For Better Or For Worse, This 2018 Detroit Lions Team Is Unlike The Teams That We Saw Under Jim Caldwell.
In the years under Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions fans could generally count on two things.
The Lions would beat the teams that they were expected to beat.
The Lions would lose to the teams that they were expected to lose to.
There were obviously exceptions to these rules, including the team-wide meltdown down the stretch last year that kept the Lions out of the playoffs, despite begin gifted a significant opportunity to clinch a spot, but usually, the Lions were a team that would win when they were the better team, even if it wasn’t pretty. On the flip side, they, unfortunately, would usually lose to the teams that had superior talent.
That was the curse of the Jim Caldwell Lions.
It kept the team stuck in mediocrity, perennially scrapping their way to the finish line, always walking the line of clinching a playoff spot and watching from home.
That specific reason is why many fans were calling for Caldwell’s head. The consistently mediocre performances simply weren’t enough anymore. For years, the team didn’t have the talent to make a deep playoff run. They were simply over-matched, but during the Caldwell era, Lions fans saw a team that was far too talented to still be struggling to claw its way out of mediocrity. It was clear that Caldwell may have been the coach to get the team to perennial playoff contention, but he wasn’t the coach to take them beyond that.
Enter Matt Patricia.
Matt Patricia was brought in to be the coach that took the team beyond that wildcard threshold. He was brought in to win the division or get a playoff win. He was brought in to build upon the groundwork that GM Bob Quinn and Caldwell had laid.
Patricia is not the same as Caldwell. It remains to be seen whether he is an improvement, but he is certainly not the same.
The Lions three losses so far this season came to the New York Jets, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Dallas Cowboys. The Jets and the 49ers are both teams that I expected Detroit to dispatch of handily. The Cowboys are a team that has seen its fair share of early season struggles and, by the time the game rolled around, I think most fans expected the Lions to win. The Lions lost three games that I believe they absolutely should have won.
On the other hand, Detroit’s wins came against the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots. The Packers are a team that the Lions typically struggle with, and the Patriots are a team that I was nearly certain would give the Lions trouble. That was not the case. Detroit’s two wins came against two teams that I believe most fans did not expect the Lions to beat.
This is not the same team that fans saw under Caldwell.
The Detroit Lions rose to the opportunity against the Patriots and Packers, something that Lions fans have been anxiously awaiting for years now. It was exciting to watch. It showed fans that this team is capable of beating anyone, they just have to execute. Now they just have to play to that level on a consistent basis. They have to start winning the games that they should win, rather than having to make up for their missed opportunities with wins against big-time opponents.