The Lions. The Lions. The Lions. Why am I writing an article about how the Detroit Lions need to improve in the off-season?
Because I enjoy wasting my time.
No, actually the truth is that any team can go from a pretender to a contender in a matter of just one off-season. The 1999 St. Louis Rams did. The 2000 New England Patriots did it. Heck, this past season’s Green Bay Packers are an example of how a mediocre team can turn into a legitimate Superbowl contender.
And even the Lions bounced back this season with a 7-9 regular season, after what was a very promising 6-2 start to 2007.
But how do you go from 6-2 in your first eight games, to 1-7 in your last eight games?
Holes in your entire system!
If the Lions can address those holes, they’ll be headed for playing excellence, and won’t have the collapse they had in 2007, in 2008.
First of all, the Lions need to upgrade the offensive line. Getting a player in the draft isn’t going to fix the problem this season, but it certainly can help. Hopefully, GM Matt Millen (and I know that using the word “hopefully” usually results in hopelessness) has gotten over his wide receiver craze and will draft an offensive lineman to help at least put some talent on the Lions offensive line. Both the run game and the passing game were hurt by holes in the offensive line. Although Jon Kitna threw a lot of passes, being sacked 51 times is just ridiculous. And the fact that running back Kevin Jones only averaged 3.8 yards per carry was inexcusable.
Thus, the Lions will have to do more than just draft an offensive lineman; they will have to acquire one via free agency or a trade. Ruben Brown will be an unrestricted free agent, and even though he is getting up there in age, he can still be a viable component of a talentless offensive line like the one the Lions have. Alan Faneca is probably the top free agent offensive lineman out there, and the Lions should make a play on him in order to be competitive in 2008.
The Lions need to address there defense more than anything. They gave up a stagger 444 points in 2007, which amounts to 28 points allowed per game. That is absolutely unacceptable. Even the “greatest show on turf” Rams team wasn’t that bad on defense. The Lions have good young talent in players like Ernie Sims, Boss Bailey, Buster Davis and Etric Pruitt. However, they need to get some veteran guys in there to run the defense, make sure players are in their right spots, and to cover up any mistakes the young fellas make. This simply means the Lions may have to overpay for some veterans, but it’s small price to pay to be back in the playoffs for the first time since 1999.