This is a team coming off an 0-16 2008 campaign, and is mired in a seven year funk, compiling an overall record of 28-84. Lions fans call those years the Matt Millen era, and thankfully it has finally come to an end.
This team will need an extensive rebuild effort before it can become a NFL playoff contender.
For a team that went 0-16, the 2009 schedule isn’t all that forgiving. The Lions will face both teams that made it to the 2009 Super Bowl, Pittsburgh and Arizona, and will face two west coast road games, Seattle and San Francisco. All of this On top of their battles within their own division, with teams who have significantly improved themselves.
Over the last seven years the Lions averaged four wins and 12 losses per season. The outlook for the 2009 season doesn’t appear to be any better. Right now it looks like the Lions have four decent chances at victories: Washington in week three, St. Louis Rams in week seven, Cleveland in week 10, and at the Cincinnati Bengals in week 12.
If Brett Farve doesn’t come back, again, to the Minnesota Vikings we could count either one of the Vikings games as potential wins. However the Lions have been notoriously bad on the road so let us just count the Vikings home game in week two.
Doing a little math we come to see that the Lions are a 4-12 or a 5-11 team going into the 2009 season. However considering this team just went winless for, for the first time in NFL history, four or five wins is a massive improvement.
2009 for the Lions will be a season of rebuilding, and of finding out what talent they have as well as what talent they need to take the next step towards a winning season in 2010.
A list of what the Lions should look to accomplish in 2009:
1) They must get number one draft pick, Matthew Stafford, adjusted to the speed of the NFL game. This means Stafford must play at some point.
2) Adjust their pass blocking schemes so that they are not putting Stafford at significant risk when he does play.
3) Address the future of RB Kevin Smith. The Lions must determine if Smith can be a featured NFL back or if he needs a complimentary back.
4) Hope that free agent LB additions, Julian Peterson and Larry Foote, can help change the mindset of the entire defense.
5) The front office must come up with a plan to rebuild the offensive and defensive lines.
If the Lions, as an organization, can win four or five games while accomplish several of these five goals; the club will be in a far better position heading into 2010.
While it is sad to say that the Lions will suffer their eight losing season in a row, the patient fan with the long view will see that they may be ready to start turning the corner back to respectability.