Lions' Willie Young plans to use the bye week to fish in Florida. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park — Relax, recover and come back to finish the season strong.
Before the Lions went their separate ways for their bye week, they gave themselves some momentum with a potential season-defining victory over the Cowboys last weekend. And as long as they don’t treat the break like the offseason, they expect to play at a high level upon their return.
“It’s always a good feeling going into the bye with a win, being 5-3, but we can’t get too far away from (football),” center Dominic Raiola said. “Get away from it, but don’t get too far away from it because we could do something special here and we’ve just got to keep up what we’ve been doing.”
A 5-3 start puts the Lions in solid position to make the postseason, but as coach Jim Schwartz said Monday, the second half will show what this team is capable of doing.
“The tale of this season is not going to be written in the first half,” he said. “It’s going to be written in the second half, and that’s what we have to concentrate on.”
Players relish the chance to avoid taking a beating this week — Raiola is going to Los Angeles, wide receiver Kris Durham is heading to Lake Tahoe, and defensive end Willie Young is going home to Florida to fish.
Young, however, said it’s crucial players remember what’s at stake.
“You don’t want to … get too far away, treating the bye week like it’s the offseason,” Young said. “You want to enjoy yourself, try to stay off your feet as much as possible, enjoy your family and just take advantage of the downtime we have.”
When the Lions return Tuesday, they’ll prepare for their NFC North rival Bears. Chicago (4-3) plays Green Bay (5-2) on Monday, and even with a loss, a victory over visiting Detroit would give the teams identical records.
“It’s a good thing we’re coming back with Chicago because we know those guys and got a feel for their personnel,” Young said. “They could change up the scheme, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be the same guys trying to execute what they’re doing.”
The Bears could also be ailing and facing a fresh Lions team.
Quarterback Jay Cutler tore a groin muscle Oct. 20 and hopes for an early return, but if he can’t play, Josh McCown, with a career rating of 72, takes over.
Under Schwartz, the Lions are 2-2 after a bye.
Still, as good as 5-3 feels, the Lions haven’t won anything yet.
“Everybody’s got a shot,” Young said. “Everybody’s still in there. I think within the next three weeks a lot is going to be said. A lot is going to be done within the next three weeks, so we just have to see how it all plays out.”