If you had any doubts about the Detroit Lions‘ new regime would have the same obnoxious tagline attached to them, ‘same old Lions,’ it’s time to stop.
It seems we can finally put that tagline in the rearview mirror. Although the results in 2021 may be similar, I feel a bit more confident that this organization is at least pointed in the right direction. While the journey may be long, heading in the right direction is at least a positive sign.
Detroit Lions general manager (GM) Brad Holmes, with guidance from senior advisor John Dorsey and head coach Dan Campbell, is certainly turning a stone in Detroit. I can confidently say that the past regimes would have stubbornly held onto the likes of Breshad Perriman or Jahlani Tavai.
Tavai is the latest Detroit Lions second-round bust. Former head coach Matt Patricia reached to draft Tavai with the 43rd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. If you recall, Patricia and Quinn claimed they had intel that Tavai was expected to be selected by others shortly after they made the pick, forcing their hand, as they didn’t want to risk hoping to pick Tavai later in the draft.
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Needless to say, I wish they did risk it.
Tavai’s skill-set failed to translate to the NFL, explaining why the Lions failed to find a trade partner for his services. Perhaps someone will take a flier on Tavai, but none of us should lose sleep over this move. Tavai’s size had been sought-after by Patricia, and he fit his defensive scheme but was often exposed in coverage situations.
In this new brand of NFL, teams don’t just run the football on first and second down and pass on third, despite how the Detroit offense operated under the watchful eye of Patricia. Although the team lacked talent, we saw a significant difference at the end of last season, with Darrell Bevell stepping in as the interim head coach after Patricia had been let go.
Opponents often attacked Tavai whenever he was on the field with designed plays or checking to a play rather than just running the football right at him.
I also have a notion that many of Detroit’s previous regimes would have held onto a player like Perriman strictly due to his contract. One of Holmes’ first free-agent signings after taking over the Lions had been Perriman to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million, with $2 million guaranteed in an effort to re-tool the position.
Since joining the Lions, Perriman struggled to remain healthy, and when he was available, he failed to make an impact. Perriman also has been bitten by the ‘drops’ bug and was also flagged for a brutal offensive pass interference penalty his head coach highlighted as basically a rookie mistake.
The one-timed hopeful deep threat will be looking for employment elsewhere.
The Detroit Lions did not waste any time replacing Perriman.
Detroit traded a 5th and 7th round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to Denver in exchange for receiver Trinity Benson plus a 6th round pick in 2023.
Benson is coming off of a tremendous camp, but unlike the Lions, Denver has a deep group of pass-catchers, and something had to give. Benson caught all eight of his preseason targets totaling 80 yards and two touchdowns.
At this point, Benson is mostly considered a deep threat, which is exactly what Perriman was presumed to be, which certainly made him expendable.
Other notable Detroit Lions cuts are Tyrell Crosby, Mike Ford, Victor Bolden, Randy Bullock, and Zane Gonzalez.