Memo to Lions Fans: Get Off The Ledge

I've been listening to you so-called Lions fans all over the radio and the internet message boards and chat rooms. It sounds like people jumping off a sinking ship... and all because of a loss - a bad one I'll admit, but one loss in a preseason game to the St. Louis Rams.

ALLEN PARK -- I've been listening to you so-called Lions fans all over the radio and the internet message boards and chat rooms. It sounds like people jumping off a sinking ship... and all because of a loss - a bad one I'll admit, but one loss in a preseason game to the St. Louis Rams.

C'mon Lions fans, you're tougher than that.

We're talking about PRE season, not the REGULAR season, but PRE season. What are we talking about here? We're talking about the PRE season, not the regular season, but PRE season...OK, you get the idea.

You've lived through a 16-48 record the last four years. You've lived through one playoff win the last 40 years. You lived through the 51-38 playoff debacle in Philadelphia in 1991. Now you're going to jump ship?

What if the Lions go out this Friday and beat the daylights out of the Buffalo Bills, are you going to jump back on the ship? Now listen, I think this whipping the St. Louis Rams put on the Lions was the best thing that could have happened.

For weeks, I've been talking to the young Lions linebackers about the teams' inability to stop the run. But they pooh-poohed my suggestions and offered as a reason the fact that they weren't game planning for any team, but just going out playing football.

As soon as they began really game planning for an opponent, things would be different. Surely they were. They game planned for St. Louis and got their lights punched out. A lot of players were smarting from the big-time beating they took on national television and some were embarassed by the performance.

More than a few will be sufficiently motivated to turn in a better performance.

But there are a few things that need to change.

First, Detroit has to stop teams from running around their defensive ends. Someone has got to get a push or at least hold the point of attack to allow the linebackers to make the tackles.

Detroit was undermanned in their front four with starters James Hall and Shaun Rogers out. That certainly impacted the unit's play. Detroit could make an adjustment by putting Jared DeVries, one of the team's toughest run stuffers in the starting lineup opposite Hall. DeVries has also shown the ability to get to the passer at times.

Second, they have to come with intensity. Just because you've decided to game plan and treat a game as a dress rehearsal doesn't mean anything. Guess what? Some coaches, like St. Louis' Mike Martz, game plan for every pre-season game.

The Lions players need to start playing with some intensity and bringing their "A" game. Just showing up isn't going to cut it in the NFL.

Third, as guard Rick DeMulling warned at the start of training camp, the offensive line will need time to gel. They got thrown into the fire when the speedy Rams brought the blitz and Detroit simply didn't handle it very well. Wanna bet that they'll be practicing blitz packages this week?

Think back a little about Detroit sports history.

Remember the old "Dead Wings"? But you didn't give up on them, did you? When Mike Illitch and Co. made them a winner you were there all the way from the first playoff appearance. Wasn't it sweet when the Captain (Steve Yzerman) finally hoisted the Cup?

Remember how the Pistons built their championship teams, by taking baby steps with Kelly Tripucka and Isiah Thomas? But if you were there through it from the beginning, you felt like you belonged when they whipped the Lakers for the championship.

This team has a lot of talent and that talent will show through this season. So toughen up a bit, OK? Don't you want to be on the bandwagon when the Lions make their first playoff appearance since 1999?

I thought so. Now back off that ledge and we'll pretend this nasty little episode never happened.

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