Last year, the Lions were being labeled as a dirty team. They were the "Bad Boys" of the NFL. They ranked among the worst in the league, 30th, in penalties against and were a personal foul waiting to happen. At times it appeared that the refs were making calls against them due to their reputation. It was well documented in the media that the Lions appeared to be an undisciplined football team.
The penalty parade continued into the offseason, not on the field, but in the legal system. It wasn't flags being thrown, it was handcuffs being clicked and players being thrown in the slammer. Alcohol, drugs (some being mistaken for a tasty salad), reckless driving, and guns were among the problems that ailed a handful of Lions players leading up to this season. The holier than thou members of the media pointed their fingers and told the world that "those Lions sure are bad fellers."
Of course the penalties were frustrating. The "Stomp Heard 'Round the World" was embarrassing. Nobody likes when players get arrested. But on the field, these hooligans had an attitude. A mean streak. A giant chip on their shoulders that made them play hard and maybe bend the rules here and there. They had tenacity, a fire, a swagger. Penalties be damned, they were winning games and turning heads. The Lions were becoming the team that nobody wanted to face.
This year, they have cleaned up their act a little. They are middle of the pack in terms of penalties. I believe they rank 17th. The legal troubles have ceased and they have kept their emotions in check. In turn, they look lifeless. There is now zero emotion in their game. There is no fire, no sense of urgency, no attitude...and you can forget swagger...Bubbles (the cuddly Lions mascot) has shown more swag than the Lions have on Sundays. As a result, the Leos have a 1-3 record and a season that is almost on the brink.
My opinion is that maybe they have been worrying about their image a little too much and, in turn, they have lost that attitude that made them the surprise team in the NFL a year ago. They have gone from being a team that gets a little too emotional to a team that doesn't show signs of having a pulse until they are losing in the 4th quarter. The defense gets punched in the mouth repeatedly, the offense has become extremely predictable and, dare I say, boring, the tackling is poor, the defensive line continues to be paper champions, and the special teams...let's not even go there. The Lions are now dull, vanilla, listless, lifeless, and just another team that is tossed in with the pile of misfit toys. They look dead...like walking corpses draped in Honolulu Blue and silver (with black trim) death shrouds.
I am not saying they need to go out in their remaining games and turn them into WWE fiascoes. I am not suggesting that they start committing ill-advised personal fouls that cripple the team. No way should they make it a point to go out and get drunk and act a fool. I am simply saying that they need to get back to being mean and nasty between the lines. They need to show some emotion and some fire at the BEGINNING of games until they are over. The Lions need to get that chip squarely back on their shoulders and play with a swagger again. They need to get back to being the "Bad Boys," because as we know, nice guys finish last.