Can The Detroit Lions Be Better This Year?


The Detroit Lions improved in the first year under Jim Caldwell and while going 11-5, most would say it seemed it was a fraudulent 11-5 record. Between the miracle wins, and inconsistent offense, the case for the Lions being a fraudulent team could be made.

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The Lions had injuries to key positions that set them up to fail. Between the offensive line injuries and injuries in the secondary, those loomed too large for the Lions to overcome late in the season. Obviously people are going to make the case that “every team goes through injuries”, and that’s true.

However, the Lions’ depth was a major issue going into the season mainly at the offensive line and corner. Those areas cost them perhaps a victory against Dallas or perhaps an NFC North title.

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Detroit’s main need this off season was to address the depth among the offensive line and cornerback positions, and they did. They drafted and gathered talent to increase the depth in those particular positions.

However history isn’t on the Lions’ side as they haven’t had back-to-back winning season since 1994-1995.

So why is this year different? Why Could Detroit Be Better? There are a couple of reasons why I believe the Lions could be better than last year.

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Detroit Lions place DT Alim McNeill on IR amid flurry of roster moves
Detroit Lions place DT Alim McNeill on IR amid flurry of roster moves /

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  • If the Lions can get better play out of the offensive line, that should improve the offense by far. Stafford had very little time to throw last year, and because of the offensive line being below average, the running game also suffered.

    Another reason I think the Lions will be better is because of Stafford’s ball control. Stafford had 12 interceptions last season, the lowest in his NFL career, and that was with a below average offensive line.

    When Stafford led or trailed in the 4th quarter with four minutes or less to go he was really great, No interceptions. QB Rating in the 100’s with that QB rating in that specific time, Stafford ranked 2nd in the NFL.

    That last stat is why I think in year two of Lombardi’s offense the Lions and Stafford take off. I just think there’s too much talent on offense to not succeed and when you put it all together, they have the potential to be a top 10 offense.

    On the defensive side, Detroit really struggled at the nickel position; Cassius Vaughn was picked on a weekly basis. Pro Football Focus rating on Vaughn was second worst among free agent cornerbacks who took 1,000 snaps or more. It was truly a problem for Detroit.

    So Detroit let Vaughn walk and drafted Quandre Diggs, Alex Carter and signed Josh Wilson. Those are solid pieces that could help solidify depth in the Lions secondary – something they haven’t had much before.

    It was crucial with the loss of Suh that they find a suitable replacement, and they got that with Haloti Ngata. Ngata turns 32 in January and while he may be getting up there in age, this is a guy that was wanted. Reports came out in free agency that if Baltimore was to cut Haloti Ngata that several AFC teams would like to sign him.

    Is Ngata as good as Suh? No. Suh is a unique individual in terms of talent and skill. Detroit did make a huge move though, Ngata is good. He ranked third in double teams, he’s played in Teryl Austin’s system and he has a lot left in the tank.

    Ziggy Ansah was breaking out last year and if he can continue that trend, I can’t say Detroit’s defense takes a huge step back. Too much talent in on the defense to be average, I’m thinking another top ten finish. Obviously with the loss of Suh it will take a minor setback, but top ten is where I expect that defense to be.

    So, are the Lions better than last year?

    Yes. They added depth and the main concern going into the offseason for me was depth. Detroit lacked the depth on the offensive line and corner and that was the costly risk last year as it didn’t work out. Injuries will happen in the NFL there’s no doubt about that, but you can combat injuries with depth.

    Moving forward if there are key areas I worry about going into the upcoming season, it’s how Eric Ebron progresses, because in my mind, if he progresses like most hope, the offense will really get to another level.

    Next: Stafford Looking Improved in Mini-Camp

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