Open thread: Are the Lions better or worse than last season?

Pride of Detroit

With rookie mini-camp completed, we are slowly starting to see the squad the Detroit Lions have put together. The coming weeks will be crucial for setting expectations and building a sense of excitement in general. For fans, one question will always be at the forefront of their minds: how good is this team?

Many changes have been made between seasons, but the elephant in the room is the departure of Matthew Stafford. Few can deny the positive impact he has had on the franchise, and he gives the Los Angeles Rams a true deep-threat aerial attack. The Lions, meanwhile, are sticking with Jared Goff with hopes for a career revitalization. Whether he plays into the rebuild on the short-term or the long-term is up for debate, and likely won’t be answered until well into the season.

The wide receiver group underwent a massive reshuffle as well. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola were the top three options for the Lions in recent years, and their departures leave serious questions about the pass-catching group. Can the likes of Tyrell Williams or Breshad Perriman succeed as top options, or can a rookie like Amon-Ra St. Brown vault up the depth chart?

After a historically bad defense in 2020, there was no surprise to see a facelift on that side of the ball. Gone is Matt Patricia, the defensive mastermind head coach that couldn’t put together even an average unit. With how abundant the coaching struggles were, how good some of these players can be is a mystery. Can the likes of Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye, and Tracy Walker find some success under a new staff? Elsewhere on defense, the interior line got an upgrade with Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill, and the linebackers got some speed with Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes. Was Patricia’s scheme the true weakness? Time will tell.

With so many changes, from coaching staff to players, the 2021 Lions are shaping up to be an enigma.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Are the Lions better or worse than last season?

My answer: I think they are a better team than in 2020, but I don’t expect their record to show it. The Lions have an extremely tough schedule and wins could be sparse. Even with an extended 17-game schedule, they might be hard-pressed to exceed the five wins from 2020.

However, I think there are plenty of positives for the franchise moving forward. Many will agree that the offense has taken a step back, and I won’t deny that. Players like Stafford and Golladay are difficult to replace, and the Lions might not have those pieces in place yet. I am more so encouraged by the changes on defense, and after witnessing this team get blown out on a weekly basis, being able to put together a competent defense is an exciting prospect. The emphasis on speed is a good change in my mind. I hope a new scheme will work wonders for the defense, although I do acknowledge that the players need to show improvement too.

The 2020 team was so heavily weighed down by coaching, from a restrictive offense that loved feeding the aged Adrian Peterson over D’Andre Swift to a defense that loved big, slow-moving players. Not only does the atmosphere in the locker room seem much improved, but there is a sense that the coaching staff is well in tuned with the strengths of the team and the tendencies across the league.

Whether everything comes together, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Your turn.

Poll

Are the Lions better or worse than last season?

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