Three Detroit Lions players looking to bounce back in 2020

Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /
1 of 4
Justin Coleman, Detroit Lions
Justin Coleman, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

These Detroit Lions look for resilience after subpar individual seasons last year

Just as a winning season requires a total team effort, a 3-12-1 campaign does too. After limping to the finish line with eight consecutive losses to close out 2019, there are no shortage of factors that played into the ugliest Detroit Lions season since Matt Millen ran the show over a decade agao.

Matthew Stafford’s injury, a defense that failed to launch, a never-ending carousel of backup running backs, some home cooked refereeing in Green Bay, coaching confusion and stubbornness, all of these played their part at various times. For the season as a whole though, there are three returning Lions players who more than others, should look back and know that they have much more to contribute than they showed in 2019.

For this list, I’m not including Matthew Stafford or Kerryon Johnson, since their struggles were injury-related first and foremost (Stafford was in the middle of a great bounce back season of his own). I’m also not including Taylor Decker, even though I sort of want to.

My eyes tell me he was a penalty machine and was responsible for Stafford getting absolutely wrecked time and again, but the advanced analytics show he’s right about average (overall grade at Pro Football Focus is a respectable 75.5).

Jesse James and Jarrad Davis though, both veterans but still in their mid twenties, greatly regressed compared to previous seasons. Justin Coleman, playing more snaps than at any point before in his NFL career, got off to a hot start but fizzled as the losses piled up (along with attrition and drama in his position group).

James, Coleman, Davis are better than they showed for Detroit Lions in 2019

Moving into this year, those are the three who I’ve singled out as having the most need for significant individual improvement. Thought to be the number one option at tight end while T.J. Hockenson developed, that was never the case for James, even when Hockenson was injured. His contract and past numbers say that it’s not unfair to ask for far more than he gave in his first year as a Lion.

Davis enters a contract year probably on his last chance to prove himself, and seems the most likely candidate to be replaced in the lineup. Like James, Coleman also arrived as a free agent  in 2019 with a contract that many felt outpaced his production. He had a much better go of it than James at the beginning, but his play over the final two months was yet another symptom of a season gone off the rails.

All three have a lot to prove in 2020. Much better seasons will be expected from the three of them, and I’ve also noted potential replacements waiting in the wings for each of them if they struggle again.