The Detroit Lions had a rough 2020 season and ended up with a 5-11 record. Team Management decided to make a coaching change and new headman Dan Campbell has his work cut out for him. Longtime franchise QB Matthew Stafford was traded to the Rams in the offseason for Jared Goff (nflanalysis.net).
Will these changes the Lions made pay immediate dividends or will the rebuilding process take a while? Campbell brings a winning attitude from New Orleans, where he was a top assistant under Sean Payton for five years. Here’s a closer look at the 2021 Lions.
It will be a bit weird for Lions fans to no longer see Stafford under center. However, Goff steps in as a serviceable replacement after throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Rams last year. The 26-year does often struggle with the turnover bug as he threw 13 picks in 2020.
The Lions rushing attack should be much improved in 2021. D’Andre Swift has a nice skillset and scored 10 touchdowns (8 rushing / 2 receiving) during his rookie season in 2020. The former Georgia standout should have even more success this year since the Lions drafted highly coveted tackle Penei Sewell with the seventh overall pick. Sewell could be the best offensive tackle to come into the league since Orlando Pace in 1997.
The Lions receiving corps will have lots of new faces in 2021. Breshad Perriman comes over from the Jets after catching 30 passes for 505 yards and three touchdowns a year ago. Former Wisconsin star Quintez Cephus should get a chance to play a bigger role this year after racking up 349 yards and two touchdowns in limited playing time last season.
The defense was a major issue for the Lions in 2020, as they were last in the league in points allowed per game (32.4). Defensive end Trey Flowers is hoping for a better season after only appearing in seven games in 2020. Second-round draft pick Levi Onwuzurike should start immediately at defensive tackle.
Derrick Barnes, a fourth-round pick out of Purdue, could also crack the starting lineup at linebacker for the Lions. Jamie Collins is one of the team’s top defensive players as he racked up 101 tackles last season.
The Lions’ secondary needs a major upgrade after ranking 30th in the league in passing yards allowed per game (284.9). Former first-round pick Jeff Okudah was banged up most of his rookie season and only played in nine games last year. The former Ohio State standout has plenty of talent and can be a team leader once he gets healthy.
2021 Special Teams
The Lions’ return game should get a major boost this season with fourth-round draft pick Amon-Ra St. Brown handling punt and kick returns. The former USC star receiver has the speed and quickness needed to break some long returns.
Randy Bullock comes over from the Bengals as the Lions starting kicker in 2021. The 31-year old made 21 out of 26 field goals last year.