January 4, 2015. The Day will ring forever in the hearts and minds of Detroit Lions fans as the day that the NFL showed its true colors toward the Detroit Lions and teams like them. The one day that everyone outside of Dallas, Texas was a Detroit Lions fan.
It was 3rd and 1, Matthew Stafford throws at 15 yard pass to Brandon Pettigrew and the Cowboys defender Anthony Hitchens blocks Pettigrew from attempting a catch which is called a pass interference. Des Bryant runs onto the field without his helmet and the flag is picked up. This lead to Detroit shanking a punt, and then the Detroit defense is face masked multiple times as Dallas takes the ball down to score and win the game.
Now to most people, Detroit was commended for not complaining about the outcome, despite the fact they had a reason to. The fans, including myself, saw the screw job in real time. Everyone who is a football fan knows that two penalties should have been thrown: the first for the blatant pass interference and the second for Dez Bryant running onto the field. Those two penalties would have put the Lions on the 15 with a fresh set of downs. Enough time to burn (based off the Lions previous drives) one minute at 45 seconds off the clock and giving them either a 10 point lead with a touchdown (27-17) or a 6 point lead (23-17) with about six and a half minutes left in the game.
But that didn’t happen. Detroit walked off the field defeated, fans feeling cheated by the Dallas Cowboys. But the hits kept coming. Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Cj Mosley and Reggie Bush all leave the team.
But The Lions thrived, they picked up Haloti Ngata, Manny Ramirez, Lance Moore via trades and free agency. They then picked Laken Tomlinson, Ameer Abdullah and Gabe Wright via the 2015 NFL Draft.
But for some reason, everyone is throwing dirt on the Detroit Lions. The same Detroit Lions that, despite injuries on defense, was the number two overall defense in the league. The same Detroit Lions that was counted out multiple times in games and found ways to won. The same Detroit Lions that took a new offensive scheme and made it work in its first year. But the dirt still came. According to the USA Today, Detroit will fall to 7-9 while the Packers and Vikings get double digits wins. Even on the Draft Grade Show on ESPN a few months back, Todd McShay was the ONLY analyst to come to the defense of Detroit knowing that despite those four losses, the team is the only team that didnt lose it all their key pieces.
And while all of this negativity and dirt throwing on the team has happened, I believe it is fuel for the team. Last season, the motivation was to “Restore the Roar”. This seasons mission should be filled with vengenace. The team should be more hungry than it has ever been and here is why.
First, lets look at the schedule. While the first half of the season is daunting, it can be a blessing in disguise. Detroit plays at San Diego and Minnesota, home against Denver, at Seattle and then back home against Arizona. Four of the five teams are playoff teams. But each game is winnable and here is why.
Week 1: San Diego won’t have its biggest weapon in Antonio Gates for the game.
Week 2: Minnesota will have Peterson back but thats it. Those new weapons won’t help if Detroit is rushing Teddy Bridgewater without blitzing.
Week 3: Peyton isn’t getting any younger, and if a team like Indianapolis without defensive weapons can beat the Broncos, then the weapons filled Lions should have no problem, especially at home.
Week 4: This to me is the hardest game because I don’t know how to game plan against Seattle defensively, but offensively if you put pressure on Russell Wilson, he can’t function.
Week 5: This game comes down to how many times can they put pressure on the Card’s QB, whoever it may be.
Then if you look past week 5, Detroit has a easy schedule. Short of Green Bay, no game in the back half is a threat. Can we really trust that the Saints are gonna turn it around after what they did last year, especially after losing Jimmy Graham? Does anyone think San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, Minnesota or Philadelphia really pose a threat to the Pride? Here is another thing we have to look at. Detroit only lost one game at home last year. And while they lost half of their away games, the only teams they face with a winning record last season in the back half are Philadelphia and Green Bay, with the Packers being the only winning record team they face away from Ford Field. Detroit should finish with a 12-4 record or repeat with a 11-5 record.
The second thing we need to look at is the new roster. The defensive backfield got better due to the fact that Stephen Tulloch is back at full health and can implement a better pass rushing attack. And Detroit did manage to replace Suh and Fairley by bringing Ngata and Gabe Wright, who aren’t complete replacements on the duo, but for the time being they can definitely help. The offense got better with the addition of Guard Laken Tomlinson and Running Back Ameer Abdullah. Laken will help keep Matthew Stafford clean to throw more from the backfield. Abdullah is going to be a beast as while he is a quick scat back, he can be a second bellcow alongside Joique Bell.
The team is strong and despite what the media believes, the team is going to be a problem in the NFC. And with the various teams jockeying for position, the Lions will be dangerous because short of Seattle, the Lions are one of the few teams that kept the a majority of the squad together despite losing some pieces. It shall be a interesting season, and hopefully the Lions are going to gain sweet revenge. Instead of it being 3rd and one, its 1st down and the Lions are on the attack.