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Lions’ Preaseason: Don’t “Pounce” To Conclusions!

Last year during preseason, the Detroit Lions went undefeated. It looked like some schemes, new position groups, and the team as a whole may have been coming together and beginning to show signs of not only improvement but an ability to compete.

Remember when Brian Kelly smashed Ocho Cinco, jarring the ball lose and catching it for an interception while Ocho Cinco crumpled to the turf with a separated shoulder? That was probably the biggest play and hit Kelly, if not the entire defense, made all season and it didn’t even really count!

Fast forward to the regular season and bare with me as we revisit some painful memories. Going into week one…the team, coming off it’s undefeated performance in preseason ,was confident. Many fans were optimistic (well more than usual) and most thought the Lions had an edge on the Falcons who had a new running back who previously was just a journeyman and a rookie quarterback named Matt Ryan. Well, as they say…”Beware The Underdog”.

Three plays into the contest the Lions’ defense was torched by the said rookie quarterback’s 62 yard touchdown pass. Just under 6 minutes of the game clock later, said former journeyman running back chewed up another 60 plus yards of field against the stunned and bewildered Lions with a 66 yard touch down run.

By the time the Falcons scored the next touchdown, a 5 yard score for Turner, there was only about three and a half minutes left in the first quarter and any momentum and confidence the Lions players and fans had from preseason was obliterated from existence. The explosion from the aftermath seemed to send a destructive shock wave rippling through the remainder of not only that game but, every game that followed in what became a win-less season.

Why did I have to send us on that painful trip down memory lane you ask? Because we can see another preseason approaching ever closer now and although it looks harmless or we think it may hold the answers to how the Lions are going to actually win a game this season and hopefully more…sometimes we all need to be reminded that when all is said and done, the things that count when preseason is over are how much the team learned, how much it is or isn’t prepared, what it does well (if anything), what it does poorly (hopefully not as much as we would anticipate) as well as how many starters and major contributors are left standing and ready to suit up for the real show in week one.

Change always creates an opportunity for growth and hope and this off-season has seen more major change than in any during the former “Millen Era Of Mediocrity” and could sprout false hope aplenty. For starters, that Era has come to an end now that Matt Millen has been replaced by a new GM and a new Team President clearing the way for many to take a breath of fresh air as the stagnant air of the past slightly dissipates. Also replaced was yet another of his over-matched, unprepared, Head Coaches along with many of his staff, in particular, both coordinators whom seemed inexperienced and at a loss for solutions to any problems.

Now the team finds itself being under what seems to be a more cohesive front office that seems more unified by a common vision of what the team should look like and hang their helmets on. The organization’s new GM and Team President each working to carry out that vision and put the team in a better opportunity to compete and be successful.

They have placed at the helm, a fiery and cerebral young coach whom cut his teeth under the guidance and support of men like Bill Belichick, Ted Marchibroda, and Jeff Fisher. He has recruited coordinators whom are well respected at what they do, have been through fire, have been very successful,and whom share his as well as the team’s philosophies on what to do and how to do it to make this team respectable and competitive again…if not feared.

The team also has perhaps the most star power it has seen in the decade with veterans like Julian Petersen, Larry Foote, Grady Jackson, Phillip Buchannon, Anthony Henry, Daunte Culpepper, and Jon Jansen. Add to them some promising young players like Ciff Avril, Landen Cohen, Ernie Simms, and Kevin Smith and sprinkle in some rookies with lots of potential and upside in Matthew Stafford, Brandon Pettigrew, Derrick Williams, Louis Delmas, Deandre Levy, Zach Follett, and Sammie Lee Hill and it is easy to perceive, at least on paper, that the Lions front office may be building a team of contenders instead of pretenders. We as fans have been down that road before though…now haven’t we?

I myself want to get excited about the additions, subtractions, and overall change I have seen however, like preseason, it doesn’t really count. All that matters is what the team does on the field, good or bad, and not what the team looks like or what the scoreboard says at the end of an exhibition game.

Hopefully we will see less of the mistakes of old and more of the good banter we have heard out of camp. More cohesiveness on the lines, more play makers in the different position groups, more confidence, more tackles, more broken up passes, more turnovers, more adjustments on the fly, more clock management, more completed passes, more broken tackles, more sustained drives…more scoring.

Even if the team can do this though, it still only matters if “THIS” team of Lions can take with them the things they do well, get better every practice and every game, build consistency and momentum and not only learn from but correct the deficiencies and mistakes they discover in every game of the season. Those things have never seemed to happen in seasons past and the team had only gotten worse for it.

In this preseason, I for one would rather see my beloved Lions show considerable improvement from game to game even if with that they show signs of struggle or lose every game. They will only be better for it and give us a true measure of what they are and what they can become. Maybe then they can build an offense, defense, and competitive team and then carry that into teh season to build off of some more. Then maybe when next years’ preseason arrives, it will be safer for the organization, team, and Lions fans to “pounce” to conclusions!

Go Lions! Restore The Roar!

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5 Responses to “Lions’ Preaseason: Don’t “Pounce” To Conclusions!”

  1. Fred Blake says:

    I like this post but would like to say that I feel there was more than one game last season that was influenced but a really bad call–or no call by the officials that would have changed the outcome, everyone saw it except the zebra standing right there. Just because a team is struggling is no reason to rub salt into the wounds. Now I realize that with the speed of the game and everything going on their going to miss something here and there but think back to some of the calls last year–they don’t deserve to be on the field if they can’t call a straight game. I’m thinking that we had at least one win in the course of the season taken from us.

  2. I feel as you do that the Lions have had some really bad calls go against them. I also feel that games could have been won by the Lions if the right call had been made. I do partially blame their mediocrity and inability to compete at a high and consistant level though. Unfortuantely this league kicks you when you underachieve and are down, no matter if it be a player, coach, a team, general manager, or even a fan and it comes from all sources, even the officiating.

  3. The officials know the teams that struggle to compete…that maybe don’t stack up to the competition and I feel that because of that, teams who are medicore and can’t compete as well get noticed more when they try to take short cuts. Penalties happen on every play of every game on every part of the field. Officials focus on specific things and situations. I feel they also focus on the overmatched teams because they expect them to make penalty plays in an effort to make up for short comings. That may be why we see some calls get made on bad teams and then one of the competitive teams makes a similar penalty play but it doesn’t get called. I do not excuse it nor plays that are clearly not a penalty or should be called on the other team instead. I do know that I would not want to be an official though. They have to see everything real time and in a split second, make a call. I am glad they brought back instant replay for this reason but whish it would be tweaked for more situations that impact the outcome of games.

  4. I also think booth officials need to get more involved in the calling of penalties and an ability to overturn the call of officials on the field. You always hear the excuse, “the officials, even during a replay review, don’t get the same shots we do from the telecast”. Well maybe the booth officials should. Maybe offciaiting needs more cameras in better places with better angles to allow for better possibilities of coverage of game action so they can more acurrately back up or overturn a call and maybe that information only goes to the booth officials of which there better be more than one. However they would need to be able to accomplish this without hindering the viewing of the game and I am aware that may be harder to accomplish than theorized.

  5. I will finsih with this. I agree that teams get bad calls made on them and feel the Lions have had many that were questionable however, I will hope that when they get those calls it forces them to get more skilled, more able to compete, and better at standing toe to toe with the other team so that they will take less short cuts and also earn respect and then maybe start getting calls made in their favor, even if it is the wrong call once in a while! Go Lions! Restore The Roar!

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