Some people are fans of the Detroit Lions. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Detroit Lions. This 2021 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Detroit Lions.
Your 2020 record: 5-11. Call Mister Blough, that’s his name, that name again is Mister Blough!
The good news—and in Detroit, good news is always temporary—is that David Blough and the Lions blew that game to Mitch Trubisky, which finally gave the Lions everything they needed to fire both GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia immediately afterward. Getting rid of Patricia was the only true objective any Lions fan had for 2020. That prospect got a bit rocky there in the beginning of the season, what with Todd Gurley gifting Detroit an unwanted victory and the team’s kicking game remaining bafflingly clutch.
But in the end, the Lions did their jobs. They headbutted the refs, blew six double-digit leads in a row, got stiff-armed into outer space by Derrick Henry, got shut out by a Carolina team that was just as in the tank as they were, infected their entire coaching staff with COVID, and lost six of their final seven. No more Patricia. No more watching him get fatter every year. No more needing to steam-clean the carpet at team HQ every time he walks across it. No more reporters being commanded to sit up in press conferences for the mangy emperor sweating all over the podium. No more Darrell Bevell. No more coming up a yard short on idiotic fake punt attempts. You’re free now!
Except you’re still the Lions, which means…….
Your coach: This guy!
That’s former Saints tight end coach Dan Campbell, who’s deeply inspiring until he has to remember parts of the human anatomy beyond the left and right kneecaps. You listen here, men. This Lions team will be a pack of clump dogs. You may knock us down. But we’re gonna get up and we’re gonna snort up one of your testicles when they do. You may knock us down again, but then we’re gonna snort up the OTHER testicle. You may knock us down a THIRD time, and break our throats, and go up 45-0 before halftime. But guess what, Buster Brown? We’re gonna get back up AGAIN, and then wobble, and then collapse into a heap! Then we’re gonna have to go back and look at the tape to see what went wrong there. BUT WE WILL NEVER STOP TRYING TO EAT YOU. You slobber, we knocker!
If hiring Dan Campbell as head coach strikes you as a massive overcorrection from the Patricia shitwreck, you are correct. Here’s your reminder that Robert Saleh, the brains behind a 2019 San Francisco team that won the NFC, was not just available, but was FROM Michigan. In fact, Michigan state officials actively lobbied for the Lions to hire Saleh. And despite all that, Saleh still took one look at the Lions and said to himself, You know what? I think the Jets are the better play here. I would rather go to prison than work for the Jets, and yet I completely understand Saleh’s logic. Going to Michigan is accepting an invitation to go fuck yourself.
The Lions could have hired any number of qualified candidates in the wake of Saleh’s rejection: Byron Leftwich, Brian Daboll, Eric Bieniemy, etc. Instead, they hired an overachieving strength coach beloved by Gregg Williams. Dan Campbell has never been a coordinator. He’s never called plays, and won’t. I’m not entirely sure WHAT duties he’s ever performed. So get ready to watch Campbell learn on the job for two years before the Lions re-hire Patricia and install a sneeze guard at his desk.
Do they have a Guy on the coaching staff? Do they ever! Campbell added Mark Brunell, Antwaan Randle El, Duce Staley, AND Aaron Glenn, the last two of which clearly would have been better choices for the top job. After this season, Glenn and Staley will get hired by other teams and immediately take those teams to the playoffs while you people remain stuck at the bottom of the well. I’ve seen this process play out before.
Your quarterback: Jared Goff, who arrives here in a glorified version of the Brock Osweiler salary dump. Take Sean McVay away from Jared Goff and you pull Goff out of the light socket. The new voice in Goff’s headset will be Anthony Lynn, the man behind this playcall.
Goff’s job in Detroit will be to replace the greatest quarterback in team history, and last thing any Detroit fan wants is for this well-compensated marionette to actually succeed in doing so. That would cost them a chance to draft Spencer Rattler. The problem is that new Lions GM Brad Holmes helped draft Goff in L.A. and may be the only person left in football who thinks Goff is worth half a shit. That means a gritty 8-9 season awaits you. I don’t make the reality, folks. I am simply delivering it to you in the back of an overpriced Ford Excursion.
What’s new that sucks: Your kicker.
This is the final preseason in which I will insist that you gotta hand it to the Lions’ special teams. At long last, the Lions have a kicker that matches their overall legacy. I’m very excited about it.
To protect Goff (why), the Lions drafted Penei Sewell out of Oregon. Between Penei Sewell and John Penisini, Detroit has cornered the market on penii. I respect it. Your new wideouts include Geronimo Allison, who’ll prove useless without Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, and Breshad Perriman, who’s destined to play for every NFL team before his career is finished. Your new backup tight end is Darren Fells, which means your new starting tight end is Darren Fells. Oh, and look who’s aboard to help turn around the defense!
I’ll never be able to look away from Dom Capers’ rug. The way it seamlessly blends in with his youthful visage… why, it’s virtually undetectable. Anyway, if you enjoy the incompetence of Gregg Williams without the dickish pizzazz, ol’ Dom is ready to dial up a zero blitz on every third and long. That’s the Capers Promise.
Kenny Golladay is gone. Jeff Okudah can’t play. Jim Harbaugh will beat Ohio State before this team wins the North.
What has always sucked: Michigan goes out of its way to brand itself as the Grit Capital of the Rust Belt. No state is more happy to brag about leading the world in Being Downtrodden and then to signal its valor in surviving that downtrodden-ness. It’s a whole state crying WE WILL RISE ABOVE without ever actually rising above. That makes the Lions—and, as it stands now, every single major professional and college sports team in Michigan—such a perfect avatar for the state as a whole. Michigan, you started at the bottom, and that’s basically the end of the story right there. I’d rather live inside a dead roach’s asshole.
Eminem was never good.
Ratto says: Kneecaps are the new market inefficiency, next to having no running backs. Thanksgiving just found out the Bears are this year’s opponent and has filed a new lawsuit demanding its morning back. Sheila, I hope you have more fun running this scow than your mother did. BEST NAME TO HEAR ON TV: Amon-Ra St. Brown.
What might not suck: Can’t wait to hear people with Michigan accents saying “Jared Goff” a lot. Won’t make my ears leak pus at ALL.
HEAR IT FROM LIONS FANS!
Getting jabbed with a vaccine needle is the least painful experience I’ve had at Ford Field.
We traded for a quarterback who notoriously cannot do anything on the field other than follow the coach’s explicit instructions and then hired a coach whose instructions are to bite off the opponent’s knee caps.
My gf and I used to live walking distance to Ford Field. The neighborhood was a popular spot for suburbanites to park their cars for home games. One Sunday afternoon, we noticed a drunk Lions fan pissing in the alley behind our building as he yelled to his buddies up the street, “Did you guys see these grapes?! They’re really good!”
He was eating grapes from a grapevine as he was pissing on it.
The absolute unwillingness to put together an even mediocre running game.
You can say “we’re basically the Lions of *insert any sport*” and the person you’re talking to immediately understands that the situation is dire.
Dan Campbell makes Nick Sirianni look like Bill Walsh.
It’s always exciting when the Lions hire a coach who wasn’t even on any other team’s radar this hiring season.
It’s nearly impossible to invest in purchasing a jersey for any Lions player. As soon as you do buy a Lions jersey you may as well fucking burn it/throw it away/donate it.
I have bought the jerseys of only two NFL players in my entire life: Joey Harrington and Kevin Jones.
The only promising sign I saw this offseason that our team is turning things around is that we let our generational talent leave via trade rather than burning him so bad he quit the sport and shit talked the team for decades to anyone who’d listen. Progress!
It’s possible that I will see the day when our last championship is closer to Abraham Lincoln being alive than to present day. Only 29 more years to go.
On the list of greatest Lions quarterbacks, George Plimpton is no worse than third.
The best team in Detroit is still a 3rd tier soccer club.
I’m also coming to terms with the fact that I’m far more interested in what happens to Matt Stafford this season than I am in this team’s eventual 5-12 campaign.
Since Super Bowl I there have been 399 NFL playoff games. The Detroit Lions have won one of them.
Tune in next year for more pathetic trivia.
Hit Bull Win Steak:
Campbell who looks like he does late night infomercials for self-help tapes and fitness equipment of questionable efficacy. We traded likely our greatest QB of the modern era (no playoff wins mind you) for Dollar Store Ryan Gosling and a bunch of draft picks. When Goff takes his first snap as a Lion,it will mark the 1st time in history a QB who actually played in a Super Bowl has started for the Lions. Of course, it’s the guy who probably had the worst Super Bowl performance in the last 25 years but hey we wouldn’t have it any other way. Fuck me.
The SECOND I heard that Matthew Stafford wanted to be traded, I said please god not for Jared Goff. I got receipts.
I’ll take anything. Anyone. Any move that results in Stafford leaving Detroit would have been acceptable with the lone exception of trading for Jared goddamn stupid Goff. My friends asked where I’d like to see him end up. “As long as we don’t trade him to the Rams for Goff.” I would reply. As teams narrowed down, it seemed like the Lions may actually trade him somewhere else.
And then in the middle of the fucking night an alert comes through on my phone that the Lions traded for Jared fucking goddamn shitass Goff. I hate it here.
Terry Pratchett wrote that hate is love with your back turned, so…
0-17 is now on the table because Goff will have .9 seconds before an offensive lineman is picked up and thrown into him. The Lions will become the first team to go 0-16 and 0-17, and I will love it.
The Lions haven’t won a league championship since 1957. For context, nobody in my immediate family was even born except for my mother, who was only two weeks old at the time.
I can’t keep Dan Campbell’s name in my head to save my life. In my lifetime, the Lions have only had one coach that was worth a shit, and he still couldn’t win a fucking playoff game.
My first football memory is wandering into a room as a little kid in 1970 with a TV showing the Lions losing to the Cowboys, in their only playoff game in a 24-year stretch, by the nearly impossible score of 5-0. I remember being confused — why was nothing happening?
Through all of the following 50 years, that same emotion has followed me every season. How is it possible that something NEVER happens? It is all 5-0 losses, forever.
We fired the world’s dumbest rocket scientist and replaced him with the world’s dumbest man. Last year this team lost by three TDs to an XFL veteran in his first career start.
We had the greatest running back of all time. In his Hall of Fame speech, he thanked the fans and the city of Detroit, but he did not even MENTION the franchise that he played for his entire career. We had perhaps the most physically gifted receiver in history, who recently made the HoF. He’s already said publicly that he has no intention of thanking or otherwise even acknowledging the Detroit Lions organization. Why am I a fan of a team that makes me yearn for death?
I’m a Lions fan because I got an old SI for Kids with Barry Sanders on the cover when I was like 5, and thought to myself, hey, this definitely won’t lead to a lifetime supply of shit sandwiches. Oh buddy.
A gaggle of my native Michiganders and I have a text group devoted almost exclusively to our Lions fandom. After hearing that NFL teams may have to forfeit games this season due to COVID, we collectively realized this is the only way the Lions will EVER make a Super Bowl: somehow, someway, they’ll back in due to forfeits. Of course, we then acknowledged that once they clown-car into the Super Bowl, they’d probably end up having to forfeit themselves, but not because of COVID. Maybe bringing the wrong uniforms, or showing up in the wrong LA (Los Alamos maybe?). The possibilities are truly endless.
Our best years in my entire 35 years on this earth were two nail-biter regular seasons that ended with us getting crushed in the wild card round, and now we are going through yet another rebuild just in time to be odds-on favorites for the NFL’s first 0-17 season. Yet my diehard Lions fan family members still feel like this year has a good feel to it and Jared Goff is the missing piece. Insanity.
We somehow traded one dipshit, meatheaded, dumbass, good-for-nothing moron of a head coach for another dipshit, meatheaded, dumbass, good-for-nothing. It’s like they’re allergic to people not being fucking morons in that organization. I don’t even chuckle at the name Rod Wood anymore, Drew. They’ve fucking broken me. I have nothing left.
I’m already looking forward to us drafting a QB next year, but I already know how the story goes. Either A) He’s really good and we can’t put a team around him or B) We draft some absolute chud who gets sacked 82 times his first season and then develops the yips. There is no option C.
Life is hell. I’ve never seen them win a playoff game (I was still a baby when they had Sanders). I never will see them win a playoff game. I give up my Fall Sundays to watch a team owned by a company founded by Hitler’s Bestie let fucking Darnold throw 350 Yards and four TDs against them.
While watching the Lions open their 2019 season against the Cardinals, my father and I were having a pretty solid time watching the Lions enter the fourth quarter up 24-6. With a few minutes left, it was 24-24 and they were prepared to punt the ball away.
Out of the blue, my father declares, “Watch, this guy’s gonna block it.”
Me and my dad laugh our asses off. It’s like we heard the funniest joke in the world before anyone else got to. That game ended in a 27-27 tie, the only one in Matt Patricia’s career before he got shitcanned way too late.
The one good thing about the Detroit Lions is that there is only space for one conspiracy theory in my white suburban 60-something father’s brain and “This year will be the Lions’ year!” is it.
He spends a lot of time on the road for work and mostly uses that time to argue with the puds on The Ticket that TJ Hockenson will be a top-5 TE; that, actually, the offensive line overall will be top-5 too; and that Jared Goff could *easily* have a 5,000 yard season this year. Imagine the damage this level of delusional dot-connecting could do if he tuned in to literally any other talk radio.
I have a neighbor named Stu. Stu and I shoot the breeze during the warmer months outside and talk about the weather and sports. Stu tells me a story of the Lions winning the NFC Championship game when he was nine. He tells me how he was convinced he would be a fan for life after seeing the mighty Lions as “Champions of the NFL” at that young impressionable age. Stu is now 74 and the Lions have won nothing since. Zero.
This new regime will suck and they will try all this again in six years. Unbelievable.
The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive species that destroyed most of Michigan’s ash trees in the 2000s. My parents’ house had many ash trees, and in 2008 the Ash Borer got all of them. Every Sunday of fall 2008, I would go out and help my dad take the dead trees down. We would listen to the Lions on the radio from his truck while we did this. They lost every game that season in increasingly ridiculous fashion, and I listened to every single one of them.
That season was the most fun I have ever had as a Lions fan.
Local media around these parts seem to think Dan Campbell’s coaching staff, led by Anthony Lynn, will be able to make up for his inexperience and lack of general football knowledge. This has basically the same energy as my mother voting for George W. Bush in 2000 because of the presence of Dick Cheney and Colin Powell in his cabinet.
I’m sure it took some restraint for Stafford not to kiss Andrew Whitworth on the mouth as soon as he entered the practice facility.
Fuck Matt Patricia with a handful of off-brand pencils. The ones with brittle graphite so the tips get lost easily.
It never changes. It never will change. There is almost something comforting about that.
Submissions for the NFL previews are already closed, alas. Next up: Carolina Panthers.