Nov 24, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz during the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Dear Jim Schwartz,
“You just can’t explain it”, you said, dazed and confused after your first place Detroit Lions lost a home game to the team with the worst record in the NFC, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Let me help you with that, Jimbo. I can tell by that glazed, shocked look that you can’t believe what your eyes just saw. It’s what we in these parts call the “Lion Eyes”, it’s brought on by the “Same Old Lions” fever. Locals around here are as used to that as they are to Faygo pop. What they do is suck you into believing that they’re a really good team by NFL standards, and play with you for awhile like a cat playing with a mouse, then–just when you start really, really believing that they’ve finally crossed that bridge of respectability–WHAM! they lose in the sorriest way possible to someone they had no business losing to.
Don’t worry Jim, it’s happened to all of us. We’ve all fallen victim to “Lion Eyes”. The SOL curse a real thing. How else can you explain Kris Durham’s fumble in the forth quarter? How else can you explain his running out of bounds hellbent on putting the ball back in play? It was impossible to achieve, but he somehow managed to do it. These things just don’t happen to other football teams. You would think that putting the ball in the hands of the best football player on the planet inside the five yard line with less than a minute to play would be a big middle finger to the SOL, curse but you would be wrong. Jim, this curse is so powerful that it can dislodge footballs even from superheroes like Megatron. By the time you uttered “You just can’t explain it” and your eyes glazed over, you had become one of us.
With the Lions, Jim, it’s kind of like the “it’s not you, it’s me” thing. No matter who is running this team, it will sooner or later get them when they least expect it. The all time Daddy of them all was in 1995 when the Lions closed out the season on a seven game winning streak, and started trash talking like wrestlers. They went to Philadelphia, and the Eagles promptly scored a Gabillion points by half time. Jim, the whole city had that look in their eyes like the one you just had.
As for the locals here, Jim, we’re used to it. Sure, we fall off the wagon once in awhile, but then there’s a game like yesterday to remind us of who the Lions are. I actually went to the game and had great seats on the fifty-yard line behind the Lions bench. Once the Bucs took the lead, you could sense the impending doom in the air, like a distant fire. I later watched the game on replay and it was at this point Thom Brennaman said “You can almost feel the energy in the building and it’s not a positive energy right now.” No kidding, dude. We knew what was going on. We know it better than anyone else. The Lions were in the process of giving another game away.
Once the game ended, nobody yelled or cursed. We all just got up an mumbled under our breath and shook our heads thinking: Man, I thought I’d seen it all; guess I was wrong. Everyone was walking out of the stadium in a trance. We had “Lion Eyes.”
Unfortunately Jim, we don’t get paid by the Lions to win games, that’s your job and truthfully, it won’t be your job for long if you lose on Thursday. I’ve met you before Jim, and think you’re a great guy to hang around, so that’s why I’m giving you this little piece of advice. Don’t be like the other coaches who have succumbed to the curse. Do whatever you have to do to get that “Lion Eyes” look off your face. Watch some old NFL films if you have to; you’ve only got a couple of days to figure “it” out.
ps. Do you have to run on 95% percent of first downs? It seems so obvious.