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Why Your Team Sucks 2019: Detroit Lions

Photo: Carlos Osorio (AP)

Some people are fans of the Detroit Lions. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Detroit Lions. This 2019 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: I’m sorry but that is Detroit Lions information. It is privileged. I’m not gonna compromise the work of these players and this coaching staff by divulging said information. It could jeopardize our ability to install game plans and tell you repeatedly that we’re on to Green Bay.

Your 2018 record: 6-10. They beat New England, swept the Packers for the second straight season, and still finished in last place. Nice going, you stretched rectums. That 6-10 record includes Detroit getting their faces caved in by the Jets, who easily overcame Sam Darnold’s first NFL pass turning into a pick-six to rack up a 48-17 win. The Jets said that they knew all of the Lions’ playcalls in that game. Huh. Who was the modern day Bill Callahan who blithely telegraphed all of the Lions’ tendencies?...

Your coach: Ah. Right. It was Matt Patricia, who is roughly as charming as a brain-eating amoeba and precisely half as attractive. It’s a fitting irony that Patricia arrived in Detroit fresh from the Belichick School Of Needless Secrecy and immediately spent his first game as a head coach giving everything away to the opposition. Oh, but he makes a good posture cop though:

Motherfucker, you look like a beanbag chair with barbershop trimmings glued to it. Take a shower before you bitch out other people for lacking any self-respect. I will confess in this space that I thought Patricia would make for a good head coach. He wasn’t LIKE all the other haughty fuckheads strutting out of Foxboro and brandishing their worship for The Belichick Process. He was DIFFERENT. He went to RPI! He does that thing with the pencil! Surely, this man would be thoughtful and self-aware, yes?

NO. No, Patricia came to Detroit and instantly revealed to be an accused rapist (it will stun you, STUN YOU, to learn that Barstool stood by him) who treated every question lobbed his way with complete and utter disdain. Together with GM Bob Quinn, Patricia has implemented an accelerated plan for turning this team into yet another laughingstock pinning its hopes to an abrasive, downmarket Belichick. You can set your watch to these coaches at this point. They brook no dissent. They force players to practice in the snow when they’ve got a month of indoor games coming up on the slate. They make the fucking cafeteria lunch options confidential. They are late. The only time they successfully copy the Pats is when they murder fun.


And they fucking lose. These Lions had just enjoyed three winning seasons in four years under Jim Caldwell. Patricia then came in and ushered them to their shittiest record since 2012. They couldn’t block. They couldn’t stop the run. They STILL can’t defend a Hail Mary. How is this any different from Romeo Crennel’s head coaching exploits? Or Josh McDaniels’s? It’s not. With guys like Patricia, you get two years of failure built solely upon an embellished resume. He is merely the most recent example of a dude whose sweatpants probably smell like eight-day-old cheese getting hired only because he stood in the vicinity of Belichick for a few years. But whatever, I’m glad Football Brett Kavanaugh here is wantonly indulging in the power he’s been granted. This pud’s entire career is based on the fact that putting a pencil behind his ear made him look smart. That pencil and that beard went from being fun and colorful to fusty and fossilized instantly.

The immortal Jim Bob Cooter is no longer your offensive coordinator. He got shitcanned, but not before being forced to assimilate into Patricia’s little paranoia Borg. Your new OC is Darrell Bevell, which is PERFECT for a team whose recent history is positively glowing with spectacular ground game failures. Ah, but D-Bev here has learned from that one time he cost Seattle a championship…

So in a league that is pass-heavy and going with a more explosive, big-play approach with strong-armed quarterbacks, Bevell is OK with doing something different. “It’s my background, all the way back to even when I was at Wisconsin we were a run-first team, had great success at Minnesota running the football… Did the same thing in Seattle.”


Well, until that ONE time, you did. I’m happy a team so hellbent on becoming the next Pats hired a man who deliberately engineered a way to needlessly lose to those same Pats. Only a breathtaking idiot would look at all the rule changes and schematic evolution that have conspired to make the NFL a pass-dominant league and think they’re playing Russian chess by ignoring that trend (not to mention the incredible success of teams who have ridden that trend, including, you know, the Patriots) and running the ball to nowhere. Detroit, you now have a full coaching staff of such idiots. Congrats to you. Your DC is old man Paul Pasqualoni, who looks like Lee Corso if Lee Corso got shitfaced and fell asleep in the bed of a pickup truck…

“Not so fast, my cornerbacks...”

This team has no good ideas and never has. In two years you fans will still be trying to figure out if Matt Patricia’s an ornery and misunderstood genius or just an asshole. That’ll be two years later than the rest of us sorted out the answer.

Your quarterback: Matt Stafford, who was expressly forbidden from throwing the ball past the line of scrimmage a season ago…


Stafford has been on the verge of putting it all together for longer than Game of Thrones’s entire run. Last year, he threw for his fewest touchdowns in six seasons. His yards per attempt were the lowest they’d been in that same timespan. In case you haven’t sorted it out by now, Matt Stafford may the greatest QB in recent Lions history, which means jack and shit. But he will never grow into anything more than the passer he is right at this moment, and certainly not under the huffy tutelage of this coaching staff. And I suspect, deep down, Matt Stafford knows this. He’s made his money. He’s won a few games. He has to tend to his ailing wife. It’s only natural for him to accept that he’s come as far as he can come, and that he’ll be serving out these twilight years working for a head coach in Patricia who, like so many before him, adopted all of Bill Belichick’s worst traits (along with his pedigree and sartorial acumen), and none of his best ones. Nixon had more charm. And better posture.


Your backup QB is the unkillable Tom Savage. You will absolutely see this man take the field during games that matter. I’ve seen your O-line. They’re gonna get Stafford put in a trauma ward.

What’s new that sucks: Well, since Rob Gronkowski threatened to retire rather than accept a trade to Detroit (interesting how so many Hall of Fame players would rather not play at all than play here), the Lions are trying to grow a Gronk of their own with first round rookie T.J. Hockenson, whose last name sounds like a 1935 school playground game. Hockenson was one of TWO Iowa tight ends taken in the first round of the draft this year. Ah yes, the blockbuster offensive powerhouse that IS Kirk Ferentz football. If you subscribe to the idea of having the Pats be your role model, and this team has reduced itself to Mike Lombardi–esque levels of bootlicking to do so, then one of these Hawkeyes will become a Gronk. The other, an Aaron Hernandez. EXCITED TO SEE WHICH WILL BE WHICH!


This is the third time in a decade that the Lions have drafted a tight end in the first round. The first of that group, Brandon Pettigrew, was a lingering case of herpes. An Anthony Becht–style underachiever, if you will. The second, Eric Ebron, was a terminal case of the dropsies until he went to the Colts and caught 87 touchdown passes last season alone. We (and by we, I mean me) got our rocks off making fun of Matt Millen’s predilection for drafting shitty wideouts. But it’s worth turning your heckles toward this team’s addition penchant for sourcing young tight ends to ruin. T.J. Hockeypuck here is destined to be the kind of guy who gets overly praised for his blocking as he catches 40 eight-yard button hooks per season.

Elsewhere, the Lions traded Golden Tate away to the Eagles and have replaced him with… Oh come ON.


I bet Patricia mandated a hoodie for that photo. Even the Lion King remake had more life to it than this joyless exercise in dime-store Pats cosplay. It’s like Patricia is dressing all his players up as Pats for a middle school report. Danny Amendola has never caught more than four TDs in a season. He’s never had 1,000 yards receiving. He’s never averaged more than 60 yard receiving per game. Playing for Miami last year, our man ranked 160th in yards per catch, somewhere behind the immortal Chad Beebe. You don’t sign Danny Amendola to get better (Miami went 7-9 last season). You sign him to signal to fans that they can act like they’re savvy and tough because they picked a washed-up ex-Pat off the scrap heap.


This is all advertising. It certainly isn’t a plan for winning titles. You get a couple years of counterfeit Pats fan-style tribalism before it all falls apart and you gotta hire a ventriloquist’s dummy that looks like Sean McVay. And then the con begins anew. I’ve seen this movie more often than Empire Strikes Back, and it’s a lousy one.

You also signed Mike Daniels away from Green Bay and grabbed Rams postseason hero C.J. Anderson. None of it will make a difference. You’re the Lions. That alone overrides any potential positives.


What has always sucked: Our own Lauren Theisen is a Lions fan. Here is what she says about them: “All the best players the Lions have produced in my lifetime are martyrs.” That rings harrowingly true. The rare times when this team stumbles upon a generational talent, they endeavor to waste that talent for as long as possible, and then they have the gall to ask that talent for their money back. I bet they gave Glover Quin a gold watch for his service and then sent him a bill for it. Given their history, it was destiny that the Lions would ape the Pats and fashion themselves into a wooden, joyless outfit where individuality is a capital offense and Danny Amendola is considered a viable receiving threat.

It’s sad, and not in the way that the Lions are usually sad. It was honestly more fun when Millen was in charge of this dump. As long as I have lived, the Lions have been a hilarious failure. But now, they’ve opted for a more depressing version of incompetence. They are buttoned-up (well, except for the coach), dickish, mirthless, and stupid. They are now, in many ways, indistinguishable from the brainless auto magnates who inherited the joint. And all by design! Run over my dick.


As for these fans, they can get fucked with a tire iron. Kid Rock already gave this stupid state a Boston-style Grit Complex, and now Lions fans are running with it. It’s horrible. I wish this team had been abandoned and left to rot like the fucking Silverdome.

What might not suck: LOCK IT IN…


Can’t possibly be wrong there!



Why the Detroit Lions suck? Is that rhetorical?


They’re basically the Jeff Fisher of organizations at this point.


The Lions suck because our subreddit is the best in the league and it’s the only thing Lions fans have to be proud of because our team on the field is the equivalent of getting a gasoline enema on an annual basis.



The last pro football team from Michigan to play for a championship was in the fucking USFL.



The Lions peaked after their first play of the year.


My dad will turn 60 this September. This garbage franchise has won one playoff game in that time.



Here is your yearly reminder that the Detroit Lions have literally never won the NFC North Division. Ever. Not one single time. And prior to it becoming the NFC North, the fucking Tampa Bay Buccaneers won this division more recently than the Lions.



The Fords don’t give a shit about winning nor about putting good transmissions in new cars anymore apparently.



I live in China, which means that for the past 9 years I’ve missed most Lions games because they air at 1 or 4am. It’s better this way.



Matt Stafford gets paid the GDP of a small island nation to get sacked infinity times per year and star in shitty F-150 commercials.



When I proposed to my (now) wife, her only condition was that she wouldn’t have to cheer for the Lions.



Matthew Stafford is the best QB we’ve ever had but hasn’t won a single playoff game. Guys who have won playoff games this decade include:

Tim Tebow

Mark Sanchez

Case Keenum

Blake Bortles

T.J. Yates


They chased off Barry, Calvin, and ZODIAC.


The franchise QB is in his 11th season and has still not won a big game. Not one. His record against teams with a .500 or better record is still an astonishing 9-52, by my count.

The coach is a cartoon character. He’s like the rowdy buddy in a ski comedy, but with absolutely no charm.



Matt Patricia looks like a high school assistant coach that “teaches” history by screening Remember The Titans every time he’s hung over.



I spent the entire pre-draft process stating how furious I would be if we spent ANOTHER top 10 pick on a TE. All I’ve done since is talk myself into Hockenson being the love child of Gronk and George Kittle on steroids.

Fuck Carl Cheffers forever.


I bought my kid a stuffed lion from the stadium store for $36 bucks that he immediately tossed in his play area, never to be seen again

I saw a man get punched in the face in the family section in full view of children while he was holding a hot plate of nachos for being a Bears fan.

I can go on and on... but I wanted to end by saying that I want to take a shit in Matt Patricia’s shoes.



I cannot stand another moment of professional hobo Matt Patricia and his endless flood of coaching cliches every time someone has the nerve to ask “Why does this team suck so much ass?” His sentences about heart, and drive, and skill, and focus are like aimless vocal Human Centipedes, stitched together and shitting into the next.

I’m also fucking done with this Patriots North routine. We’re as much the Patriots as Devito was Schwarzenegger.

God, Patricia is a fucking slob.


They’re too pathetic to be tragic.


Deep down, this fan base knows it deserves it.


Drafting TJ Hockenson is the equivalent of passing up a free trip to Vegas to drive to your grandparents’ cabin with no electricity in the U.P. for a weekend.

It could be proven that Matthew Stafford was single handedly behind the poisoning of the Flint water supply and Lions fans would deflect the blame.



Every time I hear a Lions fan proclaim that the team is moving in the right direction, that they’re doing a great job in the offseason, that obvious scrubs are studs, I understand more clearly how Trump won Michigan.



Did we draft a motherfucking tight end with our top ten first round draft pick again? Brother, you KNOW we did.

Best case scenario he’s a once-in-a-generation talent who will quit the sport forever in disgust.



For most of my life, every year my dad would go to Vegas and take the under on a few Lions games. It was the only way he could genuinely enjoy the season.



I’m getting dunked on by a Roethlisberger apologist at work and it’s only July. There are no jokes, only misery.



When choosing a new face of the organization last year, you would think the Lions would do at least the same amount of research your typical Grosse Pointe family does in to hiring a new nanny.



I will promise right now, and mean it, that if the Lions ever make the Super Bowl while my dad is still alive, I will take him to the game - no matter the cost. Shit, we’ll even sit 50-yard line. It’s not like it’s something I’ll ever have to actually worry about.

My dad was born in 1954. The Lions’ last NFL Championship came in 1957. That’s one more than I’ll ever see.



Detroit lucked into the two greatest position players of all time and squandered their talent so thoroughly that both left the team well shy of their career twilight. Then the local sports media has the gall to screech and rend their jowls about LOYALTY and HONOR and FAMILY like we’re in a fucking South Boston movie.

The owner is a bloated shitpile who knowingly sold cars with fucked-up transmissions. The fans are downriver CHUDs whose hatred of non-whites is matched only by their love of Kid Rock. Dan Gilbert is fistfucking locals to get free land out of the city. The casinos can’t serve free liquor while you gamble. The roster is more dessicated and crumbling than Iggy Pop’s body. Just let Canada annex us



The Lions have been dogshit since 1958, it has nothing to do with that 400-pound rolling anus imported from Boston. They were dog shit before, they are dogshit now, and they will be dogshit long after Ford Field is dynamited to make way for Dan Gilbert’s mausoleum.



This year, as I resume watching the Lions’ perpetual trudge to mediocrity, I cannot even curse Matt Millen along the way. With him recently deceased/near death (depending on when this publishes and if he gets a heart transplant) I have to consider the fact that Millen is an actual human being with feelings and family who care about him. Also, my fantasy team name has been “Die Matt Millen” for a decade, so I probably have to change that now. Thanks Lions.

UPDATE: What’s that you say? Heart transplant successful? Ok then, fantasy team name changed back to “Die Matt Millen.”


John (sent 7/16):

It is Barry Sanders’ birthday today and the Lions organization is using it to throw up one or two cool clip reels to try to erase the Lions-y incompetence that led to his early retirement, and equally Lions-y misplaced pride that soured their relationship with him for years thereafter.



Drew, I am home all summer with my 13 month-old daughter and have a moment to write about why the Lions suck. I am sorry if it is early, but six minutes of unbroken time to email about the lions only happens once a year. (Update: this email was in my drafts. My daughter is now 14 months old.)

Their coach wears old man shorts in the snow like he’s guarding the Northern Wall. And they’re athletic shorts because his giant, sweaty self couldn’t fit into any other type. He’s late to press conferences, meetings, and has the temerity to chastise the worthless media that covers him and his failure. But I shouldn’t be surprised, because the organization didn’t bother to Google search Matt Patricia before they hired him and missed the fact that someone accused him of rape.

I hate the fans of this team more than the team. People drive into the City, pay to park in one of the Illitch-owned parking lots that were supposed to be green areas or business zones (given to the billionaires by cutting funding from public education), lament about how great it was before 1967, and then slink back to the suburbs and their MAGA flags, all the while living off government-subsidized automobile industries. Fuck the Woodward Dream Cruise in its tailpipe.



The draft is our Super Bowl.


Mark my words: The Cleveland Browns will win the Super Bowl before the Lions win another playoff game.



I tell people that I’m not much of an NFL because I grew up in Michigan and we don’t have an NFL team. No one questions it.



You think the darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. We Lions fans were born in it, molded by it. We didn’t see the light until we were already men; by then, it was blinding to us.

The shadows betray you, because they belong to us.


Fuck the Lions with Matt Patricia’s pencil.


Being a fan of the Detroit Lions is a lot like being a socially engaged Democrat; both groups also know, deep down, that their team is gonna fuck it all up, even when they seem to be ahead.



Imagine you live in a city with all four major sports leagues. Three out of the four have been competitive in your lifetime, and even won championships. But not recently. The hockey team has been dead-last dreadful, and has only now started a rebuild, five years too late, with not enough salary cap room to buy a soda. The basketball team is stuck in the worst place a team can be in the NBA — a lower-tier playoff team — and also suffers with no salary cap room to speak of, plus an aging, injured superstar, and an owner who’d rather be buddies with players than a businessman. A 100+ loss baseball team that should’ve started the rebuild five years and hasn’t even done that, a buffoon GM who gets taken advantage of in trades, and a minor league system without a single positional player of consequence. Even the college teams are only good enough to be regional powerhouses, but will never match up to the southern teams in either sport.

Imagine living in that city, bereft of sports enjoyment with no end in sight.

NOW remember that first paragraph, and realize that, despite all their failures, somehow, THE DETROIT LIONS, a destitute tire fire of an organization, a team that would go .500 in arena football, are the best team in Detroit.

THAT is why the Lions suck.

Submissions for the NFL previews are closed. Next up: Buffalo Bills.

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About the author

Drew Magary

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.