It doesn’t take much to go wrong in Detroit before the football team gets labeled as the “same old Lions”. Even coming off a 10-6 season and the franchise’s first playoff appearance in over a decade, it took just three weeks before those cries started being heard.
With a 4-9 record and a sub-.500 season guaranteed, the Detroit Lions’ 2012 season is a failure. Same old Lions? The answer is a matter of perspective.
The old Lions constructed under the unwatchful eye of Matt Millen never made the playoffs or even finish a season with a .500 record. These Lions are not those same old Lions. Even with a far worse starting point to their regime, the Jim Schwartz/Martin Mayhew/Tom Lewand led Lions have the 2011 season as a feather in their cap and that success can’t be ignored when considering the 2012 Lions.
These Lions are starting to look a lot more like the old-old Lions – the Wayne Fontes/Bobby Ross era of Lions football that preceded Matt Millen. Those years were defined by a handful of playoff appearances mixed in between years of disappointment and teams that didn’t live up to their potential.
Like these Lions, those Lions weren’t without talent. Barry Sanders has to be named when discussing the best running backs of all time and Calvin Johnson is putting himself in the same discussion for wide receivers. How sad would it be if Megatron’s career ends without any meaningful wins?
The phrase “same old Lions” can also be fittingly used to describe the historical state of the team independent of any particular era. The Lions, and even going back to their days as the Portsmouth Spartans, have never followed a season of ten or more wins with another double-digit win total. A total of six head coaches in franchise history to accomplish that feat and not one of them could do it – Jim Schwartz being the most recent.
Is Jim Schwartz destined to be the next Wayne Fontes or Bobby Ross (minus the San Diego Super Bowl appearance) and nothing more? It’s difficult to say from where we sit today but the answer may only be a year or two away.