Friday, November 5, 2010

Lost In My Own Delusions

Lieutenant Mark Sanchez, ladies and gentlemen!

I’m excited for this week’s game against the Jets. It’s another test, another mile marker on the long, terrible road out of hell, and we’ll know a lot about whether or not the Lions have made the jump to Ludicrous Speed that we all hope, deep in our wounded hearts, that they have. Coming into the season we all hoped for progress and we have gotten it. It’s been evident, especially over the last month, when the team has gone 2-2, with the two losses being one possession types on the road in Green Bay and New York. The Lions have really only been slapped around in one game, and if that game against the Vikings was played today, I’d pick the Lions to win it. That may sound like irrational hubris, the stupid nattering of a fool drunk on Hope and Delusion, but damn it all, I actually believe that crazy shit.

The good thing – hell, the damn near miraculous thing – is that I think a lot of people would probably agree with me. And okay, fine, that says more about how hilariously the Vikings have collapsed this season than it does about the Lions, but fuck it, perhaps that is the point. There are teams out there now more fucked up than the Lions. There are fans of other teams without hope, bitter at the world, screaming at the sun and barking at the moon, because they know their team is a broken mess, irreparable, and for once, those fans are not us.

We have come a long away in just a few weeks. This is the way that progress often happens – not gradually, not linearly, but with a sonic boom, a parabolic rise which builds on itself exponentially until one day you finally stop to breathe, check to make sure all your vital bits are still there, and realize that you are a million miles off the ground, thundering across the sky with the stars and the sun while everyone else stares at you in wide eyed wonder from their own mortal place under the sky that they cannot touch.

We are not there yet. To be honest, I don’t know where we are. Our team is 2-5 (well, 3-4, but you know . . .) and most people seem to think that 6-10 is a likely destination, which . . . uh, I hate to break it to you, but if we go 6-10 the only way we’re soaring across the sky is if we are snatched up by some giant hellbird who just wants to fuck with us before dropping us onto the rocks far below. That’s where we’re at right now, and hey, that’s okay if that’s all there is to this. That’s reason to smile given where we’ve been. Even a dirty shack with a hole in the floor to shit in feels like paradise to the man who has spent half a century getting cornholed in hell by Failure Demons and Hitler.

But there is a small piece in all of us that wants to believe that our parabolic journey has just begun, that things will move so quickly now that none of us will even be able to understand what is happening until it’s finally over and our Lions are beating the shit out of everyone. It wants to believe in something miraculous, something strange and wonderful and improbable, because we deserve a miracle, we deserve magic. That is why the game against the Jets sold out so quickly this week. Last week, the fans couldn’t be bothered to show up. It wasn’t because they didn’t care, it was because they didn’t believe. Now, they do.

People don’t get excited when they think the end of the road is 6-10. They just don’t. They don’t start to believe and to gibber on about magic and miracles unless they’ve embraced some part of themselves that is eternally hopeful, some part of their soul that has never been touched by the Failure Demon, some tiny part that they keep so close to their heart that they never let anyone know it’s there. That’s what you’re seeing right now with Lions fans. For the first time, they believe and for the first time they are opening up their hearts and revealing the thunder and the joy within because, deep down, they – no, fuck that, we – really believe that it’s different now.

Of course, this is very likely a hilarious prelude to tragedy, and I will likely look back at this and wonder how and when I was possessed by the spirit of Walt Disney on lithium, but that’s part of the fun of all this, you know? I’m just sort of reveling in it all, reveling in the sheer possibility of it all. Yeah, I know it’s dumb. I know it’s irresponsible and I know that I will very, very likely end up disappointed when the parabola immediately flattens out and I realize that the long road out of hell still has a million miles to go. I know all this and yet, I don’t care. And I don’t care because for the first time in a long, long time – maybe ever – I feel like anything is possible right now.

When I was a kid, there were moments that were probably filled with more possibility – I’m thinking specifically of the Lions skull fucking of the Cowboys in the playoffs in ’91 – but I was just an idiot kid back then and didn’t really know any better. I didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment. And hey, as great as that moment was, we still didn’t have a franchise quarterback and we were coached by a dude who looked like he was going to be found dead in an alley after mainlining a plate full of spaghetti. This is the first time that it’s felt like all the key pieces are in place – Franchise QB? Check. Hyper-talented playmaking receiver? Check. Game-breaking running back? Check. Monster defender who will gladly rip the opposing quarterback’s head off? Check. Head coach who is smarter than everyone else and who actually makes our team better? Check.

Sure there are holes to be filled, but the core is there. The heart of the team that will leave us smiling and gibbering like idiots when we jump to Ludicrous Speed is there. Now it’s only a matter of time. It will click in and when it does . . . well, just read all of the idiot gibberish I have been spewing lately.

That’s why this game against the Jets has us so excited. It’s not that we think we’re going to win. It’s that we could win. And if we do . . . magic. I have no idea where we really are. I have no idea how to get to the end of this long, exhausting road. It could be a million miles away or it could just be over the next hill. I don’t know. But for the first time, I feel like it could be over the next hill, and that just makes me want to march harder and faster. When I think of it, my whole body sort of involuntarily shudders, and my mind races and it allows itself to imagine the future, and for the first time it can make out specific details. It can see Ndamukong Suh celebrating after a sack and it can see Matthew Stafford running off the field looking like some sort of big dicked cowboy fighter pilot and it can see St. Calvin jumping up and grabbing a touchdown pass while the helpless defensive back just slumps his shoulders and trudges off the field. It can see all this and it can connect with the memories of watching all of these things having happened already. Because that’s the thing. We’ve seen all of those things. We know what they look like. We know what they feel like. We know the future because we have seen it, we have felt it and we have lived it.

It’s just a matter of consistency at this point, and yeah, I have gotten completely carried away, but I don’t really care. At some point, you just have to wrap yourself in the flag of your country and sing with your brothers and sisters even if you know it’s kind of corny, even if other parts of you are telling you that there are still problems. Because pride is a motherfucker. Pride is a beautiful and a terrible thing. It will rip you apart and leave you looking like a damn fool but sometimes, it will leave you smiling and dancing in the streets. Right now, I am filled with idiot pride, I am wrapped in the flag of the Detroit Lions and I am singing drinking songs with my friends and even though there may be a comet heading straight for Earth, we don’t know that. All we know is that anything and everything feels like it’s possible and that alone feels like some sort of cosmic victory after all we’ve been through. And that’s enough for me.

But can we actually beat the Jets? Well . . . yes. And that’s the great thing. Right now, I think we can beat almost anybody. Will we beat the Jets? Well . . . probably not. That’s just the reality of the situation. It’s one thing to be capable of winning every time you take the field, no matter who it’s against. It’s another thing entirely to actually go out and do it. There are a lot of teams in the NFL who are capable of beating anyone they face. That’s all we’ve accomplished so far – we’ve managed to pull ourselves up to the level of just about every other team. The truly good teams – the Patriots, the Colts, the Steelers, etc. – all go out and actually win those games. The teams like us win sometimes, but sometimes they lose and at the end of the season they sit home and watch one of those aforementioned teams play in the Super Bowl.

This is a big test because right now the Jets kind of feel like they could be one of those Super Teams. They certainly have the hype. They have a defense that is hyped up as the greatest thing since the ’85 Bears, they have some famous wide receivers, they have a quarterback who is being groomed to one day own the city of New York, they have a boisterous jackass of a head coach who is beloved by the media because he will say any stupid shit that comes to mind. They were on HBO. They are the It Team, exactly the sort of team we’re expected to just roll over for. In the past, we have just rolled over for dudes like this, tightly shut our eyes and tried to find our happy place while they reamed the shit out of us. And people will continue to expect this until one day we get the butcher knife and cut that son of a bitch’s dick off.

I’m sorry, that all got weird and ugly, but fuck it, that is what I do. The point is, is that we’re never going to be where we want to be until we rise up and stomp one of these damn fool teams. We’ve already shown that we can beat flawed teams – the teams that are basically just like us – and hey, that’s great. That’s progress. And we have shown that we can at least hang in there with teams who are better than us. But we haven’t beaten an elite team yet. We haven’t left a Super Bowl contender standing stunned on the field wondering what the fuck just happened while we dance around and celebrate yet.

The good news is that I don’t think the Jets are nearly as good as they want you to believe. Their defense hasn’t honestly been that good this season. Darrelle Revis somehow went from underrated to overrated within the span of one contract squabble, Braylon Edwards still drops too many passes, Santonio Holmes is still rusty after coming back from a suspension for being a degenerate, Rex Ryan is more talk than action and oh yeah, Mark Sanchez, their golden boy quarterback? He suuuuuuuuuuccks.

Fuck Mark Sanchez. While everybody is busy fellating him, he’s busy riding the coattails of the Jets defense. His completion percentage this season is 53.0. For perspective purposes, among quarterbacks with 100 or more pass attempts this season, that is the second worst in the league next to only Bruce fucking Gradkowski. Derek Anderson has a better completion percentage than Sanchez. Matt Moore has a better completion percentage than Sanchez. Ryan Fitzpatrick . . . okay, you get the point. That is fucking atrocious. What a goddamn fraud. That motherfucker is being fitted with his Joe Namath cock ring and being held up as the breakout star of his draft class. And that, right there, is why he can kindly go straight to hell. Because we happen to have a quarterback by the name of Matthew Stafford from that same draft class who doesn’t get anywhere near the love that Mark Sanchez gets. While everyone was busy lovingly caressing the holy balls of Sanchez, they were shit talking Stafford for his interceptions last season. And yet, Sanchez’s numbers were a gigantic pile of shit. If you offered me a chance to take Sanchez straight up in exchange for Stafford I would chase you with a whip made from my garden hose, piranha teeth and hatred. I would shoot you in the back with a cannon and then shit in the giant cavity of death that used to be your chest. If Matthew Stafford played for the New York Jets, he would be getting his dick sucked on live TV right now. I mean it. You could change the channel and there would be Matty with a smile on his face and his pants off while a gaggle of fame whore blondes fought over the right to blow him for all the world to see. If Mark Sanchez played for the Lions right now, fans would be tossing batteries at him, Dominic Raiola would be challenging people to fights and the media would be shitting all over him as just another Joey Harrington. So yeah, I want the whole world to be able to see my man Stafford shine while Sanchez shits the bed. I want there to be no doubt. I want Jets fans to curse every deity known to man for their misfortune. I want them to know that our man is better.

I want to watch Ndamukong Suh eviscerate Mark Sanchez and then run into the endzone holding the man’s internal organs and then I want to watch him spike Sanchez’s heart while Rex Ryan falls to his knees and pleads for mercy. I want to watch Alphonso Smith intercept Sanchez and then do The Carlton on the Jets bench. I want to see Darrelle Revis suffer a massive panic attack and have to be stretchered out with a stick in his mouth so he doesn’t bite his own tongue off after St. Calvin abuses him over and over and over again. I want to see the Jets, in all their arrogance, try to cover him one on one with Revis. I want them to do it. I want them to come out and think they are just going to roll over the Lions because, ha ha ha, Same Ol’ Lions amirite? I want Rex Ryan to have a big fat smirk on his face and I want Jim Schwartz to expose him as the dumb hillbilly he is. I want blood and I want the future and I want Ludicrous Speed and I want the pelt of the New York Jets on our wall and I want the whole world to believe in possibility and I want HBO to film it all and I want Roger Goodell to give us medals like at the end of Star Wars and I want this to be the start of a decade of utter conquest and destruction, a decade which sees us pay everyone back for a lifetime of hell. I want to win and I want to win so, so badly.

Will we? Like I said, probably not. The Jets are a good team, even if they aren’t a great team, and . . . you know what, fuck it. Mark Sanchez can kiss my ass. Lions win and the whole world can sit in slackjawed confusion and Chris Berman can do his Lions??? routine all he wants and I can wrap myself in the flag of the Detroit Lions and we can all get drunk and make such a scene – Such. A. Scene. – and five years from now, we’ll stop to take a deep breath and we’ll look back and we’ll know that this is where it started. The Detroit Lions are here, and I am the herald of their doom. We will sack your city and we will enslave your children. We will crucify your quarterbacks and we will eat the dead. I am going to ride this fucker until he throws me. The road might go on for another million miles, but right now, I’m willing to believe that its end is just over the next hill and damn it, I am going to run, run, run . . .


1. Matthew Stafford will be surprisingly effective against the Jets pass defense, throwing for 275 yards on 28 of 40 passing with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

2. Jahvid Best, on the other hand, will be completely shut down on the ground against the Jets, rushing for only 27 yards on 12 carries. He will catch 7 passes for 75 yards however.

3. Calvin Johnson will catch 7 passes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns and Darrell Revis will break down at midfield and have to be taken out of the stadium on a stretcher with a stick in his mouth.

4. Mark Sanchez will complete 12 of 27 passes for 135 yards and 1 touchdown to go with 2 interceptions. He’ll be sacked 4 times and after the game he will be publicly bitchslapped by a disgusted Joe Namath, who will demand that Sanchez hand in his penis as punishment for being a pretender to his great throne.

5. I will be committed shortly after completing this post.



UpHere said...

I'm almost too afraid to say this, but there is almost a feeling of inevitability. I don't expect to beat the Jets tomorrow, but I do expect to scare the shit out of them. Next year, I think we'll be favored on the road against Green Bay or the despicable, child molesting Vikings. My throbbing man crush on Mayhew aside, I can't remember trusting a coach/management combo this much in any sport. It just feels like a matter of time.

And not only do I think the Lions will be good, it looks like they'll be good in a satisfyingly violent way. No gimmicky offense or small, fast cover 2 defense. It looks like we'll just be larger and angrier. I'd like to see them start moving towards a Dallas in 1995 group of elephants for an O-line to complete this picture.

UpHere said...

I'm not just talking big for an O Line, either. I'm talking mammoth. Like they will need a team veterinarian. Farm animals. Block out the sun gigantic. Their cereal bowls will need lifeguards.

Neil said...

That's my dude UpThere.

Yeah, there just seems to be an inexorable march towards physical dominance. I think you can see the blueprint for this team as a whole in how the defensive line was constructed. That is the heart right there and if the Lions keep building around that as the spiritual center of this rebirth or whatever the fuck you wanna call it, great things are going to happen.

Both the D-Line and the D-Backs have sort of a dickish swagger to them that I love, an indomitable attitude that when it's at its best can break the other team mentally. That's what I've loved in the Lions wins this year. By the end of those games, the Redskins and Rams were just gone mentally. They were fucking obliterated. The Lions almost did this to the Packers too at Lambeau. I look forward to this being a regular thing.

Neil said...

Also, I'm sure the team did have a veterinarian but I'm guessing that he was yet another sad casualty of the disillusion of the Lizard King's noble realm.

Fuck, hire a team of ranch hands who know how to corral a massive herd of cattle. Or give all the fans alongside the entrance tunnel cattle prods and have them zap the players as they pass through, both to steer them in the right direction and to piss them off.

CJ said...

Bold pick! Love it.

"So yeah, I want the whole world to be able to see my man Stafford shine while Sanchez shits the bed"

THIS. I'm happy if we go 6-10. I'd be thrilled if we climb stratospherically, but I'm also happy just watching the team progress in any way shape or form. I'm having so much fun watching them now. However, I REALLY REALLY need to see Stafford get some props and I really want to see Sanchez humiliated. I hate him. I feel about him like everyone else feels about Favre. I hate him even more after Rex Ryan's smack talk about Stafford and Schwartz. (At least I think that was smack talk. I am being forced to face the horrifying conclusion that I'm not mentally deft enought at the moment to decipher the subtle linguistic trickeries of Rex Ryan, and I'm reluctantly considering hanging myself.)

Anyways, hope you're right on all of it, but esp on the Stafford stuff.

So, you guys think the next target of the rebuilding effort will be the O-line? Cool. I'm oddly not hating on the O-line this year, but I'm so down with the idea of team veterinarian. Maybe one of his duties could be shooting tranquilizer darts into Roary's ass.

Neil said...

Yes, in writing this, I was hyped up and then I thought of Sanchez and I just got angry. Fuck him.

I'm not sure where the Lions will build next, but if it's the offensive line, I won't exactly be pissed. I kinda have my heart set on linebacker, though.

And what did Rex Ryan say? I must have missed it. I'm guessing he sounded like an asshole, though.

CJ said...

Sorry, can't find the exact quote for some reason. It wasn't really that was just this long drawn out thing about how he and Schwartz both had been coaching for the same amount of time, and how they both drafted young QBs and how that can backfire on a new coach because you're fired before you can reap the rewards. I could be nothing, but with his other comments it felt like "Well, obviously I'm safe because I took my team to the playoffs and my QB is universally fellated by the media. Sucks for Schwartz and he's probably getting fired because his QB sucks."

Alright...that might be an overreach on my part...just a little bit. However, I love Stafford and hate asshole Rex and his overrated pretty boy QB. Screw them and I feel like being unreasonable about it. I should possibly be quarantined.

Anyways, great game preview post. I love that you do predictions because (among other reasons) the thing that drives me nuts about regular football commnentary is the lack of accountability, where they immediately pretend that they never said things that were flat out wrong. That you not only make predictions, but review them each week is so cool, and I'm actually learning a lot. So, thanks Neil.

simscity said...

Right now, I want to buy a monster truck, throw a jet engine on the back and ride that fucker into Ford Field. I only continue to get more and more pumped for this game, which seals the fact that we'll probably lose it. But I don't care. It's awesome that I get to look forward to Sundays again.

Neil said...

Thank you, CJ. I like doing the predictions post every week. It's kind of grown into its own thing and it gives me a chance to talk about the game from an angle that's a little different than the one I approach it from immediately following the game. It's fun whether I'm right or wrong.

And fuck Rex Ryan. He is the enemy and you don't need to justify your disdain. Not to me. There is an air of undeserved arrogance about him that is ridiculous and he's always one small step away from turning into a full blown caricature.

Neil said...

Right on, simscity. It's been so long since we've had anything to smile about as Lions fans, that we need to take every opportunity we can to howl at the moon.

Neil said...

"he's always one small step away from turning into a full blown caricature."

I should say this is also probably true of me, but fuck it, we won't think like that.

Sek said...

I don't know if the Lions will win or not, but I have a feeling Sanchez will get buttraped by Suh on the 50 yard line and will have to do the walk of shame back to the bench where Namath will be there drunk and naked under his fur coat a la Ric Flair. Broadway Joe will then remind him he once did a commercial wearing pantyhose on TV and even he thinks Sanchez is a homo.

UpHere said...

I want a linebacker, too, it's just that they don't seem to be the focus of Schwartz's D. I mean, it's hard to name a Schwartz-era Titans LB except Bulloch, and that's just because he was on the market. I'd be thrilled with an LB in round one and circus freak interior lineman thereafter in the draft.

Plus, LBs are sleek and fast and aren't as funny as farm animal O lineman.

T in AZ said...

Best two paragraph rant ever from "Fuck Mark Sanchez. to "...want to win so, so badly."

That prick gets so much media attention. I hate that photo of him jumping up and down on the sideline next to Rex with this "We did it boss," imbecilic glee in his face. You didn't have anything to do with being a good team last year. You're just along for the ride shit-for-brains.

I'm so amped for the game Sunday. I don't even know if I can watch. I might have a coronary or something.

Neil said...

Man, as soon as I started writing about Mark Sanchez I just went into crazy mode. I felt the weight of decades of disrespect and I just wasn't having that shit anymore. Also, I am hilariously shitfaced at the moment and I have had to correct the spelling of every word I have written thus far. Oh shit, I might have a bloody nose.

UpHere said...

Who's decision was it to set the clocks back an hour this weekend and how can they be punished? Every half hour of pre game feels like a week.

Neil said...

I, for one, am grateful for the time change (I always love the Fall change but hey, fuck a Spring change, you know?) as it gave me an extra hour to recuperate so I can face the world as something other than as a zombie who just feels like he's going to shit his pants. It's an annual delight, and I thank the farmers who made it possible.

CJ said...

I hate everything.

Neil said...

Me too.