They remain the only franchise in the NFC not to reach the Super Bowl. What are the most pressing issues for the Detroit Lions that warrant answers?
There’s a new head coach but the same old recent history. The Detroit Lions jettisoned Jim Caldwell after four seasons and two playoff appearances. But there still hasn’t been a playoff win since 1991 and a division title since ’93. Meanwhile, the last time new head coach Matt Patricia wasn’t part of a team that went to the postseason was 2008 – a very forgettable year for NFL fans from the Motor City.
Still, there’s certainly some reason for optimism when it comes to this team in 2018. The one-time defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots inherits a squad that finished with a winning record in three of the past four seasons and made playoff appearances in 2014 and ‘16. Then again, the NFC North looks pretty solid from top to bottom. Even the Chicago Bears, who have resided in the basement the previous four seasons, look like a much-improved football team.
So as the Lions prepare for the third preseason game (August 24 at Tampa Bay), has there been any solutions when it comes to the five most important issues surrounding the club?
5. Who is the team’s second-best pass rusher?
When healthy, defensive end Ziggy Ansah has proven to be one of the better performers in the league when it gets comes to pressuring opposing quarterbacks. But he has also been a little inconsistent since the team made him a first-round pick in 2013. A year ago, he 12 sacks in 14 games, accounting for more than one-third of Detroit’s 35 quarterback traps this past year. For what it’s worth, the one-time BYU product will be playing on the franchise tender this year ($17.143 million).
The club is in search of a complement to the one-time Pro Bowler. Tow-year pro Anthony Zettel finished second on the club with 6.5 sacks. A return to form by Kerry Hyder would help. He missed all of 2017 with an Achilles’ injury after totaling eight QB traps the previous year. But could an answer come in the form of outside linebacker Derek Kennard, late of the New York Giants? It will be interesting to see Patricia puts all of the pieces together.