Are the Detroit Lions showing signs of life?

I stepped away from writing posts on this site because of how depressing it was to watch two children (Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn) run an already disaster organization further into the ground. My last post visited my thoughts on the Detroit Lions and I expressed that Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn should be fired immediately. It took a little over a month, but my wishes were finally granted. I could talk about how terrible the two were, but I would be repeating what you already know and feel. Let’s talk about Brad Holmes, Dan Campbell, moves they have made, and what I think about their draft selections.

Player-Friendly Staff

Dan Campbell, Head Coach

28 takeaways from new Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell's introductory  press conference
(WDIV)

Moving completely away from a ‘hard-nosed’ and ‘Patriot way’ clown, the Lions hired Dan Campbell as their head coach. As a former tight-end in the NFL (also played for Detroit), he does have experience being a head coach with his time as the interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins, along with his time recently in New Orleans as Sean Payton’s assistant. Lots of fans were really interested in former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, but I’m sure that almost everyone has come around on this guy. Dan Campbell understands Detroit and wants to be here. He has passion for not only the game, but our city. His press conferences are must-see TV, as every sentence he says could be a headline in the paper. Sure, he hasn’t coached a game for the Detroit Lions yet, but I am sipping the Kool-Aid because of Coach Campbell’s energy.

Brad Holmes, General Manager

Detroit Lions' GM hunt was over after Brad Holmes interview – The Athletic
The Atlantic

Since 2016, the only picks that were key players for the Detroit Lions are Taylor Decker (’16, 1st round), Kenny Golladay (’17, 3rd round), Frank Ragnow (’18, 1st round), and TJ Hockenson (’19, 1st round). Other than that, you have picks like Jarrad Davis, Teez Tabor, Kerryon Johnson, Jahlani Tavai, and A’Shawn Robinson as guys that Quinn selected that have been complete busts for Detroit (Leaving out the 2020 draft because they deserve to play for an actual coach before I write them off). Now let’s talk about Brad Holmes.

Coming over from the Los Angeles Rams, Brad Holmes was their director of collegiate scouting. He has some responsibility with selections like Cooper Kupp, John Johnson, Troy Reeder, Gerald Everett, and Jordan Fuller (all non-first round selections). Since 2016, the Rams have not had a first round pick (where the selected Jared Goff), and have not had a losing record, along with an appearance to the Super Bowl in 2018. People who have worked with Brad Holmes had nothing but great things to say about him, which I was unable to find anyone saying things about Bob Quinn. The only thing I found was Bill Belichick saying that Bob Quinn did a “solid” job in New England. Brad Holmes is hopefully the opposite of Bob Quinn, in that he drafts with a brain. I don’t want him to feel like he is the smartest guy in the room (like taking Tavai in the 2nd round). After watching his first draft closely, I get a sense that he knows what he is doing, and I am able to drink the Kool-Aid for this hire as well.

Coordinators and Assistants

Leading the offense for the Lions is Anthony Lynn, former head-coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. Before that, he worked with the Jets, Cowboys, Jaguars, Browns, Broncos, and Bills as primarily their running backs coach. With the amount of 1,000 yard rushers that he has worked with, I am excited to see how DeAndre Swift will run in his offense. His assistants include Mark Brunell (QB Coach), Duce Staley (RB Coach), and Antwaan Randle El (WR Coach). All former players in the NFL that most fans are familiar with.

Defensively, Aaron Glenn comes to Detroit as their defensive coordinator. Another former player, Glenn was hired from New Orleans, where he served as their defensive backs coach. This should excite fans because of the players that he coached in New Orleans, which include Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams, and Janoris Jenkins. With Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye, and Tracy Walker, it will be interesting to see how improved our defense will look next year with a new scheme.

Offseason

The biggest trade was the Stafford deal, where the Lions received Jared Goff, a 2021 3rd round pick, a 2022 1st, and a 2023 1st. Though Stafford is an huge upgrade, one of those 1sts have to be for the Lions taking on Jared Goff’s insane contract. Regardless, the Lions are on the hook to pay Goff until there is an out after the 2022 season. Most people believe that the Lions will draft a QB next season after they have an expected down year.

Another deal that most people do not know is the trade for DT Michael Brockers from the Rams. Though the Lions did draft two DT in rounds 2 and 3 of the draft, Brockers will be both a leader in the locker room and will allow for our two rookies to learn and develop under him.

With Stafford leaving, we also watched Kenny Golladay sign to the New York Giants and Marvin Jones sign to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Justin Coleman, Desmond Trufant, Duron Harmon, and Danny Shelton are also no longer with the Detroit Lions. Most notably also is Matt Prater. The starting lineup for the Detroit Lions in 2021 will be very different than last year’s, and it will not be better talent wise.

On offense, the Lions added WR’s Breshad Perriman, Germino Allison, Tyrell Williams, RB Jamaal Williams, and most likely TE Darren Fells (deal not done as of 5/5/2021). On the flip side, the Lions acquired a few depth pieces on defense but did not make any real splashes in free agency. This is expected with a new regime that is probably trying to get our cap situation under control. I would expect that the following couple years result in a couple of paydays for major talent.

Draft

I will go into a deeper dive on the picks individually in a separate post. However, I do want to say that I like what Detroit did in the draft. Sure, I would want to see Waddle, Smith, Parsons, or Fields in a Lions jersey because they would be the ‘sexy’ pick, rather than the ‘right’ pick in my mind. Sewell in the first is a blessing that not many fans will realize but soon will in a Quinton Nelson-esque way after he becomes a star. Building a top offensive line will allow Detroit to give Jared Goff a true chance, or draft a QB next year and not have a Joe Burrow situation where he is not protected. This pick was great long-term for the Lions, which is what they need.

The Detroit Lions took DT Levi Onwuzurike in the second round, and both DT Alim McNeil and CB Ifeatu Melifonwu in the third round. With Dan Campbell announcing that Detroit will be mostly in a 3 man front, this allows for a constant rotation of Brockers, Penisini, and the two rookies which will keep the defensive front fresh. Melifonwu’s tackling ability may allow him to see some time on the field as a nickel corner, which would help replace Justin Coleman’s role.

In the fourth round, Detroit selected Amon-Ra St. Brown, who also could see significant time due to the lack of talent that the current WR’s have shown. With all three of Detroit’s top targets gone (Amendola, Golladay, and Jones), I would expect to see St. Brown used in several sets on offense. The pick following Amon-Ra was LB Derrick Barnes, who is the type of player you would expect to catch Dan Campbell’s eye, a hard-nosed, pedal-to-the-metal type player. Barnes will most likely be primarily a special teams guy, until he develops into rotational EDGE/LB for the Lions.

With their last pick, the Lions selected RB Jermar Jefferson. I was surprised to see him last this long because I figured a team that was interested in a burner-type running back would grab him earlier, but Detroit was able to select him in the 7th. What this tells me is that they are moving on from Adrian Peterson, and probably Kerryon Johnson. Draft capital is important, but I think either Jefferson will return kicks for Detroit or serve as their RB3 behind Jamaal Williams.

Expectations

Less talent, better coaching. That is what I am thinking. A quick look at the schedule, I would say that the Lions are a 3-5 win team. Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Denver are all POSSIBLE wins. The problem is that I would like for Detroit to be in the 1-3 range in next year’s draft to take Sam Howell or Spencer Rattler. Surely there will be a Joe Burrow/Zach Wilson type riser in next year’s class, but the Lions will take a QB next year. A three win season will end with the Lions taking a top QB and also using the other first to grab a WR or LB will also be in play. This season will be interesting for the Lions, but I would recommend to fans that if they expect to win, then not to watch. This is a full rebuild that will take 2-3 seasons, but I do believe that this organization has taken the correct steps in beginning the process.

Be sure to follow the page and comment below on your thoughts. The more interaction, the more I am motivated to push out content for people to call me an idiot for. Thanks for reading.