The Detroit Lions are pushing toward a brand new season in 2020, and it’s a year which is a significant one for the team and franchise considering what happened in 2019 and all the ugliness on the field.
Significant things could hinge on the outcome of the action this season, and the team is facing some pressure as they get set to tackle a year which figures to be different in several huge ways than any other season in league history.
When things get going, what will happen on the field? Here is a look at some bold predictions for what plays out for the team in 2020.
T.J. Hockenson Becomes a Top Young Tight End
Hockenson is already looking the part of being a changed man, and if his play matches his physique, the Lions will be in for a treat this coming season on the field. Working with George Kittle this offseason will have an impact on Hockenson, who already showed flashes as a rookie and will continue to improve this season. Hockenson will make plenty of big plays and be a well rounded player en-route to making himself one of the better young tight ends in the game. This will help Detroit’s offense evolve in a big way.
Lions’ Running Backs Will Be Elite
The Detroit ground game is finally going to be fixed this coming season thanks to a focus on drafting and developing talent. Not only will the Lions have Kerryon Johnson and D’Andre Swift, but Ty Johnson and Bo Scarbrough as well and potentially Jason Huntley in the future to offer some big plays. The group will have an elite season on the ground and help Detroit’s ground game go from one of the worst in the league to one of the best. Swift will be a big reason why, but both Johnson runners will also play a huge role in turnaround which helps out the entire offense as a whole get better.
Jamie Collins Ties Detroit’s Defense Together
One of the most underrated signings this entire offseason in the league season was Jamie Collins coming to Detroit. Many mocked it and called him old or overrated, but the reality is, Collins has flourished in Matt Patricia’s scheme before. Additionally, the Lions haven’t had great depth at linebacker in the past, forcing players to potentially play out of position and young players to take on bigger roles than they are ready for. Collins will help alleviate this concern as he can do plenty of things well and will allow others to play confident within their roles. When all is said and done, Collins might be looked at as one of the best free agency signings of the last year as a result. He will help tie Detroit’s defensive front and backfield together by covering a ton of ground and making some big plays on the field.
Jeff Okudah Has a Quiet Rookie Season
Many are predicting huge things from Okudah right away in the NFL, and while it’s true he will likely be a star in due time, let’s pump the breaks a bit with regards to it happening within his first season in the league. Okudah will come into the league at cornerback, one of the toughest positions to play. While he won’t look out of place, he’s also not going to put up the kind of stats which folks will say qualify him for major awards right off the bat. It’s a passing league and Okudah will be up to the challenge, but there will be bumps in the road here and there, so fans should temper their expectations a little bit for the rookie top pick.
Matthew Stafford Has His Best Lions Season Yet
What would be considered Stafford’s best season in a Lions uniform? Probably 2011, when the quarterback threw for over 5,000 yards, had 41 touchdowns and only 16 picks. Since, Stafford has had a lot of solid statistical seasons but few that match 2011 in terms of the winning and the personal accomplishment. With 19 scores and over 2,000 yards passing in a shortened 2019 season, Stafford was well on his way to greatness in Darrell Bevell’s scheme. With health and another year of comfort plus a better running game and beefed up offensive line, Stafford takes some huge strides forward this season and has his best year yet in a Detroit uniform. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him go well over 40 touchdowns and nibble close to 5,000 yards this season. The running game will likely prevent the team from airing it out that much, but Stafford will be more efficient and have a better rounded offensive attack.
Matt Patricia Saves His Job With a Playoff Run
Most wonder if Patricia sticks around in Detroit or if he will be shown the door along with Bob Quinn after the season. For the Lions to truly start over, the team will have to have a nosedive from start to finish that isn’t aided by a significant injury, say, losing Matthew Stafford at quarterback. While plenty see that being the case, the truth is, the Lions are probably in much better condition mentally to contend with Patricia now as opposed to when he took over the team a few years ago. Detroit was fairly average last season when Stafford was healthy and nearly scored some big early season wins if not for a few late meltdowns. This time around, the team will find a way to close the gap during “dagger time” and the ball will bounce Detroit’s way a few more times. That can be all the difference in a terrible season, an average season and a potentially great season. The Lions will find a way in a bizarre 2020 year to make the playoffs and save Patricia’s job.