Lions' veterans showing they're a resilient bunch

Posted Sep 13, 2013

With so many new veteran added to the roster, players feel the "same old Lions" mantra doesn't apply to this team

It would have been very easy for some Detroit Lions players to have a "here we go again" moment about five minutes into last week’s game vs. Minnesota.

It was a busy five minutes.

The Lions offense saw their first drive stalled in the red zone. The special teams botched a field goal on the subsequent attempt. And the defense gave up a 78-yard touchdown on their first play of the game.

Glover QuinS Glover Quin (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

At that moment, there were plenty of fans out there that were certainly thinking to themselves, "Here we go again, same old Lions."

But it wasn’t the same old Lions. Instead, they showed the type of resiliency that hasn't always been a staple of recent teams.

A big reason for that is the veteran roster (oldest average age in the NFL) and the experienced free-agent pieces they’ve added this offseason, who seem to have brought a different kind of mentality with them.

"So many new guys are here that the old ‘same old, here we go again’ doesn’t apply because they’ve never had that before," said veteran long snapper Don Muhlbach.

"We had really good attendance here for the offseason workouts and that builds a lot of camaraderie with the guys. I think we know that when stuff gets tight, we just band together and we can overcome anything."

That’s exactly what they did for the last 30 minutes of that game last week, especially in the fourth quarter. The Lions dominated the second half of that game after a terrible start.

"Everybody knew exactly what happened (early on)," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "We knew where we had messed up scheme wise and we knew physically where we had messed up."

Schwartz made the point earlier in the week that it’s a lot different to make a physical mistake -- like Sam Martin’s drop of the snap on the field goal attempt -- or allow one run of 78 yards, when it was clear what was wrong from both a scheme and physical error standpoint on the play, than to be throwing darts blindly at a problem, which has been the case in the past.

"I think that’s a lot different situation to bounce back from than a 10-play, 78-yard thing where they handed it off every time," Schwartz said. "Then you’re looking for answers and you’re trying to put out bleeding in a lot of different areas."

Schwartz, like he occasionally does, used a baseball analogy to make his point.

"I’m sure there are a lot of pitches that have given up a home run on the first pitch of the game," he said. "I think everybody in the dugout says the same, ‘Well, there goes a shut out.’ Then you just go on and you throw your next pitch.

"That’s what those guys did."

That's the veteran presence at it's finest, Muhlbach said.

"We’re a very veteran team, which brings a lot of levelheadedness," he said. "People have seen some stuff in other places and they’ve brought how they’ve handled it here.

"Stuff is going to happen. You can’t plan for everything. You have to adjust during the game, and veterans have a pretty good idea of how to do that."

The Lions brought in players like Glover Quin, Reggie Bush, Israel Idonije, Jason Jones, Rashean Mathis and others because of their talent, first and foremost, but also because of the experience they bring to the playing field, the sideline and the meeting room.

"We’ve been through a lot of that before, us beating ourselves, us overcoming, us not overcoming," veteran guard Rob Sims said. "Non of that crept in our mind, we just knew we had to get it together.

"We’ve been through it and feel like we’re past our growing pains."