The Detroit Lions had a very underwhelming 2020-21 season on the field given the team only finished with a record of 5-11 and essentially hit the restart button by firing their coach and general manager midseason.
As a result of that struggle and the ugly performance on the field the team saw most of the year, the grades aren’t that good. On the offensive side of the ball, there was inconsistency. The defensive side showed the same level of frustration. As a whole, it was a bad year for the Lions when much more was needed on the field, hence the big changes this offseason.
So how should the Lions be graded for their work in 2020? Here’s a look at the final grades for the team now that the dust has properly settled on the season.
Lions’ Offense 2020 Grade
Detroit’s offense was average at best most of the season, and plenty had to do with injuries once again. The Lions kept Matthew Stafford on the field for the most part, and had a decent offensive line playing with Stafford. Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker are pieces to build around there along with Jonah Jackson. D’Andre Swift showed flashes of brilliance in the backfield providing he can stay healthy, and the team had nice depth with Kerryon Johnson as well as veteran Adrian Peterson. At tight end, T.J. Hockenson has looked the part of a budding star. Wideout had decent production from usual suspects like Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay when healthy, but Quintez Cephus made an impression with his play at times. The offense did enough to keep the team in the game, but the shame was the Lions never had a functioning defense to help support this group. It’s hard to say that strides were made, and that’s part of the reason the Lions are in the pickle they’re in this offseason.
Lions’ Defense 2020 Grade
There isn’t technically a lower grade than this, but if there was, the Lions would have earned it for their work this season. The team was very bad and inconsistent on this side of the ball again, and perhaps the only bright spot was the play of Romeo Okwara, as well as a few others such as Amani Oruwariye and John Penisini. Otherwise, the Lions were in a bad spot on defense in terms of generating pressure and defending on the back end. The team’s big offseason moves did not pay off as hoped, and a major reboot is needed starting with this side of the ball. The Lions have a few pieces to work with including Jeff Okudah, but don’t underestimate how much of a reconstruction this could be for the team.
Lions’ Special Teams 2020 Grade
Quite possibly, the best thing about the 2020 Lions were the special teams. The Lions look to have developed one of the NFL’s next best punters in Jack Fox. Additionally, Matt Prater was still able to connect on long field goals most of the season, even if he was more erratic by his own high standards. Jamal Agnew had a nice season as a returner when healthy. Brayden Coombs was fired after making a huge coaching mistake late season, but it should not diminish the work he did in one single season with this group. The Lions are positioned well with Fox, and could consider bringing back Agnew and Prater to continue the fun into 2021 with a new staff. Special teams was hardly the problem, and they get graded as such. Perhaps the only ding was Prater’s lack of accuracy at times during the year.
Lions’ Coaching Staff 2020 Grade
There’s no other way to grade a staff that was unceremoniously broomed out of town other than failure. Matt Patricia didn’t get the job done, and none of his coordinators did either. Darrell Bevell made a case to stick around perhaps, but even still, the best choice figures to be a clean sweep of this failed era of Detroit football. The staff simply didn’t do the best job of preparing the Lions to win at all this season, and they eventually paid for it with their jobs. The Lions have to start over completely due largely to the struggles of their staff this season.