The Difference Between Being Competitive And Winning

I was supposed to be preparing a preview article of the Detroit Lions vs. the Dallas Cowboys for Bleacher Report. But, an idea popped into my head, and would not leave me alone.  It haunted me.  It distracted me.

It stalked me.

It shook me, and brought back memories that I would rather just forget. It’s relevance, however, was so compelling that I needed to share it with you.

Lets do this!

The question is simple: What is the difference between being a losing team who is competitive, and a winning team?

As I pondered this question, I called upon my own experiences for some insight.

Leading a platoon of Marines during the Tet offensive of 1968, it was a FUBAR situation.

Poor communications, worse logistics, and zero support. We were, for all intents and purposes, marooned.

The thing that made the difference was the certain knowledge that we had implicit trust in one another, and that somehow, we would impose our will.

We would complete our mission, and win.

Having been recently reminded of former Commandant of the USMC, Chesty Puller’s remark at Chosin Reservoir during the Korean war, I thought that it would be germane to repeat it here:

"We’re surrounded? Good! That simplifies the problem."

General Puller realized that he could snatch victory from the jaws of the most costly defeat in US military history by imposing his will.

Pick a direction, attack it relentlessly, and impose your will.

The breakout at Chosin reservoir would save the lives of over 40,000 starving, freezing grunts who were low on ammo and morale.

For his decisiveness, General Chesty Puller was awarded his fourth Navy Cross. A unique accomplishment.

Imposing our will. Hmm. What a concept!

My thesis, therefore,is simple.

The difference between being a losing team that is competitive, and a winning team is this:

The Lions must have the level of trust in their teammates and coaches that fortifies them. Makes them focused. Makes them disciplined. Makes them ferocious.

The Lions must impose their will over opponents at every opportunity in order to become a winner.


When Calvin Johnson is covered by Darrelle Revis, the Lions must impose their will. They simply must win these key personnel matchups.

The Lions coaching staff chose to play it cozy, and stopped challenging Revis. This is the oft repeated flaw in the Lions game plans. They fail to impose their will.

When it seems that the Lions have an opponent on the ropes, do they stomp em?


Lets be clear about this. The concept of imposing your will upon your opponents is the cornerstone of winning. To imply that the Lions talent level does not support such thinking is absurd.

It’s a losers lament.

Look at the Cleveland Browns. They have gotten in the face of the best teams in the NFL, and punched them in the mouth. With a third string rookie quarterback, no less.

This is the biggest challenge of head coach Jim Schwartz, and his staff. The schematically correctness must give way to discipline, and coaching a mind set that this Lions team will not be dominated.

Hell, my Lance Corporals had a clear understanding of this concept, and I would have trusted them implicitly in important leadership positions.

"It’s not a matter of having the game in your head, it’s about having your head in the game."

-- Master Gunnery Sgt G.O. Rilla, USMC

We will impose our will! We will control the line of scrimmage! We will dominate your best players! We will punch you in the mouth!

We will win!

This is the message that Schwartz, the scholarly, but seemingly detached head coach had better start preaching in an up close, in your face style.

Competing is not winning.

It is, what it is doesn’t cut it!

Winning is about imposing your will.


Mike Sudds is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for






This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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