Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lions Congregation: Season Not Over

Lions Congregation: Season Not Over

Welcome back to the Lions Congregation!  This week, the panel addresses an email from someone who is a little tired of what he’s seeing on Lions forums, and wanted to know what we thought.  Have a question or topic you want to see addressed?  Email:

The Panel:

Michael of Blue and Silver Pride
Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience
NetRat of The Net Rat Detroit Lions
Zac of The Sidelion Report
Phil of
Steve of Detroit Lions Weblog
Joshua Pung of DetFan1979’s Roar of the Lions Blog

From Isphet: Many people are already saying the Lions’ season is over. Do you agree? (Isphet does NOT think the season is over as an FYI to readers, as per his comments he asked be included below. It was in regards to what he’s been seeing on message boards, etc.)

Michael: Thursday night at a speaking engagement in Oakland County, Jim Schwartz said that “looking at the schedule, there is no reason to think we couldn’t go on a run.” While it may be optimism (or at least the need for the head coach to look optimistic), it is actually a true statement.

This is a season of almost unprecedented parity in the NFL. And, perhaps not-so coincidentally, every team in the NFL is dealing with the injury problems that seem to only strike the Detroit Lions most years. The Packers, Vikings, and Bears all look vulnerable within the division and the Lions need to pick up some wins there before they expect any respect. The rest of the schedule is easier than the pre-bye nonsense (Lions have one of the toughest schedules in the league).

So is the season over? No. The Lions were never contending for the NFC North. What they are fighting for is respectability. The team can obtain that four ways–crush the team you’re supposed to beat (Buffalo Bills), beat a few teams you’re supposed to lose to, win a road game (Lions are @Buffalo Week 10); finally, look respectable doing all of the previous things.

Al: Yes, the season is over if you you believed the Lions had a shot at making the playoffs, or had an opportunity to just play meaningful games in December. In that regard, the season was truly over before it ever began.
The Lions were not going to seriously compete for anything but another high draft pick this season. Not when this team is still lacking talent in so many areas, roster depth is only a rumor. And don’t forget the injuries, starting with Matthew Stafford going down in the first game of the season. If the Lions had any hope at all in competing (small as it may have been), the constant stream of injuries dashed it.
But the season not over when it comes to this team preparing for the future. The Lions need to accomplish several things, from developing a personality on both sides of the ball, determining which players will be here for the long haul, developing young players into NFL caliber talent and purging those who aren’t, and(as much as I hate the cliche, I have to say it) learn how to win.
Regardless of the Lions’ W/L record, this season was always about laying the groundwork for upcoming years. So the remaining ten games will not be exercises in futility, even if the season is long over when it comes to the standings.
NetRat: That would depend on your definition of “over”.  If your definition of over is the traditional one “playoffs” then mathematically the answer is no, they are not mathematically out of the playoffs.  Do they have a realistic chance at the playoffs?  No, not really, but they do have a chance, especially with the way the other NFC North teams are playing, heck, with the way the entire NFC is playing.  A whole bunch of things would have to happen for the Lions to see the playoffs though and I for one am not getting my hopes up.  Then again, I predicted the Lions to go 7-9 this year (and that was before Stafford’s injury).  So I never once predicted the Lions would be in the playoffs this year anyway.

Because I didn’t predict the Lions season to be playoff bound I don’t define their season as over no matter what happens.  There is a great deal of work going on in 2010 that is sorely needed to make 2011 a success.  Matt Stafford needs to become a seasoned vet (first he needs to see the field). There are a ton of rookies from last year and this year that all need playing time in the NFL and with each other for the team to come together to make a run at it next year (assuming there is a next year what with the threat of lockout and all that).  There were quite a number of players added through free agency and trades that also need to become acquainted with the Lions schemes, coaches, and each other.  There are more “place holders” to identify and find replacements for (guys who just aren’t going to measure up no matter how hard they are coached).  Just this past week Mayhew made a couple moves in an attempt to further build up the roster before the off season even gets here.  The more moves he makes and that show they can be productive the less there is to do before the next season starts.  All these things HAVE to happen to take the team to that next step.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t competitive now, they are.  They are also entertaining.  The games are worth watching.  From a business stand point that is what you are striving to accomplish first.  Then from there you continue to build and make your push… assuming there is some kind of continuality going on, which for once the Lions seem to have.  You keep coaching these players, allow them the time to learn and play together, add a few more pieces next off season, and the next thing you know you built yourself a team.  A very good team.
What is happening is (and I truly believe this) the Lions are building a solid, very competitive, highly productive team right before our eyes.  It’s interesting to watch (at least it is to me).  So I don’t see the season as being over, not at all.

Now should the Bears further implode there is even a small chance that 8-8 could win the division.  That mean the Lions could be mathematically in it right up until the last game of the season.  With the number of home games coming up and the opponents they are scheduled to play, it’s quite possible the Lions won’t be mathematically out of the playoffs all through November even.  But I’m not watching the math this year, I’m not even hoping for the playoffs – not really, what I am doing is watching a team being built… the right way… and I am enjoying it.

Zac: The question implies that the Lions were somehow supposed to contend for a playoff spot. If there were people out there thinking that was a possibility then they were surely part of a very small minority of fans. If I’m supposed to opine whether the Lions season is over based on playoff hopes then yes, the season is over. Considering that was never a possibility to me then I will answer the question based on whether or not the rest of the season is of any use. In that case, no, it is not over. To me, this season was about developing an identity,determining which players are worthy of playing for an improved Lions roster, and quite frankly simply waiting for the next crop of rookies and free agents to add talent and depth to the organization. All those things can still be accomplished this year.

Phil: No, that’s wrong. Prima facie. That’s not my opinion.  It’s fact. The Lions’ season is not over. Furthermore,  it’s not even HALF over.
Look, the Lions have sucked for a long time. We know that. It doesn’t give fans a right to suck, too. (OK, so the U.S. Constitution gives them that right, but there’s no need to take advantage of it!) There are 10 more games in the season.

If you think it’s over, stop watching. PLEASE.

If you’re so disenfranchised about what this organization has put you through over the last 10, 30, 50 years — and believe me, I don’t fault anyone if he is — then wait until next year. Or at least until the draft season. But for God’s sake, let some of us analyze the team in peace!

Anyone who thinks this team is the same one we’ve watched over the last two years is clinically insane or suffering from amnesia (just refresh your memory by poring over some film from the last few years, if this is the case).
If you don’t think this is the same team, then you probably don’t think ”the season is over.” Keep watching some NFL football. Of the remaining 10 games, the Lions have six at home. They’re going to get healthier…if they can stay that way, they could certainly chalk a few more up under the ‘W’ column.

Steve: Far from, in my opinion.    The Lions have one win in six games, which is obviously disappointing.  Their week one road loss to the Bears will be permanently adorned with an asterisk, especially if the league changes how it handles the infamous “process” aspect of what constitutes a legal pass catch.
Throwing out the Bears game, the Lions have possessed realistic chances for a win or tie in each of their losses, excluding their road loss to the Vikings.  There are no moral victories, but it is safe to suggest that unless they are dogged with a rash of injuries, that they are improving and seem to be close to stringing together a couple of wins, at least.

The fact is, the Lions have eight winnable or potentially winnable games remaininging on their 2010 schedule, which includes home games against all three of their intra-divisional foes (Washington, @Buffalo, Dallas, Chicago, Green Bay, @Tampa Bay, @Miami, Minnesota).

The return of Matthew Stafford is another cause for excitement.  Given his limited play in recent Lions games, his return and the potential fulfillment of his considerably vast potential should have numerous Lions fans anxious with anticipation.

Not only is the return of Stafford a cause for excitement, but the continued development of young players like RB Jahvid Best, TE Brandon Pettigrew, DT Ndamukong Suh, DE Cliff Avril, LB DeAndre Levy, CB’s Chris Houston and Alphonso Smith, and S’s Amari Spievey and Louis Delmas all should entice Lions fans to believe that there is more to look forward to, regardless of the 2010 Lions final win/loss record.
I am not munching on cornbread while drinking Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid, either.   The Lions are far from perfect.  Yet, my confidence has increased that the team will hang tough and make a reasonably good showing in each of their remaining games, win or loss.  That is all we can ask for at this early stage of their interminable rebuilding program.

DetFan1979: What do you think?  Go to my newly updated DetFan1979’s Roar of the Lions personal blog and vote on what you think the record will be over the final 10 games.  The team is getting healthy over the bye, which came at a perfect time for Detroit.  IF they can stay healthy, I still see a possibility of 6 wins in the last ten games, leaving them with a 7-9 record.  Keep in mind that this also assumes they are going to cut back (at least a little) on the boneheaded lack of focus penalties.

This season is FAR from over.  Have we forgotten that for the last two years prior it was how bad was the blowout?  Last season it was more about comparing how far down the Lions were in the first quarter before the other team started coasting.  Even in the Vikings game, which I consider their “worst” loss this season from a “how close is this game” standpoint they were right there in it and far from blown out.

When they faced a roughly equal team instead of choking they crushed them.

This team can compete on any given Sunday now.  And, for the first time in quite a while, they are entertaining to watch each week win or lose.  Its a thrill to wait and see if Best is going to break a long one, or CJ take a long bomb to the house or fight for a jump ball in the end zone.  Hearts race as the defensive line steamrolls its way into opposing backfields.  No way! shock as Alphonso Smith intercepts another pass and we wonder how many Carlton dances we’ll see this season — and in the future.

As a fan, this season is far from over — it’s just getting started!  The Detroit Lions are nobody’s doormat anymore.  I’ve said a few times now that they may not win most of the fights they are in, but the other team is going to know they were in one.

Thoughts or topics you want to see discussed?  Want to see your name in shining black bold type?  Email!

ISPHET’S COMMENTS: think it’s too early to stick a fork in their season.

- 5 of their next 7 games are at home.
- their 4 remaining road games are against Buffalo, Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Miami. None are definite losses.
- Stafford will most likely be back
- The bye week should help the team get healthier.
- The Lions are down by 3 games to Chicago, 2 to Green Bay, and 1 to Minnesota. None of those teams has an insurmountable lead at this point, especially considering the Lions have played all of their divisional road games, and none of their divisional home games.

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