Thursday, June 18, 2009

Road to 0 - 16: Recovery Begins?

So what now? The franchise hit about as rock bottom as possible except of course for breaking the all-time losing streak (set at 28 games by the expansion Bucs).

Is that the next target on the horizon, or is winning some games going to happen in the near future? For the eternal optimist in me, there are some wins in the future of the franchise this year. How many? Your guess is as good as mine!

Will the team be competitive again? Will it be fun to watch on Sundays? Up until the last few Millen years, the Lions were still a fun, often competitive team to watch. Last year was almost unwatchable.

I see many different signs of hope from all throughout the Lions organization. Will hope turn to joy, or the bitter ashes of historic ridicule once again? Only time can answer that question.

So what hope do I see?

There is consistency among the actions of the front office and coaching staff. Not all of what they are reaching for could be accomplished in one ifseason, but great strides were made. They did not overpay just to get big-name free agents in here yet they still managed to get Larry Foote to sign here, creating excitement and filling a major need.

As far as Free Agency, the Lions could have done some things different, but they managed to fill their needs as much as possible via FA and the draft. They didnt dive into big money contracts with aging veterans like in the Millen years. Short term band-aids were signed to band-aid sized contracts. The Lions have brought in just about every player released by every team to hit waivers thus far who can stand up, see lightning, and hear thunder for a few days to see what they have keeping a couple, and dropping the rest to look at still more. (I expect this to continue throughout camp, and even the late roster cuts.)

The trades will have to wait to wait to be evaluated until the season gets underway after all, Rogers for Bodden and a 3rd looked decent, and who can forget Dre Bly for George Foster and Tatum Bell? (though I didnt really like that trade, and wasnt too fond of ditching Rogers for less than a 2nd rounder either).

This years trades look to be more in favor of the Lions or at worst fair value. How Williams and Pettigrew work out will determine the Roy trade value. If Henry contributes anything it will be more than the nothing the Lions would have had cutting Kitna he makes the roster, and makes a handful of plays and you are into positive territory there. (low risk, high reward). The Dline was already a weakness, but getting Peterson for Redding could be seen as one of the best plays of the ifseason IF Peterson plays to his pro-bowl form of the past few years. We are seeing LBers last longer in the league, and Peterson could very well have enough in the tank to continue to perform at peak levels for another 2 -3 years.

The player acquisitions are by their nature impossible to judge until time unfolds and we see the product on the field. The same goes with the coaching staff it looks great on paper, but the proof is in the plays. For that, we have to wait.

What can be judged is the attitude toward the fans. I made quite a long comment on the 2nd part of Road to 0-16 (go check it out) for how I felt there are different ways of not caring what the fans think. (Millen didnt seem to care at all, Mayhew was referencing that he wasnt going to sign big names just for the sake of appeasing the fans in the draft he was going to take guys that fit the team-building they are doing. Big difference.) The Lions seem intent on undoing the expulsion of fans from connecting with virtually every aspect of the team that has gone on since 2002.

The idea of making training camp more accessible to fans again that is being discussed is one option, as well as more open practices in the interim. In the past, camp was open to all and highly attended. (As per Lewands statements, it appears the Lions are going to open up more than the 2 or 3 practices they did last year) Only 700 at a time or so can fit at Allen Park, but if they open up a few weeks worth of camp practices for free that alone says to fans we care about you again and want you back as part of the team, not just your money. The Lions front office, Coach Schwartz included (hes made more ifseason appearances than the past three Lions coaches combined already and its June), want to bring the fans back. They seem to understand that the fans are the foundation of the team.

Finally, what keeps me optimistic thus far in giving Mayhew the benefit of the doubt is that he doesnt expect me to. He has approached the team and fans since the beginning from the standpoint that the only support/trust he can expect form fans is what the team he builds earns on the field. No egomaniacal expectations/illusions of Im infallible (like the poor Browns, Broncos, and Bucs fans are dealing with right now). He said before the draft in a radio interview (paraphrased): Of course fans are skeptical. Why should they think anything is different until they see it on the field? I can tell you were doing a great job building til Im blue in the face, that we are doing things right, things different but until that vision becomes a reality the fans after what happened, have every right to need to see it. I respect that. Just trust me and support me sure, I want that. But I have to earn that.

(cant find the link to a transcript on that one. Basic message as I heard it.)

Yes Mr Mayhew I will remain cautiously optimistic as I look at the positional groupings this ifseason, as I look over your draft, as I get into preseason, and as I enjoy my favorite team this summer and into the fall. I will remain so until I see something to prove me right or prove me wrong. But in my gut, I know the recovery has begun. In three years, when the Lions are making a deep playoff run I look forward to writing a more upbeat piece titled Road to Recovery: Rising from 0-16. IF


Anonymous said...

Good read, but you need to clean up a lot of spelling issues!

DetFan1979 said...

the formatting/spacing is a bit off on this piece because I emailed it to post on my blog (due to issues with Blogger) and none of the spacing came across right, and it won't let me fix it.

If you are talking about the prolific use of the word Ifseason versus offseason, that is intentional -- This is a time when we get to say "If" about everything -- If it works out, If it doesn't...

Because they are not playing, everything is speculation -- or IF's -- until the preseason, and then the season get udnerway.

Other than that, not really sure what you are referencing...

DetFan1979 said...

BTW -- thanks for the compliment! hopefully you will check out some past posts, as well as keeping up with/contributing to the blog in teh future!

DetFan1979 said...

LOL - Underway.

CHIEFGER139 said...

I think with there free agency pickups theyve did more than we could of ever thought they could of done and it looks like they did pretty good in the draft. Trouble is there are so many holes on this team , it would be nice just to be able to get some stability to build on, and hopefully a coach and staff who wins enough to keep things stable for a few years.This year is a huge question mark, I dont even want to begin to guess how many they will win, I dont think it will be many games and even winning one now is an improvement dont even begin to think going .500 on the road or even at home for that matter in my mind were not any where close to that but who knows? Just how many new starters do we have now? No matter what basically we have a new qb starting, because even if its culpeper it will be his 1st games whaere he actually knows the plays, all the experienced teams will have a huge advantage on us the 1st 4 games or so.

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