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A staple in the NFL since 1930, the Detroit Lions are a classic team in the NFC North. After moving from Portsmouth, OH to Detroit in 1933 and changing their team moniker from the Spartans to the Lions, this group has been a consistent competitor on the gridiron. However, despite decades of blood, sweat, and tears, the Lions have yet to earn their first Super Bowl title. In fact, the Lions have only made one NFC Championship appearance. That came in 1991 and ended with a 41-10 loss at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins.
Fans in Detroit are all too familiar with the tough side of being a fan. Compounding factors such as playing in a division with the Packers, Bears, and Vikings coupled with bad luck, bad draft decisions, and the early retirements of two of the greatest players in their history (Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson), the Lions need to catch a break. However, never a team to look for a handout, this blue collar squad is intent on earning their keep and winning a Super Bowl through brute force on the field.
The Lions hired a new general manager following the 2015 season and since then Bob Quinn has been doing everything he can to construct a Super Bowl champion. Facing a crisis after the sudden departure of Calvin Johnson, the most prolific wide receivers in Detroit Lions history, and one of the most prolific in NFL history, Quinn had to calm the nerves of the Detroit faithful. Three days after the Johnson retirement, the Lions signed wide receiver Marvin Jones to a five year deal. He immediately took over the role as the second receiver and amassed nearly 1,000 yards in his first season with the team.
The linchpin of the offense is quarterback Matthew Stafford. Entering his ninth season under center, Stafford has a rocket for an arm and knows how to adjust his offense to get the most production out of his teammates. The tandem of Golden Tate and Marvin Jones proved dynamic for Stafford last season and looks poised for another big year. So, too, is tight end Eric Ebron. Always a threat in the passing game, Ebron was rewarded in the offseason when the Lions picked up the option on his contract, locking him up through 2018. While adhering to a running back by committee style, Theo Riddick emerged from the group with his dual threat ability to run and pass. However, 2015 second round draft pick Ameer Abdullah has proven his value to the team and will be the starter this year.
The defensive front is led by veteran Haloti Ngata. Coming over the Ravens after the 2014 season, Ngata has brought stability to a line that was in turmoil with the departure of former Lions pass rusher Ndamukong Suh. Tahir Whitehead is the only returning starter in the linebacking corp, with Paul Worrilow coming in from Atlanta and Jarrad Davis joining the team as a rookie. The corner and safety positions are looking good with Darius Slay, Glover Quin, and Tavon Wilson patrolling the outfield.
There is plenty of support behind new GM Bob Quinn and the very talented head coach Jim Caldwell. A clear visions from a management perspective, coupled with star players on the field could yield the winning formula that has been absent in Detroit for so long. The updated uniforms that debut this season may also help to shake off some of the past. Winners of four championships in their history, the last was in 1957, well before the merger. The title drought of more than 60 years could finally end.
Among the best players in Lions history to take the field are Dick “Night Train” Lane, Herman Moore, Dick LeBeau, Billy Sims, Bobby Layne, Calvin Johnson, and Barry Sanders. Click here to learn more about the Detroit Lions.