As the NFL regular season nears the end, we at Full Press Lions thought we might debut a new segment this week. We are going to round up the previous week’s game and news and preview the upcoming opponent. We will discuss the surprise change made to the Lions coaching staff following the loss to the Tennessee Titans, look forward to the off-season as Detroit’s playoff hopes have officially come to an end, and preview this week’s game against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So step inside the Lions Den and catch up on what you may have missed.
Lions Make Surprising Coaching Change
The Detroit Lions fired special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs following their loss to the Tennessee Titans. On the surface the move didn’t make any sense. Special teams had been about the only position group that had played consistently well throughout this season. Coombs had even been mentioned as a possible candidate for the open head coaching position. All of that came to an end after it was reported that Coombs fake punt attempt was not approved by interim head coach Darrell Bevell.
Reports say that Coombs “went rogue” on the call to fake the punt and it did not go well. While on replay it appeared close enough to review it wasn’t and the Lions turned the ball over on downs. Even if the call had been successful, you can’t undermine the head coach and make your own calls. Coombs will surely land on his feet, but finding someone who is able to have that unit playing as well as they did this year will be difficult for Detroit. Some Lions players have been very vocal in their support of Coombs.
Lions Officially Bow Out of Playoff Contention
For many Lions fans it has seemed as though making the playoffs was out of the conversation already. They have struggled since sitting at 4-5 and fired their head coach and general manager in that time. But mathematically they were still in contention until this past Sunday. Their 46-25 loss to the Tennessee Titans officially knocked them out of the playoffs. This will now allow them to look forward to this off-season. Of course they players still have to play and will certainly not mail it in for the chance at a higher draft pick (looking at you New York Jets). Many of them are competing for jobs next year, whether on the Lions or another NFL roster. Detroit currently sits at the 11th overall pick through 14 games according to Tankathon.
Based on recent mock drafts and Pro Football Focus player ratings they would be in range to select Devonta Smith from Alabama or quarterback like Trey Lance or Zach Wilson. These options are intriguing but don’t feel like they address the biggest needs for the Lions. It may be a draft where based on their draft position they may have to choose the best player available in the first round and try to address needs for the team in later rounds. The decision will hinge on whether the new staff chooses to start from scratch or build around Matthew Stafford. If they do trade Stafford then it likely becomes imperative to pick a quarterback in the first round. With six quarterbacks currently graded as first or second round picks Detroit could be left out if they don’t pick one for themselves at 11.
We will have The Lions Den: Mock Draft edition following the regular season and will update throughout the off-season.
Week 16 Game Preview: Home vs Tampa Bay
In part three of our season preview, we projected this to be a loss.
“The biggest news of the offseason came when Tom Brady left the New England Patriots to join the Bucs. He brought his favorite target Rob Gronkowski out of retirement to join him in Florida. Brady will be inheriting the best offensive group that he has probably ever had and they should win against the Lions.”
While some of our predictions before the season started went awry, this one seems spot on. While Gronkowski hasn’t been as impactful for the Buccaneers as I had anticipated they are still the superior team. Brady has weapons all over the field and their defense which has only allowed 30+ points three times this season. Two of those three poor defensive efforts came against the New Orleans Saints. Tampa desperately needs to win this game to have an opportunity to win the division. They are currently one game behind the Saints, so they need some help, but winning against the Lions is a must to have that chance.
A clearly hurting Matthew Stafford started for Detroit against Tennessee and even with them being eliminated from playoff contention don’t expect to see anyone but him starting on Saturday afternoon. His toughness has never been questioned and reminded me of a quote from current Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm.
If Matthew Stafford is breathing it is a good bet that he will play. Even with the thumb and rib injuries he played well against the Titans. Should the game get out of hand Darrell Bevell may choose to put Chase Daniel in to try and preserve Stafford’s health. The Lions defense has been as porous as SpongeBob lately and that trend should continue against a strong Tampa Bay offense. Tampa Bay should come away with a 34-24 win on Saturday.
The Lions Den Moving Forward
This new weekly segment will continue for the rest of the season, but we need your input for what you’d like to see us cover! Also if you think this segment works in print, should we start a podcast talking with guests about what write here? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @FullPressLions! Thanks for sitting down in The Lions Den and come back next week!