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There was a time in Lions history when a 4-10 record was routine, and the pain of it had dulled.
Now is not one of those times.
With franchise-caliber players in place at a number of positions and a playoff run (albeit a short one) in the books, this was supposed to be a fun season.
Sure, there were calls that the Lions would regress this year, and many were hard to deny, given the charmed nature of some of last season's victories.
Still, going from a 10-win season to a 10-loss (likely more) season isn't the kind of regression typical of a young team coming off its first taste of success. It's a full-on disappointment.
Surely, this team still has a lot of potential, and most of the pieces that made it successful in 2011 will still be around in 2013. Additionally, the Lions are missing a cavalcade of players due to injury.
But what this season shows, unequivocally, is that the Lions still have a lot of problems to clear, and most of them are not intangible things like "maturity" or "discipline" or "experience." There is clearly still work to be done on the roster.
That's not a bad thing, of course. Every year, 31 teams will go into the offseason with "what ifs," and this season, the Lions will be one of them.
But that doesn't mean the Lions haven't disappointed this year. The Lions went from playing a playoff game in January to playing meaningless games in December in the span of one season.
Now all that's left is to spoil the Bears' playoff run.