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Why Your Team Sucks

Why Your Team Sucks 2020: Detroit Lions

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Some people are fans of the Detroit Lions. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Detroit Lions. This 2020 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: Detroit Lions.

Your 2019 record: 3-12-1. That tie came in Week 1 against Arizona, a game in which the Lions were A) facing a rookie QB playing his first game as a professional, and B) up 24-6 going into the fourth quarter. They still fucked themselves with a pickaxe. They also cost themselves the No. 2 pick in the process.

You’re not gonna believe this but the Lions WON two games in a row after that tie. They then lost 12 of their final 13, including nine in a row to finish the job. David Blough made a cameo. CALL MISTER BLOUGH THAT’S THE NAME THAT NAME AGAIN IS MISTER BLOUGH! David Blough playing decently for the first half of the Thanksgiving game was the high point of last season for Detroit. At the very end of it, they let Mason Crosby nail a field goal at the gun in Week 17, which gave the Packers both a 23-20 win and a first-round bye. Turns out that the Lions time their collapses so that they run the course of an entire season and not just one game. That’s how dedicated they are to quality control. That Packers loss wasn’t even their WORST Packers loss last year.

There was no dead cat bounce with the 2019 Lions. They didn’t cobble together a little win streak at the end of the season to salvage their dignity and get people talking about the fabled Carrying Of Momentum into 2020. No no no. They ate ass until the bitter, nutty end. That kinda season usually results in a housecleaning. You fire the coach. You fire the GM. You fire the towel boy. You relocate the entire franchise to a different city under a new alias—“Ravens,” or something like that. That’s NORMALLY what happens. But taking the proper course of action is decidedly abnormal around these parts. Hence…

Your coach: Barstool’s favorite accused rapist.

They kept the GM, too! Just fucking amazing. There is a strain of head coach out there who can’t win games, but CAN win power struggles despite having no leverage of any sort. So big congratulations to Matt Patricia for becoming the NFL’s answer to Brain Kelly in just two short years. Really impressive shit. Patricia has gone just 9-22-1 as a head coach thus far, but he HAS succeeded in lending this ultra-cursed franchise his own distinctive, Satanic aura. The Lions have always been depressing, of course. But somehow they’ve never been snotty and dickish while doing so. Until now. Now they’re the kind of team that other fans are happy to watch burn. It’s as if Dan Snyder owns TWO franchises now.

After 2019, Patricia merrily had six guys working for him ritually sacrificed on top of a giant pyramid of used Ford Fiestas. By the time he’s finished with the Lions—and I wanna say it won’t be long, but Jim Schwartz was allowed to coach this team for FIVE FUCKING YEARS—he’ll have turned over his staff 98 times and eaten every last pencil in the state. The good news is that Darrell Bevell is still your offensive coordinator. And look at what he accomplished in his first season at the rudder, according to the team’s website!

On the ground, he coached four different running backs who accumulated at least 200 rushing yards a piece, which sat atop the NFL charts.

WHOA. That’s nearly 800 yards total! TAKE THAT, CHIEFS! It’s like Joique Bell never left this team! Bevell also coached three different starting QBs last season. And as we all know, the more QBs you start in a single season, the more you give defenses something to worry about. Join us this year when Bevell has a dozen different QBs call two dozen ill-advised quick slants at the goal line.

Your quarterback: Matt Stafford, who does NOT have COVID-19. Or does he? That Matt Patricia sure keeps his cards close to his vest!

Stafford’s status as greatest quarterback in modern Lions history grows more damning by the year. Stafford broke his back midseason in 2019. That gave him every excuse to pull a Megatron and walk away from the Lions with his individual legacy secured. But no. He’s back. Why? Honestly, even the Lions aren’t certain. Stafford was reportedly on the trading block this offseason, but no other team apparently wanted to pay $21 million to Cooler Andy Dalton. Stafford also put his house on the market this year. Have a look. You can smell the Highland Park vibes wafting off of it from your computer.

Why does every rich person in America have a dream house that’s just a Courtyard Inn? Behind Stafford this season will be America’s Backup, Chase Daniel. Chase Daniel has nearly $35 million in career earnings so far. He could buy the lobby house.

What’s new that sucks: The good news is that Martha Ford stepped down as principal owner this offseason. The GREAT news is that Martha fucked and made a baby. And now that baby gets to run the team! FOOTBALL IS THE ULTIMATE MERITOCRACY.

“My mother has inspired all of us since taking on leadership of the Lions over six years ago,” Ford Hamp said in a statement. 

The Lions have gone 45-50-1 in those six years. Ford once bribed her players to stand for the anthem. I think we could make some real progress as a society if we forcibly sterilized all the billionaires. Every NFL team gets passed down through successive generations to a horde of knockoff tycoons who don’t even know how to drive a fucking car.

On the field, the team drafted Jeff Okudah No. 3 overall. They also signed Danny Shelton to fulfill their need to add at least one Washed Up Patriot to the roster every offseason. D’Andre Swift is your new running back. With a little luck, he may ALSO run for over 200 yards this season. WOW. Alluring. Geronimo Allison is here from the Packers. In four seasons, Allison has never amassed more than 303 yards receiving. He’ll fit right in with this Dollar General of a team.

What has always sucked: As my colleague Lauren Theisen told me, “When it comes to the Lions, I don’t think you can write anything more vicious than their Wikipedia entry.” She’s not wrong. Nothing is more damning to this franchise than plainly stated facts. One playoff win, 29 years ago. A lone thousand-yard rusher in the past 16 years. Two of the greatest skill position players in NFL history retiring from sheer embarrassment. Players forced to lie about brain injuries. The name “Detroit Lions” also doubles as a keyword search for half a century of sustained misery. They are storied only in the way that, like, Pol Pot is.

And yet, this team’s expectations are perpetually too high. The Lions have actually been picked as an up-and-coming team on frequent occasions, and were neither up nor coming in any of them. Idiots think they see things that never were with this team, not unlike how Americans think of America.

I don’t think I truly understood what it was like to be a Lions fan until 2020. I root for a DIFFERENT embarrassing NFC North team, so my attempts at empathy with the Lions were never all that pronounced. But here I am now, living in a country that could have been past this pandemic HALF A FUCKING YEAR AGO. Even countries like Italy—which completely buttfucked their response at the outset—got their shit together and managed to grasp the whole masks & distancing concept. Meanwhile, this country has committed itself long-term to this fucking illness. Worst contract signing EVER. I get to watch other countries play baseball and soccer with virtually no infectious consequences. Taiwan even had FANS in the stands for baseball, they were so well-prepared.

And look at us now. We have people who protest against wearing masks. So now I guess I understand how it feels to live in Michigan, where people have a longstanding feud against fucking water, and where Lions fans are forced to sit idly by while the rest of the NFL—and the rest of humanity—gets to live their lives in peace in prosperity.

We are all the Lions now. It’s horrible.

T.J. Hockenson will be injured every year.

What might not suck: Matt Prater is insanely reliable. I say this every year, but the Lions having the best kicking game in the league every year SINCE MY CHILDHOOD remains baffling and heartwarming in equal measure.

Ratto says: “The nation looks at the Lions the same way Calvin Johnson does. True, he has more skin in the game because they took back some of the money they paid him, a relative pittance equivalent to what they’re paying right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. But maybe new owner Sheila Ford Hamp, daughter of old owner Martha Ford, will see the wisdom of rethinking that choice. Of course, this being the Lions and all, that’s unlikely to get done. The other big development is that Matt Patricia’s plan to revitalize the pencil industry has been undone, and at some point he may have to admit that the Sharpie has overtaken him. Eight straight wild card losses since 1993 are mitigated by the 19 times they’ve missed the playoffs with an average record of 4.5-10.5. Sheila, pay the man. You need someone to think you have plans for walking around town without getting yelled at, or worse, not being noticed at all.”

HEAR IT FROM LIONS FANS!

Billy:

Fuck these assholes.

Brian:

Do I really need to elaborate? They are the fucking worst. 

Michael:

You already know. Everyone already knows. 

Andy:

Writing this email is already investing more into them than they deserve. 

Dan:

Did you know that the Detroit Lions didn’t trail for a single minute against the Green Bay Packers during the entire 2019 season and still went 0-2 against them?

Ronald:

We’ve become the Patriots for Stupid People. 

Neil: 

I’m 40 years old.  The last time this team won their division, I was 13.

Kiah:

Remember when we fired our black coach for the crime of having a winning record that wasn’t winning enough?

Greg:

We have a better chance of seeing Vichy Deadspin finally writing a headline that’s not 87 words long than of seeing this pathetic team ever doing anything worthy of praise.

Jamie:

Their last championship is closer in time to the Grover Cleveland administration than it is to now. Their last playoff win (and ONLY playoff win since said championship) is closer in time to the Kennedy assassination than it is to now. These pathetic factoids are all I have.

Alexis:

For years, my father-in-law has taken stats by hand during Lions games with a yellow legal pad and pencil to write down the yards for each play. This team has never deserved the kind of fan effort and devotion shown by my father-in-law. 

Henry Ford, Sr. was a Nazi supporter who was awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagle in 1938. The Ford company/family has been occasionally questioned on this matter but, as is family tradition, they simply stay silent like they did when the Nazis put people in death camps.

Daniel:

The Detroit Lions have all the suffering of a 19th century Russian novel with none of the dignity.

Fuck Matt Millen with a traffic cone, but not angled in a way that makes it more comfortable.

Andrew:

The best team in Detroit right now is a 3rd tier soccer club. The fans built a robot that lights smoke bombs and flips off the refs in their absence during the pandemic.

Dillon: 

This is no NFL dynasty family. These aren’t the Rooneys. We sure as hell don’t deserve to bleed into another decade with a principal owner named Ford. But here we are, setting a high bar for the daughter of William Clay Ford, the man who bought the team the day JFK was assassinated.

Bradley:

William Clay Ford died at the age of 88 years old from pneumonia in 2014. He was the most failed sports owner in history. The Lions continue to honor him by donning a “WCF” patch on their jerseys. It is a literal symbol of failure.

Jonathan:

Michigan is an entire state of petty vindictive angry gamers who vocally resent the shitty weather and the shitty roads and the shitty people around us and the shitty NFL team we’re stuck with. It’s why our accents are so abrasive, everything we say is said in the spirit of a 9th grader calling his stepdad an ugly bitch.

Dave:

My Lions desk calendar is full of depressing factoids like, “the Lions entered 2019 with 3 playoff appearances since the NFC North was formed in 2002.” I can’t imagine what a real team’s would have in theirs. 

K:

My sister is getting married this year, and the impending brother in law is pretty cool, except for his psychopathic insistence on making in-person attendance at the Lions game on Thanksgiving Day a tradition. I have now been to two of these absolute fucking disasters, and I am concerned he might be some kind of assassin playing the long game. 

John:

The Fords are such inept owners that they fell for the Patriots Coordinator scam long after everyone else knew about it. They fired Jim Caldwell, arguably the best coach we’ve had since I can remember (I’m 35), for a guy who looks like an extra in a Ben Affleck Boston movie bar scene. 

Nate:

The Fords will give Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn yet another year to sign more ex-Patriots and win 4 to 6 games with about 10 inexplicable losses.

Daniel:

I once described rooting for the Lions to a non-Detroiter as watching your dog get run over by a car every Sunday for sixteen weeks. Rooting for the Lions is like cheering for the pre-2016 Cubs without the cool factor.

Lyle:

As a Lions fan I have resigned to hoping only for the NFL to cease being an entity. I know that will happen before the Lions ever win a Super Bowl and I am okay with that fact. 

Kyle:

It’s the same thing every year. They display just enough competence for you to lower your guard, so that just when you think you’ve exhausted all possible ways to lose, and they are finally turning over a new leaf, this team of cock leakage digs DEEP and innovates a new way to flip you the bird. Calling a timeout mid-snap, voiding a game-clinching first down over a 3-13 team? There’s that Rocket Scientist brain at work!

Joseph:

I’m sure everyone knows by now that the Lions have only won one playoff game in the last 60+ years, or half of the number Blake Bortles has won in that time. In that same time period, the Lions have won their division – just the division, the bare minimum expectation of parity that the league promotes – THREE TIMES. The team hasn’t relocated. It’s not an expansion franchise with a short history. There’s been no period where the team didn’t exist during the mid ’90s. There’ve been multiple Hall of Fame players and, for some reason, consistent support. In return, three years of moderate success. We’re coached by the dictionary definition of the Peter Principle and quarterbacked by a Juggs machine with a back held together by duct tape and dreams.

I love them so much and can’t wait to see them back on the field. 

Daniel:

Getting up on Monday morning in the dead of winter after yet another Lions loss is like heading to work in the dystopian hellscape of Soviet-era Russia. Scraping ice off my car after the Lions have crushed whatever vague hope I may have had for a victory before I wait in the subzero cold for my car to heat up is numbing in its cold familiarity. Knowing deep in my chilled bones that there is no hope, no way that they will ever change their losing ways as long as the Ford family owns the team. Driving away across unplowed streets (as I live in one of the many inner city Detroit neighborhoods untouched by the gentrification “recovery” ) to my miserable job as I realize that I’m the one who actually sucks for somehow (against my better judgement) continuing to root for this team.

In the hospital four years ago after emergency surgery, I had a post-coma fentanyl dream where the Lions actually made it to the big dance…only to lose to the Buffalo Bills.

Nathan:

Odds are the TV crew will trot out anomalous facts—Kenny Golladay led the league in touchdown receptions! They were the only team Pat Mahomes failed to throw a touchdown pass against!—that will make non-Lions fans wonder “Why was this team total dogshit last year?” The answer can be found in the unspoken: their evil head coach alienated and traded or benched all of the starting secondary from that Chiefs game, Golladay spent half the season catching passes from backup QBs who barely survived in the Big Ten, and I’m fairly confident they’re also the only team in the league to have allowed a 100-yard fumble return touchdown because they were lining up for a choreographed celebration while Bashaud Breeland ran back the live ball that sat right at his feet. 

Matt Stafford’s $7 million home is up for sale. It has “the largest infinity pool in Michigan” and no hot tub.   

Ryan:

Every year for as long as I can remember my cousin and I would call each other on draft day and the first game of the regular season to talk about the Lions and how we were excited for the draft/season and how they’d fuck it all up. This went on through high school, college, and beyond.

One year he didn’t call on Draft Day. Then he didn’t call or pick up on opening day and didn’t answer when I texted him. Really strange. Shortly after, my mom informed me that my cousin had cut off the entire family; he’d found out about a life insurance policy our uncle had at his death and kept the money for himself instead of having it used to pay for the funeral, which my mom (who practically raised him) had to pay for.

So while it sucked to have someone I considered my older brother and had been such an influence in my life for decades ghost me over something so fucking petty, at least I don’t have to talk about the Lions anymore so what he did really wasn’t so bad. Thanks for being a dick, Chris! Fuck you.

Ed:

I’m English. When I lived in England I supported a shite football team, Everton. They make my life miserable every week. 

Twelve years ago I moved to Michigan, and started following an equally shite team, the Detroit Lions. Now Everton *and* the Detroit Lions make my life miserable every week.

Last year, my basement flooded. Shite and little bits of used toilet paper everywhere. Upstairs, the Lions were on TV. Playing the fucking Packers. I couldn’t watch them, I had to mop up shite. 

When you’re mopping up shite, you tend to lose track of time. After I finished, I had a huge trash bag full of the things we had to throw away. I even threw my t-shirt in there. It was sopping wet.

As I staggered upstairs, I realized that the game was still on. 

“What’s the score?” I asked my wife.

Before I could hear her answer, I saw Mason Crosby kick the winner for the Packers in time expired.

I left the shite and trudged back down to the basement, to the other shite. 

Charles:

Last year I finally snapped. It was the Monday night game against Green Bay. I was traveling on business last year and found myself in Milwaukee for the Monday night game. I’m sitting in a bar, by myself, watching the game. Everyone else is a Packers fan. I’m watching Detroit playing decent ball for a change. I begin to allow myself a glimmer of hope, that we’re actually going to beat these bastards in prime time, in Lambeau. Cue two phantom illegal-hands-to-face penalties and a no-call (huh) pass interference against the Packers.

It finished me. I spent a few hours venting my rage on Twitter, went to bed angry, woke up angry, and had a moment of clarity. Like quitting drinking, it was the realization that I had to remove the cause of my pain. I’d joked for a long time that the difference between college and pro fandom is that college fans hate every other team, while NFL fans hate their own team. I realized in my case that it was true, that I hated the Lions, hated how they made me feel, even if it ultimately wasn’t their fault, and that watching the NFL didn’t bring me any joy. So I walked away. I look at the NFL now from the vantage point of an interested outsider. I’ve never been happier.

Andrew:

So on Christmas Eve, 2017, my family hears that my grandpa, who is in his late 80’s, has been rushed to the hospital, and that doctors suspect he doesn’t have much time left. Naturally, grandma, my parents and sister and I all go join him immediately. Grandpa was greatly beloved by my family, with the tough, stoic exterior common to men of that era quickly giving way to a lighthearted, even mischievous nature among those he knew and loved best. By this time, though, multiple strokes had gradually robbed him of his ability to move, speak, and possibly impaired his cognitive function, so while we were all devastated to hear the news, we weren’t surprised.

While we were in the hospital, saying what would become our final goodbyes to this man who touched all our lives, someone suggested (I don’t remember who, but it was NOT me), with somewhat forced cheer, putting on the Lions-Bengals game. “After all, they are going for a playoff bid” said whichever family member suggested the idea, “I’m sure it will be exciting!”. It almost certainly was NOT going to be exciting, given that the Bengals were eliminated from the playoffs and helmed by Andy Dalton, but hey, grandpa had been following this team since before the golden years of Bobby Layne (who, according to family lore, had tried to hit on Grandma way back in the day) so it wasn’t the worst suggestion in the world, right?.

At this Grandpa, who had thus far said almost nothing and barely moved aside from squeezing the hand of whomever was holding his, sat up abruptly, and with more clarity and firmness than he had exhibited in months, said “No”. Astonished at this sudden sign of strength, we asked him why, and I kid you not, he gave us all a wan expression and said “because they are going to lose” before sinking back into his pillow and resuming his state of non-responsiveness. 

Sure enough, the Lions, fighting for their playoff life, blew that game against an awful Bengals team with nothing to play for, eliminating them from the playoffs. And Grandpa, who would pass away a few days later, barely cognizant of the world around him, correctly identified this to be the case, even though he was one of the few people remaining who could actually remember the glory days of the 50’s.

Grandpa was an amazing man, and I hope everyone takes to heart his final lesson: life is short, and it should not be wasted on the Detroit freaking Lions. 

Submissions for the NFL previews are closed. Next up: New York Giants.