With the recent negativity in the media regarding the Lions I think it is time to help flush the proverbial toilet bowl of public opinion and open some eyes up here. Granted that some will chose to remain blind and bitter because they are too proud of their misery to let it go. This is not going to be all sunshine and roses either, but I think people put way too high of expectations on this team and they should be kicking themselves in the ass not the team or coaches.
First lets start with what has happened. We have lost the first three games. Did anyone really expect anything different before the season? Really? Did any of you honestly think we would beat the Bears, Eagles, or Vikings for sure? I am not talking about being optimistic. I mean did any of us really have absolute confidence that those games should be wins? While I thought we had a chance I never thought any one of those games was a lock for sure. So we lost them, and in at least two of those games we darn near won, it came down to the very end of the game and we had a chance to win with two minutes to go. Even in the Vikings game we were still in the hunt in the fourth quarter. I am not going to be selective and say we won this quarter or that quarter. I am going to say that we lost three games that we had the potential to win in the fourth quarter each time. So I am not too disappointed.
I think what is getting under peoples skin so much is that we were close to winning games and yet are not anywhere near playing as good of football as we can. Had we played better we would have won at least two of those games. That is pretty encouraging to me, that at least we are getting better talent out there on the field. So I can understand some criticism of the coaches because they did not get the players to play to their potential. I could also understand some overflow onto the general manager since he was a part of putting the coaching staff together. But hang on a minute there, there is something people are overlooking. Continuity and chemistry.
This is talked about a lot with offensive linemen, quarterbacks, and receivers. It is the ability to be able to anticipate how another guy is going to react on the field to a given situation. It is knowing where someone will be without looking at them or seeing them. It is like a sixth sense, that only comes from familiarity with each other and playing together. We have absolutely churned our roster over the last two years and there is no way for us to have that continuity and chemistry without players and coaches staying in place and working together day in and day out for years.
Most teams when they overhaul a unit will put one or two new players into the mix. You might see one new lineman, one new receiver, one new corner back, etc. take over as a starter for a team. Very rarely do you see a team overhaul whole units and replace the whole defensive line, or secondary. So really we will not even begin to know what we truly have until near the end of this year, chemistry wise. It will be the second year in the system for a lot of players but still we will not have full chemistry on this team until some time next year. When even the guys that came in this year like KVB, C. Williams, Suh, Best, Nate, Schef, Houston, Wade, A. Smith, Follett, R. Sims, and even Shaun Hill have another year under their belt and with the players around them.
So factor one continuity, we are still battling it and it will cause the very kind of things that are frustrating us. Namely inconsistencies and mental errors.
Now enter in factor two. The Lions Schedule. Here is an article that rates how tough a teams schedule is. You will notice that we are tied with the Raven for the 12th hardest schedule in the league. For all of the people comparing us to the Chiefs, Buccaneers, and Rams their schedules rank 22, 25, and 31 respectively. So it is no surprise to me that they are currently doing better than us. In fact I would be surprised if they don't finish ahead of us in the overall standings or the number of wins at the end of the year.
Some people may get discouraged about seeing that we have such a tough schedule when we are clearly one of the lesser teams in the league considering recent performance. In fact this is evidence that there probably is some truth to the conspiracy theory about other owners and the NFL in general punishing us over the Thanksgiving Day game. Since the NFL is supposed to be all about parody and all that crap yet they contradict themselves with this. That is another discussion for another day though.
Do not be discouraged by this obvious disparity against us. This is actually going to play right into our hands. Why? Because we are going to get used to playing against teams above our level. We are going to get used to playing in tough games. And we will likely lose a lot of those battles which will reward us with priority draft selections. So while we will have a deflated record and look worse in the standings than we are, we will in fact be drafting for a team that has a higher talent level for where we are picking. Eventually that is going to pay off for us. Much like steel in a forge, that is heated and beaten into shape, this process will only serve to make us a tougher and more deadly team in the future. All it will take is the determined will of the players to fight on and not give up and it is inevitable.