Monday, October 5, 2009
Schizophrenic Hope and Sorrow
That was a weird game, one that I suspect might serve as a microcosm of this whole bizarre season. No one is quite sure what to expect every game, and the highs and lows often maddeningly come in alternating waves of bliss and nausea. It is like getting a blowjob in a boat during a hurricane. It feels good, but you also feel sort of sick and you know there is a real chance that you might get your dick bitten off. There were times during the game against the Bears where I thought to myself that this whole thing could work out after all. The Lions could move the ball, Matthew Stafford looked good and the defense showed an ability to at least slow down the run, which is worlds better than last season's OH GOD THE WHOLE WORLD IS ON FIRE WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE SAVE ME effort. And then there were times when it was like watching a retarded tree sloth trying to ice skate. Sure, it's kind of funny, but it's also really, really sad, and in the end you just want someone to put the poor son of a bitch out of his misery.
It was both immensely gratifying and absurdly depressing to watch Matthew Stafford throw for around 300 yards and complete 2/3 of his passes only to have his knee cap tell him to fuck off in the fourth quarter. Had that not happened, Stafford would have ended up north of 300 yards and all the talk about Joey Blue Skies could have been finally put to bed after only four games. But instead, we got to see Daunte Culpepper trot out there to turf a couple of passes while Stafford sat on the bench on the sidelines and a horde of trainers furiously tried to rub life back into his knee like it was charmed by a genie or something. It was a bizarre juxtaposition, the image of Stafford coolly and confidently leading his team down the field and the image of him in agony on the sideline while the same old shit happened out on the field. And the feelings that those images caused were equally bipolar. It was all sunshine and happiness one moment, and the next the giant face of Matt Millen appeared in the sky to laugh at us like some sort of twisted and terrible version of that degenerate wizard of Oz. Just click your heels three times and go back to the first half. Only this is real life and in real life that son of a bitch who lives in the darkest corners of our minds keeps laughing and the other team continues to score touchdowns while our best players lay on the sidelines like they were just dragged off of the front lines of The Battle of the Somme.
The Lions gave up 48 points, and any time you give up 48 points and only score 24 it's tough to look at the game as a positive. Still, it was 21-21 at the half, and if it wasn't for Stan Kwan apparently being found dead at halftime or wandering away and passing out drunk in a ditch or just saying fuck it, I don't care anymore, the game probably would have been much closer and very well could have gone in the Lions favor. The Bears average starting field position was THE LIONS 48. That is just absurd. Meanwhile, the Lions average starting field position was their own 18. That's a huge fucking difference. The Bears managed to score 10 points in the first five minutes of the second half and ended up with a 34-21 lead after the third quarter even though they managed less than fifty yards for the whole quarter.
Still, it wasn't like the Lions were able to move the ball in the second half either. The Bears adjusted at halftime, Jeff Backus remembered that he sucks, and that was that. It has become a trend this season for the Lions to play a very good first half only to get the shit beaten out of them in the second half. Some people have blamed this on Jim Schwartz and the coaches. These people are idiots. If anything, this points to how good Schwartz and company really are. Every game they have game-planned and worked out an effective strategy for the Lions to at least be in the game, and in two of the games and arguably three, to have been the better team for the first half. This is remarkable considering how terrible the situation was and still is in terms of talent. I mean, I'm pretty sure the Lions have scouts hanging out at the bread lines looking for defensive backs every week. "Why hello my good man, you seem to have some sinewy arms and legs, probably from chucking cans at strangers and running from imaginary demons. How would you like to play for the Detroit Lions?" At which point, I imagine the crazies make a disgusted face and go back to eating cardboard and wailing on the one dude who thinks he's Napoleon.
The point is that the Lions still have no business even being in most of these games and the Lions coaches have to put something together using a piece of string, some chicken bones and a bottle of hairspray just to make them look like a viable football team. Jim Schwartz might as well be fucking MacGyver out there. I mean, there is only so much you can do. At halftime, other teams make their adjustments and the Lions are left helpless because all their adjustments are made before the game. The Lions have to empty the tank just to get through the first half whereas other teams leave themselves a half a tank so that they can comfortably make it to the end. The Lions could do that too I suppose, but then they would be losing 17-3 at the end of every first quarter and no one would have any hope at all. Give Jim Schwartz time, give him a little bit more talent and pretty soon the Lions of the first half will look like the Lions of the whole game. To suggest that the Lions are being outcoached is absurd and really fucking dumb. The only reason the Lions have one win and in the other games have been in a position to at least think about winning is because Jim Schwartz is coaching his ass off.
Of course, if the announcers and production people at Fox were asked, they would probably tell you that the Lions would be 4-0 right now if only that dignified and wonderful human being named Rod Marinelli was still the coach of the Lions. I mean, come on, why would Fox feel like it was necessary to show Rod Marinelli on the sidelines for the Bears while the announcers talked about what a terrific football coach he was? REALLY? You just had to do that? It's bad enough that Matt Millen is all over my TV now providing analysis for the NFL and calling college games, now I have to see Marinelli too whenever the Bears play the Lions. JESUS. It just never ends, does it? If there was any decency in this world, Millen would be doing games for the Zimbabwe Football League and Marinelli would be put in charge of a pee-wee football team in Siberia. Even then, I imagine his team would just get their asses kicked by a team led by some modern day Raskolnikov. The only chance Marinelli would have was if the neo-Raskolnikov was driven mad by the constant murdering of Marinelli's team.
Okay, this has all gotten very weird, and I'm not sure how Dostoevsky worked his way into this post, but these things happen, especially when I am being driven mad by the spectral presence of those two buffoons. I understand that for Fox it was an easy story that had to be mentioned, but haven't we earned any mercy as fans after what we went through? Shouldn't there be some cut off point, when you are so miserable that it disqualifies you from ever having anything to do with football again? Christ, hire Millen to manage a mall shoe store and let him hire Marinelli as a stock boy, but GET THEM OFF OF MY TV. Thank you.
I didn't mean to rant and rave like a complete loon there, but again, you get driven to these things as a Lions fan, and especially as a Lions fan coming off of 0-16. The good news is that even though those two might pop up from time to time on our TV like terrible ghosts out for some sort of twisted revenge, they are dead and they are gone and they will never come back to the Detroit Lions. They are the past and Jim Schwartz and his boys are the future. And for once, the future looks good. It's just that, for now anyway, we are still trapped in that bizarre world between the ugliness of yesterday and the sweetness of tomorrow. I guess that would make it, uh, today. And today is weird and tumultuous, exciting and terrible. The joys are beautiful, more deeply felt than any other happiness we have obtained from being fans of this football team, but the pain is terrible and it too is more deeply felt than it ever has been before. We are raw in every sense of the word, but we are on our way, and right now, here today, we have those moments that we can just about reach out and touch, those moments when Matthew Stafford is bouncing down the field with his tongue out after completing an impossible pass, those moments when Calvin Johnson is making a defensive back look like one of those bums from the bread line, those moments when Jim Schwartz stands on the sideline, hands on his knees and surveys the field like the chess master that he is, and we know when we see those moments that everything is going to be alright.