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The Key To A Detroit Lions Championship

detroit lions championship

When the Detroit Lions training camp opens on July 20th, veteran players might notice a different atmosphere. After coming off an outstanding season that saw the team advance within one game of the Super Bowl, there is a palpable sense that, at long last, this team is destined for greatness. Training camp could be the key to the Lions’ championship season.   

The Key To A Detroit Lions Championship

The front office has assembled the most complete and talented roster in Lions history. All the elements are finally in place. Quarterback Jared Goff is playing the best football of his career. David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs are arguably the best running-back tandem in the NFL. Clever draft picks and free-agency signings helped the Lions strengthen their defense in the offseason, and the Lions just acquired a kicker capable of nailing a field goal over 60 yards.   

Creating A Culture Of Success

After decades of floundering as one of the worst teams in the NFL, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brad Holmes and Head Coach Dan Campbell have ushered in a new era. They cultivated an atmosphere where the players now believe in themselves and each other. The team shares a singular vision of achieving Super Bowl greatness. But instead of flying under the radar or being underestimated by their opponents as they once might have been, opposing teams are gearing up to play a Lions team that is regarded as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. 

The next step to bringing that trophy home begins in training camp. Terrion Arnold and his fellow rookies will get acclimated to their team as they prepare for the grueling physical demands of their first NFL season. It’s a month of intensive practice and instruction as coaches evaluate players to determine where they fit on the depth chart while making the dreaded roster cuts. However, setting an appropriate tone and clarifying team expectations is crucial.  If the coaching staff can set the proper tone, that could be the key to unlocking the Lions championship season.    

Step One To A Championship -Setting the Tone In Training Camp

The Lions’ team culture is focused on the big picture while promoting confidence and discipline. Instilling proper discipline is just as important as learning the playbook. An athlete lacking discipline is likelier to commit unnecessary penalties that cost the team yards. Anything that detracts from accomplishing the Lions’ objectives or disrupts the team dynamic will not be tolerated. This is not a time for prima donna attitudes, or elite NFL athletes skipping mandatory mini-camps.   

Holding Players Accountable 

Instead, the task in training camp is to focus the unbridled enthusiasm, instill discipline, and ensure that everyone on the team is working toward one common objective – bringing home a trophy. One of the things that might distinguish the Lions from some of the other teams in the league is the team’s approach to disciplinary measures. Playing for this team means adhering to a certain standard of behavior, both on and off the field. Any player unable to meet that standard of conduct will be immediately disciplined.  

When the Detroit Lions learned on March 21, 2024, that a warrant for domestic abuse had been issued for cornerback Cameron Sutton, he was in the Lions’ training facility at the time. Although team management advised Sutton to turn himself in, he failed to do so, and he was released by the Lions the next day. Sutton was an NFL veteran who had helped the team make it to the NFC Championship last year, but there was no gray area here. The Lions organization was not about to ignore the allegations against him.  

This isn’t the only example of Lions management holding players accountable for their off-field actions. In April 2023, the NFL suspended four Detroit Lions players, receivers Stanley Berryhill, Quintez Cephus, Jameson Williams, and safety C.J. Moore for violating the league’s gambling policy. Cephus and Moore were suspended for the entire 2023 season for betting on NFL games, while six-game suspensions were issued for Williams and Berryhill for betting on non-NFL games.

A Refreshing Change Of Pace 

Unlike Williams, who was in his rookie year when the gambling took place and claimed to be unaware of the policy, the other players were veterans and knew of the prohibition. The Lions immediately released Cephus and Moore and waived Berryhill. Williams was the only player retained.

Although the Lions took Williams’ youth and inexperience into account, the message was clear. As Holmes told the media, “These players exhibited decision-making that is not consistent with our organizational values and violates league rules.” 

A Failure to Act Elsewhere 

Holmes’ statement and the Lions’ consistent hardline stand against behavior that threatens the team’s objective is a refreshing change from other NFL organizations that continue to turn a blind eye to the off-field actions of their star players. Miami Dolphins star wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been involved in multiple ugly off-field incidents in recent years.  

The charges against Kansas City Chiefs players Rashee Rice and Isaiah Buggs are just the latest examples of an NFL team continuing to tolerate unacceptable behavior from athletes without imposing any consequences. Coach Andy Reid’s willingness to overlook Rice’s allegations of criminal assault and his high-speed car crash earlier this year, along with the charges against Buggs of burglary, assault, and animal cruelty, is consistent with the league’s established precedent. As long as athletes continue to perform for their team, rarely will these players be disciplined for bad off-field behavior.      

The Detroit Lions Training Camp Will Be Different 

Clarifying in training camp that Lions’ players will be held accountable for their off-field behavior and that any violations of the team’s code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action sets the appropriate tone. As long as this team remains healthy and mentally focused, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. Only time will tell if the mandate pays off and the team reaches the pinnacle of success. But should they do so, it will set an example the rest of the NFL can follow.   

Main Image: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK


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