4 out of 5 seasons with a sub-.500 record ended the tenure of Jim Schwartz. His replacement, Jim Caldwell, takes over a unit that still features the best WR in football and a defensive line that is very talented.
Jim Caldwell saw the highest of highs and the lowest of lows as a head coach in Indianapolis. He went 24-8 in his first two seasons before Manning’s neck injury resulted in a 2-14 season and his dismissal. Two years in various coordinating roles for the Ravens earned him another bite at the coaching apple, this time with the Lions, who still have All-Pro Calvin Johnson and one of the best defensive lines in football.
QB Matthew Stafford has put up monster numbers in Detroit in large part to the mismatches made by WR Calvin Johnson – the NFL’s leading receiver in two of the last three seasons. The addition of rookie TE Eric Ebron – another monster of a receiver – will only increase the mismatches the offense creates. RB Reggie Bush set a career mark for yards from scrimmage and has a few good years left before his expected decline.
On defense, the team is still led from the front by Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ezekiel Ansah. The unit was 6th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, but middle of the pack in most other categories. Pass rushing and turnover generation was an issue though, ranking in the bottom 5 in both categories. The success of the Lions defensive line in 2014 will dictate the season.
The Lions will first report to training camp in Allen Park, Michigan on July 22.