Free Press writers Jeff Seidel, Dave Birkett break down Lions meltdown against Vikings in Minneapolis, and wonder why team has regressed Nov. 4, 2018.
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions gave up 10 sacks Sunday in Minnesota. For the second week in a row, they looked in over their heads. 

They are 3-5 staring at 3-7. But enough about the Lions. 

What about you?  

Where do you go from here? 

Where do you turn now that your (relatively) new general manager, your new head coach, your new running back, your revamped offensive line and your new defensive run-stopper all conspired to bring you to the same place you’ve always been when the leaves began to change? 

Someone has a sick sense of humor.  

The question is: why? What did you do to deserve this? 

It can’t just be the Pinto. Or that you aren’t sitting up straight. 

Yet here we are, a week into November, with the NFL as fun as it has been in years, and the Lions aren’t just losing, they’re boring.  

Worse than that, no one outside the region acknowledges your pain. No one out there poeticizes your losing, like the country used to do with Red Sox and Cubs fans, and even did with Eagles’ fans last winter, as Philadelphia rode a back-up quarterback to a Super Bowl. 

Oh, poor Philly, remember? Look how adorable they are in their misanthropy. 

Yeah, they’ve got a little history, a bell or something, and some ideals scribbled on a piece of paper.  

Meanwhile, back in the city that actually changed America, the place that mainstreamed decent-paying jobs, single-family houses and the chili dog, there is only a void, bereft of outside empathy for the annual torture the franchise visits upon us. 

Unless you believe in the curse of Bobby Layne, a hex that technically never happened. Which is to say that we can’t even do curses right. Besides, even if Layne had cursed the franchise, urban legend capped it at 50 years. Meaning the fake curse should’ve been over a decade ago. 

So, again, I ask: What did you do to deserve this?   

To be forced to turn away from the TV this time of year. To be forced out into the yonder, or onto the lawn, raking leaves, trying to mitigate the pain.  

All while other cities get to revel in an increasingly crackling game. Stuffed with young stars, playmakers who fulfill the wishes of their infinitely creative coaches. 

They’re having fun in Kansas City and Los Angeles and New Orleans, where the Chiefs and the Rams and the Saints regularly drop 40 points on a Sunday afternoon. But even in towns where touchdowns don’t rain like it does in London, there is still winning. 

Consider Pittsburgh. Or Houston. Or, God forbid, Boston, the spiritual home of the New England Patriots. 

Sure, Boston birthed the American Revolution. But you — YOU! — shepherded the industrial revolution. And this is the thanks you get? 

Speaking of Boston, maybe it did you a solid by sending Matt Patricia your way. Or maybe the joke’s on you again. 

It‘s too soon to say.  

Whatever else we say about the Lions head coach, however, don’t say he is running from this mess. Or pointing to anyone other than him … except for the occasional recumbent reporter. 

Earlier this week Patricia stepped to the podium in Allen Park and told reporters the losing had more to do with a lack of fundamentals and technique and less to do with a lack of talent. 

In other words, he blamed himself. Not the so-called curse. Not the franchise’s history. Not the roster he inherited. 

That’s a start. 

Then again, that’s a phrase you’ve heard at the end of every summer as long as you’ve been alive.  

As in: this year will be different. This regime will be different. This coach will be different. 

Then it never is.  

Mythology teaches us that some souls are doomed for reasons beyond their doing. I’m thinking of you here, dear Lions’ fan. 


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And yet, I’m not convinced the six-decade run of mediocrity — spiked with an occasional playoff game — is the result of anything more than inconsistent play and even a little unfortunate luck. 

Yes, it’s easy to get discouraged — demoralized, even. And though the current regime seems to have a plan, it’s hard to believe it will work.  

Not because there is something wrong with trying to build a physical, balanced offense and a defense populated with versatile playmakers, but because whoever has tried to build anything here has never really worked. 

What’s difficult is that the team looks worse than it did a year ago. Changing systems could account for part of that.  

But history accounts for part of that, too. Losing and the mid-Fall collapse isn’t necessarily inevitable. It’s just what we’re used to.  

Where’s a poet when you need one? 

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Contact Shawn Windsor: Follow him on Twitter @shawnwindsor.

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