It’s officially game week. Seven days from today, the Detroit Lions will host the Philadelphia Eagles to kick off the team’s 2022 regular season. It’s been a long wait—filled with even more Kool Aid drinking than this fanbase is typically accustomed to—but soon we will have actual football to watch and analyze.
Year 1 of the Dan Campbell/Brad Holmes era went about as expected. While the win/loss total was probably lower than most preseason predictions, there wasn’t much of a surprise about how the team looked. They fought hard under Campbell, but with an extremely young roster, there were plenty of mistakes along the way.
The honeymoon period of this regime is nearing its end. With a couple of first-round picks, free agent signings and another year of scheme development and teaching, Lions fans are suddenly increasing expectations. Most still think this team is still a year away from competing for a playoff spot, while others think this could be one of the most surprising teams of 2022.
Before we start dreaming of postseason football in Detroit, let’s talk about the bare minimum of expectations. Today’s Question of the Day is:
What is the bare minimum of acceptable expectations for the 2022 Detroit Lions?
My answer: Six wins. A three-win (or two-and-a-half-win, if you’re being exact) improvement is both realistic and setting the bar high enough for this team. They’re still either the youngest or second-youngest roster in the NFL, which means there will continue to be some mental mistakes along the way. They’re still quarterbacked by Jared Goff, who has a lot to prove for a six-year veteran. And their defense remains filled with question marks and limited depth.
But this team also was playing at a level pretty close to a six-win team by the end of last season. Going 3-3 down the stretch, with wins over the Cardinals and a Packers team who played their starters for a half (a half in which the Lions beat Green Bay), was impressive enough. When you consider how beat-up the roster was at that point of the season, that was no small accomplishments, even with blowouts at the hands of the Seahawks and Broncos along the way.
In that sense, it almost feels like six wins is too low of a bar for this team, and maybe it is. It would certainly be a pretty significant disappointment to see them win fewer games than that, especially with what appears to be a pretty soft schedule.
Still, the team didn’t make that many roster additions this offseason, so much of their improvement will depend on the development of returning players. That much remains hypothetical, so I’m keeping expectations in check.
Six wins minimum, or this season will be a disappointment.