Detroit Lions: Rebuilding Since 1957—Are They Finally Complete? (2024)

Detroit Lions: Rebuilding Since 1957—Are They Finally Complete? (1)

Can QB Matthew Stafford make all the right throws to his best receiver?Leon Halip/Getty Images

Most people—if not everyone—in Detroit seem to have taken at least a sip of the Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid.

The Lions are coming off a year in which they exploded out of the fourth turn of the 2010-11 season and finished the season 6-10 after starting 2-10.

Jim Schwartz and company had one of the stronger drafts this year, obtaining Auburn DT Nick Fairley to play alongside already established star Ndamukong Suh.

Only furthering their case as a contending team, the organization re-signed key players such as ChrisHoustonand Cliff Avril, while also adding key free agents, LBs Justin Durant and Steven Tulloch.

All of this sounds like aconcoctionfor a winning team. In my mind? Almost.

Personally, I haven't sipped the Kool-Aid—yet.

With injuries already to Fairley (who also has noted character issues), and to second-round picks RB Mikel Leshoure and WR Titus Young, the Lions will basically start the season like they hadn't even participated in the draft.

Detroit Lions: Rebuilding Since 1957—Are They Finally Complete? (2)

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With an injury-prone prodigy QB inMatthew Stafford, there are simply too many questions on this team.

Is Matthew Stafford Ready?

The key question mark here is Matt Stafford.

Stafford has all the basic tools to be a successful NFL starting quarterback. His throwing arm is a cannon and cannot be overlooked.

But with a great arm comes great responsibility, which shows several of Stafford's decision-making flaws. He likes to force the ball into tight areas where accuracy usually must be perfect.

For a young QB, this is still difficult.

The most lingering question for the Lions and Stafford is whether Stafford can remain healthy for a full 16-game season.

Stafford has played 13 games in two seasons due to shoulder injuries to his throwing arm, which means he has missed over 60 percent of his potential full NFL career thus far. This issue resides clearly in Stafford's head and his slow improvement of his decision-making ability.

He needs to realize when to throw the ball and take a bone crushing hit and when to settle and accept a sack or throw the ball away.

But if Stafford were to stay healthy and live up to the No. 1 overall draft pick mantra, the Lions should be an above average team.

If not, and Stafford ends up becoming an injury-prone NFL bust, the Lions are almost literally back to square one in the rebuilding of this team.

The Defense

Most people expected the Lions to draft for defensive depth earlier this spring.

Almost the opposite happened, withtwo of the team's top three picks going to the offense.

The Lions did steal Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley at No. 13. Fairley, who had been highly touted as a prospect, fell down the draft order mainly due to his highly-publicized character issues.

The Lions took a shot in hopes of a steal, and so far, they have one.

Detroit Lions: Rebuilding Since 1957—Are They Finally Complete? (3)

Newly drafted DT Fairley will line up well with already NFL star SuhChris Trotman/Getty Images

Since fracturing his foot earlier this August, reports state that Fairley has been doing all the things off the field that he needs to.

He is working hard in the weight room and studying playbooks and films with his fellow defensive tackles.

This is good news for Lions fans, as hopefully his work ethic off the field will translate onto the field and give the Lions one of the league's best defensive lines.

As for the remainder of the defense, the linebacker corps was upgraded with the additions of Durant and Tulloch and should be solid throughout the year.

The only real question for the defense is the secondary. The Lions re-signed cornerback Chris Houston, which was the Lions' No. 1 offseason priority. Other than Houston, though, the secondary is somewhat lacking.

With Eric Wright and Amari Spievey starting, along with a solid safety in Louis Delmas, the team's secondary is so-so.

Yet, since the team's defensive line is so good, rushing and pressuring opposing QBs shouldn't be an issue, which will give some relief to the subpar secondary.

All in all, it seems too much has to go perfectly on this team in order for them to simply contend.

Stafford must play all 16 games. Suh must be as dominant as he was last year, Fairley must learn from Suh and keep his temper in check.

With so many questions on an already injury-depleted team,I really, really wish I could say the Lions would finish 10-6 or 9-7.

My bold prediction? 7-9

Detroit Lions: Rebuilding Since 1957—Are They Finally Complete? (2024)
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