The Detroit Lions walked off Ford Field as winners in the final week of 2017 having pulled off a dominating victory against their arch-rival Green Bay Packers. The victory clinched a 9-7 record for Detroit meaning they had put together their first back to back winning seasons since 1995. It wrapped a season sweep of the Packers, the first over their NFC North foes since 1991.
Despite all of this 2017 will go down as a failure in the grand scheme of things.
Head Coach Jim Caldwell was fired and replaced by New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as the Lions ended the season without reaching the playoffs and their division title drought reached 24 years. Another year of Quarterback Matt Stafford’s prime went by without a playoff victory. They failed to produce a 100 yard rusher, marking four years since Reggie Bush completed the feat in 2013. Their retooled, rebuilt, offensive line couldn’t stay healthy and Stafford was sacked 47 times.
The Lions as a whole struggled in 2017. But the fact that they were able to post a winning record despite their struggles shows promise for the future. The future may not last as long as many Lions fans would like to believe, though.
TJ Lang and Rick Wagner, the two key pieces to 2017’s offseason offensive line retool, are 30 and 28 respectively. Lang will be a free agent after 2019, and both are on contracts that have potential outs after this season. Golden Tate, who has been the offenses best weapon since the departure of Calvin Johnson, is a free agent after 2018 and Detroit may not be able to retain him in an inflated receiver market.
For years we have been hearing about how the Detroit Lions only needed a few more years and a few more pieces before they could compete in the NFC. Eventually, the future will have to arrive in Detroit, and if not this year than the future may be further away than we think.