Detroit Lions: Offense and defense need to catch up to the special teams

SideLion Report

The Detroit Lions special teams have been very good this season. The offense and defense  need to catch up.

It was very refreshing when Detroit Lions principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp admitted in an interview with the Detroit Free Press that her team is going through a rebuild. The Ford family hasn’t wanted to admit as much in the past.

With a team low on talent and a long way from challenging for a playoff position, much less a division title or the Super Bowl, this rebuild isn’t exactly a secret. The willingness to avoid spinning it as “retooling” the way the Ford family has for decades is the type of self-awareness the Lions need at the top.

New general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell have rolled up their sleeves and started the thankless job of turning over the talent-poor roster that the previous regime of Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia left behind. The transformation won’t happen overnight, but with enough of the right moves the Lions may be a force to reckon with in a few years.

This team isn’t ready to challenge for anything beyond the first pick in next April’s draft right now, but it does have one exemplary unit that’s among the league’s best. While the offense and defense are struggling, the special teams are living up to their name.

Lions’ special teams have been…special

The early favorite for team MVP this year would have to be punter Jack Fox. You know it’s a bad season when the punter is a team’s best player. However, of all NFL punters that have had 10 or more attempts, Fox is second in the league with an average of 50.8 yards a boot.

As a testament to the punt coverage that Fox has enjoyed, he is first in the league with 45.4 net yards an attempt. Meanwhile, kicker Austin Seibert has made 10 of 11 field-goal attempts with a long of  52 yards.

In a season mired in the early stages of rebuilding, the special teams have easily been the Lions’ best unit. An onside kick recovery and two successful fake punts against the Rams in Week 7 highlighted that. The exemplary play of the special teams didn’t lead to the first win of the season, but it did give Detroit a chance.

There have been contenders who have had a great defense and an average offense. There have also been contenders who were explosive on offense and average on defense. There has never been a contender who was really good on special teams and below average on offense and defense.

The Lions will welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to Ford Field on Sunday. Hopefully, the offense and defense will be able to put together a good enough effort to give the Lions a chance to win a winnable game. Until the offense and defense get closer to the special teams’ level, wins will be hard to come by.

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