3. Secondary – This is obviously the most scrutinized area for the Lions. in the Lions’ last two games in 2011 the secondary gave up over 900 yards and nine touchdowns. To be fair, this secondary was banged up and the Lions top two defensive backs, Louis Delmas and Chris Houston, were still suffering from injuries. The Lions’ opponents in those last two games were also the last two Superbowl champions, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints.
The Lions have added much needed depth and talent to the secondary this off season. They signed Jacob Lacey in free agency, as well added Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood, and Jonte Green via the draft. Bill Bentley has already captured the attention of the Lions’ veterans, and Chris Greenwood possesses the athleticism to be a potential shutdown corner in the NFL.
Aaron Berry looks to be the starter opposite of Chris Houston, and Jacob Lacey who has started for the Colts, looks to be a solid nickle corner.
The Lions’ secondary doesn’t need to be great this year, as the Lions’ front seven are the strength of the defense, but the front office is making strides in the right direction to do so.
4. Run Game – In theory, the Lions’ have on of the most complete backfields in the NFL. Jahvid Best is a blur on the field who can run between the tackles, catch out of the backfield, and line up as a receiver. His counterpart Mikel Leshoure is a bruiser who can pound the ball in on goal line situations, or pick up a first down on third and short. The Lions’ third string running back, Kevin Smith can do a little bit of everything and is a very capable replacement for either Best or Leshoure.
Unfortunately fans and media can only day dream about the troublesome trio’s potential. Last season all three backs suffered injuries which ultimately resulted in the Lions’ finishing the season ranked 29th in the running game.
If the trio can stay healthy this season, the Lions’ offense will be unpredictable, and unstoppable. This is a big “if” of course.
Mikel Leshoure has already been suspended for the first two games of 2012, and Jahvid Best’s concussion history is very unsettling. To add to the backfields issues, Kevin Smith’s injury history almost had him out of the league.
Bottom line is the Lions’ backfield is extremely talented and full of potential. It’s boom or bust for the troublesome trio.
5. Beat The Playoff Teams – I know, easier said then done. Last season the Lions defeated a whopping zero playoff teams from the NFC and just one from the AFC (Broncos).
If the Lions are to even make the playoffs, then they are going to have to beat the top teams in the league. The Lions play four teams from last year’s playoffs which is a bit deceiving as they have to play the Packers twice, as well as the Bears twice, and the Eagles.
The Lions’ are going to have to play much better this season if they expect to even make the playoffs. By improving in these five areas the Lions should position themselves for a playoff birth, and perhaps a deep playoff run.