Maybe it’s hopium or maybe it’s naivety, but nobody wants to start off a playlist with a downer.
The Detroit Lions found themselves in “moral victory” territory yet again to start the 2022 season, something that grew a little tired by the halfway point of Dan Campbell’s introductory season. But, personally, I hate that term. For one, it denotes any kind of victory during a loss. But I don’t like how negative fans weaponize it, either. Sarcastically calling a close loss a “moral victory” attempts to dismiss any real progress.
And don’t get it twisted, Sunday’s 38-35 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles represented some serious progress for this Detroit Lions team. Now it’s on them to show that the progress was not just a one-week deal and can be carried out through the season and beyond.
Detroit Lions Week 1 Song of the Game: “O-o-h Child” by The Five Stairsteps
Things are gonna get easier
Things’ll get brighter
The Philadelphia Eagles are a good team. They could very well be a contender for the NFC crown by the time the season is over. Of course, that’s what we’re telling ourselves now. Had the Lions made one or two more plays on Sunday, the national audience would likely be calling the Eagles one of the more overhyped teams this offseason. That’s just how the NFL narrative machine works.
But as objectively as you can look at this Eagles team, they look pretty damn good. They’re strong on both lines, and they’ve got a young quarterback who can beat you in a couple of ways. That alone can get you far in the NFL.
And the Lions hung with them. Detroit’s offensive line created holes big enough for D’Andre Swift’s star to finally shine brightly again. The Lions defense made Jalen Hurts earn every single yard that they gained—having to convert a ridiculous 10-of-17 third downs to keep their drives alive.
Detroit’s receiving corps—although they struggled with uncharacteristic drops—eventually showed that this team can push the ball downfield when they need to, and Jared Goff, despite his slow start to the game, made some important throws to keep pace with a hot Eagles offense.
Some day, yeah
We’ll put it together and we’ll get it undone
When your head is much lighter
It’s easy to forget that the Lions have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL. They only have one player above 30 years old—Michael Brockers—and it looks like he may be getting phased out of the defensive plans. Detroit may have only played three rookies, but by my count, 15 players who contributed significantly on either side of the ball are still on their rookie contract. In Week 1 against an Eagles team that looked significantly different than the one they faced last Halloween, those young players’ heads were likely swimming.
Aidan Hutchinson, the team’s second overall pick, occasionally looked out of his element. Jalen Hurts had him grasping for air several times, and the rookie defensive end finished with just a single tackle to his name. But worry not, child, because the head coach knows better days are ahead.
“I’m not even worried about him,” Campbell said. “He’s going to adjust from this. He’s prideful, he’s a pro, I already know that about him as a rookie, I think we all do. So, he’s going to want to better himself. He’s going to learn from this and he will be better.”
If this coaching staff can live up even to half of the expectations and hype they’ve been given after one season, come November, this team should look much improved.
With their heads lighter and easier matchups ahead, hopefully this can be the regime that finally gets years of incompetence undone.
I know all of this sounds familiar, and we’ve tricked ourselves into believing this franchise has turned a corner multiple times. But it’s only September. Let’s let the hope linger until we have a legitimate reason not to.
Let us close, as we always do, with the Detroit Lions’ official slogan for the past 70 years, as so wonderfully sung by The Five Stairsteps headman Clarence Burke Jr:
You can find the 2022 playlist here (or below):