Monday, November 19, 2007

Above the Fold - The God damn Lions

I was torn as to what story I would feature in "Above the Fold" this morning. It was a toss up between the Lions bad loss to the Giants, or Lloyd Carr retiring. I think I'll touch more on Lloyd later today or tomorrow, as the Lions still have me stirred up.

As I watched Sunday's Lions game, I became royally pissed off. As the game ended, I was infuriated. When I wrote my final thoughts few hours after the game, I was still angry.

To be honest, I rarely get that bent out of shape over a sporting event, not even the the Chris Webber non-time out, the Kordell Stewart Hail Mary, or 'Sheed leaving Robert Horry wide open got me all that bent out of shape. At least not for hours afterward. Nothing gets me as anywhere near as pissed off as the Lions have managed to do over the years. Yesterday was just another on a long list of Lions games that made me stupid furious.

As for the MSM and blogosphere, the reaction to the game ranged from shocked to accepting.

At the Freep, Michael Rosenberg puts the blame for the Giants loss squarely on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who seems to care more about his genius reputation than making the correct personnel decisions.

Does Martz want people to think he is so smart that he can turn McDonald and Mike Furrey into productive NFL players? Does he take special pride in trying to score with Kitna, who was an average NFL quarterback before he got here?

I can't answer those questions, but I do think it's fair to ask them.

In fact, I think the Lions' season hinges on the answers.

The Little Fella, who has been amazingly prolific (For him) over the past couple of weeks (2 opinion columns yesterday? Hell has officially frozen over!) concentrated his column of the asinine decision making that had the 5 foot nothing Shaun McDonald as the Lions primary target, that the more talented, and much taller, Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson.

A few minutes earlier, Kitna heaved an end-zone prayer to McDonald that might have been a touchdown but was wrestled away by James Butler for a pick. And though Kitna maintained that was a great defensive play, Butler is 6-feet-3 and McDonald is 5-feet-10. Those plays work better when the personal stats are reversed -- as in 6-5 Calvin Johnson against 5-8 Kevin Dockery, which resulted in the Lions' only touchdown.

Unfortunately, Johnson wasn't out there on that play.

Or enough of the others.

At the News, they had their A-List columnist, Bob Wojownski on the Lloyd Carr story, so we get the thoughts of their Z-Lister, otherwise known as the "Worst columnist in America," instead. Wobb says that Jon Kitna is to blame, even if he'd rather point fingers elsewhere...

First, he went after the Giants, dissing them. Worse, Kitna steamed about his teammates not doing their jobs, probably because they didn't bail him out in the Giants' 16-10 victory at Ford Field.

"I can't do anything for them," Kitna said when asked how to bring his teammates together for the Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers. "You have to look inside yourself.

"It's all on you. It's not about the leadership. It's about you being a man and being accountable for your job."

Not once, however, did Kitna take responsibility for his woeful play. What a shocker. Nothing ever seems to be his fault.

The Killer does a quick Q&A with himself at Mlive, and ponders the question EVERY Lions fan is asking. why isn't Calvin Johnson being used correctly?

Well, any plan, strategy or "groups" that don't include Johnson should be jettisoned immediately. This could be a case of Martz trying to outsmart himself because it's very difficult to believe there are schemes out there that have a better chance to succeed with Johnson standing on the sideline.

When things go wrong, Marinelli likes to say "It's on me."

Well, coach, this Johnson-lite strategy is terrible wrong and it's on you. Standing by and watching this kid's talent get wasted is almost criminal.

Fire Millen had nicknamed Shaun McDonald "Cheeseburger" a few weeks ago. Yesterday's debacle has now been dubbed the "Cheeseburger Incident."

Sundays game against the Giants shall forever be known to me as the "Cheeseburger Incident." Now, I don’t want everyone to think I blame Cheeseburger for the loss on Sunday. I do blame him partially because of the our last play that resulted in an interception. He should have caught that ball.

But I also blame Jon Kitna. Lets face it - Cheeseburger is our fourth WR on the depth chart. At the end of the game, it seems that Kitna had tunnel vision for him. To put the fate of the game on Cheeseburger is not fair to him. He is a good receiver - he has speed, decent hands and is shifty. But why not get the ball to one our fancy first round picks?

Scott at Quo Vadimus deservedly harps on Martz for his quick abandonment the running game, and says, in regard to the offense, it's "clear something, somewhere, isn't working, and the Lions are running out of time to figure it out."

And for the second straight week, the Lions lost all semblance of a running game. While Kevin Jones did have positive yards this week (as opposed to last Sunday's -4 performance, -18 for the team), he still only had 11 carries for 25 yards, and that was it for the Lions running game. Two weeks, 7 total rushing yards. Suddenly Mike Martz doesn't look like such a genius. The offense, outside of parts of games early this season, has never been in sync, and never put the games together everyone expected.

Lionbacker, in their comprehensive review of the "gut wrenching defeat," calls out Kitna for his poor late game decision making...

The interception in the end zone was made by James Butler who out leaped McDonald. With over two minutes remaining, even with the score the Lions would have given the Giants the ball back with plenty of time remaining needing just a field goal to claim victory. It was a poor decision by Kitna as McDonald was covered well by Butler. Perhaps if it was Roy Williams or Calvin Johnson the outcome would have been different, but it wasn't.

At Out of Bounds, Eno bemoans the fact that the Lions have players who can make plays early, but not when needed late in games.

Calvin Johnson, someday, may be that kind of player. We'll see. Or not, based on how the Lions choose to use him -- which is as if he's behind glass, like an axe in case of fire.

But Shaun McDonald is not the kind of player, sadly, who can make the big play at the big time. He demonstrated, in one play, why the Lions cannot and should not be taken seriously as a playoff team, when he let Jon Kitna's pass in the closing minute slip thru his hands. The ball was intercepted, and the Lions had let the New York Giants off the hook, 16-10, in a battle of two different 6-3 teams: one that has substance (the Giants) and one that has far less of that than style (the Lions).

That's "Above the Fold" for Monday, 11-19-07!

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