As the Chicago Bears prepare for the upcoming season, we’re taking a look at what the other teams in the NFC North did this offseason to bolster their chances of grabbing a playoff berth.
Today, our focus shifts to the Motor City as we look at the moves of the Detroit Lions.
The Lions had to bring in some new pieces on their defensive line this offseason, acquiring tackle Haloti Ngata from the Baltimore Ravens and Tyrunn Walker via free agency. They also worked hard in the NFL Draft to add a couple of potential impact pieces, with running back Ameer Abdullah potentially stepping in for Reggie Bush (who was cut by the team) and Laken Tomlinson potentially becoming a fixture on the team’s offensive line.
One pick-up to keep an eye on this offseason is Gabe Wright, who was drafted by the Lions out of Auburn in the fourth round. A lot of attention will be paid to Ngata and rightfully so, but Wright could be a future stand-out for the team in the middle of that defensive line, and he has the explosiveness to be the playmaker that the team needs after their offseason losses.
If there was one team in the NFC North that was hammered by offseason losses, it was the Lions. In addition to cutting Bush loose in a February roster move, the team also lost defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to free agency, with Suh signing a rich contract with the Miami Dolphins and Fairley bolstering an already-stout defensive line with the St. Louis Rams.
The Ngata trade and Wright draft selection are designed to help soften the blow, but the loss of two home run hitters from the middle of their defensive line will not be an easy thing for the Lions to deal with. Suh is an other-worldly talent that will be sorely missed by the Lions, and it will be interesting to see how the team deals with that adjustment.
What it Means:
The Lions were a playoff team last year, but with the losses of Suh and Fairley, it is a fair question to ask as to whether or not they can hit that peak again. The team still has an excellent offense with Stafford at quarterback and Calvin Johnson at wide receiver, but health concerns could dog Megatron this season. Golden Tate should continue to provide some distraction for opposing defenses as well.
Another interesting player to keep an eye on during the early part of the season is tight end Eric Ebron. Brandon Pettigrew never developed into a dynamic pass-catching threat at the position for Detroit, but with a year of development under his belt, Ebron could take a step forward in the coming season.
Games vs. Bears: Week 6 (Oct. 18) and Week 17 (Jan. 3)