Half of the season is all but over for the Lions. Since it's the bye week (and since it's been awhile), I decided to go over what I think are the biggest takeaways from the Lions first eight games of the 2023 season.
As usual, these are just my opinions. Let's get into the five biggest takeaways from the Lions games we've seen thus far.
While vastly improved, flaws still remain on defense.
A lot of sacks usually means a victory. Through eight games, the Lions have 21 sacks. On pace for around 43 sacks on the season, its a small improvement from last year's finishing total of 39. However, given the expected development, it's a bit of a letdown from this perspective. Add in that 18 of those sacks came in three total games, and there's some serious cause for consistency concern.
There's always a game or two where the defense seems to vanish (see Seattle, Baltimore,) and you have to wonder if it's so difficult to make any mid-game adjustments. Will they always be prone to random games of complete disaster?
Believe it or not, Detroit has had only two one-score games.... both came back to back in weeks 1 and 2.
How will this team react when under pressure once again?
Rookie class impressing
Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta, and Brian Branch have all played pivotal roles on the team this season. Jack Campbell and Colby Sorsdal have also played parts to help, albeit smaller roles or at a less-impressive level.
LaPorta has been a top-five tight end in the entire league this season, Gibbs has broken out in Montgomery's absence, and Branch was a top DROTY candidate prior to his injury that sidelined him for multiple games.
While Campbell has struggled consistently, it can be argued he hasn't been used in a way that he specialized in while at Iowa. Brodric Martin was drafted in the 3rd round out of Western Kentucky after the Lions traded three picks to move up to select him. He played his first 11 snaps against Las Vegas last monday while being a healthy scratch every game prior. Wideout Antoine Greene has faded into the depth of the wide receiver room.
The point is this; a lot of players are impressing immediately. Let's see if it keeps up.
Is it finally our time?
Despite the Vikings being 5-4, there is little doubt whatsoever; this is the Lions time to finally take the NFC North and make a run in the postseason. Sporting a strong offense and improved defense, the Lions are in a rare opportunity to make noise in the playoffs.
With limited playoff experience and a young roster, the odds will be stacked against them should they make it that far. So, let's take it one step at a time; win the division to make it into the playoffs. Time will tell if this is finally time for the Lions to roar.
Holmes is afraid of pushing chips onto the table... for better or worse?
The public outcry from the fans was fairly straightforward at the deadlline; Make a move to bolster the defense.
‘Get Chase Young. Get Montez Sweat. Get Jaylon Johnson. Bribe Denver with a dump truck of picks to get Patrick Surtain.'
What happened at the deadline?
Brad grabbed a reserve wideout to help a problem that the team didn't quite have yet. From one angle, it's not good news. The defense has holes, specifically at EDGE and cornerback. For a team that's 6-2 and second in the NFC, why not shore up a weakness or two?
On the other hand though, considering Holmes' usually conservative philosophy, going after a piece that could be here long term for a modestly-low price makes a good deal of sense. Maybe it's not about the move he made, but rather the moves he didn't make. Will it cost them?
The offense will be the deciding factor to how successful this team will become.
More accurately... Jared Goff will be the deciding factor. Here's a question to consider that I don't think many people have thought of before;
What do David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, and Sam LaPorta have in common with one another?
Well, for one, they're the top weapons for Goff. But, that's not what I'm looking for with this question. The players I picked out are Goff's weapons, but most players on the team share this trait with them; a lack of experience in the playoffs.
This is one of the prime reasons Goff was brought here; familiarity in the playoffs. While he didn't win a championship, he brings more playoff experience than nearly anyone on the Lions roster.
Should Detroit make it to the postseason, QB1 will decide how far they go.
Hope you enjoyed this piece, thank you for reading. What's your biggest takeaway from the first half of the season? Let me know.