The Den | Lions Offense Preview (S2)

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  1. JerseyBorn


    May 17, 2016
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    Detroit Lions Offense Preview

    This is a Lions offense that had an abysmal campaign last year. They finished 32nd in the NFL in total offense. Part of that was because Stafford missed a good chunk of the season but the team didn't do a good job of picking up the slack in his absence. The run game didn't much of anything and Golden Tate was injured so the options at WR behind Marvin Jones were rookie Kenny Golladay and T.J Jones who isn't even with the team this year. With that being said, let's see where the Lions stand at each position heading into this year's preseason.

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    There isn't any doubt in Detroit at who the starting quarterback is since Matthew Stafford signed that huge deal before last season. Clayton Kershaw's former high school teammate will continue to be QB1 for the Lions but the men behind him on the depth chart have changed significantly since last season. Jake Rudock was the only QB on the active roster and started early in the season when Stafford went down with an injury. He was not impressive and was not brought back for the season so the front office went out and got Stafford a serviceable backup in Jay Cutler. The longtime NFC North foe has returned to the division after a one season stint in Miami. The Lions wanted a QB with a strong arm, similar to Stafford, to be the backup so if the scenario presents itself where he needs to play they won't have to re-work the offense around the backup's skill set. Cutler is definitely that guy. There are two other quarterbacks on the roster in Zach Mettenberger and Clayton Thorson. Mettenberger was signed to be the third string but the Lions drafted Thorson in the 7th round and now there's a battle for that QB3 spot. Thorson, drafted out of Northwestern, has a decently strong arm and is much more mobile than Mettenberger. He'll get plenty of reps in the preseason and will need to prove he deserves to be on the active roster or his fate might be the practice squad in his first NFL season.

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    The halfback position is an interesting one in Detroit. Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah both return this season but they've got some company in Damien Harris and Alfred Blue. Blue spent the last few seasons in Houston and was signed to a 1-year deal in the offseason to ensure the team had a power back for short yardage situations as the team wasn't sure who would be available for them in the draft. Damien Harris was drafted in the third round out of Alabama and adds a well balanced skill set to the Lions backfield. He's a bruising back who will punish defenders up the middle and has the speed to take it to the outside and outrun defenders as well. Abdullah is on the last year of his contract and Harris now gives them options if they decide not to bring back Abdullah after the season. As far as this year goes, there's no doubting the backfield in its current state is a bit of a log jam. My prediction is there won't be a single 1,000 yard rusher but instead they'll have a 4-headed dragon of speed and power with Riddick, Abdullah, Harris and Blue all sharing carries based on the situation.

    Wide Receivers
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    The top of the receiving core was set coming into the offseason. Golden Tate III and Marvin Jones Jr. are undoubtedly the 1-2 punch. The Lions needed to address the depth situation and they did just that. The veteran Mike Wallace signed a 1-year contract to come to Detroit and is slotted to be the slot guy. Even at 32 years old he's still got enough speed to outrun defenses and the team is confident in his ability to run routes and catch in traffic enough to be the slot receiver. Behind Wallace there's two big targets in second-year man Kenny Golladay. The former Northern Illinois Husky was the slot guy last season but the team felt his size didn't fit well at that position. This year he'll be competing with another big target in Brandon Coleman for the fourth receiver spot. Coleman, the former Rutgers Scarlet Knight, is 6'6" and Golladay is 6'4" so if nothing else, they'll definitely get plenty of chances in the red zone this year. Look for both of these guys to get a lot of reps in preseason. Janarion Grant was the Lions' sixth round draft selection and will be handling the kick and punt returning duties while possibly getting some time in shotgun formations as well. Grant is another Rutgers product and is one of six former Scarlet Knights on the preseason roster.

    Tight Ends

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    The tight end position hasn't changed much since last season. Eric Ebron is still the #1 and will still be a big part of the passing attack in Detroit. Michael Roberts, the second-year man out of Toledo, will backup Ebron and get some reps in two TE formations. Roberts is a tank of a human at 6'5" 270 pounds and will look to improve upon his 2017 season where he only had two receptions. The third tight end on the depth chart is former LSU Tiger Colin Jeter. Another big guy at 6'6" 251. He's got some decent speed and is a pretty good blocker and should be a serviceable backup at the position. There also may be some truth to the rumor that Jeter was signed because the new owner of the Lions is a huge Yankees fan.

    Offensive Line

    The bug uglies up front. This is a group that, on paper, should of been great last season but for whatever reason they did not perform well. Despite that, the front office has kept four of the five starters around for this year. Taylor Decker at LT, Travis Swanson at C, T.J. Lang at RG and Rick Wagner at RT. The only change is at LG where a three lineman will be competing for the spot in preseason. The Michigan man Mason Cole was the Lions' fourth round pick and could very well step right in as the starting LG this year. Cole is the favorite heading into preseason but behind him there's Taylor Hart and Barrett Jones. Both were signed this offseason to two-year deals. Hart is a decent run blocker and one hell of an athlete but isn't the best at protecting the QB while Jones is about the same as Hart in the run game but is a much better pass blocker but not nearly as athletic. No matter who starts at LG, the line as a whole will have to play much better than last season if the Lions want to improve their league's worst offense from last season.

    Be on the lookout for the Lions defense preview later today!
    EagleDX and Burns like this.

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