The Detroit Lions 2013 football season has officially begun. Rookies, undrafted free agents and anyone else the Lions can scrounge up, reported to Allen Park yesterday training camp. The veterans report Thursday. After finishing 4-12 last year, and the Fords pretty much saying that Jobs are on the line, this training camp is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing I’ve seen in quite some time.
The Lions were on a steady upward trajectory until last season, and the training camps were actually kind of boring, watching the talent slowly develop over the years. You knew who was going to play where, and were basically just watching player development. That’s not the case this year. The Detroit Lions front office and coaching staff find themselves at a very crucial juncture at this, their fifth year at the helm, training camp. This team has to CHARGE out of the pre-season breathing fire. They need to have all cylinders ready for that first game against the Vikings, and set the tone right out of the gate.
These five things that have stoked my curiosity as we head into the most volatile training camp in memory:
From all that was said and done in the off-season, these three appear to be the leaders of the NEW Lions. How will they handle their new-found authority? Good Leadership is a key ingredient that has been missing from the Lions for a long time.
2. Schwartz’s Maturity: Head Coach has to change his ways.
Head Coach Jim Schwartz has always been a player’s coach, and some times reacts like one. He can be overly emotional-like when he threw that flag last Thanksgiving-and needs to check himself a little better. Time for him to step up his game.
3. Two Draft Classes in One: Class from last year just as new as rookies, almost.
Riley Reiff, Ryan Broyles and Bill Bentley didn’t get to contribute much last year, due to various reasons. Them, plus the other draft picks that didn’t play much outside of special teams last year, make them seem like rookies again. Combine them with Ziggy Ansah, Darius Slay and Larry Warford and it seems like the Lions will have a huge influx of talented young players earning playing time.
4. Emerging Stars: Ryan Broyles, Larry Warford, and Glover Quin.
For the Lions to get to the playoffs, they need great performances from the usual suspects like Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndumakong Suh. They also need some players, plural there, to emerge and announce their presence with authority. With Megatron and Bush commanding a lot of attention, I expect Broyles to use his uncanny ability to get open to the max and become a force on the inside. Waford is going to be a beast from day one. Quin will establish himself as the backbone of this defense.
5. Can They Lose That Losing Image Once and For All?: Everyone in the organization.
Which season was the aberration? 2011 or 2012? This season is going to define this decade of Lions football, and it starts with this training camp. Is this the group that I thought was finally going to lead this city to the Super Bowl? Or is it the Same Old Lions?