Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Thursday, September 08, 2005 at 2:58 PM

Thoughts on the upcoming Lions season.

10-6.

That was my original prediction for the upcoming Lions season, this was going to be the year where it all came together and the pieces finally performed and made sense. However, something last week made me change my mind and what was once an optimistic view is now one of uncertainty and the usual “Lions Funk”. What was it Sports Dude, what was it exactly that made you change your mind last week? Oh, that’s right, you are a Joey hater, certainly you are speaking of Jeff Garcia going down because you felt he was the one that was going to help right the ship, am I right? Well, as unfortunate as that injury is, that is not what made me change my mind, I am afraid. What made me go totally 180 was none other than the debacle that was seen to a nation wide audience on Monday night, the embarrassing butt-whooping put on us by the St. Louis Rams. A little ironic, if you ask me, that the last time we were on Monday night was against the Rams and that game had an eerily similar result, another Monday Night Football butt-whooping. So, just for future reference here guys, if you ever get invited to play another Monday Night game, please inform the league that you would prefer it to be against someone not from St. Louis and not named the Rams.

Make no mistake about it, the Lions have all the tools to succeed in the NFL, compete for the divisional title and, at bare minimum, a damn Wild Card spot. But folks, let us be realistic here, all the “paper” talent in the world ain’t going to do a lick of good if it doesn’t gel and/or perform on the football field. The Lions have a promising young back in Kevin Jones, who led the NFL in rushing in the second half of last season. But what good is a talented running back if your offensive line can’t open any holes? There was only one back I have ever seen, maybe you are all familiar with his work, and that is Barry Sanders, that could perform behind a make shift line. Sorry Mr. Jones, but you aren’t a Barry Sanders, so you are kind of screwed on that one. Furthermore, the Lions have probably the most promising and talented group of receivers this side of the Mississippi, but what good are they if the QB can’t get enough time to deliver the ball to them. Yes, I know, I could have ripped Joey there and said something like what good is all the talent in the world at receiver if your QB sucks. However, I am actually going to refrain from Joey bashing in this post for one reason and one reason only – without him there really is no hope, no hope at all.

Look, if you have been a frequent reader of this blog for the past year or so (all three of you, myself included) you know I have very little love for one Joey Ballgame. That being said, sorry folks, but Jeff Garcia was not going to be the answer for you this year at QB, even if he wasn’t injured right now. Yes, I know a few months ago I pushed for Garcia on this site, even said things along the lines of “give Joey three games and then give me some Garcia!” but that was before I saw the dude up close and in a Lions uniform. I still thought he was the “San Fran” Jeff, not the “Past His Prime” Jeff that we have seen this preseason. Look, there is no other way this year but to sink or swim with Joey, the Lions have no choice. Why? Simply put, if he fails we are back to square one again at QB, plain and simple. If Joey falters and Garcia (when he recovers) comes back and is inserted into the line up, that means next year we are back to rebuilding mode for a QB on this team. I like Dan Orlovsky; I think he has a chance to be a decent QB someday, but not yet and especially not this year or next for that matter. He needs to be given time to learn and grow on the sidelines, something Joey (unfortunately) never got. So, sink or swim, do or die, if Joey has a bad year then we, as Lions fans, go down with him and look towards next season, yet again, as a fresh start at QB. For all the negative things I have said about him, for all the rips I have thrown his way, I love my Lions and I hope he has even a decent year because as he goes the Lions go. Why just a decent year Sports Dude, why not a great year? Simply put we don’t need a pro bowl QB; we just need an efficient one to get us into the playoffs, nothing more, nothing less. That being said, I wish Joey the best of luck because he needs it and we, as Lions fans, need it as well.

I really don’t know what else to say about it other than “Where do we go from here?” Simply put, I don’t know if I have a rock solid answer or a clue about that. If I had to make a guess on a final record I could honestly see anywhere from a 7-9, 8-8, to even a shot at a 9-7 finish. Is that good enough to get us into the playoffs? With a weak NFC all across the board I say the chances are good, but anything less than the playoffs this year will be unacceptable.

The defense needs to start actually being aggressive, I can not stand Dick Jauron and his “bend but don’t break” crap. I keep hearing about the speed at linebacker, the athletes we have there, well then damn it, show me! Blitz the living hell out of the opposing team with some of that speed, some of that athleticism. We keep hearing about how stacked our secondary is, well then damn it send the blitzers, if the secondary is really as good as the Lions claim, then they should be able to hold their own in coverage if we blitz a couple extra guys. All this depth we have in the front four, show me, start knocking some heads around, put the QB on his butt, just show me some of this defense that I keep hearing about!

The offense, whether Mooch likes it or not, has to trust Joey, I mean there really is no other way. Mooch has to be willing to open it up a little bit, give Joey the opportunity to succeed and let loose of the damn leash a little. Go down field, show me some screen passes, show me some creativity, just freaking show me something! But if Mooch continues to doubt Joey then how can we truly know what this kid can or can not do? He is all the Lions have this year at QB, so it is damn time to let loose the reigns and just let the kid play some football. If he succeeds at it then great, the Lions finally have their answer at QB and maybe, just maybe, a playoff berth this season. But if he fails at least you can say it was because he just didn’t have it, whatever it is, once he was given the chance to air it out a little. But if Mooch refuses to give Joey a chance we may never know exactly what this kid has. He has to let Joey play this year, plain and simple, because there is no tomorrow for any of them if the kid fails.

Look that is really all I got for the time. Football starts again tonight, for real, when the defending champion New England Patriots take on the new look Oakland Raiders. Personally it has been a long time waiting for this day and I for one am damn excited that football has returned to the television. So, I ask you one final question, are you ready for some football?!?!

Later – the sports dude.

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