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Detroit Lions 2020 Season Preview

Everything you need to know about the Detroit Lions' upcoming 2020 season is included in this season preview. Read more.

As the 2020 NFL season draws near, the Detroit Lions and head coach Matt Patricia are preparing full speed ahead. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many protocols, and eliminated all preseason games. But, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a must-win season for many involved in the organization. 

More: Check out the preview for all 32 NFL teams here

At her introductory Zoom press conference, new principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp provided more detail regarding the "win-now" mandate established by upper management last season.

As Ford Hamp described, "I don't want to say anything about wins and losses. We want to see major improvement. I can't really say what those specific measures are going to be. I don't know what the season is going be like yet. Believe me, major improvement is the goal."

Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford

Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford

After only winning a combined nine games in his first two seasons at the helm, Patricia and fifth-year Lions general manager Bob Quinn are firmly on the hot seat. 

If they can't produce a winner, it could be the end of the road for the entire regime. 

Who knows if the atypical offseason will give any type of wiggle room in expectations for the duo. That will be for Ford Hamp to decide, if it comes to that juncture. 

No matter the case, at the beginning of each season, optimism is flowing, and fans are ready for some NFL action.

Let's review what the Lions' roster will look like heading into 2020.


With quarterback Matthew Stafford healthy once again, the Lions look to continue where they left off in the first half of 2019. 

Before being sidelined with a back injury, Stafford was leading the league in passing yards per game and 20-plus yard completions, and he was second in the NFL in touchdown passes. 

In the highly aggressive downfield attack under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, the Lions' offense was really clicking through the air. 

Fortunately, all of the major offensive weapons return this season, including Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola and T.J. Hockenson, along with a few more talented weapons that have been added to the mix.

If there is a question mark on the offensive side of the ball, it would be the offensive line. 

One of Detroit's best players upfront in 2019 was Graham Glasgow, who departed the organization in free agency this offseason. 

Quinn decided to select back-to-back guards in the form of Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg in the middle rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft in attempt to help fill the void.

Despite Jackson and Stenberg having impressive college film, it isn’t always easy to just replace a player of Glasgow’s caliber, especially when the potential replacements are rookies. 

At right tackle, even though Rick Wagner was released, Detroit likely made a lateral move by signing free-agent Halapoulivaati Vaitai.

It remains to be seen if the career backup can make a noticeable difference.

As usual, the Lions are still looking to find consistency in the running game. 

To help aid Detroit's subpar rushing attack, Quinn drafted the do-it-all running back D’Andre Swift in the second round with pick No. 35 overall. 

Matthew Stafford and Kenny Golladay

Matthew Stafford and Kenny Golladay

If the offensive line can’t create many holes, hopefully Swift will be the equalizer, and will be able to create some extra space and yards for himself.

The X-factor in the equation is third-year running back Kerryon Johnson. 

The veteran of the running backs room must prove he can stay healthy this season, or risk losing his starting spot on Detroit's depth chart -- and possibly even his spot on the roster altogether.

Overall, the Lions have plenty to like about their offense. 

It is not hyperbole to state Detroit's offense has the potential to be prolific. However, the right side of the offensive line is still a bit of a question mark.


For a defensive-minded head football coach, Patricia hasn’t lived up to his billing. 

The defense was supposed to be the strength of the team in 2019. 

In reality, it ended up being quite the opposite. 

The Lions' defense was terrible last year, ranking 31st in the league in yards against and 26th in points allowed. 

They simply couldn’t get to the quarterback, severely lacked in the turnovers department and missed many more tackles than in the season prior. 

Aging veterans, combined with injuries, did the squad no help.


The poor results led to the departure of defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, who was replaced by former Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin. 

Make no mistake, it will still likely be Patricia calling the shots on gameday. 

There was plenty of roster turnover this offseason on the defensive side of the ball as well. 

Gone are cornerback Darius Slay, EDGE defender Devon Kennard, nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive tackle Mike Daniels and cornerback Rashaan Melvin. 

Yes, none of the players met expectations in 2019, but that is still plenty of talent that needs to be replaced. 

Some key acquisitions Detroit made to overhaul the defense include adding linebacker Jamie Collins, cornerback Desmond Trufant, rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah, nose tackle Danny Shelton, safety Duron Harmon and defensive tackle Nick Williams. 

Again, it is possible the additions will be better scheme fits and augmented versions of the players they are supplanting. 

Looking it over in a plus/minus fashion, just how much better did Detroit's roster really get, though?  

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Will the pass rush be greatly improved? 

Those are answers that we won’t know until the season starts. 

However, if the Lions are to be in the hunt to win the NFC North, the defense is going to need to either step it up, or Patricia is going to have to work some magic.

Projected Record

The Lions are in a tough division. 

In saying that, their rivals in the NFC North didn’t do anything crazy in the offseason to widen the gap. 

The Lions, meanwhile, arguably had the best offseason of the four teams. 

However, the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings still have plenty of talent, and the Chicago Bears are primed to have one of the better defenses in the NFL once again.

With Stafford under center in 2019, the Lions were right around a .500 football team. 

Just like seemingly every season of Stafford’s career, games will fall squarely on his shoulders. 

If Swift can bring an element to the offense that Stafford has never had and if the Lions can have an upper echelon rushing attack, maybe the offense will be too good for opponents to handle. 

If not, we’ve seen this story before. 

Stafford can’t do it all by himself -- not many other quarterbacks consistently can, either. 

At this point, Patricia hasn’t proven that he can turn the defense around, and that will likely be the deciding factor between an average and great season.

2020 projected win/loss record: 7-9

Running Backs Kerryon Johnson and D'Andre Swift

Running Backs Kerryon Johnson and D'Andre Swift

Expected Depth Chart

This list will have more than 53 players, and includes some of the bubble players on Detroit's current roster.

Considering the expanded practice squads, it is likely most of the players that don’t even make the final roster will still be brought up on gameday from time to time. 


  • 1.) Matthew Stafford
  • 2.) Chase Daniel
  • 3.) David Blough

Running Back:

  • 1.) Kerryon Johnson
  • 2.) D'Andre Swift
  • 3.) Bo Scarbrough
  • 4.) Ty Johnson
  • 5.) Jonathan Williams
  • 6.) Jason Huntley


  • 1.) Nick Bawden
  • 2.) Jason Cabinda (LB)

Wide Receiver:

  • 1.) Kenny Golladay
  • 2.) Marvin Jones Jr.
  • 3.) Danny Amendola
  • 4.) Quintez Cephus
  • 5.) Marvin Hall
  • 6.) Jamal Agnew

Tight End:

  • 1.) T.J. Hockenson
  • 2.) Jesse James
  • 3.) Isaac Nauta (H-back)
  • 4.) Hunter Bryant

Offensive Line:

  • 1.) LT Taylor Decker
  • 2.) LG Joe Dahl
  • 3.) C Frank Ragnow
  • 4.) OG Jonah Jackson
  • 5.) RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai
  • 6.) OT Tyrell Crosby
  • 7.) IOL Kenny Wiggins
  • 8.) IOL Logan Stenberg
  • 9.) OG Oday Aboushi
  • 10.) IOL Beau Benzschawel

Down Defensive End:

  • 1.) Trey Flowers
  • 2.) Romeo Okwara

Nose Tackle:

  • 1.) Danny Shelton
  • 2.) John Penisini

Defensive Tackle:

  • 1.) Da'Shawn Hand
  • 2.) Nick Williams
  • 3.) Kevin Strong

JACK Backer:

  • 1.) Christian Jones
  • 2.) Julian Okwara
  • 3.) Austin Bryant

WILL Backer:

  • 1.) Jamie Collins Sr.
  • 2.) Reggie Ragland
  • 3.) Jalen Reeves-Maybin
  • 4.) Miles Killebrew

MIKE Backer:

  • 1.) Jarrad Davis
  • 2.) Jahlani Tavai


  • 1.) Desmond Trufant
  • 2.) Amani Oruwariye
  • 3.) Justin Coleman
  • 4.) Jeff Okudah
  • 5.) Darryl Roberts
  • 6.) Mike Ford
  • 7.) Tony McRae
  • 8.) Dee Virgin


  • 1.) Tracy Walker
  • 2.) Duron Harmon
  • 3.) Will Harris
  • 4.) Jayron Kearse
  • 5.) C.J. Moore