Even though POD is exclusively a football fan post; I have to incorporate some hoops into the mix; strickly for comparision of course.
In 2001, a guy with a huge afro named Ben Wallace started incorporating tenacious defense that was catching the eye of sports fans in Detroit. Despite the fact that the pistons were still wearing teal and were mediocre; you got to love a guy who was grabbing 15 boards a game, and blocking jump shots and lay ups and sending the ball into the 3rd row of the stands. A few years later, a perfectly assembled team would win the NBA title and basically be the measuring stick in the Eastern Conference.
The Pistons had "stars" on their team but they didn't have "superstars." There wasn't anybody on our team that ESPN had a love affair with which is why the Pistons didn't have too many distractions going into the playoffs. Unfortunately we went through what Dallas is going through now. It wasn't what the Pistons did right... the story was what the Lakers did wrong. Whatever, we got the title, and the Lakers got the coverage.
Taking a look at the Lions now; you get the sense that they are starting to be a lot like what the Pistons were when they started winning. Last year when the clock struck midnight and Free Agency began, I woke up and went to work and read about how we signed KVB. Julius Peppers was clearly the biggest prize on the market but we got is what Mayhew and Schwartz thought was "the right player." They took the "Joe D" approach I guess what you could say. He also traded for Corey Williams the night before and also signed Nate Burleson the next day... all with specific ideas in mind for these gentleman. Taking a look at every move they made last season, it all made sense in a way. We acquired Shaun Hill, Corey Williams, KVB, Nate Burleson, Lawrence Jackson, Rob Sims, Chris Houston, Isaiah Ekejuba, Tony Schaeffler, and Nate Vasher. All mind you for a specific purpose. Out of all these players... tell me one who didn't have an impact on the Lions last year?
Yeah... we finished 6-10. But nobody can deny the we were a hell of a lot better than what were showing on paper. Also remember it took Dumars 3 years before he produced a legit contender in the Pistons. After losing to the Celtics in the East Conference Semi Finals, we traded Stackhouse for Rip and signed Chauncey to start over Lindsay Hunter. We lost in the East Finals to Jersey. Then we added traded for Rasheed and we won the title.
Does anyone else see the pattern? Mayhew so far has had the right formula and you can tell that its taking affect and by adding more talent when we can; you will probably see the same result. Football is far more complicated than basketball and you have to have 22 people who fit the formula plus a bench. In basketball you only need 5 plus a bench. I'm not making any bold predictions this year because quite frankly it irritates the hell out of me when people start doing that. I will say that the Lions are at the point where we will be more attractive for better free agents to come to. I recently read about Keith Bulluck the other day and surprisingly we were on his top 3 list... that wasn't the case a few years ago.
In the mean time, my fingers crossed over the recent reports of "Secret Meetings" in which nobody seems to know what is being talked about!