This week, The Detroit News’ Justin Rogers put out an interesting piece that I’m sure will draw a lot of different reactions. His argument is that this Detroit Lions team is not only bad this year, but they’re extremely boring. And because of that, sadly there is nothing to really look forward to in these final four games of the season.
While the premise sounds like typical Lions bashing we’d hear from some other local writers more notorious for those kind of pieces, Rogers lays out a convincing case. The Lions’ biggest playmakers of years past—Matthew Stafford, Darius Slay and Glover Quin—are all underperforming this season, and while Detroit does have a pretty good rookie class, the players are either injured (Kerryon Johnson) or play positions that aren’t particularly exciting to watch (Frank Ragnow, Da’Shawn Hand).
That being said, I don’t necessarily agree with the overall conclusion. For fans, there are always storylines and interesting bits, even if you have to dig pretty deep to find them. So today’s Question of the Day is:
What are you looking forward to seeing in the Lions’ final four games?
My answer: I’m going to give you three.
First and foremost, I want to see continued defensive improvement. If there’s one positive thing we can take from November games, it’s that Detroit’s defense made some serious stride. Their run defense is not just better, it’s very good. They’ve held their last three opponents well below their average points per game, including a Rams team that was averaging over 35 points per game and had only 17 with nine minutes to go against Detroit.
The road ahead provides a valuable opportunity for the Lions defense to look even better. The Cardinals and Bills are the two lowest-scoring teams in the NFL. I’d love to see Detroit completely shut them down. We knew there would be an adjustment period to Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme. If the Lions can continue this trend of improved play through December, there should be a fair amount of optimism that this unit will being 2019 with a head start compared to this season.
Which brings me to my next point: Lions fans should be absolutely thrilled by the play of their interior defensive line right now. A’Shawn Robinson, Damon Harrison Sr. and Da’Shawn Hand provide a trio of really, really good players right now, and that bodes well for the future. I know defensive tackle play isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but these guys are playing at a to- five level together, and if you look close enough, they’re absolutely dominating—and that’s always fun to watch.
Finally, I’m looking forward to a bounceback performance from Matthew Stafford. There is no guarantee that actually happens, and the defenses down the stretch are not exactly easy, but with the increasing doubt surrounding the Lions’ franchise quarterback, I’d love to see the 30-year-old veteran start making some of those fourth-quarter throws that made him such a popular player in Detroit.