Sunday, January 13, 2008

It's been how long?

As I'm in a NFL mood, (I mean, who isn't? It's the best football weekend of the year!) and it's probably the last time I'll have reason to being the SOB's up till we get closer to the draft, or the incommunicado, long in-hiding, Matt Millen speaks, I'm going to touch on the Lions.

I've spent the past day and a half watching the NFL conference semi-finals. It's been a nice weekend of chilling out, and enjoying, for the most part, well played football by 8 good to great teams. (You make it this far into the playoffs, even in today's parity filled NFL, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and call all the conference semi-finalists good. Obviously the Patriots are on another level altogether...)

I realized something as the Giants' Armani Toomer was running down the sidelines for a touchdown against the Cowboys at Texas Stadium.

It's been 16 years since we've seen the Lions play in such an important game. 16 years?! That's essentially an entire generation. Hell, might as well be 116 years! As I type this little factoid up, up, FOX broadcast a graphic telling us the teams that have gone the longest since their last playoff win.

This has to be the Detroit Lions mascot.
The poor guy looks half dead and mangy. Bubbles, is that you?

The Bengals were first at 17 years, and our soul-crushing Lions were next, at 16 years. FOX ran a clip of the TWFE's patron saint, the Big Buck, getting a Gatorade shower after the greatest victory in my lifetime of Lions fandom, the '91 Dallas playoff win. Good times, good times...

What a dubious way to yourself mentioned on the NFL's biggest stage.

As we Lions diehards watch the playoff teams go at it hammer and tong, we can see with our own eyes just how far away the Lions are from seriously competing in the NFL. Think about it. Just how many players do they have that would start for a playoff team?

Just off the top of my head, I'll say the following...

Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, Dominic Raiola, Ernie Sims, Shaun Rogers, Dewayne White. You could also add kickers, Jason Hanson and Nick Harris. A few of those are a stretch, but White and Raiola both played well this season, and Johnson was a #2 overall draft pick, so I'll give it to them.

But other than the 3 players on each side of the ball, and being generous in including the 2 kickers, could you see any other current Lions playing in January?

Jon Kitna? We saw how he folded under playoff pressure against Pittsburgh, when he stepped in for the injured Carson Palmer a couple of seasons ago in Cincy. No.

Cory Redding? The Redding of 2006, yes. Not the ineffectual, "I got my money so I don't need to work hard" Redding of 2007.

Jeff Backus is being paid like an elite tackle, but he's far from actually being one. Another no.

Damion Woody, once an pro bowler on a Super bowl team, was so bad this season, he was benched. He didn't get off the bench till things got so dire at right tackle Woody was forced back into the starting lineup. He gets a no.

As for the rest of the Lions, do you see anyone else on either side of the line, in the backfield, the linebackers, or receivers playing right now? Mike Furrey and Shawn McDonald could play in most team's 3 or 4 receiver sets.

But that's it. The rest of the roster is full of never-were's and used-to-be's. Which also means that the Lions have absolutely no depth. None whatsoever.

That's how far away the Lions are from competing in January. They have a roster full of personnel mistakes. Draft reaches, free agency misjudgments, waiver wire wonders, NFL rejects.

That's an amazing accomplishment in total ineptitude, considering the Lions have picked in the top half of the NFL draft every season since 2001.

As a Lions fan, it's even more frustrating to see the Packers, who were worse than the Lions a couple of years ago, make the NFC championship game. Green Bay looked to be toast. But a smart GM in Ted Thompson made a good hire in coach Mike McCarthy. The Pack had a couple of good drafts, and with the resurgence of Brett Favre, who looked DONE a year ago, you have a team in the NFC title game.

Green Bay's success proves a quick turnaround in the NFL is possible. In fact, they made it look easy! Thanks to the draft, a salary cap, weighted schedules, free agency and non-guaranteed contracts, the NFL is designed for worst to first turnarounds.

Designed for everyone but the Detroit Lions, that is...

1 comment:

  1. Oh come on! Lots of Lions could play for other teams. When McQuarters left, did anybody here think he could accomplish anything on the field? Or Charlie Batch? HA!

    The trick is finding a team that has depth and allows a player to use his strengths, while covering up his weaknesses.

    The Puddys of course do just the opposite.

    The saddest thing is that, with all the high picks, free agent signings and the like, I still can't even *imagine* the Lions going to the SB. Next year, the year after, or in my lifetime.