Analyst Calls Lions ‘Overlooked Deep Sleepers’ for 2021 Season

Romeo Okwara

Getty Romeo Okwara celebrates a sack on Mitchell Trubisky.

The Detroit Lions haven’t made many positive lists this offseason, with most folks content to write the team off as a rebuilding project that won’t be winners any time soon.

While some believe that to be the case, others are reminding folks not to ignore the Lions so easily in terms of teams that could make a big splash during 2021 on the field.

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Bleacher Report writer Chris Roling recently put together a list of teams who could surprise folks during the 2021 season because they’re being overlooked. As he said, the Lions qualify as such a team, and while they might struggle, they won’t be as miserable as some are predicting.

He wrote:

“While the Matt Patricia era dragged on too long and deserved every bit of the criticism it got, and swapping out Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff would seem to signal a rebuild, there’s little reason to think Detroit should sit tied for the longest Super Bowl odds (+20000).

That puts the Lions even with the dramatically overhauling Houston Texans, an organization that ran franchise legend J.J. Watt out of town through ineptitude and has a question mark at quarterback.

That’s absurd. Sure, based on trade compensation with the Los Angeles Rams alone (two first-round picks and a third-rounder), Goff is clearly a downgrade. But he’s also a passer with a 42-27 record who’s capable of executing a well-coached attack, as seen under Sean McVay during the Rams’ Super Bowl LIII run.

And well-coached remains an emphasis. If Dan Campbell and his new staff give 2020 second-rounder D’Andre Swift more than the 114 rushing attempts he got last year behind a 36-year-old Adrian Peterson, Goff could excel behind a line bolstered by No. 7 pick Penei Sewell.

Patricia’s squads never lived up to his defensive billing, but it’s not like the unit lacks talent thanks to the likes of Trey Flowers. Defensive tackles Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill, both taken in the top 75 this year, have plenty of upside, as does 2020 third-overall pick Jeff Okudah.

This is far from suggesting the Lions will contend for a Super Bowl in 2021. But onlookers expecting a Texans-level performance might come away disappointed.”

This assessment seems spot-on and reasonable. The Lions won’t be as bad as everyone who mocks them thinks, which seems obvious given some of the meaningful changes they have made on the field for this coming year. Finding a way to unlock the talent might be the biggest issue the team faces, and if that plays out, the Lions could be better than many expect.

Lions Predicted to Struggle During 2021

The Lions have been picked as a team that will finish last in the NFC North, and if not last, certainly near the basement. The same is true for the NFC as a whole. Not many see the Lions making a big enough impact on the field to do consistent winning in 2021. Some even believe the Lions will be bad enough to finish in last and have a chance at one of the top overall picks in the 2022 NFL Draft when it comes up.

What’s the reason for these thoughts? The team has a young and largely gutted roster coming off plenty of organizational changes.

Colin Cowherd Slammed Lions This Offseason

Seeing someone in the national media stand up for the Lions being underrated is interesting and perhaps a bit unexpected. That’s especially true given some of the shots the Lions have taken this year. Recently, Colin Cowherd was talking about Jared Goff going to the Lions, and how depressing the move is for the quarterback. As Cowherd got going, he hammered the Lions left and right with some statements that were both factual and non-facutal.

He said:

“If I was Jared Goff, I could not have faked it. Nothing against Michigan, it’s a beautiful state, my wife is from there. I would have stood up there and said listen, this place is loserville. I feel bad for Jared Goff who I think is a good kid with limitations, they got frustrated with him. God, to go from the Rams to the Lions. That’s depressing. The Lions have a worse owner, GM, coach and O-line. There is no glimmer. It’s raining on him. This is awful. This is a depressing story. I feel bad for Jared Goff, it’s not a great situation.”

While the Lions might be heading for a tough season, there are numerous things wrong with what Cowherd has said. First and foremost, the Lions don’t have a bad offensive line given they just selected Penei Sewell, have Frank Ragnow as well as Taylor Decker. This shows that when national hosts go off on a team, at times, they don’t take the time to research the whole story.

Obviously, not everyone is a believer in the notion that the Lions are heading for a rough go of it this season, which is refreshing to see. Fans will like this Bleacher Report take a whole lot better than what they’ve been hearing from Cowherd and several others in the last few months.

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