Some experts believed the Detroit Lions would take a step back after a 10-6 record and a playoff berth in 2011, but not many guessed that they would win just four games. With such a poor showing last season, should expectations be tempered? Far from it. If anything, expectations have been raised for the Lions organization and it’s fans.
What have the Lions done to improve their inability to get stops on defense?
Last offseason, the Lions decided to retain 21 of 22 starters, betting on their roster to make improvements and become a better team. The only problem with that philosophy is that it left little cap room to work with and next to no room for improvement on a roster which already had its starting group set. The Lions have taken a completely different approach in what seems to be a boom or bust season for the coaching staff and front office, and nothing proved that more than when the Lions drafted Ziggy Ansah in the first round with the fifth overall pick – the ultimate boom or bust player in the 2013 draft.
The Lions also addressed one of their biggest areas of concern, the secondary, early in the draft for the first time in resent years when they drafted Darius Slay in the second round. Slay’s has the combination of size and speed to be an elite NFL corner and they added Glover Quin in free agency, a proven veteran who should be a nice fit at safety with Louis Delmas.
Shuffling the offensive line/ improving the run game
The Lions weren’t terrible along the offensive line last season, but they weren’t great either. Their guards had a hard time creating space and getting up field to bring any explosion to the running game. To address these issues the Lions have replaced left tackle Jeff Backus with 2012 first round pick Riley Reiff and drafted Larry Warford in the third round to take over at right guard. Both additions make the Lions significantly younger, bigger, and more athletic, but it’s fair to question if Reiff can contain Jared Allen, Clay Matthews, and Julius Peppers twice a year. The success of the offensive line could determine the success Reggie Bush has on the ground and the success the Lions have in 2013.
Expectations for 2013
The Lions have accomplished what they set out to accomplish- getting bigger, more athletic, and faster along the offensive line and secondary. But what the Lions have gained in those areas, they have lost in experience. That being the case, these young athletic players could end up being two or three-year projects, which would likely result in the termination of the current coaching regime.
There has been a boom or bust approach for the Lions in 2013, which has resulted in the most talented roster Jim Schwartz has had, but talent doesn’t always translate into wins. The number of games the Lions win this year solely lies on the coaches ability to get their young players playing productive football. Expect Matthew Stafford to bounce back, Calvin Johnson to keep being Megatron, and big seasons from Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
I fully expect the Lions to bounce back this year with an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. What are your expectations for the Lions this season? Leave a comment below and share your predictions for the Lions record in 2013.