Detroit's Winning Culture Finally In Place

Talk of the changing culture in Detroit has evolved into a winning culture, one that is noticeable in the strong chemistry among the team and its coaching staff. The only thing left to do now is win.

ALLEN PARK -- Believe it or not, it wasn’t too long ago when conversations of just changing the culture of losing in the Detroit Lions’ locker room was commonplace.  
 
That topic has appeared removed from many radio talk shows, newspaper articles and discussion boards alike this year.  
 
More importantly, it’s been removed from the Lions’ locker room. It has instead evolved.
 
Time spent observing the assembled group of players representing the 2011 Lions is time spent in the presence of confidence and high expectations.
 
As a collective unit, there is a different demeanor in this squad.  Their playfulness throughout practice speaks volumes to the confidence they have in themselves while their tireless approach and work ethic project the high expectations they have in the team.
 
It’s not unusual to see receiver Nate Burleson constructively critique a teammate’s technique in both the game of football or in their approach to touchdown celebrations.
 
If you’re hanging around the practice field, you might hear safety Louis Delmas shouting out lyrics to a song or discussing the most recent play with a fellow safety. 
 
Every morning quarterback Matthew Stafford playfully races to be the first to cross the finish line in the warm-up jog (which isn’t intended to be a race). 
 
He smiles as he crosses the finish line, sometimes high-stepping his way across.  That same competitiveness – which can be viewed as humor during warm-ups – is evident in his every action when running the offense.  
 
These occurrences – although they may appear irrelevant to some – put this team’s chemistry on full display.  A chemistry that is as strong as it’s been in Detroit for a while. 
 
“The chemistry that a team has each year is different,” said kicker Jason Hanson, the team’s longest tenured player.  “This year (there’s been) a little more gelling with personalities and guys, whenever you have continuity it helps.”
 
The Lions’ continuity has helped – starting at the top.
 
Three years have passed and the Lions have retained the vast majority of their coaching staff, including the head coach as well as offensive and defensive coordinators.

Not only that, either. No one is entering 2011 sitting on a burning seat worried about their job.

The team captains have remained in place and have helped calm as well as push the locker room.
 
This team is willing to play, laugh and joke together - keeping each other sane through the physical and mental grind known as the NFL season. 
 
Still, for every smile on a face there is equal sweat on a brow.  This team is willing to work hard in an effort to meet – and exceed – expectations. 
 
“I think good teams always strike the balance between having fun (and hard work)…” said Hanson.  “At the end of day, when it comes time to play, we’re always on the same page and giving everything we have with a focus that’s not satisfied with anything but winning.  Regular season is when you find out if you really have it.”
 
“It’s only fun if you win,” he added.   

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