It was all good in 2011 when the Lions went to the playoffs for the first time in a dozen years. Then in 2012 they took a dive, finishing 4-12.
Lions fans have good memories. They have not forgotten the miserable 2012 season.
So once again the Lions are coming off a trip to the playoffs in the 2014 season and skittish fans don’t want to see another slide.
Here are five reasons these Lions won’t have the same backslide that they did in 2012:
1. The coaching staff has changed. Team president Tom Lewand was asked this question at a season ticket holders’ event this week. His first response was to look at Jim Caldwell and his coordinators. They weren’t around in 2012. They’ve already started working on the mindset for the team in 2015. It happened immediately after the devastation of the playoff loss at Dallas.
2. After a season under Caldwell, the Lions have are stronger mentally. Yes, they play the game on the field, but they have to have the right mindset. Caldwell worked on that from Day One.
3. They were a better team in 2014 than they were in 2011 — their last two playoff seasons.
4. With the help of Caldwell, they are finishing better. In 2012 Matthew Stafford had three fourth-quarter, game-winning drives but none after Week 7. In 2014, he had five such drives in weeks 7, 8, 9, 14 and 15.
5. The defense is so much better. In 2014 it was ranked second in the NFL at the end of the season and was in first place for several weeks. In 2011, the defense was ranked 23rd in the NFL. Yes, they have lost Ndamukong Suh but they’ve gained Haloti Ngata. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said this week that the defense will be better in 2015. After seeing what he did in one season, it’s hard to doubt him. When he took over, the defense had been ranked 16th in the 2013 season.
OK, OK. There are some things that could happen — like catastrophic injuries to key players — over which there is no control. Still, things are looking up for the Lions.