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Monday open thread: Was this a successful season for the Detroit Lions?

Did the Lions do enough to redeem themselves?

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Sunday’s victory over the Green Bay Packers in the books marks the end of this chapter of Detroit Lions football. The question is, is it the first chapter in a storybook ending?

No one save the diehard fans were predicting the Lions to amount to much this season, and based on their record, that seems to be the case. A mere three wins leaves Detroit in the basement of the NFL, with just the 3-14 Jacksonville Jaguars to keep them company. A record of 3-13-1, thanks to a tie versus the Steelers, is a step down from 2020’s marred campaign under Matt Patricia and Darrell Bevell. If that’s the case, how can you claim this year’s performance was better? Football is about winning, and three wins is fewer than five wins.

The difference is in the details.

Whereas the Lions were trying to compete last season—and failing—this era of Lions football was about reassessing and rebuilding. Under Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes, the goal was to see what key pieces got left behind by the previous regime, and to fill the multiple voids with talent, either via the draft or trades or free agency. There were two things we found out quite quickly: the leftover roster was subpar at best, and Holmes can work magic with rookies.

For the returning players, there was excitement surrounding the likes of D’Andre Swift, Jeff Okudah, and Romeo Okwara. Unfortunately for the Lions, each of them missed time with injury, a crippling blow to the limited talent on the roster. On the positive side, the Lions struck gold in the draft. Penei Sewell and Amon-Ra St. Brown have stolen the show with their incredible rookie performances, but players like Levi Onwuzurike, Alim McNeill, and Derrick Barnes deserve some praise as well. Additionally, the Lions signed some undrafted starters in Jerry Jacobs and A.J. Parker.

There’s also the coaching staff to note. Whereas the tenure of Matt Patricia was filled with bad play calling on offense and defense, the Lions under Dan Campbell have made strides and are showing plenty of promise. Aaron Glenn has turned water into wine with this defense, dealt injury after injury and continuing to put together decent performances. On offense, Jared Goff has progressed over the latter half of the season to the point where he may be the future at quarterback.

Despite the promise being shown, the elephant in the room is that the Lions were not a good team this season. Although two of their wins came against playoff teams, losing a baker’s dozen of games is never something to be happy with. The Lions have a high draft pick as a result, but as we have seen over the years, that is no guarantee of success.

Speaking of success, did the Lions meet your definition of success?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Was this a successful season for the Detroit Lions?

My answer: I think it was.

Entering the season, I was not concerned about the on-field results. A winning season would have been incredible, but at the time it seemed far from realistic. I wanted to see improvement, and I believe we’ve seen that. This is a young team—and coaching staff—and they had their fair share of failures. The losses to the Bengals, Eagles, and Seahawks stand out for the wrong reasons.

Those blowouts aside, the Lions were surprisingly competitive in most of their games. That’s a positive reflection on the coaching staff, although it’s worth noting their three wins came once Dan Campbell took over play calling duties from soon-to-be-former offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. Assuming Aaron Glenn isn’t poached by another team, I am excited to see him get a full season with Okudah, Okwara, and potentially an edge like Kayvon Thibodeaux or Aidan Hutchinson. The severe injuries to Okudah and Okwara—Achilles injuries—was perhaps the worst part of the season. These are two players expected to be cornerstones on defense, and they both suffered an injury that can jeopardize careers. I can only hope they return to full strength. Those losses hurt more than anything on the scoreboard.

The offense still has lingering questions regarding performance, but if the Lions can continue to play like they have down the stretch, that’s something to look forward too. A healthy Swift, a more-involved St. Brown, and an offensive line at full strength should hopefully yield a more potent and consistent offense.

Growth was the most important part of this season, and the Lions have done that. I’m not sold on 2022 being a playoff-caliber team yet, but the future is bright.

Your turn.

Poll

Was this a successful season for the Detroit Lions?

This poll is closed

  • 91%
    Yes
    (1552 votes)
  • 8%
    No
    (136 votes)
1688 votes total Vote Now