By: Eric Thomas
So what if I’m losing my mind? Monday Night Football was almost pure fun for Lions fans. The offense was spectacular. The somewhat maligned quarterback shut down his critics and Megatron looked like Megatron. Who cares if it’s only one game?
Can you blame us? The end of last season was a nightmare where everything fell apart. It was a six game disaster that unfolded slowly and when it was over, there were nothing but questions in every position. Jim Caldwell entered the job as everyone’s second choice. Most fans were glum after a (frankly) underwhelming draft and free agent period.
We needed good news.
Yes, the Giants are in step one of a massive rebuilding project. Eli Manning looked lost using some nonsensical system of hand signals to call plays. The Giants defense spent the first quarter running into each other. All these things are true, but, as Tom Caughlin pointed out, these were the same Giants who came into Ford Field and won in overtime last year.
If you’re thrilled, you have every right to be. Here are five reasons to be happy if you’re a Lions fan.
1. Calvin Johnson is not alone. – Golden Tate can catch the ball. Reggie Bush caught the ball(!). Joe Fauria caught a ball that was not in the end zone and picked up plenty of yards after the catch. You have all that, PLUS Calvin Johnson. The offensive line looked weaker than last year, but the coaches can figure that out.
2. Matt Stafford seems to like this offense. – He’s been busy in the off season. He had that offense down pat. I’ve never seen a Lions quarterback under a new system do that well. Stafford barked out audibles. When protection broke down, he directed traffic. Stafford will never be a tactician like Aaron Rogers. He’s a gambler, and there will be games where he lets you down, but it looks like Stafford feels at home in this new scheme.
3. Joe Lombardi might be the real deal. – There were two new offensive coordinators standing on either sideline last night, but you’d never know it unless someone told you. While Ben McAdoo looked confused, Joe Lombardi was calm and collected. He called a good game, giving Stafford the right packages to be successful. The Lions offense looked night and day different from last year’s squad. Enjoy Lombardi while you can, Lions fans. If he keeps this up, he won’t be here for long.
4. Penalties. – Such as, THERE WEREN’T ANY IN THE SECOND HALF. Sorry for screaming, but that’s crazy to see in Lions games. During the entire Jim Schwartz era, the most maddening thing was that the problems stayed problems. They couldn’t clean up anything, even when Schwartz identified them in English in front of reporters. In Caldwell’s first game as head coach, the big problem in the first half got fixed in the second half. Yes, I’m overreacting.
5. Jim Caldwell was even keel. – Again, it’s one game, but Caldwell is different from his predecessor in one important aspect: he didn’t get too keyed up. No team had dealt with success worse than the Lions. If they had a good first half, they would melt into ineptitude in the second half. They used to play on pure emotion, taking on the personality of their head coach. Reggie Bush admitted as much in his post-game interview with the NFL Network. They aren’t going to spend too much time thumping their chests or hanging their heads.
Am I freaking out? Absolutely! Is it too early? Of course! Let me have my happiness, because it’s been a long time coming. The true test is against Carolina on Sunday, and I’ve got a short week to sop up this happiness.