The Detroit Lions are currently 2-0 after the 48-3 curb stomping of the Kansas City Chiefs. But there are 14 games left of the regular season, so why get excited after just two games?
For those of you outside of Detroit, as well as skeptical Lions fans, allow me to explain:
You don't get excited about the Detroit Lions. You just don't. I'm pretty sure that Coleman Young made a law against getting excited about professional football sometime during the 1970's. Every single time a Lions fan drinks the kool-ade, they immediately feel their heart burn and stomach turn. Whenever the Lions organization, local sports media, or the team themselves give us fans a reason to get excited for Sundays in the fall, something always happens to bring our hopes crashing back to Earth. In fact, usually after week three, I stop caring about the Lions and find other ways to spend my Sundays off*.
*I hate to sound like a total fair-weather fan. But spending 3-5 hours of my time to watch a boring team lose every week is not the way I like to enjoy my weekends. You only live once.
I cannot count how many times the Lions have had leads in games (or kept it close), and ended it blowing it at the end. I cannot count how many times I have heard or read a football analyst use the phrase "the Lions just find ways to lose". It's always something different. The Lions turn the ball over. A player commits stupid, spirit crushing penalty that kills a drive or costs the Lions a game. A key player suffers a season ending injury or gets suspended (Charles Rogers, Charlie Batch, Jermaine Crowell, Kevin Jones, Shaun Rogers, Matthew Stafford). The coaching staff makes a stupid call (Marty Morningweg opting to kick heading into overtime against the Bears? Anyone?).
And go ahead, skeptics. Say what you want. Explain why the Lions will fail. Write about why the Lions will disappoint Detroit this season. They have not played any quality teams yet. They still have injury prone players. They have to play at Dallas, at Green Bay, and at New Orleans (three road games against really tough opponents). The competition in the NFC is stiff, and one bad team from the NFC West gets a playoff spot, essentially leaving only five spots open for the Lions to play for.
Take your explanation and shove it. I could care less. All I know is that I have not ever been this excited about Lions football. Ever. Even after they spent four first-round draft picks in three seasons on a quarterback (Joey Harrington), a running back (Kevin Jones), and two stud wide receivers (Charles Rogers and Roy Williams), Rogers could not stay healthy and their offensive line was shit. Even after they hired Mike Martz and kicked off with a 6-2 record a season later; I knew that the Lions had a fluke, first half schedule and would get their asses handed to them afterward (they went 1-7 in their last eight games, finishing the season 7-9). Even the last time the Lions made the playoffs, it was their first season without Barry Sanders, so I did not expect much from them that season.
So guess what skeptics and doubters? You can all kiss my Honolulu-blue ass for all I care. Because I have five reasons on why I am so excited to watch the Lions this season.
5. Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford is giving Lions fans hope for the first time since Barry Sanders
I am not exaggerating when I say this: I have NEVER seen a Lions quarterback of this caliber. Ever. Matthew Stafford is a fucking machine. It's not like the guy gets lucky and makes one amazing pass to a superstar receiver every other game, tricking you into thinking that he may have potential as a young quarterback (I was tricked by other young quarterbacks like Harrington and Mike McMahon). This guy makes ridiculous throws all the time.
In fact, when I was watching the Lions play the Chiefs during week one, I could not help but notice that I had a full-on erection after Stafford completed a ridiculous pass to Tony Scheffler. Only two other men have given me erections: Tom Brady (best quarterback alive, and arguably the best since Jon Elway), and Ricky Rubio (arguably the most talented passer in the world). What do these two have in common? They're both amazing at passing balls in their respective sports. I know Stafford still has a lot to prove, but he has at least shown me that he can throw the pigskin as precise as anyone.
Ricky Rubio's passes never cease to give me a boner
Stafford continues to impress me. I am simply not use to a quarterback of this consistency. The quarterback position has been a revolving door of frauds, disappointments, and flat-out terrible quarterbacks. Rodney Pete. Eric Kramer. Scott Mitchell. Charlie Batch. Mike McMahon. Joey Harrington. Jeff Garcia. Jon Kitna. Daunte Culpepper. I'll even throw in Drew Stanton, considering that second round draft picks should amount to become better players than third string quarterbacks. Even Drew Breeze was drafted in the second round. I was never comfortable with any of those assholes snapping the ball. After watching Stafford these last couple games, I can know watch passing plays comfortably without having to cross my fingers hoping that it does not get picked off.
4. Jim Schwartz is a badass
Until Bill Cowher returns to the NFL, Jim Schwartz is the hardest coach in the league. Every time I see him on the sideline, he has look of disappointment. Not so much disappointment because his team is losing, or so much that something is not going his way. It's more like a look of disappointment that he is wasting his Sunday afternoons coaching professional football when he could be spending his Sundays choking out moose. And I mean moose as in plural. Which by the way, why is the plural term for moose "moose"? That's so stupid. It needs to be something like "meese". After all, the plural term for "goose" is "geese". And you cannot call them "mice", because that's for a mouse. Fucking English language.
I'm pretty confident that Jim Schwartz can beat some ass
Anyways, I love Jim Schwartz because he doesn't take shit from anybody, and yet he does not overreact like other idiot coaches. Watching Rod Marinelli and Marty Morningweg yell at players was so cringe inducing. They did it so often that nobody took them seriously. It's sort of like your one childhood friend that had a crazy mom. You know who I'm talking about, the mom that yells at her child for everything he does. After so many times of getting yelled at, the child stops taking the mom seriously and does not listen to her anymore. Whenever she rages, the child just thinks "I didn't do anything wrong, my mom is just going crazy again. I'll just let her be a bitch until she smokes a pack of cigarettes and calms down."
Having a coach like Jim Schwartz makes me even more disappointed that the Pistons did not hire Bill Laimbeer. Think about it, Detroit would have a hardass coach in every sport: Laimbeer on the Pistons, Schwartz in the Lions, Mike Babcock on the Red Wings, and Jim Leyland on the Tigers. Now the Pistons are going to be the laughing stock of Detroit sports because they hired a pussy like Lawrence Frank. And it's not like the Pistons could be any more short in the discipline area. There was a game last season where only six players suited up because the rest of the players skipped out on pre-game shoot around. Does that happen with Laimbeer? Hell no. He would have delivered an elbow to Rip Hamilton's crotch for crossing him. At the very least, Laimbeer's post-game interviews would have been awesome, giving me a reason to watch a losing basketball team.
3. The Lions still have yet to play their best football
Although the Lions were victorious against the Bucs in week one, they did have eight penalties and did not play well the entire game. In other words, the Lions played a decent team in difficult road game conditions (Floridian heat and humidity) and still soundly defeated Tampa Bay, a team that went 10-6 last season.
Even in week two, when they massacred the Chiefs like it was 1829, the Detroit faithful was barely a factor. This is Detroit, where we throw beer onto athletes and start brawls during basketball games. This is the same city where fans would stand outside of the Lakers, Spurs, and Heat hotels late at night during the playoffs and make noise to keep players awake. Woody Paige said one time on "Around the Horn" that Detroit is "the best baseball city in America". My aunt told me that when she was driving back from Canada the day after the Tigers won the 1984 World Series, it took her five hours to get from the Windsor Bridge to Auburn Hills (usually a 30-45 minute drive). Also, when the Lions hosted the Jets in 1997, the Silverdome was so loud at times that the officials threatened to charge the Lions a timeout if they did not quiet down because none of the players could hear the snap.
As you can see, Detroit sports fans get pretty rowdy. However, it has been over a decade since the Lions have had any respectable energy at home. I know that Ford Field holds roughly 20,000 less than the Silverdome did and has different acoustics, but I believe that when a big game is on the line (think when Green Bay, Chicago, and San Diego stroll through town) that the fans will have an impact on the game. Especially when linesman have difficulty hearing snaps AND have to think about Suh, Fairly, and Vandenbosh. I would hate to be on that side of the ball.
2. The Lions simply don't fuck around anymore
I mentioned earlier that one reason why I never got excited for Lions football was because no matter how close a game was (or even if they had a lead late), they always found a way to lose. Penalties. Turnovers. Poor game management. Bad play calling. Tough-luck officiating. And it was not so much that the Lions always found ways to lose. It was more that Lions fans could smell it coming from lightyears away. Needless to say, I was never comfortable with lead in a close game. It seemed like every single time the Lions were on a comeback drive or trying to protect a lead, someone would commit a personal foul, fumble the ball, miss their assignment, run the wrong route, or make some silly mistake that would leave Lions fans everywhere thinking "here we go again!"
This happened two times last season. One game was against the Bears, where the Lions drove down the field and scored a touchdown on a Calvin Johnson catch. The call was ruled incomplete and could not be overturned. The Lions ended up losing the game.
The second time came against the Jets, where the Lions only lost by three points in overtime after the Jets scored within the last minute of regulation to force overtime. First of all, the Lions kicker, Jason Hanson, was knocked out of the game, which cost the Lions an extra point (which would have likely prevented an overtime). Secondly, a costly Lions penalty gave the Jets good field advantage for their last drive. Even last season, it just seemed like the Lions could never catch a break.
Not anymore. Even in week one against Tampa Bay when Jerome Harrison was called for unnecessary roughness and gave the Bucs 15 free yards, I was confident the Lions defense would hold up. They followed up with only four penalties against the Chiefs in week two, and have yet to lose a possession on a fumble. Either way, I am not nervous as shit when I am watching the Lions in the fourth quarter anymore.
1. I don't really have another reason
Listen, if you're a Lions fan and are not excited after a 2-0 start and the reasons I listed above, get bent. I do not want to listen to an asshole that thinks he is smarter than everyone and wants to ruin the party with his analysis that he bases off of playing Madden and fantasy football. I have followed the Detroit Lions since I was eight years old, and this is by far the most talented and most disciplined Lions team that I can remember. Obviously not the most exciting considering that Barry Sanders played while I watched as a kid. Nevertheless, even if they do lose to Green Bay twice, Dallas, New Orleans, San Diego, and suffer one or two other bad/tough-luck games, so be it. They will still have a winning record at the end of the season, and will likely be in a position to compete for a playoff spot. I have not seen that since the 2000 season, when all they needed was a win at home on Christmas Eve, and they lost to an inferior Bears team when legendary kicker Jason Hanson missed a potential game-winning field goal attempt. That season ended in disappointment and opened the door for a decade of misery. And if they go 9-7 and lose to some tough teams on the way, at least I will have something to hang my hat on and have something to be somewhat proud of as opposed to hearing "they should take a wide receiver with their top ten pick" jokes all offseason.