The Detroit Lions will be reporting to camp late next week. You know what that means, right? It means it means it’s time to go to the kitchen, grab yourself a nice pitcher, some sugar, maybe a wooden spoon and a couple packages of that sweet, sweet Kool-Aid. It’s time to get optimistic.
With things getting ready to go soon, we’re going to have some fun this week. We’ll be counting down the top five reasons to be optimistic about the Detroit Lions in 2022 and the top five reasons to be pessimistic . Let’s stay on the sweet side today. Here are five reasons to be optimistic.
This offense is pretty top put together on paper. There’s good reason to believe that it can be explosive in 2022 if everyone is healthy.
DJ Chark, Jameson Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown is a fun group of receivers. With the addition of Chark and Williams, the Lions finally have they key piece they were missing last year: guys who can take the top off of defenses and make things happen downfield. T.J. Hockenson can only benefit from more weapons being around him. James Mitchell is going to be a fun player to watch once he gets things rolling. The Lions have three running backs on the roster who are capable of making plays. Oh yeah, then there’s the offensive line that could wind up being one of the best in the league.
Jared Goff has his confidence back
The one big question mark with the offense is the man in charge of it, Jared Goff. But there are promising signs there that Goff could make the career turnaround he’s been seeking for the past couple seasons.
Lions quarterback coach Mark Brunell says Jared Goff’s confidence is at an all-time high, and his play during OTAs was the best he’s ever seen out of the 27-year-old quarterback.
“I think he’s in a great place right now,” Brunell said. “Just from last year to this year, he’s better at every aspect of his game as a professional. He’s killing it, he really is.”
If that’s true, that’s a big deal for the Lions. If the team can get a version of Goff that’s similar or better than his 2018 season, he could really make some things happen for the Lions in 2022.
It seems like confidence is big thing for Goff. His performance in early 2021 and in his final years with the Rams pointed to the idea that he had lost the confidence that he once had. Nobody really knows what the reason was for that was, but if I had to guess, I would say that Goff felt unwanted in Los Angeles and it hurt him. Now he feels at home and comfortable. I’m still not sure that we’ve seen Goff at his very best yet. I think we see that soon.
The coaching staff
The Lions keeping their group of coaches together is a big deal. They were certainly in danger of losing a couple of key pieces despite their 3-13-1 season, but the Lions managed to keep defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant on staff... for at least one more year.
That, along with Dan Campbell being a great leader, could pay some big time dividends. We saw many young players develop under this coaching staff in Year 1. What kind of progress can we expect in Year 2, which is commonly referred to as the biggest jump in a players’ career?
The only worry here is new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. This is his first OC gig ever, and only time will tell if he’s able to handle it. Even though there’s worry there, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Johnson’s coordinating debut. He was a big reason for Detroit’s offensive success toward the end of last year when he got an unofficial promotion to pass game coordinator, and players and coaches keep offering up wild, unprompted praise for the young coach.
The Lions went to work on their defensive line this offseason and that’s going to show in 2022. The additions of Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal coupled with the returns of Charles Harris and Romeo Okwara could propel the Lions edges into a group that really gets after the quarterback.
It’s not just those guys. Michael Brockers brings his veteran leadership to the group and that can’t be ignored. Hopefully he has a better year. Then there’s Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike. While their success was limited in their rookie seasons, Detroit geared their defensive strategy to a more aggressive playstyle with these players in mind, hoping to find a better fit for them. They’ve both been getting some good reviews this summer and could take some big leaps forward. This line could be a quarterback-sacking and run-stopping group that could propel the Lions the defense in 2022.
I’m going there. I’m going to be cheesy. I have seen a big change in Lions fans over the last year. It feels like the city that’s been starved for a winner for so long believes in the the direction of the team and is here for it. I think this leads to a sold out Ford Field this season. When the Lions are winning and things are going well, the fans make the stadium one of the loudest in the league.
Stuff like this matters. Loud crowds and support impacts the players. Wide spread optimism should lead to even more optimism.