Off to their worst start since the 2002 season, when they finished 3-13 under Marty Mornhinweg, the Detroit Lions are attempting to remain optimistic.
After Sunday's 31-24 loss, that might prove to be tough-sledding.
The Lions have now dropped two home games and are 0-2 in the NFC North division. With the first quarter of the regular season almost completed, and two straight road games ahead, the team is running out of time to turn it around.
"We've got work every week - it's every week," said Lions' quarterback Jon Kitna, who passed for over 300 yards on Sunday. "We've got to stick together and keep getting better, week-in, week-out. 0-3 means nothing. We could be 3-0 and it wouldn't mean anything if you don't keep getting better. That's what you have to do - keep getting better each week.
"You never know when that one play is going to happen and all of a sudden a team catches fire. You just have to be sure that when that play comes you'll be ready for it."
The Lions could draw a few positives from Sunday's loss, including an offense -- both running and passing -- that finally got on track. But whether that was due to Green Bay's porous pass defense (they entered the contest second-to-last in the league) or an offensive unit coming together remains to be seen.
They'll have an opportunity to prove one way or the other next week at St. Louis. The Rams have a formidable pass defense, allowing just 192 passing yards per contest.
Kitna's teammates are well-aware that the progress has to continue, including on defense, which allowed an aging Brett Favre to shred a secondary and keep the game out of reach.
"It's all contagious, but we as a football team have to think positive; we had our chances," said cornerback Dre' Bly. "On the offense, Kitna is throwing well; we're not turning the ball over and he's making good decisions back there. The interception was pass interference, the guy obviously grabbed (Corey Bradford) and the ball deflected off his chest.
"Kevin (Jones) played well; we just have to hold up on the back end and not give up the big plays."
As Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli and a new coaching staff continue to stress fundamentals, many analysts have written Detroit off until they have secured players that best fit the system and philosophy. It is typical to see many first year coaches, including Chicago's own Lovie Smith and Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis, struggle upon the adoption of players from a previous coaching regime.
But while hope for the 2006 season continues to slip in both the media and around the city of Detroit, Lions' wide receiver Roy Williams cautioned that it was too early to give up.
"We're working hard; 0-3 doesn't mean we're out of the playoffs," said Williams. "We're not saying that we can't win these next thirteen games and finish 13-3. We're going to take it one game at a time; go to St. Louis and hopefully be 1-3 in this first quarter - then go get ready for the second quarter."
Kitna echoed Williams' approach.
"It's not difficult (to keep up morale)," he said. "This is when the leaders step up and we find out what kind of a man you are. It's easy to be a strong, tight team when things are going well, but we'll be alright. This football team is going to be fine and I think the attitude in this locker room is fine."
Added Kitna, "We've just got to stick together and hopefully we have enough
character in this locker room to do that."