Praise has been coming for the Detroit Lions from seemingly every corner of the internet this offseason, but it’s not been simple lip service whatsoever for the team.
Many are saying that the Lions look like one of the most improved teams in the league and could be set to make a big turnaround. Many see that playing out in terms of more wins on the field, and that was the case for NFL.com as well as analyst Jim Trotter.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
In a piece, Trotter put together a list of the teams that he believes will make the biggest jump this season in terms of wins. He identified Detroit as one of his few, with the team coming in at second overall.
As Trotter explained in the piece, the way the Lions were able to improve and show some grit down the stretch is big for the team as it relates to 2022.
“They were winless through 11 games but finished 3-3 down the stretch. That, as much as anything, speaks to optimism for them taking a giant stride toward relevancy. Dan Campbell instilled a culture of competitive character in his first season, meaning the Lions continued to play hard even when there was nothing to play for. That might sound like a cliché, but it’s proven to be the foundation on which turnarounds are built,” Trotter wrote.
Trotter also likes Detroit’s roster moves and the players they added to the mix this offseason in key spots on the field. He appreciated the fact that the Lions stuck with Jared Goff, and seems to think that the Lions could benefit from sticking with Goff and prioritizing him.
All in all, it’s just another vote of confidence for the Lions and their increasingly bright future.
Lions Seen to Boost Playoff Odds With Offseason
The Lions are one of five teams who have seen a fairly dramatic shift in terms of their future playoff odds. As a piece by Alex Kay of Bleacher Report pointed out, coming into the season, the Lions were seen as a playoff long shot based mostly on their 2021 finish, but now, the team is a +400 to make the postseason. That’s a significant turnaround, and not that much of a long shot at this point in time.
As Kay wrote, in spite of the frustration of not adding a young quarterback to the mix, “there is still upside for a winning season and playoff berth in the wake of a fantastic draft.” The reason? Mostly an improved defense as Kay notes, but an offense that has added some intriguing pieces to the mix as well in Jameson Williams and DJ Chark.
In spite of all the negatives that came with not bringing a flashy new quarterback into the mix, Kay believes “the team has a higher ceiling in 2022 and has positioned itself to become a viable contender when it finally lands another elite QB.”
Many believe that could be 2023, which could place the Lions as serious 2024-25 contenders. Even in spite of that, the team could surprise some folks and be a playoff team in 2022-23 perhaps ahead of schedule.
How Lions Have Reshaped Their Team This Offseason
It’s taken a few offseasons full of work for Brad Holmes to restructure the Lions, but in 2022, he has made some major headway. Detroit’s work started early, and it began with re-signing multiple in-house free agents. Before free agency got going, the Lions had brought back names like wideouts Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds, safety Tracy Walker, defensive lineman Charles Harris and linebacker Alex Anzalone. In terms of outside spending, Detroit didn’t do much, adding wideout DJ Chark to the offense and linebackers Chris Board and Jarrad Davis, safety DeShon Elliott and cornerback Mike Hughes. All are underrated players who could break out for the Lions in 2022.
When the draft came around, the Lions stuck with the plan as well. They landed strong Aidan Hutchinson from Michigan in a stroke of luck, who will be a slam-dunk fit for the defense. After that, the Lions traded up for wideout Jameson Williams, who should add a dynamic element to their offense. Day two brought the team some more defensive help with gritty and classy Josh Paschal. Super athletic safety Kirby Joseph closed out the day in round three, and should contend for a role quickly in the Motor City on a needy defense. During day three, the Lions added James Mitchell, a tight end from Virginia Tech, Malcolm Rodriguez, an Oklahoma State linebacker and James Houston, a Jackson State linebacker. Chase Lucas, a cornerback from Arizona State, was the team’s final selection.
As a whole, the additions could have the Lions set up to be in good shape moving forward.