The offseason is supposed to be the time for optimism and hope. All 32 teams have the same 0-0 record, and every roster looks better than it did last year, because the team is healthy, nailed its draft, and got a bunch of under-the-radar free agent signings.
But how long fans hold onto that optimism is a product of the team’s performance throughout training camp and the preseason. And for the Detroit Lions, they massively failed their first benchmark test, dropping the preseason opener 31-3 to the New England Patriots. The score isn’t the concern. The competitiveness of the entire team is. Though nearly all of the Lions’ starters were benched for Thursday night’s game, the backups didn’t perform at a level that inspired any confidence in the team’s depth.
As a result, fans are feeling wary. In our weekly FanPulse poll, only 59 percent of fans believed the team was heading in the right direction, down 16 percent from our post-draft poll:
Compare that to the rest of the league, and Lions fans are entering Week 2 of the preseason with the fifth-lowest confidence in the country. Only the Bengals (47%), Texans (43%), Jaguars (36%) and Washington (35%) have fanbases with lower confidence.
Given that the Lions will face off against the Texans this week, it should be a great opportunity for the team to bounce back and earn a little more faith from their fans. Of course, if Detroit struggles again, it will be hard not to think about last year’s slow start in the preseason and how it bled over into the regular season.