New and old faces will be the headliner of Ford Field when the regular season starts for the NFL.
The Detroit Lions will look to improve upon their last-place finish in 2020 under former head coach Matt Patricia, who led the Lions to a 5-11 record. After the poor outing in 2020, the Lions’ front office decided it was time to rebuild and start over. They began with the coaches, bringing in Dan Campbell as the new head coach for Detroit. Campbell played tight end for the Lions from 2006-2008 and most recently was the assistant coach and tight ends coach for the New Orleans Saints. He returns to Detroit as the head coach, and with a new staff, hopes to help the Lions improve from that tough 5-11 record.
The preseason was shortened to only three games this year with a two-week break before the regular season begins. For a team with an entirely new staff and system, losing a preseason game is not great.
Detroit also had some roster overhaul. The biggest change outside of the coaching staff the Lions had was trading away quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for quarterback Jared Goff.
Detroit’s 2021 season looks very bleak due to a lackluster roster all-around and one of the toughest schedules in the NFL this year as they tie with the Cincinnati Bengals for the sixth toughest schedule this season.
The only spotlight Detroit will see this season will be on an individual player basis. D’Andre Swift should improve once again and give Detroit fans a reason to be optimistic about the future at running back. Rookie wide receiver Amon Ra St. Brown will show his readiness to play in the NFL, and more development of younger defensive stars will highlight the entire Lions season.
Perhaps the best takeaway from the Lions’ defensive changes would have to be the much improved run defense. Undrafted cornerback AJ Parker is in contention for not only a roster spot but even a starting spot at slot cornerback. Another young player is defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike, a 2021 second-round pick, who has potential to become a good rusher as he made big plays with sacks and tackles for loss in college. Finally, one of the best prospects in Detroit is rookie outside linebacker Derrick Barnes from Purdue. Barnes has shown just how good he can develop in a short period and will only get better with his raw physicality. Overall on the defensive side, the run stoppers look to be the bright spot in a young team with new coordinators but could develop into something more. Pass defense looks to be the biggest weakness in Detroit as pass coverage must improve for this defense to flourish.
Hopefully, the Lions can prove people wrong and shock the world, maybe even make the playoffs. However, with all the changes and the way the roster currently looks, it looks like another disappointing season is in store for Lions fans.
The Lions will look to kick off their season against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sept. 12 with a 1 p.m. kickoff time.