Every Saturday, we answer some of your questions in the Detroit Lions Mailbag. To ask a question for a future mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter or email me at email@example.com.
Now, on to this week’s questions.
was it the right choice to sign Lang and Wagner and let Reiff and Warford walk? #LionsMailbag— Tina (@Betty241) January 18, 2018
Tina, this is a question that has popped up throughout the year and the answer I would give is... kind of. On paper, T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner are upgrades from Larry Warford and Riley Reiff. I still think, despite Wagner’s sometimes inconsistent play this season, that Wagner for Reiff was the right move, particularly since Reiff wasn’t going to get the chance to play left tackle in Detroit (at least until Taylor Decker got hurt). Lang and Warford is a tougher question. Lang is the better overall player -- he just got named to the Pro Bowl on Friday -- but the Lions knew when they signed him he had some injuries and he dealt with varying issues throughout the year. He’s also four years older than Warford, so they were taking on a player with a shorter time remaining in the NFL. Personally, I always felt Warford was a good player and I might have stuck with him. Pro Football Focus had Lang rated as the No. 14 guard this year and Warford as the No. 19, so not too much difference there. The real answer, I think, will come after next season.
Do you think the Lions will miss out on quality positional coaches while waiting on Patricia to be hired officially? #LionsMailbag— Péter Mayer (@mayerpeter47) January 19, 2018
Peter, thanks for the question. Is the possibility there that some assistants might go to other jobs while the Lions wait to make their hire? Sure, I guess, but the reality is that Patricia knows who he wants on his staff and those people have a good idea they are either going to be coming to Detroit or on a short list of people to get interviewed. Also, that none of the offensive coaches other than the fired Ron Prince have left for other jobs could also be a sign of some guys who may be retained. But I wouldn’t worry too much about that. If the Lions hadn’t zeroed in on a candidate then there’d be more reason for concern.
Is DE really our biggest need?, if we resign Ansah, we will have him, zettel, and Hyder. You know we can only play two DEs at a time. I would say DT is our biggest need because when Ngata when down our run defense became terrible. Also RB seems bigger than DE. #LionsMailbag— Fayez AliAhmad (@TheRealSugar99) January 19, 2018
Fayez, this is a fair question, however I would say that yes, pass rusher is still Detroit’s most significant need. Of course, this could change depending exactly on the kind of defense that is going to be run in Detroit in 2018. That could alter what type of players are being looked at overall. For instance, if the Lions were to switch to a 3-4 or more of a multiple scheme, then a player like Ezekiel Ansah might be viewed differently. But the pass rush has been a problem for years and unlike the run game, there’s not much you could point to schematically for the reason why. It’s a personnel issue and Detroit needs to get more talented there (and at defensive tackle). Plus, the Lions can’t totally count on Ansah considering he’s been hurt a good chunk of the last two years.
What differences do you expect to see under Patricia as opposed to Caldwell on both sides of the ball? #LionsMailbag— Boyd Williams (@PatchingBirder) January 18, 2018
Boyd, it’s tough to truly know yet -- particularly on offense. If Patricia keeps Jim Bob Cooter and that part of the staff around, I'd imagine you would see an attempt at a better-constructed, more efficient run game. But other than that, a lot of what you might see will be the same. Defensively things could be a lot different, depending on if Patricia wants to switch schemes from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Regardless, based on what I’ve learned about Patricia, you should see a team that is very well prepared for various situations that may come up in a game -- think the gaffes that the Lions had over the years under Caldwell, from the Aaron Rodgers untimed Hail Mary defense to struggling to have 11 players on the field at key times. I imagine there will be a bunch of differences, but tough to really know what those will be yet.