I’m probably no different than anyone else when I get my first glimpse at the Detroit Lions schedule. I always look to see when the Lions will head to Green Bay and Chicago because of the potential for cold weather conditions. I look for the Thanksgiving opponent and any other nationally televised matchups. I look for the bye week.
I was initially disappointed to see the Lions scheduled for a week five bye. Last year’s by perfectly split the season with eight games before and eight games after. The late bye is a team’s best chance at healing up for the stretch run but the Lions won’t have that opportunity. However, my initial disappointment has been trumped by the events over the past four games. The way things are going, there may not be a stretch run of any significance. The Lions need a chance to hit the reset button and the week five bye might give them that chance before it is too late.
The Lions have a handful of early injury issues for which the early bye should be a great help. The break allows the team to work Louis Delmas back into action gradually; he practiced yesterday and will have an opportunity to see how his knee responds before attempting a full week of practice. Corey Williams is a week or so removed from knee surgery so this gives him an extra week to heal without having to miss a game. Matthew Stafford looked healthy enough during last week’s game but the chance to rest his hip won’t hurt. All three of those guys are vitally important if the Lions are to make anything of their 2012 season and the early bye is to their benefit.
There is plenty of non-physical healing that needs to be done as well. The Lions’ special teams need to be brought back from the dead and the offense needs to find that swagger they had a year ago. Whether it be soul-searching by individual players or complete inventory of what is working and what isn’t by the coaching staff, there is plenty the Lions need to do before they hit the field for their next game. The extra week between games will certainly help.
The events of this season will make me change the way I look at next year’s schedule when it is first released. I’ll still make a point to look for when the bye week occurs but I will think about its implications differently. As it turns out, the bye week has been perfectly placed for the Lions the past two years despite being several weeks apart in the schedule.