By: Eric Thomas
I hope I’m wrong, but the Lions’ offseason so far has been a disaster, and the time that’s past since the seventh round of the draft hasn’t salved that sinking feeling. Many draft observers were dumb struck when the Lions picked TE Eric Ebron with the tenth overall pick, a few liked it, and the rest of the picks only raised more questions. The only pick which made sense was the second round selection of Kyle Van Noy from BYU; Nevin Lawson, an undersized cornerback at 5 feet 9 inches from Utah State was the lone player taken to address the sorry state of the defensive secondary.
I’ve heard a few describe the 2014 draft as Millen-esque. While I usually don’t like to introduce Millen’s name into any serious Lions-related discussion—Millen’s name should be avoided in a similar vein as Godwin’s Law—but this draft was somehow worse than that. Millen’s drafts were bad. This one, especially when you consider the free agent period that preceded it, was delusional.
The team has said they want to “win now.” How are they going to do that? They’ve had one of the worst defensive secondaries in all of football for at least five years now, and they’ve done nothing to fix it. Nothing. Fans who bring up last year’s defensive statistics ignore the fact that the Lions’ had the NFL’s luckiest draw in 2013.
The Lions faced teams with woeful passing offenses in the final six games and the defensive secondary did not stop them. Are they hoping that Aaron Rodgers will get hurt again? It’s Jay Cutler’s second year under Mark Tressman, and they don’t face them until late in the season. How do you think that’s going to work out? The Saints visit early in the season and the London game is against the Falcons.
When Lions fans talked about the playoffs last year, most understood that they wouldn’t win if they got in. The team was in a shockingly weak NFC North last year and if the Lions played the Saints their weakness would’ve been exposed, just like the last time they made the playoffs. The Lions’ defensive secondary weakness has been masked by the relative weakness of their opponents. Whenever they’ve faced a strong passing team, they’ve gotten gored.
So why the sinking feeling? The Lions have been a frustrating franchise for a long time; what’s different? They made strides since the 0-16 season in 2008, but they’ve developed an odd blindness to their own weaknesses. When you listen to post-game press conferences, it’s not unusual to wonder if they saw the same game. We’ve given the Lions the benefit of the doubt in the past, assuming they were being cagey because they held a hidden card. It’s hard to think that now.
Martin Mayhew told reporters before the 2013 season “I am certainly going to work as hard as I can to keep my seat cool.” Fair enough, but how are the results? After the close of the NFL Draft, there isn’t a whole lot left. Free agency produced a wide receiver that they may have over paid for and a safety that drew no interest from any other team.
The Lions can prove all this wrong on the field. Many Tiger fans felt their offseason was a disaster, and they’ve done well so far. Mayhew can prove his prescience. He can earn our trust and shut up the doubters. I hope I’m wrong, I really do.
The Lions can fix their problems, but it’s time to start wondering if they can recognize them.