As the season rolls into it's final stretch, and the hopes of the Lions making a right turn onto the Road of Greatness have all but dissipated, I, like many other fans, will turn to our vices to usher in hope for next season and look for optimism in whatever they see fit. For some it's the draft, for some it's the stats, for some it's just watching good football for the remainder of the season. For some, like me, it's a combo of all of the above. It's about this time that I also like to "fantasize" about what we could be. What successful teams right now are feeling. Excitement about this season instead of longing for next.
Since we cannot go down that road to greatness this year, our sites inevitably set on 2011. The thought of 2011 is exciting... a healthy Stafford throwing to CJ, a new CB in the draft shutting down WRs, SUH smashing QBs, Javid Best breaking ankles and blasting by line backers, Stefan Logan burning 11 men on a kickoff return. It's wonderful to think about... with this kind of talent we can easily be +.500...
Wait, what? +.500? Why aren't we expecting playoffs or championships for next year? Why weren't we expecting playoffs this year? Why would we expect anything less?
Now, now, I haven't been drinking Kool Aid or anything. Its clear why we aren't in the play-off running this year, with the injuries to key personnel and such. But prior to this season starting how many of you expected anything of the 2010 Lions? And by anything, I mean post season/championships. I didn't expect us to... and I think I'm starting to realize how wrong it is NOT to expect this team to make anything of themselves.
Reasons tend to smell like excuses when people explain why the Lions shouldn't be expected to achieve "anything" in 2010, or 2011. The biggest one is that stinker, the 0-16 season 2 years ago, and how after something that bad, we need quite a while to fix things.
As you have probably already figured out, I am also a Carolina Panthers fan.I was raised in North Carolina, and of course grew fond of the Panthers as any homer would, through watching their games and even making a trip to the Panther stadium, to watch them play the Lions back in 2003. I inherited my love for the Lions through my father, who inherited it through his father. My dad and grandpa lived in NW Ohio, west of Toledo, where many folk are Lions fans.
In 2001, the Carolina Panthers were the first team to lose 15 games in a row in one season, of course with the record of 1-15. They were terrible, ranked 30/31 in offense, and 31/31 in defense. They were of course better than the 2008 Lions... but to keep things simple, lets just say they were only 1 win better. 2 years later in 2003, the Carolina Panthers met up with the NE Patriots in the Superbowl after winning the NFC Championship. This all started with, in 2002, John Fox coming in and saying to his new team, "You aren't tough enough to win in the NFL."
As you all know, this year, the only team definably worse than the Lions are the Panthers (so far.) With a record of 1-10, the Panthers seem to be set on the road to infallibility to match their 2001 season. You would think that with as terrible as their team is this year that they wouldn't expect too much from the 2011 Panthers, like the Lions fans were after the 2008 and 2009 season. But to the contrary, they fully expect the team to be back in the running next year.
Why aren't we like that? As a whole, us Lions fans are beat down. Its easy to understand why we in general don't have high expectations for our Lions, and easy to find comfort in moral victories and such. Its easy to wrap ourselves up in improved stats and feel 'content' about the progress of the team. But what good are we doing our team as fans if we don't expect greatness of them? What are we doing to change the culture if we expect nothing more than a winning record for next year?
Now when I say expect, I'm not talking about drinking the Kool Aid and ignoring our problems. I mean expecting the team to play like they are after the Superbowl, instead of a +.500 record. I'm saying that we shouldn't be 'content' with the 2011 Lions being .500 next year... that we should always expect the best from them. If we the fans don't, why should the players or coaches?
I don't mean for this post to seem like a diatribe. I'm not trying to attack the fans or anyone. I'm aware that there's more to creating a winning football team than it's fans expecting a winning football team. Hell I don't even really know what I'm trying to accomplish with this post... I just feel like the Detroit Lions don't have any real expectations from it's fan base anymore. I feel like a lot of us drink the Kool Aid to make ourselves feel better about the Lions and a side effect of that is that we become content with mediocrity or just plain awfulness. The culture HAS to change, from in the locker room to in the living room, or the Lions will continue on this path that it's been on since 1991.
I hope that this doesn't come off as either a sunshiner or negative nancy post... My message is simply to always expect the Lions to be winners, or we can't change this culture of losers. Don't drink Kool aid.
Oh, and for the feel good videos.
1991 Detroit Lions road to the NFC Championship. "Thumbs Up"
Too bad I was 4 when this last happened and of course don't remember any of it.
This one is pretty much just for me because I doubt any of you care about the Panthers
2003 Cardiac Cats road to the Superbowl. It's a 3 part video