Saturday, November 7, 2015

Limp Lions

It is not a good time to be a Detroit Lions fan. Losing seven of the first eight games this year is awful, of course (and one could argue it should have been all eight, but the Chicago Bears wanted to lose even more than the Lions did a few weeks ago). Having your team in the news due to firings of the offensive coordinator, team president, and general manager is pretty bad, too. I'll be shocked if head coach Jim Caldwell is still in charge in 2016. The worst bit, though, is that it's hard to see things getting better any time soon.
Kinda says it all.
Bad Lions teams are nothing new. Most NFL fans know that the Lions are the only team to go 0-16, back in 2008. The 50th Super Bowl will be played at the end of this season, and the Lions have participated in none of them. Exactly one playoff game has been won by Detroit in the Super Bowl era.

A few years ago, things were looking up. The Lions had Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh, and a few other first-round picks playing well. The defense was great, and the offense was putting up pretty numbers. Detroit managed two playoff appearances, in 2011 and 2014, though neither was a win. But the opportunity window for that squad closed fast.

Now, in 2015, the defense is no longer dominant. Suh left in free agency. DeAndre Levy, arguably the best Lion's defensive player with Suh gone, has been injured. Free agent signings like Haloti Ngata haven't filled the gaps. And the offense isn't much better. Stafford has been wildly inconsistent, occasionally hitting a good stretch but mostly making poor decisions. Johnson has had all kinds of injuries in the past few years, and is clearly not the player he once was. And the offensive line...less said about their performance, the better.

While there are a few young players who show promise, like Ziggy Ansah and Ameer Abdullah, most of the Lions roster is old by NFL standards. A lot of money is tied up in some of those older players, which is going to have to go at some point. On the bright side, the 2016 draft could be a good one for Detroit, with a few extra picks from the loss of free agents last off-season, and presumably a high overall pick thanks to an awful 2015 season. Even if that happens, though, it'll be a few years before that new blood really settles into the NFL and starts to perform.

Whoever gets that general manager job in Detroit is going to have a rough road bringing the team back to a competitive level. Good luck to whoever it is, they'll need it!

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