Pro Football Teams


Detroit Lions:

Young Cubs will push the Lions

Since 1996 the Detroit Lions have failed to finish the season with a .500 winning percentage except in 1997 and 2000. The last time the Lions took a trip into the postseason was in 1999 when they fell to the Washington Redskins 27-13. If there is one thing that most remember about the Lions, other than the fact they had a 2-14 season in 2001, is their former running back Barry Sanders. Sanders is part of an elite club of running backs that you can make an argument that they are the “greatest running back of all time.” Some say Sanders is the greatest, some say Walter Payton was the greatest, and some say the Jim Brown was the greatest, but no matter who they think is the greatest there is no denying that Barry Sanders was the best of his generation and a hands down Hall of Fame player who just made it into Canton in 2004. Sanders accumulated 15,629 rushing yards, which is third on the all time list behind Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton, on just 3,062 carries. For all those non-math majors out there, that’s a ludicrous five yards per carry for his entire career. Sanders was always a different kind of guy and it was very apparent when he retired from the game only 10 years into his career and about 1,500 yards away from breaking Walter Payton’s hallowed rushing record. He retired and then lived in Europe for a few years refusing to talk to the press. The Lions could’ve definitely used Sanders this past year when they only managed a 5-11 record which fetched them 4th in the NFC North.

The NFL Draft was huge for the Detroit Lions. They filled a great deal of needs and also laid down the foundation for a very potent offense in Motown. With the #7 pick in the drafted Texas wide receiver Roy Williams who is an incredible prospect and is the pride of Texas. They then traded back into the first round and got Virginia Tech running back Kevin Jones. With their 37th pick in the draft they picked up Oklahoma weak side linebacker Teddy Lehman and the Lions also drafted McNeese State cornerback Keith Smith. Many experts believe that the Lions had the best draft in the NFL and that this draft will be the reason they’re in the playoffs in the coming years.

The Lions also made a big splash on the free agent market. They beefed up their offensive line by picking up guards David Loverne, and Super Bowl winning guard Damien Woody. They also added playoff experienced veterans like strong safety Brock Marion, who was part of the Cowboys dynasty of the ‘90s, wide receiver Tai Streets and cornerback Fernando Bryant. With these moves they brought in tough veteran guys that have been involved in big games and will obviously help the incredibly young core of players that Detroit has in place. With an incredibly talented group of young skill position players, the Lions hope to electrify crowds and increase sales of Lions Tickets, which have declined recently. The Lions, as the record showed, were less than spectacular last year even more so when their top three offensive options, sophomore quarterback Joey Harrington, rookie receiver Charles Rogers and running back James Stewart, all spent significant time on the injury reports last season. Harrington is going to be a great quarterback in the NFL but right now he isn’t as consistent as the Lions would like him to be. He has games where he’ll throw four touchdowns and no interceptions, like he did in the season opener against the Cardinals, and then he’ll have games where he’ll almost complete as many passes to the defense as he did his own players, like he did against Dallas when he went 5-13 for 30 yards and threw three interceptions.

On the other side of the ball the Lions weren’t much better off but they have a very young core of players that all start with second year outside linebacker Boss Bailey. Bailey finished third on the team in tackles with 89 and also picked off one pass. With the additions of Lehman, Marion and Bryant the defense should be immensely improved.

All Images, Content and Design © 2004