Friday, January 25, 2008 Bob Wojnowski Don't waste hope on the Lions There's not a single reason to think things will change
The Super Bowl participants arrive in Arizona in the next couple of days. One of those teams will be the Giants, who by the simplest measure are only six points better than the Lions.
Hahaha. Good one. If you really think a measly touchdown is all that separates the Giants from the Lions, as evidenced by New York's 16-10 victory Nov. 18 at Ford Field, you're more delusional than Matt Millen, if possible.
I would love to sit here, as the NFL season heads toward a historic finish with the Perfect Patriots, and offer hope for your local gridiron heroes. No one searches for hope among the hapless more diligently than me.
But I got nothing for you.
In fact, I honestly believe the Lions are at the lowest point in Millen's seven-year reign of incompetence, even though their 7-9 season is, technically, the high point of Millen's 31-81 record. Yes, only the Lions could go from 3-13 to 7-9 and end up in a worse situation.
I see a team that likely will shed its best defensive player, Shaun Rogers, because he can't shed pounds. I see a team that might try to trade its best offensive player, Roy Williams, because he can become a free agent after next season.
The Lions have a 35-year-old quarterback in Jon Kitna who makes too many mistakes and a once-promising back in Kevin Jones wrecked by injury. They have a weak offensive line and a crumbling defensive line (hey, wasn't Rod Marinelli supposed to fix that?!) and virtually no secondary.
The Lions have no discernible strengths, no obvious plan and no sure stars, although I'll grant linebacker Ernie Sims is a riser. They have nothing they can count on, except for a nice stadium and tragically loyal fans.
The Lions have a clueless owner in William Clay Ford Sr., who continues to employ Millen for reasons that defy logic. Millen is completely culpable yet refuses to resign, unwilling to abandon the disaster he created, like a crazy squatter protecting his rickety shack.
It's incomprehensible and doesn't appear to be changing, which is really, really sad. In April, Millen will preside over his eighth draft as general manager, and he certainly has had the resources to rebuild. Of his six top-10 picks, three -- Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Mike Williams -- were busts. Even worse, of the Lions' 21 picks the past three years, only three -- Sims, Calvin Johnson, Gerald Alexander -- made significant contributions last season.
The Lions don't have a franchise face, not one. Last week, they introduced their new offensive coordinator, Jim Colletto, promoted from coaching the maligned offensive line. Apparently, what made him qualified to replace Mike Martz is that, well, he wasn't Martz, who went from genius to loon faster than anyone on record.
Colletto, who never has called plays in an NFL offense, says he'll pare down the playbook and emphasize the running game, which is exactly what Marinelli should have demanded of Martz.
Whatever. Detroit's other pro teams are too good to waste so much time trying to figure out the Lions. I said last spring it was folly to spend the No. 2 pick on the glitzy receiver, Johnson, because the Lions were so deficient in other areas.
Hmm. Adrian Peterson in the backfield or Joe Thomas on the offensive line would look pretty good right about now.
We can't even declare the Lions are entering another full-fledged rebuilding process because this merely is an extension of the one Millen allegedly started in 2001. In years past, at least the team could tout the fresh, young quarterback (Harrington) or the bright, new coach (Steve Mariucci). There's nothing left to tout.
We've been through the Marinelli Gets Tough hype. Alas, the Lions are as soft as ever in the trenches. That's mostly on Millen, but after two years, Marinelli gets no more slack.
We've been through the Martz Gets Creative hype. He's gone, off to San Francisco, where he tells people how far behind the Lions are, in stark contrast to his stirring testimonials here.
We've been through the Kitna Gets Optimistic hype. The quarterback's 10-victory prediction looked brilliant when the Lions were 6-2. But too many of us were duped by a soft schedule and a batch of turnovers.
We've been through the Woo-Wee Offense hype. Now Kitna appears broken, T.J. Duckett is the only healthy, viable back and Johnson looks far less explosive than advertised.
Seriously. Is there a single sign of a turnaround? If you think Millen can restock the Lions by trading Shaun Rogers and Williams, I give you the benched tandem of Tatum Bell and George Foster, the bounty received last year for cornerback Dre Bly.
Maybe quarterback Drew Stanton, the second-round pick on injured reserve all season, can reprise the rambling leadership he showed at Michigan State. Maybe Johnson will be better in a simpler offense. Maybe when the Lions punt, the ball will bonk off opposing players.
Sorry. I got nothing else for you. Enjoy the Super Bowl. If the Giants almost beat the Patriots, the Lions can be the team that almost beat the team that almost beat the 19-0 team.
Wow. I just got chills.
Fantasy Football: "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity"
Even worse, of the Lions' 21 picks the past three years, only three -- Sims, Calvin Johnson, Gerald Alexander -- made significant contributions last season
One or two players per draft. That seems to be Millen's batting average. Nothing reveals the quality of the team like it's draft results. In the immortall words of Bobby "I don't coach that stuff" Ross: "Abandon ship" I just wish I knew how to quit this team.
Thanks to Wojo for so succintly putting into words the torturous feelings I've had floating around in my head.
I think, therefore I am. I think fantasy, therefore I am unreal?
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