After a magical season that resulted in the Lions getting their first playoff win in 30 years and an NFC Conference Championship Game appearance, expectations are now as high as they ever have been for the city of Detroit.
GM Brad Holmes has already gone on record to say that this was not just a cute story but that the Lions are here to stay. The Lions general manager shared his thoughts on what fans should expect in 2024 and beyond following the end of the season.
#Lions GM Brad Holmes doesn't want to hear that this season was a Cinderella story. "It's real. It's only going to get better."
Very passionate response:pic.twitter.com/FxCHxlU1Eu
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) February 5, 2024
But the question remains if the Lions are truly ready to make another Super Bowl run in 2024.
While it's hard to argue about the success the Lions had, as they just missed out on the Super Bowl, it's easy to point out that the team was seriously flawed. That was especially true on defense, as it had glaring holes all over the secondary. The Lions finished the year 25th in defensive pass EPA (expected points added) and success rate, while routinely allowing opposing receivers to burn them with ease. Slotting in a rookie is hardly the answer, meaning the Lions will need to make a concentrated effort in free agency in order to patch those holes.
Worse yet, question marks still surround the legitimacy of signal-caller Jared Goff. When in the comfort of his home field's domed stadium, Goff is as efficient as it comes at quarterback. The issue is that he will not always get the luxury of playing in a dome, as he suffers a severe drop-off in production anytime he plays outdoors in less-than-ideal weather. He lucked out in their playoff run thanks to the Green Bay Packers beating the Dallas Cowboys, with the Lions getting two home games in their run to the NFC championship.
Speaking of luck, the competition in their own division was as unlucky as it got for those teams, which helped carve an easy path for a Lions division title. Quarterback Jordan Love and the Packers got off to a rough start before Love strung together an incredible second half of the year. The Vikings were plagued with injuries, as quarterback Kirk Cousins was knocked out for the year and wide receiver Justin Jefferson missed a chunk of time. The Bears are still in flux, but they have a stout defense and the chance to reload on offense in this year's draft to quicken the process of their rebuild.
With the NFC North poised to bounce back in terms of quality of opponent, it's hard to imagine the Lions recapturing the same magic they had last season. Their own division is in a position to bounce back, especially with Love and Cousins playing at an elite rate. The Lions' offense will still be great with the return of offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, but the defense still has major question marks all over the back end.
It's more vital than ever for the Lions to make all the right decisions to continue their success, yet history indicates that they may fall back down hard to reality.
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