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Monday open thread: Are the Detroit Lions overachieving or is this the new normal?

The Lions are hot, but is that sustainable as the playoffs approach?

NFL: DEC 11 Vikings at Lions Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“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.”

I wrote this back on October 24, the day after a demoralizing beatdown at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. In all fairness, it was nearly rock bottom for the Lions. The growing pains of a rebuild were front and center, and a loss the following week to the Miami Dolphins sent the Detroit Lions to 1-6 on the year. The offense had alternated between explosive and imploding, while the defense had more leaks than shipwreck. Add in some kicking catastrophes, and not much was going right for the Lions.

How’s this for righting the ship?

The Lions have had an incredible six-game stretch, going 5-1 in some dominant performances. Whereas the inconsistencies plagued the early season Lions, the Lions of late are playing their best football on a near weekly basis. The offense is playing confident and mistake-free, while the defense is finding its footing. This is the entertaining football we have been missing for nearly half a decade, if not longer.

The Lions have gotten excellent performances across their roster. Jared Goff is playing the best football of his Lions career, perhaps his career in general. Amon-Ra St. Brown continues to torch opposing defenses, DJ Chark is bouncing back nicely from injury, and Josh Reynolds is a valuable safety net. The offensive line, with a revolving door along the interior, have performed very well despite the injuries—they managed to keep Goff clean all game against the Vikings. The rookies on defense have impressed right off the bat. Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston are becoming terrors for opposing offensive lines, while Kerby Joseph and Malcolm Rodriguez are making critical plays on a weekly basis. Even depth pieces like Isaiah Buggs, John Cominsky, and C.J. Moore have shined when called upon.

With all of these gold star-worthy players, it reflects well upon the roster that Detroit has built. That being said, the memories of the early season still linger. The Lions have not made significant changes since then—is there a chance that regression strikes these Lions?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Are the Detroit Lions overachieving?

My answer: I don’t think the Lions are overachieving.

To be an overachiever, you would need players to perform better than their talent. You can make a case for a few specific overachievers, but as a whole, these Lions are different. The Lions have prioritized high ceiling players, and I think we’re seeing the result of players reaching that ceiling. Goff still has the talent that made him a first overall pick, and games like these highlight it. St. Brown is playing at an elite level, and I don’t think it is a mirage—he is that good. Houston, Joseph, and Rodriguez were athletic, high-upside prospects, and we are seeing that upside, albeit earlier than we expected.

If anything, I think this stretch of success demonstrates that the Lions were underachieving. The talent was clearly there, but it wasn’t clicking. You need look no further than Jeff Okudah. Stricken with a poor scheme in his first season and injury in his second, not much was going right for Okudah. 2022 has been the resurgence he needed, and he is playing like a true top cornerback.

The coaching staff deserves credit for putting together a well-oiled team as well. The Lions are playing to their strengths and their opponent’s weaknesses. That level of scheming will help every player regardless of ceiling. Does Goff play this well without offensive coordinator Ben Johnson? Do Okudah or Joseph reach their current level without Aaron Glenn as defensive coordinator? Both parties have relied on each other to succeed. The coaches have put the players in positions to win, and the players have played well enough to execute the scheme. That was absent from the early weeks of the season. That is not the case for this recent hot streak.

The Lions are playing well, and we can only hope that continues to close out the season. Regardless of the outcome, whether they make the playoffs or fall short, these recent weeks have shown what the Lions can do when the players play to their potential. Not only is that a playoff-caliber team, but perhaps a playoff-winning team.

Your turn.


Are the Detroit Lions overachieving?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    (212 votes)
  • 88%
    (1576 votes)
1788 votes total Vote Now

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