There was a distinct shift in national perception of the Detroit Lions at the end of the 2021 season. After a rough start to their organizational rebuild, coach Dan Campbell had his team motivated and competitive over the final month and a half of the season, and writers took notice.
This offseason was widely considered a successful next step in the rebuild and an exciting showing on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” has created a positive buzz both locally and across the NFL. As the Lions stack accomplishments, their national perception continues to shift into a more pleasant light and that is reflected in the Week 1 power rankings.
Let’s take a closer look at what the national media had to say about the Lions as they enter the 2022 season.
MMQB: 23 (Previous: 24)
From MMQB staff ($ubscription required):
“Dan Campbell’s try-hard Lions, the darlings of Hard Knocks, have a chance to be one of the league’s feel-good stories this season.”
Sporting News: 23 (Previous: 24)
“The Lions aren’t just looking better because of starring in ‘Hard Knocks’ and feeling Dan Campbell’s old-school motivation. Their offense has no issue with blocking and weapons around Jared Goff and there should be natural better return on defense with Aidan Hutchinson now leading the charge.”
Pro Football Focus: 24 (Previous: Not available)
“The rebuild project in Detroit still doesn’t have its quarterback of the future, but the rest of the roster is coming together very nicely, and Jared Goff has shown the capacity to be a better-than-average quarterback in the right environment. The Lions are still relying on the development and growth of young players that they added a year ago, but if things go as planned, Detroit could make more noise this season than people expect.”
Yahoo Sports: 24 (Previous: 25)
“The Lions gave us a good ‘Hard Knocks’ show. What is clear already is Aidan Hutchinson, the second overall pick of the draft, has a chance to be really good. This should be a fun season in Detroit.”
NFL.com: 25 (Previous: 27)
“How could you not root for ‘Rodrigo’? It’s not uncommon in the history of Hard Knocks to see a camp underdog find his way onto the final 53-man roster as a deep reserve. It is uncommon to watch that kind of NFL Films underdog win a starting job outright. That appears to be a real possibility for Malcolm Rodriguez, the Oklahoma State linebacker whose gone from sixth-round afterthought to regular practice reps with Detroit’s first-team defense. If Dan Campbell were to invent a Grit Machine, it would be Rodriguez — nicknamed ‘Rodrigo’ by his coach — who would emerge from the fog of the laboratory; a high-motor, all-effort tackling machine who lives for the fight. The Lions will need big contributions in unexpected places to contend for a playoff spot — Rodrigo could be one of those guys.”
The Ringer: 26 (Previous: N/A)
“Dan Campbell has something all losing teams search for desperately in their rebuilding efforts: buy-in. Veteran Running back Jamaal Williams crying with passion in training camp is an extension of the same want-to and competitive mindset that had the team go 10-7 against the spread in 2021. The raw talent on the roster, however, is still limiting and will ultimately prevent the team from unleashing the hell they want to until long-term solutions are found at quarterback.”
ESPN: 26 (Previous: 26)
“The season will be a success if ... Detroit can win at least seven games.
“The team, which finished 3-13-1 last season, is still in the midst of a rebuild, but the front office has upgraded the roster through free agency and the draft this offseason. Given the improvements, the Lions should at least double their win total. Lions fans might have higher expectations, but a truly successful campaign would be hitting that benchmark and improving Detroit’s standing in the NFC North.”
The Athletic: 27 (Previous: N/A)
“The good news: Both lines of scrimmage look to be in good shape, which might take a team with the fifth-easiest schedule far enough to be a surprise contender.
“The bad news: Jared Goff seems like a nice, well-adjusted dude, but he’s still the quarterback.”
CBS Sports: 27 (Previous: 28)
“Dan Campbell has this team heading in the right direction. They will beat some good teams this year, but watch out in 2023.”