It wasn’t easy to watch.
In actuality, it was downright sad watching the Detroit Lions fall to the Dallas Cowboys, 24-20, earlier this week. Despite the disappointment stemming from the loss, the Detroit Lions and their fans should still consider the season a success and a tangible step in the right direction.
Not many people seem to remember what the Lions were predicted to accomplish this season. Most sports pundits had the team on the outside looking in for playoff consideration and expected them to win somewhere between five and eight games.
The Lions totally blew those predictions away. They went out and won 11 games, the most the franchise has won since the 1991 season. Detroit accomplished the feat despite being beset by several important injuries that could have derailed the season.
They lost their best player, wide receiver Calvin Johnson for a quarter of the season. They played without their starting running back Reggie Bush for a stretch, lost several defensive backs to injured reserve and even had the second best defense in the NFL despite losing starting middle linebacker Steven Tulloch and defensive tackle Nick Fairley to injuries.
During Sunday’s game, Detroit played with their third right tackle and third right guard of the season, and still were still in position for the victory.
The Lions ended the season 7-1 at home and developed a nice home-field advantage that should continue going forward. They overcame deficits and closed out several games they would have lost in the past.
That’s why it would be silly to only remember the season for the unfortunate missed calls against the Dallas Cowboys. The 2014 season was a major building block for the Lions’ overall health as a franchise going forward.
Much of the credit must go to general manager Martin Mayhew who hired Jim Caldwell. Like his team, Caldwell also was overlooked and seen as the Lions’ fall back plan after the team supposedly missed on Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
But now Caldwell will contend for NFL Coach of the Year honors. After setting a new standard in 2014, the Lions will now have to overcome a few more hurdles before the 2015 season begins.
The Lions’ best defensive player, Ndamukong Suh, will likely become an unrestricted free agent, and their defensive coordinator Teryl Austin could leave for a head coaching position. It would be a major setback to lose either of the men, especially both.
But the Lions have been outstanding at plugging in free agents and addressing future needs via the draft. This off-season just happens to meet the team at the ultimate crossroad. The Lions are now a good team hoping to become great.
And that, for Lions fans, should be a good reason to finally become proud of this team and what is has accomplished.
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jhayes1136.