Roundtable: How Soon Before the Lions Make It Back to the Playoffs?

The latest SI All Lions Roundtable focuses on recent roster decisions and when the organization will return to the NFL playoffs.
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1.) Was releasing Kerryon Johnson a mistake? 

Vito Chirco: No. He was consistently outsnapped by D'Andre Swift and Adrian Peterson a year ago, while being relegated to blocking back duties.  

Peterson is now gone, but former Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams is in. Williams, a free-agent acquisition of Brad Holmes & Co. earlier this offseason, is expected to compete for carries with Swift. 

The Lions also drafted Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft. 

The additions of Williams and Jefferson left Johnson as the odd man out in Detroit's backfield yet again. 

With that said, I can't honestly say that I was surprised that the Lions decided to release Johnson. And, I don't believe it was a mistake for the team's front-office brass to do so, either. 

John Maakaron: No. The timing of the release was a little questionable, as the front office could have waited to see what he had left in the tank during training camp. 

After reviewing film of his performance last season, he deserves a ton of credit for being willing to put his body on the line to block for quarterback Matthew Stafford. 

Unfortunately, the Lions are looking to upgrade at each and every position on the roster. Adding running back Jermar Jefferson gives the Lions offense a reasonable third option behind Swift and Williams -- thus ending Johnson's tenure in Motown. 

2.) Frank Ragnow is one of the most relatable athletes in Detroit. How good is it that he is locked in to play for the Lions for the next several years? 

Chirco: There's no doubt that it's very good. He's only going to be 25 come the start of the 2021 season -- he'll be 25 on May 17. So, he has a great chance to be a franchise cornerstone along Detroit's offensive line for years to come, along with tackles Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell.  

In what has been a productive offseason for the organization, extending Ragnow has been one of the smartest moves. 

Maakaron: Ragnow is an easy player to root for. He has quickly emerged as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. 

Holmes did not waste time in making him the highest paid center in the league and he will not disappoint. 

Detroit is building through the trenches, and to lock up Taylor Decker and Ragnow for the next few seasons will provide the line with stability, as Jonah Jackson and Penei Sewell continue to develop. 

3.) Jared Goff said the Lions could be "playoff good" quickly. How soon before the Lions make it back to the playoffs? 

Chirco: Well, let me first say that I think that's hyperbole coming out of Goff's mouth. Those comments were nothing more than an attempt from Detroit's new signal-caller to give some hope to his new team's fanbase -- a group of fans that had little-to-nothing to cheer for in Matt Patricia's failed three-year run as head coach. 

Despite a relatively solid offseason, I don't get the impression that the organization is in position to make a quick turnaround, especially to become, as Goff put it, "playoff good" quickly.  

I'm much more confident in saying that Goff & Co. can win five games in 2021, and if everything goes right, maybe can overachieve and win seven contests.   

With how Goff's contract is structured, he's more than likely set to be Detroit's starting quarterback for the next two seasons. And, as long as he's the man behind center, I don't envision the Lions being a playoff team. 

It's why I'll say that the earliest that Detroit will make it back to the postseason is in 2023. 

Maakaron: I am one to often preach being 'cautiously optimistic' when it comes to the Lions. 

Nobody reasonably believes the Lions have a chance to make the playoffs in 2021. 

If the players drafted can contribute early and the coaching staff is able to instill a winning culture, it is fair to begin to entertain the notion of Detroit being in the playoffs in 2022. 

Holmes and Co. would have added their second free-agent and draft classes, and everyone will have that much more experience working with the coaching staff. 

4.) How concerned are you about the Lions' offense in 2021? 

Chirco: I'm very concerned. First off, new Lions starting signal-caller Jared Goff wasn't very good his last two seasons in Los Angeles. Second, the franchise doesn't have a clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver at this juncture. Unless one of Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Quintez Cephus or 2021 fourth-round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown outperform expectations, that will likely remain the case throughout the course of the season, too. 

Simply put, first-year Detroit offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will likely have his work cut out for him. 

Maakaron: At some point in 2021, I think this offense can be productive and reliable. 

It will take some time to gel and for everything to come together, but if the talent on the roster stays healthy and plays to their potential -- some solid numbers can be put up on a weekly basis. 

New quarterback Jared Goff is being put in the best position possible to succeed, and it will up to the 26-year-old quarterback to take control of this offense and lead the team.