So free agency and the draft are over. We’re about a month and a half away from training camp. What does the outlook of this team look like? Well I have 5 reasons for the Lions being in the playoff conversation at the end of the season and 5 reasons why they won’t.
5 Reasons The Lions Will Be Better.
#1 Reggie Bush. He was our big time free agent addition and should be a perfect fit to this offense. With his versatility as a runner and pass catcher he should create a nice addition to improve our offense and alleviate the coverage looks Calvin Johnson will get.
#2 Secondary. While our secondary WAS NOT the biggest problem on last year’s team it did not make plays. We only conjured up 11 interceptions in 16 games and did not have a single interception returned for a touchdown. With depth and new personnel I expect much better production from this unit.
#3 Give away/Take away. This is a huge stat last season we were utterly awful. 3rdworst in the entire league with a ranking of minus 16. When you are giving the ball away and not getting takeaways it will always put you behind the 8 ball. We forced 13 fumbles but only recovered 6. Leaving 7 possessions on the field. Thus tied into the Secondary, this stat has to be and should be improved.
#4 Offensive Balance. Now we have the greatest WR in the game but our balance was so out of whack and pass heavy it can only improve. We threw the ball 740 times last year. While we ran it only 391 times. It equals out to roughly 174 rushing attempts to have an equally balanced offense. So while Calvin is great, his greatness was actually stifled by the lack of rushing. Matthew Stafford’s arm while young and strong had to be pretty weary after last season. So finding a more balanced offense should help everyone.
#5 Nick Fairley. Last season we finally seen the impact this kid can make. He had 5 and a half sacks and 8 tackles for a loss. He made his presence made in a big way the last 5 games of the season. The key to him is staying healthy and on the field. He has yet to play a full season since becoming a professional. With him and Ndamukong Suh, 8 sacks and 8 tackles for a loss, paired up at the defensive tackle spot they should be able to truly make the offense pick which guy to double team and open up the other guy and the defensive ends too.
5 Reasons The Lions Will Be The Same/Worst
#1 Scott Linehan. Jim Schwartz did not do himself any favors this off season. First he fired the much respected and well liked Shawn Jefferson as the Wide Receiver’s coach and then decided not to make a change at offensive coordinator. Last year, and the past two years, Linehan has been totally predictable. Every game he runs at least 2 reserves and on evident down and distance, 2nd and 3 or whatever. He has been very underwhelming play caller and offensive game planer. I see no changing in him. He seems set in his ways and you can’t be a good offensive coordinator if you don’t constantly evolve your play calls and game plans.
#2 The #2 WR. Since Calvin Johnson has been here the number 2 WR spot has been a revolving door. First it was Roy Williams, then Nate Burleson, then Titus Young, then Ryan Broyles. NONE of these guys are number 2’s, they’re all small slot guys and you can’t expect them to be the Z receiver spot, otherwise known as the flanker. Mayhew probably didn’t want to take another WR in the 2nd round again this past draft. The free agent market for WR’s has been weak unless you want more of what we have, slot guys. Now they Lion’s and the beat writer’s will tell you they expect Patrick Edwards or Kris Durham to be that guy. I would not bet on it. Reggie Bush will most likely be our 2nd receiving option this season.
#3 The Offensive Line. With the retirement of Jeff Backus and release of Stephen Peterman the offensive line will have at least 3 new starters this season. 2012 1st round pick Reilly Reiff will be our starting left tackle. Rob Sims will be our left guard. the other 3 positions are up for grabs. Longtime starter Dominic Raiola will be competing with Bill Nagy for the Center position. Nagy will also battle rookie Larry Warford for the right guard spot. At right tackle Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard will be vying for that position. To plug in 1 new starter is often times a challenge but 3 is going to be incredibly difficult to find a cohesion within the group.
#4 The Defensive Ends. With Cliff Avril leaving for Seattle in free agency and letting Kyle Vanden Bosch go this off season, both of our starting defensive ends the past 3 seasons are now gone. We signed Jason Jones who can play both end and tackle will probably battle Willie Young this camp to be 1 starter. The other starter is going to be the 5th overall pick of this year’s draft Ezekiel Ansah. Not exactly a proven group. They could be good, they could be bad but I strongly believe the outcome will come from how well Suh and Fairley play.
#5 Matthew Stafford. While I believe Stafford is a franchise quarterback he took a big step backwards last season. His TD/INT ratio was horrible. A lot was made of his side arming some throws and his footwork was also scrutinized. I seen a statistic recently that blew me away. Matthew Stafford is 1-23 versus winning teams.Granted the defense did blow leads in 10 of those games but still 1 and 23. Was 2011 a complete aberration? We will know much more this season on what kind of quarterback Stafford truly is.
I see this team as a 6-10 type of team. The coach and GM are on the hot seat and there’s far too many moving parts for me to believe this team is going to be much better than last season. I hope I’m wrong. We will soon find out.
Thanks for reading