The Detroit Lions are a team that embodies the phrase "any given Sunday." You have zero idea what you can expect from the Lions at any point in a game.
Coming into the season, there was a decent amount of hype surrounding the team. They were supposedly going to be healthy in the backfield and seemed primed to challenge for the division title.
After six weeks and five games, the identity of this team is in complete chaos.
Are the Lions an explosive offensive force? Can they fix the special teams disaster? Can the secondary hold up so long as the defensive line actually performs up to its potential?
These are difficult questions for a team whose playoff hopes were on life support as of the fourth quarter of the Philadelphia Eagles matchup.
The 2-3 Lions need to get it together. So let's take a look at whether this team is any good, or just lucky not to be 0-5.
The Lions Have the Talent, They Just Lack Consistency
The Lions have spent approximately 18 quarters playing semi-horrendous football. The offense has spent most of that time dropping passes, throwing interceptions and running third-down routes that are short of the first-down marker.
Against the Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit turned it on late and came alive. In just the fourth quarter and overtime of the Philly game, the Lions amassed a jaw-dropping 266 yards.
The offense is exactly the same unit as last year's, except for the upgrade at tailback with Mikel Leshoure. If they played with any sort of consistency, they would be scoring around 30 points a game instead of the 25 they currently average.
The Defense is Much Better Than We Thought
The offense was supposedly going to carry the defense as they did during most of last season. However, the converse has proven to be the case.
Detroit's defense has been much better than expected, particularly against the run. In fact, if it weren't for touchdowns given up by the special teams coverage units, the Lions would have at least two more wins. The Vikings only scored six points on the defense, which would have given the Lions a 13-6 win.
The Lions actually boast a top-ten defense in terms of total and passing yardage allowed. Considering they had been without one of their best players (Louis Delmas) for four games, that ranking is rather impressive.
Jim Schwartz Must Instill Some Discipline
The key component that has been missing for the Lions is discipline. They have had absolutely none throughout the large majority of their five games.
That responsibility does fall on the players to a degree, but Schwartz must create an atmosphere where the players are being held accountable. Against the Eagles, Detroit racked up a ridiculous 16 penalties.
Teams that commit such large numbers of penalties rarely enjoy any long-term success. Ask the Oakland Raiders.
The lack of discipline is also the reason that the special teams units have played so poorly. The Lions have not taken care of their responsibilities by staying in their lanes, which has led to three return touchdowns.
If Schwartz can get his men to fall in line, the team won't commit so many penalties, won't play so poorly on offense for long stretches of time, and will seal up the coverage units.
So are the Lions better than we think, or just lucky? The answer is neither.
Detroit has not played up to the potential that it occasionally displays. This is a good team that has played poorly.
The season has been saved for now, but a failure to address the offense, special teams and especially the lack of discipline will derail any playoff aspirations.