Most NFL fans keep their eye on teams that have a killer momentum. This season, many are watching to see if Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will take another Lombardi Trophy. Others are keeping a lookout for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to see if they can repeat their win from last season.
The Packers, Bills, and 49ers are also worth a gander as they look to compete with the teams listed above. Not everyone is sold on the hype. In fact, some fans and pundits prefer to keep their fingers on the pulse of teams in a full rebuild. Though overhauling a lagging franchise takes time, it’s often one of the most rewarding aspects of following the NFL.
Transformations like the Dolphins under Shula or the Bears under Ditka give hope to fans everywhere. In fact, some in Detroit are asking if Dan Campbell could do the same with the Lions. Though the team has started another season with a winless record, things are looking up for the Lions.
Looking forward, fans have their wish list ready for a full rebuild. Here are five key aspects many would like to see, both on and off the gridiron.
Build the Brand
Building out the Lions brand into other entertainment sectors would help the team gain more popularity and visibility. Though most Detroit natives don’t need to be reminded about the Lions, not everyone sits down to watch a full game on Sundays.
Many are multi-tasking, whether playing poker online to stay entertained during a rough match or handling household chores during stoppage time. The idea here is to keep fans focused on the game through unique traditions, like a halftime skit or a back-and-forth with spectators. Household chores should come before the whistle, while poker should come after.
Stick With Goff
So far, players and staff have hailed the Lions’ latest QB for his work ethic and attitude. Despite a lackluster rookie performance following his 2016 draft, Goff managed to take the Rams to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2018-19 season.
Will he transform into one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks while with the Lions? It’s certainly not impossible, as Goff is in his mid-20s and in a perfect position to turn his experience in LA into a master class in Detroit. It’s not likely to happen soon—but it does seem possible, so long as Campbell and company know how to get the best out of Goff.
Look Beyond Detroit
As mentioned above, building out the Lions brand would be a great way to keep fans engaged during a long-haul rebuild. At the moment, most Michigan football fans put their hopes and dreams into college football, but stronger engagement from the Lions could help foster more support from fans of the Wolverines, Grizzlies, and Spartans.
For the most part, the Lions do a good job of marketing beyond the confines of Detroit. However, as with branding, the franchise is in a perfect position not only to rebuild its roster and staff, but also introduce new fans through activities like draft parties, ticket giveaways, and social media campaigns.
Keep the Coaching Staff
Campbell and other staff have been adamant that this season won’t be another ‘SOL’ case. Historically, the phrase ‘Same old Lions’ has been used to brush off the team’s losing record. So far, Campbell has emphasized work ethic over negativity—in the middle of a rebuild, it’s vital to pay attention to details and look to the future.
A few crucial errors against the Ravens had many discussing the team’s offensive and defensive capabilities. However, as with Goff, these are likely growing pains. A measure of dogged determination (which Campbell isn’t short on) will go a long way in developing both the staff and players and getting them into a lasting rhythm.
A Playoff Appearance
Most would aim for a Super Bowl win, but Lions fans will be happy to see a playoff appearance. Despite the team’s ongoing struggles, they found a way to make the playoffs back in 2011, 2014, and 2016. Will Campbell be able to push the Lions into a playoff appearance, and will Goff be able to lead the team to a meaningful run? It’s too soon to tell, but it’s definitely on the list.