March 18, 2010 – By John Ritter
The Detroit Lions won two games, finished 26th in offense and 32nd in defense, but considered 2009 to be a year of vast improvement. So it goes for a team that went winless the year before, and became the face of futility in the NFL.
They were the first team since 1976 to go an entire season without a win in ’08, and completely blew up the core of the organization. With Jim Schwartz as head coach, the Lions took quarterback Matthew Stafford with the top pick in the draft. When he was in the lineup, Detroit showed signs of life with a big win over the Washington Redskins, and another in dramatic fashion against the Cleveland Browns. The problem was, he, along with Calvin Johnson, were rarely in the lineup together as they battled nagging injuries.
The Lions only won twice, but stayed within eight points in four other contests.
The front office reeled in free agent Nate Burleson to supplement the passing game, and with a healthy Stafford and Johnson, the Lions should improve dramatically in 2010. They are still longshots to reach the 2011 Super Bowl, though, according to Bodog. They are among the five teams in the league with the worst odds at 100/1, tying Cleveland, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Oakland.
Stafford and Daunte Culpepper combined to throw 26 interceptions to just 16 touchdowns. Johnson managed to catch 67 balls for 984 yards despite sitting out two games, and being limited in two others. After that, though, only one other true receiver had over 400 yards. Running back Kevin Smith was the team’s third-leading receiver with 415 yards and a touchdown, while adding 747 yards on the ground.
No defense surrendered more points than Detroit’s in 2009, despite efforts to pick up defenders like Bryant McFadden and Larry Foote in the off-season. Former first-rounder Ernie Sims missed five games with injuries, paving the way for free agent Foote to lead the team in tackles. The Lions only totaled 26 sacks, sending Schwartz to scout for more pass rushers. He signed defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch from the Tennessee Titans, and it is believed Detroit will target a tackle with the second-overall pick in April’s draft.2010 nfl season preview, 2011 super bowl, bryant mcfadden, calvin johnson, daunte culpepper, detroit lions, ernie sims, jim schwartz, larry foote, matthew stafford, NFL News, tennessee titans