Once again, the Lions coaching staff is on the hot seat. Matt Patricia hasn’t been able to take the defense to the height many expected he would upon his arrival. Detroit has a multitude of talented players but the coaching staff has failed the team overall. Two starters on the offensive line are now elsewhere and the team traded their star cornerback away for scraps. Patricia needs to prove that he can improve the defense and compete in a tough NFC North to keep his job.
Detroit is the first team in the next tier of our power rankings. These next few teams are long shots for the playoffs and are either on the rise or on the decline and seemingly in roster purgatory.
Make sure to check out all of our in-depth power rankings here.
- Overall – 76.025 (26th)
- Offense – 77.715 (24th)
- Defense – 74.45 (30th)
- Coach and Culture – 76 (26th)
- Home Field Advantage – 78.5, 22nd (4% Defense, 2% Overall)
Quarterbacks – 82, 11th (36% Offense, 27% Overall)
Matthew Stafford is one of the most underappreciated players in the league. He has consistently kept the Lions in games on his own. Last year, he started the season on fire before his injury. In eight games, Stafford had 2,500 yards, once again on pace for over 5,000 yards, 19 touchdowns, and five interceptions. In the four games the Lions lost with Stafford, they lost by an average of six points. He threw for three touchdowns in the loss against Kansas City early in the season as well as against Oakland, and four in the loss against Minnesota in week seven. Stafford is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and doesn’t get talked about enough.
Chase Daniel was brought in from the Bears and will take over the backup role. Daniel played in a few games last year, filling in for Mitchell Trubisky. At times, it looked like he was playing better than Trubisky, which isn’t saying much, but you can do a lot worse as a backup option. Daniel hasn’t had more than 76 attempts in a season but has shown that he can come in and help the team by using safe passes to his advantage. David Blough started five games last year, including his first start being on Thanksgiving against Chicago. While he did show some flashes in these games, he couldn’t take care of the ball, which was the reason Detroit opted for the safer Daniel as the backup option.
Running Backs – 77.5, 23rd (4% Offense, 3% Overall)
Detroit didn’t use Kerryon Johnson enough. There, now that that’s out of the way we can dive into the running backs on the roster. Johnson had over five yards per carry in 2018, adding 32 catches as well for over 850 scrimmage yards in his rookie year. He only played in eight games in 2019. In only five fewer carries from his rookie year, Johnson had over 200 rushing yards less than his rookie year and only had ten catches. Yes, he has had some injuries, but the coaching staff hasn’t used him correctly.
The Lions addressed the position in the second round of the draft when they selected D’Andre Swift. Personally, I saw this as an awful selection. Detroit has Johnson who they haven’t used correctly during his short career. Now they add a player with a similar skill set, instead of selecting someone at a position of need. Swift is coming off of a season where he had over 1,400 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns at Georgia.
Bo Scarbrough has spent time with a few teams but found a groove during the latter half of the year for Detroit. He had great games against the Redskins and Bears where he had over 80 yards and over four yards per carry in each game. Scarbrough will likely be the short-yardage and goal-line back for Detroit this year. Ty Johnson couldn’t take over and took a backseat to Scarbrough last year when injuries riddled the backfield. He had 87 touches for 382 scrimmage yards and was surprisingly active in the receiving game, catching 24 passes on 31 targets.
Pass Catchers – 80.5, T-17th (17% Offense, 8% Overall)
Kenny Golladay is transforming into one of the better receivers in the league. He caught 65 passes for 1,190 yards and 11 touches while playing half the year with terrible quarterback play due to Stafford’s injury. With Stafford healthy this year, Golladay could take another step forward into becoming one of the league’s elite receivers. Marvin Jones is the most underrated receiver in the league. Jones continues to produce and doesn’t get talked about as one of the best number two receivers in the league. In 13 games, he caught 62 passes for 779 yards and nine touchdowns, including a four-touchdown game against Minnesota in week seven (while he was on my bench in fantasy football, nonetheless). Golladay, Jones, and a healthy Stafford is bad news for the rest of the NFC North.
Danny Amendola will start in the slot again this year after a 62 catch season where he totaled 678 yards and a touchdown. Quintez Cephus was drafted in the fifth round and could take over for Amendola in the slot after this year. Both Travis Fulgham and Geronimo Allison are coming off seasons where they couldn’t find the field, Fulgham in his second year in Detroit and Allison coming over from Green Bay’s lackluster receiving core. Marvin Hall is the deep threat of the group, as he only caught seven passes, but totaled 261 yards; over 37 yards per reception.
T.J. Hockenson exploded onto the scene in week one last year but couldn’t keep it going throughout the season. Hockenson will need to produce on a week-to-week basis to become a threat in the receiving game. Jesse James totaled 27 receptions last year but should take the backseat to Hockenson this year. Isaac Nauta is a blocking tight end who will help make holes for Johnson and Swift.
Offensive Line – 71.5, 26th (24% Offense, 12% Overall)
The right side of the offensive line will have two new starters as Graham Glasgow and Ricky Wagner departed in free agency. Halapoulivaati Vaitai was brought in to take over as the right tackle. However, he was severely overpaid as someone who was seen as a swing tackle at best in Philadelphia. The right guard spot is a major question mark. Oday Aboushi has started 34 games in his career but will be battling with fellow veteran Kenny Wiggins as well as rookies Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg for the starting role. Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow are the only sure starters on the offensive line this year who I feel confident in at left tackle and center. Joe Dahl will likely start at left guard as he has shown some development in recent years.
Tyrell Crosby is the swing tackle in this scheme and who I would personally start over Vaitai at right tackle but Vaitai was handed a load of cash though so that probably won’t happen. Wiggins and Joshua Garnett offer some depth on the interior and could tutor Stenberg and Jackson in the meantime before they get the opportunity to start. Beau Benzschawel is an intriguing option on the interior if injuries plague Detroit once again this year.
Run Defense – 75.5, 27th (6% Defense, 2% Overall)
Detroit finished 21st in run defense last year but lost A’Shawn Robinson and haven’t re-signed Damon Harrison. Danny Shelton was brought in from New England to be the run defending nose tackle. John Atkins will likely line up opposite of him while Olive Sagapolu will be the depth at defensive tackle. Trey Flowers is in that defensive end mold that is more of a run defender but will get you around six or seven sacks a year as well.
Jarrad Davis finally showed some of the potential that made him a first-round draft pick, but it took the team taking Jahlani Tavai in the second round last year. Jamie Collins was also added from New England to reunite with Patricia.
Pass Rush – 72, 28th (21% Defense, 10% Overall)
Flowers and Collins will line up as the two top pass rushers as they each had seven sacks last year. Shelton, Tavai, and Davis combined for seven sacks last year and hope to add to the pass rush that was severely lacking last year. Romeo Okwara and Julian Okwara team up again as edge rushers. Both are raw prospects that don’t really have much production as pass rushers and are more run defenders. The pass rush really has the two top options and then a bunch of bodies after that.
Linebackers – 72, 29th (15% Defense, 4% Overall)
Davis finally showed up last year, but it might’ve been a year too late as the Lions drafted Tavai high in the draft last year. Reggie Ragland joins Detroit after spending time in Kansas City and offers some athletic ability the team doesn’t have at the position with Devon Kennard‘s departure.
Secondary – 78, T-21st (26% Defense, 17% Overall)
Detroit was in a difficult position with the Darius Slay predicament. It didn’t take long for the Lions to replace him as they drafted Jeffrey Okudah with the third selection in the draft. Before the draft, Detroit also added Desmond Trufant and already had Justin Coleman in the slot. The three are uber-talented but it is unknown how the trio will do with the lack of practice time this offseason. Amani Oruwariye had a solid rookie season and will likely find snaps in nickel and dime formations. Darryl Roberts was added to provide some veteran leadership in the secondary as well. Jamal Agnew and Mike Ford will likely round out the final cornerback spots with former Cowboy, Michael Jackson fighting for a roster spot any way possible.
Will Harris and Tracy Walker seemed to be a viable safety tandem, but Patricia decided to trade for another former Patriot in Duron Harmon. Jayron Kearse was also added during the offseason and has starting experience from his time in Minnesota. Miles Killebrew also showed some strides last year. It will be difficult for Detroit to get all of the talented secondary players on the field unless they play one as a dime linebacker or have three safeties on the field at a time.
Coach and Culture – 76, 26th (19% Offense, 28% Defense, 15% Overall)
Detroit ranked 17th in offense last year with Stafford and plenty of others missing games due to injuries. The offensive line has gotten worse and Darrell Bevell is trying to make the offense more of a run-oriented offense behind Swift and Johnson. Stafford is in the role that Russell Wilson was during his time with Bevell in Seattle where the offensive line is abysmal and will be running for his life. The offense ranks 26th in coach and culture.
The Lions ranked 26th in defense last year but lost their number one cornerback, as well as three interior defensive linemen, and still lack pass rush depth. Patricia needs to show that all the additions he made on defense this offseason can turn the defense around or he’ll be out the door, perhaps before the end of the season. Detroit ranks 30th in coach and culture.
The Lions have a ton of pieces on offense, and a few intriguing prospects on defense. Stafford has been given the short end of the stick during his time in Detroit with a lack of weapons, run game, and an offensive line. This could potentially be the last chance Stafford has of making a playoff run, but the team is still lacking talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Detroit is a difficult team to play but will get overpowered by explosive offenses.
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