Guess what, Detroit Lions fans? We're about 114 days away from week one when the Lions head to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. First the Lions must go through organized team activities (OTAs), training camp and lastly fake football. Then it's on like Donkey Kong.
We've already discussed how the Lions' offense could be really good in theory and the areas that the Lions have progressed in. Now that the rain has cleared up and the rainbow is gone, it's time to start talking about some concerns to have going into OTAs and training camp. Sadly, there are more than a couple. I've narrowed it down to five to be exact. Let's jump right into it with a position that's been on the minds of many.
Going into the offseason it was pretty clear that the Lions two biggest needs were offensive line and safety. There was no chance that the Lions would bring back James Ihedigbo. This left a glaring hole at the position. However, Bob Quinn and the Lions neglected to get a player that can contribute starting caliber play on day one of the season. Rafael Bush is likely the Lions' starting safety and that is an issue. Tavon Wilson is slated to be a special teamer and Miles Killebrew could wind up being a project that could take a couple years to be ready. The Lions have to hope that one of these guys turn out to be better than advertised. Otherwise there could be some trouble in the secondary.
At this very moment, the Lions have two starting caliber defensive ends. Ansah is one of the very best in the league and Devin Taylor seems to get better every year. From there, it's Brandon Copeland and Wallace Gilberry. The latter of which gives the Lions some cause for optimism at the position. The lack of depth is a major concern. If the Lions were to lose Ansah for an extended period of time, it could kill their ability to get to the quarterback.
The Lions must hope that rookie Anthony Zettel is ready to move over to the end spot quick enough to flex in and out and give the Lions an extra hand. Perhaps they could also hope that Kyle Van Noy can step up and rush off the edge like the Lions hoped he could after he was drafted. But more than anything, the Lions must hope for health all year long.
This is another question of depth. The Lions have plenty of it at this position with Brandon Pettigrew, Tim Wright and Matthew Mulligan. It's not a question of depth in terms of having enough players. It's a question of depth in terms of not having great depth. Despite Brandon Pettigrew's blocking ability, which hasn't been up to snuff as of late, there isn't much the Lions can get out of him. Tim Wright is a great weapon to have in the red zone. But outside of that, he struggles with blocking and he's not much of threat anywhere else on the field. Admittedly, I don't know who Matthew Mulligan even is. Ebron should continue to improve and have a decent season, but the Lions clearly need one of these other guys to step up big to even things out for the tight end position. Tim Wright represents the best option for that.
Same story, different season. Don't get me wrong. I like the Lions' receiving options in 2016. Matthew Stafford will have plenty of options to throw to. But as usual, the Lions have depth questions as soon as you hit that third wide receiver spot on the depth chart. Jeremy Kerley can give you a really nice option if he can return to the form he once had in New York. Andre Caldwell and TJ Jones are both a coin toss and Corey Fuller has worn out his welcome in Detroit. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see him excused from the team during the preseason. Once again it's a worry of what if one of your top receivers get's injured? Do you really want to put so much on the hope that Kerley can rebound?
By far the scariest what if of them all: What if Matthew Stafford were to get hurt? Quite frankly put, the season would be over. The Lions can't afford to lose Stafford for even one or two games. Dan Orlovsky is the biggest head scratching move of the entire offseason. Forget about the safety in Minnesota back in 2008, that's not the point here. He's just not a good quarterback. At this point, Jake Rudock's ceiling is possibly overtaking Orlovsky as the Lions' number two quarterback. But that's just not going to happen this year. Sorry Wolverine fans. Don't be surprised if the Lions are looking for another quarterback next offseason. I wouldn't be shocked to see an extra QB come in for camp this year as well.
Hopefully these are things the Lions can fix soon if they have hopes of returning to the playoffs in 2016. What do you think, Lions fans? What did I leave off? What shouldn't be on here? Leave your comments below or come yell at me on Twitter at @POD_Payton.