It feels really good to be typing this, but the Detroit Lions are playing meaningful football in December. General manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell have preached patience since being hired prior to the 2021 season. Sure, they wanted to win right away, but not at the expense of their long term plans for the franchise. Benjamin Solak of The Ringer took a long look at a Lions team that is in playoff contention this year, and is just getting started.
It would have been understandable for people to lose a bit of faith in the Lions after their 1-6 start to the 2022 season. They are, after all, a really young team that is being led by a second-year coach. However, after winning five of their last six games, the Lions’ maturation process suddenly appears ahead of schedule. What’s more impressive is this recent stretch of play has largely been attributed to the young core of Campbell’s team.
“Of course I want to win now,” Campbell told The Athletic in February 2021. “And we’ll do whatever we can to win now, but not to sacrifice what we can become long term. I look at things two years out—I don’t look at them right now. I want to know where we can be two years from now, even possibly three years from now. I know that’s crazy in this business, but if you want to have long-term success, something you can sustain, something where we can create a winner here in the North for a long period of time, you have to build it properly. You have to have building blocks. You have to have a core.”
After tearing the roster down in 2021 and fully committing to youth, the Lions’ young core is a force to be reckoned with. From the first pick Holmes made in offensive tackle Penei Sewell to mining a gem like UDFA cornerback Jerry Jacobs—the Lions’ general manager has injected a ton of young talent into a roster that was extremely barren only a few years ago.
“You have to build this properly,” Campbell said in 2021 when he first became the coach. “All I would ask is the fans just hang in with us.”
Based on the crowd noise I have been hearing at Ford Field lately, I think it is safe to say that the fans hung in there. You can read the entirety of the article from Solak here, which features this spine-tingling conclusion:
they still have the most promising rebuild in the NFL—that, and a little bit more. They have wins. They have proof. They have momentum. No matter what comes next—a disappointment against the Jets, a playoff berth, or anything in between—the Lions are exactly what Campbell promised they would be: built the right way. Built for long-term success.
And now, onto the rest of today’s notes:
- Love this breakdown of James Houston’s play here from Brian Baldinger.
.@lions with the 217th pick in the 6th round; the Lions took @Jthouston_4 out of @jacksonstatefb ; the HBCU DPOY.. He has 4 sacks in 36 snaps in last 3 weeks! Need More; Want More @wyche89 @chucksmithnfl #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/4sM7HDj5dc— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 14, 2022
- Hear from Lions’ receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown on how rookie receiver Jameson Williams got so open on his first career reception.
"I'm super happy for him. I can't wait to see what he does moving forward. That boy can roll." @amonra_stbrown breaks down what happened on @bigsgjamo's first TD (and first #NFL catch) #OnePride pic.twitter.com/P4n8lvIl5i— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) December 14, 2022
- Your friendly reminder to make sure you go and vote for all of your favorite Lions for the Pro Bowl — voting ends on Thursday, December 15.
- Jameson Williams was the NFL’s fastest receiver in Week 14.
Jameson Williams was the NFL’s fastest WR in Week 14 https://t.co/GDmHa04up7— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) December 14, 2022
- Can the Lions make a serious push for the playoffs? Find out what the crew from “Good Morning Football” had to say regarding the Lions’ playoff hopes.
- Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has the Lions’ offense firing on all cylinders, and he is having fun with it. Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic has more on how the Lions’ are having a great time.
- Kenneth Teape of the NFL Analysis Network has 4 impressive stats for quarterback Jared Goff since Week 10.
- Should Dan Campbell be among the favorites for coach of the year? Kyle Meinke of MLive thinks so.
The Lions were always building toward 2023 and beyond. This year was always about next year. But the rebuild has arrived early, and the future looks brighter than ever. For that, Dan Campbell should be among the favorites for coach of the year.— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) December 14, 2022
Mailbag: https://t.co/ejKX22ytoP pic.twitter.com/0aDhacXeNt