Detroit has finished in the bottom 5 in QB Rating allowed in each of the last 4 seasons.
Among the many areas for improvement in 2022, the Detroit Lions defense has one critical one. The Lions must escape the bottom rung of the NFL’s pass defenses in the QB Rating allowed metric.
It’s been too long since the Lions finished in the top half of the NFL for the full season in QB Rating allowed:
2021 – 101.0 (30th)
2020 – 112.4 (32nd)
2019 – 99.6 (27th)
2018 – 102.7 (30th)
The last time Detroit was in the upper half of the league was 2017, when Teryl Austin’s defense under head coach Jim Caldwell. That Lions defense, featuring a great secondary built around All-Pro CB Darius Slay and safeties Glover Quin and Quandre Diggs, allowed a QB Rating of 84.1 that ranked 14th in the NFL. Not coincidentally, that was the last season Detroit posted a winning record. The league QB Rating allowed average hovers right around 86.0 each year with some wiggle room.
While QB Rating isn’t a flawless metric, it does provide a pretty accurate assessment of how effective a pass defense is going against it.
Adding DE Aidan Hutchinson can only help the pass rush, one of the core components of keeping the opposing passing game under control. The secondary will need to create more interceptions and perform better in the red zone, two other areas where QB Ratings get fluffed up against a bad defense. That’s one key area for improvement for Aaron Glenn’s defense in 2022.
Here are the top candidates for the Lions players who take a big step forward in 2022.
Which Detroit Lions players are good bets to break out in the 2022 season?
Cue up “Breakout” by the Foo Fighters for appropriate background music…
Rookies are excluded here, though I will cop to believing that third-round safety Kerby Joseph is going to have a very big positive impact on the Lions secondary. Free agency newcomers are also left out because the obvious implication of signing a guy like DJ Chark is that he will have a breakout season (why else would you sign him for that money?). These are focused on returning players.
Here are the top candidates for the Lions players who take a big step forward in 2022.
The Lions have a big training camp battle brewing at EDGE
There will be a lot of heated training camp battles in Detroit later this summer. One of the primary ones earned notice from Pro Football Focus as the biggest one at the position around the entire NFL.
The Lions have a crowd of talent at the EDGE/defensive end position. Adding No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson and second-rounder Josh Paschal to the mix that also includes the team’s sack champs from 2021 (Charles Harris) and 2020 (Romeo Okwara) means coordinator Aaron Glenn has some serious conflict for places on the pecking order on his hands.
PFF agrees. In naming the Lions’ EDGE battle as the biggest one in the league, the commentary notes that it’s a good and healthy problem for Glenn and the Lions,
the Lions have a very interesting group in the midst of their rebuilding project on defense. Their top pick, Hutchinson, will have the inside track to a starting role, but Harris was brought back in the offseason after a breakout 2021 campaign. A former first-round pick in his own right (albeit 22nd overall, not second overall), Harris recorded 52 pressures for Detroit last season — 18 more than his previous career high. His 78.7 PFF pass-rushing grade was a career-best by more than 10 grading points. Harris will be firmly in the mix for a lot of snaps to see if he can back that performance up.
Before Harris and Hutchinson, Okwara had been the biggest hope for pressure, as he posted 66 pressures in 2020 before playing just four games last year.
Okwara’s brother, Julian, also gets some mention in the competition. As does Paschal, who was a pass-rushing monster at Kentucky in 2021. While he’s not mentioned here, veteran LB Jarrad Davis could factor in as well; Davis took reps in minicamp as a stand-up EDGE and looked quick.
It’s been more than a little while since the Lions had useful depth at pass rush. If the rookies are ready to roll — Hutchinson sure looked that way in minicamp — head coach Dan Campbell will have some very interesting decisions to make at EDGE.
Our NFL Wire editors examined one potential breakout player for every team ahead of the 2022 season.
There’s no underestimating the transition from college football to the NFL, where it takes some players time to fully adjust to the size and speed of the pro game.
It’s why rookies rarely thrive and why we see some substantial jumps for young players over the course of a few years.
There are a number of players around the league who are primed to make a leap this season due to their situation and/or opportunity following what’s been a whirlwind of an NFL offseason, which has featured its share of change among NFL rosters.
From second-year quarterbacks to talented, young wideouts, our NFL Wire editors examined one player from every team poised for a breakout year in 2022.
An early prediction on all 17 games on the Detroit Lions 2022 schedule
It’s time once again for the too-early “schedule game”. You know how it goes. We get the Detroit Lions schedule finalized and then it’s a requirement we go through and predict wins and losses for each game. It’s a time-honored staple of sports radio and fandom!
I have a slightly different process than most folks in doing it. I actually go through each game three times. I guesstimate the best possible outcome for the Lions, the worst possible outcome, and then which one is more likely given the opponent and my general feeling towards that team in 2022.
In this exact prediction piece in 2021, I had the Lions finishing 5-12.
Projecting the Lions current 53-man roster after the first couple of weeks of free agency and how it shapes draft needs
The Detroit Lions have been pretty busy in the first couple of weeks of free agency. Of course, much of the activity has been in the form of bringing back Detroit’s own players from the 2021 season.
In fact, the Lions currently have the most rostered players of any NFL team, at 80 (as of March 25th). That doesn’t leave much room for more additions with nine draft picks, including three of the first 34 in the 2022 NFL draft.
The team will eventually boil down to just 53. Based on who is on the roster right now, this is the projection for who makes the final 53 come September.
The Detroit Lions slight underdogs vs. Green Bay Packers in the Week 18 finale
Finding the betting line for the Detroit Lions in their Week 18 finale against the Green Bay Packers required some patience. With the playing status of so many key players on both teams unknown deep into the week, the sportsbooks have been hesitant to produce anything to bet on.
There is finally a line for the game at Tipico Sportsbook, and it’s one that favors the NFC North champion Packers. Even with the proclamation by Lions head coach Dan Campbell that starting QB Jared Goff is probable to play, the Lions are 3.5-point underdogs at home. The over/under line is 44.5.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur is planning on rolling with his regular starters, including QB Aaron Rodgers. Even with a few key pieces sitting out with injuries, the visitors from Green Bay are formidable.
Lions vs. Packers final injury report for Week 18 includes one player out and 6 questionable for Detroit
The final Detroit Lions injury report for the 2021 season reveals a team whose remaining players are in relatively good health. Only one player, fullback Jason Cabinda, is officially ruled out with a knee injury other.
Six other Lions are questionable, a grouping that includes starting QB Jared Goff and left guard Jonah Jackson. Goff is officially listed as questionable, but earlier on Friday head coach Dan Campbell called Goff “probable” to play with his lingering knee injury.
Joining Goff and Jackson (elbow/knee) as questionable for Sunday’s meeting with Green Bay in Ford Field:
- DE Michael Brockers (neck)
- LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder)
- WR Josh Reynolds (thigh)
- TE Brock Wright (groin)
Detroit’s injury report does not include the players who remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list, a group that includes both starting offensive tackles, Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker. They will be eligible to play on Sunday if they become asymptomatic and produce a negative test to clear protocols.
The Packers list, courtesy of the team via Twitter:
The betting lines moved more into Seattle’s favor after Lions QB Jared Goff was listed as doubtful
The betting line keeps moving away from the Detroit Lions in their Week 17 trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks. The doubtful status of Lions quarterback Jared Goff has weighed the line even more in Seattle’s favor.
The Seahawks were 6.5-point favorites throughout the week at Tipico Sportsbook, but the line has now moved even bigger. As of Saturday at 10 a.m. ET, the Seahawks are now favored by 7.5 points over the Lions. That’s in the wake of Goff being listed as doubtful to play with a knee injury. Tim Boyle will start in Goff’s place if the regular Detroit QB cannot play, and that leans the game heavier in Seattle’s advantage.
The over/under point total also dropped. Originally set at 42.5, it’s now down a point to 41.5. The straight money lines moved too; Detroit is now +300 (bet $100 to win $300) and Seattle is at -400 (bet $400 to win $100). The Lions were at +260 and Seattle -340 earlier in the week.
Bottom line: if you are a believer in the Lions and their ability to upset the Seahawks, it will pay off higher and with more room for error now than when Tipico first posted the lines.
Kalif Raymond doesn’t have big stats but he plays an important role for the Lions offense, one they don’t have a replacement for on the roster
When the Detroit Lions placed starting wide receiver Kalif Raymond on the reserve/COVID-19 list late in the week, it left a bigger void in the offense than it might seem. Raymond’s modest statistics belie his importance to the Lions offense.
Raymond has just 11 receptions for 96 receiving yards in the last four games. His 15 targets in those games are also nothing exceptional. But his ability to impact the defense with his speed, as well as his fierce blocking, have helped the Detroit offense perk up in that timeframe. The larger issue is that Detroit doesn’t have anyone in reserve who can readily step in and do those things for the Lions offense.
KhaDarel Hodge is the most likely suspect to take over the reps and do what Raymond does. He’s a proven blocker and he does have some long speed, but Hodge just hasn’t materialized as a route runner or trustworthy target. If Tim Boyle is at quarterback instead of Jared Goff, Hodge’s potential takes a hit too; Hodge at least worked with Goff during their Rams tenure together.
It would be lovely if Trinity Benson were capable of stepping up. Based on what we’ve seen from Benson, that would be an unexpected development. He’s been a healthy scratch even when the Lions have been injury-depleted, and his lack of blocking toughness makes him a poor replacement for Raymond. Benson does have the speed to make the defense account for him, however.
Tom Kennedy could play a bigger role. Coming off his biggest NFL outing to date (21 snaps, two receptions for 16 yards), Kennedy’s ability to get open on quick slants/outs can help fill that part of Raymond’s role. He’s shown himself a capable blocker in preseason opportunities as well. There’s also a chance the Lions could elevate rookie Javon McKinley or newcomer Juwan Green from the practice squad.