There are no shortage of experts telling the Detroit Lions who to draft next spring, but the axiom of the game is won in the trenches still holds true.
It’s that time of the year when the fans of the NFL teams who made the playoffs have the excitement of watching their home team compete for a chance to play in the Super Bowl. Detroit Lions fans have had that opportunity only three times in this millennium.
Normally by now, Lions fans would be focused on the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft and waiting for free agency to see which athletes become available to rescue them from this continuum of mediocrity. There are college bowl games in January and the NFL Combine in February to prepare both coaches and fans to spot potential saviors out of the hundreds of participating players.
But, by far, the most attention comes from the myriad of mock drafts that NFL football media outlets provide. There are no shortages of opinions, assessments, and scenarios for which players may land with each team.
The Lions possess the third overall selection in 2020, certain to be a very talented player. This position or something similar was inevitable once quarterback Matthew Stafford was sidelined with a broken back.
Due to the rash of injuries to their other starters, they were left with rookies and practice squad players to complete the season, more than most teams in the league. And the near-total absence of a consistent pass rush made life quite easy for opposing quarterbacks.
The Ford family has given general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia one year to show that they can make the team a contender for the short and long-term. They must get this offseason and draft picks right.
To do this they must focus on the interior linemen on both sides of the ball. Winning in the trenches is paramount in football and must be the primary focus. Accomplishing this will bring them closer and faster to where they need to be to become a top-tier team.
Despite this team’s misfortunes of injuries to their starting players, we can’t forget that the Lions were in the lead in 12 of the 14 games they did not win, even with inexperienced quarterbacks and other players for the last seven games. This suggests that they are much closer to being a contending team despite what their 3-12-1 record may indicate.
When you break it all down, two major factors made the most significant difference, the lack of a consistent pass rush, and a healthy Stafford. Let’s take a look at how the Lions may possibly solve these two issues.