If you ask most NFL fans about the Lions, the first thing they will point to is the amazing offensive machine of the Silver and Honolulu Blue. Led by quarterback Jared Goff, the “Silver Streak” offense is one of the best in pro football.
Goff has many targets for his passing attack, and rookie running back Jhamyr Gibbs is quickly establishing himself as a hybrid offensive weapon. Run the ball, catch the ball in the flat, or go downfield for a pass: Gibbs can do all of it. His “second gear” has already thrilled Lions fans, who haven’t seen this level of talent out of the backfield since Reggie Bush was in a Detroit uniform.
Last season, Detroit’s defense ranked 28th in the NFL in points allowed. This season that ranking has improved to No. 15. But, the secondary and linebacker units are still showing signs of vulnerability. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has set his linebacker corps as his top priority. The former cornerback is intent on making his tacklers more disciplined and efficient in pass coverage when needed. So far, Glenn seems to be making progress.
Detroit will benefit from facing the Bears and Packers twice each. Those teams and their offenses rank 29th and 22nd respectively in the NFL. The Lions will also face the Panthers, Bucs, and Raiders, teams without fearsome offensive units. It’s possible to squint your eyes and imagine the Lions winning 12 games, based on its schedule.
This is a franchise that’s only once even advanced to the NFC title game. It’s been more than three decades since the Lions have triumphed in a NFL playoff contest. Nothing is guaranteed, and fans can hardly forget the haunting phrase “Same Old Lions.”
Glenn and other Detroit coaches should be working hard to forge a defense that takes the football away, and eliminates mid-range plays. The cornerbacks are getting better, but when the linebackers have to drop into coverage, things get messy. That’s why teams love to go with slants and crossing routes at the center of the field.
If the Lions are to halt their losing streak in the postseason. If this franchise is to advance to its first Super Bowl, it can only do so by stopping the other team and getting off the field to let Goff & Co. score.
The Lions have a stretch coming up where they should be favored in four straight games. This is the time when the D can be tested and evaluated to see how the unit can perform on a big playoff stage.
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