Lions Fans At A Place Called Vertigo

Amid a five game losing streak, it has become increasingly difficult for the 4-7 Lions to find any support. Between fan reaction on talk shows and internet message boards, and the local media, you would believe this team was forecasted to win the Super Bowl. They weren't.

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U2's Bono must be a Detroit Lions fan.

That can only explain his band's recent hit 'Vertigo', and its apt relevance to the trials and tribulations felt by every other Lions' fan.

Dizziness. Unsteadiness. Even giddiness applies, occasionally, and then the inevitable letdown occurs.

Or meltdown.

Amid a five game losing streak, it has become increasingly difficult for the 4-7 Lions to find any support. Between fan reaction on talk shows and internet message boards, and the local media, you would believe this team was forecasted to win the Super Bowl.

They weren't. They weren't even expected to break .500 according to most 'expert' analysts, who as of right now are looking like, well, expert analysts.

WANT MOOCH? SOME DON'T

In just his second year, head coach Steve Mariucci is quickly learning about the cylinder-shaped hour glass known as the patience of Lions' fans. Between calls for the head of third-year quarterback Joey Harrington, and even the replacement of Mooch himself (some fans even believe Mariucci should forego playcalling duties), realism has taken a backseat to bizarre pessimism.

And worse yet, those same pessimists would choke on the notion that the Lions just may have given the league-wide respected Mariucci a $25 million contract because he does have a semblance of what he is doing.

How bizarre?

The coaching staff is at practice everyday with every player, whom they thoroughly evaluate -- every minute. Just a year and a half in, I'm willing to give Mariucci, whom Brett Favre recalled as his best coach ever, the benefit of the doubt on not just playcalling, but starters, substitutions and whether or not Tom Izzo has more of a receding hairline than he does. Afterall, he hasn't exactly taken the wind yet, has he?

Apparently, some expected Mariucci to take a 5-27 nationwide joke to the playoffs immediately. You simply can't go from Leno to the Super Bowl in just two seasons. That only happens in St. Louis.

But for Mariucci and Co., the worst thing that happened was the team's deceitful 4-2 start.

Stats don't lie, and the Lions managed the bulk of their victories by forcing turnovers -- and holding onto the pigskin themselves. That turnover ratio statistic can overshadow many things, among them a lousy offense, a lousy pass defense, but primarily, a lousy team.

OOH, OOH CHILD THINGS WILL GET EASIER ...

With their occasional flashes of brilliance, Homer moments, and overall inconsistency, the Lions are one of the more frustrating teams to watch. However, after setting those unrealistic expectations aside (a 10-6 finish and divisional crown, for example), practicality sets in along with a dose of rational behavior.

Oh, and Pepto Bismol helps, too.

The simple truth, as difficult as it might be to stomach, is that the 2004 Detroit Lions are a very young, very talented team that is still going through growing pains. Once the kinks are worked out, they will flourish -- hopefully. And a note to those who haven't been painfully reminded: It doesn't happen overnight, and certainly isn't validated nor propelled with wins over juggernauts such as the Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, or New York Giants.

Maybe Joey Harrington isn't the answer that we all hoped he would be with the 3rd overall pick a few years back. Regardless, the state of the franchise does not rest solely on one or even two players. There is talent in Detroit and plenty of it, and if there is any coach in the league that has proven he can win with youth in a rebuilding format, it is Steve Mariucci.

Have patience, Lions' fans, your moment of zen is coming soon enough. Just maybe not this year.

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