A Dearborn native, Saleh has risen to the ranks of one of the more respected coordinators in the game. Interestingly, though, the fact that Saleh is a coast away doesn’t seem to prevent him from having a take on his hometown team.
Joining 97.1 The Ticket’s Jamie and Stoney Morning Show, Saleh was asked why the Lions have had so many troubles through the years. While Saleh didn’t exactly have an answer, he did provide a take on where the Lions are heading with their staff.
“I don’t know,” Saleh said through laughter on the team’s problems when asked. “The fanbase can be rough on the Lions sometimes, but I honestly, I may be different than everybody else, but I do believe they’re going in the right direction and I mean it. I think Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia are going to do fine next year. Darrell Bevell is a fantastic coordinator and I mean that sincerely.”
The reasoning? Detroit is changing a culture, and according to Saleh, that doesn’t happen overnight.
“It takes time when you’re trying to get a building to walk in unison together,” he said. “You look at our first two years here in San Francisco, took over, we went 6-10, 4-12, just like the Lions did, lost our quarterback early on in the season just couldn’t recover. Here we are in our third year. All it takes is a few wins to get a little confidence going.
They’ve got some really good talent on that football team, they just suffered a little bit of an injury bug.”
As Saleh said, a little positivity from the fans and elsewhere can also go a long way for the team.
“I’ll be honest, people, fans, and media, they may not understand it but those players read some of that stuff. A lot of times, that support from fans and media may be the kick in the butt they need to push forward,” he said. “Just like here in San Francisco. The media, fans, have really gotten on our backs. I promise you, all that positive energy can help.”
The Lions will be looking for much more of that positive momentum in 2020.
Senior Bowl Director Sees Lions and 49ers Parallels
The Lions could have a chance at having a much better team in 2020 as some recent history shows. In fact, as Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy explained, there are plenty of parallels between the Lions and the San Francisco 49ers, who coached in the game last year.
Like the Lions, the 49ers had a miserable 2018 season in which they went 4-12 and had plenty of injuries complicating matters for their team. That’s similar to the Lions in 2019. Also similar was how they used the Senior Bowl as a scouting springboard for the team.
The Lions and their fans have to hope that Detroit can pull off such a turnaround for 2020 and go from worst to first, but many believe already that this could be in the works moving forward.
Parallels Between 49ers and Lions
Though many Detroit fans likely won’t let bygones be bygones with several of the players, executives and coaches they used to have, it’s probably a good time to do just that in time for the Super Bowl. San Francisco offers Detroit hope that one day, the Lions could be in their shoes. Just a year ago, the 49ers were coming off a dreadful 4-12 season, picking high in the draft and looking like they were in trouble from the front office down. Now, they are being celebrated as one of the better up and coming franchises in football. It merely goes to show how quickly things can and do change in football with health, good drafting and savvy executive work.
The Lions have a long way to go before qualifying as such a team, but if San Francisco can put the pieces together and go worst to first, there’s no reason teams in a similar boat can’t put it together to do it too.
That’s something that even the Senior Bowl director as well as plenty of others see.