Detroit hasn’t yet shed ‘same old Lions’ stigma

If the Detroit Lions are tired of the Same Old Lions lament, can they imagine how exhausted writers are of penning the Same Old Column?

It has been a running joke for years that I have five basic frameworks for a Lions column stored in my computer for quick usage. (Actually, I only need three.) There’s a prior point of reference for every mind-numbing loss.

Just substitute the names of past offenders with their successors; the situation’s exactly the same.

The Lions beg for the calming balance of perspective but can’t accept that they haven’t earned the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t matter that it’s different players and coaches; if you’re following the same script as previous teams, you’re going to walk around with the same scarlet letter pinned to your chest.

And that letter is an L.

Jim Schwartz took exception to Tony Dungy’s comments on NBC that the Lions’ 25-21 loss at Arizona was typical of the execution and emotional breakdowns he has witnessed since he was a young Lions fan growing up in Jackson. Dungy said the Lions were “S.O.L.,” a.k.a. the “Same Old Lions.”

“His criticism means about as much as anybody else’s,” Schwartz said.

Oh, really?

Dungy coached a Super Bowl champion. His opinion should be more credible than others.

“We know exactly where we need to improve and where we need to play better,” Schwartz added. “We’re 1-1 right now. We can’t underreact to a loss, but we also can’t overreact to a loss. I think there’s a tendency to do that in this league, with as many (media) outlets as there are, as many critics as there are, and commentators and things like that. Everybody needs to be able to say something. … But if we react to every single person’s opinion, we’ll never make any progress.”

The Lions aren’t making progress. They’re making excuses. There remains a lack of discipline: 19 penalties in the first two games.

Schwartz attributed it to players trying to make plays but doing so incorrectly. How is that not a disciplinary issue?

The Lions no longer are an 0-16 laughingstock. But since when did simply graduating to mediocre offer reason for trusting that this management and coaching tandem possesses the acumen to push this franchise through the NFL’s glass ceiling of parity?

They remain a “prisoner of the moment” franchise, shifting to opposite extremes in public perception pending the gust of wind. It’s why they’re hailed and hated, often in the same breath.

Of the eight major professional and collegiate teams in this area, only three currently have the benefit of the doubt, gained only through consistent production: the Wings (20 straight playoff appearances and four Stanley Cups during that period), Michigan State basketball (16 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and six Final Four berths) and the Tigers will join that fraternity with what we all expect will be their third straight divisional championship and legitimate shot at the World Series title.

What’s the common thread with those three teams? There’s a history of definable success and realistically high expectations.

The Lions aren’t an awful team, despite Sunday’s recurring nightmare in the desert. But they’re nowhere close to earning the trust necessary for changing minds — and changing columns.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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