NFC North Preview- Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions were a mess in 2008.

They tried… they really did try, especially down the stretch.

But they lived in infamy. The Lions set the lowest point for NFL futility by going 0-16. The first time in NFL history since the schedule went to 16 games that a team lost all their games that season.

But with a new coach, and a new QB both in their first year, the Lions will look to right the ship. The Lions altered their logo, not really a change like they claim, but it is a symbol of a new beginning, and Detroit looks to reverse the futility that has plagued this franchise for many years. With the Pistons, Tigers, and Red Wings all having success in MoTown, it’s the Lions that want the same.

Daunte Culpepper is the starting QB right now, but if he is going to be hurt, expect Matthew Stafford to be ready to go in the wings. The focal point of this offense will be Calvin Johnson at WR, and then they have a decent running game in second year running back Kevin Smith. If the Lions can get a second threat at WR, whether by Tight End, or at WR, it would be helpful. Scott Linehan, former Rams coach, is the offensive coordinator, and it is a plus that he worked with Daunte Culpepper in Minnesota. Head Coach Jim Schwartz has a great situaiton, simply because Culpepper is in the second year of his two year deal, and Stafford can sit out and learn the offense and the ways of the NFL. By this time next year, he’ll be even more ready.

On defense, expect different looks from Detroit. They run a 4-3, but Schwartz will do with this team like he did as defensive coordinator in Tennessee with the Titans and give opponents different looks and blitz packages. With new additions Julian Peterson and Larry Foote from Seattle and the defending champion Pittsburgh, respectively. These guys will bring leadership to the locker room. The Lions gave up 517 points last season… that’s an average of 32.3 PPG. Gunther Cunningham, the new defensive coordinator will preach discipline, but his Chiefs teams gave up numerous points during the early 2000s under Dick Vermeil.

There’s nowhere to go but up after an 0-16 season. Detroit has the Dolphins 1-15 turnaround and Atlanta’s revival in the post-Vick era to look upon for inspiration. The Lions will definitely win plenty of games, but not right away. Next year they will definitely be a wild card team.

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