Sunday, December 23, 2012

Welcome back, Detroit Lions.

The Lions are about to retake their rightful place, and they've earned every bit of it. That would be as a punch line, of course. Writers for people like Leno and Letterman are no doubt coming up with such one-liners as this is written.

Even the most optimistic Lions fans, at least those that have a few functioning neurons left, would likely admit their team has once again become a joke. Anyone possessing an ounce of objectivity, that has watched them of late, certainly could see they've gone from vastly overrated (last year, and into the beginning of this year), to mediocre, to bad, and now they appear to be little more than slapstick comedy. Turn on the TV cameras and send in the clowns. Even the announcers are at a loss to explain some of the things the Lions do. You name it, and the Lions will find a way to screw it up. It's reminiscent of the 3 Stooges or the Keystone Kops, but at least they were SUPPOSED to be funny. The Lions have taken it to another level. They're hilarious, at times.

Here's an example: Late in the game against the Atlanta Falcons, while trailing them by 15 points, after turning the ball over on downs at the Falcons 1 yard line, the Lions managed to tackle an Atlanta running back in his own end zone for a safety. 2 points for the Honolulu blue. Pursuant to a safety, the Falcons punter booms a whopping 76 yard kick that comes down at the Lions own 4 yard line. Remember, this was not a normal punt, where the "gunners" for the punting team were already racing down field before the ball was kicked. They had to start at their own 20, AFTER the ball was kicked. The Lions' punt receiver catches the ball at his own 4 yard line and, without a Falcon within 30 yards of him -- takes a knee. Even the best comedy writers couldn't make stuff like this up. Only the Lions. That ranks right up there with Moe, Larry, Cheese. Great stuff for slapstick, but not so great when it's supposed to be a professional football team.

Lions' head coach Jim Schwartz appeared to agree on the sidelines. If I read his lips correctly, the man said that was stupidest play he had ever seen. Well, guess who's been running the show for the last few years? If his players have turned into the Marx Brothers, shouldn't the ultimate responsibility fall on him?

Sure, after the Lions went 0-16 in 2008, the only way to go was up. Schwartz got 2 wins the following season. Then 6. Then 10. Now he's back to 4. It appears he's slip-sliding away on the down side of his bell curve. His team is not only getting defeated every week, they've become embarrassing.

Yet, leave it to the infinite wisdom of the Ford family, which owns the Lions, to sign Schwartz to a 3 year contract extension not long ago. How's that working out?

What was even more hilarious is back in April of this year, a poll taken amongst Lions' fans said many thought their team would go 15-1 this year. I know there's a Ford hospital in Detroit that has a very good reputation for patient care. Perhaps they should revamp that institution and turn it into a massive rehab clinic for Lions' fans (and local reporters) that continue to think their team is just to being a contender. That's like a junkie saying tomorrow will be better, as they're shooting up again. As an analogy, one might say -- Hey, the dope dealers don't care, and will continue to make big money off such fools, until they're willing to admit they have a problem, and take the hard steps necessary on the road to recovery.

On a related note, congrats to Calvin Johnson on breaking Jerry Rice's all-time single season record for passing yards gained by an NFL receiver. CJ still has one game to go, and might likely even top the 2000 yard mark. Very impressive stuff.

But that's good news and bad news -- for Calvin. He'll rightfully have his place in the record books. That's the good news, along with the fact that CJ recently signed a multi-year extension worth roughly $132 million, with about $60 million guaranteed. He's financially set for life in a big way.

The bad news is -- he's owned by the Detroit Lions until the year 2019.  Right now, it appears as if Calvin is the only thing the Lions have going for them. Quarterback Matthew Stafford throws and throws and throws some more at Johnson, so of course he's going to rack up big time yardage. This is not to say Calvin isn't a premier receiver. He most certainly is. The Megatron was blessed with height, speed, and venus fly-trap type hands whenever a football is in his vicinity. He's tough too, having played through many games with a lingering leg injury, which doesn't allow him to even practice much.

But this can't continue. If the Lions don't develop other offensive options, like a running game, a tight end that can catch, and/or other reliable receivers to spread the ball around to, and continue to work Calvin Johnson like a dog -- there's no way he'll last until 2019. Hell, he might be lucky to make it through another year or two. Sure, Calvin has shown his brilliance by being able to cope with being double or triple teamed and still coming down with the ball, but those guys in the other uniforms keep hitting, and hitting, and hitting him some more. A team can't keep going to the same guy that much, especially when all the other teams know it's coming and will punish him for it. It will take its toll, maybe even next season, let alone 2019.

To boot, one is left to wonder whether the Lions and their supporters ever stopped to consider that all the other teams know Calvin Johnson is going to catch a lot of balls, and gain a bunch of yards, but they're OK with that --- because by the end of the game -- if that's all the Lions have to offer -- they know they will prevail. And at the end of the day, in the NFL, the only thing that matters is winning.

Look at what's happened this year. Calvin set a record, but the team around him, along with their coaching staff, have become a joke.

On the bright side, if the Lions finish out the string and get walloped yet again at home by Da Bears next week -- entirely possible, if not probable, given their current free fall, something good will become of it.

At least Leno, Letterman, Kimmel, Fallon, the Saturday Night Live folks, every other comedian on the planet, and maybe even the usual gang of idiots from MAD magazine will be happy. They just got new material to work with. Yes, it would be retro stuff, considering the Lions a few years ago, but I suspect they'll find a way to get a few laughs.

Like the Lions are doing now......

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