In this week’s All Lions mailbag, some great questions were brought to the table regarding the Detroit Lions.
Fans are highly interested in who will make the roster in 2020, the win total of the team, and how long could Matthew Stafford remain at the helm.
Here is this week's mailbag:
1.) Which RBs make the roster? (D'Andre) Swift and Kerryon (Johnson) are locks, but what about (Jason) Huntley, (Bo) Scarborough and Ty Johnson? - @W_R_III
Answer: Typically, the Lions have only kept four true tailbacks on their roster during the season. Considering that Jason Huntley could be the starting kick returner and/or punt returner, they have the option to keep all five of those running backs listed. Jamal Agnew has been the returner for a few years now, and has contributed next to nothing on defense. If the Lions are willing to move on from Agnew, they don’t need a direct replacement at corner, and could use the extra spot for a running back.
2.) The national media is not giving the Lions any love … neither are the Vegas oddsmakers. Just curious … do you think this roster is good enough to go over 6.5 wins? - @rob_woods54
A: I feel that the roster is good enough to win 10 games, but that is their ceiling in my mind. Their floor is six wins with a healthy Matthew Stafford all year. In order for the Lions to get to that double-digit win total, they will need quite a bit to go their way: key playmakers remaining healthy, plenty of rookies and younger players taking the next step, the free agents living up to their billing and a few bounces and close games going in their favor. It’s unlikely that all of that will go as perfectly as planned.
In short, I think this team is very capable of winning at least seven games. I’m just not sure how many more wins I would be willing to predict after that.
3.) With the newest additions on the DL, do you expect to see a return to more traditional rush schemes or them sticking with three rushers more than any other team? - @EvanVanWormer1
A: In theory, if you have better defensive linemen, you shouldn't need to bring as many rushers to get to the quarterback. It’s probably safe to assume that they won’t completely abandon their three-man rushes. I hope they are just a little more creative with linebacker stunts and formations to manufacture pressure.
I do feel Matt Patricia is self-aware of his deficiencies, and has shown that he can try to adjust from year to year. Maybe he and (defensive coordinator) Cory Undlin will work together and find a more happy-medium in terms of the number of pass rushers used.
4.) Would it be reasonable that if "Quinntricia" is fired that a new GM would want to draft his own QB & completely rebuild? - @7playy
A: Make no mistake, I can definitely be labeled a Stafford supporter. He has the tools to lead a team to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for him, more often than not, Super Bowl-winning teams have a strong defense and can run the ball when necessary -- a combination Stafford has never had in his entire career.
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In the case that Quinn and Patricia don’t return next season, I think it is very possible that a new general manager would want to trade Stafford -- if he were to get the green light from owner Martha Ford to have a few years of rebuilding time. Stafford would have plenty of trade value, and his dead cap wouldn’t be a deal-breaker after this season.
With the type of roster Quinn and Patricia have constructed, the roster would likely need a major overhaul for any other defensive scheme. If a new coach and general manager want to tear everything down to rebuild for the future -- as much as it pains me to say -- they might also want a fresh start at quarterback. On a positive note, having a new, solid quarterback on a rookie contract has proven to be successful.
5.) When are we gonna sign a good FA Edge or D-Tackle? Or aren't we? - @lotzaluc
A: The Lions have already brought in a few players at those positions. Nick Williams, Danny Shelton and hopefully, a healthy D’Shawn Hand will form a decent defensive tackle rotation. In terms of a pass rush from the interior, those players are an upgrade when compared to last season's cast. A big “if,” but if Mike Daniels could stay healthy and is willing to sign for about a third of his price tag he signed last year, I would be open to bringing him back. When on the field, he was very productive. You would just have to cross your fingers that the last two seasons filled with injuries are behind him.
On the edge, Trey Flowers is their guy. They gave him a ton of money last offseason, and it’s difficult to have two players at the same position with a big cap hit.
I wouldn’t have minded a true EDGE rusher at the JACK linebacker position, like current free agent Markus Golden, but the addition of Julian Okwara in the draft should help. The Lions have always wanted their linebacker to be able to play on the edge and off-ball -- Jamie Collins, Jahlani Tavai and Christian Jones all have experience standing up on the defensive line.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Lions feel comfortable with their versatile group of linebackers to help pressuring the quarterback on early downs. But, you can never have enough pass rushers, and the Lions still have open cap space. Unfortunately, the Lions' scheme just doesn’t emphasize the type of pass rush that most others covet.