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.

Comments (8)
  1. No one “backs into the playoffs.” Every part of the schedule counts the same, otherwise you may as well make it a 3 game season and put move their 9 wins into pre-season. Also, playoff experience is important, no matter what the outcome. Saying that they would be better off on the golf course is idiotic.

  2. Because drafting late in the rounds has kept New England from competing.

  3. What a buzzkill. Players need playoff experience, for starters. So do us fans. We’ve had one playoff win in he 50 years I’ve been rooting for them. A win in Seattle would be the second biggest win in half a century. You are no real fan to be writing this.

  4. Win or lose on Saturday, playoff experience is better than no experience at all. This team was projected to go 4-12 by USA Today Sports. They have overachieved and can build on this season going ahead. In Quinn we trust.

  5. I totally disagree with this article, though I get where it is coming from. It arises out of the very culture of mediocrity and defeatism and “the best we can hope for is the draft” attitudes that have characterized and hampered the Lions’ organization for so long. Nate Burleson decribed, on NFL Network a few days ago, the attitude he found in the locker-room when he arrived: “Why did you come here? This is where careers come to die . . .” a player from the 0-16 squad said to him. Nate expressed his shock at the fact that dispirited players were simply “collecting checks” while leaving their hearts in the locker room, never bringing them onto the field. Again, months ago, I heard another ex-Lion on First Take referring to the same phenomenon; but he was too ashamed to even describe it; all he could say was that he was not proud of this time there and that there were very serious “cultural” issues. This season’s close wins and this final trip into the Lions’ Den of the 12th man zone are all a piece of building the spiritual culture that simply adding a talented body from the draft — ever heard of Barry Sanders?; ever heard of Calvin Johnson? Our losing ways continued even with the likes of them. There needs to be a bigger fix and I believe that fix is underway. I was at the game last night and it certainly FELT like a step forward for the franchise. Just like winning games that “same ole Lions” teams would have lost in the past felt like a step forward. I trust that GM Quinn can imbue some Patriot spirit into the Lions and that thus will continue the transformation Burleson said he saw even during his tenure. Yes, we have those needs; but the bigger need is to through off the defeatism your article typifies so well. “It ain’t the dog in the fight — It’s the fight in the dog”. Go Lions!

  6. John Cooper says:

    How old are you five? You’ve obviously not suffered through season after season of disappointments. This coach has achieved miracles with poor players and a few gems.
    Whatever they achieve in the playoffs are a bonus so sit back and enjoy!

  7. With smoke and mirrors a team makes the playoffs and possibly wins a round or two but gets stuck with a poor draft pick. I’m pretty sure 20 other cities would kill for that today. It’s better than perennial 8-8 or worse by far.

  8. chalie16 says:

    You certainly can find good players late in the 1st round of the draft. If you’re consistently drafting there it means you have a solid group of core players that consistently compete. The Lions aren’t that far off. Concentrate on strengthening that O-Line and front seven and they’ll be a really good team.

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