Jeff Backus, the left tackle who has played through every injury imaginable in 93 consecutive starts, was trying to explain the empty, miserable feeling that accompanies the Lions' current 2-11 record.
He thought for several long seconds before the words finally came.
"I know it might sound stupid but I hope with coach (Rod) Marinelli being here, I really believe in his philosophy and what he's trying to do," Backus said. "I hope we're building a foundation, I hope we're at our low.
"I hope that we're only going to move forward. I just believe in coach Marinelli, I like the guy. I like him as a person, I like him as a coach. I think his message is the right message. From that standpoint, we're doing what has to be done to lay a foundation."
If Backus wanted to think back, he would probably remember saying those same words -- or words to the same effect -- for his entire six years with the Lions.
--In 2001, when they suffered through a 12-game losing streak before finally winning a game under new coach Marty Mornhinweg. They finished the season at 2-14.
--In 2002, when they showed a flicker of life with three wins in the first eight games, then lost the remaining eight to finish 2-13. Mornhinweg was fired.
--In 2003, when they lost six of their first seven under new coach Steve Mariucci but won four of their final nine to go 5-11 for the season. Perhaps they had turned the corner.
--In 2004, when they started the season with four wins in the first six games, then lost eight of the remaining 10 to end the season a disappointing 6-10.
--In 2005, when they lost seven of the first 11. Mariucci was fired four days after Thanksgiving and the Lions finished the season with one more win under interim coach Dick Jauron. Another 5-11 season and another fresh start.
And now it's Rod Marinelli, fresh and enthusiastic about hard work and pounding the rock and correcting the mistakes to turn the franchise around. So far, the Lions have lost 11 of their 13 games and they're still trying to turn the corner to find their way back to NFL respectability.
Maybe, as Backus suggested Sunday after the 30-20 loss to Minnesota at Ford Field, the Lions are at their low. Or maybe they're continuing a six-year pattern of merely bouncing from one low to another with only an occasional victory to offer false home that they are on the way up.
With three games left on the schedule -- at Green Bay next Sunday, at home against the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears on Christmas Eve and the season finale at Dallas on New Year's Eve -- they have scant opportunity to get around the ever-elusive corner and finish the season on a high note.