By Craig Peterson
97.1 The Ticket
Spare me the “you never know” routine and the “second season” bit along with my personal favorite, “anything can happen once you get in.”
The Detroit Lions backing into the playoffs by way of an 0-3 finish to the season and needing a Washington Redskins loss on Sunday, was the worst thing that could’ve happened.
Look at the big picture. This Lions team is far from being a legitimate contender this year. They can’t compete with top-tier NFL opponents, which is blatantly apparent based on their 0-5 record against fellow playoff teams.
Couple that with an abundance of glaring needs across the roster: a legitimate running game, an elite receiver in the passing game, defensive line and secondary help, to state some of their more obvious voids.
The Lions’ second playoff appearance in three seasons under coach Jim Caldwell is simply a short-term mirage covering up the reality of the organization’s long-term necessities.
The Seattle Seahawks will certainly dispose of the Lions in Seattle on Saturday in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Pete Carroll is 40-6 at home since 2012, including 4-0 in the playoffs. This would leave the big boys of the league to decide who’s top dog, while Matthew Stafford and Co. get an early jump on the offseason.
That offseason is sure to be one of the more important ones in recent memory, as general manager Bob Quinn will continue to shape this team in his image. He was relatively tame in 2016, making cautious and calculated moves. So if the Lions are to make a real threat at a Super Bowl under Quinn’s supervision, they need to address many of the aforementioned holes in the depth chart.
The answer to those voids will not be found in any playoff game. A 1,000-yard rusher will not emerge from their Wild Card game with the Seahawks. The next Calvin Johnson will not come down with a jump ball in a possible Divisional Championship against Dallas. And a game-changing phenom that would bolster the Lions defense will not await them in an NFC title game.
The only way Quinn can possibly turn the Lions into a contender and even consider bringing a championship to Detroit is building this team up through the draft. That challenge got exponentially more difficult with each last-minute, game-winning miracle drive beginning in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts and ending with the New York Giants’ 19-10 win over the Redskins, opening the door to a Lions postseason.
The best that Quinn can now hope to work with is a 21st overall pick on April 27th when the NFL Draft gets underway in Philadelphia. A team with real needs cannot fill those holes selecting from the back half of the order. Just ask Ken Holland, who’s been looking for the solution to his blue line dilemma with the Detroit Red Wings since the NHL implemented its salary cap in 2004.
Enjoy the thrilling, late-game heroics of the 2016 Lions. Savor this illustrious playoff appearance because it will be over before Seahawks fans raise the 12th Man Flag at CenturyLink Field on Saturday. Cling to this brief playoff appearance and squeeze every last bit of enjoyment out of the trip to Seattle because it cost the Bob Quinn rebuild project immensely.