Daunting challenge from the start
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!”