Headed to the playoffs? The Detroit Lions push forward

No matter if the Detroit Lions are on target or arriving a year early in the organizations rebuild, the 2022-’23 Lions have shown fight and the team is on the cusp of being a pretty good football team. As for the playoffs, a couple key things have to go right one in a stadium the Lions rarely play well, the other is hoping another team can knock off the team currently in the final playoff spot.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – AUGUST 20: A Detroit Lions helmet is seen on the sidelines during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 20, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions head to a place that has been nothing short of a house of horrors for the team on Sunday, Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. Of course a possible playoff spot would hang in the balance an Lambeau. Yet, this is a golden opportunity for the Lions to end the SOL (same old Lions) once and for all.

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has stated this is the new Lions, players have echoed the coach. Even if the Lions fall on Sunday, the team has taken a big step forward and show the promise of being a very good, competitive team as soon as next season.

A win against the Packers alone will not get Detroit into the NFL Playoffs. The team needs the Los Angeles Rams to beat the Seattle Seahawks to get in. Ironically enough, the Lions hold the Rams first round draft pick which is set to be #6 overall and could be higher, if Seattle beats the Rams.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – JANUARY 01: An Inspire Change logo is seen on the field prior to the game between the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 01, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

For the young Detroit Lions no matter the outcome, this season has been one that the future foundation will hang on. Starting the season 1-6 to then get red hot was a great turnaround. The fact that the Lions are even close to being a possible playoff team is testament to the work GM Brad Holmes, has done.


The 2022 Detroit Lions are changing the narrative

As improbable as it may be the Detroit Lions are in the playoff hunt. No really. After starting the season 1-6 the team has won 6 out of their last 7 games and now stand at 7-7 on the season. Sunday afternoon in New York to play the Jets, the Lions were held in check by a stingy Jets defense most of the day, until it counted most.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – DECEMBER 18: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions throws the ball during the second half a New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 18, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Lions QB- Jared Goff who had been lights out the past two weeks had a bit of a let-down game. Yet, when the game was on the line Goff delivered the knockout punch against a solid Jets defense. On 4th and 1, Goff hit TE- Brock Wright on a 51 yard touchdown with 1:49 left in regulation.

The Lions sealed the victory when Jets kicker Greg Zuerlein missed a 58 yard field goal that would have tied the game. For the first time in a long time the Lions were on the right side of special teams. It is the second win the Lions have had in New York city this season. The first came against the Giants.

Not the “Same old Lions,” for years the Lions would have lost a game like today’s. The Lions found a way to come away with the victory despite not playing their best game. That is not a slight on the Jets who are in the playoff chase in the AFC. It shows how far the Lions have come this season.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – DECEMBER 18: Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets is sacked by James Houston #59 of the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 18, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions defense while flawed has found a way to come up with turnovers, sacks and been able to get off the field on third downs. This has been a pleasant turnaround as the defense struggled during the 1-6 start.

Surely you’ve heard the phrase “Good teams find a way.” The rebuilding Detroit Lions are growing into a good team this season. Sunday afternoon on the road in New York the Lions found a way. Proving once again this team is going to be really good very soon.

In the midst of a rebuild the Detroit Lions are playing a big game today

When Brad Holmes took over as GM of the Detroit Lions, both Holmes and Lions Principal Owner, Sheila Ford Hamp said the team was going to rebuild from the ground up. That rebuilds take time, but in order to set future winning up, the rebuild was necessary. Not even two years into a massive rebuild the 5-7 Detroit Lions host the 10-2 Minnesota Vikings today at Ford Field. The 5-7 Lions are favored to win.

ALLEN PARK, MICHIGAN – MAY 27: Principal Owner and Chairman Sheila Ford Hamp watches the afternoon practice session with Head Coach Dan Campbell and General Manager Brad Holmes and President Rod Woods on May 27, 2021 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Every fan base of a team the has rebuilt or is rebuilding, looks for a sign that things are trending in the right direction. Rebuilds do take time. How much time is largely dependent on the GM, scouts and head coach. When Brad Holmes took over the Detroit Lions, Holmes took an axe to previous GM Bob Quinn’s roster.

The Lions won just 3 games last season, Holmes has had two very good drafts which is laying the foundation for what is taking place today. with two more wins and still more games to be played the Lions are in the mix for a playoff spot.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 04: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field on December 04, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Jared Goff who was viewed by, well everyone as a bridge quarterback seems to have found a home in Detroit where Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell view him as “THE GUY.” Goff’s numbers back leaderships view of him. 3022- yds passing, 19- td’s 7-ints show why Goff has been to two Pro Bowls and taken the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl.

Still football like every sport is a team game. The Lions defense which struggled mightily to find it’s footing, has done just that the past 4 games. The team has found a pass rush, the secondary has played better and the linebackers are getting to the ball much better.

Still this is not even two years into a big rebuild and the Detroit Lions are favored over a team that has 10 wins and is the division leader. This should excite fans, it should be a warning to the rest of the NFC, the Detroit Lions are coming. They may or may not make the playoffs this season. But they are coming, sooner than later.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Rams, the Detroit Lions look to have a top 5 draft pick

The Detroit Lions are in a bit of an odd position. The rebuild Lions currently sit at 4-7 on the season. The record does not show the improvement the team has made, on field play development does. The Los Angeles Rams, last years Super Bowl Champions were supposed to be in the mix for another trip to the big game, instead inconsistent play and major injuries have lead to a 3-8 record. This is good news for the Lions.

DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 24: Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) and Detroit Lions linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez (44) look on while waiting for play to resume after a timeout during a regular season NFL football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day on November 24, 2022 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

During last years offseason the Detroit Lions traded longtime starting quarterback Matthew Stafford to the L.A. Rams, the Lions received a 2022 and 2023 first round draft pick, a 2021 third round draft pick and Rams quarterback Jared Goff. The Lions used their first pick #2 overall to draft Aiden Hutchinson and traded up to draft Alabama WR- Jameson Williams.

This season for the Rams, WR- Cooper Kupp had surgery and is out another 3-weeks. All world defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been ruled out for the Rams game this weekend. Matthew Stafford,  left tackle Joesph Noteboom and safety Jordan Fuller are all on injured reserve ending their seasons.

The free falling Rams would currently be draft at #4 overall if they had the draft pick. Instead the improving Detroit Lions hold that #4 pick as well as the #14 overall pick if the season ended today.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAR 01: Brad Holmes, general manager of the Detroit Lions speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

In other words, Lions GM- Brad Holmes has set the Lions up very well. It seems likely the Lions will draft a QB with that top 5- draft pick. The team can cut Jared Goff without salary cap penalty in the offseason. There also could be a trade market for Goff with QB needy teams who are picking lower in the draft.

Nobody could see the Rams fall coming. They are put together well. This could be the classic Super Bowl hangover, at least the Rams hope it is. For the Detroit Lions, they will take it. As noted the teams young players have taken big steps in development.

Rebuilds take time, this rebuild is one Detroit Lions can can get behind.

The Detroit Lions are trending in the right direction, here’s why

The Detroit Lions who lost a Thanksgiving Day tilt against the Buffalo Bills 28-25 are trending in the right direction. That may seem odd to hear coming on the heals of a loss, but it is true. Before Thanksgiving Day the Lions had won three games in a row and looked very good in doing so. So how after a loss are they on the up and up? Let’s dive in.

PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 28: Jaylen Warren #30 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball in front of James Houston #59 of the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium on August 28, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Rookie, LB- Malcolm Rodriguez and LB- James Houston have played very well. Rodriguez has seen his playing time increase and has performed at a consistent level most of the season. While fellow rookie LB- James Houston who was elevate from the practice squad, started his first game vs the Bills and had 2-solo tackles and 2-quarterback sacks.

Yet, two players do not allow a team to trend in the right direction there have been others. Second year WR- Amon-Ra St. Brown continues to shine, as does many of GM’s Brad Holmes first two draft classes. The Lions are laying a foundation for success. That success now seems as if it is not all that far away.

The Detroit Lions have a bunch (9) draft picks in next springs NFL Draft. They have over $80 million in cap space. NFL rebuild can be quick if the GM is on his (or hopefully soon hers) game. Holmes has shown he has what it takes to build a solid football team.

The Lions still need help. Linebacker still needs some attention, quarterback, tight end, secondary. Again with 9 draft pick early, the team can address a couple of these areas and help push the team along.

On a side note and not player related, the coaching staff must do a better job with clock management. More than once poor clock management has cost the Lions. That will hopefully improve the more games are played.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – NOVEMBER 24: Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 of the Detroit Lions reacts against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Ford Field on November 24, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Fans should be excited for the future of the Detroit Lions. The foundation is solid, soon it will be time to add to that foundation which can do nothing but solidify the foundation.


For the first time in 5 years the Detroit Lions have won 3 in a row

A few weeks ago the Detroit Lions fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant. Speaking about the firing, Lions head coach Dan Campbell said “I just want to see us all on the same page, If we’re going to get beat, it’s because we’re—maybe we’re getting outrun or we’re not quite in-phase, but at least we’re kinda there. We gotta cut our mentals (mistakes) in half.” Winners of 3 in row, it looks like Campbell was right.

I am not a fan of pinning struggles on one individual. Yet, there is no mistaking the Detroit Lions have played much better since Pleasant was dismissed. Again, the secondary struggles were not entirely on the coach.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – NOVEMBER 20: Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 of the Detroit Lions carries the ball against the New York Giants during the first half at MetLife Stadium on November 20, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

For the first time since November 2017, the Lions have won 3 in a row. This is really big for an organization that has been rebuilding. After beating the Chicago Bears last week in Chicago, Campbell said it is important for the Lions to start to string some wins together. He is dead right. There needs to be signs that the rebuild is trending in the right direction.

Sunday afternoon the Lions again on the road in New York, the Lions took on the 7-2 Giants. The Lions played their best game of the season beating the Giants 31-18. It was a complete game by the Lions.

The Detroit defense held the NFL’s rushing leader Saquon Barkley to 22 yards on 15 carries. Rookie Aiden Hutchinson, continued to show why the team selected #2 overall in the NFL Draft. The 6′ 7″ Hutchinson came up huge for the Lions with 6:09 left in the second quarter, Hutchinson intercepted Giants QB Daniel Jones. The Lions used it to propel to victory.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – NOVEMBER 20: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions congratulates Jamaal Williams #30 of the Detroit Lions after a touchdown against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 20, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The young Detroit Lions are heading in the right direction. Players are taking steps in their development and starting to get the results on the field. The Lions take on the Buffalo Bills Thanksgiving Day.

The Detroit Lions are setup for success in the very near future

Success is not a word often associated with the Detroit Lions. Through the years and decades the Lions have had limited runs of success not consistent or prolonged for sure, this time however, it feels different. GM Brad Holmes has drafted very well in the two NFL Drafts he has lorded over. The Detroit Lions roster is not built to win many games this season, the team currently sits at 2-6 on the season. When the offseason rolls around, all bets are off.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – NOVEMBER 06: Kerby Joseph #31 of the Detroit Lions intercepts a pass intended for Robert Tonyan #85 of the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field on November 06, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

Armed with seven draft picks including two-first round picks, The Lions are set to bring in another solid draft class and perhaps a franchise quarterback. The Lions young offensive playmakers and solid offensive line would be ideal for a young QB.

The Lions defense has been a bit of a mess, but the unit has started to play better as of late. Rookie safety Kirby Joseph has stood out and was named Defensive Player of the Week last week for his two-interception 10-total tackle performance against the Green Bay Packers.

As stated, Brad Holmes has done a very good draft, no real surprise there given the GM spearheaded the Los Angeles Rams draft and helped put a Super Bowl Championship team on the field in L.A. Last week in a move that surprised some Holmes traded TE T.J. Hockenson to the division rival Minnesota Vikings for more draft picks.

By trading Hockenson, Holmes freed up more money and the Lions now have $80 million in salary cap room. In other words, Brad Holmes is going shopping during the offseason. Free agents will be brought while as the young core is gaining experience playing games.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 01: Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on March 1, 2022, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

So to recap, Brad Holmes drafts very well, with seven draft picks and an outstanding quarterback class, Holmes can draft his franchise QB. $80 million in cap space, suggests that Holmes will address needs at safety, cornerback linebacker nudging the Lions closer to contention.

What Holmes has asked Lions fans to do with saying it publicly is to sit through one more bad season. His moves have set the Lions up for prolonged success.

For the 2022 Detroit Lions the defense will tell the story

In Motown, the offense has the weapons to be a very solid group. The issue that could very well hold the Detroit Lions back is the defense. I will be the first to say when GM Brad Holmes took over, the Lions roster was in shambles. Two drafts is simply not enough to fix the many issues. During training camp it is easy to see which group has improved and which group is still very much a work in progress.

The Detroit Lions actually look like they have a pass rush! Having largely been absent in recent years. The addition of Aidan Hutchinson and the improvement of Alim McNeill and others this camp have been a welcomed sight. When not getting to the quarterback the Lions defensive line has been in the backfield causing trouble.

ALLEN PARK, MI – AUGUST 08: Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph (31) participates in pass coverage drills during the Detroit Lions Training Camp afternoon practice session on August 8, 2022 at the the Detroit Lions Training Facility in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The secondary has performed so-so but look like they could round out to be a nice group. I’d like to talk about safety Kerby Joseph for just a moment. Drafted in the third round this year, Joseph has looked very good. While he has misread a couple plays his speed allowed him time to recover. But the ball just finds Joseph, he is a player to watch for sure.

Other than rookie Malcom Rodriguez, the Detroit Lions linebackers have been a bit of a train wreck. This unit is serious cause for concern. Rodriguez (drafted in the 6th round) has outperformed veterans by a long way. He hits his gaps, reads the run very well and drops back in pass coverage. The other linebackers struggle to do what a 6th round draft pick is doing.

WESTFIELD, INDIANA – AUGUST 18: Aidan Hutchinson #97 of the Detroit Lions warms up during the joint practice with the Indianapolis Colts at Grand Park on August 18, 2022 in Westfield, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions will score this year, as I said the offense is loaded. The team will have more sacks than they have at any time in recent seasons. But the linebackers could cause a lot of heartache if they can not pick it up.

As I mentioned, Brad Holmes took over a really bad roster and he is still working on building his roster. He has a done a masterful job at adding talent, but two drafts is just not enough time.

Let me know your thoughts on the Detroit Lions defense. Drop a comment and air it all out.

The Detroit Lions are hoping less is more for Amon-Ra St. Brown

90 catches, 900 yards, 5 touchdowns averaging 10.13 yards per catch, not bad for a rookie wide receiver drafted in the 4th round. Amon-Ra St. Brown did not burst onto the scene. St. Brown went out week by week and got better and better as the season moved along. So what will the second year WR do for an encore? The Detroit Lions hope he does less that will equate to more. Confused? Let’s see if we can clear that up a bit.

DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 17: Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) makes a fingertip catch for a first down during the game between the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday October 17, 2021 at Ford Field in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Last season the Detroit Lions were decimated by injuries. Amon-Ran St. Brown was drafted as a slot receiver out of USC. Because of injuries, Brown was forced to play as the WR1. In other words, the top dog of the wide receivers.

Low and behold, not only did St. Brown fill in admirably but he became quarterback Jared Goff’s go to receiver, as a rookie. Now entering his second NFL season the Lions wide receiver room is solid. Free agent signee DJ Chark, week 11 pick up Josh Reynolds, first round draft pick Jamison Williams and others give the Lions offense more weapons.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, has been tasked by the Detroit Lions coaching staff to work on getting more yards after catch (YAC.) St. Brown has taken the request to heart. In training camp it does not matter how long the pass is, St. Brown is running all the way to the end zone.

With the improved receiver’s, St. Brown’s catches  are certain to come down. 90 is a lot for any wide receiver, yet if St. Brown does improve in YAC, his yards should not drop all that much. This is the thought process anyway.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 05: Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 of the Detroit Lions makes a catch and runs for the first down during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on December 05, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Provided the Lions wide receivers do not have another rash of injuries, St. Brown can stay at the slot position where he is more dangerous. With speedy receivers on the outside that should open the middle of the field for St. Brown when his number is called.

So in this case less = more (if St. Brown improves in the YAC) this will help the Lions offense and the unit should see a marked improvement.

Drop a comment and let me know your thoughts on Amon-Ra St. Brown.

As the Detroit Lions training camp is starting soon, here is what I’m looking for

The Detroit Lions 2022 training camp is fast approaching (July 30.) With a roster full of young players training camp will be under the microscope of the public eye. Once again, I need to stress this is a rebuild, so do not think for one moment the Lions are going to go from 3 wins to the playoffs. Also, much like last season wins/losses do not matter, at least to the degree fans believe they do. So what could or would constitute as a successful season? That’s a loaded question, let’s take a look.

I am going to drive home the fact that the Detroit Lions need to stay healthy first and foremost. Last season the team had a rash of injuries that crippled units from being more consistent. The injuries ended seasons for several players. Usually a team can survive a player who is out 1-3 weeks, but the whole season was a bit much.

Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell (58) defends against Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (65) during the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, October 17, 2021. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Penei Sewell, who can play both tackle spots is a beast. He is one of the players I expect to take a massive step forward after a stellar rookie season. The Detroit Lions ran the ball for an average of 5.1 yards between the right tackle and right guard last season.

D’Andre Swift, the young running back needs to stay healthy. Swift is one of the best running backs in the NFL when he is on the field. A good run game is a blessing to any quarterback. The Lions have a top 5 ranked offensive line, and when all are healthy can give Swift the room he needs to roam free.

Derrick Barnes, he played better as the season moved along. The Lions linebackers to me are the biggest question mark heading into training camp. This is a group the simply put, needs to improve across the board. Rookie Malcom Rodriguez is a player I am going to focus on. He received a lot of praise from teammates and coaches during rookie camp.

The Lions wide receiver room is in much better shape heading into camp this year than it was a year ago. This group looks like they can be solid. Last season fourth round draft pick Amon-Ra St. Brown took the league by storm. Brown a slot receiver was forced to play WR1 due to injury and did a very good job. Now with DJ Chark and first round draft pick Jameson Williams (at some point, he is recovering from injury.) The receivers look solid.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – NOVEMBER 21: D’Andre Swift #32 of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball against the Cleveland Browns in the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The focus on the 2022 season for the Detroit Lions is and should be player development. This is a young team with a bright future, but that future is not yet and that’s okay.

What are you looking for as the Detroit Lions start training camp? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know.