Detroit Lions: A new chapter begins in the Motor City

Detroit Lions fans wait to enter Ford Field (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions fans wait to enter Ford Field (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Forward down the field, a Lions team that will not yield  — except the Detroit Lions yielded up 6,716 yards, and 68 total touchdowns to their opponents in 2020. Yikes!

Detroit Lions fans need little reminder just how atrocious the defense was last year. The Lions ranked dead last in the league in total defense, yet somehow managed to win five games, a credit to just how good quarterback Matthew Stafford was under center. Unfortunately, Stafford ended his career in Detroit without a playoff win in 12 seasons and now finds himself in Los Angeles with head coach Sean McVay and the Rams.

Based on that information, you would think that the Lions would use their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, seventh overall, on defense. But if you look at any mock draft, the earliest you often see a defensive player taken is at pick No. 10 by the Dallas Cowboys.

Could the high-end defensive talent be lacking that much? Possibly, or maybe general manager Brad Holmes sees what fans see, a team that lacks talent everywhere. And one pick won’t solve the puzzle.

When free agency began, the Lions overhauled the roster by releasing veterans like tight end Jesse James plus cornerbacks Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant. Next, they allowed linebacker Jarrad Davis plus wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones to find new teams.

Finally, the Lions retained a promising gem in defensive end Romeo Okwara, traded for defensive tackle Michael Brokers, and added low-risk, high reward players like wide receivers Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, and Damion Ratley, plus linebacker Alex Anzalone to cheap one-year contracts.

Oh, don’t forget that Detroit stole running back Jamaal Williams away from the Green Bay Packers in free agency to pair with second-year back D’Andre Swift, forming a solid one-two punch in the Lions backfield.

All of a sudden, this team has a whole new look. And yet they might struggle to hit five wins in 2021 even with a 17ᵗʰ game added this year. Despite the dim outlook for this season, the Detroit Lions have their eyes on the future, craving long-term sustained success, rather than selling the farm and settling for the same old, unsatisfying result.

The Detroit Lions are selling hope. And for the first time in years, fans seem to believe brighter days are over the horizon.

New Lions head coach Dan Campbell galvanized the city in his opening press conference, with a craving for kneecaps, and a determination to deliver a championship in the Motor City.  Selling hope will only get so far. However, if the Lions actually deliver on it, fans will party in the city streets for days.

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All eyes are on Allen Park, the anticipation will finally end, and the Detroit Lions will have fresh new faces in the organization over the next few days. A new chapter has officially begun, and it’s up to Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell to retool this team into a winner and become the Kings of the NFC North. What will the new era of Detroit Lions football yield? Only time will tell.