Ideally, the goal for any NFL season is to win the Super Bowl. Not all teams are created equal, however, and expectations naturally differ from team to team. Some teams may view themselves as Super Bowl contenders, while others merely want to make a playoff push. For the Detroit Lions, it has been another season where playoff aspirations could not even live past October. By failing to clear that low hurdle yet again, attention turns towards what comes next.
While the Lions could theoretically go on a miraculous run and book a playoff ticket, the reasonable expectation is that they will flounder their way towards another disappointing season with a few wins sprinkled about. Disappointing is a subjective term, and as a result, opinions on the season that has been and the season that will be are likely mixed. If you were one of the fans dreaming of a playoff appearance, this start has undoubtedly been a disappointment to you, and nothing but an improbably win streak would satisfy that goal. Yet if your focus was on the growth and improvement of the roster, there have been many pros and cons to weigh.
For one, the 2022 draft class has looked promising. Aidan Hutchinson had a multi-sack game against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7, further adding to his season total. Josh Paschal missed a majority of the offseason, but his first taste of NFL action was a solid showing. Malcolm Rodriguez turning into a starting linebacker was an unforeseen but positive note. Even Kerby Joseph has shown promise in his limited snaps, a role that is growing post-injury to Tracy Walker. Jameson Williams has yet to make an impact due to his college injury, but despite that, there is optimism and excitement about his future.
As a con, the inconsistencies on offense and defense have caused the team to sputter. To start the season, the offense was dynamite, but the defense fell flat and cost the Lions a win or two. The tune has changed in recent weeks, with the offense instead falling silent. Allowing 29 (22 if you take the scoop and score away) and 24 points was a vast improvement for the defense, but the offense would fail to score a single touchdown in either of those contests. Until the Lions can get both units firing at the same time, we will continue to see these frustrating losses. Neither unit is strong enough to overcome the other’s struggles.
Those are just examples of the good and bad we have seen. We have a better understanding of what this team is, from strengths to weaknesses. Going forward, let us focus on setting adjusted expectations for the team.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
What do you want to see from the Lions the rest of the season?
My answer: I want to see the Lions mount a successful comeback.
There are many valid directions you could go with your answer, from seeing personal growth to a change in coaching philosophy, but I want to see the Lions test their mettle and pass for once. We have often spoken of the mental aspect of football, and a successful comeback victory would illustrate growth that the team desperately needs to show.
The loss to the Cowboys was the epitome of what is wrong with the Lions. With the game still within reach, numerous blunders wound up sinking Detroit. Instead of showing resilience, the Lions actively imploded when it mattered most.
I want to see that changed, at least once.
A comeback victory would be a positive in multiple ways. Firstly, it is quite literally a victory, something that has been far too lacking in recent years. Additionally, comebacks usually require the offense and defense stepping up. On the defensive side of the ball, it means stemming the attack of the opponent, something the Lions have failed to do consistently. Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys was a prime example, with Dallas mustering two late touchdowns to end any hope of a comeback.
This also plays into the role of the offense, which is to minimize mistakes and showcase an ability to succeed under pressure. The Lions have not done that. The defense may have given up those late touchdowns, but the turnovers on offense were the catalyst that sent the game spiraling. Whereas good teams rise to the occasion when pressured, the Lions have cracked on nearly every occasion, not only failing to mount a comeback, but actively worsening their situation.
So far this season, the Lions have had two games where my criteria were almost met. Against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1, the Lions put together some late touchdown drives, but the defense couldn’t quite hold. In the very next week, it was again the defense struggling, this time trying desperately to hold a lead. Thankfully, it was an instance of the offense actually closing the door on their opponent with some second half scores, though it was closer than it should have been.
In summary, a comeback win would demonstrate that the offense has some fight and won’t self-destruct. It would show that the defense can take a stand when it matters. Finally, it would highlight the team’s ability to keep a game close. The Lions have had scattered moments of positivity so far, but I want to see them culminate in a victory. I know moral victories don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but a comeback victory would give the players, coaches, and fans some optimism going forward.