SLR looks into the 2008 season crystal ball, sees bad things…Bad things, man…
By Zachary Best
In what’s become an annual event, on the day the NFL schedule is released, I look into the crystal ball, and predict the Lions upcoming season. Let’s hop into the time machine, and see what’s in store for the 2008 Detroit Lions…
Week 1 at Atlanta Falcons – Joey Harrington comes off the Falcons’ bench to throw 4 2nd half TD passes, burning new Lions corner Leigh Bodden on 2 bombs, beating his former team 28-24. Lions 1st round pick Rashard Mendenhall gains 45 yards on 17 carries. After the game, Rod Marinelli blames Mike Martz’s offense, and says his Lions need to just “Pound the rock.” Record: 0-1
Week 2 GREEN BAY PACKERS – In the first home game of the 2008 season, Packers QB Aaron Rogers has his coming out party, throwing for 400 yards and 3 TD’s, beating the Lions 35-10. Lions special teams remain “Special,” giving up 275 return yards. Jon Kitna throws 2 INT’s, and fumbles twice, losing 1. Mendenhall tweaks hamstring in warmups, has to be deactivated before the game. Marinelli claims they had “Great practices” and he’s “Seen some things we need to clean up.” Record: 0-2
Week 3 at San Francisco 49ers – Frank Gore runs wild for 180 yards and 2 TD’s, leading the Niners to a 17-0 shellacking of the Lions. George Foster commits 5 false starts and called for 2 holds, finally benched in the 3rd quarter. Kitna is sacked 5 times, leaves game with a concussion. No miracle this time, as he doesn’t re-enter the game. Drew Stanton sees his first regular season NFL action, throws 2 picks in a 5-14-78 day. Defense is still struggling to learn the “Tampa Two,” as Ernie Sims calls out Joe Barry’s defensive play calls as “Lame ass.” Marinelli says “We need to simplify a few things in our offense” and “We’ll continue to teach, teach, teach.” Record: 0-3
Week 4 is the Lions’ bye. Millen speaks to the media, gives Marinelli the dreaded “Vote of confidence.” William Clay Ford is incommunicado.
Week 5 CHICAGO BEARS – Rashard Mendenhall tears his ACL on the game’s first series, is out for the season. Kitna is still sidelined with his concussion, Stanton starts. The Bears pick him off 3 times in the 1st half, return 1 for a TD. Dan Orlovsky starts the 2nd half, fares no better, throwing 2 more INT”s. Bears win going away, 31-7. The Lions only score is on a Tatum Bell fumble recovered by Calvin Johnson in the end zone. Marinelli gets defensive in the post game presser, gives a short “I have nothing to say” statement, stalks out of the room. Record: 0-4
Week 6 at Minnesota Vikings – Stanton starts again, as Kitna still waits for a miracle concussion cure, throws for 175 yards and a TD pass to Roy Williams. Tatum Bell is deactivated for “undisclosed reasons.” Brian Calhoun starts at running back, gains 60 yards, a season high for Lions backs. But it’s not near enough, as Adrian Peterson sets a new NFL rushing record during a 326 yard day, scoring 3 TD’s. Vikes cruise to a 28-10 win. Williams finishes with 3 catches for 49 yards, claims he “Was open all day, should have had a 300 yards receiving.” Marinelli tells the assembled press “We’re this close.” Record: 0-5
Week 7 at Houston Texans – Mario Williams sacks a still woozy Kitna 5 times, leading the Texans to a 24-17 win. Tatum Bell and George Foster are deactivated, as Marinelli says they “Wanted to try some things.” Calhoun tears his ACL late in the 4th quarter, goes on the DL after the game. Kitna finishes the day on the bench as well, Stanton plays the 4th quarter. FireMarinelli.com is spotted on the web. Calvin Johnson calls out Colletto’s offense, calling it “Flaccid.” Millen speaks to the MSM, says “Rod is my coach, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it!” Record: 0-6
Week 8 WASHINGTON REDSKINS – As the NFL season reaches the halfway mark, the Lions are in disarray. Jim Colletto is demoted back to offensive line coach, KIPPY! is given the official title of offensive coordinator. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry is given a 3 year contract extension midweek, as Marinelli “Sees the defense gelling into a unit!” Despite that, the ‘Skins dominate in a near carbon copy of the 2007 matchup, as Jason Campbell picks apart Barry’s defense in a 11-15-227-3 TD 1st half performance. Washington wins easily, 41-3. The Lions only score is on a Jason Hanson 52 yard field goal to end the 1st half. Kitna forces the ball into coverage all day, finishes with 3 picks. Marinelli says “We’re going to continue to pound the rock” and “Kitna is still my QB!” Record: 0-7
Week 9 at Chicago Bears – The deactivated Tatum Bell asks for a trade, is told he’s “Insurance,” and not going anywhere. At midweek, Drew Stanton is named the starter under center, Dan Orlovsky is the backup, and Kitna will be the 3rd QB. Kitna says “It’s God’s will.” When asked about the “Kitna is still my QB!” statement, Marinelli says it’s still true, he just wants to “Change things up a little.” and “Give us a kick start.” The only kicking is by the Bears, as Kyle Orton leads their offense to 5 field goals, beating the punchless Lions 15-0. Stanton doesn’t throw any picks, but gains only 125 yards in the air, while 6th round pick Mike Hart gains all of 32 yards on the ground. Roy Williams announces after the game he’s not going to re-sign with the Lions.
Week 10 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – The Lions fail to sell out Ford Field for the first time in history. FireMillen.com has a record week for hits. William Clay Ford is in attendance. The QB shuffle continues, as Orlovsky starts, Kitna i the backup, and Stanton is the emergency number 3. DT Chuck Darby, signed to replace Shaun Rogers as a free agent in the previous off season, retires. Lions 2nd round pick Mario Manningham is activated for the first time this season, as after dropping all the way to Detroit in the 2nd round of the draft, was suspended for violating NFL drug policies. With all the controversy surrounding the Lions, Jacksonville takes advantage. David Garrard, the NFL’s leading QB, has an efficient 12-15-231-3 TD day, while both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew each have 100 yard rushing. Jag win, 28-10. After the game, Marnelli sternly informs the media he “Will not be resigning, as he has a contract to live up to!” Record: 0-9
Week 11 at Carolina Panthers – Talk of another fan protest are taking place on the web. Columnists at the fishwraps are calling for the heads of Marinelli and Millen. Candidates rumored to be in the running to take over for Millen are Dan Marino, Brian Baldinger and Shannon Sharpe. The Fords talk to the media midweek, claim they “Have full confidence in Matt Millen and Rod Marinelli will turn the team around.” Manningham is suspended for the season after testing positive on his weekly drug test. Lions lose to the Panthers in a snoozer, 14-0. Stanton starts, separates his shoulder, and is finished for the season. Orlovsky finishes the game at QB. Marinelli announces “We are officially eliminated from playoff contention.” Record: 0-10.
Week 12 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – The first of 3 consecutive home games for the Lions. With Stanton on the DL. Orlovsky is named the starter. Vinnie Testaverde, having Tampa Bay ties, is convinced by Marinelli to come out of retirement, and signed as the 3rd QB. With only 40,000 in attendance at Ford Field, the Lions offense picks up as Mike Hart has 100 yard rushing game, Williams goes for 7 catches and 150 yards (Though he claims he should have had 350) and Orlovsky has a 300 yard passing game with 2 TD’s. It’s not enough, as Jeff Garcia leads the Bucs to a 27-21 victory, thanks to a last second TD pass over Lions CB, and former Buc, Brian Kelly. He looked on helplessly as Tampa’s Maurice Stovall runs by him on a stop and go pattern for the winning TD. Marinelli says he’s “Seeing progress” and “There’s no quit in my team!” Record: 0-11
Week 13 TENNESSEE TITANS – It’s a short week, so Marinelli has Kitna is back under center as the number 1 QB. It’s the annual Thanksgiving Day game, with CBS in town to broadcast the only nationally televised game of the year for the Lions. Vince Young wins Phil Simms’ “Ironman Award,” with 2 TD’s passing and 2 more running, leading the Titans to a 28-7 win. Kitna is up to his old tricks, getting concussed on a sack. Testeverde comes in, and throws a late TD pass, extending his NFL record streak of consecutive seasons with a TD pass to 53. After the game, he gets the game ball from Marinelli, who refuses to speak to the media after the game. The Lions PR staff says “He’s not feeling well.” Roy Williams tells the beat writers he has put his Detroit home on the market. Record: 0-12
Week 14 MINNESOTA VIKINGS – Millen announces he has granted Marinelli and Barry a leave of absence for mental health reasons, effective immediately. Millen is adamant in saying “They are still my guys!” Jim Colletto is named interim head coach. Colletto names Kitna as his QB. Lions roll over, and play dead, as Tarvaris Jackson has a career day with 4 TD’s passing, and Adrian Peterson runs for 200 yards. Vikes win, 41-0, as the Lions clinch the 2009 NFL number 1 draft pick. Record: 0-13
Week 15at Indianapolis Colts – The media is swirling around the Lions, the talk of pro football, as they are threatening to be the first team in NFL history finish 0-16. They remain on track, as Peyton Manning goes medieval on the Lions, throwing for 500 yards and 6 TD’s, in a 64-0 debacle of a loss. Colletto steps down as head coach after the game, while in the locker room, Roy Williams announces he has bought a home in Dallas. Record: 0-14.
Week 16 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – KIPPY! is named interim head coach, as Marinelli informs the Lions he will not be returning from his leave of absence, as he wants to return to his first love, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s the last home game of the season, and it’s getting crazy in Detroit. The Fords are back, Millen is nowhere to be found by the media, whom are overrunning the city, following the Lions’ quest to go 0-16. The fan protest never materializes, as total apathy has set in. What crowd is in Ford Field is rooting for the Saints, who roll to a quiet 24-10 win. Kitna announces he’ll be retiring after the season to become a missionary. Calvin Johnson says he wants to be traded if KIPPY! isn’t named head coach. Record: 0-15.
Week 17 at Green Bay Packers – As the Lions haven’t won in Lambeau since Don Majkowski was the Packers QB, it’s almost a given the Lions will become the first NFL team to finish a season 0-16. But the Lions surprise, as Kitna, in his last game as a Lion, goes out in style with a 350 yard, 3 TD game. Mike Hart runs for 150 and a TD, while Calvin Johnson has 250 yards and 2 TD receiving. Ernie Sims has 15 tackles, Leigh Bodden 2 picks, and Dewayne White sacks Aaron Rogers 3 times. The Lions refuse to go down as historic losers, beating the Pack 35-24! Record: 1-15
Epilogue – There’s smiles all around, as KIPPY! is given a 3 year contract extension as the new Detroit Lions head coach, while Matt Millen is given 3 more years as well. The new regime thinks Tatum Bell can be salvaged, so he’s re-signed. Jon Kitna retires, is named Lions’ chaplain. Roy Williams leaves for Dallas, never to be seen in the D again. The Fords announce the arraignments have been made to keep the team in the hands of the family if something happens to William Clay Ford.
Fans hope to wake up the next day, and find out this was only a nightmare…
Am I being slightly facetious and totally cynical calling for a 1-15 Lions season? Hell, yes! That’s what a lifetime of Lions fandom does to you. Hey, last year I said they’d go 0-16, so things are actually looking up!