For the first time, Lions coach Rod Marinelli has acknowledged the possibility of failing to win a game this season and addressed it with his team.
"He said, 'We're not going 0-16,'" running back Aveion Cason said. "We're not going 0-16, man."
It wasn't a prediction as much as it was a mission statement.
In a team meeting Monday, Marinelli put a team picture up on the big screen. He told the players they did not want that photo on exhibit at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, to represent the NFL's first 0-16 team.
"Nobody wants to be 0-16," Cason said. "Nobody wants to be a part of history, man. You don't want to go to Canton that way."
The Lions are 0-12 for the second time in team history. They have four chances to avoid immortal embarrassment. Their first is Sunday against Minnesota.
"Where we're at right now, we need a win," Marinelli said. "I think they feel that urgency to go out and win. ... Each loss is a stake in your heart."
This is a bit of a departure for Marinelli, who teaches his players to play snap to snap and rarely looks beyond the present day or the next game. But Marinelli does break the season into quarters, and he does pull back and show the big picture at times, too.
Some players were glad to see Marinelli confront the issue directly.
"He might as well bring it up," left tackle Jeff Backus said. "We've only got four games left, so there's no reason to ignore it. He might as well present it and say, 'Hey, this is what you have a chance to accomplish.'"
Kicker Jason Hanson said: "I thought it was good. What good is it to not say anything about it and pretend like it doesn't exist? We need to get our act together as players. I said that before.
"Everybody has to do something different and get that edge that playoff teams have that are fighting for wins. We've got to have that same edge. Whether we can do it or not, we'll see. But man, if we don't come out firing this last four weeks, I wouldn't know what to say about that."
Hanson said Marinelli wasn't ranting or raving and there was no dramatic speech.
"He was just pretty straightforward about it and just put it out there, kind of like, 'Look it, we're not playing games. This is the situation every one of us has put ourselves in, and it's there, and we better do something about it,'" Hanson said. "Again, I thought it was good. We should have a sense of urgency these last four games.
"Maybe a team that's out there that's 2-10 or something, maybe they won't, but we do. I appreciated it. It gives you a real focus for the end of the season."