Training camp is just two weeks away.
As the Detroit Lions prepare to open up camp on July 27, along with 28 other teams, it’s becoming time to analyze and make predictions for their fate during the upcoming season.
The general consensus is that the team will not be a competitive one in 2021. However, the Lions could surprise some teams simply because of a change in mindset.
With that said, here are five bold predictions for the Lions in the 2021 season:
St. Brown leads team in receiving touchdowns
There’s a certain buzz around Amon-Ra St. Brown heading into training camp. The rookie is in a unique position and figures to play a role in the Lions’ offense that outweighs that of a normal fourth-round pick.
The key with St. Brown is that he is very sound fundamentally and moves well. Sure, he has good hands, but his ability to be solid in a number of things is what sets him apart.
With two new receivers, Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman, looking to be the starters on the outside, St. Brown will have the keys to the slot.
New Lions quarterback Jared Goff worked out with St. Brown prior to coming to Detroit, and developed a good connection with him. With more time together, that connection will manifest into a solid relationship.
Detroit’s offense doesn’t figure to be one that will be centered around throwing the deep ball. So, expect St. Brown to turn short crossing routes into big gains and to lead the team in receiving scores when the season is over.
Swift falls short of 1,000 rushing yards, but shows significant promise
Though D’Andre Swift showed he can be a future 1,000-yard rusher in 2020, don’t expect 2021 to be the season where he makes it happen.
The Lions have invested many recent first-rounders in their offensive line, including 2021 No. 7 overall pick Penei Sewell. Because of this, Swift will have a behemoth front five to run behind in future years.
This upcoming season, however, expect Sewell to experience growing pains. As a result, there will be games where Swift struggles to produce.
Also, Jamaal Williams is new to the team, and will likely split a share of the carries with Swift in the backfield.
Swift will have a few solid games and create more optimism for the future with his performance during the upcoming season. However, he’ll fall just short of the 1,000-yard mark, as the Lions struggle in the run game late in the season.
Three Lions make the Pro Bowl
Last season, the Detroit Lions had three Pro Bowlers despite winning just five games. This year, expect an identical number despite likely a similar level of success.
Punter Jack Fox rose from the ranks of the undrafted to be one of the league’s best punters. Fox will yet again crack the Pro Bowl, after being the team’s best at flipping the field consistently.
Joining Fox will be two players from the defensive side of the ball.
Defensive end Romeo Okwara will have a Pro Bowl season in 2021. Okwara received an extension from the organization, following a career year in 2020. He will continue his upward trajectory during this upcoming season, and reset his career-high in sacks with 12.5.
The third and final Pro Bowler for Detroit in 2021 will be safety Tracy Walker. Due to the addition of Duron Harmon during last offseason, Walker spent more time playing out of position than he should have.
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Now, with Harmon off to Atlanta, Walker will be able to slide back to his more natural position of free safety. He will thrive with this move, controlling the back half of the field and intercepting five passes during the season.
The Lions' defense struggled in 2020. With a number of individual improvements and two Pro Bowlers, this unit will improve its reputation in 2021.
Goff proves he is not the quarterback of the future
There are plenty of Lions fans who believe Jared Goff is nothing more than an expensive stopgap quarterback for the Lions organization. This is an opinion that will ring true during the 2021 season.
Goff has proven to be a warrior, and showed toughness by playing through a broken thumb during last season’s playoffs. However, he’s struggled with the turnover bug lately, and with a very limited supporting cast around him, it’s fair to say he won’t be getting many breaks.
The new Detroit quarterback will provide the fanbase with a couple solid performances. But, in the end, it won’t be enough. If the organization is as committed to winning as it seems to be, Goff’s role in 2021 will not be the same in 2022.
The turnovers will be too much to justify extending his reign as starting quarterback. With plenty of options in the upcoming NFL Draft, the potential of a rookie will be too much to pass up.
Goff will rank near the top of the league in interceptions; thus, proving he is not the man to lead the Lions long term.
Lions are cellar-dwellers once again, surprise nobody with four-win finish
The fact that the Lions have one of the worst rosters in the league helps its winning plans very little. Throw in the fact that they have one of the toughest schedules in the league, and their outlook for 2021 becomes even more bleak.
Detroit has perennially had very little going for itself in the way of luck. Don’t expect that to change in 2021.
It never looked like the playoffs were in reach for this upcoming season, but some fans are optimistic that the team is going to take the league by surprise and play a competitive brand of football.
This won’t be the case, though.
The new regime of head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes will take its lumps, as the Lions ride out a five-game losing streak before gaining their first win in Week 6 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Lions will earn their lone divisional win on Thanksgiving, beating a struggling Bears team as a reminder of what this team could be down the road.
The other two wins will come in Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles, a win that provides a sliver of optimism about reaching .500, as the team hits its bye week at 2-6, and in Week 16 over an Atlanta Falcons team floundering with Matt Ryan as its leader.
Detroit will not be a successful team in 2021. It’s good to be optimistic, no doubt. However, realistically, the team’s chances of being successful are not good.
There are certainly many pieces that set the team up to be successful in the future, yet those pieces aren’t ready to compete and produce at a high level in the immediate future.
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