To say that the Lions performance in their last four games changed my perspective significantly, in regard to my assessment of their overall performance, would be an understatement.
At 2-10, with several painful close losses in tow, I was becoming concerned that helming the Lions may be a larger task than Lions head coach Jim Schwartz would be capable of. I had begun to believe that he would not be able to reverse their fortunes, nor would he be able to help them to be able to win the close games that they were routinely losing as the season wore on.
Even with the questionable losses and penalties stacking up, making it easily one of the more interesting (and painful) Lions seasons ever in many regards, this Lions team appeared to be comprised of a different substance than the one’s who failed so miserably during season’s past.
I legitimately savored the Lions four-game winning streak as the season wore down. Those four wins, two of them against legit playoff contenders, and the way in which the Lions had to fight to come out on top in each perilous victory, are a good sign for the program of Jim Schwartz and his coaching staff.
Those hard-fought victories could be the first tenuous baby steps being made by the generally agreed upon, worst franchise in all of professional sports. These Lions are not going to be taken for granted by their opponents, for the foreseeable future, that’s for certain.
That being said, four wins can present a blinding allure. If the Lions don’t have a strong off-season, improving as players within the organization and making the correct decisions in their off-season roster re-tooling (trades, draft, free agency), then any measureable gains which the organization has seemingly made, could quickly erode and devolve into the moribund, losing comfort zone which has permeated the Lions organizational culture for far too long.
The “Big Buck” Stares at the Uneasy
Precipice Which the Lions Find Themselves
Currently Hanging Over
In many ways, Jim Schwartz finds himself in an unenviable position. He could easily become one of the best and most important head coaches in Lions history, if he can build upon the Lions four-game winning stretch. This is precisely where Lions head coaches (Rod Marinelli and Wayne Fontes) have so often failed during seasons past.
One thing that is uncontestable, the Lions are an improved team who are at a crucial developmental stage, holding the 13th pick in the April draft. The Lions aren’t necessarily in a familiar position, either.
They currently have some talent and depth, so unlike years past, they won’t just close their eyes and just take the best player available to them. They have some clear postions of need, which they will need to focus upon during the off-season. That fact alone, will put additional pressure upon the Lions front office. They know what they need, and can ill afford to miss in their evaluations.
As a Lions fan, I believe now is the time to appreciate the steps that have been made, look favorably upon a season that was salvaged from the crossroads of abject failure. It was not a perfect result, but the signs of encouragement are not to be ignored. If the NFL’s labor situation doesn’t defuse the Lions momentum, a quality off-season maybe all that separates them from becoming playoff contenders.