Over the weekend, I read a column in the Detroit Free Press that said the Detroit Lions did not do enough in free agency.
If you call overhauling the entire secondary not enough, then be my guest. If you say upgrading at running back is not enough, go for it. If you say bringing in players you’ve actually heard of is not enough, I reserve the right to ask what bug is crawling up your butt.
Here is the truth. A team that many of us said should win the NFL North got a lot better in free agency. If you were a starting cornerback in 2022, you are now a reserve. If you were a reserve defensive back in 2022, you will spend the 2023 season with another team or flipping burgers at Burger King.
Building a culture
General Manager Brad Holmes moved on from guys he liked, guys who fit the culture, guys who motivated, and guys he thought could play. Teams cannot stand pat even if they won eight of their last 10 games and came within a whisker of making the playoffs.
The Lions thrilled many of us, but what they did was not good enough. The players Holmes liked or thought could play were not good enough. If 9-7 is not good enough, then 9-8 is not good enough.
This was a franchise where being good enough not to be good enough was good enough. No more.
Special consultant Chris Spielman mentioned words that often go unsaid in Allen Park and Ford Field.
It was something so unattainable that the Lions did not talk about it – at least in public. They always talked about getting better or winning games or being a pain in the ass to other teams. They rarely, if ever, talked about winning a Super Bowl.
The Lions did not make free agent signings simply to get better. These are championship moves. The Lions are a real NFL franchise now.
Newly signed nickel corner/safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson summed it up best. “This team is talented,” he said. “This team, we can win a division. Everybody should feel that way.”
Gardner-Johnson did not mention making the Super Bowl. But he did say the Lions can win a division title. That’s key for any team with championship aspirations. Of the 14 teams that played in the Super Bowl the last seven years, 13 of them won division titles. The lone exception came in 2020 when Super Bowl champs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) finished second to the New Orleans Saints (12-4).
The Lions are finally on pace to begin the chase.