Analysis: Don't miss the big picture with Lions

Detroit will finish this season with five or six wins, writes Lions' insider Mike Fowler. Exactly what you would expect from a team moving in the right direction from a two win season a year ago. Check out Mike's analysis of the team's current situation, and where they're going.

(ALLEN PARK, MI) -- After back-to-back blowout losses to Green Bay and New York, frustration is at an all-time high for Lions fans and for at least some in the media. Previously loyal fans, in increasing numbers, are talking about giving up on the team saying things like "they'll never win."

I say "relax," nothing has changed in the Lions progression to becoming a playoff team.

Look, the Lions weren't going to make the playoffs this year no matter what anyone said. Thoughts of a nine or ten win season were 'pie-in-the-sky'. Teams in the NFL just don't go from two wins to ten in one season. The Rams had three straight losing seasons before they made it to the Super Bowl. Tennesee finished 8-8 three times before their appearance. Both coaches, St.Louis' Dick Vermeil and Tennessee's Jeff Fischer were on the verge of being fired.

Detroit will finish this season with five or six wins, exactly what you would expect from a team moving in the right direction from a two win season a year ago.

When a team replaces its entire front office staff and then its entire coaching staff, it's rebuilding, plain and simple. Last year, Detroit hit rock bottom and now, they are slowly rising. There are numerous holes in the team to be sure, but Detroit is fortunate to have a master talent evaluator in Bill Tobin making the draft selections.

Tobin is slowly stocking the team with talent and if Millen stays out of his way long enough, the talent will soon begin to show. Next year, expect more turnover. Likely to move on are guys like Robert Porcher, Kelvin Pritchett, Desmond Howard, Eric Davis, Todd Lyght, Bill Schroeder and maybe Luther Elliss. Guys like Joey Harrington, Chris Cash, Andre Goodman, Kalimba Edwards and John Owens will begin to assert themselves and make more of an impact than they have this year.

Look at the progress made by second-year guys like Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola, who have helped solidify the offensive line.

Next year, Detroit will be closer, 7-9 or 8-8, then 2004 is when Detroit will be a factor in the playoff race. Joey Harrington will be in his third year, just like Chad Pennington, who picked apart the Lions' defense on Sunday.

At that time, Harrington will be the one picking opposing defenses apart.

The one worry is that Lions' GM Matt Millen will assert himself somewhere to screw up the process. Millen's track record for judging talent is not good, he's already shown that with the Jeff Hartings, Johnnie Morton, Bill Schroeder and Brenden Stai moves.

Here's hoping that Millen will take a more hands-off approach and turn the free agency period over to talented Sheldon White, who has had offers around the league, and is another Rick Spielman in waiting. White's a talented guy who's not getting full credit for his work and who'll likely get a chance to run his own personnel department, unfettered, somewhere else if Detroit isn't careful.

Remember how a team just up the road built a championship team. They drafted Isiah Thomas and then, with a few years of tinkering, steadily improved until they became a champion. It took five years before it paid off, but half the fun was watching the growth and development of squad.

Don't let frustration with the present cause you to miss seeing the big picture.

Lions Report Top Stories