Three Cups Deep: Lions vs. Rams

>> 10.11.2010

Hire Steve Spagnuolo.  Don’t draft Matthew Stafford, wait for Sam Bradford next season.  Pick up Jason Smith instead, and make sure your franchise quarterback will be protected his whole career.  Fix the middle linebacker spot by taking James Laurinaitis in the second.  Next year, after Bradford, take a physical tackle (who could play a little guard) in the second to complete your offensive line.  Pick up a big, physical corner in the third.  Sign O.J. Atogwe to a long-term deal.

At some point over the past two years, most (or many loud) Lions fans were screaming for the Lions to do all of the above.  Incredibly, the Rams took their advice.  At every step of the way in the two franchises’ mutual rebuilding, the Rams have done what the majority (or extremely vocal minority) of Lions fans wanted the Lions to do.  The Rams did all of the above—they hired Spags, took Jason Smith and Little Animal, picked up Rodger Saffold and Jerome Murphy, and re-signed Windsor native FS O.J. Atogwe.  If the Lions had done those things, I bet Mayhew and Schwartz would be even more popular with the fanbase than they are today. 

On Sunday, the Rams visited Ford Field, and the Lions kicked their ass.

The sixty-minute woodshedding the Lions put on the Rams was a thing of beauty; a joyous celebration of victory in progress.  Not only did they get a lead in spectacular fashion, they built it—through consistently excellent play in all three phases of the game, the Lions not only failed to lose the lead, they kept pulling farther away until the final gun scored!  Despite visibly changing mood from “desperately hungry” to “having a good time out there,” the Lions managed to take their foot off the gas without allowing the Rams to catch up.

It’s been said elsewhere that the Lions need to “learn how to win,” need to learn how to play as a team to preserve a victory once it’s been gained.  To use the scoreboard to their advantage, to take control of the game and put it away.  To, once an opponent has been knocked to the ground, put their boot on its throat, and claim victory.  Today, we saw “Learn How to Win” class in session.  I’m not sure the Lions have graduated yet—but they passed their this test with flying colors.

Yesterday was an incredible release; the Lions took their (and our) pent-up frustration out on an unsuspecting opponent.  They brought everything they had to bear on the Rams--and, as is often the case with superior talent and effort--caught a few breaks.  Everything went right for the Lions yesterday; now everything IS right in the world today.  Tomorrow is another story, of course, but let's not think about that now.  On this day, in this moment, the Lions reign victorious--and we rest comfortably in the knowledge that the Lions' leadership has been making excellent choices, with or without our help.

7 comments:

Matt,  October 11, 2010 at 12:28 PM  

Awesome, awesome game from the opening kick-off to the final whistle.

Nice, heads-up play on the attempted trickerationby Spievey. And it ties into an interesting note about Logan's team record-tying kickoff return. The Lions last kick-off return for TD was Casey Fitzsimmons' 41-yard return of an onside attempt in 2007.

Shaun Hill, as I predicted, played his best game as a Lion. He spread the ball all over the place, didn't throw a pick, and handed the ball over to Drew Stanton (who completed 100% of his passes, by the way) to close out the game.

The defense was again dominant (although Alphonso Smith taking out my boy Mark Clayton certainly helped things). Suh & Smith came up with INTs; Corey Williams made another big play on the fumble; JP is making solid veteran plays at LB.

The downside to all of this is that the Rams game is now over. We won. Now we play the Giants.

JP October 11, 2010 at 7:53 PM  

It's kinda funny that you would write about how, despite objections by some vocal fans, Mayhew and Schwartz have been building this team. It's funny because after I finally calmed down last night, sometime around midnight, I was thinking about the roughly the same thing.

I didn't put the Ram connection together, but as I was going over in my head some of the moves that the Lions have made in the past year and a half, I got the very strange feeling that we Lions fans might finally have a real front office for once.

Not only have they done, at worst, a respectable job in the draft, it's the other moves that has me feeling so confident right now. Corey Willams, Alphonso Smith, Chris Houston, Shaun Hill, Rob Sims, Tony Scheffler, Stephan Logan. I'm pretty sure that they got all those guys for a bag of peanuts and a used quart of motor oil. And all of those guys are MAJOR contributors to this team.

Then you add in those two drafts, and well, I was wrong to have wanted to wait for Bradford and take Curry. The F.O. is making a lot of good moves, and for the first time in a long time, possibly the first time in my 30 years, it's starting to actually be fun to be a Lions fan.

theicon77,  October 11, 2010 at 9:44 PM  

I think what is the most encouraging news is the fact we see this improvement and we do not have our starting quarterback. I was listening to the fireside chat and you were bringing up our offensive rankings. If someone said at the beginning of the season we would be that productive, we would have thought it was possible. But without Stafford, I don't think anyone would have believed that.

It is nice to know what we have in our backup. I think we have the qb of the future on our team even if Stafford turns out to have injury problems.

Of all the pickups and trades Mayhew did in the off season, Hill for (I just looked this up and I can't believe it) a seventh round pick in 2011 is quite possibly the biggest steal.

On the flipside, if Stafford's injuries are just flukes and he ends up better than Hill, which we all expect him to be, than the sky is the limit with this offense.

Ty October 13, 2010 at 11:20 AM  

Matt--

"Nice, heads-up play on the attempted trickeration by Spievey."

Yeah, for a kid who's struggled with mental mistakes, it was an awesome sight!

"Shaun Hill, as I predicted, played his best game as a Lion. He spread the ball all over the place, didn't throw a pick, and handed the ball over to Drew Stanton (who completed 100% of his passes, by the way) to close out the game."

Hill finally played like the "we can win games with this guy even if Stafford's out" backup we thought he would be this year. Big relief.

Peace
Ty

Ty October 13, 2010 at 11:22 AM  

JP--

"The F.O. is making a lot of good moves, and for the first time in a long time, possibly the first time in my 30 years, it's starting to actually be fun to be a Lions fan."

That's fantastic--and I wholly agree! Although, this seven-game win streak was kinda fun:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/det/1995.htm

And, you know, this run to the NFC Championship Game, that was fun too:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/det/1991.htm

. . . but other than that, pretty much.

Peace
Ty

Ty October 13, 2010 at 11:24 AM  

theicon77--

Thanks for checking in on the podcast!

"On the flipside, if Stafford's injuries are just flukes and he ends up better than Hill, which we all expect him to be, than the sky is the limit with this offense."

Yeah, exactly--I'm starting to get worried about it, like what if he comes back and has a "meh" game, like he did twice in 2009? If Stafford plays as much better than Hill as we know he can . . . wow.

Peace
Ty

vtvera October 14, 2010 at 3:29 PM  

It's been really enjoyable
Stafford is unlucky but I'm still optimistic despite Hill

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