The Detroit Lions were coming off of a mixed 2016 where they started out losing three of their first four games, then winning eight of the next nine to lead their division — only to then lose their finale three and make the playoffs as a wildcard and lose immediately to the Seattle Seahawks 26-6. They extended the contract of quarterback Matthew Stafford for five more years at a cost of $135 million, locking up the position for a while. They then spent 6 of their 9 draft picks on defense, including linebacker Jarred Davis in the first round. Other than that it was a quiet offseason, and they went into 2017 hoping to build on the success they had in the middle of the previous season.
The team was a little better than mediocre. They won three of their first four before losing three straight, making them 4-4 at the halfway point of the season. They did a bit better in the back half, going 5-3 leaving them with an 9-7 record and second place in the division — exactly what they had in 2016. The difference was the other teams in the conference got better and their record wasn’t good enough for a wild card berth.
After starting his career with two injury plagues seasons, Stafford started all 16 games for the 9th season in a row. He had career highs in Yards per Attempt (7.9) and quarterback rating (99.3), but also in sacks (47) and fumbles lost (7). Overall, the team really was no better nor worse than the previous year… and if you’re not getting better, then your coach isn’t doing his job. Hence, the season ended with coach Jim Caldwell being shown the door.
The Lions have hired Matt Patricia, the defensive coordinator from the New England Patriots, to be their new head coach. But even with that change, they’re keeping offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, which tells us they’re happy with the offensive production from the team, but feel they could use some work on defense. They have a few contracts to sign on that side of the ball or they’ll be needing to fill some holes before anything else. But that doesn’t mean the offense is set. They have two glaring weaknesses there: one is at running back and the other tight end. It’s time to cut loose Eric Ebron and Ameer Abdullah, admit neither are going to be what the team and fans wanted them to be, and get a tight end who can get open over the middle and an ever down running back who can move the ball north and south. That would take a lot of the pressure off of the O-line and keep Stafford from getting sacked as much.
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