The Lions Have Arrived; The Bonfire Roars

>> 8.01.2011

The blue bonfire of Detroit Lions fandom. Original image by Donnan Photo, altered and used with permission.

Original image by Donnan Photography; altered & used with permission.

Welcome.

Whether you've been here since the beginning, or just wandered up to the blue bonfire, welcome.

Today is the first day of the first year of the New Lions. Not the possibility, not the promise, not the potential. Reality. This is the year when the Detroit Lions will take the field knowing they should win—and more often than not, leave the field victorious. This is the season that the Lions stake their claim as a perennial playoff team. This is the year that their championship window opens. This is the year where everyone, everywhere, sees the massive, roaring column of blue fire exploding above the tree line, lashing out into the sky, and are compelled to come near, and watch in wonder.

It has been a long, slow wait. It has been a punishing chore splitting and hauling the wood. It has been a bone-chilling, skin-cracking cold, penetrating my parka on the edge of the wind’s knife. It has been more than three years I’ve tended the little blue flame—and together with many of you we have sheltered it, fueled it, and watched it grow. We have warmed our hands as it’s waxed, and gone back to work as it’s waned, all the while greeted the folks who’ve come to watch with a smile, a handshake and a mug of cider.

Yesterday, the Lions signed middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, and re-signed cornerback Chris Houston. Together with Justin Durant, Eric Wright, and Erik Coleman, the Lions have added prime starters or quality backups for every position in the much-maligned back seven. Tulloch will center Levy and Durant behind the monster defensive line, and Wright will compete with Alphonso Smith, Nathan Vasher and Aaron Berry for the #2 corner spot. Add Coleman competing with Amari Spievey to be Louis Delmas’ backfield partner, and suddenly the Lions’ defense looks solid, even scary.

The offense is still the identity of this team, though, and with Matthew Stafford leading a truly exceptional corps of backs, receivers, and tight ends, the Lions will put up points in bunches. Based on their play last season, the talent they’ve added, and the return of Stafford, I expect the Lions to be amongst the top five scoring offenses in football. Pair that with the at-least-average-and-probably-better defense and, well . . . you have a playoff team.

Suddenly, the Lions are a hot ticket. The Lions opened as 30/1 longshots to with the NFC, but have been bet all the way down to 6/1. Peter King, when asked for his picks to make the Super Bowl, spoke the Lions’ name (as “a little bit of an upset.”). We haven’t seen this kind of attention and praise for our Leos in many years; it might seem bizarre, even disorienting. Some of you might be young enough to never remember the Lions entering the season as playoff contenders! Here’s a piece of advice to guide you through this strange and confusing time:

Enjoy it.

Crack a smile! Have a laugh. Take a big swig of hearty cider, and toast your favorite team with gusto. Break out your old Honolulu Blue gear, or buy some new stuff. Don it with pride, and say hey to everyone you see doing the same. If we ought to have learned anything over these past few seasons, it’s to treasure the good times—so why hedge our bets? Why hide this light we’ve kept burning for so long? What was all that work for, if not to enjoy it in times like these?

Yes, I know: you’ve been hurt before. You’ve believed before. But trust me on this one: you won’t want to spend this season with your nose in the air. You won’t want to spend this season mowing the lawn during games. You won’t want to “wait” for the Lions to “prove it” before you believe. Watching them prove it is what it’s all about! It’s what we’ve all waited for!

So. Today, be awed by the power of the blue flame. Marvel at the swell of support from across the nation. Read the reports of training camp practices (real practices!) like a kid who found their parents’ Christmas shopping list. Cherish every moment of this Lions season that you can, because it will be be one we’ll want to remember forever.

15 comments:

bigwalt2990,  August 1, 2011 at 1:26 PM  

Hell...Yes...

LionsFanROC,  August 1, 2011 at 1:49 PM  

That little blue flame isn't so little anymore... Playoffs or bust!

Ty August 1, 2011 at 2:52 PM  

bigwalt2990, LionsFanROC--

You guys got it right. This is going to be an amazing ride.

Peace
Ty

Ty August 1, 2011 at 2:54 PM  

TK0001--

Well . . . we don't long to wait. Why NOT be excited now? As someone once told me, "It doesn't cost a dime more."

Peace
Ty

TK0001 August 1, 2011 at 4:09 PM  

Oh, I'm excited, don't get me wrong. I just don't want to crown this Lions team before they've started playing games.

MrMomWorld August 1, 2011 at 6:11 PM  

Good read, Ty. At age 61, I'm absolutely tear-dripping, gut-tingling excited about the #Lions prospects for this season and beyond. Seeing my last Championship when I was 7, I now believe I'll see another before I'm too feeble to jump for joy when the team hoists that trophy that has forever seemed so distant.

Storm August 1, 2011 at 9:16 PM  

Im excited. But im worried about the O line. Did they make any improvements? if not... stafford likely goes down again, and so does season as well.

Ken in Cincy August 3, 2011 at 4:41 AM  

@MrMomWorld, Well now at least I know I'm not the only one feeling all sappy about our Leo's.

Anonymous,  August 3, 2011 at 6:17 AM  

Storm - I believe the best thing management did with the O Line this off-season is not mess with it (given that a young Anthony Munoz wasn't available to be drafted at 13). It's not a weakness. Linebackers and defensive backs were the big weaknesses last season.

TDaigle34 August 3, 2011 at 1:00 PM  

Don't get to excited. If you REALLY think that Lions secondary will be good enough to stop anyone, you are sadly mistaken. I'm a HUGE Lions fan, but I'm also a realist. The Lions completely botched this whole off season starting with the draft and with Tulloch being the only good thing they've done, (if they can sign him to a multi-year deal), the whole time so far. Before Tulloch I looked the schedule and figured 5-11, 7-9 if they can beat the bears twice and Green Bay once. With the signing of Tulloch, 7-9 but no better than 8-8. Think I'm just a hater? Want some proof? Just look at the houston Texans. They have a good to very good front 7 and no secondary and they got KILLED on the back end! With the last few years down there with some playoff predictions, they still haven't finished better than .500. Sorry Lions fans, no playoffs this year. Once again its, "wait till next year".

Angus Osborne,  August 3, 2011 at 3:36 PM  

Instead of the Texans why not look at the 08 Giants: very good front seven and no secondary, and they WON the superbowl.

TDaigle34 August 4, 2011 at 12:30 AM  

No, they still had a way better secondary than Detroit. Their secondary was actually pretty good that year. It was the following year and since that they've sucked, but still better than Detroit's was, and is.

Angus Osborne,  August 4, 2011 at 5:23 AM  

TDaigle34 - I'd like to argue the point. But, frankly, my ability to anaylze and contrast those secondaries is minimal. I guess I'm merely repeating a common story in the media at the time. So I'll rest, having stated my point without substantial evidence.

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