Luckily, for Detroit Lions fans, the season has come to an end.
And what a rickety, up-and-down, dramatic and hellish year it was for a team that went 10-6 in 2011, only to fall to 4-12 this year and come up well short of expectations.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz has been the subject of immense criticism; the same has been true for Martin Mayhew, Lions GM.
Schwartz plans to take a hard look at himself and the organization during the offseason, telling MLive.com this:
"There's evaluation every single week. You look at the way you organize, the way you practice, the offseason program, training camp, meetings, all that different stuff. That's always a work in progress. The way we prepared this year was slightly different than the year before, slightly different than the year before that. The way our offseason will go is slightly different, mainly because of rules and things like that. I think that there are definitely places for me to improve. I don't know if I'm going to sit here and list them, but we're very realistic about where we are; 4-12 wasn't good enough and as a head coach that's my ultimate responsibility.
"If there's one area that you can point to that I need to improve, it's wins. Everything else is all geared toward getting those wins. We're 4-12 this year. Whether that's down from 10-6, or if it had been up from 0-16, it still not good enough and we're all aware of that."
Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnoski feels that Mayhew should also feel the heat and accept blame for a horrid fall. Wojnoski brings up valid points in his piece, citing particular personnel issues and areas that stand to be improved upon if the Lions want to progress as a playoff-worthy team.
This is it. This is the offseason we learn if Martin Mayhew is truly clever, or simply an Accidental GM. This is the most important juncture of Mayhew's career, which also makes it the most important of Jim Schwartz's career.
And the more you pick through the Lions' roster, while watching the NFL's best battle in the playoffs, the more daunting the task appears. The Lions have Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Beyond that? Beyond that, they have 22 unrestricted free agents, second most in the league, with modest to paltry credentials. The roster is fixable because broken teams get fixed all the time in the NFL, but it will be one profoundly difficult exercise.
We don't have to relive the injuries, arrests, disputes, and lack of desire to play on the part of some players (and former players). No, Lions followers have to simply swallow the sour pill given to them by their hometown team, the one that had the potential to win 10 to 12 games this season -- according to an early-season projection by yours truly.
It wasn't wrong to predict success for the Lions. Picture this, a Lions fan with a crystal ball in August, saying something like "Calvin Johnson is going to break Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yards record."
Or, this: "Matthew Stafford is going to get incredibly close to throwing for 5,000 yards."
Yeah. And if all that happens, the Lions will win at least 10 games. That wouldn't have been crazy to assume, would it have been?
The sad one-man show that the Lions became in 2012 was self-inflicted. It's plain to see that Detroit just lost ambition after posting 10 wins a year ago. This season, even the close losses, just felt different. Detroit seemingly lacked motivation, rolling over and taking similar lumps from NFC-North foes as if they were routine and anticipated.
Mayhew and Schwartz are two guys that Lions fans aren't particularly thrilled with these days. If true to their word, Detroit should be a much different team in 2013 after Schwartz's commitment to self- and team-evaluation sessions.
The same goes for Mayhew, too. He certainly has to pull the strings and make the challenging upper-management calls before his organization's nose dive turns for the better.
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