Monday, September 30, 2013

The Best Eight Minutes in Football

I haven't had much of a chance to mull over the Detroit Lions' victory of the Chicago Bears on Sunday. After stressing over the somewhat frightening near-comeback in the fourth quarter and spending the rest of my evening trying to digest the Breaking Bad finale, I've lost sight of how much fun the first three quarters of that game was. I had to go back and re-watch a condensed version of the game just to remember what exactly had happened.

The first quarter of this game was not much fun. The Lions drove deep into Chicago three times, and came out with nine points. The defense gave up a 30-yard pass on the first drive, and a 53-yard rush on their third drive.

But, of all things, it was a special teams play that kick-started one of the most entertaining eight minutes of football I've ever watched this team play.

After receiving a line-drive punt, Michael Spurlock side-stepped one of the gunners, and the rest was history. The Lions started that drive on the Chicago 22-yard line. 3 plays later, they were on the goal line.

Then the Lions hit a crucial fork in the road. In a much crueler universe (one that we've experienced more than our fair share of times), Matthew Stafford would have been punished for his reckless goal line reach of the ball. But the Football Gods were merciful for an afternoon, and the ball landed right back in his arms.

The next play from scrimmage: Glover Quin takes a beautifully-read interception down to the Bears' 2-yard line. The next play: touchdown.

Two touchdowns in nearly 20 seconds. But the Lions weren't done there. The defense forced a three-and-out, including two plays for negative yards.

After another poor Chicago punt, the Lions had just 51 yards to go to score their third consecutive touchdown. It took all but two plays. After another wink from the Football Gods (in the form of a Calvin Johnson fumble recovery), Reggie Bush made amends on the next play by scoring the Lions' most impressive rushing touchdown since Jahvid Best's 88-yard scamper against the same Chicago Bears on a Monday night two years ago. Three touchdowns in just over three minutes.

And the Lions still weren't done. In a typical game, you'd see the Bears go down and maybe get a field goal on the next drive before the half. But the defense forced another three-and-out, led by a monster Ndmaukong Suh sack. Side note: let's face facts, Suh is the front runner for defensive player of the year right now. Status level: unstoppable.

Anyway, the Lions wasted no time in using their good field position (again) in trying to build on their 20-point lead. Unfortunately, after driving another 30-yards with ease, the Football Gods decided the Bears had had enough, and granted them one measly field goal after a Julius Peppers strip-sack.

Still, the Lions had turned 10-9 deficit with 8:30 left to go in the half into a 30-13 halftime lead. That was pretty impressive and insanely fun.

-------
Quick Notes:

It might sound weird to say in a game whose final score was 40-32, but the Lions defense really deserves most of the credit for the win. They had three sacks, four turnovers, five three-and-outs...and six points. They gave the offense good field position all day. The defense still gave up too many big plays, but they created enough big plays on Sunday to a point where it didn't matter.

The offense was a little disappointing considering how well the running game was working. Stafford was off, and the red zone offense continues to struggle (5 opportunities: 2 touchdowns, 2 field goals, 1 turnover).

Hey, just three penalties for 25 yards!

I'm Sorry, I Didn't Like the Breaking Bad Finale

I didn't like the finale of Breaking Bad tonight. And I'm not sure how to process that.

Let me begin by saying this isn't an attempt to be a contrarian or play devil's advocate. I was a fan of this show since it's very first episode. I can fondly remember huddling near the television in my cramped college apartment with my two roommates and being immediately enamored with the unique show. Since that moment, I have been constantly awe-struck by the writing, stylization and execution of the show through five amazing seasons of television. I was with the show every step of the way, and believed the show could do no wrong.

That's what makes Sunday's finale so shockingly disappointing for me. There's nothing more that I would like than to love this episode. And I figured there wouldn't be any sort of effort involved in reaching that goal. But I've sat on this episode for three hours now, and no sort of mental gymnastics have been able to spin that episode into what I had hoped.

Let me add one, large caveat before I get into my issues with "Felina". The execution of the finale was perfect and the ending worked. Walt's maneuvers were clever, the story was neatly wrapped, and, as always, it was beautifully shot and edited. It was a good, maybe even great ending.

But it wasn't the ending I wanted.

The first few seasons of Breaking Bad were kind of a fun romp (at least compared to the last). It was a fish-out-of-water storyline that had a nerdy school teacher mixed with some crazy, bad guys. It had some dark moments, but the show was a lot funnier back in those simpler times.

However, Walt soon found himself in some serious trouble, and the final season promised all of his wrongdoing would come to haunt him in the end. As the season grew darker and darker, and the death count slowly climbed, it became more apparent that this was not heading for a happy ending. Walt's family was in disarray. Hank was dead. The jig was up.

But the season finale undid all of that, and Walt was let completely off the hook. By the very end, not only had he succeeded in his original goal (providing wealth for his family), but he also mended his relationships with his wife (and shortened her prison sentence, to boot!) and saved Jesse before valiantly falling on the knife himself.

As the puzzle pieces slowly fell into place, I found myself in disbelief. I tried to convince myself Vince Gilligan was setting us up for the fairy tail ending only to pull the rug out from underneath us like he did in the half-season finale or at the end of "Dead Freight". But as the last minutes of the episode ticked off, and it became clearer and clearer that Walt's final plan would work to perfection, I fell back on the couch in disappointment.

I thought this final half-season was about Walt finally getting his comeuppance for his four-and-a-half seasons of misdoings. I thought it was Gilligan's way of saying, "I know those five years were a blast, but this is what really happens when a terrible person does terrible things." It would have been amazing and unprecidented to see Walt, in a last ditch effort to save his family future and his own legacy, come up short one last time, because happy endings like that aren't real. To end this episode on a heavy, dark note would have provided a much stronger punch. Because. while the last few episodes have been extremely hard to watch, they have been this show's best, most unforgettable work.

But what the final half-season was really about was making Walt the fun cowboy again. It was about bringing Walt back to a place of desperation and making him as pathetic and beaten up as he was in the pilot episode. It was about making him hit rock bottom, so that he could stoll back into the town he was banished from for one, final showdown and a chance to make everything right.

And I get it. It's a fun play on the common Western trope. And it's not even the fact that it was predictable or overused that bothered me. It just didn't seem like Walt, nor the viewers, deserved a happy ending.

Walt doesn't deserve a happy ending because there never was a real moment of unhappiness since he adopted his Heisenberg side. As he finally admitted in the finale, all of his actions weren't really for his family; they were for himself. And he loved it. You could say Hank's death was a severe consequence he had to face, but the truth is, he always hated Hank. Just go back and watch season one and watch Walter seethe at Hank in every scene they're in together. He may have lost the eternal legacy with his son, but he never respected his son in the first place. And who cares what Flynn thinks? He's going to college now!

We didn't deserve the happy ending, because we were complicit in Walt's actions. We were in Walt's corner from the get-go, and many of us stayed there to the bitter end. We were guilty by association, and we didn't deserve seeing Flynn get an education or watching our best friend Jesse drive away with wild glee from his own personal Hell.

While we and Walt were left unscathed from his unthinkable actions, everyone around him took the brunt of his punishment. His wife, his son, Jesse, poor, poor purple-less Marie. And the collateral damage of Walt's decisions is endless. Lydia, Andrea, Brock, Jane, Jane's father, everyone on the two 747s, Madrigal's president, Drew Sharp, etc. All of these people suffered because of Walt, and who had to foot the bill for all of that strife? No one. Walt won.

To me, the finale seemed to be one last ditch effort to get Walt back on our side. I'll admit, it almost worked on me in the last moments of the episode last week. The theme song, the final donning of the Heisenberg hat, the empty glass at the end of the bar. It was a badass scene that got me ecstatic for the finale. But as the week rolled on, and I considered what I actually wanted in the finale, I realized I was still not on Walt's side. But the temptation continued early in the finale. First, Walt out-witted Mr. and Mrs. Gray Matter. Then he came 100% clean with Skyler. And, finally, he even pulled out his endearing McGuyver side again. I was briefly considering joining team White. But it wasn't long before that all faded away, and I remembered that Walt had passed the point-of-no-return long, long ago. He needed to lose.

Unfortunately, that never happened, and Walt got to end his life just the way he had hoped. He had built and sustained an empire and his own legacy. He had supported his family's future. He had lived the last two years of his life in a wildly fulfilling manner. I guess it's a happy ending for everyone...except me (and the hundreds of other people whose lives were ruined by Walt).

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lions Victory GIF Dump: Bears Edition

FIRST PLACE GIFS!

Via SBNation:


YESSSSOHJESUSNOOOOOOOOOOYEAAAAAAHHHHHH

Over at Pride of Detroit, I specifically warned the Lions against pulling this BS:
"What the Lions cannot afford, however, is to turn the ball over on the ground. So no more reckless stretching the ball out for a few extra feet."
 I am sad to learn Matthew Stafford does not read my previews.

BUT THEN: REGGGGGGGIEEEEEEE

No. Not that Reggie.


NO, DAMNIT. NOT REGGIE WATTS...although I could watch Reggie Watts GIFs all day. Seriously, guys, Watch "Comedy Bang Bang."

THIS REGGIE (via SBNation)


Ohhhh yeah. That's the stuff. I get the feeling Jim Schwartz's wife may bust into his bedroom, and Jim will frantically cover himself up, with only the glow of his computer lighting the room. When his wife asks, "What were you doing?!?!" He'll only be able to respond, shamefully: "Watching tape."

A lot of football fans get excited over fat guy touchdowns, but I think that's petty and immature. I, on the other hand, love FAT GUY CELEBRATIONS! (via @bubbprog:)


THIS JUST IN: NFL fines Nick Fairley for unnecessary roughness. However, upon checking the tape and realizing it was Ndamukong Suh he knocked over, NFL actually awards Fairley $50K.

The Lions are now 2-0 in the division after going winless last year. Next week: Lambeau. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Introducing DetroitOnLion.com!



You've probably noticed by now that I have a new site. If you haven't and are still reading this from my Blogspot site, go here, dummy.

Indeed, I have upgraded to a ".com" and shed myself of the ".blogspot.com" stigma. Before I get into the specifics of the new site, I must give due dilliagence to the creator of this site, and close friend, Neil Shapero.

About three weeks ago, out of the blue, Neil came to me with this site. It was done completely unsolicited and came with no strings attached. Neil just thought (rightfully) that my site could use a makeover and went ahead and did it. Almost 100% of what you see on this site was his creation, and I cannot be happier with what he's done with the place. I asked Neil if there was anything I could do for him, but he's quite a humble guy and didn't want me to plug any of his projects. So let me just say this: if you like the way this place looks and are looking to make a site of your own, I can get you in touch with Neil, and I'd highly recommend him.

For now, I still have the Blogspot up and running. So if you are comfortable with that eye-sore, the site will be kept up to date for the time being. I am getting a fair amount of traffic at that site still, and it has a pretty good google ranking, so it's worth it for me to keep it for awhile. However, I do plan on having that site redirect to the .com site eventually, but I will give you all fair warning before that happens.

The .com site is obviously much easier on the eyes, but expect small changes as I get used to the new format. I ask that you please be patient with any little bugs you see, and I appreciate any feedback you may have. I plan on getting rid of the ugly, outdated banner that doesn't really fit the new look. I may play with extra widgets or sidebars, depending on what I find. The content, however, will be the exact same. The only change is that I plan on writing more, now that I have a professional-looking site. I also recently got my hands on a copy of Photoshop, so you can expect more, terribly-edited pictures, like the one in my breakup post with Pizza.

Anyway, let me know what you think. You can reach me, as always, through the comment section, by twitter, or by email.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Two Days Late "Live" Blog: Lions at Redskins

First Quarter:

15:00 - The Lions are sacked on the very first play, as they left a man completely unblocked. It seems they were completely unprepared for it. Also, the Redskins were clearly holding on this play, and were later called for this exact infraction. I wonder if Rob Sims let the refs know immediately. Check it out:



The idea is to completely occupy the all of the offensive lineman's efforts and pull him away from the gap where the blitzing man is coming. It works to perfection, and Sims can't do anything about it.

12:52 - The Lions' first offensive drive ends with two throw-aways to Brandon Pettigrew. The offensive line is struggling to deal with blitzes, but I'm sure they'll adjust once they get the print-outs from the overhead cameras. Oh crap. Oh, and that was the last two times Pettigrew will be targeted for the rest of the game.

11:25 - Louis Delmas with a great read on the WR screen pass. He forced a big third down (that the Redskins converted on).

9:44 - NEAT FORMATION ALERT:


That's (from left to right) Ziggy Ansah, Jason Jones, Ndamukong Suh (standing), Nick Fairley, Willie Young.

9:31 - On the Stafford pick-six, I put most the blame on Calvin Johnson. His route was completely disrupted by press coverage, and on a quick play like that, timing is key. Johnson didn't hit his mark. Just look how off-balance he was when Stafford was throwing the ball:


8:33 - This is just a great play call and read from Stafford. The Redskins send six to pass rush, leaving Joique Bell wide open to release from the backfield. Bell also picks up an extra 15 yards after contact, and add another 15 for roughing the passer. Great stuff.

7:15 - This is the third time already a Redskin's linebacker has shot through a gap into the backfield. The offensive line is taking too long to get to the second level.

5:20 - Bell was responsible for 58 yards and a touchdown on that drive. Reggie who?

4:30 - Ansah had a good pressure there to force the incompletion, but the play was a screen to his side of the field. So...half credit.

3:52 - More penalties on special teams. Special teams penalties are my biggest football pet peeve. They're almost always called and hardly ever help the team out. Lions start deep in their own zone again.

1:43 - Great read by Stafford. Saw Ryan Kerrigan, who was lined up over Ryan Broyles, sneaking in to "blitz." Stafford quickly faked the hand-off and immediately rifled it to Broyles, who was wide open.

Second Quarter:

14:55 - This play looked to be a quick screen to Calvin, and probably would have worked, but for the second straight game, Stafford was hit in the face with an unsuspecting snap. Please stop doing that.

14:53 - Dominic Raiola or Rob Sims fail to pick up the blitzing man, so Stafford is forced to just throw a jump ball. Lucky for him, he threw it to Joseph Fauria, who is now everyone's mandatory favorite Lion.

11:11 - The Lions linebackers are biting hard on every play-fake. Look how close together all three linebackers are on this play-action pass.

9:07 - MINI FOX ANNOYANCE RANT: The announcers are so enamored with both Robert Griffin and the Lions' "dirty" label that they show NO angles of the Chris Houston interception. Rather, they're more interested in finding out if Griffin was roughed in any way. I'm annoyed.

6:53 - Great inside move by Ansah to draw the holding penalty and prevent the 30 yard pass play. That's almost more important than an actual sack, but unfortunately is nowhere on the stat sheet.

5:27 - The Lions got extremely lucky that this third-down conversion doesn't go for more. The Lions blitzed 8(!!!!) players, and Griffin got the ball out quickly. Rashean Mathis was the last man back, and had to battle through a unguarded receiver downfield. Luckily, he makes the tackle.

3:38 - Both Chris Houston and Louis Delmas took terrible angles and gave up the outside to Alfred Morris for the easy touchdown. It didn't help that Glover Quin got swallowed up inside as well.

2:00 - Burleson with a huge catch in traffic, and great instincts to pick up all the YAC. *sigh*

0:49 - For those of you that like to complain about the Lions not targeting Calvin in the redzone enough, that was three straight plays to him, all incomplete.

Third Quarter:

14:30 - Hey, Griffin learned how to slide. Well, I guess that's taken care of. I'm sure that issue won't pop up again any time soon...

10:36 - Bad facemask call. So...expect an upcoming fine for C.J. Mosley, because the NFL does not make sense.

9:07 - Ansah picks up his second sack of the day, but the truth is, he was stonewalled on the play by a tight end. He still has a long way to go in terms of pass rushing. He's been solid in run defense, though.

4:22 - Stafford makes the right read and tries to hit Theo Riddick on the wheel route. Riddick has a step on the linebacker but Staff leads him just a tad too far. I spend the next 20 seconds thinking of how easy of a touchdown that would've been for Reggie Bush.

4:18 - Interesting miscommunication/frustration between Raiola and Sims again. They both double team a defensive tackle, then Raiola heads to the second level, even though Sims doesn't have leverage on the tackle yet. After the play, the two yell at each other:

0:00 - Everyone is annoyed by the 3-yard pass to Broyles on 3rd-and-5, but the truth is, he probably should have had a first down. First, credit to DeAngelo Hall for closing in on the play so quickly. But Broyles has a 2-3 yard cushion when he catches the ball, and is unable to use that space to make the veteran miss.

Fourth quarter:

12:50 - The Redskins are dinking-and-dunking their way down the field, when, for the first time in the game, RGIII finds open field in front of him...then proceeds to jump forward, face-plant, and fumble without anyone touching him. Gift #1.

12:18 - The catch Calvin makes on the sidelines here is one of those plays that you can't possibly believe there's any chance that ball was complete while watching live. Even when you see the clear replay of the catch, you think your eyes are playing tricks on you.

12:13 - Burleson with a 47 yard reception as he found the hole in the zone. *sigh*

11:16 - Kris Durham does a good job initially getting the inside track on this quick slant, but he's either held by the corner, or fails to properly cut inside and maintain that edge. My guess is that he was held, but there's no definitive angle here. Of course, the angle FOX gives us on the replay only shows the corner as he's batting the ball down. So helpful.

11:13 - Stafford targeted Fauria twice in the endzone this drive. Think he's got a new favorite red zone target?

9:15 - Have I ever told you how great and sensable the Calvin Johnson Rule is? Probably my favorite rule in the entire rulebook. Gift #2.

9:05 - The tight end in the backfield immediately runs directly into the snap on the next play. Classic 2013 Redskins. Gift #3.

6:58 - This was easily the most impressive throw Stafford made all game...and it was a beauty. With pressure up in his face, Stafford didn't do what he usually does: throw off his back foot and hope for the best. Rather, he remained composed, stepped fearlessly into the pressure and laid a perfect ball to Durham:

That's some sexy pocket presence
5:06 - First off, I think Joique got the first down on third down, but that aside, the Lions were absolutely right in going for it, and, thankfully, didn't try anything fancy on fourth down.

4:02 - The trust and chemistry between Stafford and Johnson is absolutely unstoppable:
When Stafford throws this ball, Johnson is blanketed by a linebacker and a safety is closing in on him from up top. But Stafford throws him open between the two defenders and before the safety can get to him. Calvin knows just where to go, and even breaks a tackle to get in the endzone. Thing of beauty.

Rest of the game - There isn't much to recap for the rest of the game, other than the personal foul on Mathis was ridiculous and the Lions were absolutely right to run the ball three times when they got the ball back.

Oh, and this (via SBNation.com):

The Washington D.C monster has been slain. 

Pizza, We Need to Talk...



Hey Pizza, would you come over here for a minute? We need to talk.

Look, we've had some great times together...

ARE YOU BREAKING UP WITH ME?????

Please, Pizza, just let me talk.

We've had some great times together: birthday parties, office parties, lonely nights alone with just you, me (naked) and a marathon of Yo Gabba Gabba on Netflix. You've put up with my rants on how only savages eat pizza cut into squares. I've consoled you when you've felt self-conscious about looks (No, baby, Digiorno is nothing like delivery. I promise.).

And our relationship has survived many hardships. I've put up with countless burns on the roof of my mouth. Even that time you caused me third degree burns, I lied to the cops and told them I fell onto a candle with my mouth open. You didn't even cry when I "accidentally" dropped you off a balcony and onto my ex-girlfriend. It was at that point, I knew we were in love.

At least that's what I thought. I've spent the last two hours talking to our friends, Breadsticks and Hot Wings. We've agreed: you have gone to far this time. You can hurt me all you want, but once you start going after my Detroit Lions, you've crossed a line that can never be uncrossed. I know you have a special relationship with Chicago, and I've really tried hard to come to terms with that, but that does not excuse your behavior last night. 

I want to stress that this is my decision and my decision alone. Please do not let this sour your relationship with Breadsticks and Hot Wings; you guys make such a great combo. And I swear, Two-Liter Pop has nothing to do with this. He and I broke off things ever since my last dentist visit.

But we cannot continue this relationship together. The pain you have caused me today will take 3-4 months to repair, depending on the orthopedic surgeon. Maybe we can still be friends, I don't know. The wound is too fresh for me to even think about.

I know we probably can't completely avoid each other in the near future. We may bump into one another at a friend's house. We'll awkwardly say "hi" to each-other with minimal eye contact. But I beg of you, when this happens, do not come on to me. It will be hard to resist your tantalizing pheromones, but please, just keep your lid closed. For me. For us.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Breaking Bad Death Power Rankings: "Granite State"

Just one more week left. One final act. Yet as the end of Breaking Bad is near, it seems like the chance of survival for most of our beloved characters is slimmer and slimmer. The finish line is within sight, but there's a machine gun and a bottle of ricin blocking the path. In my final Breaking Bad power rankings, I lay out my predictions:

Deceased:

1) Agent Gomez - It's been a week since you've been gone, Gomey. Still no sign of anyone knowing or caring. :(

2) Hank - It seems Hank has become a father posthumously. Walt Jr. may as well change his name to Hank Jr. with the verbal smackdown he delivered to his father over the phone.

3) Andrea - I should have know when Walt showed up on her doorsteps, trying to lure Jesse out of the shadows, that this show was not done with Andrea and Brock. This may have been the biggest gut-punch the show has delivered yet.

Still Kicking:

4) Walter - Chance of death - 99% (+5%, -1 spot in rank)
Walt clearly doesn't have a lot of time left, and his legacy is already all but dead. It amazed me how deluded he was for the majority of this episode. He still figured there was a way to salvage his family, when it was clear (even by Saul) that that ship had sailed. Once Walt finally got the memo, it appeared he was ready to face the music. But all it took was a little White lie to Charlie Rose, tarnishing his name, and now Heisenberg is reborn. The question is how long will this newly reinvigorated Heisenberg last before he becomes just the corpse of Walter White.

5) Jesse - Chance of death - 90% (+10%, -1 spot)
Last week, I alluded to the possibility of a scenario in which Walt comes back to save the day from the Nazis. It appears we've taken a step closer to this potential outcome. It is clear Walt wants the Nazis dead, and they are almost certainly the intended target of that big-ass gun in his trunk.  But, again, I just don't see that "happy" ending happening. Jesse only has one thing left in this world he cares about: Brock. And now he is just an abandoned orphan that Jesse will likely never see again. Even if Jesse somehow survives the last episode, he will have nothing and nobody to live for. He is as good as dead.

6) Todd and his 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution of Nazis - Chance of death - 75% (+45%, -1 spot)
You may have noticed that all of the deaths in this final few episodes have been at the hands of the Nazis, who seem to be in control of everything and everyone. However, they are proceeding with their business under the assumption that Walt is cool with them, when we know that Walt is very much not cool with them. I think best-case scenario for Walt is that he take out a few of the Nazi's before he's eventually taken out. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which the whole gang is taken out, but I suppose it could happen with a little of the Heisenberg/MacGuyver magic we've seen in the past.

7) Lydia - Chance of death - 50% (+30%, -1 spot)
Lydia will obviously have some sort of place in this finale, and her storyline is the most intriguing to me. Will she ever realize Todd's true love for her? Will Walt target her for enabling the Nazis? Will she get caught for distributing the blue-again meth, while under intense heat? I honestly have no idea where her character will go from here, but I am 100% curious.

8) The Gray Matter Family - Chance of death - 45% (not previously ranked)
In the midst of a PR disaster control, Elliot Schwartz (the co-founder of Gray Matter) let loose the lie that Walter White's only contribution to his company was the name. Walt, only having his legacy left to protect, will not that statement slide. I think it's safe to say that Walt's relationship with Elliot's wife is also somewhat strained, considering the last time the two met, it ended like this:


I put the Gray Matter Family as the most likely candidate for the vial of ricin.

Out of Harm's Way?

9) Skyler - Chance of death - 20% (+10%, -2 spots)
Skyler doesn't seem like she's under any potential physical harm, but it appears she could use a better lawyer or two. The law is coming down on her hard, and all she can do is stare into the void with a cigarette hanging loosely from her paralyzed lips. Still, there are a few ways I could see her meeting her demise: at the hands of the Nazis or by her own hands. It would leave Walt Jr. Flynn Hank Jr. in a terrible place, but he's not exactly at the breakfast buffet in Disneyland right now anyway.

10) Holly - Chance of death - 10% (+210%, +1 spot)
I'm officially worried, guys. Holly has been almost-abducted two weeks in a row now, and the outlook isn't good for her. The best case scenario for Holly is child protective services, but I don't think Skyler would let that happen. The more I think about it, the more I think a Skyler-Holly murder-suicide makes sense. But that couldn't possibly have that happen on a TV show, right? RIGHT?

11) Walt Jr. Flynn Hank Jr. - Chance of death - 5% (+2%, -1 spot)
Hank Jr. has officially become a man after telling off his dad. I don't know what's next for him, but I think the best place for him is with his Aunt Marie. Let them live a sad, depressing life together.

12) Marie - Chance of death - 2% (-5%, -4 spots)
I am a little disappointed that Marie has lost all the fight in her. I really thought she may be the one to send Walt to an early grave, but it appears the death of her husband has just taken all the life (and purple) out of her. The fantasies of her poisoning Walt still linger in the back of my head, but it seems like there are about 400 other more likely scenarios in which Walt meets his doom. We may have seen the last of Marie already.

13) Saul - Chance of death - 0% (-5%, -4 spots)
In happy news: Saul got away! Long live, The Bob, for he is pure light and energy and will lead us up Heaven's chimney!

Victory Mountains out of Molehills

A celebration worthy of a 2-1 record
Sunday, the Lions played their worst game of 2013 in Washington. They allowed the Redskins to total 120 rushing yards on 5.5 a carry. They could only muster 63 rushing yards at 2.7 a carry against a team that was giving up, on average, over 200 yards per game at 5.4 per rush. Their offense failed to score any points in the third quarter for the second straight week. And their special teams units were bad again, forcing the offense into tough situations.

This was a team they should have beat with ease, yet they need two fourth quarter breaks the seal the deal. Without the unforced Robert Griffin fumble or the "Calvin Johnson rule," I don't think the Lions win that game.

But they did win it.

They made plays when they needed to, and they got breaks when they usually were broken by them. The Lions' last true offensive drive was a thing of beauty. Up just three, the Lions of old, would have likely bled some clock, possibly tacked on a field goal, and would have watched the Redskins drive 80 yards for the game-winning score.

But Matthew Stafford, and a surprisingly aggressive coaching staff, led the Lions on a 9 play, 71 yard drive, draining 4:19 off the clock. The drive was astonishingly balanced, with six rushes and three passes. Though most of the yardage was gained on the three passes (60 yards, no incompletions), the running game bled clock and kept the defense honest.

However, the most important moment of this game occurred late in this drive. After a poor play call (and an even poorer spot by the refs), the Lions faced a 4th and inches situation.  The choice: kick a 30-yard field goal, go up by six, and let the defense hold the Redskins for the remaining five minutes, OR go for it, risking guaranteed points for a chance to go up two scores and bleed an additional minute or two off the clock.

Conventional wisdom always says, "Take the points." Force Washington to score a touchdown. The Lions defense, after all, had held up fairly well all game. But Jim Schwartz looked beyond conventionality and did a cost/benefit analysis. The risk of not making 4th and inches is much less than the reward of a potential touchdown. And not only did he make the right decision by going for it, they made the right, simple playcall of a QB sneak that I was begging for on third down. They got the first down. They aggressively went for the touchdown through the air two plays later, and they were rewarded with a win.

I want to stay away from cliches and avoid saying things like, "going for it there, and being aggressive is a 'winner's mentality.'" Too often aggressive play-calling is confused with a higher desire to win. Going for it on fourth down was the right call because it made sense mathematically, not because it was aggressive. I'm sure many of you were upset when the Lions decided to run the ball three times on their last possession, but it was the right call mathematically. It was done with the same winner's mentality that going for it on fourth down was. It was a risk/reward analysis that was calculated correctly. And it very well may have been the difference between a win and a loss.

In the NFL, almost every game is close, whether you play well or not. The key to victory is to take those little opportunities, and turn them into something bigger. So when RGIII stumble/slid and dropped the ball on the way to taking the lead, the Lions didn't just go three-and-out and give him another chance. They drove 65 yards and took the lead. And when the Lions finally got on the right side of the "Calvin Johnson rule," they didn't allow Griffin to complete the very next pass. They forced the Redskins to punt two plays later. And, most importantly, when given a chance to put the game away late, they threw conventionality to the side, and turned that 2-yard QB sneak into the game-winning touchdown.

---

Random thoughts:

Stafford is playing his best football right now. I plan on getting into this more later in the week, but he is showing poise in the pocket, his footwork looks better, he is reading the blitz and coverages at a veteran level and has somewhat improved his accuracy.

What a find Joique Bell was. His 9 yard pickup on the last scoring drive was huge, and just a brilliant display of his elusiveness. He also didn't drop the ball this week, which is nice.

I thought this was a pretty poor showing from the defense this week, despite only giving up 13 points. Linebackers and defensive ends were being victimized by cutbacks and play-action all game. They deserve credit for not giving up too many big plays and getting two turnovers. But the Redskins had seven drives of 30+ yards (the Lions only had five). That's not a good sign.

The Lions are 2-1, just one game behind the first-place, undefeated Chicago Bears. However, the three opponents the Lions have played are a collective 0-6 in games not against the Lions. Things may get bumpy next week against the Bears.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Detroit Lions Victory GIF Dump: Washington Version

The Lions were victorious on Sunday, which means it's time to celebrate in the best way possible: with GIFS.

As always, these GIFs do not belong to me. I do not have the technology to make GIFs, as they are a wizardry art I do not know the secrets to. My source of GIFs comes from SBNation, who is always on top of things. Check them out on twitter, and find all sorts of other fun GIFs at their "Lookit" section.

Things got off to a bad start on Sunday, when Stafford threw a pick six, and we were all like...
...we didn't know what hit us.

But after awhile, the Lions remembered they had secret weapon (and my future best friend/boy band-mate) Joseph Fauria. Then the party was on:

It can not be understated how solid of a celebration this is. Obviously, this is the "Bye Bye Bye" dance, made famous by 'NSync. But Fauria takes it to a new level. Most people would just stick with the easy bye-bye wave with the hops. But Fauria does the little criss-cross leg move that only true 'NSync fans could appreciate.

Then, after the final seconds rolled off the clock, and the Lions had finally won in Washington D.C. for the first time ever, Jim Schwartz decided to celebrate the occasion by planting his headset into the turf -- never to be touched again -- so that the Redskins would never forget this day.


BONUS GIF: From DieHardSports.com


Calvin Johnson is good.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Breaking Bad Death Power Rankings: "Ozymandias"


Well, there you have it. We have been impatiently looking over the edge for the past month, seeking the thrills that rush through our body as danger lingers inches away. But the wind finally pushed us over the edge this week, and Vince Gilligan sent us plummeting with the devastating 60 minutes that was "Ozymandias." As expected, we saw the end of Agent Gomez and Hank, and as I feared, it was absolutely brutal to witness. But the episode didn't stop there. The show pushed us further down as nearly everything in Walter White's world collapsed and we were left with nothing but the crater-like hole left from the fall.


That's what is amazing about this show. The pace is unbelievably fast. There were so many horrible, yet twistedly fantastic scenes last night: Walt laying, mouth agape, in the desert as he stares at the first real consequences of his actions: the stiff body of his brother in law. The absolute terror of the knife fight scene. The phone call. The fallout from the shootout could have lasted several episodes, but Breaking Bad shoved it all down our throat scene-after-scene. And I actually felt sick afterward. Twenty-four hours later, I can still feel the nausea lingering.

Deceased: 


1) Agent Gomez - Poor Gomey, we don't even get to see you meet your demise. We blinked an eye, and you and your majestic goatee were gone forever.

2) Hank - I hope there is an endless tap of Schraderbr√§u in heaven, and Shania Twain is giving you that tuggy you've always wanted.

Still Kicking:


3) Walter - Chance of death - 90% (no change)
Well, technically "Walt" is dead. Whoever left town in that red van was not the family man Walt had convinced himself that he was, and as the flash forward showed us, he's clearly not "Walt" when he turns 52 years old in a few months. He physically survived with nothing more than a hand-slash, but every other part of him is dead. He claims he still has business to take care of, but to what end? He has nothing but an $11 million barrell left to salvage.

4) Jesse - Chance of death - 80% (+5%, no change in rank)
After losing his game of hide-and-seek, Jessie became the meth equivalent of the "captured scientist forced to build a death machine against his will "movie trope.The good news is that he's in the care of Todd, the Nazi with half-a-heart of gold (the other half is...well...Nazi heart). The bad news is that we all know what happens after the scientist has fulfilled his duties. We've obviously not seen the last of Jesse, and I'm confident Walter's return has something to do with him, but Jesse's outlook looks increasingly dim

Out of Harm's Way?


5) Todd - Chance of death - 30% (-35%, no change in rank)
It was a flawless victory for Todd and his boys in the shootout. His nonchalant enslavement of Jesse was absolutely terrifying, yet strangely endearing.

Here's what I wish would happen. Walt comes back into town, having re-evaluated his life, and decides he can salvage a minor victory in the midst of all this failure by saving Jesse. He comes in, guns-ablazing, and frees Jesse from his dog house/meth lab. However, I have little hope in this outcome. While Jesse certainly deserves a happy ending, Walt does not deserve to be the hero.

6) Lydia - Chance of death - 20% (-10%+1)
It's unclear how Lydia will fit in to the rest of the story, but I highly doubt we've seen the last of her. Her unstable personality and erratic behavior still make her a threat to be killed -- especially when her co-workers are a bunch of rich, murderous Nazis.

7) Skyler - Chance of death - 10% (-10%+1)
Days don't get much worse than the one Skyler just had. First, she has to tearfully confess to her son that his father is a meth druglord and will likely be in prison for the rest of his life. Her son responds by calling her as bad as Walt, which is just about the worst thing you can say about anyone in the Breaking Bad universe. However, she finally stood against Walt when learning of Hank's death, and in the end, Walt finally cedes to her. He lets his family go, which is the best thing he's done for his family during the show's entire run.

8) Marie - Chance of death - 7% (-33%, -2)
I think I've finally given up on my theory that Marie will get herself into trouble. What's more likely is she'll fall into a depressive funk and trade in all of her purple clothes for black. Still, that conversation with her therapist about poison lingers ominously.

9) Saul - Chance of death 5% (no change in percentage, +1)
We may not ever see Saul again until his prequel spin-off (WHICH IS NOW CONFIRMED!!!). All of his ends are pretty much tied up, and we didn't even get to see Walt come to him for the Hoover MaxExtract Pressure Pro Model 60 special.

10) Walt Jr. FLYNN - Chance of death - 3% (-12%, -1)
One of the most devastating aspects of Sunday's episodes was watching Walt Jr.'s fantasy world crumble. Here he was, just trying to make every day an A-One Day, and all of a sudden his father is a criminal, his mother is an accomplice and his idolized uncle is dead. No amount of McGriddles will make him ever have an A-One Day again. But when Walt Jr. stepped in front of his mother and dialed the police, we saw him transform into FLYNN - MAN OF THE HOUSE. Goodbye: Walt Jr. Hello: Flynn, the man who loves...dinner?

11) Holly - Chance of death - -200% (-200%, no change in rank)
HOW DARE YOU EVEN PLAY WITH THIS IDEA LAST WEEK, VINCE GILLIGAN. NOT. OKAY.

Three Days Late "Live" Blog: Lions at Cardinals


First Quarter:

14:50 - Ah, the end-around to Nate Burleson. One of Scott Linehan's favorite plays. Unfortunately, it's read uber-quickly, and the Lions' opening drive is over before it even starts.

14:00 - Nice snag by Patrick Edwards. Then a flag is thrown after the play for illegal substitution. It should be 3rd and 13 from the 17. Instead, the down is strangely moved back to second down, and the previous play is completely negated. That makes no sense, as the penalty happened well after the previous play was done. How this happened without anyone making a stink, I have no idea. These are the kind of minor things that irk me most -- much more than a questionable pass interference call. This was a black and white mistake, and pretty inexcusable, if you ask me.

10:44 - Oy, Rashean Mathis.


10:38 - Glover Quin with an absolutely perfect hit. Timed perfectly, placed directly on the ball. That's the huge safety play the Lions have been missing.

9:12 - What a terrible route run by Kris Durham. He just curled the route, instead of a crisp cut, and then face-planted. Time to send out the Bat Signal for Ryan Broyles.

 4:09 - Solid second offensive drive for the Lions. Obviously, it's disappointing to end up with zero points, but the Lions started from within their own 10-yard line. From there, they did a good job mixing play calls, and methodically moving down the field, until a bad rush by Reggie Bush forced them into a long field goal attempt.

3:33 - What is roughing the kicker, if not that? Dude went FLYING into Akers untouched.

0:45 - Bill Bentley with two good open field tackles, the second of which forced a fourth down. He's proving to be a solid slot corner (yes, I know what's coming...)

Second Quarter:

14:24 - After a quick three-and-out from the offense, Sam Martin had a beautiful directional punt of 47 yards with no return. This was a big play, considering the Lions could have given up great field position.

11:49 - You cannot play the pass better than Chris Houston just did. Got in position quickly, and turned his head before the ball was even thrown. It was a perfectly thrown pass, and Houston easily batted it away.

11:00 - Bush has been an invaluable asset to this team already, but if you watch him closely, sometimes he'll just dumbfound you with some of the poor decisions he makes.


I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. This happens more often than you'd think.

10:31 -  I had the perfect angle from the stands for this Matthew Stafford pick six. It was an irresponsible throw, as the linebacker read him the entire wa....HOLY SHIT TOUCHDOWN DETROIT LIONS! There was no window to throw that ball. None. That play must have been some sort of magic trick...excuse me, illusion. Just an incredible throw by Stafford that I'm not sure anyone else in the NFL could have made.

7:42 - Willie Young dropping deep into coverage on this play, and Carson Palmer easily flicks it over his head. The blitz coming from the left never made it there. The Lions' blitzing woes continue.

7:32 - To say Darius Slay is going through some growing pains would be a gross understatement -- completely lost track of his guy on that long touchdown.

7:26 - There's the second special teams penalty, and the Lions will find themselves within their own 10 yard line for the FOURTH time already.

6:00 - Bush jukes the hell out of his man and makes the 26 yard pass play look easy. So, of course he was injured on the play.

4:10 - Aside from his earlier drop, Burleson has been great this season. He's been making catches in huge situations and through a lot of traffic. Take notes, Pettigrew.

1:55 - Just a great response from the offense. This may have been the Lions' best drive of the season: 10 plays, 92 yards. Mixed in three rushes with seven passes. And most importantly, got seven points, not three.

Third Quarter:

13:30 - Suh with two consecutive quarterback pressures. He's quietly having a solid game. 

12:43 - Michael Spurlock has yet to show me anything positive this year. Looks like another year of having no return game whatsoever. Lions start within their 10 yard line AGAIN.

11:55 - First play of the drive: Bush collapses on his rubber knee. Second play, he fumbles. He's clearly not feeling well. Take a seat, young man.

11:09 - Great, quick read by Quin on the play to disrupt the slant before Larry Fitzgerald could get downfield and block. Huge defensive stand after the offensive blunder.

10:18 - Drive summary: drop, drop, drop, sigh.

7:10 - The best part about Levy's pick six? Suh had another chance to take out a player behind the play, and he actually restrains himself.

5:41 - I don't actually think this Patrick Peterson play was supposed to be a trick play. I think Suh blew up the end around, and Peterson did a brilliant job of ad-libbing. Everyone blocking on the play looked surprised when Peterson reversed field and threw the ball. I could be wrong, but kudos to Peterson either way.

5:20 - Suh is the only player on the defensive line playing football right now. And he's dominating.

Hey, look! There's me!


1:42 - RANT ALERT:

I don't like the penalty "illegal hands to the face." I don't mean I don't like it in the sense that it shouldn't be a penalty. I just don't like it. Being a defensive lineman is a battle of the hands. Between all the slapping, shoving and punching, a hand can accidentally contact the head so easily and so inadvertently. I understand why it's a penalty, and I agree that it should be, but here's the problem: illegal hands to the face rarely helps the guy who commits the foul. Usually he's still locked up pretty well by the offensive lineman, so the act has almost no affect on the game itself. Yet, this penalty was absolutely devastating for the Lions. Willie Young was completely away from the play (until after the fumble) yet his error made the entire play obsolete. I don't think it was a bad call or is a bad rule, it just sucks. It absolutely sucks.

Fourth Quarter:

11:00 - Stafford was absolutely brilliant against the blitz against the Cardinals. He almost always knew where it was coming from, and he got the ball off quickly and effectively. This was really a superb game by him.


9:30 - Carlos Dansby just saved the Cardinals. If Dansby hesitates for a half-a-second more, Larry Warford gets down-field, blocks him out of the play, and Calvin is dancing in the endzone. Instead, he's unable to pick up the first down, and the Lions get their field goal blocked. Humbug.

5:52 - Hey, a Darius Slay sighting. And he was in position!

5:45 - I still don't know if this ball was complete. The Cardinals receiver clearly gets his hands underneath the ball initially, but you can see the ball bouncing around his arms, and just as the ball MAY HAVE hit the ground, Louis Delmas comes flying into the screen and obscures our view. Veteran play by Delmas: A National Treasure.

4:40 - Drive summary: run for zero, drop, drop, swear, punch, cry, seppuku.

3:10 - Tully with three big run stuffs in the last two drives. Neat.

2:09 - Tough break for Bentley. His real mistake came early in the play, when he bit on the out route. When his receiver cut it back up-field, he was chasing to get back in the play. If this ball is thrown accurately, Bentley may actually break it up, as he smartly gets his hands up. But since the ball was underthrown, and Bentley was desperately trying to catch up with the receiver, when the receiver slowed to try and get to the ball, Bentley bowled over him.

1:54 - Why is it that I hate Brandon Pettigrew more when he makes a circus catch?

1:22 - I know it's not his personality, but Calvin needs to complain about not getting pass interference calls more. I don't necessarily think this was pass interference, but there's nothing wrong with pleading your case to the refs.

1:15 - Valiant effort by Nate, but he cuts his angle a little too heavily. He does a great job of creating separation with his hands, as you can barely see at the bottom of the screen.


But then he fails to cut up-field enough, and Mathieu able to recover and make the play before the first down sticks. FOX shows replays of everyone but Nate. Neat. Time to stare idly out of the car for six hours on my way back to LA.

I'm never going back to Arizona

Last December, my buddies and I headed to Glendale, Arizona to see the Detroit Lions get slaughtered by the 4-10 Arizona Cardinals, who were fresh off a 58-0 shallacking at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. This week, the gang and I returned to the desert, in the hopes of redemption. Needless to say, things didn't go as planned.

Sunday was off to a bad start the moment we returned to the Cardinals' amazing tailgating area known as the Great Lawn. 

Last year, new to the area, we ventured around the various tents until we found a radio station sponsored tent. Open to the public, the tent had monitors of all the early NFL games on it. So we stayed there for the entirety of the pregame, chatted with some strangers, and sucked down a beer or two. It was pleasant.

This year, with a year of experience under our belt, we went in with a lot of expectations. However, between the three of us (all college-educated, by the way), none of us even considered how different December Arizona is from September Arizona. We searched for safe haven for the suffocating sun, awkwardly bouncing from tailgate to tailgate. The radio tent we were banking on was nowhere to be found. Eventually we gave up, figuring it was better to let the sun leatherize our skin while we rested on the cool grass, than to lug around a heavy cooler while making everyone around us feel a little uncomfortable. Eventually, we found a sponsored tent to hang out in, but the DirecTV wasn't working, and it was near game time anyway. It was not pleasant.

I don't have some clever way to tie this into the state of the Detroit Lions, I'm just trying to avoid talking about the game. Because the current state of discourse is annoyingly negative. I was fortunate not to get internet access inside the stadium, therefore shielding myself from the obnoxious knee-jerk reaction from everyone. I stayed away from the majority of the reaction post-game as well, fearing to run into a devastating Breaking Bad spoiler on twitter. 

But Monday morning, the hornet's nest was still abuzz, swarming around the two most fruitful targets: Scott Linehan and David Akers. Linehan is easy pickens, as there's nothing easier than playing Captain Hindsight with play calls. Akers is automatically punished for not being Jason Hanson or having a youtube skills competition video. In reality, the two had only a small hand in the demise of the team on Sunday. The defensive line failed to get any pressure on a team that was sacked four times last week. The Cardinals were able to run effectively against a Fairley-less defensive front. The Lions young secondary held in there valiantly, but their inexperience caught up with them. And when Reggie Bush and Patrick Edwards went down, the Lions proved, once again, that they are woefully thin in receiving threats.

That play call that didn't work was a bad play call.
The problem with this team is multi-faceted, yet for some reason I'm not worried. Maybe because last year tempered my expectations, maybe because we still continue to see flashes of how good this team could be, even if they're only flashes. But the Lions find themselves at 1-1, tied with 15 other teams in the NFL for ninth place. They've already tallied a division win, and their schedule doesn't look quite as daunting as it did at the beginning of the year.

Many think the Lions are doomed to bad luck or their players are especially prone to mistakes, and the Lions will never get past that. But that's not quite what I see. If you look around the NFL, you see plenty of teams blowing fourth quarter leads or committing a debilitating penalty late in the game. Look at the Tampa Bay Bucs, who lost consecutive games in the last seconds of regulation to start the season. Look at San Diego, giving up a 21-point second half lead. Hell, the Super Bowl champions are barely 1-1 right now. This is what the NFL is these days: an insanely competitive league, where the outcome often hinges on the luck of one or two plays.

This is the best take I've seen on the Lions of now (and of the past two years, as well):
There's only a few teams impervious to the cruel fate of NFL luck: the Patriots, the Peyton Mannings, and...well...that's really all right now. Of the ten teams that went to the playoffs last year, seven are 1-1 or worse right now. It's easy to be competitive in the NFL, but it's hard to be one of those teams that doesn't have to rely on the luck of a penalty flag or a fumble recovery.

The Lions are not one of those extraordinary teams, but that doesn't mean they can't do extraordinary things. They weren't significantly better or worse in 2011, and they made the playoffs. All it takes is a string of luck at the right time, just ask the 9-7, 2011 Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The Lions have more than enough talent to reach that threshold. So if you want to scream from the streets that the football apocalypse is upon us, you are more than welcome to. But I'll be over here, flipping a coin, hoping I can string together a few heads in a row.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

FOUR! Days Late Live Blog: Lions vs. Vikings

FIRST, SOME WORDS:

Apologies for the lateness of this article. It's been a busy week, and I haven't had a chance to rewatch the game as of yet (I STILL haven't caught up on "Boardwalk Empire," either, just so you know the sacrifices I'm making).

Anyway, I also want to apologize for the snark yesterday. After pleading to everyone to be a little less cynical in the offseason, I fell off the wagon yesterday, and my ugly, condescending side came out. Since then, I've checked myself into a wonderful facility full of loving people. After staring into their koi pond for five hours last night, I've come to an inner peace, and I don't expect a relapse any time soon (unless Suh gets into more trouble or the Cardinals win Sunday). Do we all love each other again? Great. Let's do this.

First quarter:
14:55 - The Lions start the game with a 10+ yard run by Reggie Bush on the tails of great blocks by Larry Warford and Jason Fox. All three being new contributors. That's promising.

13:33 - I really love this middle screen to Bush on third down, but the problem is, it's illegal. Warford doesn't engage with any blockers at the line of scrimmage, so he heads down field to block a linebacker. If he has not come into contact with a linemen, he cannot go further than one yard down the field before the ball has been thrown. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present exhibit A:


But, hey, it wasn't called, so, nice job!

12:50 - Speaking of plays I love, this was my absolute favorite play of the day. The end-around to Bush fakes nearly everyone in the Viking front seven. Leaving a whole lot of space for Joique Bell:


11:28 - One of the few errors Bush made all day caused the Lions to stall here. Bush had a clear opening, but he missed though hole (partially because Raiola's man got a hand on him and turned him around slightly). Still, there's no excuse for not picking up at least one yard on the play. Instead, the Lions have to settle for three points.

11:00 - JUST KIDDING, ZERO POINTS. HERE WE GO AGAIN SAME OLE LIONS FIRE MILLEN MAY THE SCHWARTZ BE WITH SOMEONE ELSE.

10:50 - ...aaaaaaaand commence bitter silence.

9:45 - ohcoursereggiebushisinjuredgodhatesthelionsihatetheNFL

6:58 - I just woke up from my satanic, hypnotic trance, and see that the Lions have already made their way back to the red zone on the shoulders of...Joseph Fauria? Where am I?

6:20 - What a great pass and amazing catch on Calvin's touchdown. It's just an absolute thing of beauty and nothing in the world could corrupt such a wonderful play.

6:20 - ...nothing but an irrational rulebook that just strives to punish the glory that is Megatron.

4:15 - All four defensive linemen are in the backfield before Adrian Peterson even touches the ball. Awesome.

0:45 - Oh Tony. That seam route was your bread and butter two years ago. I hate to see you like this. Please come back to us Tony. I'm still waiting for your Gangnam Style touchdown celebration. I will never give up on that. I'll even take some elevator-guy pelvic thrusts. Please, Tony.

Second quarter:
15:00 - First things first. Absolutely right call to go for it, and it's at least a little promising seeing Jim Schwartz make that decision. The call on Brandon Pettigrew was iffy. Pettigrew had great positioning on him, and didn't need to hold him. All he needed to really do was put all his weight on the defensive linemen and let him take himself out of the play.

14:50 - The Vikings first completion (and attempted pass) comes in the second quarter against Darius Slay. Gave him a little too much room there.

14:01 - Great play by Slay forcing the tipped ball, and excellent awareness by Levy catching the ball and scoring the touchdown. That's all I have to say about that.

13:53 - There's bad Stafford. Obviously not his fault the pass was intercepted, but he was locked onto Calvin, who wasn't open, while Bush had plenty of room along the right sideline.

13:40 - Tulloch is WAAAAAAAAAAAY out of position, biting hard on the play-action.

12:36 - Houston is in good position, doesn't really interfere despite the penalty, but fails to look for the ball. If he turns his head, it's an easy pass defended.

12:22 - The Vikings have run seven offensive plays and have two touchdowns. The Lions have run 26 plays and have zero. I'm pouty.

10:51 - I'll be honest, after the Lions went three-and-out here, I had pretty much given up on the game, and really, the season. The team was oddly familiar in it's mistakes, and failure to capitalize on their opportunities. I was feeling awfully down, man.

9:21 - Bill Bentley with the almost pick-six. I like this dude.

3:00 - Alright, time to calm down. The defense is holding up. Maybe the offense can rebound before the half...


OH COME ON! This can't be happening. It's like I'm watching a parody of a Lions game.

2:41 - The fact that what Louis Delmas did is considered a penalty is almost as stupid as Delmas doing what he did. I swear this stuff happens all the time during the game. Of course, that doesn't excuse Delmas for doing some completely unnecessary trash talking.

2:15 - LORD SUH WILL SAVE US ALL! ALL PRAISE SUH!

1:06 - Did I actually just witness that deep pass to Nate Burleson, or did I slip into some sort of stress-induced time machine coma? OOooOOO "Time Machine Coma," time to write a new screenplay!

0:10 - CHRIST, JOIQUE BELL! HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING FROM CHICAGO LAST YEAR? I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO ANGRY OVER A LIONS TOUCHDOWN BEFORE! Oh, and despite the hodgepodge of comedic errors, the Lions are within one at the half. Jesus Christ, I'm already exhausted.

Third quarter:

13:48 - And this was my favorite defensive play of the game. Nick Fairley with the stunt move. Nick Fairley with the QB SMASH.

11:05 - Fine. I believe in the Madden Curse. And Calvin is still feeling the residual effects. ARE YOU HAPPY, FOOTBALL GODS? CAN YOU LEAVE MY FAVORITE PLAYER ALONE NOW?

10:54 - Burleson with two big catches on this drive. I feel maybe not as many people want him cut anymore. Accurate?

10:20 - The Lions take the lead after scoring three touchdowns on that drive, though only counting one. At this point, it certainly feels like the Lions have gotten over the hump and will settle down and win this thing.

6:46 - DeAndre Levy, who I already should have mentioned a dozen times this game, does a great job of staying home on this play-action, and forcing Ponder to make a quick thrown. This was a huge third down stop, and prevented the Vikings from ever retaking the lead.

5:58 - Long Touchdown, how I've missed you so much. Why did you leave us last year....oh what am I saying, I'm just so glad you're back!
Long Touchdown and I, reunited at last. I'm so sorry, dad...uh...I mean Long Touchdown.
3:38 - Slay's last play of the game before getting benched was a long 47-yard bomb in which he got absolutely burned on. However, Delmas is as much to blame, as he was supposed to be playing deep middle. He got too focused on another route, and was flat-footed when the Minnesota receiver ran by him.

Fourth quarter:

10:00 - The Lions hit a streak of lucky breaks. First, Peterson has an unforced fumble. Then as the Lions struggled to put together a drive, they get bailed out by a mild roughing the passer call on third down. Then they get another penalty in their favor on another third down (again, a pretty iffy call)

6:51 - The most important thing, however, is the Lions took advantage of this opportunity and put seven on the board.

6:51 - Scratch that, the most important thing was this:


5:30 - POTENTIALLY EXCELLENT SIGN: The Lions, up 10 points and obviously trying to run clock, were able to successfully run against eight men in the box:

Bush gained 11 yards on this play...BETWEEN THE TACKLES
0:00 - Lions win! I have difficulty drawing any conclusions from this game. In fact, I have trouble formulating any sort of rational thought after that emotional roller coaster. Football is back.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Fan's Guide to Defending Your Team's Players Against Haters

For much of Ndamukong Suh's professional career, he's had to deal with on and off-the-field distractions. But he's not the only one that has to deal with these issues. It can be hard on fans like you and I. It's difficult when a guy you've been programmed to like does stuff that may not seem so smart or nice. But don't you fret, fellow Lions fan. I'm here to help. I've put together a handy guide of what you should do if a player on your favorite team gets in trouble.

1) Blame the victim
This is an easy one. Whoever is the victim in a situation with Suh is likely to have some sort of flaw in his or her life. Maybe he's a poor. Maybe he has a bad job. Probably he's a Bears fan. But there's one thing that is certain: he's a loser who must be trying to get some national attention. Because we all want fame, right? Even if this kind of fame is millions of football fans tweeting you death threats. Fame is fame.

Lions fans are already really good at this. Last year, when Suh was accused of sideswiping a car, the daughter of the other motorist took to twitter. Several people mocked her "LOLs" and overall stupidity that in no way was confused with just being a teenage girl. The attention she received was large enough that her account is now private. Great job, guys! Now her anti-Lions propaganda will no longer be spread to the masses. Problem solved, and in no way was the actual problem deflected.

2) Blame the NFL
"Hey, what's the name of that commissioner of that sport I like? Yeah, Goodell, I hate that guy."

Everyone hates commissioners. Even that word, commissioner, makes me want to go to city hall and shake my fist for hours. Commissioners may be the one responsible for bringing my favorite sport to me in more and more convenient ways, and they may make sports more and more popular, but SCREW THEM. They enforce rules and stuff. That makes them The Man. And if there's one thing "V For Vendetta" taught me, it was to hate The Man. Any enforcement of any rule is infringing on my rights, man. DON'T TREAD ON ME.

For off-the-field incidents, you may have to get a little creative to use this excuse. But if Suh gets into any more on-the-field trouble (and, let's face it, he will) this is the ideal option. Don't bother waiting until a punishment is doled out, just take to the internet and start some mob-lynching!

Here's some great examples of some vigilante heroes:
Good point! I'm sure Goodell is out to get a guy who has brought millions of dollars in revenue to the NFL through jersey and ticket sales! Oh, and great, totally non-offensive twitter handle! I bet you're a great judge of character!
This is a particularly great tweet, because it not only calls Goodell a pansy, but it also reminds us all that football is about smash-mouth hits. And if we aren't allowing players to dive at other players' knees, the only other option is to hug it out for 60 minutes.


3) Blame the media
This is a particularly ingenious defense: completely ignore the actual events, just yell at the media for reporting them! I mean it's not like that's their job!

"Why, what did the media do?" Uh, they found facts about a person who happens to be on your favorite team and reported them. THAT'S WHAT. Clearly they have something against your team, and must be digging and digging just to bury your favorite player under their dumb facts and real-life events. Everyone knows that when you discover news, you're supposed to ignore it, unless it is happy and positive. That's journalism 101, folks. Maybe some of you "media members" need a refresher's course.


Here are some TRUE Lions fans taking some "writers" back to school:
Yeah, Dave Birkett, Detroit Lions beat writer. Why run a story about a player on the team you cover? You just HAVE to be another guy to jump on the pile. Do your job and stick to the Lions.

Yeah, Dave. Why publish this story right after the $100k fine? Is it because the police cleared Suh just a few weeks ago? Pfffttt, yeah right. Is it because this was happening right in the middle of the preseason, one of the busiest times for Lions writers? Get real.

This was released now because Dave Birkett hates the Lions -- the team that he writes for to get a paycheck -- and has a personal vendetta against Suh. In fact, I bet Dave has never reported anything positive about Suh, ever. Enjoy the page hits, hater.

This is only meant to be a starter's guide. As time goes on, and other players like Suh emerge, you'll start finding advanced ways to defend your hero. Maybe compare someone you disagree with to Hitler, that's always a good option. Remember, just keep looking for that excuse, because it's out there, just waiting for you. And whatever you do, never admit that Suh, or any other teammate, may have made an error in judgement, even if it's just a small one. Because if you think anything Suh has done in his career was even remotely in the wrong, you're just a dumb hater. I bet you're racist, too.

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Interview with "In The Zone" - 9/8

Yesterday, I spent the afterglow of the Detroit Lions' victory chatting it up with the boys at "In The Zone" on WCET. Check it out below:

Breaking Bad Death Power Rankings: "To'hajiilee"

We have finally reached the edge of the cliff. And just as we're ready to peer down and see out imminent fate, everything goes black. All we're left with is the name of our cruel storyteller: Vince Gilligan.

The deaths will finally come next week. I'm not sure if I'm excited or terrified, but when the body count tally starts next week, there will definitely be some sort of release. However, there's no doubt that the standoff will just be the tip of the bloody iceberg. And when the punishment comes raining down, I don't think it will be too pleasant for anyone, including the viewer.

1) Agent Gomez - Chance of death - 99% (previously not ranked)
We have a new number one! Gomez, who was completely off the radar previously, shoots up through the rankings as Breaking Bad's likely first death in the final string of episodes. He's clearly lacking the firepower of his enemies and he is the most expendable character out there. No one there is fighting for him, no one there wants to really protect him, and he didn't even get to make one last phone call to his wife. I'll miss your goatee, buddy.

2) Hank - Chance of death - 95% (+30%, +3 spots)
Hank is currently 2-0 in shootouts. He's disposed of Tuco easily. And when Tuco's cousins had him in his crosshairs, he managed to pull out the victory. But I think the '72 Miami Dolphins will be popping the champagne next week, because Hank is running low on escape routes and ammo. Hank is way overmatched at this point. And that phone call to Marie certainly felt like writing on the wall. Of course, that phone call was so blatantly-unsubtle, it could very well be misdirection from Gilligan.

I've run the Breaking Bad simulator over 200 times and the only way Hank survives is through Walt. In this sole scenario, gunfire ceases long enough for Walt to gather his wits. He blackmails Todd's family, saying if they dispose of Hank, he will not cook for them. This is certainly a plausible scenario, and the exact one he's used for Jesse in the past. But if that happens, where does that leave Hank? How do they keep him indisposed without killing him? I don't have an answer for that. Therefore, he dies.

3) Walt - Chance of death - 90% (-9%, -2 spots)
Walt finally relinquishes his spot at the top of the charts. We know he survives this shootout, and we're pretty sure he avoids jail. The cancer continues to look worse, but it seems like a lot of his rivals are on their way to the mortuary. The story will almost certainly end with his death, but even though he's literally in the backseat, he'll likely find him self in the driver's seat soon.

4) Jesse - Chance of death - 75% (+5%, no change in rank)
Not much change for Jesse this week. It remains unclear if Todd and his gang are even aware of Jesse's presence in the desert. And although Jesse has no weapon on him, he does have a fully functioning car that conveniently is not littered with bullet holes. I'm not sure what would happen if he jumps in and takes off. Do the skin heads direct fire that way? Or are they too distracted by Hank and Gomez to notice? I think we'll find out next week.

5) Todd - Chance of death - 65% (-15%, -3 spots)
Todd, who I learned this week has the same ringtone as I do (really), holds all of the cards right now with his family and they plan on playing every single one. So far, though, their aim leaves plenty to be desired. Todd and his gang may have the weapons, but they don't have the smarts to outlast Walt in the long run.

Plus, look at Todd.

If there's anyone that deserves to die, it's this guy.
Has anyone ever looked so non-threatening in the middle of a shoot-out? Hold the gun like man, Todd: one hand, cocked to the side.

6) Marie - Chance of death - 40% (-35%, -3 spots)
Marie takes a huge plunge this week (though not the biggest), as it looks like she's destined for the life of a widow rather than a life of non-existence. Of course, I think it's entirely possible that in reaction to Hank's death, she goes after Walt and quickly finds herself overmatched.

7) Lydia - Chance of death - 30% (no change)
Lydia has proven to be pretty adept at masterminding her meth operation. Even after being threatened by Skyler to stay away forever, she's managed to manipulate Walt back into cooking for her. It'll be interesting to see when/if she pushes Walt too far.

8) Skyler - Chance of death - 20% (-40%, -2 spots)
Skyler is back in a spot of ignorance, totally unaware of chaos going on miles away in the desert. Her two biggest threat, Hank and Jesse, are unlikely to be of any danger to her anymore. Hank won't survive much longer, while Jesse just doesn't have it in him to actually kill Skyler.

However, if Walt really does don his chef hat again, Skyler and Walt Jr. could definitely be used as threats against him. I certainly wouldn't put it past Lydia or the Todd crew.

9) Walt Jr. - Chance of death - 15% (-5%, -1 spot)
Even though his dad is currently flailing in the midst of a hail of gun fire, and he's stuck at work on a weekend, Junior seems to still be having an A-One Day.

10) Saul - Chance of death - 5% (-5%, -1 spot)
Saul is looking much better after his beating at the hands of Jesse, but mentally he's a mess. With jolly ole Huell missing, presumed by him to be offed by Jesse, Saul is scurrying around New Mexico hoping to find a safe haven. When in reality, no one really cares about him right now. Don't worry, Saul, Junior was still pretty psyched to see you.

11) Holly - Chance of death - 0% (-3%, -1 spot)
If I insist this won't happen, it won't. Right?