Detroit Lions Expectations: Taking a Deep Breath

>> 12.22.2010

During Ndamukong Suh’s brief holdout, I quoted Pixar’s Ratatouille, calling for “fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective.”  Right before the season started, I responded to a WDFN’s Ryan Ermanni proclaiming the Lions must win seven games by calling for reasonable expectations.  Early in the college football season, I blogged about the Unbearable Hypeness of Denard Robinson.  Now, the Lions have put together two consecutive wins, and many are pencilling in Ws for this week, and next week too.

People: I am the self-appointed Flamekeeper.  I root for this team to succeed as hard as anyone.  I believe in the direction and leadership of this team as much as anyone.  We have seen for our own eyes the heart, effort, and talent of the men wearing Honolulu Blue these days, and we have seen how their load has lightened with these past two wins.  We can see success breeding success, winning breeding winning.  But, even with all this momentum, all this karma, all this regression to the mean going on . . . the Lions are 4-10.

At the beginning of the year, most educated observers projected the Lions to win somewhere between five and seven this year—and that’s with Matthew Stafford.  Here’s a Real Detroit Weekly Lions preview article, where five bloggers/writers/radio personalities gave their takes on the Lions.  One of them was me, and I went big with a 7-9 mark.  One of them was Jay Scott, of WGPR-FM, and he said 5-11.  The other three all said 6-10.  Again, without Matthew Stafford, this team is currently 4-10 with two games left to play.

We knew the Lions’ schedule was going to be fiendishly difficult, especially the first half.  To have lost their quarterback, and still be within striking distance of most people’s expectations, is testament indeed to the progress that has been made.  But please, let’s be honest: the team that we saw last Sunday is the same team we saw lose to the Bears two weeks ago, and functionally identical to the team we saw (not) lose to the Bears in Week 1.  There hasn’t been a dramatic turnaround.  The Lions haven’t “learned out to win.”  The ball is just finally bouncing their way.

It’s testament to the character of the players and coaches that they’re still fighting so hard—but you can’t expect the first road win in three years to be followed up with a consecutive one.  Certainly, Miami’s ripe for the picking—but the Lions have blown plenty of similar opportunities this season.  Don’t get wrapped up in false expectations, don’t convince yourself the Lions can be safely pencilled in at 6-10.  Don’t be surprised if the Lions lose on the road this weekend.  Frankly, the last thing anyone needs is for a bunch of Lions fans turning around on Monday and griping that the Lions are already fallling short of these newly-recalibrated expectations.

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