Losses can be so deflating and sometimes the close ones hurt worse.
But consider this, the Lions have lost two games this year by a total of eight points.
Last year in their 14 losses they lost two of the games by seven points, Arizona and St. Louis, plus they lost the Pittsburgh game by eight points.
Out of the other 11 losses were nine were by 14 points or more, with four of those games ending with at least a 20-point deficit.
In other words, other than their two wins the Lions were never this close to winning last year.
Now, consider the injuries the Lions are experiencing. The theory going in was the Lions are starting to build a starting unit but the lack of depth would kill them.
Well we may have to adjust that thinking a little, the Lions have had some pretty important players out and the depth has stepped up just fine.
DeAndre Levy was being counted on to be a leader on the defense but he has yet to play. Still Landon Johnson has filled in well and even when he went down for a brief period Jordan Palmer and Isiaih Ekejiuba stepped in and held their own. Levy will be back soon and he should make a big difference in the linebacking crew but it has been no where near the disaster we all anticipated.
Starting DE Cliff Avril went out halfway through the first game but Turk McBride has stepped in with two sacks already and forced a fumble on both of those sacks. Even Lawrence Jackson flashed a little in the Philadelphia game. The depth of the DEs looks great and considering what Sammie Hill has done so far DT depth looks pretty good too.
The secondary wasn't spared either when nickle back Aaron Berry was lost for the season. Fortunately the Lions had added Alphonso Smith and he played well for having so little practice time in this defense. Even more importantly Louis Delmas has played through his injuries because the rest of the safeties have not looked good.
Really the whole secondary has looked as bad as advertised but even so there is hope. Chris Houston, Jonathon Wade, Alphonso Smith and Randy Phillips have had some flashes and they are young. I still maintain the plan for the secondary was identify two or three players who can play with Delmas and add another top quality player in the offseason.
To me this defense is very close; add a number one corner plus maybe a OLB and Safety and this is a very good defense.
What about that offense?
Great games out of Jahvid Best and Brandon Pettigrew are very encouraging, if they can get Calvin Johnson going that will be pretty tough for defenses to handle. I'll talk about Calvin in another article so I won't go into it here but consider Nate Burleson pretty much missed that game and the Eagles took Tony Scheffler away. But that's the point, they can take away one option but that opens up two more for Detroit.
The offensive line has been like the girl with the curl, good one minute but very bad the next play. Overall that has to improve and a little better play calling and design could help. It still boggles my mind why the Lions run a two TE offense but they can't chip block once in a while.
But far and away the biggest issue has been the Matt Stafford injury. Shaun Hill is a pretty good backup but there is no doubt this is a totally different offense with Stafford in there.
That brings me to something we heard Jim Schwartz say last week that the offense does not change with Hill in there. Now I took that as coach speak, obviously I hoped some things would be different. But we could look at that two ways, either they are expecting Hill to play like Stafford or they are expecting Stafford to play like Hill.
Coming off that Chicago game where I blasted Scott Linehan for the conservative play calling my fear was they were asking Stafford to play like Hill. After going back through that Philadelphia game I'm not so sure. They opened things up for Hill and while his execution wasn't always good I liked the play calling.
Remember how that first INT was a lame duck that the safety covering Scheffler picked off? Did you guys see Calvin five yards behind him all alone in the end zone? The more I look at it the more I believe the pass was supposed to go to Calvin but Hill couldn't get it there. Now imagine Stafford throwing that pass.
There were numerous times in that game where if it was Stafford throwing the ball things could have been a lot different. Now the question might be would Stafford see those guys but everything we have heard and seen in the preseason says yes.
These two losses have pretty much ruined my prediction of 10-6 but I am still very encouraged by these games. Go back to the start of this article where I talked about last year and how both of these games were closer than any loss last year.
Now consider both of these last two games. In both games the Lions had opportunities to pack it in but they didn't. They hung in there and fought to the end despite being down their best player. They have had bad plays and bad series but they haven't hung their heads. A lot of the credit for that goes to the veteran leaders they brought in like KVB but mostly it has been the team knows they are no longer outclassed.
They still need to put some wins together but I haven't seen that kind of fight out of them since half way through the 2007 season when the team figured out they couldn't hang because of a lack of talent and let's don't bring up the coaches. Even then it was a false hope they lost and it probably goes back to the 1995 season when they found out Scott Mitchell was not the answer in that play off debacle against the Eagles.
The attitude started to change last year and now it looks like the talent might justify that attitude. This is a team on the verge of putting it together and when it happens we won't have to look back on these days as disappointing.
This is more like a teenage boy trying to find his way while the fan base is watching these rites of passage anxiously hoping to find a perfect mate.