This Lions this season have been defined by seemingly being nothing like any of us thought they would be. I thought they’d be a more potent version of last year’s team: Incredible passing game (only better because of experience), non-existent running game (Best is out again?!), terrible defense (against both the pass and the run), with an under-performing pass rush, and piss poor special teams (well, this one was right). Instead, the passing game looks like Matt Stafford can’t find his target and when he does, the receivers don’t expect it and don’t catch the ball. The running game is the only part of the offense that looks comfortable and confident (until they fumble). The defense has been incredible in both phases, despite a much-maligned secondary, which has actually proven to have some pretty good depth. Just this year Houston, Bentley, Florence, Green, Lacey, and Smith have all had moments where they looked like they could be capable starters in this defense.
Still, this team has been surprising, no doubt. It almost seems like the Lions tried so hard to shed its stereotypes that it ruined the one great thing it had going. What this situation reminds me of is one of the most famous sports movies of all time: Jerry Maguire. The very basic storyline of this movie begins when Jerry Maguire, a sports agent, writes a manifesto about all that is wrong with his business. What he writes is an idealistic vision of the future, with more personal attention, less money, and a return to the roots of the business that he loved.
What it feels like here is that Jim Schwartz and the Lions coaching staff are trying to change their philosophy. They’re trying to implement a running game, play strong defense, and shun the evils of the deep passing game. They know that the old ways are unsustainable. Jerry Maguire couldn’t continue on doing what he was doing or it would eventually destroy him. So Jim Schwartz is doing an overhaul. And just like Jerry Maguire, it isn’t a smooth transition. He lost his job, lost all but one of his clients, and nearly lost his way. And the Lions aren’t doing a whole lot better than that.
And before this gets fixed, he’s going to have to go back on that change of heart. He’s going to have to scream throughout his office SHOW ME THE MONEY, in direct conflict with everything he’s trying to change. Because we, the fans, are Rod Tidwell. We don’t care how he does it. There is no right or wrong way. What we care about is results, above all else.
It’s a very personal, very important thing. Hell, it’s a family motto. Are you ready [Jim]? Just want to make sure you’re ready. Here it is. Show me the money.
Jim Schwartz, you are hanging on by a very thin thread, and I DIG that about you.