Football is almost upon us. As a matter of fact, as I write this sentence, the 2016 NFL season is 58 days, 18 hours and five minutes away. Preseason, or fake football as my friend Sean Baligian always calls it, is just over three weeks away. This is that time of year when all football fans have dreams and delusions of grandeur about how their favorite football team's season will play out, as well as armchair thoughts about how things should work in the front office.
Detroit Lions fans are not exempt from this stage. We all do it. Even I do. Today I'm here to ruin or mildly disrupt those dreams and shut down front office ideas. I can't tell the future, I'm not Chris Simms. But what I can do is offer up reasons as to why these things probably or might not happen. So I scoured the internet looking for Lions fans expectations. Here are the ones I found the most. Please don't throw things at me.
The Lions will make the playoffs
There are many fans out there that feel that this Lions team is wildly underrated and are a shoo-in to make the playoffs. While I agree that there's an excellent chance that happens, here's the why not. There are just way too many questions. Yes the Lions have what appears to be an improved offensive line and what could possibly be a more efficient offense. But is the very young line going to need time to adjust? Is Ameer Abdullah what everyone suddenly says he is? What if Jim Bob Cooter is just a flash in the pan? Can the Lions survive without Calvin Johnson? Are the corners really good enough? Is special teams going to be a train wreck again?
You see what I mean? Yes we can speculate that the Lions have an above average chance to shock some people in 2016, but how can anyone look at these questions and guarantee a playoff berth? I want to and I think they can. But I'm not calling any shots on this one.
Cutting Tulloch was dumb
I was a bit surprised to see so many felt this way. There's no doubt that Stephen Tulloch had a great run in his five years in Detroit. But the time to move on was and is right now. At 31, Tulloch wasn't getting any younger or any better, and it certainly showed in his play during the 2015 season. Opposing quarterbacks knew exactly where to put the ball when they played the Lions. It was right in the direction of No. 55 in blue. Some of that had to do with the loss of DeAndre Levy, but most of it circulated around the fact that Tulloch was getting burned nearly every week by tight ends and slot receivers. It's sad to see him go, that is for sure. But it was the right move.
Offensive line is good to go
This one is interesting. Mostly because it's not just Lions fans that feel this way. Sports analysts everywhere are subscribing to the idea that the Lions offensive line is majorly improved. In theory and on paper, you can't argue against it. It looks good. But in reality, how could anyone think this is set in stone so early? The fact remains that this is a very young line with a left tackle and a center that haven't played a down yet, a guard in Laken Tomlinson who showed improvement down the stretch but isn't ready to go just yet, a right tackle in Riley Reiff who will be playing a new position and Larry Warford who is still trying to recapture what he had his rookie year.
What about that makes this good to go? If Travis Swanson stays in as the starting center, you're essentially looking at the same line who contributed to 44 sacks and the 32nd ranked rushing offense with the addition of a rookie. That should frightened Lions fans everywhere. Work must be done. But if it all works out, the Lions could be one dangerous team offensively.
Zach Zenner will be a major player
Look, I love Zenner. I'm very happy that he plays for the Lions. But it appears to me that Lions don't see Zenner in their immediate plans since they've brought on Stevan Ridley. Both Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are primed for big years. So where does Zenner fit into all of this? As days go by, I feel less and less confident that the Lions will continue upon the running back by committee approach I was once sure they would take. You can argue that Ridley doesn't make the team, and I'd have to agree. You can also argue that Zenner could take over the Joique Bell power runner role. But what you can't argue is that the Lions will feature Zenner or even use him a healthy amount during games.
He's awesome and all that. But I feel much better if I look at him like another camp darling and hope to be pleasantly surprised. You should too.
Lions should trade Stafford
For the millionth time, I am addressing this. I blame a couple jack wagons at a certain radio station for using this as their go-to ratings bait. I'll repeat myself again. Trading Matthew Stafford is dumb and will solve none of the problems that so many magically think it will. There are no starting quarterbacks waiting in unicorn land for the Lions to call, and there hasn't been a solid quarterback to come out of the draft since Cam Newton. That includes Andrew Luck, too.
If you don't like Stafford, unfortunately for you, you'll have to suck it up and deal with it. Because the Lions won't trade him to Houston, they won't trade him in a boat, they won't trade him near a moat. They won't trade him for green eggs and ham, they won't trade him for Sam I Am.
So there you have it. Just to be clear, outside of the Stafford thing, there are great chances that some of this works out just fine and everyone is happy. But just in case, I urge all fans to be cautiously optimistic about the season, just as I do every season. That way if you're wrong, it won't hurt as much. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong in the comments section or come yell at me on Twitter @POD_Payton.