Detroit Lions: Harsh reality check about expectations for 2020

Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /
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Jamie Collins, Detroit Lions
Jamie Collins, New England Patriots (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Offseason Rankings: A dud for Detroit, according to Barnwell

Last week, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell released a top to bottom look at how each franchise fared in terms of free agency, trades, and the draft. Tampa Bay landed the top spot on this list, while the Lions are near the very bottom at 29th.

It’s just one guy’s highly researched opinion, but for a team who finished 30th overall in wins a year ago being perceived to have made that little of an improvement, it’s disheartening to see.

Specifically, Barnwell doesn’t care much for Bob Quinn’s Patriots Midwest strategy of stacking the roster with ex-Patriots that Bill Belichick no longer cared to hang onto (Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton as the latest).

The inability to trade down from the number three draft pick and grab an extra first rounder is also listed as something that ‘went wrong’ for the Lions, though I don’t see how they can be marked down for having the draft go as scheduled and using a high pick on a good player.

The other inconvenient fact is that four of the team’s top five defensive players from opening day a year ago (a defense that couldn’t stop anyone to begin with) are now gone–Darius Slay, Quandre Diggs, Damon Harrison, and Devon Kennard. Is it reasonable to be confident that their replacements are upgrades?

Reason for hope: Barnwell doesn’t care too much for the offseason moves that our rivals around the division made either, none of them even grading into the top half.  Minnesota was the highest at 19th, while Green Bay (27th) and Chicago (31st) are sitting right there with Detroit.

It’s also worth mentioning exactly how many wins a hyped up offseason guarantees once the games start: none. Remember the frenzy surrounding Cleveland’s moves a year ago, and the spring that Minnesota had in 2018? Despite ‘winning’ the offseason, each of those teams had massively disappointing seasons to follow it up, both winning fewer games than even the previous year and missing the playoffs.

If you’re looking for a candidate for a major disappointment in 2020, the ‘top ranked’ Buccaneers are hiding in plain sight. I know it’s Brady and Gronk, but basing all this fast track to a Super Bowl talk on a 43-year-old free agent pickup and a star on the decline who sat out all of last year has all the ingredients of a letdown.

Especially considering that the ex-Patriots duo will be without the greatest head coach of the generation for the first time in their pro careers, the Bucs may want to temper their expectations just a little.

Outside of Detroit, the Lions certainly won’t have to worry about the burden of expectation in 2020. As their divisional foes made few discernible upgrades heading into the year, a little momentum (like knocking off Green Bay and Chicago in the first two weeks) would go a long way.