Midway through the season and the Motor City is abandoning the ship. And not just on this season, but everyone involved in the organization…be careful what you ask for. So let’s discuss what we have learned from the 1-7 Lions so far
1. Making changes now won’t make a change now
Both Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew are on the hottest seat possible right now. Their decisions regarding draft picks and free agency have always been under scrutiny especially since not one player from the 2011 draft is currently on the roster and the heart and soul of the top ranked defense last year is in Miami. The rope connecting the hopes and dreams of fans and the management who makes the moves is frayed. Changing the decisions makers will only make the disdain grow while the infamous reset button is hit. The perennial battle between the known vs. the unknown of new management is an all too familiar experience for fans and at this point no one knows which side is winning. The release of Joe Lombardi and rumored trades may give them potential future talent, but unless the right players are picked and developed, its a waste. It would take a miraculous finish to this season to calm the natives, but this story is like a song on repeat and the fans are sick and tired of hearing it and it’s downright annoying.
2. Matt Stafford is who he is
Love him or hate him Matt Stafford is currently the QB for the Lions. He is consistently inconsistent in numerous areas, but he hasn’t developed over time. Some of his lack of development is his own and others are the organization. As a QB, you have to work on evolving yourself and making improvements on reads, mobility, and overall leadership. The organization has done itself and Stafford a major disservice by not providing any level of competition in the form of a backup. His weapons are adequate enough to be productive enough to lead his team to a .500 record. No excuses, he has to get better, but it likely won’t happen in Detroit. Stafford isn’t the china doll people once believed he was, but he will never live up to being the #1 overall selection.
3. Jim Caldwell’s demeanor may be his downfall
The silent and cryptic approach that Jim Caldwell takes in handling his team is hard to swallow for the long-suffering franchise and Super Bowl hungry fanbase. Basically, the polar opposite of Jim Swartz’s animated antics, who’s approach was laughable even comical at times, Caldwell is in a lose-lose situation. He was hired by a management team desperate to build upon the little success they had and to remove themselves from the most horrible professional sports management team in sports history, The Millen Era. The only way the fans, media, and pundits will give him a break is if he admits he has failed in this current season and they are correct and he is wrong while winning. The discontent in Detroit could cost him his job, but I applaud him for being who he is; good, bad or indifferent.
4. The Offensive Line is the Weakest Link
The retirement of Dominic Raolia and cutting of Rob Sims the O-Line was supposed to be revamped with some new blood. That blood at this point seems to be tainted and spreading a toxic non-blocking disease. The biggest issue with the line is the mass confusion that occurs once the defense starts to shift, it’s like the “fire” call on a punt when everyone is running around trying to avoid the ball. The reads being called by the center Travis Swanson must be in a foreign language because it appears that everyone is saying “What?!?!” as the ball is being snapped. At this point it doesn’t matter id its zone blocking or power blocking a fine system needs to be in place for every play you don’t at least touch a defender and double if you block and miss. This unit should be much further along than what they are showing at this point in the season. Hopefully, pride will rise up in someone to feel bad about allowing Matt Stafford being sacked 22 times and hit too numerous times to recall. A leader must emerge from this group or the revamp will become a total rebuild.
5. Fans, no the sky is not Falling
Most fans are sick and tired or being sick and tired of the Same Old Lions way of life. There should never be any complaints about fans complaining about this franchise. Whether it be a freak of nature, an ill-advised draft pick or hiring or just flat out boneheaded decisions; you name it, the Lions have done it. In the minds of most the team is under the curse of Bobby Layne, who infamously cursed the team for 50 years for punishment for trading him to the Steelers. With all that being said that 1957 season was the last time the franchise saw a championship. Fifty-Eight years is a long time to drive a team into the ground and surely firing everyone this year won’t begin to repair all the damage done, but it’ll make you feel good, or at least you think it will. Imagine having a new owner, President, GM, Head Coach and Quarterback; with so many new moving parts fans would have no idea what to expect. It would be guaranteed at the first sign of struggle the SOL gene which some fans acquired genetically would kick in and would just direct all the years of pain at the new regime. The only two ways to truly show your true displeasure with the team is to:
1- Truly Become Lions-Free
The only way to truly become Lions free is to become numb to everything they do, good bad or indifferent. The joy, pain or turmoil created by weekly results will drive you closer to the source of the problem. Find a new team to follow or just become a fan of the NFL in general. Rooting for a new team, say a winning team, will at least give you the thrill of a playoff run much more frequently. As an NFL fan, you can root for players versus teams and will never be disappointed. There are certain traps by going this route, though. Last year, for instance, could suck you back into the fold and make you even more enraged than before. Also, change can invoke similar feelings of a renaissance of the franchise only to have your hopes dashed in Season 2. If you could manage to succeed at this I’m sure your overall health will improve and your disposition on life will greatly improve.
2- Do not support the team Financially
This truly is the only way you truly can make a difference that affects the ownership. Going to the game with a bag on your head or a sign voicing your displeasure is like boycotting McDonald’s while eating a Big Mac. With the TV blackouts automatically lifted According to Forbes, the Lions have increased revenue almost 178% to a whopping $298,000,000 since 2006. The Lions Den is always rocking yet no one is happy. Watching the game on TV will cost you nothing, but will force ownership to either make the necessary changes or sell the team to let it be someone else’s problem. You hold the power, now the question is will you use it to inevitably make your team better or just take what they give you?
At this point we know the overall grade for the team in all facets would be an F. But just like in class when you receive your midterm grade either you are reminded to continue the good work you have already done or to change your mode of operandum to receive the grade you deserve. The second half of the season will be very interesting to watch to see if the leadership steps up and make the necessary changes, no matter how difficult they are.