The Detroit Lions ended the 2022 season on a hot streak, which fueled higher expectations than the team has had in some time. The Lions finished the year with a winning record and narrowly missed the playoffs.
When the 2023 NFL season kicks off next week, the Lions will begin their quest to meet those heightened expectations.
Brad Holmes, the team’s general manager, spoke to reporters ahead of Detroit’s highly anticipated regular season and said he hoped to avoid another slow start to the season.
“It’s not so much about starting. We all want to start fast, and you don’t want to end up in a 1-6 hole again, but we’re just taking it step by step, phase by phase, really. That’s how we roll,” Holmes said.
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The Lions open the regular season Sept. 7 on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Although they haven’t won their division since 1993, the Lions enter this season as favorites to win the NFC North. In 1993, the Lions played in a division known as NFC Central.
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Holmes noted that the team feels confident heading into 2023.
“We’re not afraid of expectations,” Holmes said via ESPN. “Expectations are earned, I think, through what we’ve built and what we’ve done so far in terms of how we finished the end of the season and through our process of acquiring players. But now we just have to prove them right.”
The Lions were featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” last season, and his impact on the team seemed to carry over to the Detroit games at the end of the year.
“I think we’ve been on our meds for the past two years. Me and (Lions coach) Dan (Campbell) talk about it all the time,” Holmes said. “We coached the Senior Bowl. We had to do ‘Hard Knocks’. We did all of that.
“We’ve been through a lot of darkness to get here, but that’s where courage comes in, you just don’t really have to hesitate or put your head down or get discouraged. And we just focus on building . the best possible squad and get the best players in football.”
The Lions have called Ford Field their home for more than two decades, and it’s the first time in the stadium’s history that season tickets have sold out.
Holmes said he was slightly surprised by the “hype” surrounding the team, especially since it failed to qualify for the 2022 playoffs.
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Last year marked the Lions’ first winning season since 2017.