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Fumble Dimension: The Lions run one play for an entire season

After voting, you decided that a single-route play designed by Jon would be the one we’d run nonstop for an entire season. This is what happened. Look at what you’ve done.

On the last Fumble Dimension, Jon and Kofie were tasked with choosing one play to save the 2008 Detroit Lions. We ended up with four different strategies and had the fans vote on which one they wanted to see. The fans voted for Jon’s play.

Here’s how it went.


We had the option to go with Rod Marinelli and keep his attributes and traits, or we could create our own coach and start from scratch. Rod’s attributes are so low that we’re honestly better off creating a new coach.

So ladies and gentlemen ...

I am proud to introduce Mister Fumble.

Mister Fumble is a no-nonsense titan whose goal is to destroy the competition with one play. If there is anyone who can rally the troops out of this winless mentality … it’s Mister Fumble.

We’re not going to lie to you, NFL Head Coach career mode is extremely tedious. It took a long time to even get from game to game because there were so many prompts. Yes, we had the option to delegate a lot of stuff, but in the interest of purity and not risking anything important passing us by, we decided to control everything.

Oh look, we have new season goals. Now they want us to add 10 new plays. We’re not going to do that.

Now there will be a lot of GM suggestions that show up. For instance, the owner wants us to trade for Kerry Collins. We’re not going to do that either.

After this, I just decided to sim to the regular season. I’ve had enough of this shit. I turned down like 40 free agent and rookie negotiations.

This is going to be happening every. Single. Week.

Week 1: The Atlanta Falcons

Defense: Smith Physical D

The first thing we notice about the Falcons is that they’re playing a different defense than our test team, the Vikings. Remember this, we’ll talk about it at the end of the video. In fact, Calvin Johnson is most successful when the route ends and he has nothing to do but aimlessly roam throughout the field, waiting for Jon Kitna to throw him the ball.

Despite often having four, five or even six defenders covering him, Johnson was still able to catch the ball 11 times for 281 yards. The only problem is Kitna threw the ball 50 times. For those of you playing at home, that’s a 22 percent completion rating. He also threw numerous passes that got deflected and one interception.

The Falcons took this great defense and turned it into a victory, but only by 14 points. Kitna’s 281 passing yards surpassed all of his single game totals for 2008, but at what cost?

Falcons 26, Lions 12 (0-1)


We’ll be tracking the passer rating, offensive touchdowns, interceptions, and total yards of these Lions, which we see in blue, and stack them alongside their real-life counterpart, which we see in white. Despite having just one play at our disposal and running into an unexpected buzzsaw in the form of the Falcons’ defense, those 281 yards nearly equaled the real-life total of 316 in this game.

In game number one, Kitna’s passer rating was just barely over half his real-life number. This is not what I was expecting. This is trouble.

Week 2: Green Bay Packers

Defense: Packers 4 Across

We decided to with the WR group to help boost their abilities, we don’t know if this will help Johnson at all because he’s being triple teamed, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Kitna’s play is averaging a solid 12.4 yards per game, but it is still relatively unlearned for some reason. The idea with plays in Head Coach is the more it’s learned, the better we’ll be able to execute it. The team’s knowledge of a play either increases over time through osmosis or by running through it in practice when the game gives us an option to focus on a certain play. I don’t see much to learn, because, after all, it’s only one route. What’s so hard about that?

The Packers jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Since we have to go for it on fourth down every time, the field position battle gives the Packers short fields to work with and this Lions’ defense is way too conservative to stop Aaron Rodgers.

Turnovers aren’t helping the cause either, as Kitna has two interceptions while Johnson adds a momentum-killing fumble.

Mr Fumble is privy to the curse of the Detroit Lions.

The Lions get two touchdowns from Johnson in this game, but it’s far too late. After 11 drops, three interceptions and one fumble, the Lions fall to the Packers, 27-14. Approval falls to 25. Our goal to win three out of our first four games is out the window. Along with our goal to crush the Packers in Week 2. Guys, it’s not looking good.

Packers 27, Lions 14 (0-2)

In two games, Johnson has a commanding lead in total receiving yards, but as it stands, this system doesn’t look like it’s going to work. It’s not looking much different than the time Kitna told everyone the 0-16 Lions would go 0-16 with the system they were using

Week 3: San Francisco

Defense: Nolan 3-4

Kitna and Alex Smith trade touchdowns, but midway through the second quarter a miracle happens. We have a pick-six of Smith. This comes as a shock to us because the real life 2008 Lions were atrocious on defense.

stats via

The Detroit Lions have a 12-7 lead. Could this be the momentum swing needed?

Nah, dude.

The 49ers score another touchdown, they have the ball again with a chance to widen the lead. But the Lions’ defense intercepts the ball again, pinning them deep into Lions territory. The Lions have it at their own 2 and then Kitna does the unthinkable.

Of course this happens to the 2008 Lions, the same team that had to experience the Dan Orlovsky Safety.

After throwing his third interception, the game gives the option to bench Kitna. Do we do it? If we do we get an approval spike, but our backup is Drew Stanton and like ... it’s Drew Stanton. Well, here goes nothing. IT’S DREW STANTON TIME!

Stanton throws a pick. He also fumbles. Hell is a flat circle. The Lions lose, 50-18, to start the season 0-3.

49ers 50, Lions 18 (0-3)

Week 4: Bye Week

Week 5: Bears

Defense: Lovie Cover 2

Kitna is back at the helm and the Lions score in two plays, The Bears don’t know how to stop this play. It’s clear they didn’t watch any film of the Lions’ previous three games.

The Lions go on a tear. They’re up, 28-10, at the half. Could this be it, folks?

Kitna throws a pick on the first play of the second half. After a Bears field goal, the Lions go off script and score another touchdown. The Rex Grossman Bears can only muster up another field goal going into the fourth quarter. Our one-play Detroit Lions are heading into the final quarter with an 18-point lead.

Now, I know what you guys are thinking right now. How are the Detroit Lions going to mess this up? Well, I’ll tell you.

For one drive, Kitna completely forgets how to throw a football.

Bears touchdown. Same thing happens the next time: Bears touchdown. The Lions have a six-point lead and they’re getting the ball back. All the Lions have to do is return the kickoff and run the clo-


Bears touchdown. In less than two minutes of Madden game time, The Detroit Lions have blown an 18-point, fourth-quarter lead. It gets worse.

Kitna throws his third interception. We again have the option to pull him but I decided to keep him in because the other two options are Stanton and Orlovsky. With this gratuitous turnover, the Bears take a seven-point lead with two minutes left to play.

The fate of this game is in the hands of a 36-year-old quarterback who has thrown three interceptions already.

Somehow Kitna manages to get us to the 8-yard line, and folks, this is when the game goes rogue. After three failed downs, the game gives us a thing called a “Defining Moment”: a menu that lets us choose what to do and tells us how our approval rating will change. It then instructs us to call a play after said decision. The only problem is that for some reason we can’t choose our created play. I thought that we’d be able to call a timeout and go back to normal but the game wouldn’t let me. WITH THE GAME ON THE LINE. So sadly, I picked a random play and the Lions convert. OH, MY GOD.

Now, since we have to go for two, this is the make-or-break play. Convert and we likely win, miss and we risk blowing our best chance at a winning so far this season. Here goes nothing.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have done it. The Bears don’t muster up a comeback. The clock strikes zero. We have won.

Jon’s notes:

No matter what else happens, in a sense, we’ve already won. We accomplished in four games what the Lions couldn’t in an entire season: we won a football game. In these charts, we see the real-life Lions in white, and our video game Lions in blue. Naturally, that white line is gonna stay exactly where it’s at all season.

Kitna and Johnson were heroic in game number four. In the real-life version of this Lions-Bears game, Detroit couldn’t even make it to 200 yards of total offense. Using only one passing play, we came within spitting distance of tripling that total with 524 total yards.

Kitna did throw three picks, but omelets and eggs and all that. How do you throw three picks and still finish with a passer rating of 100.2? Well, you throw six touchdowns.

After some early-season struggles, it feels like we’re finally turning a corner. We’re 1-3.

Before we continue, it’s interesting to note that in real life Kitna gets hurt in this game and doesn’t play for the rest of the season. In fact, he never plays for the Detroit Lions again.

Bears 41, Lions 42 (1-3)

Week 6: Vikings

The Lions are in good spirits following their Week 5 win — including the running backs, despite the fact they haven’t touched the ball in four games.

After putting up 524 receiving yards in a game, the league has no choice but to make Johnson the NFC player of the week. He has over 1,300 yards receiving in four games. No one else even has 650. He’s also leading the MVP race despite the Lions’ 1-3 record. It’s now time to face a division rival, the Minnesota Vikings.

After the Vikings score on the first drive, Kitna and Johnson combine for a 77-yard strike on the first play.

It seems that the Vikings didn’t learn their lesson, and are letting Kitna and Johnson destroy their defense.

Kitna leads another flawless two-minute drill and the Lions are up, 22-13.

Two second-half touchdowns make it 34-13. The Lions run away with this one as Kitna and Johnson connect for 502 yards, six touchdowns and zero turnovers. The Vikings, a team team that went 10-6 in real life, just got blown out by one play.

Jon’s notes:

For the second straight game, the video game Lions blew the historical Lions out of the water. Kitna once again threw for six touchdowns, but this time he avoided throwing a single pick, giving him a passer rating of 143.6.

All of a sudden, things are good.

Vikings 16, Lions 42 (2-3)

Week 7: Texans

Our approval has skyrocketed to 58 percent.

Johnson is player of the week yet again. Morale is high. And the Texans are waiting.

Matt Schaub and company jump out to a 7-0 lead, Kitna throws an early pick. This Texans’ defense is choosing to follow Johnson around. Looks like they watched film. JOHNSON IS GOOD. Unfortunately the Texans’ pass rush is better.

Detroit is able to keep it close, but Texans wideout Andre Johnson is hard to stop. A Johnson touchdown closes the gap to seven heading into the fourth quarter. The Lions convert on 4th-and-10 to keep the drive alive, but it isn’t good enough. The Texans take the W.

Texans 30, Lions 20 (2-4)

Week 8: Washington

Clinton Portis and Washington get out to a fire start on offense, scoring 28 points in the first half. Kitna’s three interceptions don’t help either. One thing I noticed is this Washington team is switching up the defenses more than any previous opponent. Kitna has simply forgotten how to play football. Washington has 42 points by the end of the third quarter.

Washington put their second stringers in for the fourth quarter, which is easily the saddest sentence in this entire experiment so far. I so badly wanted to beat the brakes off one of the most poorly run franchises in sports. It was agonizing pain to watch Washington continue to destroy us with their second-stringers.

Washington 48, Detroit 18 (2-5)

Week 9: Chicago again

The Bears have learned their lesson. Kitna has thrown three interceptions before halftime. It’s time to bring in the big gun — Orlovsky. Thanks to two interceptions from our defense, including a pick-six, we’re still in the game.

After a drive where Orlovsky fails to get the ball over Brian Urlacher four times in a row, I decided to put Kitna back in. He’s the only competent QB on the roster and yet he still has these phases where he can’t hit a 6’5 wide receiver. I’m not a Lions fan and I really don’t care how the simulation goes, but seeing this shit over and over is starting to frustrate me. How do Lions fans live like this? How does anyone?

The Lions come back for a TD, fail to get the onside kick and lose by two. Kitna only completes 10 passes and throws four interceptions. Orlovsky goes 1-8 for a completion percentage of 12 percent. GOOD LORD.

As someone that lived outside of the local market and never saw these Lions play in a real game, I really don’t want to imagine how bad this was. We’ve already won a game, but it still feels like we’re suffering.

Chicago 31, Detroit 28 (2-6)

Week 10: Jacksonville

The Lions are 2-6 and only two games away from the division lead. At the start I predicted the Lions would go 8-8, while Jon thought that the Lions would go 11-5. So this is an interesting development. I also learned that Kitna is planning to retire after the season. I don’t blame him. The weird thing about the Jaguars’ defense is that they stop pass rushing after awhile, just waiting for Kitna to make a terrible throw.

The lineman don’t know who to block.

And most of the time. It works. This is the worst the Lions’ offense has looked, as they go scoreless in the first half for the first time all season.

This is hell. I didn’t think it could get worse than the Washington game. Kitna was held without a touchdown, threw three picks and was sacked 10 times. I’d want to retire too.

Jaguars 32, Lions 0 (2-7)

Week 11: Carolina

We now head to Charlotte in the rain. The weather is miserable. The Lions start to unravel.

Thanks to a miracle kickoff return for a touchdown the lead it cut to seven. The game doesn’t expect it, so it glitches out for a bit. The game on the field goes downhill again. As the Lions loose to MATT MOORE. Not even Jake Delhomme. Matt. FREAKIN. MOORE.

Kitna is sacked 10 times for the second straight game in a row.

Panthers 30, Lions 14 (2-8)

Week 12: Tampa Bay

Now we have a date with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We are 2-8 and on a five-game losing streak. Approval is again low. There’s no stat for morale but I’m guessing it is super low. Look on the bright side: we do learn Johnson can PHASE THROUGH WALLS.

Luckily, the Bucs are playing a zone which allows us to exploit it. We take a 12-3 lead to the half. Our defense has been stellar so far. Sadly, we had to complete a touchdown pass to another receiver because the dumbass game wont let me call a timeout and go for it. So the game rewards us by cursing Kitna’s arm to turn the ball over on downs deep in Lions territory.

With the game on the line, Johnson makes a great catch and immediately fumbles. But on the next possession. the Lions bounce back with a touchdown. The Bucs have a chance to march down the field, but then the Lions pick it off and hold on to win.

Kitna leads the league in passing yards and interceptions with a completion rating of 28 percent. That’s good for seventh-worst in the league. Two of the players below him are a punter and a running back.

It’s only week 13, but Johnson has almost 4,000 receiving yards on the season.

Bucs 21, Lions 26 (3-8)

Week 13: Tennessee

The Titans are pretty scary in my opinion. They have Madden Vince Young. I really don’t have to say more. I don’t want to. The Titans shut us out.

Titans 34, Lions 0 — LOL — (3-9).

Week 14: Minnesota

I can’t really tell if EA’s idea of zone defense is that broken or the Lions suck on defense but way too many people are open in this game. It’s really not helpful when Kitna throws three interceptions … and a fourth in an awful comeback attempt and then a fifth in another comeback attempt.

A late touchdown brings the lead to six, but a failed onside kick dooms the Lions to yet another loss.

Vikings 38, Lions 32 (3-10)

Week 15: Indianapolis

We have to go up against Peyton Manning? Well shit.

To my surprise the Lions actually got out to a 18-7 lead. Then Kitna happens. Kitna throws five touchdowns, but three poorly-timed interceptions allow Manning and Co. to escape. I’m actually surprised that we almost had them. We only lost by seven to a team coached by Tony Dungy and quarterbacked by Manning. Can’t be too mad at this.

Colts 37, Lions 30 (3-11)

WEEK 16: New Orleans

The second-to-last game is against the New Orleans Saints. We have been eliminated from the playoffs, now the only thing left is to see how many receiving yards we can get Johnson by the end of the season. A staggering 5,000 yards in one season is still somehow in play. We can’t believe Johnson didn’t get injured or extremely fatigued. He kept in moderately good spirits throughout the season.

The bizarre part about this is the Saints inexplicably change from man defense in the first half to zone defense in the second half. Jon’s post play has been subpar against man defense and dominant against zone, which makes this decision a puzzling one.

Maybe it was an act of mercy, because It doesn’t affect the result that much.

Saints 31, Lions 12 (3-12)

Week 17: Green Bay

As the snow falls in Detroit this team is nearing the end of the season, just wanting it all to be over.

Coming into week 17, Johnson has 5,177 receiving yards. He only has 47 more catches than Terrell Owens, but he has 3,377 more yards. Kitna only stands behind Eli and Peyton Manning for most touchdowns this season, but he also has 39 interceptions.

We’re also not the worst team in the league. That honor goes to the Cleveland Browns.

We’ve actually clinched the fact we’re not the worst team in the league, so that’s something. Johnson gets invited to the Pro Bowl, Kitna doesn’t. Now we head on to Wisconsin for the last game of the season

Actually you know what? Forget it. We end the season with a 94-yard Packers touchdown from Rodgers. It’s cold. The Lions’ offense is cold. The Packers backups score before we do. Our season ends with a 44-6 loss. Our approval goes down from 12 to 8, because we were supposed to have an approval of 65 at the end of the season. We’re not even close.

Packers 44, Lions 6 (3-13)


Johnson is your NFL MVP. Johnson is your Offensive Player of the Year with 5,412 receiving yards.

For some reason our Lions GM wants us to stay with the team even though we have an approval score of 8. Out of 100. We’ve done almost everything wrong and they still want us to stay.


My game notes trailed off, but I had to watch Kitna throw 42 interceptions, so I don’t want to hear it. What I do want to talk about is the success of our play against certain defenses. All three of our wins came against defensive playbooks that were heavy zone. There were the Bears that ran Lovie’s Cover 2, the Vikings that ran Vikings Cover 2 and then the Bucs which ran Tampa 2, which is a variation of Cover 2.

We played the Dungy Cover 2 close, but we turned the ball over too much to capitalize on the matchup.

It took until the end of the test to realize if I didn’t pick the Minnesota Vikings, and chose a team with a blitz heavy or man heavy defense instead, we would have had different results.