The struggle has been intense for the Lions for a long time, but 2022 poses immense upside for the organization. The team sits at a projected 6.5 game win total, 3.5 games more than last season. That, for any team, is a major step, let alone for a team that hasn’t won six games since 2018. The goal for 2022 is to improve and build upon last season, this was obvious through the acquisition of young free agents and draftees who fit the Lions’ scheme and culture. To show growth and win more as a team, a few important individuals will need to step up and carry the load.
Elliot, the new free agent from Baltimore on a one-year deal, undoubtedly has the talent to succeed at a high level. For him, it’s all about staying on the field and being consistent. The Lions clearly suffered from their safety play last season, and a step up in performance is clearly needed for the teams’ success. Elliot has a perfect opportunity to reinvigorate his career and value.
Chark is in a similar situation to Elliot. He came to Detroit after losing his value in Jacksonville due to injury issues. Chark is obviously talented. A vertical threat who has a 1,000 yard season under his belt in his only full season, should bolster the Lions’ roster. Chark’s health is key to his success, and having his deep ball capabilities on the field for seventeen games will greatly affect the Lions ability to score and win.
With little help around him, Charles Harris quietly had a great year for the Lions. Racking up 7.5 sacks, 34 pressures, and 10 tackles for loss in 2021, brought his career back to relevancy. The question is if the new additions to the defensive line will assist Harris in improving from last season. He took on more double- teams in 2021 than most other edge-rushers in the NFL with a 24% double team rate. With more support lining up with him, his win rate, pressures, and sacks should all increase. More first and second down stops is key for a struggling defense, so Harris’s increase in production is greatly needed. If Harris improves, the Lions will improve, simple as that.
Another player whose output greatly depends on their health, Swift is a dual threat out of the backfield. A healthy swift is dangerous and keeping him on the field will be necessary for a successful season. A strong run game is key for a team’s ability to manage games and the Lions need a strong one. Luckily their offensive line is one of the best in the league, and they have talent to run the ball. Swift, who has only managed to appear in 13 games in each of his two professional seasons, needs to be active in order to continue to improve. The Lions are noticeably better with him helping them get down field, and their red-zone rushing ability is already one of the best in the league.
One of the best Tight Ends in the NFL, Hockenson needs to continue to add to his impressive young career. One of the most consistent weapons on the team, Hockenson will be a necessary target on third-downs and red-zone situations. Options for Jared Goff are important for the offenses’ success in 2022, and that includes Hockenson. Staying healthy is important, but also improving his “falling catch.” Increasing his YAC (yards after catch) is definitely needed this season for the Lions to improve.
As a whole, this group is great. That is, if their healthy. Cohesion within the offensive line is always a solid indicator of a team’s success. Winning in the trenches allows an offense to play their style of football and set the tone for the game. With a projected top-five line, the Lions know they can do just that. With Penei Sewell working towards being an elite RT, Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker returning to form, and Jonah Jackson building on a pro-bowl 2021 campaign, the Lions are relying on this group to carry them towards victory.
It’s no secret that the Lions’ secondary was weaker than the team hoped. The 2021 season was riddled with injuries to core players, but also helped determine what depth pieces could step-up when needed. Still, the Lions need improvement from their corners in 2022 if they want to double their win total. A key to that is Okudah, who hasn’t seen much of the field since being drafted in 2020. The injury struggles are a concern, but a healthy Okudah will take a lot of stress off the other defensive backs. He has shown that he is game ready in training videos, so fans are hoping for a hot start and a full season from the young corner.
2023 will be the biggest year in Goff’s career. The question is, will he step up? Goff is surrounded by weapons on offensive and has little excuses to start the season as he did in 2021. If he plays like he did in the latter half of the 2021 season, he should be in for drastic improvement. Quarterback is one of, if not, the most important position on the field, so Goff is being relied on by every player and coach to help the Lions improve and win. If he isn’t the guy this year, he’s out. It’s now or never for Goff.
A break-out star in 2021, St. Brown established himself an offensive threat. If the Lions want to drastically improve, than St. Brown will need to take another large step in his production. With more weapons to cover in 2022, St. Brown can settle into his style of play, and become a real game-changer. Another leap from St. Brown will give the Lions a lot to work with offensively which will hopefully overwhelm opposing defenses in 2022.
After being selected second overall in the 2022 Draft, Hutchinson had to be first on this list. If Hutch can dominate one-on-one matchups and provide constant pressure, like he did at Michigan, he should have no problem as the anchor of the defensive-line. Finding an elite pass rusher is one of the hardest things to do in the NFL, so Hutchinson’s success is pivotal for the Lions to break the six win mark in 2022 and rise above the rest, as the hottest rising team in football.