The Detroit Lions have finished off the 2022 season, and as the team heads into the offseason, it’s a good time to look back at what they have already done and give the team some praise.
With so many good performances across the roster for players, picking the best of the best can be a difficult task. Even though this is the case, there was still some obvious standouts at various levels across the roster.
Looking back at the recently completed season, which players did well enough to earn awards for their performances? Here’s a look at the best of the best from this past season on the field, and rookies were certainly well represented.
Lions’ 2023 MVP: RB Jamaal Williams
There’s no way that Jamaal Williams wouldn’t qualify as the team’s most valuable player after the outstanding season he had in 2022, and he was more than just solid statistics for the team.
As a whole, Williams enjoyed a gaudy slash line this year for Detroit. He rushed for 1,066 yards and 17 touchdowns. Additionally, he managed to put up 73 receiving yards for the team. He was Detroit’s leading rusher on the season, and always dependable.
With a big output over the final handful of games, Williams was able to crack the elusive 1,000 yard mark for Detroit, which was huge for a Lions running back given nobody since Reggie Bush had accomplished that feat since 2014.
More than that, Williams has become a leader that Lions fans have rallied around and the team can trust. His speeches have achieved some legend around the team and with the fanbase.
Williams is a free agent, but he could come back on a new contract given what he means to the Lions. He’s easily the team’s top player from this season.
Lions’ 2023 Rookie of the Year: Edge Aidan Hutchinson
Picking the team’s top rookie was a tough decision, given the Lions enjoyed breakout performances top to bottom. It’s easy to see who set the tone for the team, though, and that was Aidan Hutchinson.
Hutchinson collected 9.5 sacks, most for a rookie player in the league. He also had three interceptions to his credit as well as 52 total tackles. Most of the year, he was a menace to opposing passers, much as he was in the season finale in Week 18 when he sacked rival Aaron Rodgers:
Though there were some great performances from names like Kerby Joseph, James Houston, Malcolm Rodriguez and some flashes from Jameson Williams, the team was led from the start by Hutchinson. His passion and toughness changed the conversation about Detroit’s struggling defense, and he’s a stud moving forward.
Lions’ Most Improved Player: QB Jared Goff
When Jared Goff came to the Lions, the prevailing notion was that the team would replace him eventually with a new player, either a current NFL star or a young quarterback in the draft.
Goff flipped that script in a big way this past year. He put up a very solid 29 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Goff also threw for a quality 4,438 yards with a decent 99.3 QBR. Goff was a quality game manager for the Lions. He avoided the big mistakes for the most part, and been a player who has looked very comfortable within the team’s offense.
Those numbers are a far cry from where things were with Goff last season. With the Lions in 2021, he passed for just 19 touchdowns and 3,245 total yards. Goff’s work in 2022 showed a major uptick.
The version of Goff who played with the team last season would not have made it given a season like this, but given his resurgence, the Lions are suddenly in great shape for the future at the position.
Lions’ Breakout Star: Edge James Houston
Starting off the 2022 season, James Houston was an unknown player that was buried on the team’s practice squad. It took until well into the second-half of the season for him to emerge.
During his first game on Thanksgiving Day, Houston ended up as the only Lions rookie to have a pair of sacks in his debut. After collecting a sack against Jacksonville the next week, Houston ended up as the first rookie since Da’Shawn Hand to record sacks in consecutive games.
As a whole, Houston would finish with 12 tackles, eight sacks and one forced fumble. While the Lions got a big 1,000 yard season out of Amon-Ra St. Brown, Houston’s breakout was arguably more impressive given the position he came from on the roster.
Lions’ Coach of the Year: OC Ben Johnson
Though Ben Johnson didn’t claim top assistant coach of the year honors for the league, it’s easy to see how he would be the choice for the Lions, given what his position was able to do.
This past season, the Lions finished with a top four total offense, putting up 380 yards per-game. Detroit’s passing offense was ranked eighth overall, putting up 4,281 yards and 29 touchdowns to go with 251.6 yards per-game. Amon-Ra St. Brown was the leader at the spot with six touchdowns and 1,161 yards.
Detroit’s rush offense was 11th, going for 128.2 yards per-game and 2,179 total yards and 23 touchdowns. Jamaal Williams was dominant with 17 touchdowns and 1,066 yards to lead this group.
Now that he is coming back, Johnson can continue to oversee the development of Jared Goff, someone that has sung his praises from the start that he has developed a quality relationship with.
Johnson’s work makes him the team’s top assistant for this season, and the Lions caught a major break when he came