The early returns of NFL free agency are here, and the clear winner is the Detroit Lions — at least according to the media’s reaction. Everybody’s favorite dysfunctional franchise finished 2022 strong after an abominable start and barely missed the playoffs. Some would say they were the best team to miss the postseason, and to that, I would ask, did you see some of the teams in the postseason?
But before we dive into the hype that’s made Dan Campbell (pictured) the betting favorite for coach of the year, let’s look at the moves the experts loved.
Kings of the offseason?
The Lions improved an Achilles heel of a secondary by adding corners Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Mosley, as well as coveted safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. They added David Montgomery to bolster the running back depth, and retained or added pieces to both fronts.
It was enough to get the Pride of Detroit blog to aggregate various talking heads heaping atta boys upon Detroit. Rich Eisen, Kyle Brandy, and Kay Adams all were effusive in their praise, and that’s without a single draft pick, of which the Lions have eight.
The front office will be able to fix or bulk more areas with four selections in the top 55, a third-rounder, a fifth, and two sixes. And that doesn’t even include getting a fully healthy Jameson Williams, who sat out most of his rookie season while recovering from a torn ACL. Jared Goff or not, this Lions’ buzz feels eerily reminiscent of the adoration pundits had for the Eagles last year.
So Lions fans should book tickets to Las Vegas?
There’s more than just draft picks and hype that has me looking at Lions like the Eagles. The motivational/emotional style of Dan Campbell and Nick Sirianni is one in the same vein. Mix that with an appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks, and Campbell has already endeared himself to NFL fans like he just cried for the 15th straight presser. Hell, during Week 3 of last year, bettors were still so enthused by the Lions that they were the public’s betting favorite for the Super Bowl.
Proof that the house is still undefeated aside, next year’s big game is in Las Vegas, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if football fans were enamored by Detroit’s chances to get there. The other likeness to the 2022 Eagles is how the Lions finished the season prior. While Philly didn’t look great in a Round 1 loss to Tampa in Jalen Hurts’ first season as the starter, the team had a whiff of confidence and, more importantly, a keen sense of self-awareness as it relates to its quarterback.
Say what you will about Goff, he did get the Rams to the Super Bowl, and helmed a top-seven passing offense in 2022 while playing a key role in Detroit finishing third in total touchdowns scored. You know how many QB rooms in the NFC have a starter who’s been to a Super Bowl? It’s Detroit, Philly, Los Angeles, and Green Bay until Aaron Rodgers stops holding sports media hostage.
I really want to hop on the Lions’ bandwagon because I looked like an idiot after not buying into/actively lashing back at the Eagles. The evidence and critics indicated otherwise, and all those folks can say, “See, I know what I’m talking about,” while I’m left out in the rain with a deflated balloon.
Having said that, I still can’t do it. My bias prevented me from siding with Philly, and now it’s happening again with the Motor City. I don’t hate the Lions with a searing passion, but I do feel that passionately about the team’s ability to rear back and uppercut the city of Detroit in the balls with unrelenting efficiency.
So cast in pennies and pounds at your own risk, because I’ll be investing mine in precious metals.