The 2010 Lions had a rough outing early and a lot of bad luck. They ended a 2-10 season with a remarkable 4 game winning streak, thus throwing division losses and road losses futility records out the window. They even upended the NFC champion Packers and almost swept them, only losing the game in Green Bay by 2 points. The 2010 Lions were good enough to win more games, but just not experienced enough to overcome everything that happened.
My, how times have changed. The Detroit Lions were 0-16 in 2008. The worst season ever to go along with the worst team of all time. Going into the 2011 season, they have 2 All-pro players in Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh, a QB that, when healthy, has the ability to be elite, a running back that has sprinter speed in Jahvid Best, a top-5 defensive line, and a coach who seems to have a direction with this team. Add a GM that has savvy and intelligence and you get a team that is in a lot better situation than the last ten seasons prior combined.
The feeling and mood in Detroit is a lot different than seasons past. The Lions fans have faith in this team and I see alot more people outside of Detroit too have a different approach to the Lions. You no longer hear about how bad the Lions are and how they will never win, you seem to get a sense that they are turning the corner by listening to people like Terry Bradshaw actually compliment them for a change. The media, both local and nationally, is almost lighthearted towards the improvement that this franchise has made.
The last decade of this franchise was nothing but negative press and Jay Leno jokes. The fans had nothing to be excited about or any living proof that the corner was about to be turned. The "Fire Millen" signs were everywhere and fans wore the opponents colors to prove a point that the Lions were no longer relevant. The team had little to no talent and no superstars, no QB, no defense, no head coaches with a plan. It was like having empty cabinets and bare cupboards with hungry children living in the house just wanting a little nourishment, but there wasn't anything to give. There never was.
William Clay Ford was finally forced to fire Millen and start caring about winning. He was losing money and knew that the Lions wouldn't have very many fans showing up to the games if they never won. So he hired the one guy that most thought wasn't qualified enough to run the franchise. In just two offseasons, Martin Mayhew is making believers out of everybody. He's made so many smart personnel moves and hired a really bright coach who has an awesome staff. Things are definitely moving in the right direction. Finally, a GM with a plan who knows how to draft the right players for the scheme that the coach has implemented.
I knew that things were getting better for the Lions when I went to my in-laws in Chicago for Christmas and didn't get made fun of for wearing my Calvin Johnson jersey. Every year, since 2004 when I started going there, I got made fun of for being a Lions fan. I couldn't back up anything they did on or off the field so like the Lions of that time, I just took their abuse and didn't fight back. But, this year. I went there and they all talked about how the Lions were on the right track and they actually got screwed for the "process" game in Chicago and how they have a sick d-line, and they were even naming the players that they liked the most. They thought Stafford could be a franchise QB if he stayed healthy and Jahvid Best is the best back since Barry to play in Detroit. It was nice for a change to be proud of my team.
The feeling is different and the times have changed. The 2011 Lions are relevant again, post season hopes and high expectations are becoming likely for this team, unlike seasons past when post season wasn't even part of the discussion. The Lions are starting to prove to everybody that they aren't a doormat anymore and you actually have to gameplan for them now. Just imagine how much better the mood will be in 2012 if the Lions make the playoffs this year and Stafford stays healthy all season.
Who really would've thought that just 3 seasons ago we were winless and now we are talking about playoff aspirations. That alone should give Lions fans hope that bigger things are on the horizon for this team.