Black Monday has claimed another large group of head coaches, gm's, and assistants around the league. It also has hit the Lions, and judging by the public outcry on the blog-o-sphere, Lions fans want blood. Rightfully so, coming off a 10-6 playoff season, the Lions go 4-12. It makes sense to condemn the front office, coaching staff and most of all, the owners, but we need to keep in mind the road to the Superbowl is paved with attrition. It is going to take many years (and coaches) to brush of the stench of Matt Millen.
Yes, this year is full of disappointment and underachievement. Crying about who should and should not get fired is by far the least constructive thing we could be doing. Lions fans understand the stages of grief better than most professional sports teams, so we need to transition a little bit quicker from the Anger stage and get to Acceptance.
Lewand, Mayhew and Schwartz know this team will have to make dramatic changes in order to compete next year. Mayhew knows that we didn't make any real moves in free agency to improve the team, and we left the team relatively unchanged. We didn't rework contracts (besides Megatron, Tulloch) to gain more cap flexibility (Suh, Stafford), we haven't been looking for "Mayhewing" trades that could benefit us in the long run. Our biggest crime is thinking we can improve by leaving the team relatively unchanged. With that failure we can see why we didn't make the progress that we needed. And I believe that we will start seeing dramatic changes in what we do in the upcoming off season.
I could go into the usual excuses of injuries, small cap room, and player egos, but we should not be focusing on these, instead we can look a head and see who could be coming down the pike. Just 2- 3 years ago we were praising Mayhew, Lewand, and Schwartz on their team building success. We saw marked improvements from year to year and with one bump in the road we are all willing to jump off the ship because we saw some water in the boat. We are better than that Lions fans. The only other group of fans that have a poorer attitude about their pro team is Cleveland, and yet they still find reasons to look to the future (even before their HC, GM, and President were let go).
I am not saying that we need to accept mediocrity, but we need to understand that it is tough to get anywhere when we change coaches every 3-4 years. Wanye Fontes is the only Lions coach that had more than 5 years of coaching in the Lions Honolulu Blue in recent team history. Mariucci, Mornhinweg, and Marinelli ( fired after 0-16, and rightfully so) all coached roughly 2-3 years each. How much can the organization grow and change the culture if we keep dumping coaches every couple of years. Our history has been to get disappointed and discouraged and jump ship to another coach. I think that giving up on Schwartz and Mayhew is a bad move at this point. I think we have a young Head coach (yeah Schwartz is young by professional head coaching standards) and he needs time to grow. The Lions probably knew he would need time in the head coaching position, but we should remain vigilant. When Schwartz got the contract extension everyone praised the Ford and Mayhew, but wow, after one failed season we are going to go back to confusion within the organization.
In order to fix the attitude of the lions culture, we should fix our (the fans) attitudes first. We have decisions to make, but we can still pull together a good team that can live up to expectations. Next year we have Calvin, Suh, Stafford, Reiff, Leshoure, Bell, Scheffler, Fairley, Tulloch, and others that we can have as a foundation. Plus the young blood that we haven't see yet, Whitehead, T Lewis, R Lewis, Bentley, Greenwood... and a 1 year veteran Jonte Green (who had good and bad games, but played overall pretty well for a rookie). We have Pick 5 in the draft and we have the opportunity to get 2-3 starters that could give us major up grades.
I am saying stay on the ledge if you would like, but for the rest of the fans lets start understanding the successes and failures and look at making the next season ours. There could be more firings, but for the time being lets look at the positives and learn from our negatives. So, put your torches and pitch forks down for a minute and lets just see what happens.