Dtight Lions safety Tracy Walker III spoke of the nastiest numbers in the NFL after a nasty 44-6 loss on Sunday: “We have to fix it now, because obviously it’s not going to fix itself, or we’ll be 0 – 17, “he said after the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
And it was there, for everyone to think about: 0-17. No NFL team has gone from 0 to 17, largely because no NFL team has played 17 regular season games since 1930, when the late Frankford Yellow Jackets finished 4-13-1 and the New York Football Giants finished 13-4. .
But the NFL, still sniffing more money, has extended the regular season to 17 games against 16 this year, and the 0-8 Lions, who may not be the worst team in the NFL but are now the only team winless NFL come close enough for 0-17 to come into the conversation.
“We’re not going to let them think like that,” Dan Campbell, their first-year coach, said Monday.
When Campbell, the fiery former tight end and longtime NFL assistant who led the Miami Dolphins to five wins in 12 games as an interim coach in 2015, took over for the Lions in January, he caught the eye (and gasped) by promising, “When you knock us over we’re going to get up, and on the way up we’re going to tear off a kneecap.” “
The Lions have done little damage since, although they lost to Baltimore and Minnesota by two points apiece. The loss to the Ravens was particularly cruel because Justin Tucker beat Detroit with A record 66 yard field goal in the NFL as time went on (the Vikings game wasn’t much better: the Lions lost this one on a last-second kick from Greg Joseph).
But at least the Lions have put themselves in a position to win these games. The loss to the Eagles, who had spat before the game, was so complete and demoralizing that 0-17 arrived, evoking unpleasant memories. Only two NFL teams have gone 0-16 in 43 years: the Cleveland Browns in 2017 and, yes, the Detroit Lions in 2008.
“In order for us to win we have to play damn near perfect,” said Campbell, the former Texas Aggie, “and it’s up to us to play. We are responsible for that as coaches.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff, the former No.1 overall who helped the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl just three years ago before production declined, said grimly : “Until we change our ways and until we change who we are, nothing will change.
Any run to a 0 for the season attracts thugs, but the Lions are particularly compelling because (a) it’s not too long since their last winless season, and (b) they’re a big market team that has belonged to the Ford family, the automakers, for almost 60 years. They won exactly one playoff game during that time. Indeed, the Lions Wikipedia history page has been changed to include the following: “Over the current millennia (sic), the Detroit Lions franchise record for mediocrity has solidified through continued incompetent ownership. of the Ford family.
It’s been a superb college football season in the state, with Michigan State rallying to beat Michigan on Saturday in a battle of undefeated top 10 rivals. Even with the Lions facing an opponent some people have. thought they could beat, the number of paid spectators at Ford Field a day later 85 miles away was 47,192, almost 18,000 in capacity.
“Winning solves a lot of problems, as you all know,” Campbell said.
But the Lions haven’t won much for decades. They have lost their eight playoff games since 1991, when they collapsed in the second half against Washington in the NFC Championship game. It was as close as the Lions came to the Super Bowl.
In fact, the Lions are one of four NFL teams to never play in a Super Bowl. And Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Houston – the other three – have been around a lot shorter than the Lions, which were created in 1928 as the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans.
The Lions won the NFL Championship in 1935 and three more in their glory days between 1952 and 1957, but it was the Dark Ages of football. Consider that someone born on December 29, 1957, when Detroit won their most recent NFL title, will be 64 next month.
Campbell is the 21st Lions head coach since that day. He arrived with lower expectations than his immediate non-interim predecessor, Matt Patricia, a follower of Bill Belichick whose Lions have won 13 of 43 games. Patricia brought him back to New England.
The Lions are young and Campbell has kept his expectations in check. Yet as he said at a press conference on Monday: “Look. We are in the midst of a lot of adversity now. We knew it was coming. But I don’t think any of us thought it would be 0-8.
They won’t lose this weekend because they have a pass, and Campbell plans to use the time to do a bit more “self-scouting,” as coaches like to call it, to watch more. bands and identify the problems. Lack of effort is apparently not one of them.
“It’s a lack of focus, detail, fundamentals – and sometimes, a lack of attitude, if you will,” said Campbell, referring to his team’s tendency to take time to get to a point. full boil.
With a Detroit Tigers hat pulled low over his head, Campbell was direct but calm. When told what Walker said about a possible 0-17, Campbell pointed out that the Lions still have nine games left, including a Thanksgiving Day home game against the struggling Chicago Bears. .
The New York Jets lost their first 13 games last year to fuel a lot of 0-16 talk until, to the dismay of their fans, they won two games in a row to overtake Jacksonville, who won their first game and then lost their last 15. Games. The Jaguars used the No.1 pick over Trevor Lawrence.
The Lions already have a No.1 pick at quarterback, as well as three commercially acquired draft picks that sent talented quarterback Matt Stafford to the Rams, who are 7-1. A turnaround may take a while, maybe even until 2022, but Campbell has said it is coming.
“I know we’re not the team that played yesterday,” he said on Monday, even though the Lions were that same team.