Welcome to the best NFL offseason series you'll ever read -- that is, if you're like me, and you want nothing more than the blissful lie that your team will be good in 2019. How Your Team Won Super Bowl 54 will take you through each NFL franchise with one goal in mind: convincing you that there's at least one universe in which Your Team wins it all. I'm Doctor Strange, you're Tony Stark, the Avengers are Your Team, Thanos is...Bill Belichick? I've lost the metaphor.
One thing's for sure:
You'll die in the end. Your Team is going to win Super Bowl 54.
Let's slow our daggum roll
Oh goodness gracious, what do you even write here? I at least had jokes to make about the Giants, Redskins, Cardinals, and Bucs -- for the Lions?! Now that they finally had a 100-yard rusher in a game, what jokes are there to be made?
To rag on the Lions, we have to go way back -- and I mean, rip through the history of this beleaguered franchise and really strip it down to its parts. They've only been to the playoffs three times in this millennia, losing in the wild card round each time; they haven't won the division since 1993 and haven't won a playoff game since 1991; they have been to one conference championship and zero Super Bowls.
This is terribad.
So this series is supposed to be about how each team won Super Bowl 54 -- and it's been both a hoot and a holler to write at times. But I'm really not sure how I can possibly take this Lions team, with that much rough history, and bring them straight to the Super Bowl in one year. It would take some, if not all, of the following
- Matt Patricia uses that rocket science experience to finally figure out how to make Matt Stafford's rocket arm...actually good.
- Someone's been keeping an alien football with all of the talent of the Lions' past 15 running backs, and they give it to Kerryon Johnson
- LeBron is bringing me on as a writer for SpaceJam 2, but that's not important right now
- Jarrad Davis, Teez Tabor, Miles Killebrew, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and Tracy Walker all, you know, play good football
- Aaron Rodgers retires early to become a family counselor
- Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, and Eddie Jackson form a barbershop quarter and spend both Lions games performing as the halftime show
- Kirk Cousins starts at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings
- Sean McVay, Sean Payton, and Doug Pederson don't realize the Lions made the playoffs and forget to show up for the Wild Card Round, Divisional Round, and Championship Round respectively.
In all seriousness, besides the defensive line, it's tough to point at a unit on the Lions' depth chart and call it a staple for a winning team. The OL and WR/TE rooms are both competitive, though not necessarily Top-10 in the league, the secondary and linebackers are huge concerns, and quarterback illustrates a significant ceiling even if the rest of the team takes a significant step forward.
Matt Stafford isn't bad, but he isn't a game-altering talent at QB for 58 of the 60 minutes of a game -- 2-minute drill Stafford is just weirdly effective. In a league in which quarterback mobility and creativity becomes increasingly valuable, Stafford's gunslinger approach to the game translates into some big plays -- but he lacks consistent accuracy as a result of perpetually flawed mechanics and a swelling overconfidence in his own game.
Stafford has never enjoyed the play-calling and offensive design of many other QBs of his generation, and since the retirement of Calvin Johnson, has also struggled for true WR1 targets -- though the Lions never used Golden Tate as well as they could have, with Stafford at the helm. The Lions inexplicable ability to draft bust after bust is a chicken-and-egg conundrum with Stafford, who both suffers from playing with these busts, and helps them bust with his high-variance play.
Unless Stafford becomes suddenly more predictable in his 30s, he isn't a Super Bowl-winning quarterback -- and the Lions aren't even a Super Bowl-getting-to team. I hate to say it, but the Lions are just as likely to win Super Bowl 54 as the Montreal Alouettes are.
How The Detroit Lions Won Super Bowl 54
So, when the Lions won Super Bowl 54, it must have been on some magic. Matt Patricia shaves his beard to spy on Belichick and the Patriots' plans pregame, while the entire team changes jersey numbers on Saturday night. Opening kickoff return TD by Zach Zenner. Fumble recovery returned 98 yards by A'Shawn Robinson; one-yard TD run from T.J. Hockenson; two-point conversion a la Philly Special, Riddick to Amendola to Stafford. MVP is Kenny Golladay for being called Babytron.
How many universes does this happen in?
1 out of 1000. For pity's sake.
How it all goes wrong
I mean, it's the freakin' Lions. Your imagination is worse than anything I could write here.