Monday, August 29, 2011

Preseason Games Are Meaningless, But . . . Part II

Like a goddamn feeding frenzy

I already wrote the Hey The Preseason Is Meaningless But . . . article following the Lions beatdown of the Bengals so I really, really don’t feel like I should have to write it again but here we are. I’ve kind of realized that the better the Lions do, the more hysterical noise is going to come from certain quarters proclaiming that we are all a bunch of goddamn fools and that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be tricked by the Failure Demons yet again. This is because people are scared and the more the window that looks out on the great big world of the living opens, wider and wider, the more freaked out they will become by the fear that the window will just slam shut once again leaving them in the darkness. It’s easier for them to just look away and pretend that the light isn’t there than to risk the fear of losing it.

I understand that. I do. That is both my gift and my curse. I understand people. I know where they’re coming from and I know how their diseased minds work. I always have. That gives me a level of insight that I probably take for granted. It aids me greatly but it also drives me fucking nuts, because while I understand that mindset, it just feels so tired and banal and simple. It’s a bunch of reactionary nonsense driven by some animalistic need to protect oneself.

I’ve seen the following argument thrown out countless times already this preseason: “Hey, remember the Lions went 4-0 in the 2008 preseason and then went 0-16, so what happened against the Patriots was meaningless. I was fooled once before. Never again!”

Okay. Let’s break that whole thing down, piece by piece. First of all, drawing meaning from the 2008 preseason by declaring that it was meaningless is intuitively retarded. Anyone doing this is either being intellectually dishonest or is so wrapped up in the hysteria of their own fear and vicious self-loathing as a Lions fan that it’s impossible to take anything they say seriously. If the Lions going 4-0 in the 2008 preseason was meaningless, then it would have been equally meaningless to go 0-4. Once you establish that the record itself is meaningless, that the results, the wins and losses, add up to jack shit, you’re left with the subtext, which is that any meaning that can be taken from the preseason comes from the eyeball test, from actually watching the games, and that’s where this argument falls completely apart.

I mean, come on, does anybody reading this remember anything from that 4-0 preseason of yore? Anything at all? I don’t. All I remember is that the Lions went 4-0 and the only reason I remember that is because that 4-0 record serves as a sort of perverse and fucked up footnote to what followed in that season of unnumbered tears. I certainly don’t remember the Lions looking like a well-oiled machine. I don’t remember the Lions throwing the ball all over the field or smashing the shit out of opposing offenses. In my mind, all four of those games were 19-17 Lions “wins” that were back and forth affairs won by a field goal engineered by the 4th team late in the game. Even if that’s not how they actually went down, in my head that’s what happened. They were meaningless not because of the result but because nothing happened worth remembering. They were played simply because they had to be played. There was no real excitement, no real “Hey, there’s something happening here . . .” They were just sort of there.

Compare that to this year. I’ll remember the Lions kicking the shit out of the Patriots because no matter what you tell me about the result being meaningless and none of it being real, what was real was the look of dismay and pants shitting “What the fuck is going on here?” written all over Tom Brady’s face. You’re right. The final score of the game didn’t matter. Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Cliff Avril and the boys terrorizing a clearly overwhelmed Tom Brady like escaped vampire apes terrorizing a kitten did matter. So did Matthew Stafford looking like he had been sent from the future by Skynet to destroy John Connor and throw touchdown passes in his spare time. Those throws were all real. They happened. There were no throws like that in 2008. There were no moments when I went “Holy shit, this dude is the truth.” Matthew Stafford has a quarterback rating of 154 through the first three preseason games. He was perfect against the Patriots. That’s not even hyperbole. He was perfect. He was. Both incompletions – all two of them – were perfect throws that couldn’t have been placed any better. One was juggled and then dropped by Nate Burleson, the other was broken up on a great play by Kyle Arrington. That was it.

So it’s completely disingenuous to say that the game itself was meaningless. You’re using the correct argument that the final score was meaningless to justify and spread your own paranoid fears on a technicality, which is either hysterically stupid or willfully craven. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is more accurate.

And then there’s the second part of that argument, the whole “We were fooled before . . .” thing. Yeah, about that . . . the thing is, is that I wasn’t fooled in 2008. Not even a little bit. Go back and read my shit from back then. That was when I first started writing about the Lions here at Armchair Linebacker and I was brutally savage. I ripped those motherfuckers apart despite that 4-0 preseason. If you were fooled, that’s your own damn problem. Don’t sit there and tell me from your smug little perch that I should be afraid because you were fooled once before. If anything, I believe even more in this year’s team because I wasn’t fooled in 2008. You know what that season and preseason told me? That I know my shit and that I should feel confident in my ability to cut through all the dumb bullshit and see things for how they really are. I didn’t believe in the Lions in 2008 even though everyone was telling me I should and then they went out and laid the most historic of rotten eggs. I do believe in them this season. I’m gonna go ahead and trust that over your hysterical whining about being fooled because, brother, you were the fool back then, not me.

I’ve been kind of harsh here, but what the hell, I am sick of all the dumb noise and I just want to talk football for a change. I don’t want to spend the season putting out dumpster fires in the fanbase. That’s not my deal, you know? I just wanted to write this so everyone would know where I stand and so I wouldn’t have to come back to it throughout the season when the Failure Zombies rise from their graves and start gibbering on about how the team secretly sucks. If I think the Lions suck, I will say that shit. You know that. I won’t get seduced by candy cane wishes and unicorn dreams. I call it like I see it, and the way I see it, the Lions have every chance to be pretty damn good this season. Not perfect, but good and good is damn near a miracle given where we’ve been.

Now, with all that said, are there still concerns? Absolutely. The offensive line doesn’t seem like it can run block for shit, which is a distressing development. Hopefully, the Lions coaches realize this and play to their strengths on offense instead of serving as slaves to some bullshit Lombardiesque This Is How A Man Wins philosophy. Thankfully, from what I’ve seen so far, they realize this and are willing to find ways to creatively move the ball without much risk. The screen game has been terrific so far and if they continue to utilize that along with reverses and fake reverses and all that jazz – which is what allowed the run game to spring to life (well,”life” might be a bit strong but they were definitely reanimated, like little drunk Frankentsteins or something) late last season – they should be able to keep teams off balance enough so that their passing game can thrive. Do you need to be able to run the ball in the NFL? Yes. Definitely. But “run the ball” doesn’t always literally mean “run the ball”. That may sound strange, but what it really means is “move the ball safely and effectively, without much risk and so the defense is forced to play off the pass and closer to the line of scrimmage.” The way the Lions have moved the ball through the screen game and through reverses and fake reverses and all that shit effectively does that. Would it be ideal to just line our guys up and smash forward for 6-7 yards a pop? Hell yes. But this is not an ideal world. It is a flawed and harsh world and you have to do what you can to get ahead. Only great fools don’t understand this. Rod Marinelli didn’t understand that and it killed him. Being a slave to some bullshit philosophy is the quickest way to die in the NFL, and as we all should know, the most painful.

Aside from that, there aren’t a whole lot of other major issues to be concerned with. Sure, some people are bagging on the corners but I’m not that worried. They got burned on one play, a busted coverage by the second teamers that was as ugly as it was obscene. That sucked. It did. But the next time the Patriots tried to exploit the secondary, the Lions picked off Tom Brady. So . . . yeah, I don’t know where all the doom and gloom is coming from there. Is the secondary perfect? Hell no. Is it filled with Darrelle Revis types who can singlehandedly shut down an opposing passing game? Fuck no. But it doesn’t have to be either. The front four showed that it can be so fearsome that all the secondary has to do is hold their shit together. The front four will force turnovers through pressure. We’ve seen that already, multiple times. The corners don’t need to sit on an island for 18 years while the QB calmly surveys the field from his comfortable pocket. They just need to handle their business like professional football players and not drunken circus clowns on fire. And I think they’ve shown that they can do that, which is a far cry from the horror shows of the past.

Like I said, this team isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than anything any of us have seen in a long time, and for most of us, maybe ever. That’s something to get excited about and you should be ashamed of yourself if some part of you won’t let you do that. I know that some of you are just sitting around and waiting to crow, to stand up and scream “See, I told you so!” if things go badly, but how fucking sad is that? It’s ugly and pathetic and monstrous and so joyless that it makes me wonder why you’re even a fan at all. It’s fine to have reservations. I have my own reservations. Being honest about the situation is a good thing. Waiting like some ugly buzzard to pick at the bones of those willing to poke their heads into the light because they have the courage to actually imagine a world that isn’t perpetually dark isn’t being honest, though. It’s cowardly and parasitic and in the end, the only one you’re really devouring is yourself. If the Lions do fall apart, it’s going to suck. But your “I told you so” bullshit isn’t going to mean a damn thing. At least I’ll die in the light, after fighting on my own two feet while you’ll still be stuck in your own dark and rancid hell, and after you’re done cackling, you’ll just go back to getting reamed in the ass by a Failure Demon with a monstrous dick made of hatred, fire and your own dead heart.

The Lions being 3-0 in the preseason is meaningless. The Lions beating the shit of Tom Brady and the Patriots is meaningful. Recognize this distinction and recognize truth. Don’t let yourself be ruled by bullshit fear. I might be wrong about things. I might have made a fatal miscalculation. The Lions might go out and lay a huge turd. But so what? I don’t think that I am, but so what? None of that matters. None of your bullshit matters. None of my bullshit matters. All of it is just so much bullshit noise. What matters is Ndamukong Suh hunting down Tom Brady while Tom hyperventilates and squeals like a dying pig. That matters. That’s real. And that’s what I choose to believe in.


Anonymous said...

2nd incompletion was broken up by McCourty, not Arrington. Only McCourty could have broken that up, if Arrington was posted on Calvin for that play his head would have quite literally exploded inside his helmet from how fast everything happened. It's true.

Fla Verdicts & Settlements Admin said...

Amen Brother:

Great piece Neil. For a little perspective I looked up the Lion's 2008 pre-season record and game recap for each game. Know what, you are right. Game 1 against New York. Detroit won 13-10. Lions were losing until a late field goal in the 4th qtr. Game 2 against Cincy. Lions won 27-10. Game was tied in 4th qtr. when Stanton scored 2 TD's at the end. Game 3 against Clev. Lions won 26-6. Det dominated the scoring as Clev only managed 2 fgs in the 1st half. Halftime score was Lions 16 Clev 6. Hardly a blow out at the time the scrubs came in for the second half.

Neil said...

"2nd incompletion was broken up by McCourty, not Arrington."

Damn it, I knew that. I blame it on the madness.

Neil said...

"Great piece Neil. For a little perspective I looked up the Lion's 2008 pre-season record and game recap for each game. Know what, you are right. Game 1 against New York. Detroit won 13-10. Lions were losing until a late field goal in the 4th qtr. Game 2 against Cincy. Lions won 27-10. Game was tied in 4th qtr. when Stanton scored 2 TD's at the end. Game 3 against Clev. Lions won 26-6. Det dominated the scoring as Clev only managed 2 fgs in the 1st half. Halftime score was Lions 16 Clev 6. Hardly a blow out at the time the scrubs came in for the second half."

Good info, man. Thanks. Aside from the Browns game this year, the Lions preseason wins have been convincing and wholesale, just thorough ass whippings all around. I don't recall ever getting that sense in that 2008 preseason and I think your info - for the most part - does a pretty decent job of backing that up.

CJ said...

I was at this game...and they just looked so, so good. I would swear that multiple times Brady looked over to a ref like he thought the Lions shouldn't be allowed to touch his elite self. Exceedingly satisfying.

I almost get the feeling that the doomsayers are more afraid of the future--not actually knowing what is going to happen--then they are of losing, and that makes them hold onto to the same old Lions script more fiercely than ever. It's fun as hell to actually watch and get excited about little moments in the game, as well as the end score, rather than just waiting for the inevitable..but it did take some getting used to. Of course, some of them are just stupid and thought Jason Hanson should be cut and they can die in a dumpster fire.

Anyways, great post, so glad football's back, and you must be so excited about your dude, Willie Young.

Neil said...

And even in that Browns game I just mentioned, the Lions outgained Cleveland by roughly a billion yards, so . . .

Neil said...


Man, that must have been awesome to watch live. And yeah, I do think some of the frightened gibbering is just a lazy refusal to let go of the easy storyline of Same Ol' Lions. Unfortunately, the only way I think some of this will go away is by winning. That's it.

Also, yeah, whenever The Great Willie Young does something, well, great or even semi-great, I feel like a proud father. It's completely ridiculous but I love it.

Fla Verdicts & Settlements Admin said...


A little more analysis of the 2008 pre-season compared to the 2011 pre-season. In FOUR pre-season games in '08 the Lions had 1243 total yards for an average of 310.75 per game. In only three games this pre-season the lions have amassed 1225 total yards (average of 306 yards per game). Extrapolating out over four games the Lions are on pace to gain 1531 yards in four games. Defensively in '08 the Lions gave up 1112 yards in four games for a per game average of 278 yards. This year they have given up 207 yards per game, 809 total through three games. This projects out to 1016 total yards surrendered for the 2011 pre-season. So what does this tell us about this year's team compared to 2008's team? There is no comparison, this team dominates poor teams (Cincy) and can dominate good teams (New England). The Lions of 2008 could not compete against this 2011 squad on the field, it wouldn't even be close.

Neil said...

Oh man, nice. You rock, dude.