By Chris Morgan
On Saturday, the Detroit Lions lost to the Atlanta Falcons at home to fall to 4-11. On Sunday, they end the season with another home game, this time against the Chicago Bears. The Bears have plenty to play for, as they are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, and this will probably be another loss for the Lions. Detroit’s been banged up, they’ve been unlucky, and they’ve simply played poorly at times. It has been a supremely disappointing season, with a possible six game swing in their record. However, despite all the disappointment and disenchantment, there are still a few good things that the Lions and their fans can take away from this season.
For starters, we can all bask in the greatness of Calvin Johnson. In the loss to Atlanta, Johnson broke the record for most receiving yards in a season. He currently has 117 receptions for 1,892 yards. It’s possible he will become the first player to ever gain 2,000 yards receiving in a season. Sure, the NFL is pass happy these days, and the Lions are the pass happiest of them all, but this has still been an amazing season for Johnson. He’s the best wide receiver in the NFL, and he is en route to becoming one of the best wide receivers of all time. Hopefully his career doesn’t become the wide receiver version of Barry Sanders’
Speaking of running backs, Joique Bell was probably the shrewdest addition this team made. The former Wayne State Warrior, they picked him up off the scrap heap, and he’s been their best running back this season. As opposed to the plodding Mikel Leshoure and his 3.7 yards per carry, Bell is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Admittedly, that isn’t a stellar sample size, but he also has 50 receptions for 466 yards. Bell has a future in this league, and hopefully with this team. The combination of Leshoure and Bell isn’t enough for an NFL team looking to contend, but if you through a healthy Jahvid Best in the mix, and then things get interesting.
Nick Fairley struggled a bit in his rookie year, but despite injuries, he really emerged this season. He’s third on the team in sacks with 5.5. He’s tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with eight. He’s also forced two fumbles. Hopefully he can have a fully healthy season next year, because the combination of Fairley and Ndamukong Suh would be quite formidable.
And… that’s probably about it. The rest of Detroit’s story is injuries and Matthew Stafford’s struggles and Titus Young’s impetuousness and Jim Schwartz coaching blunders. That being said, while this will go down in the books as an ugly season, it could truly be a quick bounce back for the Lions. Some better health, some better luck, and a good offseason, and they could be back in the postseason with this year looking like an anomaly.
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Chris has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com.