The ball is now in General Manager Brad Holmes hands.
The greatest general manager in Lions history gets to add to the excitement, emotion, and foundation laid by coach Dan Campbell and the rest of the Detroit Lions. As goals change and expectations change, The Lions are a real franchise now, one to be taken seriously and not one to be played with as philosopher and running back Jamaal Williams blurted out after the Lions beat the Green Bay Packers 20-16 Sunday night at Lambeau Field to finish a once lost season at 9-8.
What does this all mean? The Lions are to be feared and respected. Yes, they are a dome team, but they can win in the cold. The Carolina loss was a blip on the radar. The Lions won games twice in chilly New York and cold and dreary Green Bay against a team with more on the line.
The word around the NFL is nobody wanted to face the Detroit Lions in the playoffs.
That may be true, but the Lions failed to make the playoffs after a day of excitement and high wire acts in Seattle and Green Bay.
How about this? Nobody wants to play the Lions during the 2023 regular season, which should be a coronation of the Brand New Lions, a team that challenges for the NFC North Division title with Minnesota and gets to laugh at former tormentor Green Bay.
Brad Holmes has built for the future
The Lions proved during the final 10 weeks of the season that they are a real franchise with a real future.
“Stop playing with us,” running back Jamaal Williams told NBC Sports after the Lions finished the season with their first winning season since 2017.
This was no fluke or sleight of hand. The Lions beat that Packer booty. Head coach Dan Campbell continued to be the rambling, gambling man to the end.
Did your heart skip a beat when Amon Ra St. Brown lateraled to DeAndre Swift late in the game and the Lions nursing a precarious lead? Did you like it when Campbell went for it on 4th and 2, up four, rather than kick a field goal that would have given the Lions a seven-point lead?
“Our standard now is to compete for the playoffs,” left tackle Taylor Decker told DetroitLions.com. “It is about consistently. The foundation was laid the last two years.”
A good start is paramount next season. The Lions are 1-14 in September and October under Dan Campbell. After winning 8 of 10 games to become a playoff caliber team, Campbell can always sell hope to this team no matter how desperate things become.
The Lions have gone from laughingstock to a team to be feared in two seasons. That’s remarkable considering the near mutiny this team survived under Matt Patricia. Instead of listening to his players, Patricia and Bob Quinn shipped out guys with dissenting voices. Campbell embraces them and uses their input to make the team better.
Holmes has the luxury of improving the defense even more because he does not have to use a first or second-round pick on a quarterback. Goff is good enough and experienced enough to lead the Lions to the playoffs – and perhaps win a game or two.
“It’s a special group and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Goff said.