The Detroit Lions’ future is brighter than you think


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The Lions celebrate their first win of the 2021 season against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 5, 2021. Photo via Forbes.

Reece Taylor, Sports Reporter

Football is about culture. You can have a top quarterback prospect, incredible defensive players, and talents at the skill positions, but if your team’s leadership and culture are sub-par, your team will fail. Look at the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021. There was no stability, no leadership, and nobody bought into the culture. There’s one thing to have no talent, or to have a bad record. It’s another thing to have no culture.

With the Detroit Lions, the culture hasn’t been kind. They’ve won one playoff game in 60+ years, years of top draft picks that left to win in greener pastures, and most recently, a coaching tenure that saw a former playoff team regress as an organization that ended less than two years ago. So what changed?

On Jan. 20, 2021, the Detroit Lions hired Head Coach Dan Campbell. This was seen as a shock to many as his only head coaching experience was an interim position during his time with the Miami Dolphins, and the “bite a kneecap” quote made a few chuckles and became a popular meme. Through the surprise and jokes, one thing was certain: this is a man who loves football.

I’m not saying Campbell is the first Lions coach to love football since I’m a staunch defender of Jim Caldwell, but Campbell is in a rare situation. He’s getting to build his team from scratch. You can look at the 3-13-1 record in his first season, but it only tells part of the story. After starting 0-10-1, the Lions closed the season 3-3, and beat the top-seeded Green Bay Packers, albeit without star QB Aaron Rodgers in the second half. Using only pieces of the team he’s signed and drafted, his “kneecaps” quote is something of a rallying cry in Detroit. You can tell he’s proud of the players and wants the best out of them. More than that, you can see how the wins impact him.

The culture that Campbell is setting is based on something Detroit sports is known for: grit. Detroit at its best is a gritty and hardworking city that is built off of toughness, and the current Lions are starting to embody that. Drafting players like offensive tackle Penei Sewell and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is a great start. Two of the notable young guys they brought in to establish this new identity. Adding in a good starting quarterback in Jared Goff and some of the top picks in the upcoming NFL draft makes one thing certain:

Detroit is coming.

For the first time in a long time, there’s a buzz around the Detroit Lions. It doesn’t feel like a slew of meaningless losses for years on end. The players look like they believe in the system. The coach looks like he cares. Each game is a fight. The Lions march into Ford Field and look like they’re ready to play. Are they winning right now? No, but for once it doesn’t feel like forever.

The Detroit Lions are an organization that feels like it lives in its past losses. They have coaches and players now that are focused on the future. As a fan, all I’m asking for is consistency, then let it bring in the wins. The city of Detroit is ready to be respected on the gridiron again.