Bad career move #1. Remember Susan Stafford? She thought the TV game show she was on had no future so she quit it to look for greener pastures. Ms. Staffford was promptly replaced by somebody named Vanna White on the Wheel of Fortune over 30 years ago. Bad move Susie. REALLY bad move.
[Idle trivia: Though they make her up to look much younger, Vanna is now 58 years old. Host Pat Sajak is closing in on 69. Surprised? The show that follows them features Alex Trebek on Jeopardy! He looks to be fiftyish, right? Guess again. The Canadian that likes to show off his fluent French is actually 75. Who would have thunk it?]
The Detroit Lions training camp will start shortly and the hype is already in full swing. The club itself, the beat writers that cover them, local talking sports heads, and certainly the latest generation of long-suffering fans have jumped on the bandwagon. Again. BTW, though the Lions haven't even so much as won a playoff game in over 20 years, the ticket prices just went up. Again. And the ever-hopeful, if horribly misguided, Honolulu blue and silver faithful will gladly reach a little deeper into their wallets to see the "show". Phineas Taylor Barnum had it exactly right. There's one born every minute.
The usual koolaiders think the Lions will build on their 11-5 record of last year and be even better. Somewhere P. T. smiles, and for good reasons. Here's a few:
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been hailed in Detroit as some kind of super-hero. Yet most experts have Stafford in the middle of the pack regarding all NFL starting QBs. Yes, he has thrown for a lot of yardage, mostly to Calvin Johnson -- due to the lack of a viable running game -- but he's also prone to making many poor decisions in the pocket. Hanging on to the ball too long has resulted in a lot of sacks. True, he seems to have outgrown his former personna as a "china doll" -- where every time he got hit something broke -- but it's likely not a good idea for the Georgia peach to keep tempting fate. The ferocious on-rushing behemoths on other defenses couldn't care less about Stafford's status in Detroit. They'd just as soon break him into a million pieces. And they might, because....
Of the Lions offensive line. Glass half-fullers will say it's a "new-look" unit. Realists could counter with the fact the Lions don't even know who's playing what position yet, let alone have any cohesiveness that can only come after playing many games together. And that's assuming they possess enough talent in the first place -- hardly a given.
Bad career move #2. Golden Tate. After winning a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks, Tate decided to leave the gorgeous city of Seattle and come to the crime-ridden wasteland that is Detroit. The Seahawks came within a whisker of winning another Super Bowl 6 months ago and will likely be formidable contenders in the near future. They just added All-World tight end/receiver Jimmy Graham (formerly of the New Orleans Saints) to their arsenal. Nobody would be a bit surprised if the S-Hawks get right back to the Super Bowl again. To go to Detroit? The only non-expansion team -- and one of only four total -- to have never even reached the Super Bowl, let alone win it? To boot, the Lions are a long shot to win their own division, let alone contend for the Lombardi trophy any year soon. Granted, Tate came out of Notre Dame and delusions of grandeur have long been ingrained as a way of life at the college of leprechauns, but what could he possibly have been thinking of once in the NFL? Bad move Golden. Definitely. You won't find any pot-o-gold at the end of the rainbow in Motown. If there ever was one, it was stolen and fenced decades ago.
Some say the Lions won't miss the presence of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley from their defensive line. They should ease off on the crack pipe. While both players had behavioral issues, there is little doubt they were highly effective on the field. You can't just take a couple cast-offs from other teams and plug them into these spots and expect the same productivity. Ain't gonna happen.
The Detroit brood is already trumpeting the arrival of Ameer Abdullah as their next great running back. Hey, the dude was a second round pick out of Nebraska. Maybe he makes a successful jump to the NFL -- and maybe not. The Cornhuskers have long been known for their rushing game behind gigantic offensive lines. The Lions are known for being pass-happy, and their O-line is yet to be determined. BTW again, didn't the same hypsters tout the arrival of Reggie Bush a few years back the same way? He was supposed to be the GUY. How did that work out?
Despite the usual hype, time for a reality check. In 2013 the Lions were terrible. That led to the firing of head coach Jim Schwartz. But because they were so bad, they were handed a patsy schedule in 2014. As we know, they would go 11-5 and lose their opening round playoff game. Again.
But here's the thing. In their own division, the only good team the Lions faced was the Green Bay Packers. Of the ten remaining games, only two were against high caliber opponents. The Lions predictably got blitzed by New England, and lost at Arizona, even though their starting QB Carson Palmer had gone down with a season-ending injury the week before and the Cards had to throw a second-string QB into the fire for his first time all year.
Besides other improbable comebacks where they caught every break imaginable, the Lions won in London against the Atlanta Falcons on a last second penalty against THEMSELVES. Has that ever even happened before?
But they made the playoffs so the league has upgraded their 2015 schedule accordingly. The Lions will be playing in Monday and Thursday night nationally televised games. Just one problem. The gauntlet they will face. Look at it...
How many patsies do you see in that schedule? Maybe the Raiders. The Lions typically don't fare well out west and the Chargers remain pretty good. Forget about the Seahawk game.
Adrian Petersen will be back with the Vikes and QB Teddy Bridgewater has a year of experience under his belt. Not automatics by any means.
The Lions get the Cardinals at Ford Field, but this time Carson Palmer will likely be playing. And the Cards aren't too shabby throughout the rest of their roster either.
The Bears have a new coach in John Fox. He wasn't good enough in Denver, but they have much higher standards than Detroit. Yet he's won wherever he's been.
The Rams and Saints could probably be considered "average", but both those games are on the road.
Hard telling what Chip Kelly is up to in Philly. Is he a mad genius or an idiot for his salary dumps while retooling the roster? Time will tell.
The 49ers have been gutted, so they appear to be the weakest link.
Bottom line? Lions fan have it right. Things will be different than the 11-5 record they posted last year. And being featured on national television will give the whole country several chances to watch them.
But given their unsettled offensive line, loss of a couple brute D-linemen, a secondary that seemingly remains forever in flux, an average linebacker corps, and a brand new untested feature running back, the thought here is the Lions may do well to go 8-8 in 2015. Playoffs? Maybe, if everything goes right. Super Bowl? Not a chance. A good thing is they have a lot of tight ends. Pity none of them is a complete player. One can't catch. Another can't block. It's always something.
Besides, the koolaiders keep saying head coach Jim Caldwell has "changed the attitude" of the team. Perhaps. But look at his history. He's done well as a coordinator under other successful head coaches on other teams, but crashed and burned when finally put in charge. Typically in his second season at the helm.
This will be his sophomore year in Detroit.
We shall see.
Bad career move #3. A multiple tie. There's Lance Armstrong's tell-all interview with Oprah. The whole Bruce/Caitlyn thing -- from Wheaties to Fruit Loops. And, of course, my boss (editor) ever thinking I would become a decent writer when he signed me up in the first place to write this nonsense.