Detroit Lions: Finishing better is a big takeaway from last season

Finishing better is one of the things the Detroit Lions’ staff is preaching in 2020.

In order for a team to post a 3-12-1 record during an NFL season like the Detroit Lions did last year, several things have to wrong. And for the Lions, injuries played a major role in the team underperforming in 2019.

Last season, several starters for the Lions landed on Injured Reserve. The biggest name being quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose final appearance was in Week Nine after a back injury forced him to miss eight games.

Despite the obstacles, the Lions flashed potential in 2019. The Pride started the season going 2-1-1 prior to their Week Five bye. And Stafford was on pace to produce his best numbers since 2011.

Even without Stafford, the Lions found ways to be competitive. In fact, out of their 12 losses last season, eight of which without their franchise quarterback under center, Detroit lost seven contests by a margin of seven points or less.

Here’s what Lions’ second-year offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told The Detroit News this past week about one of his biggest takeaways from last season … finishing.

“We had 10 games where we had the lead going into the fourth quarter and we had another game where we were tied in the fourth quarter. I think that tells you were doing some good things. We were in a lot of games, but we weren’t able to finish those. … So we’ve got to pick it up, we’ve got to finish. That’s something we preach all the time.”

Detroit Lions secure depth chart at critical positions

One of the key aspects of finishing better is having the best possible players on the field. And this offseason, the Lions went about the business of adding some important depth to their roster. Adding talent to critical positions should go a long way in helping the team’s effort in finishing better in 2020 if injuries once again impact the win/loss column.

Two of the biggest injuries Detroit suffered last season included Stafford and starting running back Kerryon Johnson. As a response, the Lions inked veteran backup quarterback Chase Daniel to a three-year, $13.05 million deal this offseason. Detroit then used a high second-round selection on Georgia running back D’Andre Swift in April’s draft, further securing both critically important positions.

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Another area of focus for the Detroit Lions this offseason is improving their overall defensive play. The hiring of Cory Undlin as the team’s new defensive coordinator plus the addition of several new faces like linebacker Jamie Collins, defensive tackle Danny Shelton, safety Duron Harmon, and first-round rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah should all play an important part in leading the resurgence on that side of the ball in 2020.