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Monday open thread: Will the 2023 Detroit Lions offense be better, worse, or the same as 2022?

The Detroit Lions offense was soaring high in 2022, but will they be able to match that level in 2023 despite some significant changes?

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions offense exploded onto the scene in 2022. From DVOA and PFF rankings (fifth and seventh, respectively) to traditional counting stats (third in total yards, fifth in points for), the Lions were among the upper echelon of the NFL. Yet with such an impressive showing, is there room for improvement—or regression—in 2023?

The Lions’ offense was always viewed as its strength entering 2022, but I don’t think many expected them to reach the highs they did. Jared Goff put together a career year, Jamaal Williams recorded a whopping 17 rushing touchdowns, Amon-Ra St. Brown topped 1,100 receiving yards, and the offensive line allowed a second-fewest 24 sacks. Even with injuries to D’Andre Swift and DJ Chark, the Lions offense lifted the anchor that was their defense.

Despite all that success, the Lions offense will look staggeringly different in 2023.

For one, the running back room has received a massive overhaul. Gone are Williams (free agency to the New Orleans Saints) and Swift (trade to the Philadelphia Eagles). In their stead are former NFC North rival David Montgomery and 12th overall pick Jahmyr Gibbs. Both players will look to replicate (and improve upon) the rushing attack that Detroit boasted last year.

The receiving corps saw some changes too. Chark departed in free agency to the Carolina Panthers, but 2023 was viewed as the breakout season for Jameson Williams. Unfortunately, Williams was suspended six games for a gambling-related infraction. That leaves St. Brown to again carry the pass catchers, with Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, and Marvin Jones Jr. to complement.

Another notable change is one that actually happened mid-season. The Lions traded away tight end T.J. Hockenson in November, a somewhat controversial move at the time due to the lack of obvious replacements. However, the ragtag group of Brock Wright, James Mitchell, and Shane Zylstra proved to be valuable contributors in their limited roles. For 2023, the Lions added Sam LaPorta with the 34th pick in the NFL Draft. While rookie tight ends typically start slow, LaPorta should be an exciting option on offense.

Thankfully for Detroit, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson returned for another season despite head coaching interest elsewhere. Johnson’s scheme, coupled with a healthy offensive line, should bode well for Goff to repeat his 2022 success.

However, repeating a top ten offense is easier said than done.

After a lengthy offseason, opposing teams have had time to review film and develop counter strategies. The onus is on Johnson to not only replicate his 2022 campaign, but innovate as well. The early results have been impressive from Johnson, so it seems likely that he has more up his sleeve. However, Johnson wouldn’t be the first playcaller to struggle as teams adapted.

The Lions also have to worry about regression, given that many players exceeded preseason expectations. Can Goff match his 2022 numbers, or will he revert to the quarterback that the Los Angeles Rams traded away? Can the offensive line maintain its dominance—and health? Will teams finally figure out St. Brown and lock him down? How will the supporting cast fare?

The Lions are shaping up to be a top offense, but they will need multiple phases to fire on all cylinders yet again. Was 2022 a fluke, or a sign of things to come?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Will the 2023 Detroit Lions offense be better, worse, or the same as 2022?

My answer: I think the offense will be on par.

That’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it speaks more to the teams ahead of them. The Kansas City Chiefs (first in offense DVOA), Buffalo Bills (third), and Cincinnati Bengals (fourth) each boast elite quarterbacks, while the San Francisco 49ers (second) have an elite offensive playcaller in Kyle Shanahan. While Goff has proven doubters like myself wrong, I still wouldn’t put him among the best of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Johnson has been successful thus far, but matching Shanahan is a lofty goal. Because of these, I think the Lions offense has a lower ceiling than those other teams.

However, I think the Lions have a high floor thanks to Johnson, an elite receiver in St. Brown, two capable running backs, and an impressive offensive line. While I’m not sure that the Lions offense will jump into the top three, I think they are a lock to finish as a top ten offense, barring significant injuries.

Your turn.

Poll

Will the 2023 Detroit Lions offense be better, worse, or the same as 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Better
    (721 votes)
  • 11%
    Worse
    (160 votes)
  • 37%
    Same
    (528 votes)
1409 votes total Vote Now

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.