Lions next challenge? Their own identity
Jim Schwartz (Andrew Weber, US Presswire)
Jim Schwartz (Andrew Weber, US Presswire)
Lions Insider
Posted Sep 15, 2011
Mike Mady


At 1-0, the Detroit Lions find themselves at a fork in the road with their identity at stake. Lions insider Mike Mady spoke with coach Jim Schwartz, receivers Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson, and quarterback Matthew Stafford about the perception of Detroit -- and most important, how they perceive themselves.

ALLEN PARK -- Winning is a funny thing in the NFL.

Victory lays a foundation for confidence while also supplying experience and know-how, necessary building blocks to consistent winning.

At the same time, winning can beget false perception. It can be a momentary satisfaction that lulls a team into temporary complacency.

The Detroit Lions are at a fork in the road.

The Lions haven’t lost a game -– meaningful or otherwise –- since Dec. 5, 2010. Yet they have only a 6-10 and a 1-0 record to show for it.

So which path are the Lions embarking on? Are they headed down the path of confidence, hard work and dedication or the one of over-confidence, satisfaction and contentment?

If you spend one moment talking to anyone wearing Honolulu blue and silver, it seems to be clear.

“We’re not going to go throughout the week riding our high horse,” said Calvin Johnson. “We got to put [last week’s game] behind us, just like if we lost, we got to put that behind us. We got to get ready for this next game.”

The Lions have become accustomed to regrouping after a loss.

They lost 24 out of 28 games under head coach Jim Schwartz prior to their current winning streak –- and that’s without mentioning the 16 consecutive losses they had in 2008, the season prior to Schwartz’s arrival.

“It has been awhile since we’ve had a loss,” said Schwartz after Tuesday's practice. “So we’re starting to get used to dealing with winning. In the past, it was how do we deal with a loss and we got pretty good at doing that ... a little too good. We’ve had some practice at coming back off of wins and we’ve got a good mentality as a team.”

Adapting to winning is something that sounds foolish, but it is certainly a part of reality in the NFL.

As the Lions win, they will encounter uncharted waters.

They will never again catch a team off guard.

They will have to maintain a focus when they are heavy favorites. They will have to be careful not to underestimate an opponent.

All of these are potential risks already.

The Lions head into their home opener -– a Week 2 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs -– as 9-point favorites. The Chiefs are coming off an embarrassing loss, they are focused and are well aware of the talent on the Detroit roster.

Some teams may already be looking ahead. However, the Lions seem focused on the task at hand.

“(The Chiefs are) a good football team,” said quarterback Matthew Stafford. “They didn’t come out Week 1 and play the way they wanted to ... it’s really impressive the personnel they can put out there and line up against you. We got to put last week behind us. It’s good to be 1-0, but we got to keep on moving forward.”

With a tough schedule ahead and with divisional competition fierce, this is a game the Lions need to win.

The Lions have won three consecutive road games, haven’t lost a football game in over nine months and are tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the second longest active regular season winning streak.

With all that, they are only 1-0.

Perhaps Nate Burleson said it best.

“We have a long way to go,” he said. “Until we get some playoff berths and championships around here, you’re not going to see us popping champagne anytime soon.”

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