After missing the playoffs for 11 straight seasons, the Lions finally made it in 2011. And they don’t plan to wait a decade or more to return.
It’s a reminder of the progress the Lions are making as a franchise that the Detroit News can publish a story about how the Lions need to maintain the level of play they achieved last year. During their string of 10 straight losing seasons from 2001 to 2010, the offseason stories were about how the Lions desperately needed to turn things around.
Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew noted that the Lions think they’re improving this offseason, and that they think they can be a team that makes the playoffs regularly, not once a decade.
“We want to be one of those teams that are in the playoffs every year. But we have a lot of work to do,” Mayhew said.
Whether the Lions have actually done anything this offseason to improve is a big question, as the Lions have focused mostly on trying to keep their own free agents. But Lions coach Jim Schwartz says that is how the team is improving.
“One of the biggest things is what we just went through the last couple of weeks of free agency,” Schwartz said. “Teams that are trying to sign their own free agents aren’t going to have the money to go out and get other free agents because you are paying your own good players. If you are drafting well, you already have good players and you are paying them. You are able to focus on your own team.”
Drafting poorly was the primary reason the Lions were the worst team in the NFL for a decade, and drafting well is the primary reason they finally got to the playoffs last season. Another good draft may be all the Lions need to finally become a team that wins playoff games.