Monday, November 19, 2007


From Wikipedia -

There is no single reason why the Edsel failed, and failed so spectacularly. Popular culture often faults the car’s styling. Consumer Reports cited poor workmanship. Marketing experts hold the Edsel up as a supreme example of corporate America’s failure to understand the nature of the American consumer.

I start off this way for a reason.

While growing up, the jokes I always heard about Ford was that the product name was an acronym - the jokes were that the acronym stood for either Fix Or Repair Daily, or Found On Road Dead. There was a general belief that Ford had trouble putting out a....competitive product.

I bring this up because I want to talk about another Ford product made in MoTown: The Lions.

Three weeks ago Detroit was everyone's surprise, a 6-2 media darling. The wow, John-Kitna-wasn't-just-blowing-smoke-when-he-guaranteed-the-team-would-win-at-least-ten-games team. This morning the Motor City is waking to a 6-4 record and a remaining schedule including games against Green Bay (twice), Dallas, San Diego, Minnesota, and KC.

Given the team's struggles against the NFC East, I'm going to assume Dallas as a loss, I don't think they can beat Green Bay, and I doubt they can do it against a struggling Chargers squad. While Minnesota and Kansas City are Detroit's best chance at wins in their remaining games, they barely beat the Vikings in the first go around, and I don't think the Chiefs are a gimme for them either. I think there's a very real possibility that Detroit finishes 6-10, and although 8-8 wouldn't surprise me, the Lions would have to get some very lucky breaks to even reach nine wins.

If Detroit is in that downward spiral, and they do end up 6-10, then general manager Matt Millen will have extended his dubious record of consecutive seasons presiding over clubs with double digit losses - as much an indictment of Millen as it would be of the Ford family.

If you're not part of the solution...

Just one more quick thing regarding Detroit - Offensive coordinator Mike Martz was being hailed for his work with the Lions three weeks ago. The Lions high powered offense was going to propel this team into the playoffs and Martz was going to be a hot commodity for teams looking for a new head coach. Two straight losses and Martz is part of the problem.

This isn't perceptual, it's the truth.

Martz is calling the plays on offense, and this is how he is calling them - over the last two games, the Lions have had 107 offensive snaps (not including punts). Of those, only 19 have been running plays (17.8 % of the plays) for a whopping total of 17 yards (-8 yards on 8 called running plays against Arizona).

Detroit is the only team in the league to have called fewer than 200 rushing plays (197) through ten games for a league last average of 76.9 yards per game. What has Martz's predictable play calling done for the team the last two weeks? It has pitted them against two decent pass defenses that knew they could pin their ears back and just rush the quarterback all day. Some relevant numbers - 3, as in the total number of touchdowns thrown by Kitna over the last two weeks. 5, as in the number of interceptions thrown by Kitna. 7, the number of times Kitna has been sacked over the last two weeks.

Martz is not going to be a HC candidate anywhere this off-season.

The Patriot Way...

Fifteen years ago I remember watching the likes of Tim Goad, Bruce Armstrong, Kevin Turner, Tom Hodson, Scott Zolack, Vincent Brown and a whole lot of other no-names stumble through a 2-14 season fresh off their 1-15 season. Were I sitting at a bar and another Patriots fan told me that New England would one day look like the best team to ever play the game, I would have punched him for mocking my pain.

Yet, here we are.

And here are a couple of thoughts on the dismantling of the competition - past and present - that the current Patriots squad is engaging in...

During last night's game John Madden said that he has never seen a quarterback play the way Tom Brady is playing right now. Nobody - not Brett Favre, not Dan Marino, not Peyton Manning. Just Brady. The numbers back it up.

The Patriots are on pace to break the record for points scored in a a c-note. Brady is on pace to shatter Peyton Manning's record of 49 touchdown passes in a season. And don't be surprised if the following number becomes relevant in the Pats-Jets rematch - 72. It's the most points scored in a game by one team (Redskins over NY Giants, Nov 27, 1966. Final, 72-41). Or this number - 64. That was the most scored by a team (Philadelphia over Cincinnati, Nov. 6, 1934) in a shut-out victory.

Belichick is noted as a football historian, he probably already has these numbers himself.

To give everyone a sense of the Patriots dominance, I really do have to borrow the following tidbit from Peter King over at -

I did some quick math on the Patriots' first-team offense over the past nine possessions, going back to the fourth quarter of the Colts' game, and not including their final possession in Indy, when they were trying to run out the clock and not trying to score. (New England had its bye last week.) The incredible numbers:

Possessions: 9
Touchdowns: 9
Quarters played: 4
Tom Brady touchdown passes: 7
Tom Brady passing yards: 504
Yards per drive: 65.9
Time per drive: 3:21

Even if the Patriots stumble on their quest for perfection, we're still watching history unfold.

One final note on...well, final scores. There are times that I like John Madden, other times that I get really tired of his schtick - but the man knows football, and is old school about it. And he said about the scoring what needed to be said. To paraphrase - it's not the offense's job to stop moving the ball. That job belongs to the defense, and if the offense is putting up 56 points, then the defense isn't doing its job. If they can't stop the offense, then the opponent is supposed to give the team the ball? That's not how it works.

Thanks Madden, it was nice to hear one of the national commentators remind people that the guys on defense are supposed to be earning their money too.

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