In a normal season, if the Detroit Lions started with an 0-3 record, we’d be talking about draft busts, poor general managing, selling the team and firing the coach. But in the nascency of a rebuild, most people seem fairly optimistic about this winless team right now. In Monday’s poll of Lions fans, 73 percent of you said that you either feel a little better or a lot better about the Lions after their incredibly unfortunate loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Only 10 percent of Lions fans said they were feeling worse.
The cynicals among us would call it accepting mediocrity or shun us for feeling good about moral victories, but there are real reasons to be optimistic about where this team is headed. And given all the offseason churning of the roster, isn’t this exactly where we thought the Lions would be after three weeks of playing against serious playoff contenders?
So let’s focus on the positives for today with the Question of the Day:
What is the biggest reason for optimism with the Detroit Lions?
My answer: The coaching staff.
Despite my displeasure with how Dan Campbell handled the last couple minutes of Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, I have to say I was impressed with how the rest of the coaching staff handled that game.
In just three weeks, we’ve see Detroit’s defense get manhandled by the 49ers, show some minor improvement against the Packers, and then, for all intents and purposes, shutting down a Ravens running game that has averaged close to 200 yards a game for the past few years.
Offensively, despite having a new, shaky quarterback, a receiving corps that looks like a practice squad roster, and a completely new scheme, Anthony Lynn has drawn up creative plays to get the ball moving, and he finally figured out how to design a somewhat successful running game.
The players are all saying the right thing and showing serious effort for four quarters, and the vibe around the team seems seriously improved.
And the coaching staff has fully embraced the rebuild, as well. They’d never admit to it, but the Lions playing their young players is a clear indicator they know this years is more about evaluation than it is tallying wins. Moves like (trying to) trade Jamie Collins to start rookie Derrick Barnes, and not bothering to add a solid cornerback just to see what they have in their young group are all signs this team knows 2021 is not a year for a playoff run.
By the end of this year, we’re going to have a much clearer understanding of where this roster stands, how good this coaching staff can motivate, and whether they can continue to coach up this ragtag group of players to compete with anyone in the NFL, like they have for the first three weeks of the season. I’m liking their chances so far.