I can't take it any more.
I can't take the losing. I can't take the same penalties over and over. I can't take the same mistakes over and over. I can't take the same inexplicable play-calling over and over. I can't take the terrible game plans. I can't take that wide-9 defense (and its failures) over and over. I can't take the bursts of occasional excellence matched with below-acceptable performance the rest of the time.
Most of all, I can't take one more game of seeing that cocky narcissist Jim Schwartz take a roster of talented players and turn them into a total joke.
But Thorpac, what about our first place record? Schwartz must be doing something right if we're in first place, right? That's certainly the argument some people are making.
It'd be an argument worth having if that first place (as of now) in the standings was built on anything concrete, like a series of wins against teams we should beat plus some tossups and maybe a win or two against teams that should smoke us. But it isn't! We're in first place not because we've been good or played well. We're not in first place because we're awesome. We're in first place because we're the only team in the NFC North that starts an NFL caliber QB.
Even with that tremendous advantage, we're still barely hanging on at 7-6, while Matt Flynn and one of the McCown sisters drag their teams over the finish line each week. They're out holding their season together while reinforcements arrive; we're busy jumping offsides and running a clown-college offense and hoping we can somehow back our way into a playoff spot that should have been sewn up by now.
Take a look at the results so far this season. Seven wins to six losses, good enough for first place in the NFC North right now. But dig a little deeper and you'll see just how tenuous that 7-win mark is.
Those 7 wins include the Dallas game -- a miracle finish that wouldn't happen 99 times out of 100. It makes for nice highlight footage, and twenty years from now we'll still all remember that game, but in terms of the team, that was not a good performance. They got lucky and it should have been a loss.
The second Chicago win? The one where we got to play against a one-legged Cutler and then their backup and still almost lost? That great, season-defining victory?
How about the first Chicago win? We were up huge...and barely won, as the Bears scored 16 points in the final 4:00. Or the Thanksgiving Day game, where we beat up a QB that was what, Green Bay's 4th in 4 games? It was the worst win I've ever watched. The final score doesn't do justice to how poorly we underperformed that game.
That's it. Those are the seven games that this talented roster has managed to win. Factor in that RGIII was, and still is, hurt, and you have four wins against terrible QBs (aka games that this defense was built to win 100% of), two wins against the Bears, and a Dallas miracle.
Take away the miracle (6 wins) and we're in second place. Give the Packers Rodgers and the Bears a healthy Cutler and there's no way we win all three of those games. Pick one to lose and now we're at 5 wins and in third place. AP doesn't get hurt and we could be looking at last place...again.
Oh and we lost to the goddamn Cardinals (before they were even playing well) and to Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, who have a combined 7 wins against teams not from Detroit. How impressive!
Does anyone honestly believe that Jim Schwartz is better than these outcomes? Because in his tenure, we've seen the same performance over and over. The same bullshit penalties and boneheaded plays. The same dumb game plans that get repeated and rebuked by opponents. The same inability to adjust to anything in the timeframe needed -- midgame, not three weeks later.
Why? Because Jim Schwartz. Because this is his team and his style. This is how he coaches and this is what we can expect with him coaching: lackluster, below-ability play. If we get lucky, we get 9 wins and sneak in to the playoffs (see 2011, probably 2013). If we don't get lucky, 4 wins and last place. That's our window from year to year. That's unacceptable and you're deluding yourself if you think he is capable of leading us to more than this. Schwartz has already proven that this is as good as it gets with him around.
So yes, the Lions might back into a playoff spot. They will have done so because the other teams in the division had a terrible, unlucky year with injuries. Under normal circumstances with full rosters, this Lions team becomes what they were last year -- a group of first-rate talent stuck in last place. While that may be acceptable for some people, it's just not good enough for me. I don't know why it would be good enough for any of us.