Like it or Not, Detroit Lions Should Admit They’re Chasing Green Bay Packers


During his first year at the helm, Jim Caldwell has done an excellent job as it relates to getting results, establishing a winning culture and turning around the Detroit Lions.

He maintains a hopeful outlook and doesn’t dwell in the negative. Those are key elements when leading a team that hasn’t won a title since 1957, nor tasted an ounce playoff success since 1991.

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There’s one area the coach might be more than a little off-base, though.

Last week, when pressed on the issue of if the Lions were chasing the Green Bay Packers—a team they went 1-1 against last year with the final loss of the season costing them the NFC North—Caldwell backed off, choosing to look at the whole picture.

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press had the story:

"“I just don’t think it’s wise,” (Caldwell) said. “It’s not prudent to try and make some sort of determination at this time of year. We have to see when we get out on the field. Now, for us, like I said, it’s a process. It’s a process. We got work to do. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and it’s not only Green Bay but every team within our division and every single team we face. It’s a battle. It’s hard to win one game, so we gotta get ready. This time of year, leading up to it, our preparation, our work ethic, our habits, all those things have to come through.”"

It’s easy to see where Caldwell is coming from. Sure, the Lions are competing with every team in the division, including the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, both of whom have undergone significant changes which could hamper their ability to truly contend. Despite that, either team could surprise, so it’s never wise to put that cart before the horse.

Detroit’s roster has undergone some changes, and there are tests left to pass as it relates to that.

But does anyone really foresee Green Bay going anywhere? Haven’t they been the class of the division for the last handful of years winning four straight titles?

Chances are, they’ll be on top where they always are until someone figures out how to take it away from them on the field.

Detroit, meanwhile, will still field a quality team which has plenty of players with plenty to prove that is expected to contend. Green Bay, as tough as it might be for some fans or members of the organization to admit, has written the blueprint on how to run this type of a successful NFL franchise lately.

They keep the majority of their quality players in-house even as they reach free agency. They draft well and supplement their roster easily. They won a playoff game last season, a Super Bowl recently and win road games of significance consistently.

So what would be the harm in saying that the Lions are chasing the Packers? They are. Everyone is. There’s nothing wrong with admitting Green Bay is occupying the spot Detroit wants. The Chicago Bulls once said it about the Detroit Pistons. A team, coach or player can make that admission while still maintaining the highest level of respect for the opposition.

So what would be the harm in saying that the Lions are chasing the Packers? They are. Everyone is. There’s nothing wrong with admitting Green Bay is occupying the spot Detroit wants.

Of course the Lions also compete with the Bears and Vikings, but considering how things translate to the near future, it looks as if the fate of the NFC North could more consistently lie on the result of Detroit and Green Bay’s games against one another.

Last season, the Lions only measured up 50 percent. To get where the Packers are, they have to find a way to measure up more consistently head-to-head. Doing that requires looking at the whole picture, getting upset with negative results and not tolerating any bit of complacency.

There’s nothing wrong with crediting the opposition for their success while offering a simple admission that you’d like to be the one to take it from them. It’s not bulletin board material as much as a resolute confidence from within.

Second place needs to no longer be good enough for the Lions, and it can only be that way if it’s something which is openly discussed in the media and the locker room.

That line of thinking, not the passive one, might be the only way Detroit will ever get angry enough to get over the hump against a well-oiled machine like Green Bay.

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