Detroit Lions Shaking Off the Hard Knocks

Detroit Lions

In August, as the dog days of summer fade and training camps start, NFL fans start to clamor for the return of Hard Knocks. NFL Films’ showcase of a team struggling through two-a-days and training camp is the first piece of content that reminds fans that “football is close.”

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In addition to giving fans their first taste of football in the upcoming season, it’s also become a de facto spotlight for highlighting the big personalities within the game of football. A quick search on YouTube can give you highlights of past talent shows, memorable speeches, and clips that have gone viral.

The Detroit Lions were featured this past year. There were a lot of great entertainment moments – rookie Aidan Hutchinson leading the team in a sing-along of “Billie Jean”, and head coach Dan Campbell’s fiery inspirational speeches – that it gave prognosticators pause – could this Detroit Lions team be different than the ones in the past?

As we got into the season, the Hard Knocks glow faded. The Detroit Lions impressed by putting up big point totals (35, 36, and 48 points) in three of their first four games, but their inexperience and inability to be comfortable in tight games handed them several close losses.

Now it seems that the Detroit Lions are learning from all those close losses. The Detroit Lions put together their first winning streak of the season yesterday with a 31-30 road win vs their NFC divisional rival Chicago Bears. The week before that, they won a squeaker 15-9 over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

What’s bringing the Hard Knocks team back into focus? There are a couple of factors to point to.

Improving Defense Winning Close Games

At the beginning of the season, Detroit Lions fans were pleased with the output of the offense, as the Lions put up a fight offensively, going toe to toe with high-flying offenses like the Eagles, Seahawks, and Dolphins. Unfortunately, their defense was porous in all those games, leading to the losses.

Dan Campbell addressed the shortcomings of the Detroit Lions’ pass defense by firing defensive backs coach and pass game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant. Pleasant was part of Campbell’s original staff in 2021. Since letting him go after the Dolphins game, the Lions’ secondary has improved. They intercepted Aaron Rodgers three times in the 15-9 win over the Packers and were responsible for the pick-six that Justin Fields threw that clinched victory for the Detroit Lions against the Bears. If the defense can build on that, they’ll be headed in the right direction.

Offensive Reinforcements

The Lions are also starting to get back their full complement of offensive weapons. Though they traded TJ Hutchinson, D.J. Chark is also set to return, giving the Lions another outside weapon.

The Lions are also nearing the debut of Jameson Williams, the Alabama speedster who they drafted knowing he was recovering from an ACL injury. If Williams can show even part of what he did when he was at Alabama, the Lions will have a fiercely competitive group of wide receivers they can throw the ball to.

 


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