The Detroit Lions are 1-3, and fans are starting to get understandably restless. This was a team that was trending up toward the end of last season, and expectations were that they were going to be better than a three-win team. But a quarter of the way through the season, Detroit is trending towards having a pretty similar record.
Most of the anger has been directed at defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who is sporting the worst defense by most statistical measures. However, some fans are starting to point the finger in general manager Brad Holmes’ direction for leaving Glenn’s cupboard relatively bare.
Let’s take a moment to look at the positives and negatives of Holmes’ tenure.
On the positive side, look no further than the offense. Despite all of the insane amount of injuries on that side of the ball, Detroit still holds the highest-scoring offense in the league. While offensive coordinator Ben Johnson certainly deserves a hefty amount of credit, Holmes has also done a good job building serious depth everywhere on offense. He transformed the receiver room in a single offseason, helped build a strong offensive line with playable depth, and running back Jamaal Williams has been one of his better scores in free agency.
In the draft, he’s also done something we haven’t seen in quite some time in Detroit: hit on Day 3 picks. Fourth-round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown is on the verge of superstardom, while sixth-rounder Malcolm Rodriguez looks like he could be a solid starter for years to come.
But for as good as things have been on offense, the defensive additions have been a bit of a disaster. Holmes went defense heavy in his first draft, but Levi Onwuzurike, Ifeatu Melifonwu and Derrick Barnes are getting somewhere between zero playing time and just a handful of defensive snaps per week. Josh Paschal has yet to make his NFL debut due to a lingering injury from college, and even Holmes’ “hits” in Aidan Hutchinson and Alim McNeill have underwhelmed in terms of expectations. Plainly put, outside of Rodriguez, Holmes has failed to add a single playmaker on defense thus far. (Obviously, it’s still early in some of the draft picks’ careers.)
Detroit’s kicking situation also remains a mess, although injuries certainly haven’t helped. But that brings us to one of Holmes’ biggest issues: taking chances on injured players.
We’ll see how Jameson Williams works out—there have been no setbacks from expectations there yet. But we’re now staring down the very real possibility that Levi Onwuzurike has played his last game as a Lion. Josh Paschal’s injury cost him all of training camp and likely the first two months of the season. Tight end James Mitchell still isn’t up to speed from his torn ACL last September.
If the Lions were taking a chance on just a few of these players, it would be fine. But these injuries are not just causing Detroit a chance at immediate contributors, but it’s robbing these players of valuable time and opportunities to develop.
To be fair, Holmes has also just been extremely unlucky with some injuries. Romeo Okwara, Frank Ragnow, and Tracy Walker all suffered serious injuries just after Holmes gave them extensions. Jeff Okudah lost his entire sophomore season with a torn Achilles. Many of these injuries have set back the Lions—specifically their defense—to no fault of Holmes.
But there have also been some questionable decisions along the way. Michael Brockers’ addition may have added valuable leadership in the locker room, but it has produced next to nothing on the field. Alex Anzalone is another good character guy, but the linebacking corps needs a talent upgrade. Is Detroit putting too much emphasis on character and not enough on actual talent?
Detroit is also trying to figure out just about every position in the secondary after the Lions waited too long to invest in it both in the draft and free agency.
In all, it’s fair to call Holmes’ first 1.5 years a mixed bag. But let’s hear what you have to say about it.
Here’s how Holmes’ approval rating has changed since he was hired.
March 2021 (pre-free agency): 97 percent approval
May 2021 (post-draft): 98 percent
September 2021 (post-cuts): 90 percent
October 2021: 87 percent
November 2021: 79 percent
December 2021: 97 percent
January 2022: 97 percent
March 2022 (pre-free agency): 96 percent
May 2022 (post-draft): 99 percent
September 2022: 95 percent
Now it’s time for you to vote on whether you approve of the job he’s been doing.
Do you approve of the job Brad Holmes is doing as Lions general manager?
This poll is closed