Well OK. Pre-season games aren't supposed to matter. Indeed, when the Lions became the only team in NFL history to chalk up a 0-16 record back in 2008, they had gone 4-0 in the pre-season. So much for the "practice" games.
Nevertheless, all the mini-camps and organized team activities, and especially the pre-season games, are supposed to be about a team coming together as a well-oiled machine when the regular season starts.
Granted, the first couple exhibition games can pretty well be ignored. They typically feature few of the players that will start the regular season --for more than a few plays -- and are more about taking a look at a lot of players that likely won't be around in September. But you never know. Every once in a while a long-shot impresses the coaches enough to eventually make the team.
The Lions opened the pre-season at home against the usually hapless Cleveland Browns, and barely squeezed out a victory. Then on to Oakland. The Raiders are a mess, but they found a way to beat the Lions. Back home for the Honolulu blue and silver crew for pre-season game 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Though it's only pre-season, could the Lions schedule have been any patsier? Good grief. Who's up next? The Campfire Girls from Trinidad and Tobago? Actually, it's the Buffalo Bills. Pretty much the same..... hmmm....nevermind.
But historically the third pre-season game is when NFL teams come closest to playing for real. Their projected starters will typically play at least the entire first half, and the kid gloves come off -- somewhat.
In that respect -- against the Jags -- Detroit appeared to be, well, the same old Lions. Despite their supposed "high-powered offense", Matthew Stafford and company would manage to score only 7 points.
New coach Jim Caldwell and his staff have instituted new systems for the Lions. Alas, it seems JC and his minions, like all their predecessors, remain incapable of solving the age-old Detroit Lions' enigma. This is sometimes referred to as the Bonehead Syndrome.
Typical symptoms include false-starts, illegal procedures, holding penalties, a few fumbles, and an occasional late hit and/or personal foul. Particularly by a certain goonish defensive tackle that has a long history of such. All were on display against Jacksonville.
Yet despite their pitiful play, the hapless Lions managed to scrape out a late win against the even more hapless Jags. It was difficult to determine which team looked sorrier. Both stunk it up -- big time.
On a related note -- Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson saw his first action of the year. Supposedly, the Lions held him out of the first two games to keep him healthy. Say what? Hey, this is NFL, not tea and crumpets in a china shop. If the Megatron is that Megafragile, then something's wrong. He's a wide receiver, not Queen Elizabeth. He's supposed to be out there getting his reps with the rest of them.
Yours truly LOLed at something the "homer" announcers said on the air. Johnson had a major impact on the game. Really? He caught two passes for a grand total of 27 yards. That didn't exactly fall into the shock and awe category.
Come the regular season, we'll see. Other than their mandatory 6 division games, the NFL has handed the Lions about the easiest schedule possible. It's almost like even the league offices want them to win something -- anything -- finally.
But they better bring a whole lot more to the table from September through December than what they've shown so far. Their first order of business should be exorcising the demons of the Bonehead Syndrome. Easier said than done. Though the bodies have changed, tt appears ingrained in the soul of this franchise. Part of their spiritual DNA.
Or they can forget about playing into January. Ah heck. It's only been 50 years. What's one more?