In the period of one calendar year, the Lions blossomed from an also-ran to an upstart contender with reason to believe the next season could be theirs.
A rapid turnaround will have such an effect. So too will a productive offseason, especially one in which a team adds a handful of starting-caliber players to one side of the ball.
Detroit did exactly that in 2023, signing cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and Cameron Sutton, safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and drafting Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell with a first-round pick. One of the holdovers from 2022 can't help but be excited about his team's potential.
"We got guys like Cam Sutton, C.J. (Gardner-Johnson). Them veteran guys, they've been in the room these OTAs and minicamp and they're helping us out a lot with just learning the scheme and playing in the NFL and making the defense better," former undrafted corner Jerry Jacobs said Tuesday during an appearance on Good Morning Football. "Cam Sutton has been in the league for seven years, so getting every knowledge from him. Emmanuel Moseley, he's coming back from an injury, but he's still in there 24/7. … Chauncey, man. Chauncey, he's gonna make the game more fun. I love his enthusiasm. I love the way he comes out there and talks trash. That just turns us up. Man, the guys that we added this offseason, I think that we're going to be pretty dominant in the back end."
Dominance is a high bar, but after Jacobs watched the Lions win nine games and nearly reach the playoffs despite possessing a defense that struggled mightily early in the season, it's easy to see why Jacobs is optimistic. If Detroit could flirt with double-digit wins in such a season, how good could the Lions be with a number of proven veterans joining their defense?
The additions might cost Jacobs some snaps, but he's OK with it, because if it means more victories for the Lions in 2023, everyone wins.
He also knows it won't be that simple.
Detroit's road to a return to the playoffs begins in the toughest environment imaginable: Kansas City, home of the reigning champions on the night they'll raise their Super Bowl LVII banner. Detroit will have its hands full from the opening kickoff of the 2023 season.
Week 1 also presents the Lions with a great chance to test themselves against the NFL's best. It's this opportunity -- and the chance to continue Detroit's turnaround tale -- that is motivating the Lions.
"We're just knocking out the outside noise, even though they gave us the big game -- NFL Kickoff vs. Kansas City -- man, we're not looking into nothing like that," Jacobs said. "We're just going out there ready to compete, man, bounce back off from last season. We finished pretty strong, and we just want to keep that momentum going, pass over to the upcoming season. We don't really pay attention to the media, things like that, just because … we're on the rise to be great and we just want to keep going and get better game by game and week by week."