Meow Mix: The Detroit Lions Can't Tackle

Daniel MuthSenior Analyst ISeptember 8, 2008

This will be the start of my weekly Detroit Lions column, detailing the season’s adventures. On dismal weeks, such as Week One, the article will be dubbed “Meow Mix,” indicating that we once again played like a bunch of pussycats.

Should we actually win a game or two, the article will be entitled “Roar Rapport,” evoking a more regal tone for the supposed kings of the jungle. Feel free to add any predictions on how many columns of each might be posted over the course of what may just be a very long season.



That’s what I said.

I said that the defensive line looked improved.

I said that Shaun Rogers was not a loss, merely a “400-pound malignancy removed from the ass of the Lions.”

I said the secondary would be much better than a year ago.

I said that a departure from Martz’s “asinine system” would help the Lions run the ball and lead to more third-down conversions and greater ball control.

I said Detroit would “DOMINATE” Atlanta.

I said that it would be over a month before the Lions lost their first game.

I said this all with a straight face.


That’s what I said.

If ever there was an appropriate application for the derogatory word-play on the Lions name, “Lie-Downs,” which admittedly isn’t as good as the “Bungles,” but still serviceable, it was in game one against the inexperienced, rookie and unknown-laden Atlanta Falcons. 

Atlanta, of course, was the franchise that was supposed to be in disarray and supposed to chalk this season up as a learning experience, with their former leader incarcerated for murdering dogs, and the keys to the franchise in the hands of a rookie quarterback and coach.

Well, apparently Atlanta didn’t get the memo, because from the first kickoff, they proceeded to punch Detroit in the face. And apparently Detroit did get the memo, the one that seems to have been circulating the clubhouse for pretty much my whole life.

I’m not sure who penned it initially, but I’m sure Millen has added an extra flourish or two to ensure maximum potency. It must read something like this:

Dear players,

You may have had success as collegiates and pros for other storied programs and traditions, and you may have known your share of glory and perseverance and fortitude, but you’re a Lion now, and that’s not how we do things.

We prefer shame and humiliation and are particularly fond of forcing our fans to wear brown paper bags over their heads in public. Don’t sweat it guys, the team makes money, the idiots keep showing up for the games, and there’s really no reason to risk your health on their account, because they’re a bunch of suckers.

They always come crawling back. There’s really no reason to play hard. We’ll keep you around forever if you can stand the losing (just look at me!), and you can always take your skills elsewhere if our philosophy is not to your liking. EXCELLENCE IS NOT REWARDED HERE!

Your chum,

Matt Millen

At least, that’s the memo that MUST be circulating, or how else can you explain the bewildering play? With the Lions as a model, no wonder Ford keeps rolling out an inferior product from the auto lines. They’ve so successfully packaged total depravity for years with the Lions, that they can’t understand why the consumer won’t buy their cruddy vehicles. 

The real question though is why do we keep buying the Lions? The answer can be found in a perverse sense of loyalty.

For the same reason some of us won’t buy Japanese (though fewer and fewer), we get hoodwinked that our team actually cares about us and actually represents our state, our integrity, or any of those things that get tangled up in fandom. And damn it, we’re not quitters!

So here we are, and Week One is in the books. What did we learn?

Well, primarily, it seems evident that the Lions can’t tackle. I mean damn.

The defensive line was absolutely dominated by Atlanta's front five, seemingly setting up the line of scrimmage five yards downfield within a second of the snap of the ball. Corey Redding looked overpaid and underskilled, our linebackers thought they were playing a game of two (or maybe one)-handed touch, and our secondary was getting run through like proverbial Swiss cheese.

Michael Turner averaged 10.5 yards a carry!


One more time: 10.5!

The Detroit run defense allowed 318 yards on 42 carries.

For all the rosy talk about how good Matt Ryan was in this game, I’ll admit he played decent, but cripes, what quarterback can’t win with those type of numbers on the ground?

What exactly is going on behind closed doors?

The Lions seem to have regressed since their dismal second-half collapse from a year ago, and their inability to tackle a ballcarrier or even hold the line of scrimmage, reveals a fundamental flaw in their preparation, coaching, and ability. 

I mean, you can either tackle or you can’t, and one would think that by the time players reached this level of play that they would’ve spent some time honing that particular skill.

The offense looked good at times, but proved ineffective at running the ball, and it seems Kitna’s propensity for throwing routes five yards short of the first down while ignoring his superstar wideouts in the crunch was less a product of Martz and more a product of well...Kitna.

And there was that costly turnover. I had thought that the Lions were capable of a ball-control feel, which is absolutely essential if they want to keep their woeful defense off the field. And they do.

But then again, I thought the Lions were going to go 9-7.


That’s what I said.

And what the hell, I’ll stick with it, as it’s only the first week.

But damn.