Monday, June 15, 2009

Road to 0-16: Goliath beats David

When you are using effort to trump talent.  When you are using determination to out hustle skill.  When creativity upends convention. When you are the underdog. 

This piece from the New Yorker talks about a girls basketball team that used the full-court press to get wins by using effort AND unconventional tactics to overcome lack of talent.   It is a long article, but a good one and to me highlights the very reason Detroit went 0-16. 

 It comes down to one word:  Convention

Detroit played by the rules.  3 downs, punt.  Traditional formations.  Base Defense.  Minimal Blitzing.  Fair Catch.  I wrote before the Green Bay game to end the season that I wanted to see lots of crazy stuff on the field just to throw the other team off and give Detroit a chance but knew that I wouldnt. 

A quote from the New Yorker article that really sums it up: 

Davids victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly. It was not. Davids win all the time. The political scientist Ivan Arreguín-Toft recently looked at every war fought in the past two hundred years between strong and weak combatants. The Goliaths, he found, won in 71.5 per cent of the cases. That is a remarkable fact. Arreguín-Toft was analyzing conflicts in which one side was at least ten times as powerfulin terms of armed might and populationas its opponent, and even in those lopsided contests the underdog won almost a third of the time.

In the Biblical story of David and Goliath, David initially put on a coat of mail and a brass helmet and girded himself with a sword: he prepared to wage a conventional battle of swords against Goliath. But then he stopped. “I cannot walk in these, for I am unused to it,” he said (in Robert Alters translation), and picked up those five smooth stones. What happened, Arreguín-Toft wondered, when the underdogs likewise acknowledged their weakness and chose an unconventional strategy? He went back and re-analyzed his data. In those cases, Davids winning percentage went from 28.5 to 63.6. When underdogs choose not to play by Goliaths rules, they win, Arreguín-Toft concluded, “even when everything we think we know about power says they shouldnt.

When you play by the rules, you get stepped on.  Goliath puts another tally mark on his massive armor, and goes his merry way leaving behind the massacre at his feet. 

Lets not kid ourselves here, Lions fans:  Detroit did not field a highly talented team last season.  Top to bottom there was no way any sober individual could say the Lions had as much talent as the Chargers, the Steelers, the Eagles, the Giants, or even Green Bay.   But that doesnt mean there was no talent at all. 

Ive looked at what led up to 2008 now we are in to the season itself.  It wasnt talent or players efforts alone that led to an historic zero.  It wasnt just the GM that built the entity.  It was also largely on the shoulders of the coaches. 

As Ive gone over before, not only were the coaches unable, unwilling, or incapable of adjusting in-game they also failed to do so from week to week Teams used the same base plays against the same Lions defensive look for long running gains week after week.  For TD passes week after week. 

Still, we saw the Lions come out, line up in the same formations, and end up with the same result.  It was inevitable from the time they took the field.

Is there hope, Lions fans?   Next up  -- Road to 0-16: Beyond the Zero


CSteward2778 said...

Great post. sounds like it sums up the definition of crazy; doing the same thing repeatedly expecting different results.

nubsnobber said...


Congrats! You are being sited as a commentator so much on mlive, they have sited your blog today!

We can now call you "pungdiddy". I think it's a great way to show how well you write and bring an interesting side of the Lions to the general public, but do it in an informative, knowledgable way.

We've talked at length in the past, and again I agree with you. Consistency from top to bottom is something that Marinelli and all other coaches preached from Day #1, but they veered and never accomplished it, and that is what is needed in "D".

TimT said...

It's about what we do.


Rod Marinelli

Anonymous said...

No, "Our pad level wasnt that good, we need to work on pad level!!"

Rod Marinelli

Great post once again Detfan!! Keep'em comming!!!!


kitabug124 said...

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Detroit Lions: running the same plays over and over and expecting them to work this time.


DetFan1979 said...

I don't think I have enough bling to be pungdiddy. And the wife asked if that made her some kind of J-Lo type.

I told her she's cuter.

It seems so simple..yet...

It always seems the simplest things are the hardest to explain, and often, the hardest to teach.

Great comments all! Hilarious

spacecataz said...

DF, I love your Road to 0-16 series so far-- keep it up! The New Yorker article find is solid gold and, combined with your article, does one of two things for each reader: either articulates one of the main failure of the Marinelli regime perfectly for those who could not substantiate their suspicions, or brings to light these failures for those still seeking answers.

Thanks for the great reads. You are certainly doing your best to fill the void left by Birk's absence.

Andrew said...

Nice blog...great information..thank you..

Thank you so much...
For 3 Months Enjoy Free 28 Premium Movie Channels
Great to see this..