It's pretty obvious by now isn't it?
The Detroit Lions do not know how to win. We don't need to decipher the Da Vinci Code or the Kryptos structure at the CIA to figure that out. The team seems hell-bent on reminding us of the fact.
But here's the problem fans have to deal with: One doesn't learn to win until learning to lose.
Sounds dumb doesn't it? Who wants to learn to lose. Losing sucks, right? Why, yes. Yes, it does. It's just like learning to ride a bike. Of course, you are going to fall until you learn to ride. Failure, or fear of failure, always comes before success.
And right now, the Lions are learning to lose.
Most of you will say the Lions have been losing for 50 years. You're right, if you're referring to the franchise. But what people forget is the players are new. About 60 percent of the current roster are new faces. Some come from successful college programs; other from successful pro teams. Those players are not accustomed to losing. To make it even more a delicate situation is in a game like football the team must learn to win together.
With the current landscape of pro sports, that might be tough to do. But its not impossible.
Kevin Smith and Calvin Johnson know what its like to lose and work extremely hard to not to replicate that failure. No matter what people say about Smith's production thus far, nothing negative can be said about his work ethic. Same goes for CJ. Matthew Stafford however, has been a star everywhere he's been and had success. Right now, he is taking a crash course on losing 101. The reason this lesson is so important is because when a competitor experiences losing for the first time, they want to avoid it all costs and they start forcing things.
We say it firsthand Sunday in the game against the Seahawks.
Detroit jumped to an early lead. After a few bad breaks, Stafford panicked. He knew he could rely on Calvin Johnson, so he began forcing the issue. Forced passes quickly became intereceptions and the rest is history. These are things a coaching staff can teach him, but its up to him to learn override his panick mechanism. Matt Hasselback was well aware of his situation and after two quick turnovers, calmly took what the defense gave him. Only experience can provide those lessons.
The nucleus is in place. What the team need to do now is provide that nucleus with a strong supporting cast. Next season, the coaching staff will be more familiar with the talent around them and have more players that fit what they are trying to do. The coaching staff will have learned what an "L" tastes like and put more effort into game planning.
The Detroit Pistons had to get thumped by the Lakers in the 80s before learning what it took and again by the Nets in '03 before learning what winning took. Michael Jordin had to earn his chops against the Bad Boys before becoming king of the NBA hill.
We, as fans need to show patience to the new guys. Millen broke our hearts, but we cannot point that frustration towards Mayhew and Schwartz. He have to let them earn their fan's ire on their own merits. I'm sure once this "new" team learns what its like to lose, they wont lose much longer.