The worst part is that it fits the narrative almost too well.
TheLions had reached a possible tipping-point game and had taken a lead. They had a chance to keep control of the division with only two teams holding a combined 9-18-1 record remaining. A combination of bad luck, bad calls and a methodical slicing away of the soul of Lions fans for 55 minutes took its toll. A blown pass interference call in the end zone. Two first down drops by Calvin Johnson. Two terrible interceptions by Matt Stafford. And then a 61-yard field tucked in just above the corner adjoining the right upright to the crossbar because of course it did.
Thirty-eight seconds, three timeouts and roughly 50-yards to get into field goal range and Stafford throws an interception?
Same Old Lions.
The division isn’t a complete loss. The Lions sit just one game back of the Bears, who play a good Philadelphia team next week, and a half game back of the Packers. A win over the Giants and they could be back in command. But the point is the Lions need help. After 56 years, what makes you think they’re going to get it?
Which scenario is more likely: Both the Packers and the Bears lose once in these final two weeks and the Lions go 2-0 to steal the division, or the Bears beat the Eagles and the Packers beat the Steelers next week to eliminate the Lions and set up an NFC North title game between Chicago and Green Bay in Week 17?
Even if the Lions do get help, what makes you think the Lions would take advantage of it? The Lions are still the Lions. They made that clear on Monday.
They probably weren’t as good as 10-6 in 2011 or as bad as 4-12 in 2012. They’ve finally settled into their home somewhere in-between, even with Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson and all that talent on the defensive line and Jim Schwartz’s badass attitude. It’s a familiar place, and there’s predictable move that comes next: firing the coach.
It’s probably not fair to Schwartz. He changed the culture from utter despair to a faint glimmer of hope. The Lions became a ‘cool’ team even if they weren’t really a good one. There’s no indication that the team would commit less penalties or make less mistakes if someone else was standing in a warm-up jacket up the sideline. There’s no guarantee that Martin Mayhew is going to go 2-for-2 in coaching hires.
Maybe the Lions have plateaued, though. Maybe Schwartz has taken them as far as he can. Maybe the franchise needs somebody else to break this ‘Same Old Lions’ boulder its been trapped under. The Lions are a franchise known for hanging on too long to the status quo. Matt Millen got eight years. Maybe now is time to take the risk.
And maybe when it all comes to fruition, when the confetti rains down and the team stands on the makeshift stage at midfield someone will have the wherewithal to look back and say this all started with Jim Schwartz. He was the one that got us to the point where we believed.
That would be quite the narrative in hindsight. Right now it just sucks.