Though we still suspect there will be a signing or two around the corner, the Detroit Lions are mostly done acquiring players this offseason. They started with a modest, but active, free agency period that saw Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn completely overturn the linebacking and tight end corps, while adding nice little pieces in DeShawn Shead and Sylvester Williams.
Then in the draft a couple weeks ago, the Lions turned their focus more to the offense and made a few aggressive plays to fix the offensive line and running game. The addition of Frank Ragnow in the first was unexpected but understandable, but their bold move up in the second to grab running back Kerryon Johnson really carried all of the headlines.
What grade do you give the Detroit Lions’ offseason?
My answer: B-.
Bob Quinn was faced with a lot of tough decisions and put in a lot of no-win situations. Two of his first moves in cutting Eric Ebron and giving Ezekiel Ansah the franchise tag were choices that didn’t have a clear “right” answer.
But that’s not really the reason for the overall grade I gave them. For as hard as the team attacked the running game in the draft, I thought they should have put more resources into fixing their front seven on defense.
While it’s undoubtedly important the Detroit runs the ball better than they did in the Jim Caldwell era, it should never be the identity of this offense. This is still a pass-first team, and they’ve still had a lot of success offensively with a marginalized running game.
Detroit’s play on the defensive side, however, has struggled immensely since Ndamukong Suh left town, and that’s no coincidence. The Lions’ defensive line has both failed to generate pressure and clog lanes in the running game. As a result, the Lions have ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in scoring defense in two of the past three season.
I understand that the Lions may not have had the resources to fix that aspect of their defense. Free agency rarely provides an opportunity to grab a premier pass rusher, and this year’s draft class of edge defenders was pretty shallow. Still, we saw the Lions get aggressive to get the running back they wanted. Surely, they could have made a hard play to get a top-tier defensive lineman, too.
Overall, though, I do think this team is better, and certainly more in the mold of what Matt Patricia wants of this team. It’s hard not to be really excited about where the offense is, and if Patricia can make the defense more than the sum of its parts (like he often did in New England), Detroit could be pretty darn competitive in Patricia’s first year as head coach.
What grade do you give the Lions’ offseason?
This poll is closed