NFL Season Preview: Detroit Lions Seek Balance and Discipline in 2013
The Detroit Lions have been the most undisciplined team in every facet over the past three seasons. Their offense has been slanted toward the passing game more than any team in the NFL. Despite drafting and signing several RBs in the past few years, the Lions have gotten further and further away from a consistent running game the farther and farther away they’ve gotten away from the retirement of Barry Sanders. To couple with the predictable increase in turnovers, the Lions’ defense has been just as undisciplined, drawing more personal fouls and more penalties overall than any other team in the NFL.
Despite outgaining their opponents in yardage in 2012 (a statistic that is somewhat misleading, as a good number of the Lions’ yards came with the team in desperation mode in the midst of a comeback attempt in most of their games; including a huge chunk of Calvin Johnson’s record-breaking 2,111-yard receiving season (but only five touchdowns?) the Lions were a complete train wreck from the coaching level all the way down, and those facts belie the statistical accomplishments of the team and individuals such as Johnson.
In order to combat this, the Lions went out to acquire dual-threat Reggie Bush, who has blossomed into one of the preeminent dual threats in the NFL. Bush still maintains the explosiveness of his early years, and has become a pass-catching extraordinaire out of the backfield. Coupled with the threat that is Johnson, and Matthew Stafford (who figures to rebound off a very disjointed season in 2012), the Lions may find the balance that they seek. Bush does not have to shoulder the burden offensively, as Mikel LeShoure is the pounding back that the Lions need. The team has appeared to move from the Jahvid Best experiment; entering the third year of concussion-related absences from the team.
The Lions have talent defensively, but it has been largely injured (Nick Fairley, Louis Delmas) or neutralized by back-breaking penalties (especially DT Ndamukong Suh) at crucial junctures. Additionally, the Lions lost DE Cliff Avril to the Seattle Seahawks. In order to offset the loss, the team drafted DE/OLB Ziggy Ansah. It remains to be seen whether Ansah can reach his Jason Pierre-Paul potential, but the Lions obviously hope and expect for that to occur. In order for the Lions’ secondary to have a chance in pass coverage, the Lions’ defensive line must do its job. Having Fairley, Suh and Ansah as heavy contributors is a nice start.
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