I know it’s only May, and we still have a long way to go before any meaningful football is played. But when the schedule is released, it makes football season feel a little bit closer. It somehow becomes more tangible when dates and times are attached to things.
Surely it feels that way for all 32 organizations and their respective fanbases. It’s something to look forward to. A new season brings a fresh slate, where teams can reshape narratives, and build on last year’s work.
For the Detroit Lions, there is plenty to be excited about, despite only winning three games in 2021. Coach Dan Campbell appears to have full buy-in from his players, and general manager Brad Holmes has done some heavy lifting in terms of roster construction since his arrival in Detroit.
This regime could have kicked the can down the road some—spread out the cap hit of those contracts they cut bait with at the beginning of last year. That would have given them a little more room to operate under the salary cap in 2021, even if it meant sacrificing future year’s cap space in order to do so.
Instead, the Lions decided to strip the roster down to the studs, parting ways with several significant (and pricey) deals handed out by the previous regime. This led to them carrying a huge dead salary cap number ($66.9 million) in 2021 and, consequently, much less spending money to use towards the product they were putting on the field.
Now, the Lions get to enjoy some of the rewards of last year’s sacrifices. Several of those aforementioned contracts are now completely off the books, and Holmes has had another offseason and draft to continue reshaping the roster to his liking. And maybe most importantly, the coaching staff and the young core of this team have a year of experience under their belts.
With all of that said, it would be wise to temper expectations, at least for this season. This roster still has its fair share of issues, and unless you are one of those people who believe quarterback Jared Goff is going to tap back into his 2018 form, the quarterback position is still an ongoing problem.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
With it being year two of the rebuild, what does a successful 2022 season look like to you?
My answer: Obviously, context matters here. Similar to last year, I expect this team to compete on a weekly basis, even more so this year than last. On paper, the roster appears to be significantly deeper and more talented than it was a year ago. However, I am not exactly making plans to fly to Arizona in February. This team is still really young, has major question marks at positions like linebacker and cornerback, an offensive coordinator in his first full year in the role, and so on.
To put it simply, if the Lions can raise their win total from last year, stay out of the NFC North basement, and see improvement on a weekly basis—that would work for me.
Then, who knows? 2023 could potentially be really fun...
What do you all think? Let us know in the comments.