Detroit Lions: Video yearbook reveals the challenge ahead

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 07: Head coach Matt Patricia of the Detroit Lions talks to Quandre Diggs #28 at Ford Field on October 7, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 07: Head coach Matt Patricia of the Detroit Lions talks to Quandre Diggs #28 at Ford Field on October 7, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Ultimately, the Detroit Lions are unlikely to be champions at the end of this year. But what transpires in 2019 will be key to making some noise in 2020.

On Monday, the four video yearbooks for the NFC North division – including, of course, the Detroit Lions – debuted on the NFL Network. Here are the titles for the 2018 yearbooks for what might be the best division in the NFL, listed by final record:

Last year, the Lions dealt with a video yearbook title of Next Level. A hopeful headline under which new head coach Matt Patricia was going to elevate a mediocre team and turn them into a real contender. With the rookie head coach only tallying six wins, clearly that did not transpire.

So, this season, the Detroit Lions receive a title that reads more like an excuse, and that certainly avoids any specific promises for this season. The first part of the title – A Shared Vision – really speaks to what went wrong last year.

Last season, it was clear that some Detroit Lions players were not ready to deal with harsher practices, wind sprints, and having to be outside practicing on a snowy day. The team seemed fractured in many respects – and no where near sharing a vision of how to proceed. And the result was another losing season without any hope of a championship anytime soon – at least not this upcoming year.

Buy-In is the more interesting facet of this title because it really breaks down what needs to happen for things to change. Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn are trying to get this team to commit to the new culture.

The excuse making aspect of this title is the work-in-progress that is this Detroit Lions franchise. You have to have talent and coaching to win – that cannot be questioned. But you also have the right combination of players that put winning above all other concerns.

Building a championship team takes years, but can last for decades if executed properly. And this title seems to beg for more of that most precious resource: time. In principal, there is truth to the idea that patience is key to building this kind of culture. But there is also the possibility that all the time in the world won’t matter, if the wrong people are currently in charge.

Despite past failures, I believe in what Patricia/Quinn want for this franchise. They have the best of intentions and they seem up for the challenge of finally elevating this team. But whether or not the players commit to their vision will speak to their ultimate competency. If they can’t make that happen, then they too are part of the problem.

NFL Films (along with the Detroit Lions) probably did right with this title. Actually, an even better job than last year’s ‘next level.’ But the title speaks to the long road ahead. This season will probably result in  another mediocre outcome. And everything comes down to how much this team can do in 2020.

It sucks to look at this team in that manner  – virtually red-shirting 2019 as a year off – but the process of turning the franchise into a viable contender is going to be long and arduous. Can (or maybe the better word is ‘should’) the Detroit Lions stay on this path?

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Will the fans – and ultimately the owners – be patient enough to see this thing through? And if they do, will they look like geniuses holding up the Lombardi Trophy during a February parade on Woodward avenue? Or fools for having chosen unwisely once again?