The Detroit Lions once again lost a game by less than 2 touchdowns on Saturday night, proving that next year is the year (I love sports, there’s always next year). But Calvin Johnson was the story, as he broke multiple and tied a few other NFL records for receivers.
Johnson set the record for Lions franchise receiving yards in a season, consecutive games with more than 100 yards and games with more than 100 yards in a season, he tied Michael Irvin for that, with one more game to break it.
More importantly, Johnson blew past the greatest of all time, Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season. With a game still to play. Calvin Johnson is almost assured to become the first wide receiver in the history of the NFL to have more than 2000 yards in a single season. This is an incredible feat and a great accomplishment for the only Lions player worth watching every game this season.
By now, everyone knows that Johnson broke the record and probably feels very familiar to the Christmas day in 1996 when Barry Sanders ran for 2000 yards in a season, passing the mark on the holiday against the Jets while the Lions were out of the playoff hunt.
But, despite the mounting losses and calls for Jim Schwartz job and continued and justifiable hatred of the Ford family, this team is in a very good position. Matthew Stafford had to run for his life in what seemed like at least 50% of the passing plays this season. There are numerous top end offensive lineman available that the Lions can draft that can step in and help protect Stafford and assist the run game, to allow the Lions to hold a lead in the 4th quarter.
The Lions also, clearly need secondary help and there should be quite a few cap casualties that are free agents this off season that will help improve that black hole and allow the defense to get off the field on 3rd downs a lot more often, again, helping them to maintain a lead in the 4th quarter.
Anyone that watched the Lions this season, a team with 4 wins, knows that a few plays here and there, and this 4 win team is a 8 or 9 win team and back in the playoffs. In the current NFL, for the Lions specifically, this isn’t too difficult. If they can upgrade the offensive line, secondary and get more consistent play out of the overrated defensive line, winning an additional 4 games is easy, they could have won 5 or 6 more games with that formula.
That is the difference that Jim Schwartz and Martin Mayhew bring, a solid core that this franchise has not had in decades and consistency and sustainability in the coaching staff that allows for quick turnaround from a lost season.
Yes, this is the same old, one good season, one terrible season Detroit Lions of the 90’s…but at this point in time, I’d much rather have the every other year good team instead of the guaranteed complete garbage every single year of the 2000’s and Matt Millen era.