There is a feeling among a lot of Lions fans that is concerning. I have heard it on the radio and every time I hear it I cringe. It is a feeling of expectation. People saw the improvement last season and just expect that improvement to easily continue in 2011. The expectation is called “playoffs”.
It is a mistake to call the 2011 Detroit Lions season “playoffs or bust”. It would be incredible and of course I would be thrilled to see them in the playoffs. There are bigger things to get done this season though, and I want to see them continue to build this thing for many seasons and not just this one.
Look at the 2010 Cincinnati Bengals. They played a playoff game in 2009 after dominating games in their own division. They finished 10-6 and hosted a home game in the playoffs. They finished the 2010 season 4-12 and look to be falling apart at the seams.
It proves that turning it around is not easy. Some teams struggle to keep the rebuild going and that is not something I want to see here. I can think of nothing more horrible than to see the improvements they made in 2010 disappear in 2011.
I look at Martin Mayhew’s comments from his pre-draft press conference. Mayhew said “I think we have a lot more needs than people realize.” This is the most honest he was at any time in the press conference.
I see significant holes at linebacker and in the secondary. I also recognize that the holes in the secondary were masked by how good the Detroit Lions defensive line was. Yes that defensive line is still there but everyone knows it and the Lions are not going to surprise anyone this year. Teams will game plan for that line and they will take advantage of weaknesses elsewhere.
This team is not that far removed from a winless season and while they have done a great job getting out of that pit, it is important to remember how big that hole was. I see them giving every team they play a battle and being ultra competitive in 2011, but to label the season “playoffs or bust” is a mistake.
Expectations have to match the reality of the situation and that kind of expectation is too high. Let’s keep the momentum going and see where we are in a year or two. My guess is that expectations will be very high and that is when it will be realistic to have those high expectations.