For the Detroit Lions, the 2023 NFL season provides an opportunity to reach new heights

This fraternity made the 91ers believe better days were ahead, even after Detroit lost that season’s NFC title game to Washington. Indeed, disappointment was in store. In May 1992, Fontes’ brother, Len Fontes, who was a defensive backs coach, suffered a fatal heart attack. Later that summer, guard Eric Andolsek died after a truck driver lost control of his car and rammed Andolsek outside the player’s home in Louisiana. The tragedy stripped the team of another key player on a potential offensive line and left the franchise reeling emotionally. The Lions went 5-11 the following season.

Detroit reached the playoffs three years in a row—capturing the NFC Central in 1993—but never won a postseason game with that group (while the early 1990s were dominated by the Cowboys and 49ers). A 58-37 wild card loss to Philadelphia brought the 1995 season to an abrupt end. The Lions then went 5-11 in the 1996 season, after which Fontes lost his job.

“This ’95 season was the finale for us,” Brown said. “Free agency left. Spellman left. Two years later, Benny Blades and Kevin Glover left. I remember when Barry (Sanders) retired (after the 1998 season). He said he didn’t know the team anymore.” “.

“When you have a core group of players who are committed to winning the tournament, that’s special,” Paul said. “It’s difficult to build the kind of continuity that a championship-caliber team needs, and that’s why you have to top the table when you have that substance. It won’t last forever.”

You don’t have to worry about such issues yet. They are so young that Gough is one of the oldest in the locker room, at only 28 years old. Holmes and Campbell have also committed themselves to building stellar chemistry.

There may be bumps along the way. This season, four Lions players were suspended for violating the NFL’s gambling policy (Jameson Williams is the only one of those suspended players to remain with the team). However, it’s hard to imagine Holmes and Campbell losing sight of the team – and their core team leaders – as expectations grow around this current group.

Holmes knew there would be a steep learning curve in the first two years with all the young players entering the field. That patience paid off in a big way, especially with a surrender defense that ranked 28th in the league in points allowed and 32nd in total yards in 2022. This year’s group has shown enough maturity that linebacker Alex Anzalón, the seventh-year pro who He spent his first four seasons with the Saints, joking after a camp coach that it was exciting to hear teammates shout adjustments before playing. Before long, Anzalón’s voice was the only voice that could be heard in those situations.

“It takes time to build culture,” Anzalone said. “But you can see we’re heading in the right direction.”

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