What To Expect From This Year's Detroit Lions
I'm not going to start off by trashing the Lions for what they did in the draft. In fact, I'm going to commend the Lions for what they've done since completing the historical, yet forgettable 0-16 season.
In all honesty, this has been the best offseason in recent memory for the Detroit Lions.
Regardless of what people may say, the Lions are in the midst of a multi-year rebuilding program. In no way was this draft or this free agent class going to restore the roar in Detroit.
Those who pick at the Lions' draft choices need to understand that the Lions managed to select players that most thought would be taken in the next draft. They'll address other needs as they see fit in next year's draft and free agency.
Lions fans are going to have to be patient with this team, because if they are, the dividends may be paid.
As controversial as it seems, the Lions could have drafted one of the best quarterbacks that the league will see in the next two decades or they may have chosen the next Ryan Leaf. Yet, the Lions are off to the right start in terms of Matthew Stafford's development.
In the perfect scenario, Stafford won't touch the field this year. He'll spend the year learning Scott Linehan's offense, which was ranked first or second in most offensive categories when paired with Daunte Culpepper from 2003-2004.
Some compare Stafford to previous Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington. However, they don't recall that Harrington was rushed onto the field due to Mike McMahon's injury. Yet, that wasn't the only issue with Harrington during his time with the Lions.
Harrington was plagued with an abnormal heart rhythm in 2002, which ultimately required surgery. He was never the same quarterback following the procedure, until he played the Lions when he was a member of the Miami Dolphins.
Nevertheless, Harrington's career went right down the toilet after his reign in Miami.
With the Lions' second pick in the first round, they selected Brandon Pettigrew, which turned many heads. Some praised the pick, while most have yet to stop criticizing it.
However, Lions fans have to realize that Pettigrew is an offensive lineman. He was the best blocking tight end in this year's draft and will give Daunte Culpepper another weapon in his receiving corps.
Teams who face Detroit focus most of their secondary's attention on Calvin Johnson, the best wide receiver in the National Football League. Yes, that's right. I firmly believe that on any other team, Johnson would have outperformed Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson.
Now, with Pettigrew, teams will now have to focus on stopping the short passing game as well as the running game with an improved offensive line.
While some claim that the Lions did not address the defense, which needed all or most of the attention in the offseason, they did just the opposite.
The Lions now boast one of the top linebacker corps in the league. The defense has vastly improved with the additions of Julian Peterson and Larry Foote.
Even though the Lions have made significant advances in rebuilding such a troubled organization, fans will need to be patient with this year's team. You're not going to see a .500 team, so don't set the standards too high.
With that said, I wouldn't expect another 0-16 season or even a 1-15 season. You're going to get around three to five wins, which is huge improvement from last year. If you see any football team increase their previous win total by three or more games, they're doing something right.
Lions fans, I beg of you—please, just be patient.
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