2018 will not be remembered as a banner year for the Detroit Lions offense. Matthew Stafford had a down season, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter did not help matters and even finding some signs of life in the ground game couldn’t jump start this anemic group.
We heard the mandate early about how important Matt Patricia felt it was to be able to run the ball. Of course, they addressed that desire by selecting Frank Ragnow with their first pick, then followed that up by taking Kerryon Johnson with their second choice.
It’s pretty easy to see how important Johnson will be the ground game. If he hadn’t been injured last season he probably would have led all rookies in rushing yardage and become the Lions first 1,000 yard back since Reggie Bush in 2013.
Regardless he was outstanding and should be expected to be the catalyst of the Lions rushing attack. While C.J. Anderson, Theo Riddick, and Zach Zenner may not sound like the deepest backfield ever assembled, they are competent complimentary players for Johnson.
The dismissal of Cooter and the hiring of Darrell Bevell as the offensive coordinator is another move that should certainly help aid the continued resurgence of the rushing attack and provide a more diverse overall system that is designed to get the most out of the Lions offensive personnel.
Which is good because the real question mark is the passing game.
Last year the Lions entered the season with one of the deepest receiving corps in the league and a tight end group that had general manager Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia crossing their fingers. As we all know, the passing game went south with the trade of Golden Tate, the injury to Marvin Jones, and the inability of T.J. Jones to step up.
When we add in the fact that the tight ends didn’t even perform at the minimum level of expectation, it sort of makes it easy to see why the Lions passing game was grounded.
But as I pointed out earlier, every season is its own entity. Heading towards the 2019 season, the roles have been reversed. The current tight end group is talented and deep. They will have every opportunity to make big contributions to the passing game.
Meanwhile, the receiving corps is paper thin. Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay is a very good start with Danny Amendola giving them a reliable man in the slot, but after that things start to get cloudy.