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I am writing to you because you have managed to do something remarkable. You took a once semi-proud franchise and ran them into the ground. You took an enthusiastic fan base and made them more concerned about the Pistons and Red Wings than the Lions, in a country where that is very hard to do.
You made home field advantage a joke by making it easy for fans of opposing teams to find tickets. You managed to make the future of the Lions franchise look less promising than, quite fittingly, Ford’s balance sheets. You united Lions fans so strongly against you that they chanted “Fire Millen” at the NFL draft instead of cheer their team’s selections.
Perhaps you tried to engineer the worst team ever. Maybe you knew you could not achieve a winning record and decided that you rather go down in infamy than not being remembered at all. After all, you drafted Gosder Cherilus, a right tackle, in the first round of the 2008 draft, and he was a guy who wasn’t even the consensus next tackle on the board. Cherilus rewarded you by making his most notable play by taking out Jared Allen’s knee. Thank god you got Kevin Smith in the third round, or else the draft would’ve been pretty much depth players only.
But, those are not the only moves you made to help this team reach 0-16. You took an awful run defense and traded away the one player competent on that end, Shaun Rogers. The pass defense was beyond awful as well. The team was only able to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks with big blitzes, but given how bad the defensive backfield was, this would leave the Lions open to easy scoring attempts.
The Lions didn’t have the personnel to play Cover-2, and in man coverage, they were just as poor. This defense may have overpursued on every play this year for all we know, but just got lucky on enough plays to stop teams once and a while. In fact, we may have been witnesses to the worst defense ever.
On the other side of the ball, Calvin Johnson was your only other saving grace. The Lions offensive line was quite awful. Too often Kevin Smith was stuffed at the line, and 52 sacks allowed is not respectable. At one point, quarterback Dan Orlovsky actually ran out of the end zone and made a safety (and it wasn’t as if his foot barely grazed the white line, he ran out of the endzone). When Daunte Culpepper started instead, the results were just as bad. John Kitna’s injury hurt, but isn’t the job of the GM to have at least a semi-competent backup available? At the very least, someone who could’ve hit Calvin Johnson on a deep route would’ve been better than nothing.
And let us not forget your wonderfully selected coaching staff. The one that brought us gems like Thanksgiving day, when the offense called a timeout, then had a delay of game, and finally the drive mercifully ended with a 13-yard shanked punt. Or, how the coaching rarely adjusted to the provided talent. Well, I guess you can at least take credit for having coaches so bad that no college teams wanted them. There was no Monte Kiffin effect here. Not that it would’ve been noticable.
So Matt, you will be remembered. Quite fondly, actually. I noticed that you have a desk position with NBC for the NFL playoffs. Even Isiah Thomas couldn’t get that. I’m not quite sure what shred of shrewd football analysis you showed to earn it, but Joe Morgan needed some competition for worst analysis of a specific sport they were employed by in a different position before an analytical position. Meanwhile, Lions fans will be stuck hoping for their own Bill Parcells to come in and save them from your years of mistakes.