- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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For the entire season, the Detroit Lions have talked about how much talent they have on their roster, how good of a team they could be if they could put everything together.
For them to have the most feared offensive and defensive players in the league in an anonymous poll taken of more than 320 NFL players fits right in with the narrative they would like to create.
Ndamukong Suh was voted the most feared player in the NFL. Calvin Johnson was right behind him. Asking Suh about the honor last month, he said he’d prefer to share the award with Johnson so they could be feared together.
And they are.
But it also shows at least part of the talent level for the Lions.
“From an individual standpoint, if you put us on a piece of paper, we’re pretty well talented,” Suh said. “We may not be the most talented team, but we have some highly rated players on this team. Have an opportunity, guys who are seasoned, have experience. Some young guys that haven’t been in the league that are seen as good, quality players and have talent and have ability to affect the games.”
They are led on offense by Johnson and on defense by Suh. And as Detroit searches for a coach to replace the fired Jim Schwartz, who coached this talented team with two of the most feared players in the league to a 7-9 record last season, it became about more than that.
It became about being able to take those two talents and meshing them with the other players. That was something that didn’t always happen last season for the Lions.
But it is part of the reason the Detroit job is attractive to potential candidates after Schwartz’s firing. The talent is clearly there, from Suh and Johnson to quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Reggie Bush and linebacker DeAndre Levy. The pieces are in place.
The potential for other teams to “fear” the Lions is available, judging from how the other NFL players voted. Now it is about being able to meld that into a cohesive, winning team.
Then Suh and Johnson could share more than just being the most feared players together: They could share playoff appearances.