I named this post after a beautiful--but apocryphal--story about violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman finishing a concert after breaking a string. Perlman, so the story goes, snapped a string very early in the performance—and forged ahead, using alternate fingerings, different voicings, even detuning strings (!) on the fly to complete the piece without missing a beat. Perlman, who was stricken with polio as a youth and so walks with crutches, then quieted the enthralled audience and (allegedly) said, “You know, sometimes it’s the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with with what you have left.”
Again, as I said, it didn’t actually happen, as far as anyone can tell—the story appeared in the Houston Chronicle six years after the concert supposedly took place, doesn’t jibe with Perlman’s known performance schedule from the time, and nobody who saw him perform around then reported anything like the above . . . but it is a good story.
Today, Kyle Vanden Bosch was placed on the Reserve-Injured list, ending his first season as a Detroit Lion. A captain, and the unquestioned heart and soul of the defense, KVB finished with 33 tackles, 11 assists, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and a pass defensed. This included a monster 10-tackle tour de force in the season opener; one of the greatest individual performances by a Lion in recent memory. We’re told not to worry, the bulging disk will be easily corrected, and KVB will return to play “at a high level.” I’d be inclined to question The Grandmaster on this one, except he was right about how much KVB had left in the tank to begin with . . .
So what’s left? A freshly-broken-out Cliff Avril, Turk McBride, Lawrence Jackson, and (the Great) Willie Young. If Avril can keep up his dominant play, this group won’t be too shabby—especially if the tackles continue to play as they have. However, that’s a pretty big “if;” KVB’s leadership inarguably inspired Avril and the rest of the line to play as they have—will they keep it up in his absence? In a way, KVB’s absence will allow us to judge his off-field impact on the team, just as much as his presence allowed us to judge his impact between the lines.
Moreover, it’ll be a stern test of just how far the defense has come under Schwartz and Cunningham: can they keep this group motivated and productive without the man they desperately courted in the offseason? Knowing KVB would be the catalyst for great improvement on the defensive line, will the reaction keep going now that the catalyst is spent? Can Guntherball keep playing the offense like a fiddle, calling just the right blitz at just the right time, now that a string has snapped? We’ll get to see just how much music he can still make with what he has left.