Santa Claus has definitely made his list, and I'm sure he is in the process of checking it twice when it comes to the Detroit Lions. He has to; the Lions have been very naughty this year.
That wasn't always the case. The Lions looked very nice when they opened the year on a five-game win streak. The entire team, defense and offense, were firing on all cylinders. The Lions were front-page news because of their winning, not penalties and dirty play.
Back then, Santa had penciled in each Lion player for a very special gift.
The Lions are walking on thin ice this Christmas season for sure. Santa knows who's been bad or good, and so does Roger Goodell. Those two have weekly meetings about Ndamukong Suh, I'm sure.
The Lions have two matchups left before Christmas. They take on the Raiders this Sunday at Oakland then the Chargers at home on Christmas Eve. They need to be on their best behavior and win both contests. If not, they'll find themselves out of the playoffs with a whole lot of nothing under their Christmas tree.
So the Lions better be good for goodness sake!
If they are, then Santa might be happy to bestow each Lion with a shiny present on Christmas Day. Here are some gift ideas for Santa to consider.
As the Lions third-string quarterback, Drew Stanton has not played a down of football this year. After seeing this from him last year, I am thankful for that.
Before Stanton sets foot on the football field again, someone needs to get this man some dancing lessons. He was trying to do the Dougie Dance, which was all the rage in the NFL last year. Everyone from Braylon Edwards to Reggie Bush were doing it. I guess Stanton thought he would give it a try.
Santa, I think this is the perfect Christmas gift for Stanton. What else could the guy ask for? He makes lots of money and has the cushiest job on the team. Plus, It's probably hard to stay in shape when you're sitting on the bench so much. Dancing lessons would be the answer to that problem.
Next time he scores, I want to see the Cha Cha or the Viennese Waltz.
The year 2012 is the last of Schwartz's four-year deal. It used to look like a no-brainer that the Lions would re-sign him. After five straight wins, Schwartz was going to be anointed the the greatest coach in Detroit Lions history. Wayne Fontes was seriously worried.
Then things changed.
Injuries claimed key players, and the Lions lost some close games. Then Detroit decided to play up the "Dirty Lions" image. Undisciplined play and unnecessary penalties cost them wins, and their antics became media fodder.
The tide of overwhelming support for Schwartz began to subside. People said that the inmates were running the asylum. Schwartz wasn't cracking down on the out-of-control players fast enough. After Suh's suspension, everyone assumed Schwartz would put an end to the behavior. Then, in New Orleans, the Lions proved they had not learned their lesson.
Must be the coach's fault.
The truth is, Schwartz is the coach to lead the Lions to the promised land. Despite the controversy this year, he has improved this team and this franchise immensely. He deserves a contract extension. Whether he gets one early is another question.
It will probably depend on how the Lions finish.
Santa, I hope you plan on watching the Lions over the next two weeks. If they win both games, Schwartz will likely expect a shiny new contract to sign on Christmas morning.
Vanden Bosch has been sporting the red eyes all year. Initially they were cool, but I'm not sure they intimidated anyone except for the little kids in the stands. That's okay. They've become Vanden Bosch's signature look.
He should do a commercial for Visine: "Gets the red out!"
It's time for something new though.
Can you help him out, Santa? Maybe you can find a Honolulu blue and silver pair. That would be perfect.
Just stay away from anything like this.
You wouldn't expect a man like Tony Scheffler to have dance moves. You would expect him to lumber across a dance floor like a reindeer that had too much egg nog. But that's just not the case.
Scheffler has demonstrated rhythm, grace and a flare for the dramatic when he scores a touchdown. Lions fans have been surprised—as Nate Burleson is in the photo above—to learn that Scheffler had such talent.
Then there was the swashbuckling celebration at Tamba Bay.
When Scheffler retires from the NFL, he could have a career in professional dance. Drew Stanton could learn a few things from him.
In the meantime, there is the offseason. We've seen professional athletes on Dancing with the Stars before. Let me tell you, Emmit Smith and Jerry Rice don't have anything on Scheffler. He can cut a rug with the best of them.
So, Santa, if there is any way you can pull some strings and get Scheffler on that show, I think it would be the perfect gift.
There are many careers that are considered the most dangerous in the world; Alaskan fishing boat worker, coal miner and shark dentist are a few examples. In 2011, the job of Detroit Lions running back should have made the top 10.
The Lions' running backs were dropping like flies. Second-round pick Mikel Leshoure didn't even make it to the start of the regular season. After rupturing his Achilles in training camp, he was lost for the year.
Jahvid Best, the lightning to Leshoure's thunder, was only good for six games before he suffered a concussion and was lost for the year.
Detroit tried to piece together a running game with backups and free agents. Those guys can't even stay healthy. Kevin Smith looked like a Pro Bowler against the Carolina Panthers, but injured his ankle and hasn't finished a game since.
Santa, the Lions really need healthy running backs for the stretch run. Certainly they would need a consistent running attack if they have any hopes of defeating Green Bay in the final game. The Lions need you to come down here, sprinkle some of your North Pole mojo on these guys and give them the gift of health.
We already know Best and Leshoure are done, so you can make theirs for next year? The Lions need Morris and Smith now. That's not too much to ask for, is it?
Why would Suh want tickets to musical theater you ask? Let me explain. My first suggestion, for obvious reasons, was a new car. However, this is a bit unrealistic.
A car is an impractical gift from Santa. First, how would he fit it on his sleigh? Second, how would he get it under the tree? Plus, Suh probably bought five new cars since I wrote this sentence, so he really doesn't need another one from Santa.
No, I think tickets to a show would be the perfect gift. Suh's had a season filled with drama and musical theater is jam packed with it. Not to mention that taking in a good show might help him relax, recharge and get away from the pressure he's faced this year. Depending how the Lions finish, it might be a nice reward for a job well done.
I think I've found the perfect show for Suh. He's going to love it!
He can run faster then a speeding linebacker. He's more powerful than a strong safety. And he can leap over cornerbacks in a single bound.
Come to think of it, a cape might not be a good idea. That would be an easy target for a defender to grab on to as Johnson flew by.
Here's a better idea, Santa.
The Detroit Lions have an average offensive line. Rarely do they commit glaring mistakes. On the other hand, rarely do they have a dominating performance. Okay, they never have a dominating performance.
In order for the Lions to take the next step, the offensive line needs to become dominant.
The Lions have assembled a high-powered offense that is capable of dominating teams across the NFL. If given sufficient time, Matthew Stafford can pick defenses apart. We've seen him do it. But other times, he is running for his life. If Stafford has consistent protection there is no reason to believe that the offense can't reach its potential.
Can you imagine if the Lions had one or two Pro Bowl-caliber players on the offensive line? Have the Lions ever had that type of player?
There are some quality linemen available via free agency in 2012. Santa, here is Matthew Stafford's wish list.
Carl Nicks, guard: Superbowl champion with the Saints, 2010 Pro Bowl selection, 2010 second team All-Pro.
Ben Grubbs, guard: No significant awards or honors, but he's very solid. He's relatively young, and he's been a starter for the Ravens since they drafted him in 2007.
Those are the best of the free agency class. The 2012 draft is another consideration. Walterfootball.com predicts that the Lions will take Mike Adams, a tackle out of Ohio State. There are also several quality lineman predicted to be picked higher that could fall to the Lions.
We aren't picky, Santa. Just slap a bow and ribbon on one or two of these guys and send them down the Lions' chimney. If you do, it will certainly be a very merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas, everybody!