I'm not one to beat around the bush, so here it is; The 2008 season for the Detroit Lions was a disappointment.
Shocking statement, I know.
But seriously, has there ever been a more talented team to go winless in a season?
I can't think of one.
All of the jokes have already been made about the Lions' historically bad season, so the rest of this article is going to be positive and optimistic.
The Lions have already gone a long way in improving their roster, and this offseason has been one of the better ones in recent history.
They added some nice veteran pieces, such as Larry Foote and Julian Peterson. They added, via the draft, Matthew Stafford, Brandon Pettigrew and a nice safety in Louis Delmas.
But as all of the experts said, the draft is only successful if the coaching staff can develop the talent that is brought in.
The Lions haven't exactly been breaking any records in that category. But I feel confident that this year's draft class will turn out to be one of the better classes in the past decade.
While the Lions' management has put some pieces in play thus far, there is still a ways to go talent-wise. With that being said, here are some things the Lions must do to overcome the lack of superb talent at key positions.
Convert on Third Down
The Lions only converted on 28.7 percent of their third downs in 2008. At the same time, their opponents converted on 45.6 percent. This is going to sound obvious, but sometimes the obvious things are the most important; the Lions need to stay on the field more on offense and get off the field on defense.
To go along with third down conversions, the Lions were at a six minute disadvantage in time of possession. You can't ask your defense to stay on the field that long no matter how good they are.
Take Care of the Football
It's no secret that the Lion's secondary was atrocious last season. But Leigh Bodden was the only Lions defensive back with an interception last season, and he only had one.
When you see that kind of statistic, you have to think that the turnover ratio wasn't all that good. And it wasn't. The Lions were minus nine in turnovers last season, which is actually not all the quarterback's fault.
If the Lions can be opportunistic on defense this season and smart with the ball on offense, it could lead to better opportunities to rack up some victories this season.
Protect the Quarterback
The Lions surrendered 52 quarterback sacks last season, which averages out to over three a game. While the Lions didn't directly improve their offensive line through the draft or free agency, the new regime has promised to focus more on running the football, which directly effects how the offensive line performs.
If the Lions can establish Kevin Smith early in games and not get too far behind on the scoreboard, the pressure on the quarterback will be far less than we Lions fans are accustomed to.
This could be very important this season, especially if Matthew "$41.7 million" Stafford is under center.
Best case scenario, the Lions get out of the cellar and win seven or eight games.
Realistically, they are going to be looking at around four or five wins. The win-loss record this season isn't as important as the eye test. If we, Lions fans, can see some improvement on the field, we can be patient another season before Jim Swartz gets hot under the collar.
I expect the Lions to play better at home this season as well. Lord knows Detroit needs it.
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