One of the biggest constants in Detroit Lions land is the "Same Old Lions" moniker. You hear it all year around. Whether it's a free agent the Lions did or didn't sign, a draft pick that everyone can't agree on and of course after every loss. At times it can be the only way a Lions fan can express their feelings about the team when things go wrong. For others, it's a way of covering up their lack of knowledge or to simply troll.
Regardless of how you use it, it may be time to lock it up, throw it in the lake and paddle away without looking back. Because regardless of how you spin it, it no longer makes sense. Today, I want to go over a few reasons as to why these aren't your "same old Lions." Even if the season turns out to be a total bust.
Dirty days are over
Part of the Lions' transition over the past six years was moving on from the period of time when the Lions couldn't stay out of trouble on the field or off the field. There was a time when Lions fans couldn't get excited about anything without giving themselves a ten second buffer to look for the flag that undoubtedly following. While that has been seared into Lions fans' brains to still react that way, take it easy. The Lions ranked 25th in the league in the amount of accepted penalties in 2015. That's a drastic drop from 2014 when they were ranked fourth.
You can feel safe knowing there's little chance that a Lions stomps a player, "accidentally" steps on a player's ankle twice in one season or shoves a referee. The Lions' "criminal" label is long gone.
Youth nearing prime
You may think the Lions are horrible because Calvin is gone, and that's your opinion to believe. But the fact of the matter is that the Lions have a young quarterback coming off what may have been his best overall season, two receivers in their 20s that are proficient in catching the ball and not dropping it, a running back corps that is young and fast with Theo Riddick, in particular, entering his prime as the best receiving running back in the league. Not to mention guys like Darius Slay, Ezekiel Ansah and DeAndre Levy becoming some of the best players in the league at their positions on defense.
It seems that in almost every position there is young depth ready and willing to contribute. Can you say that about the Lions of old?
You know what the Lions have lacked for a long time? Leadership -- somebody to speak up and be heard in the locker room. A guy that's been there before and knows how to rally the troops. The Lions have that on both sides of the ball now in Anquan Boldin and Haloti Ngata.
It cannot be understated that Anquan Boldin brings a professionalism to the Lions that they may have never had before. The 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year has done everything these players want to do in their careers and can tell them what is needed to get it done. He can also teach the young guys how to carry themselves in a professional manner. If you think this is a "SOL" move by the Lions, you are sorely mistaken.
When was the last time you, as Lions fan, could look at the front office and feel confident that these guys have it all taken care of? I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever felt that way. Sure it may be too early to tell if Bob Quinn is answer to all the Lions' problems if the past, but calling the shots as I see them now, Quinn appears to be a no-nonsense guy that does what he says he's going to do.
The Lions will never be the Patriots, and they don't have to be. But turning a lost team into a team that has a direction and has leadership and depth in place is something the Lions have not been in quite some time. If ever.
Love Caldwell or hate Caldwell, the fact of the matter is the Lions actually have some continuity that's positive. As opposed to the other nine coaches the Lions have had in my lifetime. despite what you feel about Caldwell, this isn't continuity out of stubbornness like Jim Schwartz was. This is continuity out of the understanding that the players respond to this staff and will work their hardest for this staff.
This staff also brings a defensive coordinator that knows this defense better than anyone could, and an offensive coordinator that knows how to work with the quarterback's strengths like nobody else bothered to. The Lions are built to achieve from the top down for the first time since Wayne Fontes. Now they need to actually go do it.
But even if they don't, it won't be because of the 2012 Lions or the 1988 Lions or what have you. It will be because the team is simply not ready yet. If they never are ready, go ahead and create a new moniker to fit this new era team, because the old one is truly played out.
What do you think Lions fans? Will you continue to use "SOL?" Or do you believe that this team's success, or lack thereof, will come from brand new reasons? Be sure to leave your comments below or come yell at me on Twitter @POD_Payton.