Head Coach: Jim Schwartz
2012 Record: 4-12-0 (4th in NFC North)
New Players: RB Reggie Bush; K David Akers; DE Jason Jones; S Glover Quin.
Gone Elsewhere: DE Cliff Avril; DE Kyle Vanden Bosch; K Jason Hanson (retired); WR Titus Young; OT Jeff Backus.
Offense: Quarterback Matthew Stafford will once again lead the Lions' attack after passing for 4,967 yards last season along with 20 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions.
Teaming up with Stafford is WR Calvin Johnson, who broke the NFL record for receiving yards in a single season last year with 1,964 yards on 122 catches, including five TD receptions.
That duo will be the cornerstone of the offense once again while the running game will see Mikel Leshoure
|QB Matthew Stafford|
|WR Calvin Johnson|
The rest of the receiving corps for the Lions will include Nate Burleson (27 catches in only six games after a season ending injury), Mike Thomas and tight
ends Tony Scheffler (42 grabs for 505 yards) and
Brandon Pettigrew, who made 59 catches for 567 yards and three touchdowns.
The O-Line will be anchored by center Dominic Raiola. The guards are Rob Sims and rookie Larry Warford (Kentucky) and the tackles are Reilly Reiff and Corey Hilliard.
Defense: This unit played pretty well last year, ranking 13th in the NFL in yards allowed per game behind tackles Ndamukong Suh (eight QB sacks) and Nick Fairley, who registered 5 1/2 sacks last season. The ends include Jason Jones, rookies Ezekiel Ansah (BYU) and Devin Taylor (South Carolina) and Willie Young. The linebackers are Stephen Tulloch, Ashlee Palmer and DeAndre Levy.
In the secondary will be safties Glover Quin and Louis Delmas. The corners are Chris Houston and perhaps rookie Darrius Slay (Mississippi State). Jonte Green and Bill Bentley will be on hand at the corner spots as well.
OUTLOOK: After plummeting from the playoffs in 2011 to last place in the NFC North last year, Head Coach Jim Schwartz may find himself on the "hot seat" this year. The Lions lost their final eight games a year ago and they know that in today's NFL, a quick turnaround is always possible.
The team must improve on the turnover charts, where they ranked near the bottom of the league last year with a minus-16 that included just eleven interceptions and six fumble recoveries.
The offense ranked second in the league in passing in 2012 but the running game lagged at 23rd overall. Better balance would go a long way in helping the Lions get back in the fold in the NFC North. That is why the team signed Reggie Bush to aid Leshoure in the backfield and take some pressure off Stafford and Johnson in the passing game.
The Lions averaged 23 points a game while giving up 27 points a year ago, so it shows they were in games, but just were not winning the close ones as they did the year before.
For the Lions to get back to the post-season, expect more of Stafford to Johnson this season, but they must mix it up with the running game and the defense has to continue improving with some of the personnel changes made.
A 7-9 season looks to be in the fold this year, which would be a three-game improvement from last season. The Lions have the potential to compete in the rugged division. How well they play against their NFC North opponents will decide their fate this year.
Sept. 8- vs. Minnesota
Sept. 15- at Arizona
Sept. 22- at Washington
Sept. 29- vs. Chicago
Oct. 6- at Green Bay
Oct. 13- at Cleveland
Oct. 20- vs. Cincinnati
Oct. 27- vs. Dallas
Nov. 3- BYE WEEK
Nov. 10- at Chicago
Nov. 17- at Pittsburgh
Nov. 24- vs. Tampa Bay
Nov. 28- vs. Green Bay
Dec. 8- at Philadelphia
Dec. 16- vs. Baltimore
Dec. 22- vs. NY Giants
Dec. 29- at Minnesota