Three Cups Deep: Lions vs. Falcons

>> 10.24.2011

coffee

This Sunday, the Lions lost their second straight game. They—especially, the offense—especially Matthew Stafford——looked nothing like the team that started the season 5-0, scoring 30+ points per game in the process. When the Lions gave up on the first half by running Keiland Williams twice in a row, the boo birds came out. You could hear them at points throughout the second half, as the Lions offense again failed to find the extra gear they had against Dallas and Minnesota.

It’s amazing how quickly us fans get accustomed to success. Between December 24th, 2007 and December 18, 2010 the Lions won just five games. The Lions started the 2011 season with five consecutive wins and suddenly we’re booing our our team.

I don’t understand the entitled fan.

I’m hearing a lot about “wanting to see good effort,” as if we’d rather watch a talentless team Rudy their way to a close losses than an extremely young, talented team grow into a dynasty before our eyes. So Matthew Stafford had a bad day at the office; why pouncing on him and ride him like he’s Scott Mitchell?

I’m seeing lots of, “I paid good money for those tickets, I deserve to see better than that” today. Deserve to see better than what, 5-2? The Lions in sole possession of the top wild card spot?

Earth to Entitled Lions Fan: it’s not because they’re not trying, it’s because they’re not executing. Matthew Stafford isn’t seeing the field like he’s been all season. The receivers aren’t bailing him out like they have all season. Somehow the gameplans which have worked to a “T” all season long aren’t putting the players in a position to succeed. Blame the coaches, blame the receivers and yes—blame Stafford. But don’t boo him.

When Stafford and the Lions most needed their fans to support them, the fans were booing them. When the defense most needed to the fans to be loud, they were quiet. When Matthew Stafford—and his confidence—were under attack from all angles, Lions fans didn’t rally to his defense, they joined in the attack. I can almost hear some loser shouting from the stands, “HEY STAFFORD! WHERE’S YOUR CONFIDENCE, YOU LOUSY BUM!!”

One of the interesting things about soccer—primarily, English soccer—is that the diehard fans aren’t called “fans,” they’re called “supporters.” It’s an important distinction. We should be supporting our team through thick and thin—especially when the “thin” is a slight lessening of the gloriously lovely “thick” our team has slathered all over the schedule to date. Double-especially when it was so very, very thin for so very, very long.

What’s the point of keeping the little blue flame burning all offseason if we’re just going to walk away the moment everything isn’t perfect? Why spend the longest, bleakest football winter ever refreshing websites and frequenting forums just to turn around and boo the team you allegedly support? It makes no sense—and worse, it makes all the cheering from prior weeks sound craven and false; the worst sort of bandwagoning.

Lions fans aren’t entitled to see winning football, any more than Lions players or coaches are entitled to their jobs. Everything that’s gone wrong can be put right. Nothing’s broken that can’t be fixed. Everything that helped the Lions go 5-0 can help them go 6-2. If you’re a Detroit Lions fan—a Detroit Lions supporter—then help them climb back up the mountain, don’t kick dust in their eyes.

20 comments:

Alvin,  October 24, 2011 at 5:02 PM  

I hadn't thought of a Stafford Mitchell comparison til I read this article. But now that you say it, Stafford is playing like Mitchell right now. Not sure how you coach the happy feet out of him, that's gonna be a tough one. He's just gonna have to mature, cause throwing off his back foot with a side arm chuck just isn't going to get it done most weeks. BTW Ty, Here's Stafford's stats this year and I see two game where we threw for 70% and none where he completed 80% and his 60% overall completion % for the season is piss poor in this day and age. You might want to reevaluate your hyperbowl on Stafford. You panned me for mentioning it on the B/R, yet you pretty much said what I said verbatim last night here on you podcast,lol. Again I'm a Stafford fan and I didn't boo him, but its disturbing that he is getting more and more inaccurate with worse fundamentals every game.


Sun 10/23

vs
ATL

L 16-23 15 32 183 46.9 5.72 57 1 0 75.4
Sun 10/16

vs
SF

L 19-25 28 50 293 56.0 5.86 41 2 0 86.5
Mon 10/10

vs
CHI

W 24-13 19 26 219 73.1 8.42 73 2 1 107.7
Sun 10/2

@
DAL

W 34-30 21 43 240 48.8 5.58 24 2 1 71.8
Sun 9/25

@
MIN

W 26-23 (OT) 32 46 378 69.6 8.22 60 2 0 108.8

Jordan Cunningham,  October 24, 2011 at 5:24 PM  

Very good writing. These you are talking about are most likely the ones jumping on the bandwagon at the end of last season.

I have been a fan or rather a supporter since the late 90's, when I was old enough to follow football and care about it. I am now 23 and have seen the lions do a lot of things but never have I booed them or given up on them. Even after the 0-16 season, or rather, during that season I kept hope alive that they might win at least on game,which they didn't but they made the right moves to become a legit football team.

These Lions are building up to do something great and I can't wait to see them so it. I am just not excited to watch all the bandwagon fans come back when they are winning again. I mean come on, they cry when the team is 5-2. I don't know if those fans know it or not but that is a winning record.

Again, good article and I like your writing.

From a Lions Supporter.

Alvin2112,  October 24, 2011 at 5:33 PM  

I hadn't thought of a Stafford Mitchell comparison til I read this article. But now that you say it, Stafford is playing like Mitchell right now. Not sure how you coach the happy feet out of him, that's gonna be a tough one to do during the season. He's just gonna have to mature, cause throwing off his back foot with a side arm chuck just isn't going to get it done most weeks. BTW Ty, Here's Stafford's stats this year and I see two games
where we threw for 70% and none where he completed 80% and his 60% overall completion % for the season is poor in this day and age. You might want to reevaluate your hyperbowl on Stafford. You panned me for mentioning it on the B/R, yet you pretty much said what I said verbatim last night here on you podcast,lol. Again I'm a Stafford fan and I didn't boo him, but its disturbing that he is getting more and more inaccurate with worse fundamentals every game. And I've been a fan for long time, I can say what I want about a player as long as its just a critique and not a character assassination. You do it sometimes so get off the soapbox.


Sun 10/23

vs
ATL

L 16-23 15 32 183 46.9 5.72 57 1 0 75.4
Sun 10/16

vs
SF

L 19-25 28 50 293 56.0 5.86 41 2 0 86.5
Mon 10/10

vs
CHI

W 24-13 19 26 219 73.1 8.42 73 2 1 107.7
Sun 10/2

@
DAL

W 34-30 21 43 240 48.8 5.58 24 2 1 71.8
Sun 9/25

@
MIN

W 26-23 (OT) 32 46 378 69.6 8.22 60 2 0 108.8

Jaron Chascsa October 24, 2011 at 5:52 PM  

Being a fan is a two way street. I don't believe we should cheer wildly when the team is playing well, and sit back and hope things get better when they are playing poorly.

There were no boos against San Francisco. I believe that is because most fans realized that the Niners defense was putting on a clinic and Matt was taking a beating.

The Falcons were a completely different story. Matt was missing easy throw after easy throw, receivers dropping easy catches, and the play calling was questionable (what happened to our excellent screen game? they didn't even try one until the last drive...).

If Matt's psyche is affected by boos, we isn't who we thought he was and we need to start looking for our future QB. I don't believe it is. I believe the boos should work as a motivator. If I am a player, I do whatever I can to not hear them again.

Booing is how fans voice their displeasure. There is nothing wrong with it, it is how fans communicate to the team... just like cheering louder and louder when they are playing well. The team shouldn't expect loud fans, they should earn them

Jaron Chascsa October 24, 2011 at 6:00 PM  

Also, I think it is a bit silly to label those who boo as bandwagon fans. I am there every single week giving my money and voice for the week to that team. That won't change.

To be honest, I rarely (if ever) booed them when they were awful, because I don't boo lack of talent, just poor effort.

Anonymous,  October 24, 2011 at 7:43 PM  

Hmmm.me thinks if anybody is entitled to winning, its Lions fans. On a serious note, Detroit doesn't respect scared. Never has. Stafford needs to stop playing scared.

Canarydoor,  October 24, 2011 at 11:54 PM  

I have always found it incredibly disturbing when people boo their team...and as a lifelong Spartan fan and about a two decade Lions fan, I've certainly heard it plenty. Not to mention the presumptuousness...I mean, there's a reason we're all in the stands and not on the field, right? Good teams sometimes have bad games. And we are a good (not yet great) team. Two losses after the incredible high we've been on is surely disappointing, but I'm pretty sure no one is as bummed as the Lions themselves. Booing isn't constructive; it's not a way to "teach" the team not to do things you don't like (if it were, the team's fortunes would have turned around long before this).

Jimmerz,  October 25, 2011 at 12:13 AM  

Puh-leaze. Fans are entitled to do whatever they want as long as their not breaking the law or physically hurting someone.

5Bakerstreet,  October 25, 2011 at 7:58 AM  

The context of this "entitled fan" blog entry could be answered with a question: "which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

The NFL is a business before its a game. In a sense all 32 teams are retailers, in that all 32 teams must sell their product(s) to their customers, the fans.

Rewind back to the Falcons game. As the Lions come out of the tunnel the voice of the fans is deafening in support of the Lions. The Lions win the coin toss and elect to receive.

Then, on the first three pass attempts by Stafford, Stafford was sacked twice and hurried once. Coach Schwartz, per usual, rationalizes that the Lions recovered and left plays on the field and the Lions could have won the game.

But, at least to me, the film of the game rationalizes differently, not only because the Falcons left plays on the field also, but for the second consecutive week the Lions offensive line has been overmatched by an opponents' defensive line ... resulting in a vanilla preseason type of conservative offensive play calling.

Even Brian Billick had this to say about Stafford, quoting from today's Detroit News column by Chris McCosky, ""Stafford was rushing. And I don't know if he needs to,"" Billick said during the broadcast. ""I don't know if it's perceived pressure or actual pressure, but he's not settling in and throwing the way we've seen him throw before."

Actual pressure, or perceived pressure as a resultant of the actual pressure, it really does not make one iota of a difference. Should the Lions opt to play pass first and run second, or vice versa, or play an offense that opponents' defenses give them, it all comes back to the offensive line. And until the Lions upgrade that offensive line the most the fans can expect from the Lions is a return to the golden era of Wayne Fontz with an 8 - 8 record, which Tom the Killer Kowalski predicted the Lions record would be this year.

Does Stafford need to develop more of a pocket presence, yes. Does Stafford need to develop more touch on passes, yes. So its not totally the offensive line. Schwartz made it clear to the offensive line prior to the season that it was their job to keep Stafford on his feet this year. Perhaps Stafford's sprained ankle should be rationalized as a warning shot to the entire Lions organization that they need to fix the offensive line.

Anonymous,  October 25, 2011 at 10:04 AM  

I subscribe to the notion that Stafford may be going through some personal issues right now. What about, who knows. Maybe someone dear to him recently died. Maybe he's wondering about his chosen profession. Maybe he fights crime at night and hasn't slept in weeks. Whatever it is, though, it's clear that at several points throughout the season so far, the swagger he normally carries himself with has looked utterly extinguished. There was no enthusiasm in his face whatsoever; the many, many errors made by the Lions offense this week were met with expressions of dejection, rather than exasperation. Indeed, it was as if Stafford was acutely aware that his mood and his play was subtly affecting the mood and play of his teammates, and he couldn't summon the energy to do anything but let it all fall apart just when they needed to make the plays that normally win them games.

This is not to be taken as an excuse for his play, of course. One of the first things that any sportsman should learn is that when you play, you play for something bigger than yourself. You won't make it far in either college or the pros if you can't learn to check your personal baggage at the locker room door. (Well okay, MOST won't.) But as Ty says, it's just a bad day at the office, nothing more. If it's true that Matt has a lot on his mind right now, then it's also true that his poor play is an exception to the rule.

Flamekeeper_Ty,  October 25, 2011 at 10:20 AM  

First, that's not really true. If someone's just generally being an ass, you can call security and it's their discretion.

Second, there's a big difference between what you have a "right" to do and the right thing to do.

Flamekeeper_Ty,  October 25, 2011 at 10:25 AM  

"Good teams sometimes have bad games."

Bingo, and same goes for good players. It's tough to remember that many of the Lions' best players are still south of 25. Stafford himself is only 23; he's actually younger than many of this year's rookies!

This is spot-on, too: "Booing isn't constructive." You think they don't know they're not playing well? If you can see it, they can see it.

Flamekeeper_Ty,  October 25, 2011 at 10:26 AM  

That's something I can understand, though I still don't think we as fans can reliably spot the difference between "lack of effort" and any of the other zillion factors that go into NFL performance.

The one thing I understand booing is the consistent choice to give up going into halftime . . . when you're doing that little with the possessions you're getting, you can't forsake any possessions.

Flamekeeper_Ty,  October 25, 2011 at 10:29 AM  

I just don't agree. Booing your franchise quarterback for having a bad day lets him know that your cheering and approval is based entirely on his performance RIGHT NOW, and you don't give a crap about him as a player or person.

If I were him, I'd think long and hard about playing through separated shoulders and stuff for fans that'll turn around and boo him after a couple three-and-outs.

Flamekeeper_Ty,  October 25, 2011 at 10:32 AM  

I said blame him, don't boo him. He has performed much better and they need him to perform much better. The Lions don't need to run it 25 times a game at 4+ YpC to win, they need Stafford to play better. The Lions don't need to clone Anthony Munoz to win, they need Stafford to play better. The Lions don't need their defense to play like the 2000 Ravens, they need Stafford to play better.

Stafford has played as well as they need him to for most of this year, and I believe he will again, and for a long time. So don't boo him.

Flamekeeper_Ty,  October 25, 2011 at 10:35 AM  

Awesome stuff; thanks Jordan!

NorthLeft12 October 25, 2011 at 5:11 PM  

Ty, Thanks for being a small island of sanity and optimism in this sea of negativism that surrounds this team.
Like you I am puzzled how Stafford became an elite QB at a level with Brady and Brees in the first month of the season. I wish Lions fans would apply the same critical eye towards our defence and especially the D Line.

Canarydoor,  October 25, 2011 at 9:54 PM  

Couldn't agree more. Stafford has shown guts and heart and leadership far beyond his years. Any of us ever have a bad day or two at work? Ever get booed for it? As you so aptly put it, Ty, nothing's broken that can't (and I daresay won't) be fixed.

Anonymous,  October 26, 2011 at 5:46 PM  

We are 5-2 best start since 1980, this team is a contender and with the young talent onboard looks like we will be a strong contender for the future. Stafford needs to work on 3rd down conversion drills & stop throwing the ball side armed like an old Lions QB used to do. This team has shown a steady progression over the past three years for 0-16- 2-14- 6-10, we have already won 5 tough games. I expect to see the Lions make a wild card run this season but will have to win 10 games to do it, four more games than last season, is that not improvement? Relax Lions fans, with the coaches & players we are building a Playoff contender for the near future, if Green Bay can go to the Superbowl with a 9-7 record the lions can do it as well, dont forget we were the last team to defeat the world champs.

Joe,  October 26, 2011 at 6:30 PM  

There is your first problem - you are a Spartan fan. You ought to be used to losing!!

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