Detroit Lions Team Overview 2020
Lions Team Overview 2020
The owner is Sheila Ford Hamp. Sheila took over as principal owner in 2020 from her mother Martha Firestone Ford. Linking the last name Ford to the car company is a smart guess.
Sheila Ford Hamp comes from the family that started and still owns the car company Ford. Interesting side note is that the Lions started the franchise as the Portsmouth Spartans in southern Ohio during the early 1930s.
Portsmouth is along the Ohio River near Kentucky and West Virginia. The great depression forced the Spartans to be moved to Detroit and were renamed the Lions.
They were bought by an owner of a Detroit radio station. The Ford’s bought the team out right in 1963.
Bob Quinn. Quinn was a long time scout for the New England Patriots from the early 2000’s until he became the general manager of the Lions in 2016.
The Lions lost in the playoffs during the wild card round in the 2016 season. Each season after that season has gotten worse. Quinn is trying to fix this when he fired head coach Jim Caldwell and then signing a New England’s defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in 2018.
In 2018, the Lions still got worse and in 2019, they had a really bad season in winning only 3 games. This was in large part due to QB Matthew Stafford being out injured for 8 games. Quinn is mostly in trouble because very few of his top draft selections have panned out.
He drafted DT A’Shawn Robinson, CB Teez Tabor, RB Kerryon Johnson, TE TJ Hockenson, LB Jahlani Tavai. All of these players were taken in the 1st or 2nd round since 2016 and all of these players were in one of the 4 draft classes that Quinn has been the GM.
The only player you could make the case isn’t a bust is Kerryon Johnson but then why would they need to draft a RB in D’andre Swift in 2020? They also took tight end TJ Hockenson inside the top 10 in 2019. Hockenson is looking to be just a good tight end and not the George Kittle or Rob Gronkowski that they hoped he would be.
Regardless, that is way too early to be drafting a tight end. Quinn has also done pretty much nothing in free agency or nobody is attracted in coming to play for Detroit. It probably is more that nobody wants to come play in the new culture that Quinn is trying to have.
Quinn and 2nd year head coach are trying to make Detroit’s culture like that of the Patriots. Various players have spoken out about how it’s not fun to be in Detroit and one of these players was Darius Slay Jr.
They traded Slay Jr. this Spring. Bottom line is that this team has been poorly managed since Quinn took over. Both Quinn and Patricia are in the hot seat this 2020 season.
Matt Patricia. Patricia is most known for being the defensive coordinator for Bill Belichick from 2012 to 2017 in New England. Patricia joined Belichick’s staff in 2004. Now in 2018, the former New England Executive Bob Quinn hired Patricia since Quinn has known Patricia since 2004 in New England.
Patricia has had a rocky start to being a head coach. In his first season in 2018, Patricia and the Lions went 6-10 and Matthew Stafford played in every game. This was the first time that the Lions had not won 7 games or more since 2012.
They had lost 3 games by less than 3 points but even if they had won those games they still wouldn’t have made the playoffs. In 2019, they blew the first game of the season and ended up tying with the Cardinals.
This led to 3-4-1 start having Matthew Stafford at QB. Then Stafford got injured and the Lions lost the rest of the games in 2019.
They were somewhat competitive in some of those games that Stafford didn’t play in. However, the defense was the major concern. They couldn’t stop the run or stop the pass. They also had the 3rd least amount of sacks.
Some of this has to be attributed to a defense that was constantly on the field and tired out during the course of a game. However, it is clear to see that this defense lacks NFL talent at all 3 levels.
With a lack of talent and a new culture that isn’t transitioning well, this could be a really ugly year for the Lions. However, as long as there is Matthew Stafford, there is always hope.
Fantasy Outlook for the Lions
QB: Matthew Stafford
Before Stafford got hurt and sat out the rest of the 2019 season, he was top 5 in pretty much every passing statistic. A lot of this had to do with the Lions not being able to run the ball effectively those first 8 games.
It also had a little to do with the Lions being behind a lot as well. I think things balance out a little more in 2020. I think the defense still gives up a lot of points or at best is a middle of the league defense in terms of points allowed.
This will definitely keep Stafford and the offense in attack mode all season long. I do however, believe that this run offense will be vastly better in 2020. The Lions added in great run blockers in the draft and in free agency.
Then they drafted, in my opinion, the best college running back in D’Andre Swift. This could benefit Stafford too by having better play action throws down the field.
A question mark for Stafford is that this offensive line is just average in pass protection. Their newly signed right tackle is actually pretty bad in pass protection.
So they will definitely need a solid running game to slow opponents’ pass rush. He still has enough wide receiver talent in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones to put up big numbers. He could also build better rapport with 2nd year tight end TJ Hockenson.
With everything considered, I feel very strongly that Stafford will finish inside the top 10 in fantasy in 2020.
He is currently being drafted around the 9th or 10th round and that would be an absolute steal. You do not want to miss out on Stafford in 2020.
RB: D’Andre Swift
I am totally drinking the Kool Aid on D’Andre Swift. Back in Swift’s 1st year in Georgia, he had the highest yards per carry on the team.
The 2 other Georgia running backs were Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. If that is any indication of what Swift will be in the NFL then I will be drafting Swift in all of my fantasy leagues in 2020. Swift can also catch the ball a little above average.
He is a true 3 down back. Darrell Bevell loves to run the ball. He led the league in rushing as Seattle’s OC with Marshawn Lynch and also in Minnesota with Adrian Peterson.
Swift is just as talented a running back as the previous mentioned. Now it’s time for Swift to show what he is worth. This new offensive line in 2020 is very favorable for Swift.
They added 2 Guards in the draft in the 3rd and 4th round and they have nasty attitudes according to scouts and the OC Bevell. The 2 rookies like to run block and they want defensive lineman to know it.
The right tackle they signed this offseason likes to run block as well. For more information on the Lions starting offensive line, go to the bottom of this post.
I think Swift gets over 200 carries and becomes a Lions running back that has a 1,000 yard season. I think he also adds 10 touchdowns.
Swift is my fantasy sleeper to make it into the top 12 running backs in 2020. He is currently being drafted around the 8th round in fantasy mock drafts.
I’m not waiting until the 8th round to take Swift. This guy has too much potential to pass up as my backup running back or flex player.
RB: Kerryon Johnson
As mentioned above, I think the Kerryon Johnson show is over. He only averaged 3.6 yards per carry and was hurt for a lot of the games for the 2nd season in a row.
Back up running back Bo Scarbrough had almost 90 carries and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. The drafting of Swift really signals the end of Kerryon’s future with the Lions.
I think Kerryon will get carries in 2020 but I highly doubt he makes it to 100 by the season’s end. I think D’Andre Swift will impress early and often in 2020.
WR: Kenny Golladay
Kenny Golladay or Kenny G as I call him is going to be a top 5 wide receiver this season. Everyone, including myself, thought that Kenny G’s fantasy value was over half way through the season in 2019 when Stafford was put on IR.
That didn’t happen. Kenny G was still able to finish 6th best in fantasy at the WR position. He did this with 2 no name QB’s throwing him the ball. Kenny G is not only a good receiver but he makes incredible catches.
He is great at going up in the air to get the ball. This makes him incredibly valuable in the redzone. I do think that the Lions will be behind a good portion of the 2020 season because this defense’s front 7 is not very good.
So Stafford and the Lions should be in high scoring games and be forced to continuously throw the football late in games.
Worst case scenario is that Kenny G is the 10th best WR in 2020. I really do think that Kenny G is more of a top 5 wide receiver because a lot of past great WR’s blast off in their 3rd or 4th season and this is Kenny G’s 4th season.
Kenny is being drafted around 23rd overall in fantasy Mock Drafts. I actually am not opposed in drafting Kenny that high but only if a quality running back is not there.
I would still probably draft a running back in round 2 over a receiver. But hey, you will not go wrong with Kenny G.
WR: Marvin Jones
I like Marvin to have a good season in 2020. I remember when he left Cincinnati a couple years ago.
Jones said then that he thought of himself as a top wide receiver in the league and didn’t have a chance to show it with the Bengals.
I found this pretty amusing as a Steelers fan but Marvin has proved me wrong. Marvin is a lot better WR then I gave him credit for in the past.
He will be 30 years old this season but I know Marvin’s work ethic is still very high. If Stafford is healthy the entire season then I think Marvin has a chance to get to 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns in 2020.
Of Course that is his ceiling but his floor isn’t far off from those numbers. Marvin is currently being drafted around the 8th or 9th round.
I think that is a perfect time to draft him. He could easily be your 2nd WR or even your flex player. He should be a safe bet for your fantasy team in 2020.
TE: TJ Hockenson
I drafted Hockenson in 2019 and was really high on him since he was drafted in the top 10 by the Lions in the 2019 draft. He was kind of a disappointment in 2019.
He had a great first game and then just didn’t materialize the remaining 7 games with Stafford. He had chances too but just looked very unathletic at times and very awkward. I don’t know how I feel about giving him a 2nd chance.
He will benefit from Stafford and get another chance in 2020 but I don’t think the will be a top 5 tight end. I think he does finish as a top 10 tight end but with numbers around 700 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns.
The numbers could be a little higher but from what Hockenson showed me last year, I’m not banking on that. Hockenson is being drafted around the 10th round. I think he is a good selection at that time.
He could wind up being a top 5 TE. I am really going to be going back and forth on him during my fantasy drafts if I haven’t drafted a TE by the 10th round.
Lions Offensive Preview 2020
Darrell Bevell. Bevell has been an offensive coordinator and play caller in the NFL since 2006 with Minnesota. He then went to Seattle in 2011 until 2017 when he was fired by Seattle. He then joined the Lions in 2019.
He loves to play smash mouth football. He was top 5 in rushing attempts and yards for 4 years in a row in Seattle. That started in 2012 with Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch.
His offense was also #1 in rushing yards with Minnesota in 2007 with Adrian Peterson. Now, the Lions have drafted D’Andre Swift in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL draft.
It looks like Bevell wasn’t impressed by Kerryon Johnson or that they don’t trust Kerryon staying healthy since he has missed half the season in each of his 1st two seasons.
Whatever the case may be, it is clear that the Lions are looking to run the ball in 2020. They tried to run the ball a lot in 2019 but the injury to Matthew Stafford hampered the Lions and they were forced to throw from behind many of the games.
This year could be a lot different if Stafford stays healthy and the Lions defense doesn’t give up a lot of points. Both are huge question marks.
The offensive line for 2020 looks promising but very young in spots. Bevell did get along very well with Stafford.
The 8 games that Stafford did play, the QB was 4th in passing yards and 2nd in passing touchdowns in the entire NFL.
Bevell’s passing offense is predicated on pushing the ball down field. This is something that works very well for Stafford. They have primarily the same receiving group so Stafford should excel even more in year 2 under Bevell.
I am optimistic about this group. That and there defense doesn’t look much better this year so Stafford might be having to throw a lot anyways.
Lions Defensive Preview 2020:
Cory Undlin is the defensive coordinator. But even he doesn’t know if he will be calling plays on defense in 2020.
Undlin and Patricia only know each other after working 1 year together in New England during 2004. It was both of their first years in the NFL and they even shared an office. So they both must have left lasting impressions on one another.
My gut tells me that Patricia will continue to play this like Bill Belichick and not ever publicly admit who is calling the defensive plays.
My gut also tells me that Patricia most likely will call the plays this season. This would make the most sense because the majority of players are familiar with him and it’s been a weird off season due to Covid-19.
And more importantly is that this defense will probably have a similar scheme to what they ran last year due to Covid-19.
Of Course there will be different looks and play calls but I am sure the base terminology and scheme will remain the same with minor tweaks. Now to the players.
The Lions used the 3rd overall pick on cornerback Jeff Okudah. Okudah was the clear cut top cornerback in this year’s draft.
Okudah looks to be a stud and has already been labeled by his teammates and Undlin as a workaholic. Apparently Okudah lives football and this is all he talks about.
The other new cornerback joining the team is Desmond Trufant. Trufant signed a 2 year $21 million dollar contract with the Lions this spring.
Trufant was a 1st round draft pick in 2013 and spent all 7 seasons with the Falcons. Last year he had a toe and forearm injury that cause him to only play 9 games. During those 9 games he had 4 interceptions.
Trufant said this spring that he still has a lot in the tank. He is only 29 years old so if Trufant can stay healthy, then he can help turn around Detroit’s worst passing defense in the NFL a season ago.
Detroit also had the fewest interceptions in the NFL in 2019. Okudah and Trufant can definitely help this statistic.
The 3rd cornerback on the team is Justin Coleman. Coleman barely played under Patricia in New England and then went to Seattle for 2 seasons where he barely played too. Last season Coleman started 11 games and had 1 interception.
I watched Coleman last year and he looks like an NFL cornerback. He is very athletic and always looked to be in the right place but allowed a lot of receptions. He had 13 passes defended but allowed 70 receptions which was 3rd most in the NFL.
Bottom line is that this cornerback group could be good if rookie Okudah is as good as advertised. Okudah does look legit so if Trufant is healthy then this should be an above average cornerback group.
The starting safeties are Tracy Walker and either Duron Harmon or Will Harris. Walker will be in his 3rd season this year and led the team in tackles last season.
You definitely don’t want your safety to be your leading tackler but it is a good thing that Walker is a sure tackler.
Walker was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL draft by the Lions. Last season Walker finished with 1 interception and 8 passes defended.
The fan forums say that Walker isn’t a great ball hawk but that he has potential to be a top 20 safety in the league.
For whatever that is worth, the Lions look to have at least 1 competent starter at safety. Duron Harmon was traded in March of this year from the Patriots for a late round draft pick.
Harmon has barely started during his career for New England. Harmon will be coached by the same person who he used to play with in New England in Steve Gregory.
Gregory says that Harmon is one of the smartest defensive backs he has ever been around. Harmon is best known for interceptions and reading the quarterback.
Patricia definitely trusts Harmon so Harmond should get the nod to start over Will Harris. Harris was primarily used as a strong safety in college.
He only had 8 passes defended in college. Last season for the Lions he didn’t have an interception and only defended 3 passes.
He isn’t known for coverage but I guess the Lions are excited about his coverage skills on tight ends since Harris is a bigger body.
The safety group is definitely something to keep an eye on. With Walker and Harmon, the safety group could be a little above average but that really looks to be the ceiling for those 2 players and this Lions safety group.
Let’s look at the Lions linebackers now. It is yet to be known if the Lions will play a 4-3 or a 3-4. But who really cares these days what anybody plays as long as it works right?
Both the 4-3 and the 3-4 can be effective if you have the right personnel. Undlin says he plans on using both but primarily wants to make sure that he puts people in the right place first.
He doesn’t want to force a position on anyone. So that must be good news for Lions fans to hear.
The starting linebackers look to be Jarrad Davis, Jamie Collins and Christian Jones. Jarrad Davis has openly commented that he has over thought a lot of plays and he says it is usually because he is not trusting himself.
He is physically gifted and was a former 1st round pick of the Lions but it has not translated on Sundays. He is out of position a lot of the time on run and pass plays.
He is best used as a blitzer. Davis says he can be a good coverage LB but he admits that he hasn’t shown it.
He is a really likeable guy but Detroit did not pick up his 5th year option so his future is up in the air.
Jamie Collins joins the Lions on a 3 year $30 million dollar deal. Collins has played with New England and Cleveland and then back to New England for a year.
He is now 30 years old and this is a pretty massive 3rd contract for Collins. He had a really productive year in New England last year by tallying 7 sacks, 3 interceptions and 7 passes defended.
He also brings knowledge of Patricia’s defense and great leadership qualities. This was a great signing for the Lions.
Hopefully he can raise the level of play of these other LB’s. The last linebacker slated to start is Christian Jones. Jones has started 29 games at linebacker for the Lions the past 2 seasons.
He hasn’t done a great job since joining the Lions 2 seasons ago. He only gets a couple of stats in each column. Last season he had 4 passes defended, 2 sacks and 2 tackles for loss. He only had 51 tackles too.
Jones will definitely be in a competition battle between 2nd year linebacker Jahlani Tavai and newly acquired Reggie Ragland. Tavai was taken in the 2nd round of the 2019 NFL draft by the Lions.
He only started 6 games last season but was able to make some great plays. He had 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 2 sacks. Those numbers are already better than Jones and Davis.
Reggie Ragland comes over from the Chiefs. This will be his 4th season but he hasn’t lived up to his 2nd round selection in 2017. He is more of a down hill run stuffer. He could potentially replace Davis or Jones as well.
Bottom line is that this linebacking group is not very good. The best potential it can have is that 2nd year Jahlani Tavai has a breakout year and Jamie Collins has another amazing year.
They would also need Jarrad Davis to vastly improve or rotate Ragland and Jones in to play on early downs to stop the run. There are too many ifs for me to believe in this linebacker unit. There is potential but even this group’s ceiling is probably right at league average or below.
The last group is the defensive line. The best player on this line is probably defensive end Trey Flowers.
Flowers is also another player drafted originally by New England. Flowers had 7 sacks, 8 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles.
Flowers wasn’t healthy for much of 2019 but still played in 15 games. He is great against the run and pretty good at rushing the passer too.
On the opposite side is going to be anybody’s guess. I went into a deep rabbit hole to get the low down on the other potential starting defensive ends.
It will most likely be by committee and that committee will be Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, Austin Bryant, and Da’Shawn Hand.
Julian and Romeo are indeed brothers. Romeo had a pretty solid year in 2018 with 7 sacks but underperformed in 2019. Julian is a 3rd round draft pick out of Notre Dame and is apparently an athletic freak who is pretty good at rushing the passer.
Julian is not great against the run and would need to add strength and size to his frame. Austin Bryant was a 4th round draft pick out of Clemson in 2019.
Bryant was hurt most of last season. He only played in 4 games and didn’t have a huge impact. He has 8 sacks in each of his last 2 seasons at Clemson.
The fan forum I was reading has mixed opinions on Bryant. For all intensive purposes, Bryant looks like the only thing to get your hopes up for in terms of a great starting end opposite of Flowers.
GM Bob Quin says that they are high on Bryant and expect big things from him. Da’Shawn hand was a 2nd round pick of the Lions in 2018 but underperformed in his rookie season and was injured for almost the entire 2019 season.
I really have no idea how this other defensive end position plays out. It surely looks like a player by committee or whoever starts to play well will get the starting spot. This is definitely a spot to watch all season as this defense needs another pass rusher to emerge desperately.
The interior defensive lineman are Danny Shelton, Nick Williams and Da’Shawn Hand. Shelton was a former 1st round draft pick in 2015. He was drafted by the Browns and then traded to New England in 2018.
He is a little above average run stuffer and even added 3 sacks last year in New England. Williams just signed this offseason to a 2 year $10 million dollar deal.
Williams played at division rival Chicago last season so the Lions are very familiar with Williams. Williams started the most he ever has in his career in 2019 and recorded 6 sacks and 5 tackles for loss.
He is a solid signing that will provide a starting caliber player in the interior defensive line. The last play who could potentially start for this defensive line is Da’Shawn Hand. He is the most talented player and could take over a starting role somewhere on this defensive line.
Ok, this defensive unit has easily been the most tiring to research out of all the defensive units. Mainly because there is so much uncertainty with the front 7.
It looks like only Jamie Collins and Trey Flowers are the sure locks in this front 7. That is not reassuring for the pass rush.
That is probably the most alarming thing about this front 7. Trey Flowers isn’t a natural pass rusher. He is still very good but not a specialist.
Flowers just does everything really well. The main concern is that they don’t have anybody on the other side of him that could potentially get more than 8 sacks.
They will definitely have to rely on blitzing the quarterback in order to get pressure in 2020. Last season they were a little below average in stopping the run.
However, they were top ten in yards per carry. I think with the off season additions that this run defense doesn’t really get much better. The Linebackers aren’t amazing except for Collins and the 2 interior defensive lineman signing are just average signings.
This should be a middle of the league run defense. The true excitement is actually in the passing defense.
This is ironic because they were basically the league’s worst pass defense in 2019. The 1st round rookie Okudah and veteran Trufant provide a lot of optimism at cornerback.
Harmon and Walker at Safety also add a lot of hope too. Overall this defense will most likely not be in the top half of the league in terms of yards or points allowed by the season’s end.
There is not enough play making ability in the front 7 and that is a recipe for disaster in the NFL. No pass rush and an average run stopping defense will provide no relief to the safeties and cornerbacks.
Contract Year Players:
WR: Marvin Jones
LB: Jarrad Davis
OL: Taylor Decker
WR: Kenny Golladay
Lions Offensive Line Preveiw
This is a group to kind of get excited about. They have a little above average left tackle in Taylor Decker. Decker is a former 1st round draft pick of the Lions in 2016.
He is in a contract year and definitely needs to improve a little bit in under to get a big pay day next off season. He gave up 7 sacks last season and also 10 penalties.
He is a pretty good run blocker and this bodes well for OC Darrell Bevell because Bevell loves to run the ball.
The right tackle will be Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Vaitai signed a pretty big 5 year $50 million dollar contract this off season. Vaitai is not the best at pass protection and gave up 3 sacks in 3 starts with the Eagles last season.
Vaitai has played in every game the past 3 seasons but has only ever started as much as 10 games in one season and that was 3 seasons ago. Now Vaitai has to carry the load. Luckily for Vaitai, Bevell loves to run the ball and Vaitai is a really good run blocker.
The center is Frank Ragnow. Ragnow was a 1st round draft pick in 2018 and has delivered for the Lions. He is great in both pass protection and run blocking. He is a little better at runblocking but still only gave up 2 sacks last season.
Now the starting guards are the question marks for this offensive line. Joe Dahl is the starting left guard and he is pretty good in pass protection but not great in run blocking. Dahl should start but he will be pushed by 2 rookies and veteran Oday Aboushi.
Aboushi has been in the league a long time but has a bad reputation for holding penalties. I think the more likely option to start at right guard will be one of the 2 rookies, Logan Stenberg or Jonah Jackson.
Stenberg was a 4th round draft pick out of Kentucky and OC Bevell really likes his attitude. Stenberg was the most penalized offensive lineman in the country last year and Bevell wants him to play with a controlled anger.
However, this is just the type of player that Bevell wants on his smash mouth style of offense. The other rookie is Jonah Jackson and he was a 3rd round pick out of The Ohio State University.
Jackson is probably the more polished between him and Stenberg. He was scouted as playing with a controlled pissed off demeanor. This of course fits Darrel Bevell’s philosophy.
Jackson is also pretty good in pass protection too. So what does this all mean. This means that this line should be pretty good at run blocking and especially on the right side of the line.
Pass blocking may be a concern but I think they have enough talent to find a good starting 5 by the middle of the season. This bodes very well for the Lions offense.