Comparing winless 2008, 2021 Lions through first eight games

The similarities and differences of 0-16 2008 Lions to this year's team
Dan Campbell after 44-6 loss to Eagles
Posted at 5:36 PM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-01 20:15:27-04

DETROIT, Mich. — It's another dreadful start for the Detroit Lions in 2021, nothing new for fans that have watched for the past several decades.

Of course, the 2008 Lions will forever be etched in the minds of those Honolulu Blue & Silver faithful after the team finished the season 0-16, the first since the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to lose every game on its schedule.

However, there are some differences in the team that took the field 13 years ago to the one that lost a 44-6 snooze-fest on Sunday.

In 2008, the Lions were coming off of a overachieving 7-9 season for what the franchise had been accustomed to. With head coach Rod Marinelli entering his third season at the helm, confidence was high that the team could potentially make a playoff push.

Compound the 2007 success (within reason) with the perfect 4-0 preseason record and fans were excited about the potential of playoff contention.

Comparing Lions 2008 and 2021 seasons through eight games

However, after a ninth double-digit loss of the season in week 16 against the New Orleans Saints, 42-7 at Ford Field, the record was all but sealed.

One week later, the Lions trip to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers would etch the team in those history books, finishing 0-16.

Now through a winless eight weeks of the season, fans are once again searching for one victory in 2021 but in the definition of a full rebuild, there are things that set this season apart from the one 13 years ago.

First, the average age on the roster is just 25.2 years old, just days away from being the youngest in the NFL. Meanwhile, the 2008 roster was filled with seasoned veterans and had an average age of 27.9.

Despite the rough start in the win column for the Lions this season, the youth has shined at times. Undrafted cornerback AJ Parker has been one of the young players showing promise along with second-day draft picks, Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike on the defensive line.

Lions fans frustated with 0-8 start

First round pick and current left tackle Penei Sewell has had inconsistencies like any other 21-year-old in the NFL would, but has also showed why he could be a future All-Pro at the position.

The points scored and points allowed statistics are eerily similar to the season back in 2008, but the position of a first-year head coach and new regime is not.

General Manager Matt Millen would be fired early in the season after the winless start in 2008, while first-year GM Brad Holmes is hoping his young draft picks continue to take steps forward, even in the disappointing start.

There is no Calvin Johnson on this year's roster and no player as talented as him but there are young players such as tight end T.J. Hockenson, a strong foundation on the offensive and defensive lines, and real backfield that features promise.

Lions fans frustrated with 0-8 start

Speaking of the ground game, the Lions had just two 100-yard rushing performances in the winless season in 2008, both from Kevin Smith. This year, the team is without one of those performances, due partly to the split backfield with 22-year-old D'Andre Swift and new free agent addition Jamaal Williams.

There is much left to be desired for fans regarding this year's Lions roster, but head coach Dan Campbell says he's paying close attention to how certain players react to the losing and negativity surrounding the team.

"It can be a reality but that's what part of this is," Campbell said after Sunday's 44-6 loss. "You're looking to see who some of those guys are that maybe don't respond too well to this."

Dan Campbell after 44-6 loss to Eagles
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell addresses the media after an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Campbell, who played one game for the winless Lions in 2008, shows the passion and desire to win in his postgame press conferences and recalled what he felt while losing during his playing days.

"I think back to when I was part of a loser or even some of the best I've been around, it [losing] should really, really make you burn," he added, "it should make you go that much harder."

The Lions will enter a week nine bye before hitting the road to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 14.

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