The 2011 season hasn’t even been over for two weeks and already fans (including me) are looking forward to next year’s season. Last summer, many of us thought that the Lions would be much improved and fighting for a playoff spot. Of course, they made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. I’m considering last season a success even though it ended on a sour note. What will it take for next year to be considered a success?
Hopefully the Lions can improve in their weak areas (offensive line and secondary) through the NFL Draft and free agency. If they can improve in those areas even a little bit, I think Jim Schwartz will have a really nice team. In a quarterback league, you have a healthy Matthew Stafford, arguably the best young quarterback in the league. The Lions have the best receiver in the league along with some other quality receivers. Personally, I don’t think the defensive line played up to their expectations, but they’re still one of the best. Also, the linebackers are solid and Louis Delmas anchors the secondary. Look at everything I just mentioned; that is a great core of players.
If the Lions can’t make the playoffs next year with that core, that will be a big failure. However, I think most of us are at least expecting the Lions to go to the playoffs again. Are you expecting the Lions to win the Super Bowl next year? Probably not, but maybe you are. So what are your expectations for the Lions next year in order for the season to be a success?
My early expectations (these could change over the summer) for the 2012 Lions are just for them to make a deep playoff run. I think going to the NFC Championship game is reasonable. However, I don’t think they will be able to do this without hosting a playoff game. In order to do that, they will need to win the division. Call me crazy, but I also don’t think winning the North next year is unreasonable. Green Bay has their flaws, Chicago continues to get older, and without a quarterback the Vikings can’t challenge. A first round exit for the Lions won’t cut it for me, they need to continue to grow as a team and franchise by making a run in the playoffs next year.