By Eric Thomas, 97.1 The Ticket

So now we hear reports of “tensions” between Jim Schwartz and Martin Mayhew? The signs of trouble leak from every single crevice as the Lions purported promise sinks into the briny deep. When teams turn toxic you usually hear stories like this, so some people shrug their shoulders par for the course. Those people ignore the patterns. The hits just keep coming from the Lions.

Turns out the offseason was just the prelude. Embarrassing stories came from the Lions this summer with the regularity of a metronome. It built into a symphony, with anonymous GM stories and traffic tickets and challenge flags and Stephan Logan and guy wearing sunglasses during his press avail. These stories have persisted and show no sign of abating. What positives can you point to on the way out of this season?

The cancer spread. The offseason arrests resulted in players dismissed and now the coaches are pointing fingers at each other in the media. Schwartz went on the record defending Scott Linehan, publicly rebuffing weekend reports that offensive coordinator was about to walk the plank. If Linehan goes on black Monday, it means Mayhew ordered the hit.

Some hope that these two can smooth over whatever wounds were tilled up in this dumpster fire of a season. I’m not so optimistic. Its been a while since I’ve heard a positive word out of this team. Whatever benefit of the doubt earned during last year’s ten win season, that now seems like it was four years ago, was on reserve tanks after the offseason and now is an empty canister on the ground.

Football is a big business filled with fevered egos, and these wounds won’t close on their own. I don’t know what evidence to draw optimism from. Once the fissures start to show, its hard to stuff that back in the box.The Lions might have had one good season in this administration. Granted, that would make this far more successful than the previous administration, but not nearly the rose garden that we were hoping for.

The Lions are back to the basement faster than anyone ever anticipated. At 4-10 they’re tied for the worst record in the NFC. Smart observers with their fingers in the wind predicted the Lions would take a step back this year, but this was far beyond a step. Its been more like a runaway train headed into an abyss, and the Lions are still strapped to it. Lions fans are dying for some good news, and all they get is further evidence that the team is headed right back the rebuilding vacuum they have existed in since the 1960s, with all hopes and dreams of days to come banished to the realm of pure imagination.

Those being generous admit that the Lions are victims of hubris. They entered this season with chin held high only to get corrected by the boot of reality. The Lions weren’t as good as they seemed last year. To be fair, they probably aren’t as bad as they have turned out to be this year either, but the head coach has done nothing to turn it around. As the headlines piled up, tensions mounted and losses reached double digits, nothing stopped the bleeding. The Lions second half of 2011 started to feel like that too, but the record was still good and the team was still marching toward the playoffs. If Jim Schwartz can’t guide a team through the turbulence of a season, what justification is there to keep him as a head coach? They might not need a coach at all, they need Sully Sullenberger.

It was the last test for these Lions, how they could handle expectations and they failed spectacularly.


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