Ouch, that hurt.
As “glove-gate” came to a merciful end Sunday in Chicago, the droves of Detroit Lions fans jumping off the bandwagon could literally be heard. Not only were the Lions humiliated in Chicago, but they’ve been once again villified by the national media following their 37-13 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Some of the dirty play criticism is deserved (it takes two to Tango, I’m looking at you Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers) and all of the horrible play criticism is deserved, but the reality of the situation is the Detroit Lions are still 6-3. They’ve won or been extremly close to winning every game this season until yesterday, when perhaps overconfidence and underpreparedness combined with panic to produce a result that shouldn’t have looked like it did. They’ve got three very winnable games on their schedule (Panthers, Vikings and Chargers, all at home), a toss up game (Raiders) and three extremely tough games (two vs. the Packers and one vs the Saints). How they respond will be a direct reflection of the coaching staff’s ability to adjust and the player’s propensity for short term memory. The team responded resoundingly in Denver (against a suddenly not that crappy team) and there’s no reason to believe that they won’t again this week against an inferior Panthers team at home.
Are they chippy? Yes. Are they dirty? Maybe. Is Matt Stafford the reincarnation of Joey Harrington? Definitely not. The guy had a horrible, horrible game. He played well on the first two drives, before fumbles and poor coaching decisions built a 20 hole deficit, making the team completely one dimensional in terrible climates. A recipe for disaster. Yes, he should have played better but it is just one abysmal performance. With that he joined Tom Brady (vs. Buffalo), Drew Brees (vs. TB) and Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Baltimore) as quarterbacks with an awful game this year. To say that it’s time to start to look for a replacement for a guy who has 20 TDs, 8 INTs and 2,500 yards through 9 games is ludicrous. Ask people in Cleveland, Miami, Kansas City, Seattle, etc., etc. if they would take him for their franchise QB. Matt Stafford isn’t going anywhere, he is the franchise. Deal with it.
The true test will be how the Lions respond this weekend. They should demolish the Panthers setting up a chance for retribution on a national stage next Thursday vs. the Packers in the annual Thanksgiving game. Beat the Pathers and the Lions solidfy their strong playoff chances, beat the Packers and watch the bangwagon fill right back up.