Now, on to your questions.
How are the linebacker and D-Line rooms looking in your opinion? What is a more pressing issue, go grab a D-Lineman or a linebacker, or both if the price is right? Could you see a potential move for Johnathan Hankins or Mychal Kendrick's? #LionsMailbag— Jack Gould (@jackg7614) June 1, 2018
Jack, this is a popular question and has been for weeks. As discussed a bit last week, there are some definite questions in the linebacker room. Jarrad Davis and Devon Kennard are good players – although it remains to be seen how effective either will be in Matt Patricia’s new system. Other than that, it’s a bunch of unknowns. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Christian Jones, Steve Longa, Jonathan Freeny and Alex Barrett (as a stand-up pass rusher) all have varying degrees of potential but not much proven production.
The defensive line is a little bit more stable with a proven star (when healthy) in Ezekiel Ansah and some players with promise in A’Shawn Robinson, Sylvester Williams and Kerry Hyder. Plus, with a three-man front there’s going to be a little bit different asked of those players than in the aggressive 4-3 defense run by Teryl Austin and Gunther Cunningham over the majority of the past decade in Detroit. But where the pass rush comes from between those groups still leaves a shoulder shrug emoji from me other than a when-healthy Ansah.
As far as bringing in a veteran – sure, if the price and fit are right. Both of the names you mentioned would be sensible veterans, but the Lions haven’t made much of a move there at this point.
Based on the offseason moves Quinn has made thus far, which vets have been "put on notice"? #LionsMailbag— Mike Holleman (@Mike_Holleman) May 30, 2018
Mike, a lot of veterans should be concerned with a new coaching staff, new defensive scheme and at least some changes potentially coming to the offense. There are a few, though, who stand out among others as far as being “on notice” for their potential jobs.
That list starts with safety Miles Killebrew and running backs Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner. Of the four, Riddick probably has the least to worry about because he has a pretty clear-cut role, but the drafting of Tracy Walker in the third round moves Killebrew to the roster bubble if everyone back there stays healthy. And while it was just one open practice, Killebrew didn’t look great in the lone open OTA. He’s a guy I’m going to be watching a bit harder during this week’s three-day minicamp. The running back situation is well-worn territory at this point and everyone other than Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount should have varying degrees of concern for his roster spot. While Riddick should have a spot, Abdullah and Zenner might be competing for one roster spot with very different skill sets. But all the running backs will have to prove something in training camp.
Another guy to potentially watch here is Cornelius Washington. He has some position flexibility, but the drafting of Da’Shawn Hand could make Washington and the potential $2.721 million the Lions would save in cap space a bit expendable.
Sorry, didn't really have a question....lol. Don't you think the subtle changes (i.e. FA acquisitions at RB, new Oline coach, tons of adds to the defense 2nd level) could be the recipe to propel this team to perennial significance? #SCREWTHEPACKERS #LionsMailbag— Darin (@DIintheD) May 31, 2018
Darin, I think that’s the hope the Lions have, but I’m not sure if I totally buy into that. While I believe a new blocking scheme should make Detroit’s offense better, until it manifests itself in games I have a tough time believing that based off what we’ve seen the past four seasons. Also, a lot of the moves, as you said, seem like subtle changes underneath the overarching big change in defensive scheme and head coach. If the moves Detroit made in personnel complement what Matt Patricia and Paul Pasqualoni want, then sure, it could make a huge difference. But it’s tough to buy that until we see it on Sundays in the fall.
Jason H. asks by email: Will the Lions use more of a hurry-up style offense in 2018 than they have in the past? Matthew Stafford lines 'em up, looks things over real quick, calls the play and attacks. I felt that the hurry-up offense (no huddle) worked well for Stafford and the Lions when the conservative Jim Caldwell decided to use it. Should we, and will we, see this style implemented in Patricia’s offensive scheme?
Jason, that's a very intriguing question here and it’s possible. Jim Bob Cooter wouldn’t give away much when it comes to the offense for this coming season, but it’s well known Stafford seems to operate better in two-minute, no-huddle type situations. When the Lions used 30 seconds or less (of real time) between snaps last season, they averaged 7.06 yards per play and had a QBR of 79.3 – both in the top 10 in the league. Those numbers dropped a bit when 40 seconds of real time occurred between snaps, down to 5.54 yards per play and a 66.1 QBR – still in the top 10 of the league.
Of course, without knowing the scheme, it’s tough to say how much the Lions will go to this type of offense this year, but it would be surprising if they didn’t use it at least as a pace-change if not a way to take advantage of their offensive weapons.