I'm the type who waits until the last minute.
I have heard the department store announcers call out over the intercom that the store will be closing in thirty minutes for Christmas. I have set my alarm to go off an hour before class so I could do my homework. I've also been known to finish my budget reports on the way to a meeting.
In the past, I've cost myself a good grade or even shorted my funds for office supplies— and I don't believe my brother ever wore that Tee-shirt I grabbed before they closed the doors. (It said one size fits all—how was I supposed to know I was in the kids department? When you have eight gifts to pick out in twenty minutes you can't be expected to notice everything.)
But I couldn't afford to put this article off.
It's just far too important to slap something together at the last minute.
Actually, I can drink Kool-Aid with anyone, but it's important to remember the big picture: If Lion fans were realistic after the historic season of 2008, the best we could hope for was contention by 2012.
Maybe the Lions are a year ahead of schedule. That still doesn't mean we should adjust the time table just yet.
We should also keep in mind leading up to that 2012 season that respectability is nice, but winning the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal.
We can't wait until the last minute if we want a hotel room for New Orleans in early February.
So while others give their analysis on the Lions going into the 2011 season, I am asking you to take the Quantum Leap with me and check out the Lions going into the 2012 season. We don't want to miss the journey so I promise to have you back before the 2010 kick off in Chicago.
My leap put me at Ford Field just before the start of the 2012 season, and it's media day.
The first thing I notice is that there sure are a lot of media types around. Used to be a half a dozen beat-reporters asking players if they felt pressure from losing all the time. Now, we have twice that many celebrity make-up artists.
Is that Gruden and Jaws over there?
You mean the opening game will be a prime time game?
Apparently, after an 11-5 record and a playoff win over the Cowboys (I just love beating the Cowboys) in 2011, the Lions are the hot new pick for the Super Bowl.
I think I'm going to check out Schwartz' press conference.
Suzy Kobler has just asked Schwartz about Megatron signing a big contract extension— something about how he gave the Lions a discount because he wants to be on a winning team.
I missed his response because I've had a crush on Suzy since forever and I was debating my best Joe Willie moves. Fortunately for me, she slipped out when half the reporters ran for the door. Apparently, there was a Bret Favre sighting at a Minnesota mall.
Will he or won't he?
Who cares; Jared Allen signed with the Dolphins and All Day is worth about 15 minutes after they named that candy bar after him—Butterfinger.
I wanted to catch up with Matt Stafford but he's with Terry Bradshaw doing an interview FOX will run next week before the Green Bay and Detroit game. No question where Bradshaw falls in the Stafford and Rodgers debate,
TB must have gotten over the time Matt sent all those Axe hair products to the blond bomber.
Howie Long has Ndamukong Suh in a bear hug and Hodgie is talking to Jahvid Best about how important the factor back is.
Wait—is that Micheal Irvin over there telling Calvin Johnson that the Lions need to do sign his boy TO? Here comes Mayhew to break that conversation up, he hasn't looked that mad since his little sideline discussion with Culpepper.
Uh oh, here comes Cunningham and he still looks upset about Rex Ryan knocking him out of the books for most cuss words in one sentence. It's been three years Gunther, let it go.
This place is crazy, so I'm going back to the hotel room to finish this article but I better hurry—Gun is pretty fast with that walker.
Before leaving I watched Delmas, Wade and Alphonzo Smith working on their entrance for opening day. I sure hope they have a permit for all those pyrotechnics, but I do like the idea of getting Beyonce involved.
On the way back to the hotel the cab driver tried to sell me tickets to the game. He says it's been sold out since July but he can sell me two tickets for $800 bucks apiece. I pass on the tickets, but make a mental note to pick up two dozen season tickets when I get back to 2010. Those seats should make me a tidy little sum in a couple of years.
I stop by the hotel bar for a drink and some wings before I head to my room for a night of research on the internet. A lot has happened since 2010 and I need to catch up.
I stayed for another drink because I really liked the new guy on the piano. On the way out I slipped a twenty in his tip glass. He said his name was Joey and he sure looked familiar.
Back in the room, I turn on the TV only to see that Mayhew had claimed Tim Tebow off waivers and traded him back to Denver for their 2011 first round pick, Mike Pouncey.
My first thought is that they finally replaced Raiola, but Schwartz is giving a press conference that wasn't about Raiola at all.
Coach said they were thrilled with their Pro Bowl center Raiola but they needed more depth because Suh sent three offensive linemen to the IR in training camp. Schwartz said they are considering putting a red jersey on Raiola for team scrimmages.
Pro Bowl center?
I better find someone who can explain to me what happened over these last two years and I knew just the person.
Tom "Killer" Kowalski has covered the Lions all the way back since the dark ages of Millen, and I knew he would be glad to talk about the Lions.
I also knew the best time to catch him was in the wee hours of the morning at the closest Waffle House, so I ordered a pizza and pulled out the lap top. I had a lot of research to do.
After devouring the pizza that was delivered by someone who looked a lot like Drew Stanton I turned in for the night and had sweet dreams of Suzy Kobler until the alarm clock went off at 4:00 AM. I had ditched the research last night to watch CSI Kalamazoo—maybe all those run off shows had reached their limit.
After cramming for two hours, I had my list of questions and rushed out the door to catch Killer before he left the waffle house. I know he likes to get to WDFN early to put on his make-up—he still doesn't quite get the concept of radio.
What I didn't know was that Killer wasn't covering the Lions anymore. Some executives at FOX saw his question of the day videos on M Live and they liked him so much they signed him to be a judge on American Idol.
If I was going to get the real story, I needed another insider so I flagged down a cab headed down to practice - maybe I can catch Birkett or Wojo, anybody but Drew Sharp.
As we approached Ford Field I noticed a fence was put up a good five blocks away and the cabbie explained that was as close as he could get. The Lions were practicing and Schwartz doesn't like the media getting too close.
I ducked in the local watering hole when I ran into a little luck. In the back there were some guys playing shuffleboard and talking Lions.
To my complete surprise I walked back there to meet Sudds, Ali, and Dean plus the new guy Tuffy.
It seems they are the only Lion beat writers now; both the News and Freep stopped covering sports because everybody was reading the Bleacher Report now. I asked about HaMMeR and found out he was playing guitar with a Metallica cover band and touring Russia.
I Had a great time, tossed down a few beers and lost a couple of bucks—that Sudds can play some shuffleboard. Even got a little Lion talk in before I had to cut it short. I had tickets for the Tiger game and Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander was taking on the Twinkies.
Great game by the way. Inge struck out 4 times, some things never change. Good thing Caberra went 4-for-5 with two HRs and five RBIs and the Tigers widened their lead to six games.
But this article is about the Lions, so I won't tell you who the free agent is that the Red Wings are so fired up about. I'll just say that fans are hoping this "Cindy" packs a scoring punch the team has sorely missed.
Got back to 2010 early this morning and jotted down a few notes for you guys before I headed to the airport.
The offense was top 10 in 2010 and moved to top three in 2011.
Stafford is poised to take over the reins of best QB in the league after making the Pro-Bowl in 2011. People are starting to talk about him being under paid. More importantly he is now dating former Miss America Rima Fakih.
Calvin Johnson did break out in 2010 and could seriously challenge the single season TD record after snaring 19 TDs in 2011.
The rest of the WRs were okay. Nate Burleson and Bryant Johnson were viable options and Derrick Williams has turned out to be a half way decent player but Mayhew showed his disappointment with this group when he traded most of his draft picks to move up and draft WR Julio Jones out of Alabama in 2012.
Jahvid Best was 2010 offensive rookie of the year and considered to be the foremost two way threat in the game. Kevin Smith continued to confound many Lion fans when he signed a three year contract while the Lions allowed Jerome Felton to leave in the off-season.
Pettigrew and Scheffler are a dynamic duo at TE, Pettigrew has turned out to be a beast out there and considered by the experts to be the best TE in the business.
The offensive line is among the best in the league after Mayhew moved up in the 2011 draft to grab Gabe Carimi. That moved Backus over to RT where he joined his buddy Raiola in the pro bowl in the 2011 season. Meanwhile it's the guards Sims and Peterman that anchor this line.
While the offense was top notch it's the defense everybody wanted to talk about.
After a rough 2010 season the defense finished 11th in 2011 and they could be top 5 in 2012. It's a young group that has grown into a unit the Lions can count on.
Ndamukong Suh was everything the Lions hoped after winning defensive rookie of the year in 2010 and he looks to be well on his way to a Hall of Fame career, Teamed up with Sammie Hill this DT combo is as good as it gets.
Cliff Avril was re-signed in the off-season after back to back double digit sack seasons and Willie Young is expected to take some snaps from the aging Kyle Vanden Bosch.
DeAndre Levy has become the heart of the defense with his heady and hard nosed play. Follett is finally a good OLB and while Peterson is making one more run at it 2011 with the 1st round pick Travis Lewis waiting in the wings.
The surprise is the secondary. the Lions took their lumps in 2010 with these guys but they found that chemistry Schwartz is always talking about back there and Delmas has turned into a true star.
While Chris Houston never really took off Jonathon Wade, Alphonso Smith and Aaron Berry are a very good group of CBs. Meanwhile Randy Phillips and Amari Spievey are giving the Lions some pretty solid play along side Delmas at safety.
This team has 3 future Hall of Famers in Stafford, Calvin and Suh with at least half a dozen more legitimate pro bowlers. Best thing is they are still pretty young and they have a great coach. Mayhew continues to find players and veterans are beating down the door trying to get on a winner.
The biggest shock for 2012?
I'll admit I wanted to stay in 2012 but I wanted to make sure you guys got this look into the future more and I needed to get tickets for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. I promise it has nothing to do with the final scores for every Lion game I jotted down.
See you in Vegas!!!!
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