The Good Point: Parity, Turnarounds, and the Case of the Detroit LIons

>> 6.27.2011

Recently, I talked with Andrew Bucholtz, author of Yahoo!’s CFL blog, the 55-Yard-Line, and football editor of The Good Point, a sports site dedicated to high-quality feature pieces. He was interested in the relationship between parity in the NFL, and the propensity for quick worst-to-first turnarounds—specifically, the case of the Lions, and how they’ve tried to pull off such a turnaround.

As it happens, I have a few opinions on the subject! The result of our interview is now up. Check out Parity, Turnarounds, and the Case of the Detroit Lions over at The Good Point.

8 comments:

Mike June 28, 2011 at 2:28 AM  

I've said much the same about a lot of the "worst-to-first" stories when people compare them to the Lions. You can't go from a team that "earns" their last place standing year after year to a playoff contender and stay at the top. Either your team is better than your "worst" record and have just had some terrible, horrible luck or your team just played the right teams at the right time and took some games that you probably should have lost.

Look at some of the top teams in the league. I can't think of a single team that is considered one of the NFL's elite that was in the same group as the Lions. Even the Saints, probably the poster child for "worst-to-first", haven't had a run of sub-.500 seasons since 94-99 and was much further back than that before they were consistently "bad".

Being good for a long time and not bouncing between winning and losing seasons year after year takes more than flashy free agents and hyped up draft picks. It's one of the reasons why many of the second-tier "good" teams will never win a championship under current leadership, and why many bottom-tier teams will wallow in waffling between decent and horrible.

One last point I'd like to make. Through some sick, almost sadistic way Millen achieved what he set out to do. I remember talking to my brother when he was hired and being somewhat encouraged about what I heard. Millen talked about the culture in Detroit being content with 8-8 and 10-6 as long as there were meaningful games to watch and said that he wanted Detroit to want more than that. Well, he did it. It took almost 10 years and some of the worst football ever played in the NFL, but he did it.

Anonymous,  June 28, 2011 at 2:42 PM  

Hey Ty,

Well done! I think you conveyed the consensus mood quite nicely.

And I couldn't agree with you more when you said, "and believe me when I say, if Stafford had played every snap last year, they'd have won more than six games." I firmly believe we could have been looking at as many as seven additional wins if Stafford had stayed healthy. @Bears, Bears, NY Jets, @NY Giants, @Packers, @Buffalo, Philly were all winnable games. In fact, the point differntial for those seven was a measly 29 points total(4.14 Avg). Especially when you consider Stafford's stats over three games (57/96, 59.4, 535, 6, 1) translates to 304/512 for 2853 yds, 32 TD, and only 5 INTs over 16 games.

Thus, I have to respectfully disagree with, "If Stafford stays healthy, they go 10-6." The Packers (x2), Falcons, Cowboys, Saints and Chargers are the only teams I fear on the 2011 schedule. And since I believe Mayhew will address their linebacker and secondary needs whenever free agency starts, I say we go 3-3 in those six games. Add in one slip-up in the other 10 games and I'm going with 12-4 - if Stafford stays on the field.

Aterlay,
Ron

Big Al - the Bundy experience,  June 28, 2011 at 5:08 PM  

Prior to Millen squandering a decade of Lions football, the Lions were perennially an 8 - 8 team, sometimes a game or two this side of .500 ball, sometimes a game or two that side of .500 ball.

When Mayhew finally replaced Millen there were several last to first models available for Mayhew to pattern the Lions turnaround on: the Dolphins and the Falcons, and the Ravens. But as said in a previous post none of those models started at 0 - 16, and for all purposes Mayhew inherited an expansion team. So with so little talent available on the roster, no realistic one season last to first Cinderella year would be in the cards for the Lions.

So the Lions still are not back to the level of 8 - 8 that Millen inherited and before any consideration of first can occur the Lions must get beyond 8 - 8, stay beyond 8 - 8 with improvement each year, getting to the playoffs, getting beyond the early rounds, and finally to the big dance.

This will be a long haul worst to first, and if the Lions can get to 12 - 4 this year which may/may not mean playoff birth. I would be happy with the playoff birth, elated if the Lions got to the second round, and simply dumbfounded if the Lions went beyond the second round in 2011/2012.

Ty June 29, 2011 at 1:20 PM  

Mike--

" Through some sick, almost sadistic way Millen achieved what he set out to do. I remember talking to my brother when he was hired and being somewhat encouraged about what I heard. Millen talked about the culture in Detroit being content with 8-8 and 10-6 as long as there were meaningful games to watch and said that he wanted Detroit to want more than that. Well, he did it. It took almost 10 years and some of the worst football ever played in the NFL, but he did it."

Man. That's some seriously heavy stuff right there. I'd argue that we WANTED more than we got under Fontes--there were perennial calls for his head long before he was actually sacked. Yet, I think we always believed that what he'd built was good enough to get there, it was just a failure of execution.

What Millen--and, it must be said the Fords--wanted to do was get to perennial title contention, to build a consistent winner like New England, Pittsburgh, Indy, or Philly. That's why they gave Millen the keys . . . he just didn't know how to drive them there.

Peace
Ty

Ty June 29, 2011 at 1:22 PM  

Ron--

Thanks man! 12-4 is incredibly bold, but I think it's absolutely attainable. Think about it this way: who's better, the Colts without Peyton Manning, or the Lions without Matthew Stafford? If Stafford's even half as good as Manning, he'll take the Lions very, very far indeed.

Peace
Ty

DetFan1979 June 29, 2011 at 2:13 PM  

nice use of BATFAN lol. great interview ty

Ty June 29, 2011 at 2:50 PM  

Big Al, the Bundy experience--

"So the Lions still are not back to the level of 8 - 8 that Millen inherited and before any consideration of first can occur the Lions must get beyond 8 - 8, stay beyond 8 - 8 with improvement each year, getting to the playoffs, getting beyond the early rounds, and finally to the big dance."

I think 8-8 is an absolute minimum this year, and really they should get beyond that, too. I don't think 9-7 makes the playoffs this year, so there may be a two- or even three-year process involved before the Lions are in the title mix.

Still, if Stafford plays sixteen and the Lions catch some breaks, they could be better than anyone in the NFC, save the Packers.

Peace
Ty

Anonymous,  June 30, 2011 at 2:07 PM  

More than a part of me wonders if Millen really wanted to turn the Lions into winners. It seems to me that their roster leaned heavily on former Big Ten stars that we fans would want to see play NFL ball instead of really the players who would play the best football. To a large extent the bottom line for the franchise is the dollar line and not the win/loss record.

12-4 next year? I suppose it COULD happen. Really, my hopes are for the Lions to not have a losing season in 2011-12, and make the playoffs in 2012-13. I'm pretty sure the talent level is there, but so many things can happen.

As much as I like most of the new Lions, really the only proven elements are the Lines which are above average, especially on Defense, and a top Wide Receiver. At QB we have a young guy who shows a fair amount of promise, but has had bad luck. At RB we have two young guys, both of whom have potential, but neither of whom have really shown they can handle the job yet. We have a young TE who shows promise, if he can hold onto the ball. They are a much better team than they were a few years ago, but a lot of question marks that could go multiple ways remain. That is the case with probably most teams, and so I view the Lions as having climbed from worst to middle of the pack with significant promise or upside.

Post a Comment


  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Find us on Google+

Back to TOP