It's too early for '09 season previews, and too late for '08 season reviews. What's an NFL blog to do in the never-ending quest to overcover the bejeezus out of the NFL? Offseason progress reports. Let's go in alphabetical order. Today, the Detroit Lions.
Free agents gained: CB Phillip Buchanon(notes), WR Ronald Curry(notes), LB Larry Foote(notes), TE Will Heller(notes), DT Grady Jackson(notes), WR Bryant Johnson(notes), CB Eric King(notes), OT Daniel Loper(notes), RB Maurice Morris(notes), OT Ephraim Salaam(notes), FB Terrelle Smith(notes), LB Cody Spencer(notes)
Drafted: QB Matthew Stafford(notes), TE Brandon Pettigrew(notes), CB Louis Delmas(notes), OLB DeAndre Levy(notes), WR Derrick Williams(notes), DT Sammie Lee Hill(notes), RB Aaron Brown, OT Lydon Murtha(notes), OLB Zack Follett(notes), TE Dan Gronkowski(notes)
The nice thing about 0-16 is that it's pretty much impossible to screw up the ensuing offseason. You can sign, draft, or trade for anybody you want to. What are they going to do, make you worse than 0-16?
And the same goes for getting rid of players. No one has much leverage at the negotiating table when the team can say, "You know, we can go 0-16 without you just as well as we did with you." It's the best time to be a general manager. It's not fair that Matt Millen never had this opportunity!
So they've got that going for them. But even if you throw out the "nowhere to go but up" parameter, you've gotta like some of the moves they've made. It doesn't seem possible to add Julian Peterson, Larry Foote, Grady Jackson, Anthony Henry and Phillip Buchanon to a defense and not see that defense improve at least a little bit.
Offensively, who knows what we'll see? The cupboard isn't bare, though it sometimes likes to perform as if it is. Calvin Johnson's(notes) a superstar at receiver, and Bryant Johnson and Ronald Curry should be adequate members of his posse. Kevin Smith(notes) had a pretty damn decent second half of last year, too.
There are still, to put it mildly, big questions along the offensive line, and the Lions will have to decide if they're going to go with Daunte Culpepper(notes) or Matthew Stafford to start the season. But either way, it doesn't seem like it should be a totally inept offense, and the defense will certainly be better.
Progress: I do see a lot of progress here. As bad as the Lions were last year, they weren't as bad as 0-16 suggests. You don't get there without a little bad luck. So the forces of karma alone should be worth a couple of wins, and all the veteran talent they've added should be worth a couple more.
Plus four games. 0-16 last year, 4-12 this year.