A Lions fan conundrum: I want to believe, yet I can’t believe

What in the Sam Hill is going on in Detroit? Maybe the better question is, what’s in the water at the Lions’ Allen Park HQ causing the beat writers to…Hell, just read what they’re saying.

Mike O’Hara in the News:

When the 2008 schedule was released, I wrote the Lions could win nine games. It wasn’t a prediction, just a somewhat humorous way of showing how a 9-7 season was possible.

From what I’ve seen so far, I was wrong. The Lions will win nine games, maybe more. They’re super fast on defense, they will build a running game, protect the quarterback and have talent at wide receiver. I say 9-7 is the standard. Whether that earns a playoff spot remains to be seen, but this team will not fall apart, unless shredded by injuries.

Nick Consonika in the Freep:

They look better. They look good. To the naked eye, the first two exhibitions have given the Lions reasons to be cautiously optimistic after seven straight losing seasons — from Calvin Johnson’s dominance, to the commitment to the run, to the speed on defense, to Drew Stanton’s development.

The Lions win their first 2 exhibition games, and suddenly I’m reading they’ll win 9 games or more this season?  Admittedly, they have looked good. As good as they’ve looked in several seasons. But need I remind you this is the Detroit Lions, whose only reason for existence is to break our hearts…over and over and over again.

It tastes like sadness…

Despite the media lapping up the cornbread and drinking the Kool-Aid, there are genuine reasons to be enthused about this coming season. I’m honestly encouraged by what I’ve seen from the Lions up to this point.

The offense has thrown the ball extremely well, Jon Kitna has never looked this sharp. Calvin Johnson is apparently poised to have a breakout season. The offensive line is no longer sieve-like. The rebuilt on the fly defensive backfield looks much improved. The defense, as a whole, has been fast and opportunistic, allowing a stingy 10 PPG. The kicking game, with Jason Hanson and Nick Harris, is excellent. As a result, Rod Marinelli has the Lions at 2-0.

But it’s not all happiness and light in Lions-land. The talk of 9+ wins is glossing over some long-lingering issues.

Special teams have met my low expectations – they’ve been lousy. The running game has been spotty, to be generous. The offensive line may no longer be a sieve, but it’s still far from being a strength. Behind Kevin Smith, the running back depth is paper thin. The coaching staff still doesn’t know which linebackers are playing where. They are one player deep at several positions (QB, RB, CB, LB), a couple of lengthy injuries at those positions could quickly derail the entire season. The Lions may be 2-0, but 2-0 means less than nothing when it is the EXHIBITION season.

You don’t know how much I soooo want to believe…

I want to believe in Rod Marinelli and the Lions. But I bought into them last year during the 6-2 start, and my faith was repaid with a soul-crushing, spirit-killing collapse of epic proportions. I just can’t let a 1-7 finish go. Or the 6 fugly seasons previous. Or the struggles of the past 50 years, crushing the hopes of generation after generation of Lions fans.

I can’t forget the Lions are run by a moronic GM with a record of ineptness that will never be equaled.  They are owned by a richer than sin octogenarian more concerned with his GM being a fun dinner companion than competent to run an NFL franchise.

I’m sorry, but as much as I’d like to hop on the Lions’ bandwagon, 50 years of pain override 2 exhibition victories. Call me a realist. Sure, 9 or 10 wins aren’t out of the question, but neither are 9 or 10 losses. I said 7-9 would be Detroit’s record in my Yardbarker preview, and I’m sticking to it.

I need to see regular season results before I can allow myself to be sucked in (again), thinking the Lions can make a playoff run. I want to believe, but I don’t want to be emotionally crushed again, either.

I may be a cynical SOB, but it’s the Detroit Lions who made me that way.

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