Lions snap once again
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
When Calgary-born Nate Burleson snapped his leg on Monday night, it was just another dismal chapter in the seemingly ongoing horror story that is the Detroit Lions.
Losing the veteran wide receiver for the season in Detroit’s 13-7 loss to the Chicago Bears only adds to the seemingly neverending cache of on-the-field and off-the-field hits this one-time sad sack franchise has gone through in the past year.
After rocketing out to a rousing 5-0 start to the 2011 season, the Lions have subsequently gone just 7-11 under coach Jim Schwartz, whose once-promising tenure at the helm of the Lions has been stained by undisciplined play between the lines and run-ins with the law away from the stadium.
Cornerback Aaron Berry was cut after two offseason arrests, while running back Mikel Leshoure missed the first two games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, meanwhile, was arrested in Alabama on charges of driving under the influence and attempting to elude police in May, his second arrest in his home state in two months.
From Ndamukong Suh’s stomping on a Green Bay Packer offensive lineman in front of a national TV audience on U.S. Thanksgiving last year, to a seemingly-endless series of undisciplined penalties in close games, the clock has certainly struck midnight on Schwartz’s one-time Cinderella reign of the Lions.
While the city of Detroit embraced Schwartz for leading the Lions to the playoffs last season, public sentiment has quickly soured toward a coach whose 2-4 team is now the only NFC North squad under .500. Indeed, having to look up at the 5-1 Bears, 5-2 Vikings and 4-3 Packers, the Lions hopes for a second consecutive postseason appearance are disappearing quickly.
After two fumbles in the red zone cost the Lions in their loss to the Bears, quarterback Matthew Stafford, to his credit, tried to take the heat off his teammates by accepting the blame for the defeat.
“I’ve got to play better,” Stafford told reporters. “There’s opportunities for me to do it.
“I just haven’t done it.”
Stafford’s inconsistent play certainly has been a factor in the Lions downfall. His inability to hook up with Calvin Johnson, arguably the best wideout in the game, has left the Lions offence often sputtering on fumes.
But the defence has endured its own issues as well. Suh has not been anything like the dominant force he was during his rookie season of 2010, while the defensive backfield has been, for the most part, porous.
Burleson is expected to be sidelined at least eight months. The way the Lions are going, he might not be missing much.