Wednesday, September 22, 2010
(Very) Random Thoughts: 4th and Inches, Sacks and Gorillas
4th And Oblivion
Lions fans are all up in arms, beating each other senselessly and without mercy, warring over whether or not Jim Schwartz made the right decision to go for it on 4th and 1 down 11 in the 4th quarter from inside the Philadelphia 35. Watching it live, I remember kind of having a detached "Sure, why not?" reaction, largely because the Lions had just been blasted out of Ford Field for pretty much the entire second half. But then I gathered my wits, looked at the score and said "Hey, wait a minute . . ." just as so many of you did. But by then the play was over and our boys were whipped like helpless infants and I sighed with wearied resignation and then went outside and punched a homeless man in the face.
Honestly, though, it's a tough call. On the one hand I can understand and kind of agree with Jim Schwartz's contention that you have to be able to pick up a yard in that situation if you want to call yourself any kind of a team. Plus, it's not like it was a gimme field goal. It would have been almost a 50 yarder, and the odds you pick up a stinking yard are probably better than the odds that you bang home a 50 yard field goal. Add into that the fact that there have been many studies done by a lot of smart nerds that show that going for it in that situation is almost always the right thing to do (I am too lazy to find one right now, so you'll just have to trust me. After all, trust is the backbone of any healthy relationship and our relationship is healthy, right? RIGHT???) and yeah, I kinda agree with the decision.
On the other hand, the Lions ended up losing by three, which, uh, is kind of a big trump card in this whole debate, you know? While it's true that the kick wouldn't have been a gimme, we have Jason Hanson and even though he is old and once slept with Methuselah's wife and was mentioned in the Old Testament for cheating Noah in a dice game, he is still Jason Hanson and important 50 yard field goals are what he's there for. Schwartz said that even if they hit the field goal, they would have then had to score again and convert a two point conversion, which is a good point, except that THE LIONS DID SCORE AND CONVERT A TWO POINT CONVERSION.
In hindsight, the Lions should have probably kicked the field goal. But in the moment, 4th and 1 is always a tough call. If you make it, you are praised like Caesar. If you blow it, you are horsewhipped and castrated in a public arena and then sold to the Emperor of Persia in exchange for a baby elephant. If the Lions would have tried the field goal there and Hanson would have missed, everyone would be calling Jim Schwartz a pussy. This is just the way of things, I'm afraid.
Still, the Lions lost by three and hindsight always favors the conquerors and in this case, we the conquered can only lick our wounds and wonder what if. History always determines whether it was a good call or a bad call in cases like this, and unfortunately for Schwartz and the Lions and each and every one of us, history hates our fucking guts and there you have it.
SACKS! SACKS! SACKS!
Right now, the Lions are tied for the league lead in sacks, which . . . hooray! Of course, they are also near the bottom of the league in pass defense, which . . . (insert one of those funny sounds of a balloon deflating. You know the one. It kinda sounds like a long, nasty fart? Yeah, that one.) What does this mean?
Well, for starters it means that the Lions defensive line is vastly improved - which is something we all expected - and that the secondary is still straight ass. Again, something we all expected. No real surprises there, but a closer look at the actual games is a little more revelatory.
The Lions defensive line played well - very well - against the Bears, and against Michael Vick and the Eagles the team notched six sacks, which is a hell of a lot. But before you get too excited, you have to understand that everybody sacks Michael Vick. He gets his ass pounded (uh . . .) in just about every game in which he plays. This is because he holds on to the ball for a million years in the hopes that his athleticism will bail him out in the end. As we saw in the game on Sunday, this is what often happens. However, sometimes, even Vick's athleticism isn't enough and he gets murdered by angry fat men. And this is also what we saw on Sunday.
So really, the game against the Eagles almost needs to be thrown out when evaluating the defense. Michael Vick changes the way everything plays out enough so that it's virtually worthless to look at what the Lions did against him and come away with any solid conclusions. For instance, Lawrence Jackson seemed to do a good job of applying pressure on Vick in his first game with the Lions. This is a good thing because Cliff Avril is currently being repaired like Luke Skywalker after he was attacked by that Yeti looking motherfucker on Hoth.
But - and you had to know there was a but coming - was Jackson able to apply a lot of pressure simply because Vick was holding onto the ball too long? Who can say? The whole timing structure upon which the defense is built is thrown off by Vick. Everything from the line to the secondary is screwed up. Maybe the defensive line looked better than they were because they were allowed extra time to close on Vick, giving the illusion of pressure. That's not quite accurate because pressure is pressure and "the illusion of pressure" is a bullshit made up term that has no real meaning, but I hope you know what I'm trying to say there. But maybe the secondary looked even worse than they are because they were forced to hold their coverage thanks to that same extra time that made the defensive line look good. I don't know. It's just a thought.
The point is, is that we probably know less than we would have about the defense than if the defense had faced a more conventional quarterback. I love the defensive line. Nadmukong Suh looks like a true superbeast, Kyle Vanden Bosch looks like he killed Juan Ponce de Leon and all the Indians guarding the Fountain of Youth and Corey Williams, Avril and Lawrence Jackson have all looked pretty good as well. When my man The Great Willie Young gets involved, it's possible that the line will be so good that it will effect the space time continuum and the entire line will be thrown back in time to fight Genghis Khan or to stop the birth of Hitler or Justin Bieber. Who knows? All that may happen, and yet, I'm still wary and I doubt that when the season ends, the Lions will still be leading the league in sacks. Perhaps that is heresy, but if it is, I ask Willie Young to forgive me.
A BEAUTIFUL DREAM
Okay, this is weird, but I felt like I needed to talk about it and since I am my own editor here, this is the sort of shit that ends up happening from time to time. Anyway, last night I had a dream about a Gorilla playing tight end for the Lions. It's true! I promise! Anyway, I even remember the Gorilla's height and weight, which were listed as 6'3" and 270 lbs. That seems awfully small for a Gorilla but we'll let that slide.
The Gorilla had no name but slid back and forth between tight end and fullback for some reason and I have a vivid recollection of him running a pass route and settling down in the flat to catch a pass. Now, the big issue in my dream, and one that was unfortunately never resolved, was the question of how they got the gorilla to run a proper pass route. How did they teach him to play within the system instead of just going nuts and clubbing everyone to death? This bothered me, even within the dream, but as I said, the question was never answered and I am left frightened and confused and I have to know how that damn Gorilla was tamed. I feel as if this is an important piece of the puzzle for the Detroit Lions. That Gorilla may be the missing link we have been looking for. Somebody please help. If you have an answer for me, don't be afraid to share in the comments.
Anyway, that dream ended and then I moved into a weird dream in which I was a cast member on Jersey Shore. The only thing I really remember was Snooki was a good listener. And then I woke up to take a piss and when I came back, still half asleep, I scribbled some gibberish on a piece of scrap paper even though it was pitch black and I couldn't see. I then went back to bed. When I sat down to write this, I looked at the piece of scrap paper and saw the words GORILLA PLAYING TE SNOOKI, only the words were all jumbled together because it was dark and I couldn't see when I wrote them. I did however, have a vague recollection of writing them and so I knew what they were. I felt like part archaeologist, part psychologist and part madman trying to decipher the gibberish and well, this is the end result. I'm not sure why I felt like it was important enough to write about, but apparently in my delirium, I decided that I must discuss this dream with you because I always write down ideas for articles and blog posts and such on scrap paper on my desk as soon as the ideas occur to me and then I go over them later when I'm trying to figure out what to write about.
On this scrap paper are written things like ACTUAL FIRST TRANSCRIPT OF FIRST BOSTON TEA PARTY VAL KILMER and LOST RECAP OTIS REDDING ANDRE WARE. It doesn't make any goddamn sense, and most of the time I am left puzzled and am forced to try to figure out whatever the hell I was thinking, which I am sure you can guess is no easy task. Anyway, that's why something like GORILLA PLAYING TE SNOOKI was not that strange when I saw it, and I'm just glad I was able to decipher such a strange code. I'm not sure why I felt the need to share all that with you, but well, there's a glimpse into the mysterious creative process. I understand that this little tiptoe into the outer reaches of my brain has probably been frightening and you probably need some time to gather your thoughts at a retreat for post traumatic stress syndrome victims or something, but what the hell, you know? These are strange and terrible times and these things happen. After all, we live in an age where I can conceive of a Gorilla playing tight end for the Lions, so I think you can handle this. I believe in you.