Everywhere one looks throughout the city of Detroit, one can see how Detroit feels inferior to other major metropolitan cities. We used to have the State Theater downtown on Woodward, it was a Michigan institution. Of course one had to be from Michigan to know that. Now it is called the Fillmore, after the famous concert venue in San Francisco.
Along the Detroit People Mover route through downtown Detroit there are stops called Broadway and Times Square. These are of course references to famous spots in New York City, but as a lifelong resident of the Detroit area I have not idea what they reference in terms of Detroit.
The Times Square People Mover station is little more than the base of operations for the People Mover system, and the closest stop to the Motor City Casino, the Broadway stop is actually on Woodward, and is the closest stop to the Theater district, Comerica Park, Ford Field, and the Detroit Opera House. The point here is the city is trying to make itself into something it is not, instead of focusing on its own geography and history.
Nowhere is this inferiority complex more noticeable than the operation of the Detroit Lions football team. Since the 1980’s the Lions have tired, rather unsuccessfully, to copy the offense of some other NFL team, often from a completely different era of NFL history.
With Head Coach Wayne Fontes, and RB Barry Sanders, they were little more than a run and shoot clone of the Houston Oilers. In the late 1990’s they tried to be a smash mouth, run the ball down the opponent’s throat like the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970’s.
From the turn of the century on everyone, from team executives to the most delusional of Lions’ fans called for the implementation of the West Coast offense. Ten years later Lions fans have still not seen anything closely resembling the offense of the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980’s.
The point here is the Lions are constantly at least one step behind the rest of the league. Instead of hiring offensive innovators, they hire guys to run a system the Lions roster does not have the personnel to execute.
In fact the only offensive innovator the club has employed in the last 25 years, Mike Martz, was run out of town for running a pass happy offense, and being an ego maniac.
This is where a lot of people misremember the past; Martz’s offense had this team on a 6-2 start in the 2007 season. Had they spent sometime to fix the holes on the offensive line it seems likely that 2008, with Martz leading the high powered offensive attack, could have been something special.
Instead Martz’s offense scared the Lions front office, who were still stuck in their dreams of running a West Coast attack. They fired Martz, and hired a more conservative coordinator to run a more conservative attack. The result was the only winless season in NFL history.
Around this same time, it has been reported, that Bill Parcells called the Lions and told them that he would love the challenge of turning he team around. Say what you will about Parcells, but he has turned around many, a NFL franchise, but the Lions’ owners were unwilling to give up all that control to him.
In the end they chose to stick with outdated ideas on how to run a NFL organization, and hire a bunch of yes men who would not so upset the status quo. Really it was a typical reaction by the Lions who run the team like it is still 1965.
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