NFL Preview: Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions

Head Coach: Jim Schwartz
Offensive Coordinator: Scott Linehan
Defensive Coordinator: Gunther Cunningham
Special Teams Coordinator: Danny Crossman
Owner: William Clay Ford

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Matthew Stafford
HB: Jahvid Best
FB: Jerome Felton
WR: Calvin Johnson
WR: Nate Burleson
LT: Jeff Backus
LG: Rob Sims
C: Dominic Raiola
RG: Manny Ramirez
RT: Gosder Cherilus
TE: Brandon Pettigrew

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Kyle Vanden Bosch
DE: Cliff Avril
DT: Corey Williams
DT: Ndamukong Suh
LB: Julian Peterson
LB: DeAndre Levy
LB: Landon Johnson
CB: Chris Houston
CB: Jonathan Wade
FS: Ko Simpson
SS: Louis Delmas

Special Teams
K: Jason Hanson
P: Nick Harris

Schedule:
@ Chicago
Philadelphia
@ Minnesota
@ Green Bay
St. Louis
@ New York Giants
Bye
Washington
New York Jets
@ Buffalo
@ Dallas
New England
Chicago
Green Bay
@ Tampa Bay
@ Miami
Minnesota

Position Battles:
The defense was terrible last year, and as such, that is where most of the battles are going to be.

At defensive tackle there will be a three player battle for the two starting spots. Ndamukong Suh is the fan favorite, but he’ll have to prove he can handle the job. Corey Williams was brought in to be a stabilizing force and Sammie Hill has been a starter since coming into the league.

At Linebacker, two spots are pretty much set with Julian Peterson and DeAndre Levy, the third spot is wide open with Caleb Campbell, Landon Johnson, Zack Follett, Jordon Dizon, Vinny Circiu, and others looking for a chance to get playing time.

In the secondary, the only spot that is locked down is Louis Delmas. If Ko Simpson proves he’s healthy he’s got a pretty good chance to take care of the other safety spot. At corner, Chris Houston and Jonathan Wade were each brought in this offseason and will get the first chance to start but will have to play well enough to keep playing time. Eric King, Amari Spievey, and others will be looking to get playing time.

Rookies to Watch:
Obviously Suh is going to have all eyes on him as he tries to help a defense that was terrible in all aspects last year. A lot of people felt he was the best player in the draft and despite most DTs taking a few years to get adjusted to the NFL, Suh should be able to hold up and give the Lions defense a boost.

Amari Spievey could be a big boost to the seconday as well either playing in a nickel or dime situation or even working into a starting role as the season goes on.

Season Expectations:
Despite the team being awful the last few years, the team has been making steady improvements and has been doing really well in the draft. The team was terrible on defense last year, but with the adddition of Suh, Williams, Vanden Bosch and Houston along with the development of Avril, Levy, and Delmas the defense is well on their way to at least being respectable. And a respectable defense could be all they need with the way this offense is set up. Stafford and Johnson are each on the short list of young players at their position. Stafford has been over-shadowed by players like Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, and Mark Sanchez, but those players have had much better teams surround them, Stafford has just as much talent as any of those players. The Lions also have one of the better young 1-2 punch running backs with Kevin Smith and Jahvid Best. Both players have a history of injuries, but if they can stay healthy, teams won’t be able to focus on the passing game. If Suh makes the difference a lot of people think he can, the Lions could be a surprise team in the league this year possibly winning upwards of 8 games. However, I think the expectations for him need to be tempered a little bit and as such so do the teams. They are on the right track and should win a few more games than last year, but with the division they play in and a pretty tough schedule, it will be tough for them to make a serious push.

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