Quick reactions three weeks into Detroit Lions rebuild

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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DETROIT, MICHIGAN – SEPTEMBER 12: Penei Sewell #58 of the Detroit Lions plays against the San Francisco 49ers at Ford Field on September 12, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN – SEPTEMBER 12: Penei Sewell #58 of the Detroit Lions plays against the San Francisco 49ers at Ford Field on September 12, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Observation 3: Progress is going to be slow

General manager, Brad Holmes, had a tough situation that he inherited. On top of the roster deficiencies and insufficient cap space, he needed to convert both his offense and defense to new schemes with new coordinators. That put a lot on his plate, to say the least.

Then, almost immediately, his starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, asked to be traded. He traded Stafford for a maligned Jared Goff, his $33.5 million dollars average salary, and three draft picks which should refill the draft pick coffers and allow him to find some talent in the next two drafts.

During the draft, Holmes opted to upgrade the trenches by spending his first three picks on linemen. Penei Sewell, the current starting left tackle in for the injured Decker, Levi Onwuzurike, a three-technique defensive lineman, and Alim McNeil, a true nose tackle along the defensive line. It wasn’t until his second pick in the third round, received from Los Angeles, that Holmes drafted a skilled player, Ifeatu Melifonwu, a cornerback.

He was roundly criticized around the NFL for letting all of the Detroit Lions wide receivers go from 2020 and not selecting one before round four of the draft or at least finding one good option to grow with Jared Goff in free agency. Two “bargain” players were signed, Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman, only one of whom made the 53-player roster but is on injured reserve (Williams).

Despite some growing positive sentiment during the offseason, many fans and pundits foresaw a long year in store for the new Holmes-Campbell regime. The rhetoric is positive but the results have been spotty. We suppose that is a side effect of being the second-youngest team in the NFL.

Holmes traded the Denver Broncos for Trinity Benson and did draft Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round to add some talent to the receiver room, though. Return specialist turned outside receiver, Kalif Raymond, is the only Lions player to amass more than 100 yards receiving through three weeks of the regular season.

We’re not sure if that’s a good thing or commentary on the state of the Lions’ WR Corps. You pick.

If you look at the roster, the biggest thing missing are playmakers. A couple of the playmakers we have are hurt and that should not be forgotten. While it does seem like the Lions are learning to play together more, the holes in the depth chart really stick out.

The good news is that the next offseason should bring cap space and we will be able to use one of the extra first-round draft picks from the Rams, plus our own picks to upgrade at wide receiver, cornerback, edge rushers, linebacker, safety, guard, and tackle depending on what the plans are for Decker and Sewell.

The quarterback position is the biggest question mark. Jared Goff is making $30 million per year in salary, too much for a rebuilding team that’s two to three years from competing to spend on a dink-and-dunk game manager. However, Goff is a guy that is pretty steady and a rookie will take time to develop.

Does Brad Holmes intend to give Goff three-plus years to prove himself? Or is Goff a stopgap who will bridge the team to their quarterback of the future? There doesn’t seem to be any answer past this year, which would suggest that Goff has an opportunity to prove himself this year.

The biggest problem is that he doesn’t have a competent set of weapons at the moment but reports stated that Holmes promised to not draft another quarterback prior to the 2021 draft, instead opting for a tackle. No reports have said that Holmes has extended that deal to 2022, though.

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It is a daunting task for head coach Dan Campbell to keep everyone together if they don’t win some games soon. The Chicago Bears are on tap for this weekend and are coming off of a dismal performance where they did not generate 100 yards of offense and the Cleveland Browns rushed for more than 200 yards on the ground.

That’s their best chance to win prior to the bye but not the only chance, with also facing the Vikings (1-2), Bengals (3-1), Rams (3-0), and Eagles (1-2).