Friday, September 4, 2009

Simba or Nala, Detroit Lions 2009

Coaching is one of the most important factors in a football team's success or failure. Especially in a league that values and encourages parity, coaching, whether good or bad, can make the difference between the playoffs and the playouts. Bill Belichick took a reeling Patriots team that didn't want to sing "Lean on me" with Pete Carroll to the Super Bowl two years later. Bill Walsh exerted his genius to take the 49ers to the Super Bowl shortly after a 2-14 season. That being said, what do the following quotes have in common?

"But this league is about winning..."

"I don't look into the future...I'm going to get up and go to work."

"But overall, I feel that the progression of this team was a good one."

"Am I discouraged? No way, I'm not."

"The record doesn't show it, but I have great belief in myself."

Perhaps you were stumped -was it a Pop Warner coach? - until you read that last quote. Former head coach Rod Marinelli offered those post-game quotes when the Lions were sitting at 0-2, 0-4, 0-6, 0-10 and 0-12, respectively, last year. There is a symmetry with the games I picked for quotes, as there was no shortage of delusional quotes from the beleaguered coach after odd-numbered games, too. I still shake my head when I reread that Marinelli thinks the NFL is about winning. (Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones may still say its about $10 beers and sausages, and not about winning.)

Lions fans were of course hopeful when the pathetic Matt Millen was fired after the third week of the season last year, but the Lions just could not turn things around. The benchings of both Daunte Culpepper and Dan Orlovsky DURING GAMES must have led some to bring the paper bags out. I tried to see during the Thanksgiving Day game, but I was asleep about three minutes after the Turkey was eaten. Besides, its difficult to come up with a pithy name for a bad Lions' team like the "Ain'ts" back in New Orleans in the 1980's. It was hopeless.

Contrast the above with the following quotes from earlier this year:

"But it's going to be our decision here and its going to be based on the information we have at hand...not from taking a poll and not from an 'ask the audience' lifeline."

"But there were a couple [of players] that probably took themselves off the bubble, maybe more in a negative way rather than a positive way..."

Short of Barry Sanders taking over the head coaching position, these are the most refreshing thoughts to come along Lionland in while, and they are from the new head coach, Jim Schwartz. Except for the fact that Coach probably didn't know that "Who wants to be a Millionaire" is on only in the daytime now, I am encouraged that the Lions have finally righted the ship. Remember good coaching can make a mediocre team decent, just as easily as bad coaching can make a team, well, 0-16. Starting a football career working for Bill Belichick can't hurt either?

Presuming Matthew Stafford does not supplant Daunte Culpepper until week six of the season, the Lions have brought in a lot of young players whose immediate impact is questionable. However, offensive stalwarts Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith are each one year older and the defense won't give up 517 points again, right? Review: I'm predicting home wins against the Redskins, the Rams and the Browns and an away win against the Bengals (long rest after Thanksgiving). 4-12. Eh, could be worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment