Do not be excited about the Detroit Lions because they are on the cusp of making the playoffs after a dismal start.
Do not be excited because they’ve won six of seven after Sunday’s 20-17 victory over the New York Jets.
Be excited because the Detroit Lions are winning with young guys.
Be excited because you see improve play from Aiden Hutchinson and Jeff Okudah.
Be excited because there is a future.
Be excited because this is a young man’s game. And some key pieces are babies playing at a high NFL level.
Be excited because Penei Sewell is 22 years old. James Houston is 24, Jerry Jacobs 25 Malcolm Rodriguez 23 and Frank Ragnow, a grizzly 26.
Be excited because Brad Holmes will continue to build the roster and that Dan Campbell will continue to stir the pot.
People ask me often have I ever seen a Lions turn around like this. My answer is short and direct.
Yes. Quite frequently.
But not for a while.
In 1991 the Lions won their final six games to capture the NFC North and win their first playoff game since 1957. But the next year they finished 5-11.
In 1994, they won four of their final five games to make the playoffs, and the following year won eight of nine to again make the playoffs.
It happened again in 1997 when the Lions finished 5-1 to make the playoffs. But none of these teams had a future because management, players and the front office all pulled in different directions and wanted to wash in the glory of success without sharing accolades or sharing blame.
My nickname for the Lions was Three Mile Island. You have none of that today.
Here is how it used to go around here under Coach Wayne Fontes. The Lions got off to a slow start. Free Press columnist Rob Parker writes another column calling for Fontes’s head. Fontes jokes that he is the Big Buck where everybody is hunting for him. The Lions get hot and win a bunch of games.
Here is the difference between those games and the current one. There was no future. That team had Barry Sanders, but was so up and down. We view the 90s as the heyday of the Lions under the Ford family, yet I used to have annual conversations with defensive end Robert Porcher where I encouraged him to go elsewhere, so he could play for a title.
I called the Lions Ground Hog Day where they would have a good season and get drilled in the playoffs to follow up with a last place finish in the division. Porcher was a good player and deserved better than this.
But he was convinced the Lions were headed to multiple Super Bowls. He stayed and became a successful businessman in Detroit. He stayed because he believed in teammates and the direction of the team.
Here is how it’s different now. Holmes is the best GM in Lions history. Sheila Hamp is the best owner.
If you think you’re excited about a 7-7 season, just wait until you experience a playoff run.