What the Detroit Lions have become, and what they can be


Anything is possible in the sports world. That’s where terms like “Any given Sunday’ and “They just wanted it more”  come from. But at times it’s important to know the difference between whats possible and whats probable. In this case and as it always seems to be, the lines are a bit blurred. The Detroit Lions have hit the ground faster than Trevor did when he proposed to Hilary Banks and have not shown a glimmer of hope for anything better in 2015.

Of course just when things were bad enough, now you have a Detroit Lions star going on the radio to admit what we already know.

First off it’s not impossible for any defense to understand what an offense is doing. That’s sort of their job to figure these things out. But when you have defensive players saying “we knew what you were going to do before we got here” is an embarrassment.

For reasons such as that, it’s very hard to find the light in this absolute darkness. At this point a small night-light is the only thing keeping the monsters under the Lions bed from attacking and packing up the season and calling it a failure. If the Lions can get out of bed and flip the switch, they might be able to pull off something great.

Stats that don’t prove much

Defensively the Lions have taken a major step back in 2015. Perhaps the loss of Suh was bigger than most thought it would be. The Lions have gone from having the second ranked defense to the 27th ranked defense and join an interesting few that have done similar in recent years. The Lions joined the 2001 Ravens, 2004 Bills and the 2012 Denver Broncos as the only teams since 2000 to drop from the second ranked defense to 20th or worse.

Whats so interesting about those three teams is despite a huge shift in their defense, they were each able to end the season with a winning record. Aside from the Broncos, the Ravens and the Bills both started their seasons with a losing record. The latter actually starting out 0-5. The major correlation that thus far sets these teams apart from the Lions is that each one of these’s teams offense’s improved and ultimately counteracted the defenses woes.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Of course with the offense playing the way it’s been playing with an offensive coordinator that refuses to admit he’s wrong and step away from the playbook. It’s hard to imagine the Lions becoming one of these few teams. If they can, the strength of the defense won’t matter as much if the offense is steam rolling defenses. Just ask the Green Bay Packers or four of the last five Super Bowl winning teams. Offense wins games.

The past doesn’t matter, or does it?

The Lions have found themselves in the lovely position of trying to become only the sixth team in NFL history to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start. It took 61 years for a team to find out how to overcome an 0-3 start and make the playoffs when the 1981 New York Jets figured it out. 14 years later the 1995 Detroit Lions became the second to last team to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start.

There are a few similarities between the 2015 Lions and the 1995 Lions. Both got stomped on by an AFC powerhouse in week one, lost to the Vikings on the road in week two and lost a winnable game in week three. Both had once in a generation talents in Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson respectively and both had defenses that ranked in the 20’s. The biggest difference is the 1995 Detroit Lions had the leagues number one ranked offense and were pretty hard to stop.

May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Detroit Lions former player Barry Sanders comes out to announce the number ten overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Detroit Lions at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

It took an unprecedented seven game win streak for the 1995 Lions to erase a 3-6 start and squeak into the playoffs. It’s hard to imagine that this Lions team is capable of such a run after seeing the product that’s been displayed on the field this season. At this point the Lions might be better off just winging it without a playbook if they hope to figure out how to win. If they can survive the next two games with a least one win, they find themselves in he only part of this season that they could pull off a run as six of the next eight games are at home and one game is at a neutral site.

Again, It’s a small chance and if you want to expect it to happen, be prepared to be sad when it doesn’t happen.

Mike Payton is an Editor at SideLion Report. He is from Holland, Michigan by way of Warren, Michigan. He considers himself to be obsessed with the Detroit Lions. Mike’s work has been featured on ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio and si.com. Mike is also a weekly contributor on It is what is with Sean Baligian on ESPN 96.1 and a contributor for The Holland Sentinel. Follow Mike Payton on Twitter@SLR_Mike

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