Currently I am stationed between Washington DC and Baltimore, where a ton of local government civilians root for the Washington Red Skins or the Baltimore Ravens. And strangely, running a close third are people who talk like they would take bullets to be Dallas Cowboy fans.
I have also been a devout Detroit Lions fan since the days when Herman Moore, Barry Sanders and Chris Spielman donned the Honolulu blue.
It seems every Monday morning, after fans (mostly Ravens fans in my center) gloat about yet another victory, they turn to me and say—trying to keep a straight face —“Hey Morisette, how’d your Lions do?”
Hardy har har, light-hearted chuckles about, I give no response (not one they like at least).
This is because they know my stance already.
The hole the Lions have dug for themselves have nothing to do with lack of talent. Nor does it have tons to do with injuries. Every NFL team has injuries.
The Lions can’t blame the weather. Nor can they blame bad referees and controversial calls stripping this team of victory.
The Lions woes boil down to lack of readiness, discipline and attention to detail.
It seems every week, the Lions stumble from the gates like frat boys with hangovers trying to get to class. They jump offsides during critical moments. They commit false starts, at home, while the Lions faithful are in whisper mode. Offensive linemen shake their heads, as first down rushes are erased.
Even more frustrating, the Lions drop passes that hit them square in the hands. I look at the angst on Matt Stafford’s face every time a receiver drops what might have been a TD and can’t help but feel bad for the guy. Through the rage I envision Stafford thinking he has to fire a Three Stooges like 100 MPH football that sticks in his receiver’s face mask for them to catch the ball.
This is not to say Stafford is not off the hook. How many times this year have we watched Stafford rocket launch a pass over the heads of wide open receivers?
Professional enough to not show Stafford up, you can still see receivers look back at Stafford like, “what the hell was that?”
Lions fans throwing things at television sets, the great news is the Lions still have time to right this ship. The window is very small, but thanks to not exactly stellar play by the majority of other NFC teams, the Lions still have a shot at making the playoffs.
It starts Thanksgiving Day against the Houston Texans.
Yes the Texans are 9-1 and have won four in a row. Yes the Texans have an offense led by Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Yes the Texans look like an unstoppable force going forward.
But for all of Houston’s upside, this team’s defense has proven vulnerable to the pass from time to time.
Let’s be honest, Houston’s defense has not exactly faced offensive juggernauts. Teams they have played include the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars (twice), Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears.
Houston’s lone loss came to the Green Bay Packers, who torched the Texans secondary for 42 points at Reliant Stadium on September 14.
This is the same Packers team the Lions barely lost to last week (mostly because of key dropped passes and lack of discipline).
This leaves Detroit in good position to beat Houston in an offensive shootout today.
But to do this, the Lions have to storm from the gate early and often and not let off the accelerator. This team has to stop blowing off its collective feet with RPGs when it comes to penalties. They need to line up like disciplined men on both sides of and conquer the line of scrimmage.
Offensively, Stafford and Calvin Johnson need to take control of this game early, house blending for a furious aerial attack on the Texans secondary.
Detroit’s running backs need to march the ball down Houston’s throat like ticked off bulls seeing red. They have capability to do this with Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell. But these men can’t get downhill momentum when offensive linemen negate home field advantage with false start penalties.
Defensively, the Lions must play equally disciplined. They must go into sit back mode and let Schaub and Johnson pick the secondary apart. Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril must attack Schaub, planting him in the turf so much he swears Lawrence Taylor is the 12th man on the field.
In the secondary, match Calvin Johnson up defensively against Andre Johnson.
OK, maybe not the best move. But if there is anyone who knows what Andre will do it’s Calvin.
Discipline on offense, defense and special teams. The Lions desperately need to achieve this today to defeat the Texans.
Stripping emotion, I believe the Lions will do this.
This is my hope at least. For if not it’s on to another week of prodding by my brothers and sisters in arms.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
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