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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Game 9 - 2009 @ Minnesota

It's official. The Lions are out of the playoff hunt. Yes, I'm joking. They were never in it except mathematically, but 8 losses is traditionally the point in the season where you consider your team out of the playoffs and that is where the Lions find themselves at, with 8 losses.

The Lions have never beat Brett Favre in a road game (unless Favre was a Packer in 1991, I'm too lazy to look it up) and they've lost in Minnesota for nearly that many years. So add another one to both streaks.

Meanwhile, the Lions are looking at a much easier game next week against the Browns (on paper), if there is anyone on the team left able to play. There were so many injured and out for the Lions I was expecting some WRs to have to start playing DB and some TEs to start playing on the OLine every down for the rest of the Vikings game. A lot of guys tried to leave it all on the field, and some literally did. If they can do that next week the Browns don't stand a chance. But will next week be an up game or a down game... and can they also do that and still be ready for their only nationally televised game on Thanksgiving day just 4 days later? It should be an interesting week (and a half).

I think the players are starting to get that if they mess up they won't be playing. Brown was a healthy scratch after going the wrong side on a screen play and making some other errors last week. One Cohen was replaced with another supposedly for special teams reasons. On top of that, first play of the 2nd half in this game we saw Kevin Smith lose the football a split second before hitting the ground and then didn't see him again for most of the 2nd half. The players also appear to be trying harder to get open, to make a tackle, to break a tackle, and so on. They know if they don't they won't get playing time. It's hard to believe it took this many coaches and this many years and this year that many games to get the point across. It would appear the team was a bit worse off then many thought.

Normally at this point in the season (after being out of the playoffs) the coaches might play the rookies to get ready for next year, but the Lions have been doing that since game 1. You would also evaluate your roster for the off season, but the Lions have been doing that since game 1 as well. The fans would be starting to talk draft, that started weeks ago. So what's left to look forward to? The same thing as there was in week 1. Watching the rookies who are playing try to learn and improve their game. Will they suddenly become pro-bowlers overnight? Nope. Will they suddenly play like seasoned vets? Nope. They will simply have more ups then downs, here and there, and learn the NFL level of the game so that next off season they can prepare better.

Meanwhile, the coaching staff will try everything they can think of to get a few more wins, as winning or more importantly not losing, is critical in building a team too. Just as important as evaluating the roster really. You want those who will come back next year to not be so despondent that they get into the "here we go again" rut... something that Calvin Johnson has already apparently fell into this year.

The team needs a few more wins. The coaching staff does as well. And for that matter, so do the fans. The Browns might just be willing to oblige the team in that matter next Sunday. For the sake of all involved, the Lions need to win this coming game if they can. Plus, it'll help make my preseason prediction not look so horrible.

Of course, my prediction was in jeopardy anyway now that some of the perennial basement teams are actually doing well (read as Bengals for example). Still I never predicted the playoffs for the Lions this year and I expected at least 10 losses while the rookies learn the game. I'm just glad these coaches actually play the rookies unlike previous coaching staffs. In the end, the team will be better for it.

I simply can't get all upset about the Lions for doing what I expected. That seems to be driving a few fans nuts. I can't help them. I could get upset about the 2009 draft except I think it was a great draft. I could get upset about the coaching except I think the coaching staff had an extremely difficult task and are finally starting to get through. I could get upset if the coaches weren't playing the rookies but they are doing that. All in all, things are going just about as I expected they would, not feared, expected. How can I be upset about that?

In summary. Don't get so upset about the Lions losing, almost everyone expected them to have a losing season in 2009.

Things to get upset about: officiating, dropped balls, repeating the same mistake over and over, and Favre doing well...

:-)

Things to not get upset about: being out of the playoffs and playing the rookies.

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