Disclaimer: No, no, no. I am not going to rehash the Lion's 2008 season for you. No one needs that sort of misery brought into their lives. Not with the dawn of a new season bringing a little hope to our existence here in Lionsland. This is a self-retrospective only.
Even with training camp beginning this week, the information flow has still been a bit slow - well, at least for me. The kids and I have been ill over the weekend, so out of sheer boredom I believe I have read every single Lions article on the internet and in print. It was that same boredom that brought me back to Pride of Detroit and got me digging in my old posts. Reading through them was very interesting to say the least. I'm pretty outspoken, so it was fun critiquing myself and seeing what predictions came true and where I was totally off-base. I thought I'd share some of those things with you. Please don't take this as an ego trip for things I was right about, because I was wrong a lot, too. Just a fun retrospective that I thought I'd share.
I joined POD just after the regular season started last year, but had been reading the site since about mid-summer. After the loss to Green Bay and things started to really go south, I started posting weekly, becoming an author of the site around the middle of the season. So I have a pretty good week-to-week snapshot of my thoughts and feelings throughout the year. It was fun to read through them, but it brought back a lot of bitterness about that season.
Even though the Lions were only 0-3, I gleaned that first post-Marinelli perspective. I was already calling for a new head coach and my selection was the ever-popular Bill Cowher. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy with Schwartz so far, but Cowher would have been an excellent coach for this organization. That just tells me once again how bad the first three losses were.
I was staying resilient and as positive as I could. I wrote a piece that discussed the historical data behind bad teams and that it was nearly impossible to go 0-16. I gave them less than a 1% chance of doing it. Man would I have liked to wager on that 1%!
I'll give myself a small pat on the back here. This was when I first mentioned Stafford coming to Detroit. It was a small mention and more along the lines of him being one of the few players worth taking with the number one overall pick. But he had not even declared at that point and we were still a little ways from inking the first overall pick. What I take from these comments is this: It was late October and I was already talking about the draft! That's how "over" the season already was at that point. Boy, I hope it's different this year.
Made two predictions based on our interest in Culpepper at that time. First, I stated that we would not resign Orlovsky. Mayhew did not view him as a long-term solution and that seemed apparent to me. Second, I made my first strong opinion that we would draft a quarterback this year. I didn't really say that it would definitely be with the first pick, but felt pretty confident even then that we would.
Made an initial reference to Linehan coming in to replace Colletto if they signed Culpepper. I think that was a pretty common thought. I believe Culpepper was signed later that week.
Reiterated that the Lions would get a win. I think it was my last ditch attempt at generating one final gasp of optimism. I remember just refusing to believe that they wouldn't win just one game. Still seems a bit unreal that they couldn't simply pull one off.
This was the week after the Thanksgiving game. It was when I finally relented and gave in to the assumption that the Lions would go winless. My hope from the week before was crushed along with our offense and defense by our new head coach. But it was in this week that I fully realized my feelings for both Culpepper and Stafford. For Culpepper it was the realization that he simply doesn't have the same ability he once had. That's probably why I have such a hard time understanding why people have put so much faith in him for this season. I also gave the first, strong endorsement for Stafford. I began to realize that winning starts with the leadership in the huddle and that we would be perennial losers until we found a good quarterback. I remember going into a film frenzy with Stafford during this time. I was watching everything I could find to try and tell if this guy was legit or just another Kiper man-crush.
Brought up the scenario of bringing Scott Pioli, Josh McDaniels and Matt Cassel to Detroit. Still think that it would have been a good plan. Pioli did in fact bring Cassel with him and no doubt that he would have brought him to Detroit had he been offered the job. McDaniels has had a shaky start in Denver, but let's give the guy a season or two before labeling him a coaching bust. Little did I know that WCF never really entertained the thought of hiring outside of the organization for GM. Stubborn old ass. I think Mayhew has done a great job so far, but Pioli should have at least gotten an interview. As for Cassel, time will tell if this would have been a great move. As of right now, I would much rather have Stafford over Cassel. Both are relative unknowns at this point, but I believe Stafford to have a much higher ceiling.
This was when it first began leaking that WCF was entertaining the idea (more like he had his mind made up) about keeping Mayhew, Lewand and Marinelli. The fanbase was irate - as was I. I think by this time, losses mounted and emotions boiled over. My post was about loyalty and what we could do to get the point across to WCF that we wanted to start over with new management. I began to question my own status as a fan. I was never one to walk away, stop buying merchandise, watch games, etc. So I pegged myself as an enabler of sorts for organizational complacency. This was a real low point for Lion's fans. We were on the cusp of 0-16 and it didn't look like there was going to be a lot of change for the next year. I could really feel my own angst and trepidation in that post. Not pleasant.
I end it here as the season was over for us. We lost ‘em all and the draft became the obsession. But just to note, it was on this date that I initiated the first "QB with number overall pick" debate. It got quite heated and remained that way until after the draft. Now it's simply Stafford versus Culpepper for the starting position. Stafford wins, by the way ;o)
Hopefully, this was an entertaining read for you and didn't drudge up too many unpleasant memories about last year. I think there are definitely brighter days ahead and sometimes they seem all the brighter when you remember how truly bad they were last year. It's a good perspective to keep close to you.