We're Not As Bad As We Think We Are
The title was the end of a motivational talk on the show Stand Up for the Week by the former goalie Peter Shilton to convince the audience that the English national football (soccer) team wasn't a total disaster. I intend to do the same today regarding the 2021 Detroit Lions, if for no other reason than to make myself feel better.
The players remaining on the team from the Quinn-Patricia era of the previous 3 years aren't anything to write home about as a whole. Matt Patricia ran off a lot of talented people by being both useless and an asshole. You can get away with one so long as you compensate with the other, but he was both. He and the GM at the time, Bob Quinn, were both from the Patriots and tried to turn the team into the Patriots, but they failed miserably. Even Matthew Stafford, the franchise quarterback requested to be traded and so the Lions traded him to the Rams to get Jared Goff. Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia were sacked but the damage had been done. Bob Quinn ran away to leech off the Browns and Matt Patricia returned to the Patriots to follow Bill Belichick's lead.
We now turn our attention to the new additions and the new staff. Dan Campbell replaced Matt Patricia and Brad Holmes replaced Bob Quinn as GM. The defensive backfield and line were reinforced during the draft and one pick, Penei Sewell, is showing real promise as left tackle. They look good on paper, but paper is a flimsy thing that falls apart when it gets wet, so we'll see.
One of the biggest changes was shown in the Week 1 game versus the 49ers. At the half, the Lions were down 31-10. Were this 4 years ago under Jim Caldwell, the Lions would have given up. Then the 49ers scored again. 38-10. Matt Patricia would have yelled his head off and the Lions would have quit trying out of spite. That did not happen this time.
What happened was the Lions scored 3 touchdowns with 2 2-point conversions in a quarter in a half while holding the 49ers to only 1 field goal. A turnover on downs with 17 seconds left and 24 yards from scoring was what finally stopped them from tying the game up. 41-33. This is what I think is the deciding factor. The old Lions would get tired or quit. Dan Campbell has reignited a fire in the team that Matt Patricia did his best to extinguish because it wasn't the same kind of fire the Patriots had.
Maybe it's not enough to tip the balance in their favor. Maybe the difference in skill is just far too great to overcome, but I think it's enough to tip the needle enough to win those borderline games.
Or could it be that the reply from Patrick Kielty to Peter Shilton is true: "You're not as bad as you think you are. You're worse."