Okay, so maybe I'm a bit slow or maybe just really thick-skinned. Either way, until this year's Thanksgiving game, it was just another in a long line of bad seasons for me. Just another typically awful year of Lions football. But now... after the nationally televised mess... I am officially embarrassed to be a Lions fan. To sit and listen to the announcers time after time talk about the mistakes, missed tackles, questionable play calls, etc. etc.... on and on... it just didn't seem to end. That's when I finally got it. I finally got it into my thick skull how bad this team really is. At this point in time, I do not believe that they will win a game this year. I've finally come to grips with the reality that they will go down as the worst single season team in the history of the NFL.
The talent is absolutely pathetic. Top to bottom. Not even the usually suspects like Calvin Johnson or Ernie Sims get a bye from me today. Neither has done anything special this season and in fact, Sims has been mediocre at best. They are young and talented, but have learned pro football in a culture of losing and are contributing significantly less than a star player should. It's probably more about the lack of talent around them, but either way, they have not risen above that and made a difference. As a team, they are splendidly horrific. Sure, these guys could get lucky and win one... until now, I thought that they would. But I now see the full spectrum of futility and it is worse than I thought.
My in-laws live in Nashville. Can you imagine how embarrassed I was to say "that's my team"? I couldn't trash talk, I couldn't boast... hell, I couldn't even say that we'd be competitive. And it was exactly what we'd thought it would be... a laugher from the second play on. Not even close. Not at any point were the Lions remotely competitive. That's how far we are from a championship. We are as far from a championship as any team in the history of the NFL has ever been. How's that for a comforting thought. Isn't exactly warm and fuzzy, is it?
But rest easy my fellow compadres-in-mourning, for we live in the new age of worst to first. The era of quick fixes and overnight turn-arounds. It no longer takes a decade to build a playoff caliber team like it did in the 70's. Case-in-point: the Atlanta Falcons. I know, they've been talked about ad nauseam, but it's clearly a valid example. It shows emphatically that the three most important parts of a team are the General Manager, Head Coach and the Quarterback. If you have these three in place, the rest will follow. There is no doubt that the players make the team, pure and simple. You can't win simply with good coaching (I think we've found that out). The players must be skilled enough to execute. But someone must get those players on a team. If we can snag a good GM and Coach, it'll only be a year or two before we'll be competitive again.
As for the Quarterback, many of you have disagreed with my opinion of taking a quarterback high in the first round. Mostly, I think that is because we have so many needs... especially with the offensive line. But now, more than ever, I stand by my belief that you have to get a good quarterback to be successful. This is the perfect time for Detroit to use the first overall pick on Stafford (if he comes out early and is evaluated as a franchise QB). This doesn't mean he has to play next year, it just means that we have a plan in place at the most important position on the field. And if you are going to throw $60 million at a player, it might as well be a quarterback. As for all of you Culpepper fans out there who thinks he still has it, I've got a message for you... he's finished. If you can't tell that by the last few games he's played, you have the talent evaluating capacity of Matt Millen. He is not the answer. I don't think Stanton or Henson is either. The Lions and Lion Fans have to shed their fear of choosing another Harrington, Ware or Long and take another shot at a franchise QB in the draft. If our GM is a good one, he'll find some of those other holes in the later rounds. Now is the time to get a quarterback.
For now, until the season is over and we find out who our new GM and Coach will be, we have to hunker down and prepare to weather the perfect storm of failure. I'm now convinced that the Lions will post the first 0-16 season in NFL history and we just have to deal with it. The 2008 Lions will be the mark that every future losing team will be measured by until another team goes defeated. We'll have to hear about it every year. I hope I'm wrong and they eek out just one win, so that this awful season will simply fade away over time like all the other 1-15 teams before them. But hopefully, like the Atlanta Falcons, we won't have to wait long until the roar is restored and we are again competitive. It all comes down to the Fords making a sound decision at the GM position, which doesn't usually bode well for Lions fans. However, I think they'll get a little league assistance in the matter this time and with all of the great candidates out there, I think they can and will get it right this time. See, I am an optimist. I just wish I could still be optimistic about a season DURING that season. That's the real conundrum. So hang in there Lions fans, we have no where to go but up!