Okay Detroit Lions. You've assembled a fine team with loads of talent over the past few years. You've developed continuity in both personnel and scheme. You know what you've got and you know how to use it. So what's it going to take to match up with the big guns in the NFL? What are the final ingredients you need to leave the rest of the NFL playing the role of patsies that the Lions have filled for so long? Two things come immediately to mind. Play smart and respect your opponent.
It doesn't hurt to keep in mind that the more you're hyped, the sweeter it is for the other team to mount your heads on poles around the gates to their castle. It's okay to believe your own hype if you don't believe that all you have to do is mail in your performance. Overconfidence kills. It happens every year to teams in every league. Eagles... Tigers... Heat (last year)...
2011 was another learning experience but the single most frustrating deficiency I witnessed as a spectator last year was the lack of discipline. Green Bay, Chicago, San Francisco, and New Orleans all saw it. And they exploited it.
Watching the Thanksgiving Day game with the Pack resembled the Holifield vs. Tyson fight. When Suh stomped at the lineman, it looked an awful lot like the moment Iron Mike resorted to biting off chunks instead of boxing. What I'd like to see is a little less Mike Tyson with more Clint Eastwood.
In Detroit, we're accustomed to blue-collar work ethics from our professional teams. We've seen the Pistons take down the mighty Lakers with smart, disciplined play. We watched the Red Wings stand toe to toe with imposing Avalanche and Penguin teams.
The point is, your opponents are going to bring it. They're not going to lay down because you bring a truck load of first round picks or gaudy stats or glistening expectations. They want trophies too.
You now have superior physical talent on most Sundays. Question is: Can you win the head game?