It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The Detroit Lions open up their 2012 season this Friday at Ford Field against the Cleveland Browns and I feel like that ten year old kid waiting out the last four days until Christmas morning. I’ve never been this stoked for the Lions season to begin. This isn’t your father’s Lions, who used to open up the preseason with ho hum expectations for the year and no real stars to watch, Barry Sanders being the lone exception.
It’s not like that around here anymore, No-siree bob. This years Lions are shooting past the moon and aiming for the stars. What makes this year different than some of those years in the 90’s when the Lions thought they might contend with the big boys in playoffs, and all they came away with in that decade is one stinking playoff win, is that they proved last year that they have a solid foundation of young talent that could possibly get to the Super Bowl someday.
The last couple of years you could see this team being slowly built the right way. Each year started with the anticipation of seeing the newly drafted talent develop over the course of that year. After watching that talent develop over the last couple of years, and Matthew Stafford blossoming into a stud quarterback, this is the year when the Lions come to the party through the front door. Everybody knows they’re coming. Not only that, but Team Swag is arriving in style with a stretch Limousine this year.
The Detroit Lions are now one of the high profile teams in the NFL, and I expect them to compete for the NFC North division crown, but they’re going to need some help from players that weren’t here last year. That means this year’s rookie crop is going to have to step up and help out quickly. I’ve seen highlights of these guys from their college days over and over again. I haven’t been to training camp, so I’m dying to see what the new guys look like. I want to see if they pass the eyeball test.
I have so many questions that I need answered. I, like every curious Lion fan wants to know, Is Bill Bentley really that good? Everything I’m hearing about this guy is music to my ears. Could the Lions have finally found that starting corner in the third round? Are Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis that advanced as rookies? I know Gunther Cunningham thinks so. Can they fly around the field, and most importantly, can they TACKLE? I want to see what Ronnell Lewis looks like running down the field on a kickoff. Is he the next ‘Pain Train’ on special teams? Is Ryan Broyles really worth that high draft pick? or is the ‘Vanilla Gorilla” alias local product Lance Long just another training camp story?
On top of the rookies being new to my eyeballs, I barely saw Nick Fairly play at all last year, and no one has any idea what kind of back Mikel Leshoure is going to be. These two guys are huge factors in the Lions ultimate quest for this year, that elusive second playoff win in franchise history. Tune in, it all starts Friday night.