Last Sunday the Lions had maybe their biggest win in the last 5 years with their 40-14 victory over a scrappy Jaguar team. To most casual NFL fans, this might just seem like a game where two average teams competed and one got the better of them on that day. It comes off differently to a Lions fan, not just in the way that it was a blowout win, but because there was an emphasis on it. These wins don’t come around often to Lions fans, and this one felt evermore special among the rest. This win showed the fans that the Holmes/Campbell regime is already paying off, Our defense has the potential to be dominant in the future and the Lions, for the first time in a while, are playing meaningful December football.
During the beginning of the season, the Lions went on a poor run of form causing the team to start the year 1-6 with the lowlight being the Patriot’s field day ending 29-0. In this run, it seemed as if the national media was starting to question Campbell’s style of coaching. This made sense as the Lions were a team with promise that had disappointed in the opening 8 weeks. Since then, the Lions have gone 4-1 and only lost to the Bills on a field goal. Our offense has been stellar and our defense has shown a lot of heart in the young core. Through this stretch of games, we can see proof that the Holmes/Campbell process is solid and underway. This has given Lions fans everywhere hope for seasons to come, and the Jaguar game was just a cherry on top of an already delicious banana split.
In the history of the Lions organization, the defense has been a constant problem for the team for a decade. At the beginning of this year, it was thought to be no different. The defense was very young and inexperienced, and there was limited veteran talent anywhere. During that first 8 game stretch, it appeared that the preseason suspicions were correct. The defense was ranked bottom of the league in just about everything. It seemed like an unfixable problem, with defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn getting some hot-seat buzz around the league. Campbell did end up firing defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasent, which seemed to lead to a great shift. In the last 5 weeks, the Lions have ranked 6th in DVOA. This massive step in improvement shows a bright future for our young talent, who will only get better with time.
If you asked anyone around the league in the preseason about the Lions’ playoff status on the first of December, they would have laughed in your face. It seems to have not been such a far cry, however, as the Lions still have a shot at making the playoffs. It does require the Lions winning out their remaining schedule, which is a tough task but it ranks at three on the weakest strength of schedule. We have tiebreaker wins over both the Commanders and the Giants, which would be our biggest competition for that seventh spot. Even though it seems unlikely at this point, it’s a refreshing feeling to be in a playoff hunt and playing good, complimentary football. If we keep playing as we did in the Jaguars game, it could turn into a very real possibility.
Even though in the greater scheme of things this game won’t mean a lot. For the time being it’s a subtle reminder that the Lions are moving in the right direction. There is hope at the end of a very dark tunnel, the only way to get there is to trust Holmes and Campbell to bring this city a winner. For now, it’s evident to agree with Taylor Decker in agreeing “this isn’t the same old Lions.”