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One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.

7/16/2009

Daunting challenge from the start

Idle chatter by the water cooler with a fellow reporter at The Oakland Press put a damper on an otherwise positive outlook as the dog days of summer tick away ever so slowly.

Enough, already! Let’s get the two-a-days going. Let’s see the improvements the 0-16 Lions have made in terms of personnel take the field and start competing for jobs.

Watching the time tick away until camp begins is worse than watching my grass grow.

Worse than that, however, is listening to the office pessimist lament about how the Lions are “guaranteed” to open the year with six straight losses, thus causing things to snowball, triggering a loser mentality to rip through the locker room again.

“Shut up, dude!”

“What’s the matter with you? Haven’t you been tuned in during the offseason? Didn’t you hear the news? Both Matt Millen and Rod Marinelli — the braintrust behind last year’s historic fall — were shown the door? A new regime, a new head coach in Jim Schwartz has already put a different thumb print on this year’s team.

“Did you not pay attention on draft day when the Lions solidified needs at quarterback, tight end and linebacker? Where were you when they signed former University of Michigan stalwarts Jon Jansen on the offensive line and Larry Foote to bolster the linebacking corps?

“The Lions are better than last year’s team. A lot better.”

I was rolling. There was passion behind the evidence being presented. It was only a matter of time before the co-worker would take a look at the evidence and see the light.

Instead, he dropped the bomb!

“I don’t care who they drafted, who they signed or who they recruited to coach this team. Did you look at the schedule? You tell me which game among the first six will result in a win.”

Here’s the first six games on the schedule: at New Orleans on Sept. 13, home to Minnesota and Washington, at Chicago, home to Pittsburgh and at Green Bay.

Whatever steam I had suddenly evaporated. The co-worker had a point. Six of them to be exact.

That’s not a hill to climb, it’s a mountain. At best, the Lions might scratch out wins over division rivals Minnesota and Chicago, but you’re fooling yourself if you think the Lions are on the same level as New Orleans, Washington, Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

New Orleans came into Ford Field last year and scored the first seven times the Saints touched the ball. In fact, they just scored again. Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl. The Lions haven’t won in Green Bay since before Brett Favre played there and Washington has also owned the Lions in recent years.

Getting off to a good start might be asking a bit much of a team coming off a winless year. Winning two of those first six games is probably a realistic target.

After the bye week in Week 7, Detroit entertains St. Louis and travels to Seattle and Minnesota before playing host to Cleveland. Frankly, that’s the first opportunity the Lions might be able to put together a string of wins.

This is no small thing we’ll talking about here.

The start of the season is crucial for a team looking for a slimmer of success to build hope, gain confidence and begin the process of learning how to win again. Getting a win coming out of the gate is crucial to the team’s growth.

So, as the co-worker at the water cooler said, you tell me. Where do you see the Lions getting off the winless wagon? Who do you see this team beating to launch Jim Schwartz’s coaching career here? How many wins do you see when you scroll through the schedule?

Don’t underestimate the importance of those first six games. Yes, the Lions are better than they were a year ago — by a long shot. They could still be 0-6 come the bye week.

Like I said before, “Shut up, dude!”

5 Comments:

Anonymous Big J said...

I don't necassarily agree with your friends--and yours--assessment of the shcedule. New Orleans is far from invincible as is Washington. The real only sure fired loss may be Pittsburgh but as one of you peers recently rported, Schwartz knows them and ate the heart out of that team last year. Now you need to account for the intangibles; 1st, Detroit is a compleyetly unknown commodity in the NFL this year with all the changes. 2nd. this is an aggressive coaching staff and administration as compared to the pussy cats last year who couldn't coach a Pop Warner team. 3rd, the overall improvement in personnel--I don't care what you say, even with older players, this is a heck of alot better that what they fielded as a team last year. Last but not least, the NFL is littered with the carcasses of teams who were successful one year then colapesed the next--and I wouldn't put that past any of the teams, except Pittsburgh,in the first six weeks. So, ye of little faith, do not dispair; anything is possible.

12:59 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that New Orleans is not all that. Their offense is incredible. However, as good as their offense is, the defense is just as awful. And, they will be without their starting DEs thanks to StarCaps (Minnesota will be without the Williams boys, too). The Leos won't have Grady Jackson, but they don't run inside all that much anyway.

I'm not even saying they're going to win, but it's far from a sure loss. You are seriously overestimating Washington, too.

1:32 PM 
Blogger brohan71 said...

I don't even care that much if the Lions win this season. I only ask that they are watchable and competitive. Let's not forget last year's "winnable" first game on the road at Atlanta. The Lions go down 21-0 before the first quarter is even half over.

And New Orleans is a good team on the rise at home. I just don't see it happening, but it's possible.

3:44 PM 
Blogger Michael said...

Your co-workers points about the Lions schedule, ignores your point which is, THIS IS A DIFFERENT TEAM! So, whatever New Orleans did or Washington did to the Lions last year is irrelevant. There's a reason why Falcons and Dolphins were able to turn things around in just 1 season, DIFFERENT COACH, GM and Players!

5:26 PM 
Anonymous Dave M said...

I agree the first 6 games are tough, and that they have the potential to beat Minnesota and Chicago. However, what is keeping the Lions from competing against New Orleans? That offense is based on timing and when they torched the defense last year it was week 16 not week 1. They'll still put up points but not as many, and Detroit's offense should be improved under Linehan, a very slightlhy improved offensive line, a servicable RB2, and more receiving weapons in Pettigrew, B. Johnson, Williams, etc. It will at least be close and maybe winnable if they can put pressure on Brees.

I don't think they have anyone to block Haynesworth and Pittsburgh is obviously a no win situation, but otherwise I think the rest are winnable.

10:13 PM 

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