Faith is a tough conversation to have in Lion Country.
For decades, asking a fan of the Detroit Lions to believe in the new guy can only be compared to keeping faith when, for so long, little has given reason for such. It’s like asking a scorned wife to continue to trust a husband who has cheated for the tenth time. Like a desperate farmer believing in dry season rains when year after year his crops have withered away.
On the eve of the first week of the 2018 NFL season, we Lions fans are once again being asked to believe that a new head coach will bring the team out of the darkness of past failure and into the light of division-winning, Super Bowl-hunting football.
That new head coach is former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia — a guy known for doing more with less and masterful game planning learned under the tutelage of a living legend, Bill Belichick.
Patricia is not supposed to be your run-of-the-mill coordinator turned head coach and the Lions franchise is among the hardest losing cultures to crack in all of North American sports.
There is however, a few things this Lions team have going for them at the moment.
The best quarterback to ever don a leaping Lion on his helmet, Matthew Stafford, is in his prime and as MVP caliber as he probably ever will be. Besides a litany of talented wide receivers to throw to, he also has two tools under his belt that have been rare to come by — a (possibly) stern and competent offensive line and a talented corps of running backs that can take pressure off of No. 9’s ever-lifting shoulders.
There’s no doubt that the Lions offense should be as good as it can be and among the best in football. However, the other side of the football will be where Patricia needs to make his money.
There’s talent, especially in the secondary. Darius Slay and Glover Quin (both severely underrated) anchor a backend that can rack up turnovers in a hurry. Ziggy Ansah is still on the defensive line and as long as he can stay on the field, he makes a difference.
Besides that though, Patricia will find himself trying to mask strategy for talent more often than not.
The preseason that just ended has many flaky fans and media members alike calling this season before it even starts. After the Chicago Bears traded for All-Pro DE Khalil Mack, we’re all of a sudden being pointed to as the worse team in the division. The defense did not look good and for many, that’s the end of the story. But to judge a team based off vanilla schemes and games that don’t matter is about as foolish as believing a team will succeed after a 4-0 flawless preseason (see Lions, Detroit 2008).
For what Lions fans lack in faith (at no fault of our own), we more than make up for with hope. We never ever, ever give up on hope for glory unforeseen. This attribute alone gives the team a huge boost year in and year out and makes fans of the Lions among the most loyal and impactful in all of professional football.
Thus, this is a calling to the most important piece of the Lions 2018 season. The piece that will have the most impact on whether Lions fans see glory sooner rather than later.
That piece is Matthew Edward Patricia.
This is your team and you were brought here to win. Patience is not a strength most Lions fans have and quite frankly, as many begin to age, can afford. I know Detroiters who have come and gone – waiting on the Lions.
You have the quarterback, you have the talent.
So, now it’s on you to put that great football mind into use. It’s time to be the smartest man in the room and help Detroit, southeast Michigan and Lions fans everywhere be proud and be able to stick it to all those we knock us down at every turn. A Super Bowl parade down Woodward is all we’ve ever wanted. Just once.
So please… be smart.
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