The Detroit Lions‘ offense left much to be desired in 2018. That is the nicest way I can put what in all reality, was a train wreck.
After finishing No. 12 in offensive DVOA in 2017, the Lions dropped all the way to No. 23 this past season. Sure, the rushing attack was improved, but the passing game was embarrassing. Matthew Stafford threw for under 4,000 yards for the first time in his career (when playing a full season) and despite completing 66% of his passes, his yards per attempt took a big dip from where he had been the past couple of seasons.
At the conclusion of the season, the Lions announced they were parting ways with Jim Bob Cooter as their offensive coordinator. Cooter had been given credit for developing Stafford but his playcalling has always been predictable and he was clearly holding the offense back.
A new OC is great but the Lions still need pieces on offense
This past week, the Lions hired Darrell Bevell to be their next offensive coordinator. Bevell previously held the OC duties for the Seahawks, where he worked closely with one of the best QBs in football, Russell Wilson.
Bevell comes to Detroit with a run-first offense, something that fits well with head coach Matt Patricia's philosophy.
But what about the passing game? What about making the best of Stafford's abilities as a quarterback?
Well, one of the main reasons the Lions hired Bevell is his ability to adapt to the league and to the situation he is put in. You can bet he will do his best to play to Stafford's strengths as a signal-caller but to do that, Lions' GM Bob Quinn will have to add a few pieces to the offense.
In addition to signing or drafting a tight end who can make plays (something Quinn failed to do this past season), the Lions will absolutely have to add a receiver to take the place of Golden Tate.
Tate was traded this past offseason and though it was 100% the right move, it was obvious that Stafford looked like a lost puppy without his slot receiver.
So, how can Bob Quinn replace Tate? Well, there are two options, he could go out and sign a free agent such as Adam Humphries, but that will likely cost around $10 million/season.
The better route would be to find a gem in the mid rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Guess what? That gem came to my attention a couple of weeks ago when I was going through some footage of draft prospects and it was solidified this week as EVERYBODY began talking about his this week during Senior Bowl practice.
The Detroit Lions MUST draft wide receiver Andy Isabella out of UMass
If you have not heard of Andy Isabella, you had better get to know the name because if Bob Quinn is smart, he will do whatever he can to snag Isabella in the 2019 NFL Draft.
At 5-8, 186 pounds, Isabella, who is training with Randy Moss, is definitely on the small side but his speed and route running abilities make him absolutely perfect for the Lions' offense.
On Tuesday, during Senior Bowl week, Isabella stood out to just about every reporter in attendance. He immediately went from a guy on the radar to a guy every reporter now thinks the team the cover should draft.
Guess what? They are all right!
Not only is he a speed burner (he claims he ran a 4.26 hand-timed 40-yard dash), but his footwork and ability to create separation and get open is absolutely stunning.
Adding Isabella as a slot receiver would give Stafford the “Golden Tate-like” receiver he clearly missed after Tate was traded to the Eagles this past season.
I really wish I had written this weeks ago after watching Isabella's film, but now is better than never!
Kerryon Johnson is fired up about Detroit Lions’ new OC Darrell Bevell
On Wednesday, the Detroit Lions shocked just about everybody by announcing that Darrell Bevell would be their next offensive coordinator. Bevell’s name was rarely (if at all) mentioned as a potential candidate by the so-called “experts” and it was fun to watch the comments on social media flow in about whether or not it was the right hire.
One person excited about the hire is Lions’ running back Kerryon Johnson. Johnson spoke to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press about his anticipation of playing for Bevell, a coach who has worked with running backs like Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch.
By most accounts, Bevell is a run-first offensive coordinator and that has Johnson hoping it means more touches for him.
“Obviously with my position, that makes me excited and I hope that is the direction we try to go in,” Johnson said. “But regardless of the direction I want us to go in, it’s about the team and how we win games. So if he wants to bring that and that’s where we go with it, that’s where we go with it. If not, if he sees our team go in a different direction and that’s what we do, as long as we win, I’m fine.”
Johnson, who missed the end of his rookie season with a sprained knee said he is healed up and ready to roll.
During his rookie campaign, Johnson showed flashes of greatness as he rushed for 641 yards (5.4 per attempt) and three touchdowns while adding 213 yards and another touchdown receiving.
If Kerryon can stay healthy, you can bet your bottom dollar that those stats will improve greatly in 2019.