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Jim Schwartz Forces The Issue On Nicknaming His Defensive Line

Here's a great and proper nickname for the Detroit Lions' 2011 defensive line: The Detroit Lions' 2011 Defensive Line. It works on so many levels

***If you want to read much of what you’re about to read here as well as a very elegant and heartfelt dissenting opinion — and believe me when I say that you do — then follow the link, friends.***

There are some iconic nicknames for NFL defenses.

The Monsters of the Midway dominated in the 1940s and ’80s.

The Steel Curtain helped Pittsburgh win four Super Bowls in the ’70s.

The Purple People Eaters made it to four Super Bowls during the ’60s and ’70s and won the 1970 NFL Championship.

Silver Crush hasn’t played a down together.

But at least it’s got that nickname in place.

That’s all thanks to Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, who took to Twitter this past week to ask fans what should be the nickname of his defensive line. “Silver Crush” was your winner, America. The name is an homage to Lions defensive lines from the 1970s, which was labeled by an assistant coach as Silver Rush. That’s swell for Detroit; too bad everyone else’s first instinct will be to wonder why the Lions are trying to copycat the Denver Broncos.

Nicknames are fine and dandy when they come organically. Those first three teams I mentioned at the top earned their monikers through continued success. The this generation’s Lions and success are like Elizabeth Barrett Browning and fart noises; they just don’t seem to go together.

Now, there is certainly humongous potential residing inside this humongous line. Ndamukong Suh is the reigning Defensive ROY and looks like a stud. Nick Fairley has been compared to Warren Sapp. Kyle Vanden Bosch is a strong veteran who played pretty well in 2010, his first season in Detroit.

But the only thing this line has accomplished is being placed on the same roster. Together, with Fairley, it hasn’t won a single game. Yet, it has a nickname? Yeah, good luck with that. Until the Lions win anything, this group will continue to be just another defensive line. If it succeeds enough, it will receive a catchy alias by the media, and it will probably stick. But having your head coach pick a nickname for a defensive line that is in its embryonic stages is tacky, a tad desperate and turns up irrelevant results.

People who support this nickname say it gives this team and its city a swagger, a confidence, a cockiness heading into the 2011 season. I fail to see that reasoning. The city might take ownership of the nickname, but it won’t mean anything if the players don’t back it up. And I don’t remember the last time questions such as “how were you guys able to overwhelm the line of scrimmage today” or “how is this group playing so well together” were answered with “it’s the nickname.”

Nicknames don’t make a unit play better. They don’t help a unit gel faster. If this defensive line wants confidence, all it needs to do is believe in its ability. The Lions’ defensive line has the athletes and the skill to be among the league’s best. When it gets there, then maybe someone will help Schwartz reverse the current order of his cart and his horse.

After naming the winner, Schwartz wrote on Twitter that Silver Crush “fits but time will tell if it sticks … don’t want to force it.”

That’s only 100 percent contradictory to what Schwartz just did.

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