WAIT . . . HE MISSED IT?
I don't think most Lions fans realize how ridiculously spoiled they are to have someone like Jason Hanson as the kicker. He has been absurdly good throughout his career and even at the age of 168, he managed to have an all-time great season last year when the rest of the world was burning. Seriously, he was 8-8 on field goals longer than 50 yards, an NFL record, and he only missed one field goal all year, and that one was blocked. So, every kick he managed to get off was good. That's remarkable for a man whose primary meal staples are probably apple sauce and Metamucil.
Hanson hasn't been quite as good this year, missing three kicks, and every time he has missed it has produced the same reaction, from the fans to Hanson himself: "What the fuck?" That shit just isn't supposed to happen. The worst part is when they show Jim Schwartz immediately after and he is standing on the sideline with that cliched "Fucking kickers" look that every coach has. Normally, everyone would agree and be all "Yeah, fuck that bum," but this is Jason Hanson, man. Everyone loves Hanson. He is the village elder who has been through all the plagues and all the wars. He has seen things. If anything, he should look at the rest of the team with that disgusted grimace and scream FUCKING LIONS. He is beyond criticism.
IT HELPS TO CATCH THE BALL
Matthew Stafford is a rookie. Matthew Stafford also has a ridiculously strong arm. Matthew Stafford needs his receivers to help him out by catching the ball. His receivers can't catch the ball because they A.) Don't have a decent sense of timing developed with Stafford yet. B.)Can't handle a ball thrown a billion miles per hour. C.)They suck. D.)All of the above.
It is endlessly frustrating to see Matthew Stafford try to get into a rhythm, make the right reads, and then watch time and time again as his receivers fuck everything up. There was one play against the Vikings, when the Lions were driving for a touchdown, when Stafford came under heavy pressure, managed to scramble away and then threw an absolute rocket to a spot where only his receiver could catch the ball. The receiver dropped it. It was a brilliant play and a brilliant pass by Stafford. Sure, the ball was tailing out of bounds and it would have required a decent catch, but that was literally the only place where he could throw it that would give the receiver a chance. It was a perfect throw. Some people don't understand this and think that it was inaccurate, but that was a clear cut example of Stafford making a play that most other dudes can't make. From the presence in the pocket to avoid a sack, to the athleticism needed to scramble out of the pocket, to the absolute strike to a tiny, tiny target while throwing on the run, the play amply demonstrated why Stafford was the number one overall pick.
Unfortunately, the pass was dropped. Stafford is a lot like, wait for it . . . yes, Brett Favre, in that his passes will break fingers and take dudes by surprise. That, along with the timing issue, should resolve itself once Stafford and his receivers get used to one another. And as the talent level aside from St. Calvin increases at the receiver position, you'll see those sorts of passes being completed with regularity.
YOU SHOULD, UH, PROBABLY GO FOR IT THERE
A lot of people probably won't agree with me, but what the hell, these are savage times and we can't always be friends. Anyway, there was a point early in the fourth quarter when the Lions were down 24-10 and had a 4th and 6 near their own 40. They lined up to punt, and yeah, good call, but then a Viking jumped offsides(yeah, it was an actual Viking, he had an axe and everything . . . I . . . I'm sorry, that was awful). That made it 4th and 1. Hmmm. Sure, there was quite a bit of time left, but the Lions were down by two scores in the 4th quarter, the ball was basically at midfield, and they really needed to score to stay in a game that they really didn't have any right to be in. They should have gone for it, but Jim Schwartz elected to punt, the Vikings kicked a field goal and the game was effectively over.
It seems fairly obvious to me that Jim Schwartz is the type of coach who wants to have an ass-kicking defense and an offense that can make enough plays to get the job done. After all, he was weaned under Jeff Fisher, so you can understand that his end-goal is to get the Lions looking like the most successful of those Titans teams. It's not a bad vision to have. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a good, or even mildly decent, defense, and he can't really afford to play it so conservatively. This has bugged me on several occasions this season already. I have not been a fan of how the Lions have managed the clock on drives near the end of the first half a couple of times, and their lack of aggressiveness in general has been a disappointment.
The Lions don't have the talent that other teams do. They just don't, and when that's the case, you need to take advantage of every opportunity that you get to get something done. You need to push for the endzone instead of settling for a field goal at the end of a half, you need to go for it on 4th and 1 a little more than you normally would, you need to take advantage of the little opportunities that you get throughout the game. It's really the only way to subvert the talent deficiency the Lions face every week.
Okay, yeah, I understand that Jim Schwartz is who he is and he's going to coach this team the same way whether they are talentless or talent-rich. In a sense, that is commendable. It shows that he has faith in what he does, and hooray for that. But, remember, it's a slippery slope from that to "But he's a good man," Marinelli. And no one wants that shit again. At some point, a good coach has to recognize what he has and adjust accordingly. Otherwise, you just look stubborn and foolish.
I am mildly disappointed in Schwartz in general. I still think he's a good coach, but there have been a lot of frustrating little things like what I detailed above that have kind of taken the bloom off the rose a little bit. Perhaps this is because my expectations for Schwartz were a little too high - I mean, come on, of course they were. I along with everyone else was basically composing sonnets to the dude before he even coached a game. But, the thing is, is the reason why I was so excited was not because I thought he was a good solid football coach who believed in fundamentals, but because he seemed like the sort of dude who understood the mathematics of football - chess master, Georgetown, blah blah blah - and would be the sort of dude who would understand that it's in your best interests to go for it on 4th and 1 from your own 40 down two scores in the fourth quarter. It's not so much that I am disappointed that Schwartz is too rigid in his philosophy but that this isn't his philosophy to begin with if that makes any sense. This is where I figured his other mentor, Bill Belichick, would have hopefully influenced him. And yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone is all over Belichick's ass for the call against the Colts, but really, the percentages actually say that it was the right call. And the thing is, is that the Lions were already down by two touchdowns. What did they really have to lose by going for it there?
WELL THIS IS AWKWARD
Anyone who has followed my gibberish at all here knows that I am a fan of Ernie Sims. Along with St. Calvin, he is the dude about whom I have written the most ridiculous and weird bullshit. Hell, I think I talk about his monkey more than I do just about any other player. That is why this is so awkward.
You see, Sims tore up his hamstring and is out for most of the rest of the season. This sucks because, well, because it's Ernie Sims and he is my dude. The thing is, is that his replacement, DeAndre Levy, is probably better than he is right now. It pains me to say that, but Sims just hasn't gotten his shit together. He's still an unguided missile that runs himself out of plays and out of position way too often. Meanwhile, Levy has arguably been the Lions best linebacker when he's been on the field. I am so conflicted. I mean, on the one hand, of course I am happy that the Lions finally found a steal in the middle of the draft. On the other hand, this is all coming at the expense of The Lizard King, Cinnabon Sims, and that shit makes me sad.
I mean, I lean on Sims a lot around here. I need his menagerie of wild beasts. I need his monkey. I don't know what I will do if I lose them. Perhaps my posts will get a little less weird, but that would be a sad day. When Ernie comes back, hopefully the team will do the right thing and keep him around. I don't know, move him to the other outside linebacker spot and make Julian Peterson a rush end. Hell, I am desperate here. Make him the fucking punter, I don't care. I NEED ERNIE SIMS AND I NEED HIS MONKEY. If Sims has to go, hire his monkey as a janitor. I don't give a fuck, these are desperate times and this is a loss we cannot afford. I go through a lot of shit as a fan of this team, at least give me this. I may be a robot, but I am an advanced model with feelings and I dream of electric monkeys. Please?