The Detroit Lions historically have been terrible. They are also notorious for wasting the careers of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson. Moves were made to improve and on offense, it’s looking like a somewhat better picture. The defense isn’t looking as promising, at least not yet. If the Detroit Lions play their cards right, and if the Bears don’t start Justin Fields, they can finish second in the division and contend for a wildcard spot. Why? Let’s break it all down.
A Functional Offense
I’m not going to get into Matthew Stafford for the sake of time and words. If you want my thoughts on him, click here. Jarred Goff isn’t amazing as a QB, but he is good enough. Stafford turned the ball over and took chances. Goff will play it safe and manage the game. D’Andre Swift as the lead back will take the pressure off. He is now the top option if there was any doubt before. Don’t let the signing of Jamaal Williams fool you, he’s just a backup. Apparently we shouldn’t get two excited about Jermar Jefferson either, the seventh round back from Oregon State. He brings shiftiness, but that’s about it.
There’s been a change in philosophy when it comes to the receiver poston in Motown. Speed is the key now. That’s why Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman were brought in. That’s also why Amon Ra-St. Brown was drafted in round four from USC, which is a steal. His brother plays for Green Bay and another brother plays for Stanford. St. Brown is in a fight for the fourth receiver role along with Geronimo Allison. For now, Quintez Cephus is the third receiver. He didn’t play a lot so the jury is still out on him. TJ Hockenson at tight end is a no brainer. He has turned out great.
Finally, the offensive line. Penei Sewell was the first round pick from Oregon, he is the new starting right tackle. The rest of the line from right to left is made up of Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Frank Ragnow, Jonah Jackson, and Taylor Decker. Age wise, not bad at all. Vaitai is the oldest at age 28. With a balanced system, this line will shine.
Is It Enough on Defense?
Now let’s talk about the defense. The Lions addressed each level of the defense in the draft. The linebacker position looks good for now. Romeo Okwara had 10 sacks on the weak side. Trey Flowers is on the strong side as he transitions to linebacker in the new 3-4 look. He was paid a lot of money to come over. Flowers backed up his seven sack first season with a two sack second season. He really needs to pick it up. Alex Anzalone came over from the Saints and joins 31 year old Jamie Collins on the inside. Derrick Barnes was drafted in round six from Purdue. His speed with be very helpful wherever he plays.
Next, the defensive line. Two players were drafted in round two to address needs. First, it was Levi Onwuzurike from Washington. Then, Alim McNeil from North Carolina State. Onwuzurike right now is the starting right end. McNeil is the starting DT. To round out the defensive line, Michael Brockers is the starting left end.
The Young Backend
Finally, the secondary. Other than Jeff Okudah, the other names don’t look familiar. The other starting corner is Amani Oruwariye, a 2019 fifth round pick from Penn State. Next up, the strong safety is Will Harris, a 2019 third round pick from Boston College. Last but not least, the free safety is Tracy Walker, a 2018 third round pick from Louisiana. Overall it’s a pretty young group without a ton of experience. Corner Ifeatu Melifonwu is added to that group as a third round pick from Syracuse. You may know his brother Obi, not Wan Kenobi. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Anyway, Obi Melifonwu is still around and he signed with the Eagles, and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots. Like a lion, they are hungry, in this case to prove themselves.
Your not topping Green Bay now that Rodgers is back, sorry Lions fans. Minnesota should be easy to handle. Chicago can only be gauged on which QB they start. The Lions can be in the mix. They are probably not making the playoffs, but definitely a bright future moving forward.
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