It seems that there are two camps of Detroit Lions fans this year. On one side, there are the avid Honolulu-Blue Kool Aid addicts who believe this team is significantly better than most give them credit for, and on the other the “SOL” fans who think the Lions are a cursed franchise that’s doomed to a purgatory of mediocrity.
After a solid outing week one versus The Philadelphia Eagles, and a big win over The Washington Commanders in week two, many Lions Fans had high hopes going into Sunday against The Minnesota Vikings. After all, getting a road win against a divisional opponent would be absolutely huge for the 2022 campaign, and could potentially show that The Detroit Lions had turned a new leaf. Detroit started off the game fast, going up 14-0 in the first half, and at one point taking a two score lead going into the fourth quarter. Dan Campbell and co. could feel it, the first road win of the new regime! But in classic and predictable fashion, Kirk Cousins and The Vikings marched right down the field and scored their second touchdown of the fourth quarter to take the lead and eventually the win. It was not the fact that The Lions lost on Sunday that hurt so bad, it was the way they lost. Taking a big lead only to squander it by allowing the opponent to take momentum and win a close game. Realistically though, The Lions went into Sunday 6 point underdogs, in one of the toughest road game environments in the entire NFL, so why does this loss hurt more than it should? The simple answer is expectations. Here is how we as Detroit Lions fans can temper our expectations for the 2022 season, and what we should realistically expect to see.
What We Should Expect
Should we be bummed out by the performances of guys like Jared Goff, Alex Anzalone, and Mike Hughes this season? No. Chances are these players will not be with the team one to two years in the future. Mainly this season, we want to see improvements in some of the young guys on both sides of the ball, and hope they show that we can build around them. Starting on offense, it’s no secret that the front office has put a big emphasis on building this offensive line. Spending high draft capital on Penei Sewell, and big contracts on Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker, the big boys up front have certainly played well so far this season. Sewell especially, has been the highest rated right tackle in the NFL this season, and the sixth highest rated tackle overall in the NFL. Meanwhile, guys like Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’andre Swift have shown that they can be key weapons in this offense for the foreseeable future, if they can stay healthy.
On the defensive side, Jeff Okudah has seemingly beaten the “bust” allegations. Okudah has elevated himself as a premier cornerback in the NFL, and has shut down some of the league’s best through three weeks of action, including Justin Jefferson and Terry McLaurin. Other young players like Alim McNeil and free agent pickups Juju Hughes and Chris Board look like they have serious potential to be playmakers on this defense. Meanwhile, rookies like Aidan Hutchinson and Malcolm Rodriguez have had some bright spots three weeks into the season. Look forward to seeing how young players improve throughout the season, and who will be along for the long haul.
Improvement is key in year two of a rebuild. If your expectation going into the season was a playoff berth, or to be a legit competitor in the NFC, your expectations were already too high. This defense is not good enough to compete, and our coaching staff is not experienced enough to beat the great teams. There will be growing pains, but what we should expect this season is improvements from last year.