Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Detroit Lions foibles

It turned out Andrew Luck and the Indy Colts aren't very good this year. So the Lions' Week One victory over them on the road should be taken with a grain of salt. True, a win beats the heck out of a loss, but it was nothing to get excited about in Motown. Nonetheless, the ever-present Detroit sappies were back on the bandwagon. Here we go, they crowed. This is the year.

Um, no, it's not.

The following week the Lions were back home and bumbled their way to a loss at the hands of the lowly Tennessee Titans. Thud.

To absolutely no one's surprise, the Lions were beaten again in Green Bay the following week.

Well OK, 1-2 is manageable and with the Chicago Bears on deck, maybe the puddytats could get back on track. After all, the Lions have owned Da Bears of late.

Then, not so incredibly, the Honolulu blue and silver bunch went into Soldier Field -- and lost. To the Bears!! Don't look now, but the Lions are taking on water -- again. Even their normally amiable head coach Jim Caldwell was a bit testy at the post-game presser. Old Jimmy might be seeing the beginning of the end of his tenure in Detroit.

And it doesn't get any easier next week. In fact, it could be downright brutal. The Philadelphia Eagles are coming to town. Whatever new coach Doug Pederson is doing in Philly, it's a whole lotta right. For whatever it matters -- it doesn't -- the Eagles went 4 -0 in the preseason.

Then the games started counting and, somewhat surprisingly, the Eagles have rolled through their first 3 games. Granted, beating the Cleveland Browns 29-10 was no big deal, nor was zapping the same Chicago Bears at the same Soldier Field the following week 29-14 particularly notable.

But trashing the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3 in Week Three was an eye-opener. Maybe these guys, with rookie QB Carson Wentz, really are pretty good.

To boot, while the Lions head back home after another loss, the Eagles had a bye week. Extra time for their players to rest three weeks worth of bumps and bruises and study/prepare for the upcoming game in Detroit.

If the Lions slip to 1-4, entirely possible, if not probable -- they can just about pack it in for another season. That would surprise few outside the Detroit area. Most pundits, including the gurus at Sports Illustrated, predicted the Lions would go 5-11, maybe 6-10.

Yet talking with hard-core Lions fans (are there any other kind?) one came away with an entirely different impression. Their heros would surely soar to 11-5, maybe 12-4 with a break here or there. It's somewhere between sad and laughable how gullible these people are. They keep falling for the same hype year after year. Chugging the koolaid the Lions and their media boosters foist upon them.

They're going to win. They're going to win. They're going to win. But they never do. Season after season go by, but the results are always the same. Delusional pre-season expectations. Then there's hope throughout the campaign. Right up until another year officially goes poof. Up in smoke.

It's almost mind-boggling how the Detroit faithful could think the team would be somehow better without the services of the recently retired Calvin Johnson. Hey, they were 7-9 last year and lost their best player. The Lions didn't sign any major impact free agents during the off season -- mostly cast-offs other teams didn't want to overpay for. Nor did they make a big splash in the draft.

So how in the hell do they expect to improve on last season? It defies logic.

Sure, strange things can happen in the NFL and sometimes do. The Lions could go on an improbable run. Given a few breaks, questionable calls going their way, and a rash of injuries to key players on other teams -- and anything's possible.

But left to their usual selves, the Lions are about a C-minus team in the whole scheme of things. Only in Detroit are they perceived as contenders. The koolaid never seems to wear off. Going into the season, people that supposedly know about such things had the Lions ranked around 27th or 28th out of the 32 NFL teams. They got a little bump, maybe up to 24 or so with the win at Indy. But back to back losses to teams like the Titans and Bears will see them tumble right back down, perhaps as low as 30th. Surely, they're better than the Browns and 49ers -- right?

Yep, it could be another long year for the puddytats. Given the level of play they've shown so far, and Jim Caldwell's past track record as a head coach -- not good -- it is difficult to imagine otherwise.

Yet there are still those poor lost souls wandering about Detroit and the suburbs that dare to not only dream of the Super Bowl, but their team actually getting to it and -- gasp!! -- being victorious. Obviously, they are in need of some kind of intensive psychotherapy. They're nuttier than the Planters factory.

It really is a shame. Calvin Megatron Johnson played his heart out for a decade but never tasted a single playoff win. It could well be QB Matthew Stafford will hang around for a few more years to suffer the same fate. How long was loose cannon center Dominic Raiola there? Fifteen years? Though I'm not sure stats are kept on such things, Raiola was likely the losingest player in the history of the NFL.

It's hard to believe, given the parity the league strives for, that the Lions haven't won a playoff game since Bill Clinton was about to start his FIRST term as President. And only one since Super Bowls started over 50 -- count-em -- FIFTY years ago.

Looked at that way, 1-3, likely to soon be 1-4 seems just about right.

They may be a lot of things, but after all, they're still the Lions.

And it's just another year.....

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