In an interesting phenomenon–within an NFL season filled with underachieving starts by suspected powerhouses–the Detroit Lions are quickly becoming the darlings of the national media.
ESPN’s John Clayton currently has the Lions ranked as the second best team in the NFL, Dan Patrick has been singing the praises of Schwartz and Co. for months on his daily radio show and just today I heard former Cowboy Darren Woodson compare this years Lions to the early 1990s Cowboys. A team that went onto a Super Bowl terror for a half a decade. The sexy question this week nationally seems to be “Who’s for real. The Lions or Bills?”. The Lions have been the near unanimous choice. So now they head into a game against the current years version of the very organization that they’re drawing comparisons too.
Everyone else believes, so why aren’t Lions fans buying in yet, especially the same fans who falsely believed in the past? Heading into any given season, Steve Mariucci was Vince Lombardi…Joey Harrington was a lock to end the Lions QB Pro Bowl draught (ending for real this year, by the way)…Dre Bly was the league’s best shut down corner. We told ourselves this knowing they were lies and there was really no hope. I remember clearly stating, how do you stop a receiving corp of Germaine Crowell, Az Hakim and Bill Schroeder? Honest…I said those terrible words and I can’t believe I just admitted that writing. These fallacies we told ourselves gave us reason for hope heading into an otherwise bleak season. Deep down we knew it was over before it began. We didn’t want to start looking at mock drafts and free agent lists before Halloween again…so we tried to convince ourselves otherwise. We adjusted to what we knew we really had.
Think of it this way. You’re a kid. Say 7 years old and everyday the ice cream man drives by your house. You run out with your money excitedly, but he just cruises past you. He heads to the rich side of the sub where the Patriots, Packers, Steelers…or Cowboys fans live. So after awhile, you’re used to him passing you by. You tell yourself that your homemade Kool-Aid freezer pops (Harrington, Bly, etc.) are just as good as what he’s got when you really know they’re just crappy. Finally, one glorious day (2011) he stops in front of your house. Patiently waiting for you to accept the fact that he’s there. Some of fans rush out and scoop up the King Cones and Strawberry Shortcakes (Suh, Calvin), others tip-toe cautiously to the curb, and just as many walk back into the house knowing, just knowing that he’s going to drive away as soon as you walk up.
That’s where we are right now. After their best start since 1980, the news this week hasn’t been Matt Stafford’s incredible second half to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, or Calvin Johnson’s personal mission to prove Cris Carter as an even bigger buffoon than already known, or even a competent coaching staff, adjusting and for once making the opponents’ coach look clueless. Rather the number one topic is the offensive line and lack of running game.
I’m the first to tell you I had trepidation about this team. I thought that they’d be better, but I’ve been burned again and again just like all of you and have been reluctant to fully believe they’re anything better than…well, better. I thought they’d win last week. I was floored how they did it. Overcoming a 20 point defecit on the road? That’s what usually happens to us. So, I figured their winning streak ends at Dallas. Now I don’t know. It’s hard to argue that the Cowboys are a better team that the Lions. Everywhere you look at the depth charts, the Lions are just as good or better than the Cowboys. Listening to Dallas fans argue otherwise, reminds me how we used to argue that Harrington was as good as Brett Favre. Week by week, things are starting to turn for Lions fan. Slowly, but surely those still not on board will buy in.
As for this week, I think, for once it’s the Cowboy’s fans eating the freezer pops.