One Reason for Lions Fans To Be Thankful This Season

Read more on why Lions fans should be thankful this season
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The Lions are 4-6 through the first 11 weeks of the 2020 NFL season, with just a glimmer of hope remaining of making the playoffs at this point.

It makes it hard to find something to give thanks for with this year's iteration of the Lions, even in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season.

Yet, when you look hard enough, I believe it's possible to find an aspect of the team to be thankful for.

For me, it's the special teams unit led by 34-year-old Brayden Coombs. 

Special teams has been easily the most consistently productive unit for Detroit in 2020 -- veteran placekicker Matt Prater's struggles notwithstanding -- and Coombs' stock as an NFL assistant has risen as a result of it. 

For starters, he's overseen a punt defense that has blocked a league-leading three punts -- at least two more blocked punts than every other NFL franchise. 

Additionally, when Austin Bryant and Romeo Okwara each blocked a punt in Week 9 against the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions became the first organization to block two punts in a single game since the Vikings did so on Nov. 30, 2014. 

Detroit also became the first team since the 1991 Dallas Cowboys to block three total punts in a two-game span, when they did so in Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts (courtesy of Miles Killebrew) and in Wk. 9 against Minnesota.

Meanwhile, the special teams performer that's been the most consistently productive has been the team's first-year punter in Jack Fox.

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The 24-year-old, who replaced longtime Lions punter Sam Martin, has been nothing short of impressive. 

He presently leads the league in both average yards per punt (50.6) and net yards per punt (46.3).

He's also pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 17 times -- tied for the sixth-highest total this season. 

Just this past Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, he recorded four punts that fell inside Carolina's 20.

As a result of his terrific play thus far, he landed on Pro Football Focus' midseason All-Pro squad as the site's first-team punter.

To steal a line from Coombs -- one which he uttered earlier this season in a video conference with Detroit media -- Fox has been "kicking the crap out of the ball." 

And the Lions are better off because of it. 

“Me and Jack (Fox) are kind of on the same page, in terms of the more success we have, we’re just going to keep raising the bar,” Coombs told reporters in September. “We’re not really looking back right now and talking about anything that we’ve done. As he continues to go out and do better, then we’re just going to raise the goals higher and try to accomplish more. He knows that I’m very, very confident in him. I just don’t want he, or us, ever to feel satisfied or like we’ve arrived. We’re just going to keep trying to reach higher and higher, and see how far we can take it.”

Coombs and Fox have provided a sliver of hope amid a tumultuous campaign, and Detroit fans everywhere should be thankful for it. 

I know am.

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