The Lions have brought in Matt Patricia from his comfortable position as N.E DC, they are looking to find a way back to the playoffs and to keep pace with the Packers and Vikings in the NFC North
Reasons to be cheerful?
1st rd draft choice Kerryon Johnson is primed to be the teams first 1000 yard rusher since Reggie Bush barely crossed the line to that milestone back in 2013 with 1006yards. In his 3 college seasons at Auburn Johnson racked up 2972 yards from scrimmage with 34 total scores. Expect him to lead the backfield and only occasionally cede goal-line carries to LeGuarette Blount (who is aiming to win 3 Super Bowls in 3 years with 3 different teams) Theo Riddick will continue to work on 3rd down passing situations and this is the best running back stable the lions have had in years.
The WR group is strong, The O-line and D-line are both better than average, outside of the NFC North they’d be a force…
Matt Patricia inherits a good Defense which under his guidance could really take a step forward and keep games from getting out of hand, forcing Stafford to throw for the wins late on. He’ll be looking to Darrius Slay to build on his career year (8 INts, 54 Tackles, 1 Fumble recovery) and for Safety Glover Quinn to continue to be a force once opponents break into the open field.
Reasons to be fearful?
That said, Patricia is in his first head coaching role so there are bound to be issues to overcome. Lets see how long it takes before the defense starts to play the way he wants, and more importantly how much he trusts Stafford to take those long shots downfield when the game is on the line. Patricia isn’t about big plays, hes a bend-don’t-break kind guy who, Like his former boss, likely players to do exactly as they’re asked and nothing more.
Luke Willson replacing Eric Ebron at TE. Im not sure how much of an upgrade this is. Willson was a clear no.2 TE in Seattle and as such is yet to show that he can deliver with regularity. Ebron was much maligned but did put up 575 yards and 4 TDs last season.
Lets wait and see how both of these changes work out.
How does the season shape up?
Minnesota and Green Bay look set to dominate this division again, so Patricia and co may need to keep building for the future. There will be some great wins and closes losses in an up and down year, Stafford still has Jones, Tate and Golloday to throw too so expect 30+ TDs there.
Playoffs? In with a shout until late in the year. You can change the coach but not the outcome-not for now at least. Expect a .500 year.