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S.O.L. Same Old Lions

James Light dissects the aftermath of the Detroit Lions 35-33 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Sh*t out of luck would probably be the more widely known version of the acronym S.O.L. For those of us in the Metro Detroit area though it has another meaning, Same Old Lions.  At this point both meanings would be applicable if you’ve been a fan of this organization for any length of time or watched Sunday’s disaster unfold vs the Colts. The Lions put on yet another disgraceful performance in front of their home fans as Andrew Luck completed an improbable comeback with a walk-off fourteen yard touchdown pass to Donnie Avery to beat the Lions 35-33.


This was the third week in a row that the Lions held the lead at the two-minute warning at home yet still managed to choke the game away. What is truly pathetic is in all three games while the defense folded like a house of cards to give up the lead or allow a tie, the offense had a possession to win the game or get a first down to put the game away but instead matched the defensive ineptitude and produced absolutely nothing.


Anyone who has seen the movie Pulp Fiction knows as the ‘Wolf’ so eloquently stated “Just because you are a character, doesn’t mean you have character.” That’s a great description for this team, a bunch of characters that lack any character themselves. This problem has been bearded out time after time this year considering the Lions had more offseason arrests than they do wins at this point.


Now don’t get me wrong there are good individuals on this team like Calvin Johnson. The problem is that just like the last truly great player the Lions had in Barry Sanders, Johnson is a leader by example. He is not the guy that is going to be a vocal leader and demand accountability in the locker room like Ray Lewis. The Lions have nobody like that. What is hard to believe is the Lions may have had two of the best non QB position players in the history of football in Sanders and Johnson and may squander the talent and careers of both.


Which brings me to Jim Schwartz. Without a strong leader in the locker room the head coach’s handling of the team becomes even more critical. Based on the results Schwartz is doing a very poor job of that. When you look at some of the great coaches in NFL history, like Jimmy Johnson or Bill Belichick, to a man their players say that a big part of the reason they were so successful is that those coaches made it so uncomfortable to lose that it was unbearable. Losing just simply wasn’t an option and if you weren’t on board with that you would quickly be jettisoned.


I don’t get that sense with this group, while the season has been flushed down the toilet the last four weeks in spectacular fashion, you still see Schwartz and his players running their mouth’s to the media about how good they are, and that they’re better than their record indicates. Total delusion, just like Bill Parcells said “You are what your record says you are.”


The problem is that mediocrity is tolerated in this organization and Schwartz has done nothing to change that.  In fact the Lions even celebrated it. Unveiling a banner this year before the home opener at Ford Field for making the playoffs, which was and is an embarrassment and shows how dysfunctional this organization is.


This brings me to the main culprit of what ails this organization, William Clay Ford Sr. The man (Ford Sr.) is loyal to a fault. This is an admirable trait in some aspects of life but certainly not with running a business or pro sports franchise. This flaw has been fatal to this organization since Ford Sr took over in 1963. It’s the reason why bumbling, buffoon coaches like Wayne Fontes held on for as long as he did despite not producing. Or why the Matt Millen reign of terror lasted almost eight years when it was obvious to everyone outside of Allen Park that Millen had no clue what he was doing early on in his tenure.


Millen was shown the door after putting together the worst team in the history of the NFL but instead of shaking things up, Ford Sr. hired right from within the Millen executive tree with Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand and the same scouts that helped Millen run the draft are all still there. While Mayhew has not been as horrible as Millen was (almost impossible) there have been no signs that this team will be a Super Bowl contender any time soon under his watch. I can also guarantee Ford Sr. will not demand that level of success from Mayhew, content to let this organization flounder in perpetuity.


So we’re left with the Same Old Lions, the phrase that has come to define this sad sack moribund franchise under the stewardship of William Clay Ford Sr. As long as the old man remains at the helm there is no reason for hope when all Ford Sr has ever delivered is losing and heartbreak for the long suffering Lions fan base.

Sport Is Everything. James Light.

You can follow James Light via @JamesALight. You can read more of James’ articles through his personal football blog, Jim Light’s Football Blog.

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