The Detroit Lions started last season with a 3-4-1 record and were competitive each of their games with Matthew Stafford healthy. Following a season-ending injury in week 9, the Lions lost their last eight games of the season, finishing 3-12-1.
Over his first two seasons with the Lions, head coach Matt Patricia has been disappointing with a 9-22-1 overall record, resulting two last place finishes. This year could be his last chance before he is sent packing.
The Lions were busy early on in the offseason and made some much needed additions.
Key Additions: QB Chase Daniel, WR Geronimo Allison, OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, DL Danny Shelton, DL Nick Williams, LB Jamie Collins, CB Desmond Trufant, CB Darryl Roberts, S Duron Harmon, S Jayron Kearse, S Miles Killebrew, and CB Jeff Okudah
Key Departures: QB Jeff Driskel, RB J.D. McKissic, TE Logan Thomas, OT Rick Wagner, G Graham Glasgow, DL Damon Harrison, DL Mike Daniels, DL A’Shawn Robinson, OLB Devon Kennard, CB Darius Slay, CB Rashaan Melvin, S Tavon Wilson, and P Sam Martin
Let’s take an in-depth look at Detroit’s roster.
Starter: Matthew Stafford
Stafford has been one of the league’s most consistent quarterbacks over the last decade. Before his injury least season, Stafford had made over 130 consecutive starts. Stafford had seven consecutive seasons with over 4,00 yards passing and eight straight seasons with at least 20 passing passing touchdowns.
However, Stafford does struggle with turnovers as he has thrown at least 10 interceptions in nine seasons. If Stafford can limit his turnovers, then he could easily be one of the league’s top quarterbacks. Expect the Lions to be more competitive this season with Stafford back under center.
Starter: Kerryon Johnson
The Lions used their second round pick in April’s draft to add RB D’Andre Swift out of Georgia. Swift is going to be an insurance policy and part of a duo with Johnson.
Johnson has missed 14 games in two seasons. His health is a legitimate question mark for the Lions offense. Last year, their backfield had to depend on Ty Johnson and Bo Scarborough late in the season with Johnson out due to injury.
When he has played, Johnson has been solid, recording over 100 rushes both seasons. Johnson has a ton of potential, but his injuries are hurting his chances of developing.
Swift became one of the best running backs in college football with over 2,700 scrimmage yards and 21 total touchdowns over his last two seasons at Georgia. He is coming off a shoulder injury, but can has the ability to become the RB1 for the Lions if Johnson can’t get healthy.
Starters: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Sr., and Danny Amendola
The biggest issue for the Lions at the wide receiver position is contracts. Following the 2020 season, the Lions only have 2020 fifth-round draft pick, Quintez Cephus, under contract. Cephus comes to Detroit with a pro-ready skill set having played both outside and in the slot for the Badgers at Wisconsin.
The Lions signed former Packers WR, Geronimo Allison, to a one-year deal. Allison did not have much traction in the Green Bay offense as his career-high in receiving yards stands at 303. Allison looks to make his mark in Detroit.
The three starters from 2019- Golladay, Jones, and Amendola all return for 2020. Golladay is coming off his best season, recording his second straight 1,000-yard receiving season and a league-leading 11 receiving touchdowns. Expect an extension coming his way as he has become the top target for Stafford.
Jones has proved to be a consistent WR2 option after posting over 700 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2019. He looks to get back to his 2017 form, where he posted over 1,100 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
Amendola resigned on a one-year deal at the beginning of the offseason. He played a serviceable role last year in the slot, catching 62 passes for over 600 yards and one score.
The WR group for Detroit is one of their top strengths with a solid one-two punch in Golladay and Jones. With a healthy Stafford in 2020, look for a lot of production out of the the wide receiver unit for Detroit.
Starter: T.J. Hockenson
The Lions 2019 first-round pick, T.J. Hockenson, started out his rookie season with an explosion of 131 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. However, the rest of his 11 games did not fare well as he only recorded 236 yards and one touchdown on 23 receptions the rest of the season.
Jesse James was one of the top acquisitions for the Lions before the 2019 season, but he disappointed last year. He only caught 16 passes in 16 games and struggled blocking.
The tight end position was a disappointment for the Lions last year. They are banking on Hockenson to take a major step forward in year two. As for James, he will also need to increase his production or he could be gone before his deal is up.
Starters: Taylor Decker (LT), Joe Dahl (LG), Frank Ragnow (C), Jonah Jackson (RG), and Halapoulivaati Vaitai (RT)
Another aspect that struggled last season was the offensive line as they allowed 43 sacks in 2019. The line also lost Rick Wagner and Graham Glasgow in free agency.
They signed Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a five-year deal, providing a major boost at right tackle. Taylor Decker is coming off his worst season in 2019, where he was flagged fr a career-worst eight penalties.
The main question is at RG. Glasgow is gone as he signed with Denver and the Lions need to find their replacement. The best option for them is third-round pick, Jonah Jackson, who they traded up for. The line saw some key contributors depart, but they seem hopeful in their current pieces to improve the offensive line.
Starters: Trey Flowers (DE), Danny Shelton (DT), Da’Shawn Hand (DT), and Julian Okwara (DE)
The defensive line for the Lions saw a lot of departures with Damon “Snacks” Harrison, Mike Daniels, and A’Shawn Robinson leaving. The Lions top free agency acquisition from last year, Trey Flowers, comes back after a seven-sack campaign last season.
Danny Shelton joins the Lions after spending the past two seasons in New England. He is coming off a career season with 3 sacks, 61 tackles, and a forced fumble.
Da’Shawn Hand is returning, following an injury only three games into the 2019 season.
Starters: Jamie Collins, Jarrad Davis, and Christian Jones
The Lions addressee the linebacker position during free agency this offseason, signing Jamie Collins and Reggie Ragland.
Collins is coming off a great 2019 campaign with the New England Patriots, where he set career-highs in interceptions (3) and sacks (7). Ragland is coming off a Super Bowl Championship with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he played his past three seasons.
Jarrad Davis and Christian Jones return this season into starting roles. Davis played in a career-low 11 games this past season, racking up 63 totals and two sacks. Jones will be entering his third season with the Lions after starting 13 games last season.
Starters: Desmond Trufant, Jeff Okudah, and Justin Coleman
The Lions started the offseason by trading away franchise cornerstone and star cornerback Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions received a third round draft pick and fourth round draft pick for the former All-Pro.
The Lions added two new pieces to their secondary this offseason, by drafting former Ohio State corner, Jeff Okudah with the No. 4 pick in April’s NFL Draft. They also brought in former Atlanta Falcon, Desmond Trufant, following his release from the team in March as a post-June 1 designation. Trufant played the first seven seasons of his career with Falcons and has 13 career interceptions.
The secondary does have starter Justin Coleman returning, following a strong 2019 campaign, where he set career-highs in passes defensed (13) and forced fumbles (3). The Lions secondary is going to be one of their top strengths with the experience of Coleman and Trufant while adding a future star in Jeff Okudah.
Starters: Duron Harmon and Tracy Walker
The Lions brought in Duron Harmon to play a starting safety role after playing his first seven seasons with the New England Patriots. Now, he reunites with his former Defensive Coordinator and current Lions head coach, Matt Patricia.
Walker started 12 games for the Lions last year, recording over 100 tackles and eight passes defensed. He will keep his starting role this year after a good 2019 season.
Starters: Matt Prater (K), Jack Fox (P), and Don Muhlbach (LS)
Prater returns for his seventh season as kicker. Over the past six seasons, Prater has converted on 82.9% (141-170) of his field goal attempts.
The Lions look to bounce back this season following a disappointing season in 2019 with the return of Matthew Stafford at quarterback.