native Americans being viewed as mascots.  The team, founded in 1926, was actually named in honor of the U.S. 86th Infantry division, nicknamed the “Blackhawk Division,” after “Black Hawk,” an Native American chief.  The controversy hasn’t generated much on a national level since it doesn’t have the allure of an NFL team.

The NBA does not have a team that references any Native American heritage.

The Washington Redskins are perhaps THE most offensive name to all Native Americans.  The term “redskin” is a slang term referring to Native Americans in the United States and Canada.  The use of skin color as a racial identifier to Indians can be traced back to the 17th century.

The use of the word redskin, outside of reference to the Washington Redskins, has pretty much disappeared from common use.   But the use of the term by Washington and many high school and college teams have been a point of controversy.  As such, many high school and collage teams have changed their name to avoid controversy.

Daniel Snyder has opposed any name change to his team.  Back in 2013, in a letter to fans, Snyder stated that while he respects those who are offended by the term, he pointed out that the 81-year team history cannot be ignored.

There have been various polls of Native Americans, some that are vehement in their opinions to have the name changed, and some that show that the name of the team does not offend them.

In 2017, the Supreme Court struck down parts of a law that bans trademarks on offensive remarks that pretty much protected the team from any legal challenges.  In that same year, the Washington Post conducted a thorough survey of Native Americans if the team name was offensive.  Overwhelmingly, the survey showed that Native Americans were not offended by the team name.

As with any issue, there are many sides…and as we all know, we can’t please everyone.  I have read nothing about people of Norwegian descent in an uproar about the Minnesota Vikings nor have I heard of any marches by folks of Irish descent to the Boston Garden over the use of a leprechaun that the Boston Celtics use.

So back to the question:  Should the Washington Redskins change their name?  While it may be offensive to some (including me), surveys done by the National Annenberg Election Survey in 2004 and then again by the Washington Post in 2016 show that Native Americans were “not bothered” by the name.

It is my opinion (for whatever it’s worth) that there are many more important issues to resolve than the team name of an NFL football team.  Let the team have their name…Native Americans aren’t nearly as troubled about it as thought.  I don’t like the name and was never a fan since the Redskins consistently have stood in the way of my Detroit Lions getting a Super Bowl.  Three times (1982, 1991 & 1999) they have thwarted them from advancing in the playoffs.

Forget this issue and lets concentrate on more important things like perhaps treating each other better?  Eliminate bigotry and accept each other for what each of us are: people.

Let’s vote in politicians who actually want to make our lives better and invoke what their constituents want rather than what special interest groups with deep pockets want.

My name is Jim Dunn (aka The Beer Thinker) and I approve this message.