Sunday, November 8, 2009

Well, Hell, I Suppose 1-7 is Better than 0-8

Yes, this is a lion.

I am cranky and exhausted for reasons that are inane and utterly irrelevant and which none of you give a fuck about, but I feel I should mention this, just in case my ravings are particularly caustic or if I disappear in a haze of ridiculous delirium. Of course, my mood wasn't helped much by what happened in the game between the Lions and the Seahawks, but I should know better than to hope for success even when I am being cruelly baited.

I suppose I did know better, but still, you find yourself wanting to think that things will be different, that this will be the game when it finally all clicks and it's candy and blowjobs for everyone. Sure, I knew that the early 17-0 lead was as much the product of odd circumstance and dumb luck as much as anything, but what the hell, the luckless must take what meager offerings are laid in front of them without asking questions. I suppose I could blather on about looking a gift horse in the mouth, but earlier this season I already vomited up a tortured Trojan Horse metaphor that was entirely too bizarre to really work, and so I won't head down that road again.

The Lions couldn't count on Matt Hasselbeck throwing passes to Louis Delmas all day or having fumbles appear right at their feet the rest of the game. We were riding on a wave too big for us, and it was destined to break and leave us scattered and weeping, wondering how in the hell the rush of being on top of the world vanished in such a brutal and terrible fall. It was nice while it lasted, but we are too clumsy and too stupid and too inexperienced to understand how to properly ride the big wave all the way to the end. We will get there some day, or so we must keep telling ourselves, but for now, all we can do is hang on for as long as we can and hope we can get close enough to shore before we are plunged beneath the water once again.

32-3. That first number, ominous and mean, is the one put up by the Seahawks following our brief flirtation with respectability. That second number, pathetic and sort of embarrassing, is the one the Lions managed over that same stretch. I tend to gravitate more towards words and pictures and sounds and all that fruity bullshit than I do to the world of numbers, but I am pretty sure that 17+3 < 32. Yeah, 32-20 is not that terrible a final score, but if you take away that opening flurry of weirdness, all you are left with is 32-3, and that shit, well, it's not good.

Still, it never seemed that bad. Part of this is because of the aforementioned flurry of weirdness that somehow produced 17 early points, and part of this is because the Lions never seemed like they were completely overwhelmed. They were able to move the ball some and never seemed entirely out of it. Unfortunately, neither of those things are really reflected by that terrible number 3 because every time the Lions had an opportunity, some degenerate Seahawk would rise from the depths of Puget Sound and steal the ball out of the air.

Five interceptions is, uh . . . it's . . . yeah, sorry, I sort of spaced out for a moment there. Anyway, that shit will kill you every damn time. Of course, there were the requisite special teams fuck-ups, which incidentally led to a fantastic shot of Stan Kwan looking rattled as hell on the sideline, like he was trying to decide if he had time to get his shit out of the locker room before security roughed him up, and there were issues with ball distribution, and of course the defense allowed Matt Hasselbeck to do whatever the hell he wanted all game long, but 5 interceptions almost makes the rest of that shit irrelevant. The Lions could have played inspired defense, Zach Follett could have turned into the Incredible Hulk and smashed the fuck out of the Seahawks' kick returners and Calvin Johnson could have had a million balls thrown in his direction and it wouldn't have really mattered because of that number 5.

But before I get too carried away with this, I just want to say that I don't think Matthew Stafford is really the scapegoat here. I mean, even if he would have had a fairly error free day, all of the above issues would have been too tough to overcome. In the end, it was the perfect storm of suck, the sort of thing that allows you to get shredded by a score of 32-3.

But hey, I suppose I should be more positive. After all, the Lions did start the game well, and even if it was a bit flukeish, I suppose we should all take that as a sign of progress. After all, we are optimists and gentlemen and lady gentlemen and we do not need to wallow in the muck of failure any more than we need to. There were definite signs that this was an offense that could be reasonably effective. Aaron Brown looked good, Kevin Smith looked a little better, and when he wasn't throwing the ball to the other team, Matthew Stafford showed that he was very good at hitting open tight ends and receivers, and even the occasional deep ball. Perhaps that is damning with faint praise, but I don't mean it to sound like that. I really don't. I like Stafford's game. I think he's smart, I think he's got the sort of charisma you want your team's leader to have, and he's obviously got the arm. He's a franchise quarterback in just about every sense of the word. This team will mold itself to his personality sooner or later and when it does, I think things will start to take off. The thing is, though, is that he is 21 years old, he's a rookie and when I'm not talking up his skills, I am making jokes about him throwing kegs at sea monsters and shit.

Meanwhile, the defense showed a capacity for making some big plays before the bottom fell out - just like it always does - and there are signs here, I think, that the rudimentary foundations are in place for a workable defense. I like the schemes, I like the linebackers, I like Sammie Hill and I like Louis Delmas. We can build around that. It's just that, for now, it's not nearly enough.

There are good things here for a change, but there just aren't enough of them to sustain anything behind brief flights of fancy that leave us feeling even more stupid when they don't last than we did before. Everyone loves to hope, but most people hate having that hope thrown back in their faces week after week. Glimpses are wonderful things, but they are also painful because they are only that, a glimpse and nothing more. The day will come when we can live in that wonderful world, but for right now all we can do is catch little snippets of it as we are beaten and left for dead by those who have already lived there.

But, hell, we are champions in our hearts and warriors of light in our souls, and although we may laugh at Stan Kwan and shake our heads at embryonic quarterbacks, we will get through this, just as we always have, and we will come out the other side as the children of hope, beautiful and utterly without fear. This death march has been long and terrible, but at the end we shall slaughter the wicked and gnaw upon their bones.

This is getting unruly, and I would apologize, but I am frazzled and my eyeballs feel like they are on fire. This is not me at my best, but fuck it, neither is my favorite team and yet I am still here.


Ty said...

"It's just that, for now, it's not nearly enough."

Exactly. The fact that you can already see the framework of what's to come speaks volumes about how much better the Lions are in just one partial offseason. Just think about what the Mayhew, Schwartz, & Co. will do when they can hit the ground running, starting from this point and moving forward . . .


Ty said...

BTW, I wanted to add: Your line from the last post, "These are complicated times, and none of us can afford to be simple men," was a wonderful little bit of philosophy. I read that one aloud to the Mrs., and we both took succor in it. Well done.


Neil said...

Yeah, I have said all along that this thing will take time. The important thing - and the thing that keeps me hopeful - is that the framework for something good seems to be there already. Now, we just need to keep plugging holes one at a time.

Also, thank you as usual for the kind words, Ty. I like to think that my idiot ravings occasionally have a worthwhile point buried somewhere inside of them and it's always nice to hear that someone appreciates this nonsense.