As the NFL Playoffs begin this weekend, while the Detroit Lions & Coach Jim Schwartz try to figure out how to rebound from another poor season, they can only hope the New Orleans Saints don't make it to the Super Bowl.
The Saints, who started the season 13-0 but lost their final three games to finish 13-3, are in a select group of teams to have never reached the title game.
The Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars along with New Orleans & Detroit have never played in the Final Meaningful Game of the Year.
The only time that the Super Bowl has had a major Detroit story line is when the city hosted a pair of title games.
Super Bowl 16 was the beginning of the San Francisco 49'ers dynasty as QB Joe Montana & late Coach Bill Walsh began their championship run at the Pontiac Silverdome by beating the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21.
The Seattle Seahawks made their lone appearance in Super Bowl 40 in Detroit as they became victim No. 5 by the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ford Field.
Super Bowl 43 in Tampa turned out to be one of the most exciting title games ever as the Arizona Cardinals made their first appearance a memorable one losing to the now six time champions Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23. It would be a banner year for the city of Pittsburgh as the Penguins captured a Stanley Cup Championship over the Detroit Red Wings giving "Steeltown" a pair of titles.
Earlier in the week, I wrote a blog on the legacy of Wayne Fontes and his eight seasons which produced a 67-71 record from 1988-96, in addition to his 1-4 playoff record.
I've never felt more compassion for a coach as I do for Jim Schwartz. This poor guy lobbied for this job and he inherited a 33-111 record over a nine-season span.
The only thing that he can feel good about is he did land a good young QB in Matthew Stafford. Despite his 2-8 record, this young gunslinger threw for 2,267 yards, 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in a rookie season that saw him battle his own injuries plus the loss of some of his key offensive weapons. This kid showed more guts trying to make plays and carrying the weight of this dismal franchise on his busted up body.
In 2010, Stafford can look forward to throwing to wide receiver Calvin Johnson and tight-end Brandon Pettigrew after he recovers from knee surgery.
I still believe that Kevin Smith can be a productive running back in the NFL but the Lions need to bolster this position drastically in the draft.
On defense, a healthy Ernie Sims, the re-signing of Larry Foote and an improved sophomore season by Louis Delmas will give the Lions a few building blocks for the future.
As I prepare to cover my fourth Super Bowl in 10 years, I'll be seeking out opinions from various experts who will try to figure out why the Lions futility compares with that of the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and LA Clippers.
These statistics are enough to make anyone gag.
* In 2008, the Lions become the first 0-16 team in NFL history by yielding 517 points, which was the second worst in NFL history.
* This season, Detroit yielded 494 points, fourth worst in NFL history and finished with a 2-14 mark.
* The Lions set a league record 30 losses over two seasons.
* Detroit owns a league record 24-game road losing streak & their current road woes are now at 20.
* Detroit has won three games since midway through the 2007 season in what has become the worst 40-game slide since the Dayton Triangles were slightly less successful during the 1920's. For those that think the Bermuda Triangle is a place of no return, at the rate the Lions struggles continue, will there be any teams in the future bad enough to break these infamous records of futility?
As I mentioned before, the Lions record since 2001 is 33-111 when Owner William Clay Ford turned the keys to his franchise over to former President & General Manager Matt Millen.
When I was growing up, everybody used to think that former General Manager Russ Thomas was bad when he was drafting players from smaller colleges so the team would have less resistance in signing the top selections. Thomas did have the luxury of having more then seven rounds to work with in the draft.
Nonetheless, is there is a fan in Lion Land that would have a problem with a 7-6-1, 7-7 or 6-7-1 record these days? I doubt it. The Lions current nine-year stretch is the worst by an NFL team since World War II.
How many fans remember the last time a Detroit professional football team won a championship?
On July 17, 1983, the Michigan Panthers, led by former U-M wide receiver Anthony Carter and QB Bobby Hebert defeated the Philadelphia Stars 24-22 to win the inaugural USFL Championship.
Even though the Lions championship drought hasn't reached the levels of the Chicago Cubs century old mark, Schwartz will have to say a lot of prayers that the Saints don't go marching to Miami as the Atlanta Falcons did for their first Super Bowl appearance in 1999, only to see John Elway retire on top with the Denver Broncos.
Schwartz would like nothing better than to see this list remain at five, while he begins his off-season preparing for the 2010 Draft.
Schwartz will have the opportunity to coach the North team in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL on Jan 30. This will allow him to find new talent plus interview potential assistant coaches, starting with finding a replacement for Stan Kwan, who was fired after 10 seasons, his third as special teams coordinator.
More assistant coaches became available when the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills made head coaching changes while the Chicago Bears are currently in the process of revamping Lovie Smith's staff.
But for the time being Jim, I have only two words of encouragement for you, "Good Luck."
At the moment, your mountain is higher than Mt. Everest. I'll bet your stomach turns each time Millen hosts an NFL pre-game show on ESPN, is an analyst for a college game or does color commentary for the NFL Network.
It has to be difficult to listen to a man which wrecked a lackluster/mediocre franchise and turned it into a laughing stock and it became your mess that you have the challenge of overhauling.
I'm sure deep down inside you're hoping that Millen is not involved with ESPN's Coverage of the NFL Draft because of all the draft busts that currently are listed in the Lions Media Guide. I really wonder how much Millen learned about college players after one year of broadcasting NCAA Football.
But his track track record does indeed suggest that he couldn't judge a good prospect and his horrible record speaks for itself.
Once again Jim, good luck and hope to see you here at the Super Bowl in Miami in a month.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com
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