While it is still far too early to call this season a failure, the Detroit Lions are already at a critical juncture.
We are all aware of the hype coming into the year, the expectations this team had after their first appearance in the playoffs in over a decade. With a star-studded offense, and a front seven that was projected to be one of the best in the league, this was supposed to be (and still could be) the year to take another step towards the upper-tier in the NFL.
Yet, after four weeks, things could already be unraveling.
Now if you think back to last season, the 2011 Tampa Bay Bucs were in a similar position. After posting a 10-6 season in 2010, the Bucs were in a position to rattle off multiple postseason appearances because of the young talent they had acquired. A third-year quarterback, up-and-coming skill players and a talented, but inexperienced front seven were all going to be part of the core of what was expected to be contender for years to come.
For some reason, things fell apart. After a promising 4-2 start, the team came undone and lost its last 10 games to finish the season.
Again, this is far too early to consider this 2012 Detroit Lions season a failure. The team has only played four games, but it’s easy to see the previously-noted similarities in talent between this version of the Lions and the 2011 Bucs.
The difference? Jim Schwartz.
It was apparent last season that Raheem Morris had lost the locker room. In a league where games are incredibly close week in and week out, the 2011 Bucs lost eight of their final 10 games by double digits. They had completely quit on their head coach.
While Schwartz may not be the best head coach in the league, he has the respect of the roster. Tulloch, Burleson and KVB are just a few that have raved about Schwartz in interviews, and it’s evident that the players will compete each and every week, even if the team does not live up to expectations in 2012.
Add in the fact that this is still a roster filled with both youthful talent and skilled veterans, plus the additions of a few players (Delmas, Best, Greenwood) that have been on the shelf to start the year, and there is no reason to think they can’t put things together here in the next few weeks beginning in Philly.