Friday, August 13, 2010

2010 Preview: Detroit Lions

2009 Record: 2-14

2009 Rankings:
Total Offense - 26
Run Offense - 24
Pass Offense - 21
Scoring Offense - 27
Total Defense - 32
Run Defense - 25
Pass Defense - 32
Scoring Defense - 32

To call Detroit's 2009 season a "resounding success" might be a bit of an over-statement. But in the eyes of the blue-and-silver faithful, it just might have been. Consider this: since the end of the Matt Millen era, the Lions have drafted 8 players (6 from the 2009 draft) that will probably be opening day starters this season. They followed up the worst season in NFL history by winning two games, and now with Matthew Stafford firmly entrenched at quarterback, he will have the opportunity to built rapport with his receivers. Calvin Johnson is an absolute monster on the outside, and Jahvid Best, unlike former Cal backs that got drafted by cold-weather teams) will benefit from playing 10 games a year in a dome. The Lions made a concerted effort this offseason to add playmakers to a team devoid of them, especially on defense.

The Lions finished last in the league in several important categories: Interceptions thrown, Turnovers, Scoring Defense, Total Defense, Pass Defense, and Passing Touchdowns Allowed. To address this, their secondary, with the exception of last year's 2nd round pick Louis Delmas, is entirely revamped. They brought in a slew of defensive backs, because really, they can't go anywhere but up. They drafted under-rated CB Amari Spievey (Iowa) who showed good cover skills in college. Depending on how the other corners play, Spievey could be their nickel back to start the season and be a starter by the end of the season.

Detroit doesn't have a lot of depth at linebacker, and they are going to hope that the aging Julian Peterson and 2009 7th round pick Zack Follett can stay healthy and be marginally productive at the OLB position. The Lions biggest weakness will still be in pass defense, but their revamped front 4 could help that by applying consistent pressure on opposing QBs. Everyone knows about #2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh (DT-Nebraska) and what he brings to the field and the Lions defense. With him as an anchor and the combination of Sammie Lee Hill and Corey Williams at the other tackle, the Lions might not actually get gouged up the middle like they have in the past. On the outside, coach Jim Schwartz went out and personally recruited DE Kyle Vanden Bosch in free agency. The other DE spot will be a camp battle between last year's two top sack men: 2nd year player Cliff Avril (5.5 sacks) and Jason Hunter (5 sacks).

The Lions are still far from being a championship-caliber team, but they have the young building blocks in place to move things forward. Think of them like the Pittsburgh Pirates. Over the last few years, they have acquired a lot of young talent and are building a solid core of players. Their fans are desperately hoping for a winning season sometime soon, but the depth just isn't there quite yet. The Lions will be more competitive this year, but probably won't give .500 a run, but if they have another solid draft like they have had in the 2 years of the Schwartz era, they might just make a run at the playoffs a few years down the line.

If you want some good insight on what's going on up in the place where the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, check out our buddy Ty's blog: The Lions in Winter.

Ian's Prediction: 4-12

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