Powered by the remake attack, it’s impossible to miss the growing optimism of the Detroit Lions in Year Two

ALLEN PARK – Backstage Jamal Williams was asked what he thought of landing the Detroit Lions on “Hard Knox.” It was an obvious question because his infectious personality would definitely appear on the popular HBO show. Then Williams leaned into the microphone, lowered his voice to a whisper so much that he was uttering the words, and said exactly what he really thought.

“I don’t care,” he said. “I just want to play football. All that is for me is more cameras walking around at me. I’m not interested. I just want to play football. And I want to win the Super Bowl. this year.”

Yeah. TKhartoum Detroit Lions.

The Energy.

This is amazing public.

Your eyes sure have rolled to the back of your head by now, which is an appropriate human response. The Lions have won only one playoff game since 1957, have not won any since 1991, and have finished last since the day Jim Caldwell was fired. That day was nearly half a decade ago.

No team has gone from three wins to the Super Bowl in one limit since…well, ever. Nobody has done it before. And nobody really thinks the Detroit Lions can either. They have the longest odds of winning the Super Bowl, the second longest, or the third longest, depending on which sports bet you prefer. And for good reason. This is a long-running rebuild only entering its second season, with question marks all over the field and, most importantly, under the center.

Then again, it’s impossible not to feel that the optimism now pouring out of Allen Park comes from a place more sober than the diverse coach talk that is emerging off the field across the league at this time of year. Lions really headed into building the whole culture last year, and it’s hard not to believe that this is starting to take hold at 222 Republic Drive. Because not everyone can be silent about how different things are from, say, two years ago, when an entire system was about to be abolished.

“We’re really coming in with a new mindset, just really coming in with it, realizing we’re going to the Super Bowl,” Williams said. “We have to have the mentality now before anything else. Last year is last year. It’s a new year.”

Energy. Energy. Energy.

By casual texts, there were 12 references to the big game when a handful of players made their way through the press room at the team’s headquarters on Wednesday afternoon. Which seems like a lot for the only team out there for all the Super Bowls and none of them make it.

They even admit that faith has not always existed.

“For a while, the guys got into the games (and) I don’t know if they really thought we were going to win,” cornerback Amani Urwari said.

And now?

Receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown: “I think that’s on everyone’s mind, it’s the Super Bowl.” “Obviously our goal is to win the division. You win the division and do the playoffs. That is our goal now, to win the division and do the playoffs. But obviously the ultimate goal for everyone is the Super Bowl.

“I mean, why would you seek anything less?”

A lot of optimism flows through a crime that, on paper, looks like it might be very good. The Lions used three first-round picks and a rush of free agent spending to build one of the best young offensive lines in the league. That group didn’t play a game together last year due to injuries, but now left tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragno are healthy. Throw in the return of Penei Sewell, who opened last season as the youngest left tackle in NFL history before ending the season as one of the best right tackles in the league, not to mention Jonah Jackson’s exit from the Pro Bowl season in left guard and Halapoulivaati Vaitai in right guard, and this unit is not only The strength of the team, but it is probably one of the best in the league.

“We can be the best,” Jackson said.

How’s that for shooting high?

The Lions also return all five of their running game with the most yards per carry since 1998, despite all the injuries and odd starting sets they’ve given up front. But where the real excitement begins to unfold on the ocean, where the Lions fell on one receiver at 4.34 (DJ Chark) before crafting another, well, who knows what Jameson Williams would have run on the combine. But whatever it is, it will be faster than that. Because that guy clocked 23 miles per hour last year in Alabama.

How many players in the NFL have clocked this speed: [error file not found]

With that kind of speed outside, that should give more room for everyone else to work both below and over the middle of the field. And if you watch Amon-Ra St. Brown plays football anytime after Thanksgiving last year, you already realize how dangerous that can be. Because this guy caught more footballs than anyone else in the league during that time, despite being a rookie trying to work in an attack decimated by injury and a general inability to throw the ball on the field.

Although things improved after Josh Reynolds was asked for concessions. correct. Josh Reynolds. He averaged a ridiculous 16.1 yards per catch in Detroit last season – yet this man may be on the bench when Williams returns to full speed from his ACL hit, which tells you something about where the offense suddenly goes deep.

Then there’s TJ Hockenson, who drove all the NFC tight ends just two years ago and was on his way to getting better numbers last year until he sustained a thumb injury at the end of the season. Then there’s D’Andre Swift, who was driving all the running backwards moments until he sustained an injury at Thanksgiving. There are plenty of places to go with football, and it’s all led by a young offensive coordinator named Ben Johnson who sparked enthusiastic responses to salvage the offensive over the past season.

Lions still have legitimate questions in the middle, which are the worst kinds of questions to ask. This offense could reach as far as Jared Goff’s right arm under intense scrutiny could take. But if Goff is as good as Black thinks him – and Black still thinks he’s very good – then hey, maybe this offense is really ready for the competition after all.

“I really (think we’re a total offense), I really do,” Saint Brown said. “I was thinking about that days ago. We have really, really good attacking, starting with a solid O line, we have great tight ends that can catch the ball and our backs are really strong, and they can all do different things. We added some receivers, we all – I mean I think we’re a total offense now, if you ask me. So I’m excited to see what we can do.”

The defense faces more question marks, although it’s May and all, it looks better on paper too. This is especially true up front, where Detroit added passing forwards like Aidan Hutchinson (second overall pick) and Josh Paschal (second round) to a unit that added second-day picks like Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill just last season. This is a historic investment in Detroit’s defensive line.

“I think everyone has a chip on our shoulders, especially us freshmen entering Year Two,” Onwuzurike said. “You can only see it on our team, man. We’re just out here on the field doing fieldwork and you can feel the camaraderie. Everyone is just trying to get better. There’s a plan. There’s a mission for us, you can feel it. You don’t even have to say anything. Even when Talking there, you can feel that as a team.”

It’s impossible to miss that feeling these days in Allen Park. It’s called optimism, and it’s been a long time since we’ve felt it in a real way about these parts. There are still serious question marks in the quarterback, linebacker and possibly high school, depending on how the whole Jeff Okudah thing works. If those perceived weaknesses become actual weaknesses, the Lions may be in for another long year of rebuilding.

But if these questions are answered along the way, the Lions may have a chance to compete in the NFC North that has been turned inside out by system changes in Chicago and Minnesota. Black certainly seems to think this is possible.

“As long as everyone has one mindset that we’re going to the Super Bowl and we’re going to win the Super Bowl — well, we have a chance,” Williams said. “Our main goal is to have this ring, and it will come with all of us staying together. A lot of people on this team are more excited than me about our goal, what we want to do this year, and how special we want to be.”

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