Detroit snapping a 19-game losing streak, the second-longest in NFL history, was the feel-good story of the NFL last week. Except in Chicago.
Detroit snapping a 19-game losing streak, the second-longest in NFL history, was the feel-good story of the NFL last week.
Except in Chicago.
“I never cheer for anybody in the NFC North to win,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “I didn’t think much of it, to be truthful.”
And maybe in Detroit’s new management circles.
“We don’t need to be getting any trophies for being 1-2,” coach Jim Schwartz said on a teleconference.
Well, and maybe not the Lions players, either.
“We really don’t talk about it too much and don’t think about it a whole lot either,” quarterback Matt Stafford said.
A new Lions team comes to Soldier Field on Sunday. Detroit has a rookie head coach, a rookie quarterback, four other rookie starters and 31 new players from a year ago.
“We did turn things over quite a bit,” Schwartz said. “There is an urgency to get on the same page quickly. It doesn’t happen overnight. Guys have been trained in one system for five years and all of a sudden they are thrown into a totally different system and they need to learn how to play with the guys next to them.”
A whole crew of new guys brings hope. And nothing, as Chicago knows with Jay Cutler, sparks hope like bringing in a coveted quarterback. Detroit’s hopes hang heavily on Stafford, this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick. Seven of the 18 quarterbacks drafted No. 1 overall in the last 45 years have combined to win 14 Super Bowls.
“I’m a piece of the puzzle,” Stafford said. “Not one player is going to change an entire franchise around. We just have to keep building around everybody and, hopefully, get this thing moving in the right direction.”
The two biggest turnarounds in the league last year were led by rookie first-round quarterbacks Matt Ryan of Atlanta and Joe Flacco of Baltimore. And this year’s No. 5 overall pick Mark Sanchez has the Jets at 3-0.
Flacco, Ryan and Sanchez are all among the top-15 rated passers in the NFL this year (at 87.7 or higher). Stafford is 31st (at 57.0).
Stafford says he talks to Sanchez and is happy for him, but also said they are different cases.
“Everybody is in a different situation with their team, their development, their skills. It’s a unique process,” he said.
The other three came in with far more talent around them, especially on defense, than Stafford. But Stafford also has something they don’t have: wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2007. He had 1,331 yards receiving last year for an 0-16 team.
“He’s big and fast and strong and has a great attitude,” Stafford said. “He runs after every ball and catches it. We do a good job of spreading the ball around, but he’s one of those guys that if you get in trouble, you definitely look to.”
The Lions have been in trouble seemingly forever. Or at least since Barry Sanders shockingly retired on the eve of training camp 10 years ago. But the Lions have new hope, and, for the first time in 20 games, a win.
“We’ve grown a lot and got ourselves a win. Hopefully, we can keep it going,” Stafford said.
With a “winning streak” of one, the Lions are now just another opponent.
“I’m really interested in trying to stop that streak this week,” Smith said.
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at (815) 987-1383 or email@example.com.