Detroit Lions: The top 5 things to look for during the MNF opener
Quality tight end play
Whether you loved him or hated him, Eric Ebron’s sudden departure left a huge hole at tight end.
To make matters even worse, Darren Fells chose to depart in free agency to play for the Cleveland Browns. Seriously. He did that, on purpose. Based off of Cleveland’s offseason, I’ve never seen players so eager to play for a 0-16 team. Where was this enthusiasm in 2008 when the Lions wrapped up their winless season?!
Second-year tight end Michael Roberts is expected to take a leap forward this season and Detroit also made a couple of signings earlier on in free agency.
Levine Toilolo was signed from the Atlanta Falcons and Luke Willson is coming over from the Seattle Seahawks.
Toilolo is known more as a blocker and though Willson has never had more than 22 catches in a single season, he nabbed four touchdowns last year. At 6-5, 251 lbs. he should at least be able to provide Matthew Stafford with a rather sizeable red zone target.
Michael Roberts and Willson are the early favorites to win the starting spot but headed into the season, the tight ends are a huge question mark for the Lions.
As it relates to who will be calling plays, Matt Patricia offered the following quote during his introductory press conference in Allen Park via MLive.com.
"”I’ll call whatever I need to offensively, defensively, or special teams.”"
Patricia was alluding to the fact that as head coach, he has the authority to do as he sees fit during games but for the most part, it looks as if he is fully prepared to entrust his offensive and defensive lieutenants, coordinators Jim Bob Cooter and Paul Pasqualoni, to each call the plays for their respective side of the ball.
Special teams coordinator Joe Marciano will also be chiefly in charge of his phase of the game.
Being a first-time head coach at the professional level can be a massive burden so seeing Matt Patricia willing to concede playcalling duties is a bit refreshing.
My biggest curiosity though is when the you-know-what undoubtedly hits the fan, will he still be willing to concede those duties?
If either phase of the game begins to slip, how much patience will Patricia show?
I would like to see how long of a leash Cooter, Pasqualoni, and Marciano will have as the season progresses.