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The Hangover: Love lost and empire falling

This edition of the Hangover is ornery as sleeping schedules change thanks to an archaic calendar shift.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Hangover is an attempt to collect thoughts on the Detroit Lions and the NFL and anything else stuck in the craws of the mind on Tuesday after all football has burned out. All opinions belong solely to the writer and all facts belong to that evil new war god of unfeeling thought.

High-Water Mark

In searching for desperate answers to the collapse of the Lions as comparable to 2014, fingers find themselves pointed every which way. First it was Lombardi. Now it's probably Caldwell. Teryl Austin may not survive the fury, nor Mayhew. Each week the words are trotted out: "this team has so much talent."

To that I've been asking: "can someone show me where that all is?"

There are talented individuals on the Lions team. You'd be a fool not to see the skill position weapons that Stafford has to work with; Tate, Johnson, Ebron. Laken Tomlinson continues to improve even as the rest of the unit disintegrates. On defense Ezekiel Ansah has shown he can be a menace in the backfield. The Lions are waiting with baited breath on the health of DeAndre Levy. Slay and Quinn should work out in the secondary in time. Beyond that, there's maybe one or two more guys that would be around league average. That's not enough.

It's easy to say "there's talent" when you take two factors into account. The first is that one's probably just watching Lions football. In a sense you can say the Lions have talent, but comparable to other teams even the best players are getting lapped by what other teams can field. The second comes in a recurring theme to look back towards previous seasons - 2011 in particular. Every time we talk about Stafford, we talk about his 2011 performance and believe that faerie can be caught again. We talk about the defense and Teryl Austin while looking at 2014, where losing Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley seems to hurt more than anticipated and the replacements haven't worked out.

This is not to get things twisted; there was no way the Lions could pay Suh without being crushed in salary for seasons to come. It would have been a second mortgage when the house was already underwater. But this is one of those factors that must still be confronted.

If there will be a complete cleanse as fans hope, it will include members of this team finding themselves needing another team. Performances like these are not simply a matter of replacing the heads on the sideline. That's magical thinking. Nothing is served either by looking back to 2014 and 2011 and thinking it's just a matter of rearranging a few things to make the past the present.

How'd this happen with him y'all?

La'el Collins is a monster. The great beast was let loose for four years in Baton Rouge, eating elephants and tigers and dogs and all manner of man. God's natural kingdom trembled and heroes were few and far between.

And then a woman he knew was shot and he was never a suspect, and in that fear-soaked timeline for the National Football League he was made a leper. With every qualifier shouting that this wasn't anything like the league feared and Collins' agent making moves against late draft fliers, teams struck out on every front, leaving the offensive lineman ripe picking by oil tycoon and former Arkansas running back Jerry Jones.

Fast forward to Sunday, and Dallas, and the Seahawks, and vibrating madness all around him:

I believe in the growth in Laken Tomlinson, but La'el Collins is a lineman who can play right now and will just get better and eat more people. If there's a place to cast doubt on Mayhew in last draft, it was this: in an age where all facts pointed against the fear and irrationality that every other team was operating on and the Lions looking for a guard, there was no move towards La'el Collins. For all the agent's posturing, Collins would not have blinked at the rookie signing bonus that would have come with a first or second round pick.

Bear in mind too that the Lions whiffed not once, but twice on Collins.

Again, Laken's fine. I think he'll progress as all rookies do. But just looking in a flash and an instant and a highlight, there was a clear opportunity lost for the Lions. Collins was absolutely talent that deserved to go in the first round and everyone failed him.

I'm not trying to be a hipster about this but jesus christ you guys

If you were watching the dying minutes of the Lions game and hadn't crawled back into bed and closed the blinds and damned the world for all it was worth, you would have noted (maybe noted) Fox coming back from break with a montage of distinctly stereotypical United Kingdom images set to the lilting voice of Joe Strummer. In all its infinite wisdom and thought, the network had decided to appropriate "London Calling" by the Clash to welcome Americans back to a 45-10 blowout.

The last thing you want to associate with London is "London Calling." That song is about death, despair, nuclear poisoning, and the destruction of that ancient city by way of Nature's vengeance from the river Thames. What's more, it's from a punk rock band like the Clash who, at the time they penned it, resembled every remark you could pin on them about punk; against capitalism, against commercialism, social displacement, unemployment, against everything they saw destroying the English working classes.

And here you are because all you hear are two words in the song, "London calling" and you can't be chuffed to listen to the rest. Chuffed is an English phrase.

It's far too reminiscent of the disaster when Wrangler decided to appropriate Creedence Clearwater Revival's protest song "Fortunate Son" to sell blue jeans, all because John Fogerty had sold away the rights long ago. All Wrangler hears is "ooo they're red white and blue" without listening to the very next words. A song about phony patriotism, Richard Nixon, and a fraudulent war in Vietnam was used to trying to inspire American nationalist emotions to buy crap pants, a role now filled by hapless brand smile-bot Drew Brees in this modern era.

Combined with Activision blithely using a song with the word "black" in it to sell their shooter to high-pitched teens who will gladly call you racist and homophobic slurs over voice chat, this is, I suppose, expected. I just lose my sanity; nothing that will be missed.


Ken Whisenhunt was fired by the Tennessee Titans, joining Joe Philbin in the early pile of discarded coaches across the NFL. Caldwell may be joining them at some point if the fans have their wishes fulfilled. Each time coaching vacancies come open, there's two pipelines for replacements: the old blood of the NFL, retreads constantly recycled through the bloodstream in the hopes that one will forget their flaws and remember their upsides; and coaches from the college level hoping to avoid the stink coming with such a promotion and join the fraternity of the eternally recycled.

This year may not work out so well if you're expecting fresh blood from college levels. The reason is clear: numerous top level coaching positions in NCAA Division I-FBS are coming open and there's still a quarter of a season remaining, plus the bowl season. On Sunday Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech and Norm Chow at Hawaii joined a list that already includes South Carolina, Illinois, USC, Miami, Minnesota, UCF and Maryland. Again, this is before everyone's fired their coaches at the end of the year to boot.

The FBS schools will pillage each other in 2016. Those coaches who are not pillaged will gladly use their agents to get enormous pay raises because college coaching contracts may as well be written on napkins given the conditions that allow the coaches to simply walk away in a year or two for a better paying job. This doesn't stop with just the top level of colleges pillaging the lower schools within that same division. Those who get poached will look to the lower divisions to do poaching, and the cycle will continue in earnest.

This is not a good sign if you believe the next Lions coach will come from the college ranks and inject new life into the organization and the league. I believe that it needs to. The retreads have not gotten the Lions any "winners" in decades, and yet like a junkie the Lions (and to be fair plenty of franchises are in this party) keep coming back to the trough expecting the rancid blood to be clean and wholesome this time around. The fraternity cannot deliver a proper solution.

Why keep recycling if there's good options out there? However, this year may prove impossible to find a fresh face from college. I'm of the belief Brian Kelly would do well at the professional level, but Notre Dame would rather pay him even more if only to avoid the hell of the coaching vortex that's growing and growing. USC is another place that will gladly suck up coaching talent that would otherwise be bound for the professional ranks.

I just hope you don't talk yourself into Ken Whisenhunt.

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