Detroit Lions: Putting to Rest the 0-16 Season
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In case some of you missed it, the Detroit Lions went 0-16 for the entirely of the 2008 football season.
I mean, they didn't win a game.
They pretty much were the worst team ever to grace the gridirons.
They were awful.
I watched every one of those games, tearing my hair out, screaming at the T.V., stomping around the living room, and generally feeling bummed throughout the entire campaign.
I wrote a fairly depressing piece summing up my feelings about it shortly in the aftermath.
And I moved on.
This is why I'm getting a little irritated that the local and national media keep trying to take me back there. I mean, is it really relevant that the Lions were 4-0 in preseason play preceding that fateful year, and if it is, can somebody at least explain it correctly?
We get it, preseason records are not accurate predictors of regular season success. But using that 0-16 season as the precursor to any discussion about the outlook for this year's team, is at best lazy reporting, and at worst completely irrelevant.
Using that season as the barometer upon which to gauge this one is foolish as there have just as surely been undefeated preseason teams that have won the Superbowl.
There have been undefeated preseason teams that lost in the playoffs or went 8-8.
Unfortunately, like the ridiculous talking points about Ndamukong Suh's "dirty play," it seems to have been parroted enough that every article I read somehow needs to include it.
And if it isn't in there, you can be sure someone in the blog will race to be the first to point out the omission.
"They were 4-0 in 2008 too."
Analysts are using it as an excuse to back off the Lions, to hedge their predictions so they aren't completely responsible for the outcome.
They see the talent, they see the coaching, and they see how this looks incredibly promising.
But they also remember 0-16, so they pepper their analysis with "if''s" and "remembers" afraid to believe what they see with their own eyes.
As Lions fans we shoulder some of that blame. We are a nervous lot that for some reason decided to hitch our wagon to a lemming running over a cliff, and are continually looking for a reason to jump ship before the inevitable plunge.
Many of us took that ride over and over and are slow to believe that it truly could end up any other way.
But I'm here to suggest that it's about time we put that season, and really, the last decade behind us.
That doesn't mean that I'm not still pissed at Matt Millen, or that I'll ever truly forget what it's like to see my most beloved team suffer through such misery.
And it doesn't mean that it didn't happen.
We all were there.
But it does mean that I can demand more than being a "long-suffering" Lions fan, and expect instead to be proud of the effort (and the outcome) of our play on the field.
We've all heard how Jim Schwartz has seemingly transformed that losing mentally in the locker room, and we've seen how Martin Mayhew and Co. put in the due diligence to form the makings of a winner.
So I think as fans we need to buy in too. Totally.
No more hedging.
No more stammering.
No more ruminating.
I am not a long-suffering Lions fan because I stopped being one the second I embraced this team now.
I know enough about football to know that the Lions have a lot going for them this season and that talks about the playoffs are neither premature nor delusional.
Like any team out there the Lions have holes, and we worry about the potential lack of a running game, and the play of our defensive back seven.
But unlike every team out there the Lions also have elite units capable of causing mismatches in nearly every game they play. And professional sports are entirely about exploiting mismatches.
The 2011 Detroit Lions are a lock to be:
So quite honestly, I like our chances versus any team in the league on any given day on any field.
I'm not going to add "if Stafford stays healthy" to that sentence because he's healthy right now and is looking great.
I'm not going to add "if our defensive secondary can hold up" to that sentence because they were firmly mediocre last year, and nothing I've seen so far this year leads me to believe they won't at least be marginally better than that.
And I'm certainly not going to add that "they were 4-0 in the 2008 preseason," because there is no cause and effect.
It's statistically bunk.
And it brings me back to a place I neither want nor have to be.
Personally, I've bought fully into this team and am predicting playoffs without reservations.
I'm not afraid to be wrong because I think there's such a good chance that I'm right.
I'm done being a "long-suffering" Lions fan.
And yes, I'm putting that 0-16 season to rest.
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