Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Turn The Page

It has taken me awhile to muster up the motivation to throw myself behind a keyboard and talk about the Packers game. It's not because I'm still recovering from the anger over the Lions getting abused by the refs. It's not because I'm struggling to figure out whether to focus on the positive (Matthew Stafford's record-setting day/season) or the negative (Matt Flynn's record-setting day). It's simply because the game made me feel nothing. From the muffed opening kickoff to the final whistle, I never really got into this game.

I realize many Lions fans would take offense to this, but I just didn't care. I know there were things at stake on Sunday. The Lions could have grabbed the five seed and faced New York instead of heading to New Orleans. To me, that reasoning wasn't enough to get emotionally invested in the game. Yes, the Lions would have a much better chance at winning the opening game of the playoffs, but what does that really accomplish? A win over the Giants likely puts the Lions right back in Lambeau and if the Lions can somehow pull that off, they would likely face the Saints anyway. Now I know the Lions have only had one playoff win in the Super Bowl era, and a post-season victory may mean a lot to some. But not to me, especially considering the Giants barely found their way into the playoffs. A win over them would be inconsequential if the Lions got worked in Lambeau the following week.

Now I'm not saying I'd rather face the Saints, but think of what a win over New Orleans would mean in comparison. The Saints haven't lost at home this year, they have an elite quarterback in the midst of a record-setting season, and the Lions could get redemption from their embarrassing performance on Sunday Night Football. A win over the Saints would be much more meaningful than a win over a Giants team that no one expects to make any post-season noise.

The other reason to get excited for the Packers game was to end the Lambeau drought. As I'm sure everyone in Detroit knows, the Lions haven't won in Green Bay since 1991: when I was five years old, gas was a nickel, Abraham Lincoln was president, and "Happy Birthday" was the number one song on the Billboard Charts. Much was made last week about the Lions ending this streak, having destroyed almost every other blemish on the Lions' record-books this season. Meh. Not that important to me. The Lions teams of the past 20 years have absolutely nothing to do with the team that sits before us present day. And let's say the Lions do win that game. Guess what graphic display FOX uses next year? "The Lions have lost in Lambeau 20 of the previous 21 matchups. The point is, the Lions are going to have to have more than one impressive season to completely slay the dragons of the past. The Lions history has been so bad, that in order to rid themselves of the stigma, they will have to not only make the playoffs for years to come, but make a couple of deep runs. And this is why one small playoff win over the Giants would be just as meaningless if they were to lose the following week. Okay, they doubled their franchise postseason wins. Guess what? Now they only have two.

So now the Lions head to New Orleans where the chances of victory are smaller, but the opportunity to turn heads is larger. Lions fans are pessimistic about their chances to win because of the defense's poor performance against Flynn and the Packers. I don't understand this mindset for a couple reasons. First, some of the best teams in the NFL have a poor pass defense. Both the Packers and the Patriots broke the previous record of passing yards allowed in a season this year. Those teams have managed pretty well this season without a stout pass defense. Of course, there is also the fact that the Lions will likely get, at least, two key defensive starters back for the playoffs. The importance of Louis Delmas and Corey Williams (and possibly Aaron Berry) cannot be understated. Delmas acts as a the quarterback of the defense, and Williams will provide a much-needed addition to the interior of the defensive line. Finally, the Lions have Matthew Stafford. The way he has been playing in the past month, I believe he can keep up with Drew Brees in a shootout. Stafford already has survived shootouts against Dallas, Oakland, San Diego, and nearly did it again last week, when the Lions pass defense couldn't have played much worse.

I understand the trepidation of facing an elite offense after such a poor performance against a backup quarterback, but it's important to remember that the Lions are only two weeks removed from an excellent defensive game against the Chargers, who were fresh off a dismantling of an elite Ravens defense. If anything, the Lions performance against the Packers will act as a wake-up call and there's no doubt in my mind that Jim Schwartz will have this defense ready to play on Saturday. I don't expect them to hold Brees to 200 yards or below 20 points, but I have full-confidence that they will look much better than they did in Lambeau.

While Sundays performance may have been ugly, frustrating and disheartening, in the grand scheme of things, it didn't mean all that much. The loss wasn't all that costly and the defense's performance doesn't damn their chances against the Saints this week. The Lions will be healthier, more motivated and much more focused in the playoffs, and there's no reason to believe they are incapable of pulling off the upset. Bring it on, Saints.


  1. I agree, good work lets go get them

  2. It is not the defense that depresses me, it is the lack of any attempt at a real running game. Passing records don't mean shit if you still can't win.

  3. Maybe non, onanboy, but the Lions were pretty damn close to beating the Packers without attempting to establish the run. I think the Lions can (and have) win games without devoting many snaps to the running game.