Detroit Lions had a late season collapse at the end of the 2013 season resulting in the firing of former head coach Jim Schwartz. Jim Caldwell whose specialty is the offensive side of the ball was hired to replace him. The Lions got off to a pretty hot start early in the season led by offensive stars quarterback Matt Stafford, running back Reggie Bush, and the best wide receiver in the NFL Calvin Johnson. One of the reasons the team failed to hold their lead for the NFC North division title was the poor play by the defensive secondary which needs an upgrade in overall talent. The running game on offense also couldn't close out winnable games and relied upon Stafford and his arm sometimes resulting in untimely interceptions. Caldwell and staff should help make the offense more balanced and take pressure off of Stafford to always have to make plays with his arm. Joe Lombardi, formerly with the New Orleans Saints, is the new offensive coordinator so some of the New Orleans principals on offense should be seen with the Lions.
The defense has some dominant pieces in its front seven starting with defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley both former first round draft picks. They clog up all of the running lanes inside and provide a pass rush push in the face of opposing quarterbacks. Middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is a solid tackler and cleans up everything that gets by them as his team leading 135 tackles indicates he is always around the football. Detroit also has one of the best coverage linebackers in DeAndre Levy who led the team with 6 interceptions. The Lions need another pass rushing threat to pair with defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (8 sacks in 2013) to come off the edges. The secondary needs a shut down corner to complement this talented unit. Look below at key additions that could help the Lions become playoffs contenders.
Golden Tate - wide receiver
Golden Tate could be just what the doctor ordered for Detroit's offense. The Lions signed him away from 2013 Super Bowl Champs Seattle Seahawks this off season. Detroit has been searching for a complement receiver to play opposite of Calvin Johnson since drafting him. Tate has great hands and does well running the underneath routes. He also has enough speed to attack defenses vertically. He has a knack for making spectacular catches as well. The Lions offense will be harder to defend with Tate taking advantage of defenses rolling coverage towards Calvin Johnson.
Eric Ebron - tight end
Eric Ebron may not have been a priority need pick for the Lions with other positions on the team needing a serious upgrade like in the secondary, but how can you pass on a top ten talent in the 2014 NFL Draft. No other tight end on the roster has his athleticism and quickness to create mismatches against defenses. Ebron was selected 10th overall by the Lions and should immediately be a spark in the passing game. He fits the new age tight end with his speed, size, and athleticism to be a major factor in Detroit's offense. He has similar traits as Jimmy Graham (New Orleans Saints) and Vernon Davis (San Francisco 49ers) and with continued development of his techniques especially in pass blocking he should become one of the best tight ends in the NFL soon.
Jason Jones - defensive end
Jason Jones came over from Seattle in 2013, but only played in 3 games before suffering a knee injury. Jones presence will help make the run defense stouter and set the edge on his side. He offers some pass rush ability that the Lions need more of coming off the edges. Jones should get plenty of one on one match ups with stud defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley providing inside pressure. His ability to slide inside to defensive tackle on obvious passing downs will be valuable and give the defense plenty of scheme versatility.
Kyle Van Noy - linebacker
KyleVan Noy was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft and played defensive end in college. His versatility and quickness will aid him in his switch to linebacker for the Lions. He will more than likely play a similar role like Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and be primarily a pass rusher. He will be playing alongside Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy one is a solid tackler and patrols the middle of the defense while the latter is excellent in pass coverage. Van Noy should be a good complement.