Happy Thanksgiving friends of Draft Countdown! I hope you have an amazing holiday as we celebrate with our family and friends. As a Lions fan since the 80s, I’ve been hard-pressed to find a year to be thankful for (as much as this year at least). So as we think of the things we are thankful for, I wanted to explain why I am thankful. THIS Detroit Lions team!
Thankful For: The Detroit Lions!
Reasons I’m Thankful #1: The Front Office & Coaching Staff
Brad Holmes has been a revelation as the general manager of this franchise. He’s taken some swings that others have thought are crazy. However, in hindsight, they built a core for this franchise’s gritty mentality. Starting with building up the trenches. Using his first draft pick to land a stud like Penei Sewell was masterful. But to step back a step further, pairing Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell was a match made in heaven. Two men who love football. Seeing team building so similarly. It couldn’t have been a better move at the time. Since then, they’ve continued to trust their process. Bringing in players who love football and have a team-first mentality.
When it comes to the X’s and O’s, this coaching staff has done a great job taking what they had in the beginning. And making a system that fits the players. As well as being able to pivot and grow as time went on. The team’s defense has become more of a 4-2-5 defense, and that’s allowed them to utilize many different linemen based on needs. Also allowing them to bring along younger linebackers Derrick Barnes and rookie Jack Campbell because they can play alongside Alex Anzalone, who’s seeing nearly 100% of the reps at linebacker. Ultimately just putting the best players on the field, in positions to be successful.
Reasons I’m Thankful #2: Making Smart Decisions
Trading such a beloved player like Matthew Stafford was smart. As tough as it may have been for the fanbase. It helped set the groundwork for the lengthy rebuild that needed to take shape. Sadly this is not Madden, so they were wise to play the long game. Loading up on picks. Moving on from aging veterans with big-money deals. And moving around in the draft to target “their guys”. It all adds up to where we are today.
One of the wisest decisions was building a culture players want to be in. And one coaches want to stick around for. Ben Johnson could’ve landed a head coaching job this last offseason, instead, he chose to stay and that’s HUGE for a franchise that couldn’t keep people around in the past. Now, how Campbell replaces Johnson when he gets a head coaching job could define his coaching career long term.
Reasons I’m Thankful #3: Hope
I know, it’s a vague reason to be thankful but it feels like with this regime change, from ownership down, I feel like there’s hope we can build something special here. Things are constantly changing, and with salary caps, injuries, and any number of other things that could change the course of this team, we never know how long this will last but I’m going to enjoy whatever I can get! Like in any sport, if you find yourself loving a team that just doesn’t win much, it can be a slog rooting for that team but I’ve never had the thought of hoping bandwagons, I bleed Honolulu blue and silver (and sometimes black, wish those jerseys would come back!
Reasons I’m Thankful #4: The Players
As I mentioned above, this team is looking for players who love football and are team-first guys. There is a strong core of that here on both sides of the ball. I know that there are some aging guys along the offensive line in Taylor Decker and Graham Glasgow but with how the outside player base views this team, whether it be the draft or free agency, they should be able to backfill the necessary talent to keep moving forward.
I’m thankful that Jared Goff has matured, that he allowed the adversity he faced being dealt from LA to Detroit help make him stronger, and that he has enough talent mixed with leadership to steer us in the right direction. He’s had Super Bowl experience (I know it was a tough matchup) but we know he’s at least been able to get there, and as we keep growing he could help us get there too!
We have a good mix of youth and leadership on both sides of the ball, guys that will help each other, as well as hold each other accountable, and in the end that’s making them the fun team we see today. Amon-Ra is the perfect example of what a Detroit Lion is, a hard-working, chip-on-the-shoulder type of guy, who gives you everything they have, every day.
Reasons I’m Thankful #5: You
If you made it this far, thank you. I love football, be it college or the pros. I love my Lions and love to connect and help people grow. Whether you’re a fan of the team, or maybe even me, I am thankful you stopped by. This Thanksgiving, as we (hopefully) watch the Lions move to 9-2, enjoy your amazing meals, great conversations, and the game America loves! If you want to talk all things football, hit me on Twitter. Or over on the Draft Countdown Discord! And check out the rest of my work here.