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Mailbag: Which Detroit Lions player will break out in the 2nd half of the season?

The Detroit Lions have had strong second halves to their seasons under Dan Campbell, thanks to performances of young players. Who takes that jump in 2023?

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Through two years of the Dan Campbell era, the Detroit Lions have been known for their strong finishes to the regular season. After a 0-10-1 start in 2021, the Lions finished the season 3-3. The following year, the Lions capped a 1-6 start with an 8-2 finish.

Much of the credit for those turnarounds involves the team’s young players and their rapid development thanks to a strong Lions coaching staff. In 2021, it was Amon-Ra St. Brown really coming on. Last year, it was the likes of James Houston, Kerby Joseph, and Aidan Hutchinson taking their game to the next level.

The Lions won’t need a midseason turnaround this year. They’re already 6-2 and in the driver’s seat in the NFC North. But they also still have a ton of young talent getting a ton of playing time. Heck, the Lions started five rookies against the Raiders (Jahmyr Gibbs, Jack Campbell, Sam LaPorta, Brian Branch, and Colby Sorsdal). So it’s fair to wonder if the Lions are going to get even better down the stretch here as their young players continue to develop.

This week, Erik Schlitt and I answered a bunch of questions from you all, and one of them was exactly on this issue: Which young Lions player will break out in the second half of the season? Here’s a portion of each of our answers—the entire discussion starts around the 37:45 mark.

Jeremy: “I think my answer is Jack Campbell because I feel like Jack Campbell’s been a little quiet in his first half of the season. Part of it is they’re trying to find a way to get him on the field. Part of it was Derrick Barnes was balling out. Part of it was he was making some rookie mistakes, especially in that Baltimore game. I think he is going to settle in, and he’s going to start making some plays. We haven’t seen him make a phenomenal, stellar play really since Week 1 when he made that amazing pass breakup in zone coverage.”

Erik: “The come-out-of-nowhere guy would be Brodric Martin because we haven’t expected much out of him and he has that potential. He could bet he come-out-of-nowhere guy, but I think the guy that—even though he’s on our radar—could all of a sudden pop off is (Jameson Williams) Jamo. If Jamo all of a sudden decides he can start catching everything that comes in his radius, look out. He’s gonna take off. I know we haven’t seen it yet, but we have seen those 40-yard bombs to him. You start putting more of those on tape, and he can make a big impact in that way.”

Check out the entire episode on the podcast below. Here’s a guide to what else we talked about:

  • (2:15) — What is the ideal playoff matchup? What are the nightmare matchups?
  • (8:00) — Is it time to start worrying about Halapoulivaati Vaitai? Is Graham Glasgow now a starter even when Vaitai is healthy?
  • (13:00) — How will the Lions balance Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery? Who should get more carries?
  • (20:10) — Will Montgomery fix the Lions’ red zone issues?
  • (21:45) — What’s with the Trevor Nowaske signing?
  • (29:00) — Which player returning from injury will be the most key to get back?
  • (32:20) — How special was Ford Field on Monday night?
  • (40:35) — Are you worried about Dan Campbell’s game management, particularly timeout usage?
  • (44:20) — Lions didn’t add a corner at the trade deadline: Is that trust in the guys they’ve got, an indication that C.J. Gardner-Johnson is coming back, or something else?
  • (48:50) — What are the chances Donovan Peoples-Jones sticks around for 2024?

You can also watch replays of the show (with bonus content!) on YouTube or Twitch.

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