Hope is one of the most powerful words in the English language, and hope is something Lions fans have been holding on to now for decades.
Lions fans have clung to hope like someone would cling to a life preserver, if they were floating in the ocean waiting for help to arrive.
Coaches and players have come and gone over the course of time, but through it all, Detroit fans have continued to say, “This is going to be our year.”
We’ve seen the faithful in Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Seattle and New Orleans rewarded with their very own Lombardi Trophy.
We’ve also seen teams that were seemingly downtrodden forever at least make it to the "Big Game" (teams like the Cardinals and Falcons).
If they can do it, surely Detroit can, too.
While I am not suggesting this could be a Super Bowl season for the Lions, there are four reasons fans should be optimistic about their team’s offense this season.
1.) Up-tempo offense
According to Football Outsiders, it was determined the Lions had the fourth-slowest huddle-to-snap time in the league in 2021.
I can second that.
As someone who spent an exorbitant amount of time studying their game film last season, watching the Lions’ offense was like watching paint dry.
The report said Detroit averaged a play every 32.64 seconds. That’s almost enough time to get up from your seat at Ford Field and grab a hot dog (well, maybe not quite), but it was a slow pace.
Now, I understand the counter-argument of ball control and keeping the opposing offenses on the bench, but that obviously didn’t work out well either, as indicated by Detroit’s 3-13-1 record.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell has made a commitment to changing that in 2022.
“We’re going to be much more efficient, just how we get things in and out of the huddle,” Campbell told reporters. “The ability to change our tempo will be big. Some of that just comes from verbiage alone, believe it or not. I just feel like everything is just going to be so much more streamlined.”
A brisk pace will keep everyone more energetic on this offense, and in turn, it should yield better production.
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2.) New Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson
Last season, the offense went through a huge transition. Detroit fired Matt Patricia and his staff (at the end of 2020), which included offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Then, Detroit hired Campbell, and he named Anthony Lynn as his offensive coordinator.
However, during the season, Campbell took over the play-calling duties, and Lynn was eventually fired. That means this offense had three different play-callers in the course of a calendar year.
Now, Johnson is the offensive coordinator.
The cool thing about Johnson’s background is he is a former quarterback at North Carolina. He is someone who has run a huddle and should understand Campbell’s stated vision for getting this offense moving at a faster pace.
Being with the team since 2019, Johnson has also been there this whole time and has seen this offense evolve.
Who better to bridge it altogether?
3.) Adding receivers DJ Chark and Jameson Williams
Speed to take the top off a defense has been one of the main missing ingredients to this offense.
Last year, the Lions’ offense was like a sugar-free desert, and the deep threat was non-existent. Adding this kind of speed to the vertical passing game will open everything else up, including at the short-to-intermediate route levels. Defenses will not be able to suffocate the Lions’ offense like they did in 2021.
4.) Offensive line
As they say in football, everything is decided in the trenches, where the offensive and defensive linemen wage battle. The positive here is that Detroit has had the offseason to get its offensive line healthy, and on paper, this is the strength of the team.
A healthy offensive line that plays together as a unit will make a difference for all the skill position players on the Lions.