This might sound cliché, but Vince Lombardi quotes are seldom redundant.
Especially when it involves losing, winning and the Detroit Lions.
"Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser," Lombardi once quipped.
Prior to their Thanksgiving Day collapse against New England, the Lions defined "good loser," dropping each of their previous losses by an average of 6 points. The onfield progress was notable, even becoming a transitory topic within the national media. Detroit was no longer the league's doormat.
Maybe just a pebble in its shoe. At least the Patriots made it seem that way.
The charade could last for only so long. As Lombardi also noted, losing can become a habit -- a nasty one. The Patriots were the catalyst to a team that is desperate for some semblance of hope. In Thursday's loss, Detroit appeared lost in the second half, a club in complete disarray, melting down with personal foul penalties and post-game tempter tantrums.
Defensive tackle Corey Williams' public remarks that some veteran players were only playing for a paycheck is a volcanic fissure, nothing less.
And this is where the fortitude of coach Jim Schwartz will be forged, perhaps even determined.
In his second-year, Schwartz is now 4-23, one game worse than the start managed by Marty Mornhinweg in 2001 and 2002. That means Steve Mariucci and Rod Marinelli also had more success in their very brief outings coaching the ball club.
Yes, the cuboard has been left bare and destitute. The team went five consecutive drafts (2002-2005) with nothing to show for it; it is a feat anchored to the plight of this franchise, and a testament to how poorly everything was managed by former big cheese Matt Millen and his dubious minions.
Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew are cleaning up that mess, debriding a roster and organization that was rife with bad attitudes, subpar talent and other waste that retarded any sense of direction.
They were pretty much the Lindsay Lohan of the National Football League.
But there's also a time limit on these things. After all, Schwartz was aware of this undertaking when he accepted the position in January of last year.
There aren't any rumblings within Allen Park that Schwartz is on the hot seat, necessarily, but it doesn't take long to get there. Just ask Mornhinweg.
The Lions have five games remaining on the year, but there's already blood in the water. The infighting within the roster is to be expected. However, while that can occasionally yield positive results, it certainly won't get any better with continued losing. They need to win, and win now.
Schwartz's club is aware that their season will end on January 2, while other teams continue to fight for a bigger prize. The second year of a head coach is so pivotal because, though success isn't always attained, the idea of success is birthed. This is better known as "hope."
If that doesn't occur, Schwartz's legacy, in both Detroit and the locker room, might be sketched.
Under Schwartz's direction, it is imperative that the Lions demonstrate that 2010 is a precursor to greater things ahead. And the "progress" that is evident on the field is capable of manifesting onto the "W" column.
The clock is ticking.
Notebook: According to a report from the UFL, the Lions will ink veteran quarterback Josh McCown, who played with the Hartford Colonials in the league's recently completed season. Detroit hasn't announced the move yet, but if it true, it could mean one of two things: the team is either shelving QB Matthew Stafford (shoulder) for the year, or cutting Drew Stanton or Zac Robinson. It would be McCown's second stint in the Motor City after spending 2006 as a back-up to Jon Kitna. McCown played for the Carolina Panthers last season.