Detroit Lions 2008: Wow, That Sucked

I’ve been getting a buttload of calls, texts, e-mails, Facebook messages, and general comments about my favorite team in the universe: Your Detroit Lions.

In the case of one E-mail, it was just simply the following picture;

I have for the most part remained silent, which is odd for me, but truly what can you say about this? It’s as socially awkward as taking maternal credit for your daughter’s retarded baby and then running for VP.

Where to begin? Well I will first say Thank God it’s at least over. I do not think I could handle another week of taking time out of my Sunday to care about this team.

This season was the culmination of the incompetence of one Matt Millen. Matt Millen is the biggest disgrace in the history of football. I wish I could go back in time and convince his parents to adopt instead. For reals if I ever share a room with Matt Millen, I am going to punch him in the face. No hyperbole, no bravado, if it happens, I will do it. When stupidity is mixed with arrogance and allowed to simmer for 8 years, what you get is a smoking pot of mule diarrhea. The 2008 Detroit Lions are that smoking pot of mule diarrhea. Under Millen, the Lions ranked 31st out of 32 teams in overall defense. But don’t worry, they also ranked 31st out of 32 teams in overall offense too! I am very glad that Matt Millen was fired finally, but it was at least 3 years too late. His combination of terrible head coach choices, terrible player personnel choices, and horrendous draft choices led us to this point.

Let’s talk about these head coaches for a second. It started with Marty ‘Take the Wind’ Mornhinweg. The year before Millen came into town, the Lions went 9-7 and barely missed the playoffs. The first year of the Millen regime they went 2-14. As he decided to uproot the entire team (which was previously winning might I add again) and install a West Coast offense that it was not built to run. More on this later though. Following a 3-13 second year, ol’ Marty got the axe and in came local boy Steve Mariucci.
I will admit, I was overjoyed when he was announced as head coach. And then I saw what Steve Mariucci was and what he was not up close. He was not a good football coach. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Mariucci continued to cram players that did not fit into a system he designed for them. Mariucci made starting QB Joey Harrington into a local pariah, and added the word ‘Drawson’ into my vocabulary. (For those not in the know the Drawson was the draw play to Shawn Bryson that he called on every 3rd down play we ever had where we needed 7 or more yards) Later in his tenure, Mariucci got the oft injured Jeff Garcia, who blew donkey balls, but was continually praised as ‘a great QB’ despite what we were watching. This eventually led to Rod Marinelli.
Rod Marinelli is a good man, and a good coach. Just not a good Head Coach. This was clearly another case of a man being promoted beyond his ability, as Marinelli had never even been a coordinator before, much less a head coach. At least under coach Rod, the team never quit. They also never won, which is why he got the axe today.

So Millen went 3 for 3 on bad coaches. But at least he made up for that by making bad personnel choices and draft picks! So let me see here, you are rebuilding a franchise and want to run a high percentage West Coast style passing game, so you do you draft first to run this machine? Why Joey Harrington, a QB with a big arm that had a 52% completion percentage in college of course! right away people should have known this was not going to end well. But he needed weapons! So Millen drafted 4 Wide Receivers in a 5 year span. It should be noted that 3 of those 4 WR’s are no longer with the team, and 2 of them are not even in the NFL anymore, SCORE! And not just that, a draft ago, when everyone was screaming that we needed defense, Millen passed on Linebackers Paul Pozlusney and David Harris to draft QB Drew Stanton from Michigan State! He drafted Stanton because ‘He would be a good fit in a Mike Martz offense down the line’. At the time Martz was the offensive coordinator of the team, and was not expected to stick around beyond the next season. So Millen drafted a player for a coach that he was pretty sure would not be around by the time the player would be ready to play. This scenario encapsulates the thinking of Matt Millen.

But all that aside, it’s just backstory for the sporting abortion that was this past season.

Going into this year, the Lions felt that they had just had a season to build off of. They had just gone 7-9 the year prior, and seemed poised to make a move. So naturally the obvious thing to do would be dismatle the team of course! They traded away their most important defensive player, Shawn Rogers to Cleveland for a 2nd string cornerback and a bag of donuts. They also let Defensive lineman Kalimba Edwards get away as well. Net result; They could not stop the run, and hemmoraged yards all season long. They also totally failed to address their holes at the linebacker and defensive back positions. Net Result; They gave up huge passing plays because their backs couldn’t cover anyone. They also released Running Back Kevin Jones in order to start Tatum Bell, who was a healthy scratch almost the entire prior season. For those who may not know ‘Healthy Scratch’ is football jargon for ‘This guy sucks so bad that we don’t even want him in uniform for our team’. Starting Quarterback Jon Kitna, aka the soul of the team, was put on Injured Reserve early on in the season with what could only be seen as a minor injury. they replaced him with Daunte Culpepper, who literally walked in off the street after every other NFL refused to even consider looking at him. When Culpepper’s ‘Not in football shape’ body got inevitably injured they went with QB Dan Orlovsky the rest of the way, despite the fact that Orlovsky is probably not even good enough to be the BACKUP QB on any other NFL team. Oh yeah, and they traded their best offensive player, WR Roy Williams away to Dallas, thus guaranteeing that they only had one viable target in the passing game. With Williams and Kitna gone, and no defense with which to speak, their one chance of winning a game (via shootout) went totally out the window.

This is not even to mention the schedule! Which was one of the most brutal I have ever seen in my life! They did not play a single team rated in the bottom quarter of the league, and played 12 of their 16 games against teams that had an 8-8 or better record! Why does the NFL schedulemaker hate the Detroit Lions?

So 0-16 is what happens when you have the following; A rough schedule, incompetent management, a bad head coach, no talent on either side of the ball, and a front office’s desire to get rid of every good player on the roster.

I don’t think that it is a far fetched statement to say that I would have been a better GM for the team.

So, going forward, what can you possibly do? CLEAN F’ING HOUSE. Matt Millen is gone. Rod Marinelli is gone. Many of these players will be gone. We got a bunch of high draft picks in the 2009 draft. They need to draft playmakers on defense and the offensive line. Some skill position pieces are already in place, I think they would be best served to avoid drafting a QB, and instead look to sign Matt Cassell away from New England. Drafting a QB with the first pick makes so much less sense than a good Left Tackle or Defensive End. Note to the team; GO THE MARIO WILLIAMS/JAKE LONG ROUTE!

Cleaning house will only help though if good decisions are made to replace the holes. I just read today that the new GM of the team is the guy that was Matt Millen’s right hand man. There are so many good football minds out there with proven track records, and the Ford family worked quickly to remove the interim tag from the name of MATT MILLEN’S SECOND IN COMMAND AS THE NEW GM OF THE TEAM.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Fuck, it sucks to care.

-Ray

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