COMMENTARY | The goal for every team should be to win the Super Bowl each season. Some teams rebuild, some retool and others are consistent contenders, but everyone starts the season undefeated. Keeping this in mind, what exactly will it take for the Detroit Lions to have a "successful" season in 2013?
Obviously a Super Bowl victory would be the greatest triumph in team history, but no one is expecting Detroit to reach such heights this season. Similarly, a playoff berth would almost unilaterally appease the fanbase, but the NFC North is one of the toughest divisions in football and few prognosticators are calling for the Lions to head to the postseason.
Does that mean that an 8-8 regular season is the barometer for success for the Lions? Throughout the majority of Detroit's history, a .500 record was merely a pipe dream. The team floundered in mediocrity, almost never had a worthwhile quarterback and was the laughingstock of the league. But all of those things are supposed to be behind the franchise at this point. This is a team that made the playoffs just two short seasons ago after a 10-6 regular-season record.
All of the pieces are in place for Detroit to move past its average past and move forward into what should be an exciting and worthwhile future. Fans need to stop holding Detroit to the poor standards that came to the forefront during the (gasp) Matt Millen era. The measuring stick for success must be raised if this team is ever going to truly be taken seriously. Settling for a mediocre record and looking forward to another year of drafting and free-agent prospects is no longer going to cut it.
There will always be excuses that can be made. For instance, this season we can make the claims that the roster is young and inexperienced, that there is a lot of turnover on the depth chart and that the team needs time to grow and develop together. These are valid claims, but they are merely covers for the fact that this offense has as much talent (if not more) than any other in the league and the defense has enough quality parts to keep the Lions in games.
Yes, the schedule is going to be difficult. Playing the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings twice a year is no easy task, nor is facing the entire NFC East and AFC North divisions, but it is finally time for this team to stop making excuses, win the tough games and show the NFL that the Detroit Lions are a team to fear.
This is not meant to be some kind of odd rallying cry, but is instead meant to showcase just how far the Lions organization has come. The best receiver in the world is on the roster (and no I'm not referring to Nate Burleson,) the quarterback behind center is not another lovable loser, there is going to be an actual rushing attack this season because of Reggie Bush. Oh, and Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh give the Lions the best set of defensive tackles in all of football.
What this all adds up to is a team that, while young, is fully capable of taking that tough road to the playoffs and finding immediate success. For far too long fans of the Lions have been teased with a bright future and an optimism coupon to be redeemed at a later date. The talent is on the roster right now.
Head coach Jim Schwartz must get the most out of the Lions this season. His job and the future of the franchise likely depend on it. The team may be guardedly optimistic and Schwartz himself may downplay what the roster is capable of, but a lot can happen over the course of a 16-game season.
Will a .500 record be enough to consider the 2013 season a success? Absolutely not.
You can follow Nick on Twitter @nickkostora
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