Reasons to be Cautious:
Offensive Lines – When taking into consideration only the skill positions (WR, TE, RB) and QB, I believe this to be the most talented offense in the league …however, skill positions are only as good as the line that creates their holes or protects their QB, and therein lies the problem with the Lions. The Lions O-Line (a below average squad at best in 2012) is tasked with protecting an injury-prone QB on a pass happy offense and they lost both starting tackles. Oh, and they play in a division that is home to Julius Peppers, Jared Allen and Clay Matthews. That is concerning to me and should be concerning to Lions fans, coaches and front office personnel alike.
Jim Schwartz – Nothing is worse than a highly talented yet undisciplined team, and that is exactly what the Lions have been the last few years. Discipline starts from the top and it is clear that the Lions lack it at all levels of the organization: Management – see the 1990’s and most of the 2000’s for a great example (record, employing Matt Millen, continuing to employ Matt Millen, drafting Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, Roy Williams, Titus Young, etc); coaches: see Jim Schwartz vs Jim Harbaugh for a great example of lacking discipline; and players: Suh stepping on players, Pettigrew shoving officials, etc. Schwartz should be credited for taking over a 0-16 team and getting them to the playoffs in his tenure, but I don’t see him as a long-term answer.
Finesse – Finesse teams don’t usually win in this league. The Lions are filled with finesse players and seem to lack the hardnosed and disciplined players needed. Even Fairley and Suh, despite their power, play more like finesse players.
This team will put up a lot of points and will be great for fantasy owners, but I don’t see them putting up a lot of wins. I do not trust the coaches of this team, I do not trust the O-Line of this team, I do not trust the D-Line of this team and I believe this team lacks leadership. That is a recipe for more losses than wins. The talent on offense will be enough to get this team close to .500, but not enough to mask their weaknesses and make it to the playoffs. Chew on this for a minute.
The Lions made the playoffs in 2011 at 10-6. Since their 5-0 start in 2011, the Lions are 9-19 (includes their playoff loss), and those 9 wins came against teams with a combined .396 winning percentage (2011 – 33-47; 2012 – 24-39-1) and included 1 victory over a team that finished with a record above .500 (Seattle).