I joked over the weekend that I have grown uncomfortable with the optimism surrounding the Detroit Lions from fans, analysts, and even inside the NFL. But the truth of the matter is I’m not joking. It’s making my skin crawl.
Of course, this is a ridiculous reaction. For years, we’ve decried the media for not giving us enough positive attention or ignoring actual progress being made within the organization. Now that we’re finally getting it, we should be happy.
But the reason it’s eating me from the inside is simple: I fear buying in and putting my emotions on the line. It’s easy to be a fan of a team with low expectations. There are no bad outcomes. You win, it’s a pleasant surprise. You lose, it’s an expected part of the learning and growing experience for the team.
When your team is starting to turn the corner, the weight of expectations can be suffocating. The Lions are a better team, and right now both general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell have bought a lot of goodwill with this city. The future seems bright. The only thing that can actually ruin that is losing when you’re not expected to lose, and we’re getting dangerously close to a point where the Lions are not expected to lose many games. In short, the true test for Campbell and Holmes lies in the not-too-distant future.
I fear, though, that we may be getting ahead of ourselves. This was never going to be a one or two-year rebuild, yet I see some fans talking themselves into the Lions being an NFC North winner this year.
So in an effort to dilute the Kool-Aid—and perhaps protect my own feelings from vulnerability—we’re going to kick off this week with some wet blanketing. Today’s Question of the Day is:
What is your biggest concern about the future of the Detroit Lions?
My answer: The quarterback situation.
This isn’t meant to be a direct criticism of Jared Goff, but I suppose it will come off that way. I want to feel optimistic about the way he finished the 2021 season because he was pretty darn good. He had a competent supporting cast, and he’s got an even better one heading into 2022.
But the fact of the matter is five games is too small of a sample size for me to believe Goff can perform at a top-10 level consistently for an entire season. His last two seasons in Los Angeles—where he was supported by a very good cast of players—looms large, and many of the issues he had during that stretch continued in Detroit.
The concern about quarterback goes beyond Goff, though. Holmes deserves to be part of this conversation, as well. He’s one of the many in the Rams’ organization who okayed, if not encouraged, a move up to get Goff in the draft, and he doubled down by making it part of the Matthew Stafford trade.
Maybe Goff works out in Detroit, and Holmes makes a lot of us look foolish. But from where I’m sitting, Holmes very much still has to prove himself as a quarterback evaluator. And until the Lions figure out their long-term quarterback situation, their success will always have a pretty serious cap on it.