The Detroit Lions believe tight end T.J. Hockenson has a higher ceiling

The new Detroit Lions coaching staff is working around the clock to watch film and get to know and understand the players on the Lions roster. New offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, really likes what he sees in tight end T. J. Hockenson. So much so that Lynn in preparing an expanded role for a player who took a big step forward this past season.

This past season tight end T. J. Hockenson had  had 67 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns last season in route to his first Pro Bowl game. Anthony Lynn believes Hockenson is just scratching the surface of his potential.

DETROIT, MI – JANUARY 03: T.J. Hockenson #88 of the Detroit Lions makes the second quarter reception and is tackled by Harrison Smith #22 of the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on January 3, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Anthony Lynn said it was nice that Hockenson made the Pro Bowl but that he and the rest of the Detroit Lions coaching staff believes that Hockenson can be even better and plans to expand the Detroit offense in order to bring that out in the gifted young receiving target.

The new-look Detroit Lions offense will be very tight end friendly. Don’t believe me? Try this on for size, last season while as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers tight ends were targeted 93 times.

Lynn likes a high-level tight end on the roster because of what it can mean for the rest of the offense. Both in the passing game, downfield blocking and run blocking. To have a player as gifted as T. J. Hockenson it means that linebackers and safeties have to play a cleaner game. No cheating the line of scrimmage.

When the Detroit Lions drafted Hockenson in the first round out of Iowa in 2019 many thought he was the most NFL ready tight end in the draft. Hockenson struggled his rookie year and then took off this past season.

GLENDALE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 08: A detailed view of a Detroit Lions helmet during the NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the Arizona Cardinals on September 8, 2019 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

New Lions starting quarterback Jared Goff has a history of targeting tight ends. During his time as starting quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams Goff threw 316 passes to tight ends in his career, including 194 of them over the past two seasons this would seems to indicate a lot of usage for Hockenson in the near future.

For the rebuild Detroit Lions, they will lean heavily on the likes of running back D’Andre Swift and T. J. Hockenson to create miss matches.


D’Andre Swift gives the Detroit Lions a building block at running back

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell knows and has acknowledged the team is undergoing a massive rebuild. Yes there are current players who could and should make it out of the rebuild still with the franchise. Offensive Tackle, Taylor Decker, Tight End, TJ Hockenson,  Center, Frank Ragnow, and a few others should all be Detroit Lions after the rebuild. So should running back D’Andre Swift, who gives the Lions a legitimate threat running the ball.

Ever since Barry Sanders retired from the NFL in 1999, the Detroit Lions have been a graveyard for running backs. Enter D’Andre Swift who was selected by the Lions in the second round of last years NFL Draft.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – NOVEMBER 15: D’Andre Swift #32 of the Detroit Lions reacts following a first down in the fourth quarter during their game against the Washington Football Team at Ford Field on November 15, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

D’Andre Swift is blessed with serious speed and playmaking ability. As a rookie Swift had 511 yards, while he accounted for 878 yards overall and scored 10 touchdowns, Swift also averaged 4.6 yards per carry for the season.

Swift gives Lions head coach Dan Campbell and new Offensive Coordinator Anthony Lynn a player who looks ready for a bigger role next season. Dan Campbell has made it clear he likes a run-first offense. A running back like Swift gives him an immediate impact player at the position his offense is said to revolve around.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 17: Head coach Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers looks on during the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on December 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

While he was an offensive coordinator before being head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, Anthony Lynn also preferred a run first offense. When Lynn called the offensive shots for the Buffalo Bills he used the run 55% of the time to 45% pass. Lynn did not call offensive plays has a head coach.

With the aforementioned Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow along with the Detroit Lions best and most consistent linemen Jonah Jackson who was a rookie last season as well, the Detroit Lions offensive line is in good shape going forward.

D’Andre Swift in a run-first offense has the ability to become a break-out player for the Lions as soon as next season. Even during a rebuild. The Lions will need to find another running back to help manage Swift’s workload.

But going forward the Lions are in pretty good shape at running back.

Was new Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff’s growth stunted in Los Angeles

Just two years ago, quarterback Jared Goff looked like he may join the list of NFL elite players. Goff had lead the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl and he looked like he was capable of doing it again. Then the wheels fell off and Goff started to regress. So was the regression player, coach or system driven? Let’s look at the facts.

During his playing days with the Rams Jared Goff had one noticeable issue, hesitation. That is part on the player and part on the Rams coaching staff starting with head coach Sean McVay. McVay’s system is designed to mask flaws. The Rams did a good job at hiding Goff’s deficiency but did him and the Rams organization no favors by not addressing it and helping him overcome it.

Traded Saturday night with two first round draft picks and a third round draft pick to the Detroit Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford, Goff has at least one person in his corner who believes in him. Lions General Manage Brad Holmes.

Holmes who served as Director of College Scouting for the Rams was one guy who was adamant in 2016 for Los Angeles to trade up and draft Jared Goff with the first pick in the draft. The Rams did. Brad Holmes knows what Goff can be as a passer.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 07: Head coach Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers leaves the field after a loss to the Oakland Raiders at RingCentral Coliseum on November 07, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The focus now shifts to the Detroit Lions new coaching staff lead by head coach Dan Campbell to get Goff back on track. More precisely the task of helping a 26 year old quarterback out of hesitation into letting it rip downfield falls on two coach’s.

New Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, and 19 year NFL veteran and new Lions quarterback coach Mark Brunell are now in the spotlight for getting Goff back to his Super Bowl form. This will be interesting both for the Lions and Goff. If Goff and the Detroit coaching staff get things ironed out then it would buy the Lions time and they would not need to draft a quarterback until after the core players have been drafted.

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 27: Former Jacksonville Jaguar Mark Brunell watches the action during the game against the New York Jets at TIAA Bank Field on October 27, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

If they can not figure things out then Goff could be moved and the Lions would have to draft a quarterback. This will be a focal point of the Lions for at least the next two seasons.


Catching up on a busy week for the Detroit Lions

When Sheila Ford Hamp took over as owner of the Detroit Lions, she vowed things would be different. That she was committed to putting a winner on the field. Lions fans have heard this song and dance before. Then suddenly fans were silenced as Ford Hamp began to show by example. The outcome has Detroit Lions fans excited for the first time in a very long time.

Since naming Brad Holmes General Manager and Dan Campbell  head coach, that proved to be the starting point for a total Lions front office and coaching overhaul. Dan Campbell named Aaron Glenn defensive coordinator. Glenn had been the secondary coach of the New Orleans Saints and his hire was praised around the league.

KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 29: Head coach Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers looks on from the sideline against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Next Campbell hired former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn as offensive coordinator. So it seems Campbell is surrounding himself with very good coach’s who have experience and can help him as a first time head coach.

In what be the best moves the Detroit Lions have made in recent memory, Los Angeles Rams director of player personnel Ray Agnew has been brought in as assistant general manager. Agnew and Holmes worked together while with the Rams and ran the entire scouting department.

Although the official statement is due by mid-week this week, the Detroit Lions are bringing in a heavyweight. John Dorsey is expected to be named Senior Personnel Executive.

The Kansas City Chiefs were first to hire John Dorsey as their general manager, where he stayed for four years, and put together a Super Bowl winning roster, then Dorsey moved on to the Cleveland Browns, who made him their GM for two years.

BALTIMORE, MD – DECEMBER 30, 2018: General manager John Dorsey of the Cleveland Browns on the field prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens on December 30, 2018 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore won 26-24. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Dorsey is credited with identifying and drafting talented players who were overlooked by other organizations. With the Detroit Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford agreeing to part ways the Lions will need to draft a quarterback and will lean heavily into Dorsey’s draft hit history rate to identify the right player.

Wow! The Detroit Lions are actually starting to assemble very solid and proven personnel both in the front office and on the sidelines. Make no mistake, this will be a couple years rebuild. But with the right people in place the Lions are setting the franchise up for long-term success.