At 4-7, Detroit Lions fans are pretty devoid of optimism these days. The team took a clear step back this season from the 9-7 seasons of the past. The Matt Patricia era was supposed to take the Lions to the next level. No more Wild Cards and one-and-dones. We were supposed to be talking division titles and home playoff games and Super Bowl runs.
Of course, we’re not even a full season into Patricia’s reign, and expectations were probably too high for an immediate turnaround, but, still, people are rightfully bummed about this team right now and many are understandably questioning the future of this franchise.
But since we’re still in the middle of a holiday weekend, let’s try to share some optimism about the future. So today’s Question of the Day is:
What is one thing that keeps you optimistic about the future of the Detroit Lions?
My answer: The small signs of a defensive turnaround.
Patricia was brought in as a defensive mind, and it was clear a month into the season he didn’t have the personnel he wanted. He cut Sylvester Williams, Jonathan Freeny and Anthony Zettel. And when Detroit was relying way too heavily on Ricky Jean Francois, general manager Bob Quinn went out and got himself Damon Harrison Sr. from a desperate Giants team.
Since then, the defense has rebounded noticeably. Detroit’s run defense was literally worst in the league, but over the past few weeks it has been one of the best. We’re starting to see it all come together defensively, and while there are still serious personnel issues in the secondary, we’re at least seeing the coaching staff play around with different players. Undrafted rookie Mike Ford has started in the past two games, the Lions just added Marcus Cooper via the waiver wire and they benched Teez Tabor.
This is a group of coaches and personnel evaluators that clearly know their weaknesses defensively and have done a good job of making a roster changes throughout the regular season. While it didn’t all come together in the first year, some of the pieces are in place. The defensive front has three great players now (Harrison, Da’Shawn Hand, A’Shawn Robinson), and it’s making a difference. If Detroit can have a free agency period much more effective than their last, I think this defense could take a big step next year.
As for offense... well, that’s for another day.