Detroit Lions Last Season’s Performance
The Detroit Lions 2021 with a 3-13-1 record, ending with the second-worst record in the NFL. However, the season did not feel like a failure. If anything, it felt more like a success.
New head coach Dan Campbell took over and became a fan favorite with his passion. After years of below-average results, having a coach who positively impacted the organization’s culture is something special. Along with the fact that the Lions had a great 2021 NFL Draft to get a head start on their rebuild.
After trading quarterback Matthew Stafford, the offense did take a dip, but with a solid offensive line and running back D’Andre Swift leading the way, there is some promise. Last season, the defense had to make do with a lot of low-level free agents and rookies, but despite some blowouts, it performed better than anticipated.
Detroit Lions Key Additions
They did not make much of a splash in free agency. The team spent most of its time retaining players from last season who found success and re-signing them.
The biggest free-agency signing came at wide receiver DJ Chark was a Pro Bowler in 2019 but has had injuries the last two seasons.
The draft is where the Lions added talentr. With the second overall pick, they selected Michigan native Aidan Hutchinson, arguably the best edge rusher in the draft. They traded up to select wide receiver Jameson Williams in the first round. Due to Williams tearing his ACL late last season, his draft value fell. If he was healthy, he could have easily been the first wide receiver drafted in a solid class.
Detroit Lions Key Subtraction
On offense, the only player to leave in free agency was KhaDarel Hodge, who 13 receptions all season.
The defensive side of the ball ended up losing more players, with linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and safety Dean Marlowe leaving. They did have an impact, starting a combined 20 games, and ended up in the top six of total tackles. Defensive end Trey Flowers was cut after not living up to the expensive contract that the previous coaching staff gave him. Defensive tackle Nick Williams, who started all 17 games last season, is on the older side and was allowed to walk to make room for younger players.
Detroit Lions Head Coach Analysis
It’s hard not to see Campbell’s first official head coaching job as a success. He did serve as an interim head coach in 2015 with the Miami Dolphins. The Lions still ended the season with one of the worst records in the NFL, but it sure didn’t feel that way.
In Campell’s opening press conference, he talked about, metaphorically, kicking the opposing teams in the teeth and biting their kneecaps, explaining the toughness he wanted his team to have. Last year the team embodied that mentality. That was clear early on as the Lions fell to 0-5 with two losses ongame-winning field goals. That start saw Campell give another inspiring press conference in which he cried when talking about how tough his players were playing, and how they deserved to win.
The message Campell was sharing with his team spoke to them as they played hard all season, even winning the final game, effectively losing the first overall pick in the draft. He has been the driving force of the culture change within the organization and looks to continue the change into 2022.
Detroit Lions Injured Players at the Beginning of the Season
Last season, the Lions had to deal with some injuries. On offense, most notably, star tight end T.J. Hockenson missed the last four games while leading rusher Swift battled injuries all season. On defense, 2020 third overall pick corner Jeff Okudah played in one game, and 2020 sack leader Romeo Okwara played four games. Okwara tore his Achilles last season and still is on the injury report heading into 2022.
Defensive backs Jerry Jacobs and C.J. Moore, who played a role in the team’s secondary last season, are injured ahead of the 2022 season, appearing on the PUP list. However, with more talent on the roster, both have slipped down the depth chart.
Two possible impactful rookies are listed as out at the moment. Williams is still recovering from his ACL injury, which happened late last season in the National Championship game. Second-round pick defensive end Josh Paschal had a sports hernia surgery in the offseason.
Detroit Lions Offense
One of the surprises of the 2021 season for the Lions was their offense. The line was impressive, led by the only Pro Bowler on the roster in Jonah Jackson. The group mauled people allowing the running game to be better than it has been the last few years. The team avenged 4.4 yards per carry, 11th-highest in the NFL with healthy Swift, it should continue to get better.
Quarterback Jared Goff is not known for having one of the best arms in the NFL, but he made it work last season. He finished the year with 16 touchdowns to 8 interceptions and 3,245 passing yards in 14 games. Rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown proved to be one of the best steals in the draft, finishing with 912 receiving yards and five touchdowns, leading the Lions in both categories.
With the additions of Chark and Williams at receiver, the Lions have some talent at the position. Unlike last season, when Swift was second on the team in receptions. With more offensive talent, Goff and the rest of the team could take a massive step forward.
Detroit Lions Defense
Like everything from the Lions team last year, the defense was a surprise. Sure they did allow some blowouts, allowing more than 40 points three times, but the rest of the games were solid. They held opponents to 20 or fewer points seven times, suitable for a defense built with rookies and low-cost free agents.
With Tracy Walker and Will Harris leading the team in tackles from the safety possession, look for them to keep trending upward. The secondary is getting a much-needed boost with Okudah returning from injury. The linebacker core did lose Reeves-Maybin, but Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes are both still on the team and seem set to start. Hutchinson is a massive upgrade for a team that had the third-fewest sacks. Okwara and Paschal will also help improve the Lions’ pass rush when healthy.
The defense last season showed how tough they were with less talent than others. The Lions retained most of their key players and added talent through the draft and players recovering from injury. Just like the offense, the defense should take another step forward.
Detroit Lions Special Teams
It took some time, but Riley Patterson closed out the last seven games after the Lions had three kickers through the first 10 weeks. He made 92.9% of his field goal attempts, attempting 13, and making all 16 of his extra points. He was a rookie last season and is set to be the starter in 2022.
Jack Fox was the punter and is set to be the starter again this season. Despite the team’s offensive output, they did not rank near the top of most punts. However, Fox did have the second-fewest punts downed within the 20-yard line.
Punt returner duties were handled by Kalif Raymond, while kickoff duties went to Godwin Igwebuike. Both had average return averages but no touchdowns. They are also still on the roster and will likely keep their spots in 2022.
Detroit Lions Prediction for the 2022 Season
Last season’s culture in the Lions organization seemingly changed. The wins and losses almost stayed the same. If anything, the loss of a quarterback of Stafford’s quality added a few more losses. However, last season the wins and losses did not hold as much value because the team got better every week and grinded all season.
This season the roster is much more improved, and players completely bought into what Campbell is doing. The Lions lost close games last year by not having the talent to hold on to late leads. This season, that may change.
The Lions will not shoot up the rankings and start playing for a Wild-Cardspot, with the talented teams above them in the NFC. Still, there will be tangible improvements, unlike last season when the team’s competitiveness was not displayed in the win and loss column. Pushing for five wins and third place in the NFC North is possible this year, which is a step up from recent seasons.
Detroit Lions Final Thoughts
Fans still need to remember that this team is still rebuilding. The team is headed in the right direction and won’t be good immediately, but the foundation has been laid.
The Lions may not wind up with a top-five pick next year, but they still need some star players who can add more talent to the franchise, especially at quarterback. Goff is a solid choice and did help the Los Angeles Rams get to the Super Bowl LII, but with so much quarterback talent coming out of the draft, maybe the Lions will look there for the future.
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Detroit Lions FAQs
Will the Detroit Lions be the worst team in the NFL?
In 2021 they had the second-worst record in the NFL but played in many close games. For the 2022 season, they have a better team and may be better than a lot of people expect.
Why can't the Detroit Lions put together a winning season?
A lot of the Lions’ terrible seasons are due to bad coaching and roster construction. The Lions have not put people in charge to build and coach the teams to success.
How many Super Bowls did the Detroit Lions win?
The Lions have never won a Super Bowl or appeared in the game. However, they did win four NFL Championships before the Super Bowl era..
Why have the Detroit Lions been so bad for so long?
A big reason for the Lions’ lack of success is that many of their draft picks have not panned out. For NFL teams to turn the tide from bad to good, they need to draft well, and the Lions have not been able to do that.