What a difference a year makes. Last year the Detroit Lions were the darlings of the NFL, sporting a gaudy 5-0 record and strutting around like the only rooster on the farm. They were so confident I kept referring to them as “team swag.” They made an unbelievable comeback against the Dallas Cowboys, and blew out the Bears in their first appearance on Monday Night Football in 10 years, and would use that 5-0 start to vault themselves into the playoffs for the first time this century. They were the hottest team in the NFL. So hot that Leno and Letterman started making jokes about how GOOD they were.
Waking up to the reality of this year finds the Lions season possibly on the brink of disaster just four games in. The Lions find themselves sitting at the bottom of their division at 1-3, staring up at the now 4-1 Vikings and Bears.
At least we have a little company in the now beatable Packers not doing much better than the Lions at 2-3. The media has been reporting that the government is facing a fiscal cliff if the lawmakers don’t make some changes real soon. Well, our Lions are facing their own version of a cliff in the next two games. They have to, at an absolute minimum, split those games, or I can start tuning in Mel Kiper to get the early scoop on the Lions high draft pick for the 2013 draft. They travel to Philadelphia and Chicago for their season defining moments. Are they going to shine and win both games and return home to face a tough Seattle team with a .500 record in their pockets and a rejuvenated crowd to cheer them on? Will they split to keep the season barely on the right side of disaster? Or do they continue on the lifeless path they’ve been on so far this season and lose those 2 games, returning to a hostile Ford Field where the fans are sure to let them have it?
Last year, Calvin Johnson was breaking records with his 8 touchdown catches in the first four games. The Lions were averaging over 33 points a game and Matthew Stafford had 11 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Flash forward to the present and Stafford has 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions with the Lions only averaging 25 points a game. This is the one that blows my mind: the Sports Illustrated cover boys have not connected on one single touchdown yet this year. HUH? Isn’t that the strength of this team? One of the best quarterback/receiver combos ever? What bothers me the most is that this team isn’t passing the eyeball test, and all the while the head coach is insisting that it’s a matter of execution, not game planning. Sure sounds like somebody is trying awfully hard to be the smartest guy in the room. The numbers don’t lie.
This seems a lot like the stupid controversy about the American League MVP. My eyes are telling me that triple crown winner Miguel Cabrara should be the pick for the AL’s biggest prize, but your WAR stats are saying that Mike Trout should be the MVP. We know what we see when we see it. What we see with the Lions so far isn’t good. The Lions are in danger of losing their season before they even get to the halfway point.