Losing Lions is a decades old problem

This is how bad it gets this time of year for many Detroit Lions fans. The 47-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not sting. Losses like this no longer make you angry. You don’t give a damn because you became numb to another dismal season months ago.

Yet there remains pockets of anger where younger fans want to blame the Lions’ woes on quarterback Matthew Stafford. That sentiment of blaming the quarterback is part of Lions lore.

This is not a Matthew Stafford issue. This is a franchise stench that never seems to end. Stafford is not perfect, but I firmly believe that if you put him on any other NFC North team the last 12 years that he’d have multiple playoff victories.

We’ve blamed quarterbacks Greg Landry, Rodney Peete, Eric Hipple, Charlie Batch and Erik Kramer who is the only Lions quarterback to actually win a playoff game. Kramer was so frustrated with his treatment here that instead of sticking around long term he signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears.

Detroit Lions tight end Charlie Sanders (88) in action during the Lions 27-10 loss to the Baltimore Colts on November 10, 1968 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. Sanders is a 2007 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. (Photo by George Gelatly/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

Peete did not win a playoff game with the Lions, but he sure did with the Philadelphia Eagles where he won a playoff game against the Lions.

The Lions woes are nothing new. The franchise has endure five consecutive decades of losing football. The last time the Lions enjoyed a decade of above .500 football did not occur during the much ballyhooed Wayne Fontes-Barry Sanders led 1990s. You’d have to go back to the 1960s when the Lions recorded a .518 win percentage.

It was about this time that William Clay Ford became majority owner and the sizzle in a championship franchise fizzled. The Fords have a history of hiring the wrong people and hanging on to them too long. They have said yes to Marty Mornhinweg, Matt Millen and no to Bill Parcels and Tony Dungy.

It is a franchise that gave Millen a contract extension long after he grounded the ship into the rocky shore side.

The team came close to a winning record in the 90s with several playoff appearances and a trip to the NFC Championship game, but the team stumbled to a .493 win percentage before firing coach Wayne Fontes and moving on to Bobby Ross.

When I covered the NFL I ask experts what the Lions needed to do to have better success. Their advice was simple. Draft to beat the teams in your division. The rest will take care of itself.

In other words draft a team that will slow Aaron Rodgers, make Dalvin Cook look human and stop Mitch Trubisky from looking like a Hall of Fame player, which he is not.

Well that has not happened. Here are the Lions records against NFC North teams: Chicago Bears (75-102-5), Minnesota Vikings (39-77-2), Green Bay Packers (72-104-7). The Lions have lost 10 times in a row to the Packers twice, dropped 10 and 13 consecutive games to the Vikings and recently snapped a five-game slide to the Bears.

The Lions are far behind the other three teams in Super Bowl era win percentage. The overall NFC North standings would go in this order. 1. Vikings .553. 2. Packers .541. 3. Bears .483. 4. Lions .416.

Do you remember when former General Manager Bob Quinn said 9-7 wasn’t good enough just before firing coach Jim Caldwell? Actually that is a high water mark for the Lions. They’ve only won nine or more games five times since 2000 — three times under Caldwell.

Three of the four teams in the division have advanced to the Super Bowl. You can guess which one has not. Yes, it is the Lions which is the only NFC franchise to play in the entire Super Bowl era and not get to the Super Bowl.

Despite the embarrassing product the Lions put on the field something magical happens in this town in the spring. You start to believe again. The team parades out a new batch of draft picks and free agents and gullible fans can again see a path to a playoff season and playoff wins.

Then an ass hole like me brings up the history and questions why you are so optimistic about this team. You get angry and I chuckle in the back ground.

Here is a treat for you. This is the Lions win percentage through the decades, just in case some of you believe this is a recent problem or a Stafford problem.

1960s: .518 no playoff appearances

1970s: .468 0-1 in the playoffs

1980s: .425 0-2 in the playoffs

1990s: .493 1-6 in the playoffs

2000s: .267 no playoffs

2010s: .453 0-3 in the playoffs.

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Published by terryfoster8

I am a 58 year old retired sports journalist, husband and father of two living outside of Detroit in search of his next big adventure in life.

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