Free Press writers Dave Birkett, Shawn Windsor debate why the Lions winning is important, the career of Ziggy Ansah and offensive woes Dec. 9, 2018.
Dave Birkett and Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press
Put on a pot of coffee. Reach for that Red Bull. Now slap yourself across the face.
Are you awake?
I hope so, because this could be your new routine as you prepare to watch the Lions the rest of this season, and maybe beyond.
Folks, Sunday’s 17-3 victory over the Arizona Cardinals was no desert mirage. Watching the Lions’ methodical, defensive-minded, no-frills, offense-costs-extra brand of boring football is your new reality.
Was it a snooze fest? Absolutely.
Was it effective, winning football? You’re darn tootin’!
The Lions-Cards game was roundly decried as bad football, plodding tedium. The teams combined for one offensive touchdown and 497 yards of offense.
And, frankly, that’s how Lions coach Matt Patricia likes it.
I asked him Monday if there was anything wrong with having this kind of low-scoring, defensive-minded win at a time of the NFL when fans prefer to watch dynamic offenses.
“I think everybody has different views on what they think is exciting from football,” Patricia said. “I tend to like the struggle, I like the battle, I like all of it. So I think back in the day when I was growing up, SEC football used to be like 7-3 and I thought those were exciting, I thought they were great games.
“So it doesn’t really matter however the game goes, you just have to try to find a way to win. And whether it’s a lot of points or no points, it doesn’t matter as long as you can just try to come up with the W, which is the hardest thing to do.”
Did you catch that? He said 7-3 was great. Seven. To. Three. It hurts just to type that.
But here’s the thing. He’s not wrong.
Patricia’s not wrong because the Lions have limited options with their offensive personnel. But he’s also not wrong because recent history tells us he’s not wrong.
Three of the past five Super Bowl champions (it should have been four of the past five if Pete Carroll knew how to call a run play) had their defenses outranking their offenses at the end of the regular season.
Heck, just look at what the Chicago Bears did to the mighty Los Angeles Rams’ offense Sunday night. Six points by the Rams, who right now are questioning everything about themselves and realize more than ever they were fortunate to escape Detroit with a win last week.
Everyone loves to talk about culture and identity in the NFL. And now we know who the Lions are: A good defensive team that has no problem grinding out wins with a boring, methodical offense.
Just look at who the Lions got, and who they got rid of this season. They added Damon Harrison and jettisoned Golden Tate. Do you think a team that wants to be a high-flying, dynamic offense gets rid of its most productive, sure-handed receiver? Do you think these are the kinds of moves that entice an up-and-coming offensive guru to come to Detroit?
The avant-garde offenses of today’s NFL are described as sexy and exotic. Those aren’t exactly the adjectives that jump out at you when you think of this year’s Lions, a team coached by a guy who learned his work ethic from picking up rocks on a farm.
“From a fan aspect, I’m pretty sure they wanna see points,” cornerback Nevin Lawson told reporters after Sunday’s game. “But there’s only two teams that put up 40 points or more every week. You’re looking at the wrong teams expecting that.”
Maybe Lawson is right. Maybe this is it. Maybe this is what winning is finally going to look like for the Lions.
Because let’s be honest, they’ve tried it the other way. They’ve had Mike Martz. They’ve had Calvin Johnson. They’ve had Matthew Stafford throw for 5,000 yards. And what has it gotten them? Not a whole lot other than entertaining losing.
Now slap me across the face and pass the coffee.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.