How many wins for the Lions in '07?
Just got back from Lions mini-camp where I got that old Naughty-By-Nature feeling after three days in Allen Park - everything's gonna be all right.
First a disclaimer, covering college football for the last four years I wasn't able to keep up with the NFL like most red-blooded Americans. Sundays were work and travel days, so I watched the occasional NFL game, covered one or two more, attended most Thanksgiving Day games as a fan and kept up with the exploits of an old high school buddy (who played with the Browns, Bills and Saints) as best I could. I knew next to nothing about the inner-workings of the Lions, and admittedly began covering them earlier this spring with a clean slate. Whether that's good or bad only time will tell, but half an offseason later I feel comfortable enough to say this team will be surprisingly competitive this year.
A couple things jump out. First, the offense has fantastic potential. Calvin Johnson will be a Pro Bowler in three years, and Mike Martz has enough other weapons to make things purr. Defensively, the Lions are blessed with compartmentalized coaching. Rod Marinelli spent the first 40 minutes or so of every practice working with defensive linemen (his speciality), and defensive coordinator Joe Barry spent plenty of time drilling the linebackers (the position he coached in Tampa). There's some good young talent in the front seven (Dewayne White, Ikaika Alama-Francis), and I'd buy futures on Keith Smith and Stanley Wilson.
I'm not calling the Lions a Super Bowl team (as Dan Orlovsky half did today) or even saying they'll win 10 games (as Jon Kitna did two months ago), but I'd bet milk money they make serious strides in on-field performance and have a handful more wins as evidence. Check back in September for an official prediction, but I'm house hunting in the six- to eight-win neighborhood now. Am I crazy? Let me hear your thoughts.