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Notes: How can Lions show progress toward 2020 in remaining 2019 games?

Maybe next year is separate from this year and they cannot.

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Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Michael Rothstein at ESPN put thoughts to paper about what the Detroit Lions can do from now to the end of this miserable season that can have some meaning going forward. Much of his criteria for “how Matt Patricia and the Lions can show actual progress” involve how the team plays (not how many games they win) over the last six games of the season. Rothstein places substantial weight into whether the coaching staff can get buy-in from the players, and if the team continues to play hard:

A telltale sign of a long-term plan not working is if players stop caring. So far, that hasn’t appeared to happen. Detroit has been in every game this season and led during most of them.

If that type of fight remains over the last six weeks, that can offer a glimmer of hope for the future.

The problem with casting those types of things as “actual progress” is that Lions fans have already seen that movie before.

Just suppose we see the Lions play hard and close, maybe win two or three of their remaining games including a feel-good season finale over the Packers. The defense starts to look better in the second half of the season, maybe even solid against the run. In the end, the organization is not a contender, finishes with a record earning a top-10 draft position, but at least a handful of rookies show promise. Jarrad Davis made some plays but was inconsistent and knows he needs to improve. In spite of some tinkering, the offensive line wasn’t much better and the run game looked bad once it lost Kerryon Johnson to injury. A veteran defensive lineman acquired played well, and while we’ve wondered at times about buy-in and morale, there are some mentions from players that sound like it might be okay (until it’s not).

Sound familiar? It is nice that Rothstein is still trying to be optimistic and search for something Lions fans can feel good about this season, but the paragraph above was intentionally written to be “mad libbable” with the 2019 season. Who knows what can be extrapolated from the end of this season into next year? Maybe something, but then again maybe nothing at all.

And now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:

  • Your weekly installment Xs and Os with Dan Orlovsky:

  • I was not aware of any of this except the assassination:

  • If you missed our own Mike Payton on the Prideiscope, here it is:

  • Dave Birkett at The Detroit Free Press previewed the upcoming game on Sunday in the nation’s capital by comparing each side’s unit-versus-unit matchups. It’s similar to what our own Jeremy Reisman does in his On Paper articles, except without the DVOA analysis.

  • Nick Baumgardner at The Athletic wrote about the mess in Detroit (subscription required) and how many of the things going wrong are beyond the control of the head coach. I kind of wish I had a subscription to read the whole thing, but I’ve already spent my digital services allowance.

  • From the official twitter account, Throwback Thursday footage of the team’s road win at Washington in 2013: