Detroit Lions should be better in the red zone in 2019
With a focus on improving their depth chart at tight end, the Detroit Lions are surely hoping to be much better in the red zone in 2019.
Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia and former offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, the Detroit Lions fielded the 25th scoring offense in the NFL. Averaging just 20.3 points per game, the Lions were far off the pace set by the league’s top offense, the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs, who posted an amazing 35.3 points per contest in 2018.
Not only do the Chiefs have one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes, but they also feature arguably the league’s best tight end as well in Travis Kelce. The four-time Pro Bowler recorded 103 receptions for 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns last season helping to lead Kansas City to a 12-4 season-ending record.
This offseason, the tight end position was a major focus for the Lions. Former starters Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo were not re-signed. Instead, former Pittsburgh Steeler Jesse James was added during free agency. And in the draft, Detroit used the eighth overall selection in the first round to land Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, the top tight end prospect in the class. The Lions also drafted Isaac Nauta out of Georgia in the seventh round.
These three new faces represent a changing of the guard in Detroit. A total platoon swap of players at tight end that should impact both the running and passing game. One area Lions’ fans have to hope to see immediate improvement is in the red zone.
According to teamrankings.com, the Lions posted the 24th worst Team Red Zone Scoring Percentage (Touchdowns only) in the NFL last season at 53.06 percent. That was down from their 56.52 percentage in 2017.
Here’s how MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke responded to a recent mailbag question about the Lions’ red zone woes …
"” … the red-zone offense should be much improved with long targets like James and Hockenson added to complement Kenny Golladay. Stafford really struggled to find people open in the red area last year, and while he’s certainly not without blame, having tight ends like Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo didn’t exactly help either.”"
The Detroit Lions’ offense is a bit of a mystery entering the 2019 regular season. With a new offensive coordinator at the helm in Darrell Bevell, and new weapons for quarterback Matthew Stafford like T.J. Hockenson, wide receiver Danny Amendola, and running back C.J. Anderson; no one knows exactly what to expect. But there is a feeling the arrow is certainly pointing up.