The Detroit Lions had a Cinderella season last year. Coming from behind in 8 of their 9 victories, and being in the hunt for the NFC North title. Then things went south. The team lost their final 3 games of the regular season and got manhandled by Seattle as they failed to score a touchdown. There were bright spots, as in any season, but not enough to get that first playoff win.
Matthew Stafford needs to play as well as he did this season, if not better
This one is kind of obvious. Stafford didn’t blow anyone away with his passing numbers by any stretch of the imagination. But he became a better decision-maker, and never failed to impress. Until a home game against the Bears. Stafford got hit and injured his middle finger, and wasn’t the same after. He threw a career low 10 interceptions, and would’ve thrown even fewer had the Chicago Bears not been the greatest defense ever when they played Detroit, and had he not gotten injured of course. Under Jim Bob Cooter, Stafford is lights out, and doesn’t even need to torch defenses with his arm.
Marvin Jones needs to be consistent
Another one that kind of goes without saying. Either way, he was the epitome of an inconsistent receiver. The entire receiving corps as a whole was drop happy, but Jones was the standout in that group from WR’s, leading the group with 6 drops, bad enough for twelfth most in the league. Jones started the season hot, then fell off the face of the earth, having just 5 games over 60 yards in Weeks 4-18.
There’s so many things for Whitehead to do this season. Moving him out of the MIKE LB position will help exponentially as he’s a liability in pass defense, but a fairly sure tackler. BUT, in games I was able to watch, Whitehead was a great player outside pass defense, until the playoff game in Seattle. Whitehead, among others, missed tackles on numerous occasions, which helped lead to the downfall of the team.
The running game needs to improve
The Lions running game has been embarrassing, to say the least, since Barry Sanders retired unexpectedly. But in comes Ameer Abdullah. Abdullah, in a very small sample size had a phenomenal six quarters to open the NFL season, then disaster struck when he broke his foot and was placed on IR. Averaging 5.6 yards per carry, Abdullah was also among the league’s most elusive RB’s to begin the season, and once I find the tweet that has the numbers I will link it.
All in all, the Lions could be in for a very good season, and could very well win one of the weakest divisions in football. They’ve got to have better play calling and not have a late season meltdown though. Stafford should come back with a vengeance, as should Ziggy Ansah after a lackluster season. This is a team to watch in 2017 and could be an exciting one at that.