The Detroit Lions fired general manager Martin Mayhew and team president Tom Lewand on Thursday, and neither dismissal is all that surprising. The Lions have been one of the most underwhelming teams in the NFL in recent years and this year are a paltry 1-7 – good enough for the worst record in football.
Oh, and that one win? It came against the two-win Bears, at home, in overtime.
What has happened to this team? How is a team with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson this awful?
“Well, Stafford is part of the reason they’re so bad,” Associated Press Lions writer Larry Lage said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The knock against him coming out of college at Georgia was his lack of accuracy. Now several years later, that’s still the deal. He doesn’t need excuses for his poor play, but I will say his offensive line is atrocious and that leads to a really bad running game. So they’ve become a one-dimensional team that’s not even really good in that one dimension.”
Stafford has completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,083 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season. He’s also been sacked 22 times. Johnson, meanwhile, leads the team in receptions (48), yards (659) and touchdowns (three).
“(He’s) a lock for the Hall of Fame,” Lage said of Megatron. “One of the most spectacular players. And when you think about this franchise, they’ve basically wasted two of the most spectacular athletes of the recent decades in Clavin Johnson and Barry Sanders and have done nothing to surround them with enough players to be a winner – and that’s a shame. . . . In addition to being a spectacular athlete, (Johnson is) one of the most humble superstars since Barry Sanders. It really is a shame that two of the greatest players of recent memory are stuck with the Lions.”
Detroit has a bye this week and plays at Green Bay (6-1) on Nov. 15. In other words, 1-8 is a foregone conclusion.
How do Lions fans keep supporting this team?
“This is an unbelievable fan base that is very resilient and loyal, I would say, to a fault,” Lage said. “And maybe that’s one of the reasons the Fords have been able to have this awful product is that people keep showing up. Whether it was at the Silverdome or now at Ford Field, they’re like sheep. They just keep coming on Sunday and they’re all fired up in the beginning and they all go home crying in their beer.”
With Mayhew and Lewand gone, more changes could be coming this offseason – if not sooner.
“(Jim) Caldwell is going to be Dead Man Walking here in the second half,” Lage said. “It would stun everybody if he keeps his job beyond this year.”