three cups deep: apple turnovers

>> 10.12.2009

On Saturday, Clan TLIW went to an apple orchard with several other families and friends.  It’s always a big event; we mark our calendars months ahead for the still-warm pumpkin donuts and fresh-pressed hot apple cider.  Whether it’s so warm we need to cool off with cider slushies, or--like Saturday--cold enough to demand jackets on top of sweatshirts, the weather’s always great.

There really isn’t anything quite like picking apples right off the stem: fresh, juicy, delicious, crisp, waxless.  There’s nothing like biting into an apple that was part of a tree three seconds ago, the juice running down your chin--and seeing dozens more apples on that tree, dozens of trees in that row, and knowing there are many more rows in the orchard.  Unlike at the supermarket, where apples are pretty much apples, the wildly different flavors of the various varieties-sweet, tart, spicy, sour, savory, tangy--hit you in the mouth like a blitzing linebacker.

What? Oh yeah:

Daniel Mears / The Detroit News

Sunday, we saw Daunte being Daunte: 282 yards passing, a 32-yard scramble, a beautiful drive and TD pass that turned a rout-in-the-making into a close, winnable game . . . and three fumbles, the ugliest interception I've ever seen, and seven sacks.  Three of those, as you all know, came just after the two-minute warning--when the Lions had 1st-and-10, deep in the Steelers' side of the field, down 20-28, and just 21 yards away from taking the reigning world champions to overtime.  Then, as Mitch Albom said, “Sack.  Sack.  Sack.”

When I say that Daunte isn't a winning quarterback, this is what I'm talking about.  When I say that he compiles decent stats, but loses games with his at-the-worst time mistakes, this is what I’m talking about.  When I say that he's the opposite of clutch, this is what I'm talking about.

In a sad, wierd, twisted sort of way, this was the best we could have hoped for.  The defense, who I'd dismissed as having no chance at keeping the Steelers under 30, did so. Will James, a player I’d often pigeonholed as a scrub, had a beautiful pick-six--the only Lions TD in the first three quarters; it kept the game a game. The running game wasn't exactly working, per se, but the Lions staff neither abandoned it completely, nor stuck with it longer than was useful. Third down efficiency was a stunning 11-of-18 (61%)--especially stunning when you realize how many of those were 3rd-and-7, 3rd-and-8, -11, -16, etc.

It was also the best we could have hoped for in terms of the quarterback situation. Daunte proved himself a worthwhile backup—and indeed, exactly that.  Anyone who is claiming that Daunte "gives us a better chance to win" than Matt Stafford going forward is safely ignorable on all Lions-related (and probably football-related) subjects going forward.  While Stafford may or may not have made a few of the plays that Daunte did, he never would have done this, and he probably would have noticed, you know, all of those angry Steelers coming to kill him.

Stafford, for his part, was the emergency quarterback on Sunday—per NFL rules, he could have come in in the fourth quarter if he was healthy enough to go.  However, coming in cold, having taken so few reps in practice, wouldn’t have been putting Stafford in a position to win.  Tom Kowalski has suggested that if the Lions coaches think Daunte can play well enough to not make the Lions lose next week, they’d rather sit Stafford and bring him back after the bye—fully healed, and facing the tender underbelly of the Lions’ schedule.

This is sort for the best of both worlds for the Lions: they get a confidence boost from hosting the world champs and taking them down to the final minute.  They'll go to Lambeau, probably play the Packers tough--and maybe even win.  Then, after a week of rest, and with a little luck, the franchise quarterback comes back just in time to administer the first real live tail whoopin' seen ‘round here in a long, long time.

My wife was kind enough to bring me an apple at work--a Spygold, if memory serves. I can tell you with absolute certainty that it's clean, midly tart flavor and crisp, juicy texture goes horribly with my third cup of coffee.


Weston Corbitt,  October 12, 2009 at 11:13 PM  

I am just really glad even this point into his career, we can think of Matthew Stafford as a piece of the puzzle we call winning in Detroit instead of treating him as a liability.

Pacer,  October 12, 2009 at 11:35 PM  

Ty-well at least we got the "worthwhile backup" out of the way. The problem with backups that remain backups, as opposed to a backup that gets to play regularly do to an injury, is lack of reps in practise to be able to play "pinpoint" football in one game. But you need backups and that's Daunte's role. On Sunday he played well, until he needed to continue to play very well and did not. You want them to win those "one games" they get into but most do not. Maybe when you get a chance you can take a look at 1 game backups and how they did in that game-especially who they were playing for.

Culpepper is the Lions backup-Stafford should start asap. We are down that road and must continue it. I don't see the rationale for trading Pep unless someone is willing to surrender a good pick for him in the next few days.

Ty,  October 13, 2009 at 10:30 AM  


You and me both, man! I didn't want Daunte to be flat-out awful; coming away thinking we'd have won if not for him would have been a bitter pill indeed. However, that Matt Stafford really is the starting quarterback because he's the starting quarterback--and not because of youth or paycheck or girl-approved hair--is comforting news.


Ty,  October 13, 2009 at 11:57 AM  


Well of course, playing the best defense in the league, just a few games into the season, is an extremely tall task for any backup. Culpepper brought some sizzle to the table, made a few plays, and is exactly the kind one-game curveball you want to throw at a defense. I think in a similar situation against the Bengals or Cardinals, Culpepper probably gets us a W.

If Stafford was (God forbid) to be out for an extended period, I'd want to see either a steadier hand or an "upside guy" in there--but for right now, Culpepper is a perfectly fine backup.


Anonymous,  October 13, 2009 at 3:44 PM  

Great write up Ty.

-Eric (Jumbotron84)

Anonymous,  October 13, 2009 at 6:27 PM  

Great article....

It was the first game of the back-up QB and it was against the defending champs. I am proud of what the Lions have done thi season and I expect them to win more games this season. Barring significant injuries we might end around 6-10. ;)

Scotty G,  October 14, 2009 at 12:17 AM  

Ty, what's with the mud covering up the article. I know ads are a necessary evil...but they should impair the readers ability to, well, read.

Great article though

Scotty G,  October 14, 2009 at 12:22 AM  

and I think that the way Dante played was best for proving your analysis of him correct, not what was best for the team. The best for the team would have been Dante having an outstanding game. Not because we want him as our qb, but in the hopes of raising his trade value and suckering someone to sacrifice a decent draft pick. Did someone say Dallas? They will need a new backup soon.

Scotty G,  October 14, 2009 at 12:27 AM  

PS. We haven't won in GB since 91 and we aren't going to break that streak this sunday. Not with your favorite qb keeping Rollover's butt cheeks warm;) And bailyes is better w/ coffee.

Ty,  October 15, 2009 at 9:35 AM  


Thanks, and thanks for reading!


I agree completely. Backup QB, missing Megatron, lost another CB, no Sammie Hill, dinged-up Silent Bob, facing the STEELERS . . . the Lions were 21 yards (and a 2-pt.) away from taking them to OT. Still boggles my mind.


Ty,  October 15, 2009 at 9:38 AM  

Scotty G--

It's weird, I haven't seen that one, but you're not the first to mention it. If I see it again, I'll contact my ad partner. I absolutely agree that ads should stay in their boxes!


Ty,  October 15, 2009 at 11:02 AM  

Scotty G--

"and I think that the way Dante played was best for proving your analysis of him correct, not what was best for the team."

Ouch. You know, you're right. Obviously, what really would have been best is if Daunte played lights-out and the Lions won! Beating the Steelers would have been HUGE for the franchise, for the fans, for the players, and yeah--for Daunte.

I guess the only defense I can fall back on is that I said Sunday was the best "that we could hope for"--meaning, Daunte shredding the Steelers's defense and the Lions hanging an "L" on the reigning champs was beyond what I would have considered realistic to hope for.

Still, though, you're right--my head wasn't in the right place on that one. I need to "check myself", as they say. Or, you know, said. In 1995.

Oh, and I'm calling a Lions win, too. I'm already hearing it from Packers fans!


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