The Detroit Lions have put the wraps on their 2019 season, and as a result, can now begin to think about 2020 and how to reshape their team and roster.
Before that, though, it’s never a bad time to take a look back and provide some grades for how things went this past season. Obviously, the Lions didn’t meet expectations whatsoever, and that plays a major role in judging their overall marks.
Here’s a look at grading the team for their work in the 2019 season as a whole, position group by position group.
The Lions offense was much, much better under Darrell Bevell compared to 2018’s outfit under Jim Bob Cooter. It was a shame injuries to nearly every big name player including quarterback Matthew Stafford had to stunt the team’s overall growth. Detroit has what could be the makings of a solid ground attack, and they also have two solid pass catchers and what should be a healthy tight end coming back. Work could remain for 2020 on reconstructing a bit of the offensive front, but as a whole, there is reason to be excited about what Bevell and this crew can do in year two. More red zone consistency is key, and that element prevented the Lions from having a much higher grade this season. Overall, though, the Bevell hire seemed to pay off. That should be one thing giving fans hope if Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn do make the multiple staff changes that have been alluded to.
There’s simply no other way to put it. Detroit’s defense was an abject failure this season, in every single aspect, and it should cost multiple people their jobs. The secondary was average to below average, the defensive line was terrible and the linebacker spot saw more regression than anything else. There are building blocks at each spot, but a new coordinator will be needed as well as multiple other new voices. Detroit can’t stand by on their defense being one of the worst in the entire NFL and expect Patricia to do the type of winning the franchise expects. It’s a major black eye for the team to be this miserable on defense when Patricia is a supposed defensive guru. It was a bad season, and better things are needed in 2020 if the Lions are to improve meaningfully.
It’s not the performers, like Matt Prater, Sam Martin and Jamal Agnew that are the problem, but perhaps the overall scheme and coaching. Detroit isn’t consistent enough in terms of avoiding foolish penalties and mistakes in the return game, and that is something which made what could have been a stout specialty teams group look miserable by the time the season was said and done. Detroit changed things up heading into this season, and it will be fascinating to see if they decide to shake things up again on this side of the ball. Special teams needs to be a much bigger weapon for the team than it has been.
The solid work on offense only helps save the staff partially, seeing as what a disaster the team was on the defensive side of things in terms of development. As a boss, Patricia was a bit better than last season, but he still has his own problems to iron out in terms of timeout usage, challenges and the like. Patricia is the strong leader the Lions need, but can the team find enough players to buy into his program? That could determine if the ship floats or sinks in 2020. The Lions didn’t have a great season coaching the team, though. At 3-12-1, it’s hard to make an argument for this grade not to be in the complete basement like it is.
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