The Detroit Lions lost to the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving and found themselves at a bit of a crossroads. The loss was rather reminiscent of losses in years past. Detroit stands up to good teams only to falter at the end.

In the weeks following, the Lions were out to prove they weren’t the Same Old Lions. Not only did they prove they weren’t, they completely destroyed that Same Old Lions narrative.

It wasn’t pretty. They had tough games against the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers, and they completely dropped the ball against the Carolina Panthers.

Overall, though, the Lions destroyed the narratives around them. They played for their respect, and they absolutely deserve it. With no further ado, here is how the Lions proved the Same Old Lions are dead.

Offensive play design

One of the biggest factors in Detroit’s turnaround has been their offensive play design. This comes down to offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who is receiving interest from other teams for head coaching vacancies.

Let’s look at the Lions’ Week 14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. On 3rd and 7 in the fourth quarter, Detroit dialed up a pass to right tackle Penei Sewell. The Oregon product caught the ball, got the first down, and the Lions went on to win.

This play works so well for a few reasons. First, no one is expecting that. Anyone who tells you they expected Sewell to get the ball in that situation is lying to you and themselves.

But Sewell lined up in this look earlier in the game. And just like on that first play, he went in motion. That first play was a running play though. Sending Sewell in motion likely made the defense believe Detroit would run it, opening up the space needed to give the right tackle the football.

The Lions ran something similar a week later against the New York Jets. On fourth and 1, with the game on the line, Lions quarterback Jared Goff found tight end Brock Wright for a 51-yard touchdown.

Once again, Johnson utilized motion to shift the eyes of the defense and create space for Detroit’s offense. This time, it was wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown who went in motion.

With the Jets defense keying on Detroit’s top receiver, they left its undrafted second-year tight end wide open in space, and the rest is history.

There are many examples, but these are two of the biggest plays of the season that really aided in their turnaround.

Defensive foundation

The Lions, statistically, finished the season with one of the league’s worst defenses. But over the last 10 games of the season, they didn’t play like it at all.

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They definitely had moments of weakness. Detroit’s loss to the Carolina Panthers in which they gave up over 300 yards on the ground is a major example of that. But for the most part, they played above their pay grade.

Linebacker Alex Anzalone had an incredible bounce-back season. His second year in Detroit saw him record 125 total tackles, seven for a loss, and 1.5 sacks. Safety DeShon Elliott also nearly had 100 tackles on the year. And then there were the rookies.

Aidan Hutchinson finished the 2022 season with 9.5 sacks, which leads all rookie defenders. Right behind him is sixth-round pick James Houston, who recorded eight sacks in seven games.

Hutchinson added three interceptions on the year, as well. Safety Kerby Joseph lead the team in interceptions, however, with four. Three of those four came against future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers.

Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez balled out in preseason and had a nice rookie campaign as well. He finished with 87 tackles, a sack, and two passes defended. Lions rookies set a record for most sacks in a season by a rookie class with 19.5.

Detroit’s defense is not perfect. The team would be wise to upgrade, especially in the secondary. However, the foundation is already in place. They have future stars on the defensive line and at linebacker. And that foundation was key to shedding the Same Old Lions accusations.

Simply winning

Yes, I am aware that “they won” isn’t the most biting or insightful analysis. However, that is one of the biggest differences between these Lions and the Same Old Lions.

These Lions not only won, but they took care of business. They were playing better than the Jaguars and Bears. They swept the Bears, including a 41-10 blowout in Week 17. And they blew out the Jaguars in their first statement win of the season.

They were also better than the Jets. That one wasn’t as emphatic of a victory, but that 20-17 win was needed and well-deserved. My point is, Detroit won the games they needed to, and even some they could have lost.

And then there’s the boogeyman. Lions fans know all too well how much pain the Packers have caused them over the years. How many times did Rodgers and Green Bay prevent them from making the playoffs or winning the division?

Detroit began their turnaround with a 15-9 victory in which they forced Rodgers to throw three picks. And they completed the destruction of the Same Old Lions narrative with a 20-16 victory over those same Packers at Lambeau Field.

This team is not perfect. Far from it, in fact. However, they have set themselves apart from those teams in the past that promised hope. Detroit has delivered hope to its fan base.

I believe it was the Pat McAfee show that first christened the term, but it is incredibly fitting. The Same Old Lions are dead, and in their place are the Brand New Lions. And this is just the beginning.