The Lions went from 6-10 in 2010 to 10-6 and a wild-card playoff team last season. General manager Martin Mayhew is done celebrating the team's first postseason trip since 1999.
"It's hard to win a championship," Mayhew said. "And things have to line up for you the right way. We expected to do that eventually, but we just want to keep being there. Keep knocking on the door consistently."
Mayhew's hand in rebuilding the Lions' roster is significant. He replaced Matt Millen, who went 31-97 with Millen as CEO and president. The Lions went from persistent draft misfires -- Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington, Mike Williams -- to steadily building a core around Calvin Johnson (a Millen pick), quarterback Matt Stafford and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
As constituted, the Lions have what Mayhew said is the "most talented team that we've been able to put together."
The Lions have 21 of 22 starters back from their 2011 roster. The one loss -- left cornerback Eric Wright -- appears to be significant given the overall uncertainty and instability in the secondary.
"I think, the maturity of our football team going into this season, now we're at a point where Matthew Stafford's not a young player anymore," he said. "Ndamukong Suh's not a young player anymore."