The Lion Kings?
Are the Lions the real deal this year? Well we don’t exactly know yet, well at least I’m not ready to give them the Lombardi Trophy yet. They are however 4-0 and have looked good. They are ranked 11th in both Offensive yards per game and 11th in Defensive yards allowed. I don’t think that they will go 16-0, does anyone, but how will they do? Well their first four games were an easy stretch, I think their Schedule only gets harder from here. They still have the Superbowl Champion Green Bay Packers twice, the NFC runner-up Bears twice, Falcons, 49ers, Chargers, and even the Cam Newton led Panthers might be a team that gives them a challenge. Even though I don’t fully trust that they are the best team in the world yet, many others do, so when did they turn into this team?
Just look at 2008, the Lions went 0-16. That is unbelievable the lost every game. Even without talent, at least a little luck should be on their sides, but it wasn’t. Lets take a quick look at the terrible players that were on that team. Three different QBs started: Dan Orlovsky, Jon Kitna, and Daunte Culpepper. Collectively, here are some of their awful stats: 18 Touchdowns, 19 Interceptions, a 55.2 Completion %, an a 71.3 Passer Rating. That group of outcast QBs can be attributed to Matt Millen. A few QBs he could have had over his tenure are Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Joe Flacco. Next up was their starting running back, Kevin Smith. while he wasn’t totally awful with 238 carries for 976 yards and 8 touchdowns he was still not that great and isn’t with this new 4-0 lions team. Now their Wide Receivers. They did have all world WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, and 2008 was actually his best statistical year so far with 1331 yards and 12 TD’s. I don’t think any other WR’s are worth Mentioning as you see the QBs had 18 TDs and 12 of them went to Johnson, no one else had more than 1. Finally, lets take a quick look at how awful the defense was. They gave up a total of 6470 yards, 63 touchdowns, had only 30 sacks, and only 4 interceptions.
So then when did the Turn around of those awful Lions start? Well, as bad as Matt Millen was, this timeline should start with a move he made. 2007 NFL Draft round 1, Pick 2, Calvin Johnson. He has no doubt been the best player so far for this 4-0 Lions team with 24 catches, 321 yards, and 8 Touchdowns. The next big move in the turn around would be made by Millen’s successor, Martin Mayhew. It was trading away Roy Williams to the Cowboys, and boy was it a steal for the Lions who got a first, third, and sixth-round pick in 2009. Jim Schwartz was the next big thing to happen to the Lions, as any good team needs a good coach to steer them in the right direction. Then came the 2009 Draft, which would be huge for the Lions. They got four of their Current starters QB Matthew Stafford, TE Brandon Pettigrew, S Louis Delmas, and LB DeAndre Levy. Another huge move in their turnaround has been the trades that GM Mayhew have made. A few players he’s added via trade have been DT Corey Williams, CB Chris Houston, G Rob Sims, and TE Tony Scheffler. Their next Step to greatness would be their 2010 draft where they added the amazing DT Ndamukong Suh, RB Javid Best, and S Amari Spievey. That’s SEVEN new starters through two drafts. SEVEN! That’s a pretty impressive turnover. I think the final thing that is key to this Lions turnaround is a healthy Matthew Stafford. This is something that really hasn’t been seen yet. In his first year he played only 10 games, last year he played only 3, and so far this year he has played 4 and if they hope to keep up what they have been doing so far this year, they need him.