The calendar has now flipped to July, and the Detroit Lions will theoretically get back to work later this month with the beginning of training camp ahead of the 2020 season.
During this time, there are always a ton of questions left to ponder ahead of the start of a new season. When camp gets going for the Lions, there will be a lot to sort out as usual. So what are the most important questions the team will have to answer this year?
In a season which could be unlike any other in NFL history, here are the first questions the Lions will be presented with in camp.
Did Lions Fix Their Biggest Defensive Problems?
Detroit couldn’t intercept passes, sack the quarterback or stop the run with any consistency in 2019. Those problems have lingered for at least a few years. To fix this, they changed the look of the defensive backfield and added help along the defensive line. Will it be enough, however? Detroit invested heavily with the likes of Duron Harmon, Desmond Trufant, Danny Shelton and Nick Williams in free agency while adding Jeff Okudah and Julian Okwara in the draft. They may have found a late round steal in either Jashon Cornell or John Penisini. Will all this be enough to not only help the Lions play better but get them over the top with an elite season? That’s the big question that will have to be answered once players get back on the field and their roles get determined. The pressure is on the defense to fix all of their issues and be much better.
Can Lions’ Offense Resume 2019 Dominance?
When Matthew Stafford went down, the Lions offense was putting up some solid numbers on the field, throwing the ball around and keeping the team in games. Detroit’s average record during Stafford’s time leading the offense could be attributed mostly to their poor defense, but the team’s offense was putting up numbers and scoring. Now, with a rejuvenated running attack, a healthy quarterback and a group of wideouts that might be one of the NFL’s best, the sky could be the limit in 2020. If Darrell Bevell continues to keep this group comfortable within the scheme, it’s possible the team might have the best offense they have had in quite some time under his leadership. Health will determine how far this group can go, but the seeds have been planted for a great season given what happened in a short time after Bevell came into the fray as coordinator last year.
Which Lions Offensive Linemen Will Step up Most?
There’s been a ton of change up front since fans last saw the team. Jonah Jackson, Logan Stenberg, Joshua Garnett and others have entered the mix, while names like Oday Aboushi, Joe Dahl, Kenny Wiggins and company remain. Who will put their feet forward to win what figures to be a pair of guard spots? Jackson figures to have an upper hand given where he was selected in the draft, but Stenberg could be a sleeper to play a huge role as well given his mindset should fit perfectly with the team. Will Detroit roll with a pair of rookies up front, or will names like Aboushi and Wiggins once again help chip in and provide some stability? There will be perhaps the most to sort out along the offensive line in terms of position battles during the camp period.
Is One More Free Agency Signing Needed for Lions Defense?
The Lions have enough on the back end, but up front, conditions do exist for another signing, whether on the edge or in the middle. Names are still around on the market that could help like Jabaal Sheard, Everson Griffen, Markus Golden, Mike Daniels and perhaps even Jadeveon Clowney. The Lions haven’t prioritized making another addition seriously as of yet, but as they have shown before, they are not adverse to a well-timed addition before the season. Last year, it was Daniels who joined the fray as camp was ongoing. The possibility exists the Lions will need some extra additions, and they could help round the group out by adding a well placed, bigger signing to the mix.
How Does Lions’ Running Back Battle Play Out?
Detroit has transformed one of their biggest weaknesses into one of their biggest strengths in short order. Kerryon Johnson is now joined by D’Andre Swift, arguably the best runner in the 2020 draft class. Swift has lofty expectations for production already. Additionally, 2019 roster find Bo Scarbrough returns, Ty Johnson will add some depth and punch and wild card Jason Huntley could be one of the bigger play backs in the group given his ability to impact the game on special teams and with the pass. This diverse group has a ton of weaponry all of a sudden, but it will be interesting to see how the battles shake out and who sees the field in what role right off the bat. With an improved line and better depth at the position, the Lions shouldn’t have as much trouble in 2020 running the ball as in the past.