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2013 NFL Preview: Detroit Lions

by Photo of Kenneth Teape

The Lions will look to bounce back after a disappointing 2012 season that didn’t meet high expectations.

2013 NFL Preview: Detroit Lions

In this article…

The NFL Season is getting closer and closer. The Baltimore Ravens took home the Super Bowl last year, but this next season will surely come with plenty of surprises. It's time to get ready for the start of the year by taking a look at all 32 teams to gauge where they are, starting with the worst and ending with the defending Super Bowl champions. It's the CHARGED.fm 2013 NFL Preview, and today we're previewing the Detroit Lions.

Last Season:

After a surprise playoff run in 2011 there were some higher expectations for the 2012 season in Detroit for the first time in a long time. An explosive offense with a growing defense was supposed to finally parlay into a Lions team that would contend for the NFC North crown and be a sleeper for the Super Bowl; things came crashing down to earth fast though in Detroit.

A so-so start for the Lions, who started 4-4, was met with a disastrous second half. They could not get out of their own way and will enter the 2013 season on an eight-game losing streak, having not won since week 9 of last season. An inability to get everyone in the same page and playing together ultimately doomed the Lions.

The Lions offense put up some big numbers, finishing third in the NFL in yards per game with 408.8 per game. Even with the big numbers their passing game actually saw a drop off from the previous season. After completing 63.5 percent of his passes and throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2011 Matthew Stafford regressed, completing 59.8 percent of his passes for 4,967 yards and 20 touchdowns to go along with 17 interceptions in 2012. Stafford’s drop-off did not affect his star wideout Calvin Johnson too much as he set the season record for receiving yards in a season. He did catch only five touchdowns, but with Stafford’s numbers dropping Johnson’s would also. Check out some of the highlights from Johnson’s record breaking season:

The problem for the Lions offense is running game, or lack thereof; they ranked 23rd in rushing yards per game at 100.8 per game. They were unable to get any consistent production from their running backs, which led to Stafford throwing an NFL record 727 times.

The defense did not play up to par for the Lions either, as they surrendered 27.3 points per game, sixth worst in the NFL. They did not surrender too many yards, ranking in 13th in yards per game allowed with 341.1 per game; they just could not keep teams out of the end zone.

Offseason:

Key Losses (New Team): Cliff Avril, DE (Seattle Seahawks); Justin Durant, LB (Dallas Cowboys); Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE; Gosder Cherilus, OT (Indianapolis Colts); Stephen Peterman, OG (New York Jets); Drayton Florence, CB (Carolina Panthers); Jacob Lacey, CB (Minnesota Vikings); Lawrence Jackson, DE (Minnesota Vikings); Will Heller, TE; Kevin Smith, RB; Sammie Lee Hill, DT (Tennessee Titans); Nick Harris, P; Stefan Logan, RB; Jahvid Best, RB; Kevin Barnes, DB (Cleveland Browns);

Key Additions (Team Last Season): Reggie Bush, RB (Miami Dolphins); Glover Quin, S (Houston Texans); Israel Idonije, DE (Chicago Bears); Jake Scott, G (Philadelphia Eagles); Leroy Harris, G (Tennessee Titans); David Akers, K (San Francisco 49ers); Jason Jones, DE (Seattle Seahawks); C.J. Mosley, DT (Jacksonville Jaguars); Chris Hope, S (Atlanta Falcons); Matt Willis, WR (Denver Broncos)

Players Re-Signed: Chris Houston, CB; Louis Delmas, S; DeAndre Levy, LB; Amari Spievey, S; Corey Hilliard, OT; Willie Young, DE; Kassim Osgood, WR; Brian Robiskie WR

Players Drafted: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU; Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State; Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky; Devon Taylor, DE, South Carolina; Sam Martin, P, Appalachian State; Corey Fuller, WR, Virginia Tech; Theo Riddick, RB, Notre Dame; Michael Williams, TE, Alabama; Brandon Hepburn, ILB, Florida A&M

The Lions added some intriguing pieces in the offseason to help get their team on track. They got quite possibly the best pass rusher in the draft in Ansah, who reminds a lot of people of the New York Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul; a super athletic lineman with little playing experience but the physical tools that make teams drool. The Lions have the makings of a scary defensive line in the near future with Ansah added to Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the middle and new addition Israel Idonije. Detroit checked off needs in the draft and got some players that will contribute right away as Slay, Warford and Taylor can all be part of rotations if not starting. They also addressed their problem at running back by bringing in Bush. There are not many running backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield like Bush so he should fit in nicely with the Lions offense. He showed last season he is capable of being a feature back as well.

2013 Season Outlook

The Lions are loaded on offense with the addition of Bush and having Stafford and Johnson already in place; they have a chance to be one of the top offenses in the game once again. Johnson even has a chance to improve upon his record-breaking season; he was tackled an astounding six times at the one-yard line last year. The defense had some holes addressed with the picks made in the draft and players retained. Losing Avril and Durant will hurt initially but they have the talent on the roster to fill in those holes. A team that was expected to contend last season adding a top five-player in the draft only helps them in the long run. Expect the Lions to look more like the 2011 version than the 2012 one.

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