Friday, December 17, 2010

Angels Of Death

My thirst for blood has once again spiked and I suppose I could just creep through the neighborhood late at night and suck on the jugulars of stray dogs and alley cats or stalk deer through the woods and eat their hearts but that would be unbecoming. I am a gentleman after all. So instead, I have to sate my horrible, horrible bloodlust through the artificial and ceremonial construct known as sports, much like the Aztecs did with their crazy lacrosse games that always ended in death or the way that Lincoln did when he would wrestle his enemies in his basement, all sweaty and shirtless, until he finally finished them with a vicious rear naked choke that he would always refuse to let go of, and then Mary Todd would have to spend the night out back behind the White House, digging holes and spreading lime.

Wait . . . what? Who knows? The point is, is that my spirit and my heart have returned from the grave in time to watch these last few games. I’m not quite sure why it is. Perhaps the win over the Packers inspired me more than I thought. I don’t know. I think what that Packers game did was make me realize that we are capable of rising from our graves, like terrible wraiths and wrecking the seasons of would be playoff teams. The Packers? Fuck them. They rolled into Detroit thinking they were on their way to the Promised Land. Now, their quarterback is dead, Green Bay scientists (really, just a couple of fat guys whose biggest accomplishment is creating a cheese flavored beer) are busy trying to resurrect his brain via crude Frankensteinian experiments, and their people sob and weep and gnash their teeth and beat their breasts and scream across Lake Michigan at us, for they are on the outside looking in and they will have to face the terrible, terrible truth that it was us who crept up on them, invaded their fancy dreams and then slit their throats.

I take immense pleasure in that. Now is the time for vicious pride and the shedding of heathen blood. We will gnaw on the bones of the wicked and we will dance in the wake of their broken dreams. We have no hope because we are already dead, but we know this and no longer care. We have mourned. We have cried. Now, we are just out to take everybody else down with us, with a cruel, mad smile and with blood caked teeth. We have escaped from hell and now we are swirling around like zombie vampires, ghosts with chainsaws for hands, and when the final gun on the season sounds, we will return to hell wearing the skins of those whose dreams we have crushed. We will stand before the devil and we will laugh and the world will shake and tremble and wonder “What next? What next?”

Ah, what next indeed. But that is all a long way off. Next season is next season and right now, we are still stalking the killing fields with evil intentions and woe be unto any fool who is dumb enough to walk our way. This week, it is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who stand at 8-5. Right now, they are on the outside of the playoffs looking in and one more loss will likely sink them for good. I say we hand it to them.

If that is not enough motivation, consider this: the Tampa Buccaneers this season are everything that we should be. They are a young team, a rebuilding team, with a young quarterback who has shown the uncanny ability to close out tough games. They have stolen our destiny. They are pretenders and fakers, charlatans wearing our faces and gladhanding with the angels and the pure of heart while we roar and spit blood in the darkest parts of hell. I have no time, no sympathy for these bastards. This is our time to rip those false faces off and to horrify the innocent. This is a time to knock them to their knees, beat them about the head and then bind them in chains made of defiance and the hideous wailing of the doomed to be dragged back to hell with us.

They are scared. They even admit this. Here is a quote from their head coach Raheem Morris, on the prospect of his team having to guard against the wrath of the House of Spears:

“That healthy fear is always a good thing. It keeps you on top of your toes, it keeps you detailed, and it keeps you razor sharp throughout the game.”

He may be framing it as a good thing, but the one thing I am taking away from that quote is that he knows that his offensive line is already dead. Their starting center has been lost for the season, and the guard who will be going opposite of Ndamukong Suh is a rookie from Bumfuck University. Everything I have read about the Buccaneers this week suggests that they are, in the words of that great orator, Cicero, shook as fuck.

Raheem Morris knows that his guys can’t block Suh. They seem obsessed with the idea. It’s Suh this and Suh that and OH GOD PLEASE DON’T LET HIM EAT MY CHILDREN AND STEAL MY WIFE. There is an undercurrent of utter fear running through everything they have to say about Suh. But they are so focused on Suh, that they forget that the last couple of weeks, the defensive line as a whole have kicked everyone’s ass. The defensive ends, whether it’s Cliff Avril or Turk McBride or Lawrence Jackson, have absolutely beaten the shit out of opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen the last couple of weeks. Everyone was worried that the Lions would miss Kyle Vanden Bosch, but so far, uh . . . no. And I haven’t even mentioned Corey Williams or Sammie Hill or the possibility that this could be the game that sees The Great Willie Young take the field, sack the quarterback and usher in a new age of world peace like Bill & Ted did at the end of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Fuck you, Chuck Denomolous! No one cares that you were the sit-up champion of the 27th Century! Ahem. Sorry.

Anyway, weird Bill & Ted references aside, the point is this: the Buccaneers offensive line is fucked. Even if by some miracle they managed to block Suh, there are still 5 or 6 other dudes who are perfectly capable of eating Josh Freeman alive. His screams of pain and terror will be heard in the deepest darkest parts of hell. They will be heard in other dimensions. Aliens will shake with unexplainable fear when they hear it.

Of course, offensively, it’s not like the Lions are likely to fare much better, considering they will be led into battle once again by Ol’ Plucky. I have already vowed to not speak of Ol’ Plucky anymore and so I will just say that our chances to do anything on offense with him at quarterback drop precipitously. Hopefully, Scott Linehan continues to call an inspired game from the sidelines. He got slammed a bit last week because the Lions only scored 7 points and St. Calvin rarely saw the ball. Well, here’s the thing: that’s a bunch of horseshit. The Lions essentially played that game without a functional quarterback. Scott Linehan knew this and he adjusted accordingly. A million different guys got the ball in a million different ways as the Lions searched for creative ways to run the ball. And you know what? It worked. The Lions had their best game running the ball all season. They ran for 190 yards in 41 carries, which translates into 4.6 yards a pop. They did this even though no one player ran the ball more than 13 teams. This is all because of Scott Linehan and the creativity of his gameplan. Without an actual passing threat – let’s not forget that at one point in the 3rd quarter, Ol’ Plucky’s QB rating was 0.0 and the Lions had 0 yards passing – the team still managed to run the ball effectively thanks to a constant series of changeups. Here’s Maurice Morris, and oh, hey, shit, that’s Stefan Logan! Wait, is that Stanton running the option? What the fuck? Oh hey, St. Calvin just got the ball on a reverse! It was fun to watch and it was effective as hell. It kept the Packers defense off balance just enough that the Lions were able to somehow pull the game out.

And still people bitched, mostly because St. Calvin didn’t get the ball enough. You know what would have happened if Linehan would have called a bunch of passes to St. Calvin? A bunch of three and outs broken up only by the occasional interception from Stanton, because you are absolutely delusional if you thought that Stanton would be able to connect with St. Calvin with any sort of regularity. (Note: I originally wrote St. Clavin, which made me laugh and had me considering some weird Cheers/Lions crossover fanfic. It would have been horrible.) You can call those plays all you want but it doesn’t matter if your QB can’t throw the damn ball more than 5 or 10 yards.

Shit, the Lions tried to get the ball to St. Calvin early in the game and what happened? Stanton turfed a couple of throws. So much for that shit. On the one ball St. Calvin did catch, that 44 yard bomb, the ball was hilariously underthrown and Calvin had to run back to get it. If the Lions spent the Packers game trying to get the ball to St. Calvin, do you know what the final score would have been? 3-0, because the Lions wouldn’t have scored shit. Running the ball and running it creatively was the only chance the Lions had. The offense wasn’t exactly on fire against the Packers. I mean 7 points is still only 7 points, you know? But if it wasn’t for Scott Linehan’s play calling, the offense would have gone from bad to HOLY SHIT THIS IS THE WORST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN AND I SAW 0-16. Anyone blaming Linehan for the offense’s non-performance against the Packers is missing the point so hilariously and so egregiously that they should probably just start watching Croquet or Competitive Basket Weaving or – ugh – Bass Fishing, because they sure as shit don’t understand football.

Anyway, that rant aside, if the Lions have any chance of winning this game they need two things to happen: first, they need to be able to run the ball with the same sort of multiplicity which kept the Green Bay defense off balance and second, they need Stanton to be at the very least the Drew Stanton of the Giants game. It’s alright if he is still largely a butt. They don’t need him to be great. He just needs to not throw shitty interceptions and be accurate enough on the short throws that it gives the Lions a chance to move the ball whenever the run is stuffed. The good news is that the Lions should be able to run the ball, which will take a lot of the pressure off of Stanton. If they continue to run the ball from a million different angles with a million different players, it will be hard for the Buccaneers to key in on any one play. Helping matters is the fact that Gerald McCoy – the Sam Bowie to Suh’s Hakeem Olajuwon - is out. Last week, the Buccaneers tried to replace him with a defensive end and were torn up for 170 + yards by Ryan Torain. This week, the Bucs are throwing people into the lineup who never play and are planning on shifting the defensive line around in a vain attempt to stop the bleeding.

The Bucs are a team very much like our own. They are young and they have some talent but they are very, very thin. There is no depth. Sound familiar? So far this season, they have gotten lucky because they haven’t had to face the consequences of injuries. The last couple of weeks, they have seen numerous guys get hurt, and now they have to deal with what we’ve been dealing with all season. The difference is that the Buccaneers have even less to plug in than we do. On the offensive line, they are down to their backup center and a couple of rookies at guard trying to slow down Ndamukong Suh and the Lions defensive line. Along their defensive line, they have lost Gerald McCoy and are down to replacement players grabbed off the street and wishes and prayers. Their best defensive back, Aqib Talib is lost for the season. Their season has been a miracle, held together by hopes and dreams and rainbows and candy and smiles and lots of other things that in the end just aren’t real. They are finding this out now. They survived last week, mostly because they were playing a team that is imploding in the Redskins. (Poor, poor Raven Mack . . .) But for teams like the Bucs, the clock always strikes midnight and when it does, poor Cinderella gets run over by a runaway carriage and is kidnapped by a vicious pimp who sells her ass on the street until he gets her all strung out on heroin and she OD’s. The end.

I have a weird feeling. I don’t know. It just seems like we have spent the whole season white knuckling it and braying about hope and crying about the death of hope and all that noisy horseshit. Now, there is nothing but acceptance and football, and it is at times like these that weird things happen and true hope is born. We had to burn in hell so that the flames of this world would mean nothing to us. They cannot hurt us because we have already been roasted alive in front of the devil and his Failure Demons. There is no fear here, and no real hope, nothing but a grim and violent streak of naked bloodlust in our hearts. The hopeful have everything to lose and their eyes are widening with fear. They are tired and ragged and they have been running, running, running, just as we ran before we fell and gave into our terrible fate. But now we are rising from hell, terrible and monstrous, ugly and mean. We are scarred and charred, our bodies and faces burnt and blackened and we carry a mighty war hammer and we speak in grunts and our eyes are vacant and bored and indifferent because this world can show nothing to us. It can offer us nothing and it can do us no harm. We have risen from the smoke and the fire and the world may still laugh when it hears our name, the Detroit Lions, and they may cackle and they may taunt but their laughter will die in their throats and their smiles will freeze on their faces and then fade into horrible fear because now is the time for vengeance, terrible and cruel. We have been reborn as Angels of Death. This is our fate. Heaven is closed to us, but fuck with us and it will be closed to you too.


1. Stanton will bounce back – for him anyway – and complete 15-28 passes for 195 yards, with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

2. No one player will run the ball more than 15 times for the Lions, but the Lions rushing attack as a whole will be effective, racking up 175 yards. Maurice Morris will be the team’s leading rusher with 45 yards.

3. St. Calvin will catch only 4 passes for 85 yards because Stanton will struggle to get him the ball. He will have one huge catch which will be crucial to the outcome of the game.

4. Josh Freeman will throw for 265 yards on 22-36 passing with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. He will be sacked 6 times.

5. The Bucs will struggle to run the ball and after the game Ndamukong Suh will ceremonially eat LeGarrette Blount’s heart at midfield.



Andrew TSKS said...

Dude, Neil, that wasn't Lincoln, that was Stu Hart!

Neil said...

Little known fact: Stu Hart and Lincoln were the same person. Both were renowned wrestlers back in the day. Both called their basement The Dungeon. Both had children die young. Both freed slaves. And finally, both wore a top hat and were theater aficionados. It's all true. You can choose not to believe me, but you only belittle yourself by doing so.

HillHeeb said...

Remember when people wanted the Lions to take McCoy over Suh? HA

Neil said...

Even at the time I thought the idea was ridiculous. In hindsight, it was ridiculous to the ridiculous power.

Anonymous said...

Couldnt agree more with that, very attractive article