ALLEN PARK, Mich. — With the regular-season opener less than a week away, optimism is running wildly throughout NFL teams.
Even for the Detroit Lions, who have one playoff victory in the last 56 seasons.
Despite the history, new coach Jim Caldwell believes the "time is now" and apparently his players are in agreement.
Asked Tuesday whether he expects to "win a championship with this group," receiver Calvin Johnson answered: "I believe this is our best chance. I honestly believe that. You’ve got to buy in. You’ve got to buy in to the coach’s philosophy and we have."
Johnson went on to say he has such high hopes because of "the team that we have and the coaches we have."
"We have guys of the highest character," he said. "It’s hard to go out and settle for less when you work this hard."
Quarterback Matthew Stafford added: "On paper, we’re as talented as anybody in the league in my opinion."
The Lions, coming off a 7-9 season in which they lost six of their final seven games, open Monday night against the New York Giants at Ford Field.
Johnson, entering his eighth season in the league, has played on only one winning team so far. That was three years ago when the Lions went 10-6 and made the playoffs.
The team’s overall regular-season record during Johnson’s career: 36-76.
In other words, when it comes to this franchise, saying this year is the best chance to win a championship really isn’t saying that much.