Many Lions fans rejoiced when news came down that the team was parting ways with Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn. The pair had tried to bring the “Patriot Way” to Detroit over the past several seasons. While the team showed some flash under the pair’s leadership the team ultimately fell short of any goals they had set out to accomplish. With offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell taking over as the interim head coach lets look at what to expect from the Lions in week 13.
What to Expect: Offense
The Lions offense has been head scratching at times this year. When they can establish the run, usually with D’Andre Swift, the offense looks balanced. Matthew Stafford often has time to throw and pick apart the opposing defense. When they don’t run well Stafford has to return to the early days of his career where he slings the ball all over the field. Unfortunately for Detroit, there hasn’t been much success with that manner of offense this year.
I wasn’t initially expecting to see much change from the offense. Bevell likely got to call his own shots and wasn’t interfered with from Patricia. However this week the Lions released two players from the offensive side of the ball. Both Marvin Hall and Isaac Nauta were let go this week in moves that seemed to stump many fans. While the Nauta move makes more sense with Hunter Bryant set to debut for the Lions, the Hall release is more surprising. Hall was the only true and consistent deep threat for the Detroit offense. Look for Jamal Agnew to see an increased role offensively with Hall gone.
D’Andre Swift had cleared concussion protocol earlier this week and seemed good to go, but will likely miss this week with an illness. That will put the rushing load on Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson. The starting running back against Chicago will say a lot about whether Johnson had fallen out of favor with Patricia or Bevell
What to Expect: Defense
While Cory Undlin has been the defensive coordinator this year, its hard to believe that Matt Patricia didn’t have a say. Romeo Okwara, who has been a consistent bright spot this year, implied that things would look a bit different defensively against Chicago. Hopefully that includes more pressure and zone coverage to make Mitchell Trubisky have to beat them. Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant have graded out among the worst corners in the league this year. They need to be able to sit in a zone and make plays on the ball.
The downside to zone defense is that most competent quarterbacks can pick it apart if not pressured. The Lions will have to get creative to get to Trubisky uncomfortable. I think Jahlani Tavai and Jarrad Davis can thrive in a blitzing role, and will hopefully get a chance to prove that in the last few weeks of the season. Trey Flowers is a guy who can use these weeks to hopefully make a stamp that he hasn’t been able to make consistently since he got to Detroit.
What to Expect: Special Teams
If there has been one consistent unit for the Lions in 2020 it has been special teams. While the return game hasn’t been impactful, most other parts have been. Jack Fox has been a diamond in the rough and has a decent shot to make the Pro Bowl. Their kick and punt coverage teams have limited return yardage for the most part. Although he has missed more kicks than normal Matt Prater has also been a net positive for this team. Brayden Coombs has been an outstanding hire for Detroit and someone who should get a real look at the head coaching position.