Detroit Lions Show They are on the Path of Improvement

Detroit Lions 7, Green Bay Packers 3 (box score)

I spent a good part of last week digging into some numbers to try to find proof for or against the opinion that the Lions are making progress despite what their record may indicate (read this and this if you missed it).

I tried to remain unbiased and let the data make the conclusions rather than interjecting my own opinion. My time for impartiality is over: This Lions team is vastly improved.

The biggest factor in some fans not wanting to hear any talk of improvement is the team’s inability to close out games. Close and competitive wasn’t going to cut it, it was going to take wins.

Well, the Lions got one today.

Drew Stanton played poorly enough that even his most ardent supporters have to agree that he is not an NFL quarterback. Earlier in the week the Lions suffered another rash of players hitting IR. Calvin Johnson had just one catch. Add it all up and it doesn’t sound like an equation for success. It wouldn’t have been for the same old Lions.

Some might try to downplay the significance of the Lions win over the Packers because Aaron Rodgers was knocked out of the game late in the first half. You can be sure that these are the same people that would refuse to hear anything argument that the Lions would have beaten the Jets if Matthew Stafford had not left the game. Sorry haters, you can’t have it both ways.

Don’t get me wrong, the Lions still a ways to go before they are playing with and beating a Green Bay team with their full compliment of players. But that doesn’t mean we have to deny the progress that comes along the way.

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Tags: Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Drew Stanton Green Bay Packers Progress

  • kiddet

    Jerry Jones was quoted, last night on 60 Minutes, as saying “…statistics are for LOSERS”. The same can be said of improvement. Moral victories are no victories. They are just a way to lessen the pain of your team’s inability to win a game. “Well, at least they are competitive…” or “They hung in there for three quarters…”; these comments are sure signs of a losing program. But I will say that those in charge of the Lions are showing some progress, in how to create a winner, which, yes, is “Improving”. There really is no secret to creating a winner in the NFL, the formula is quite simple, achieving the formula seems to be quite difficult. The most important ingredient in building a winning football franchise is to develop quality offensive and defensive lines. Everyone knows it, it is obvious, yet not many suscribe to it. Come draft day, teams focus on the flashiest skill position player available. One, owners believe those types of players will put fans in the stands, and that will justify the large sums of money they have to pay that player. Two, there is the myth that offensive and defensive linemen are not worth the money skill position players make. Yet, when you pay your new QB $41 million, guarnateed, how can you not justify the need for a quality offensive line, to protect your investment. Many would say that offensive linemen are more valuable than the QB. The theory is, the better the offensive line, the less talented the QB has to be. It is the same principle that works on defense. The better the defensive line is, the less talented the defensive secondary has to be. But until ownership and management can commit to this philosophy, the Lions will continue to lose.

    At least management seems to get it, on the defensive side. And, for a while, Detroit is going to have to rely on the defense to win games. Just as they did yesterday. The adage is “Drive for show, putt for dough”.. it applies to all sports. Defense wins championships. That is true for every major team sport. I was stoked yesterday when the Lions beat the Packers, I just hope the defense realizes that winning, for Detroit, rests with them. They can not rely on the offense. I know it is a tall order, but I think they have the horses to do it, especially on the defensive line. However, the Lions need Vandenbosch(sp) back. The defensive line looks as if they believe in each other, I hope that is true. It is easier to believe in themselves when they have Suh out there, he is a beast. Who is Jackson? He is already better than Kalimba was.

    • Brian Dean

      Nice takes on your comment kiddet.

      One note though, I am not in 100% agreement with your statement: “Come draft day, teams focus on the flashiest skill position player available. One, owners believe those types of players will put fans in the stands, and that will justify the large sums of money they have to pay that player.”

      I don’t think this is true. Teams draft according to what their needs are. If it was a popularity contest, Tebow would have been taken #1 this year. I think instead teams assess what they have versus what they need. There is no way that Jake Long taken at #1 was the “flashiest skill position player available” and no way would he put butts in the stands. Even though he is the highest paid offensive lineman in the game, I’m sure his money has been WELL justified.

      To me, drafting a player in the NFL draft and MLB free agency are one in the same. In most cases you never know what your going to get. Guys might of had a great college career (NFL), or had a good season previously (MLB) but the future doesn’t hold any guarantee’s. What i’m getting at is teams go with their basic instinct versus needs and hope for the best. Look at guys like Joey Harrington and Charles Rogers or even Andre Smith. Looked good from the start…… bust.

      There is no question that the Lions need help within the O-Line and Secondary, but the whole argument of wasting $41 on Stafford… this is tough to say for now. Although we have all these needs, we didn’t have a QB at the time. A struggling team must start somewhere and why not with a QB? Management went with Stafford unknowingly that he would be on the shelf this often.