Three years after the Lions experienced the only 0-16 season in NFL history, they’re in the playoffs. And looking back at it, maybe that winless season was just what the franchise needed.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has a rundown of the ways that terrible year laid the foundation for the Lions’ 2011 success, including:
1. The terrible start to that season was what finally convinced Lions owner William Clay Ford to fire team President Matt Millen and replace him with G.M. Martin Mayhew.
2. At the end of the 0-16 season the Lions fired head coach Rod Marinelli and replaced him with Jim Schwartz.
3. The Lions used the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft on quarterback Matthew Stafford. (Funny to remember now that a lot of people thought the safest pick for the Lions would have been linebacker Aaron Curry, whom the Seahawks selected fourth overall and who was traded to the Raiders for a seventh-round pick this season.)
So, in hindsight, the worst season in NFL history might have been what the Lions had to experience before they could turn things around. Just don’t expect Detroit fans to thank Millen any time soon.