Sep 9, 2022 - Sports

Lions fans think this is the year

Detroit Lans fans at this year's NFL Draft
Lions fans, including superfan Ron Crachiola on the right (also known as Crackman), cheer during the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas. Photo: David Becker/Getty Images

There's tangible excitement surrounding the Lions this season after HBO's "Hard Knocks" gave fans an inside look at head coach Dan Campbell's infectious in-your-face style.

  • "There's just never been more attention paid to this team," MLive Lions beat reporter Benjamin Raven tells Axios. "The energy is real. It's real on the field, it's real in the press room."

State of play: That hype could evaporate quickly should quarterback Jared Goff — who once took the Rams to a Super Bowl — and Campbell fail to creep past the three wins they recorded last season.

  • Despite not winning a playoff game in three decades, those around the team are optimistic about their chances under current leadership.

What they're saying: The Free Press' Carlos Monarrez, who has covered the team since 2006 — the same year Campbell joined the team as a tight end back in his playing days — tells Axios fans should remain patient as the rebuild enters year two.

  • "Ownership believes they can win with (Campbell) and Holmes, and do it the right way," Monarrez says. "What's holding Campbell back is he's never been a coordinator, he's never called plays. What he came with was a really good reputation as an assistant head coach with the New Orleans Saints for five years."
  • "The culture change is real," says Raven. "I think (Campbell's) the guy that gets them back to the playoffs and gets them competitive."

What we're watching: Both writers tagged wideout D.J. Chark as an under-the-radar player to keep an eye on.

  • The former Pro Bowler signed a $10 million, one-year contract coming off an injury-shortened season in Jacksonville.
  • Motivated to show he's a big-money player, Chark could lead the team in receiving yards, Raven says.

Quick takes: Monarrez predicts the Lions will win six games this year and Raven forecasts an 8-9 season.

The bottom line: The franchise is historically bad, but the fans will keep coming back no matter what.

  • "Lions fans are among the best fans I've ever seen anywhere in American sports because they haven't given their fans any real reason to keep rooting for this team — it's just part of who they are," Monarrez says.
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