Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/13/12
It's been a long time coming, but it looks like the Detroit Lions are finally ready to take the leap back to a competitive franchise in the NFL.  With arguably the best quarterback/receiver duo in the game, the Lions look poised to make another playoff challenge next year and build on their success from this past season.  But before Motown gets carried away there are some issues to address...

No one can argue that the Lions have a very talented offense, but it is the other side of the ball, which seems to be giving them some trouble.  With an underachieving defensive line combined with a lackluster secondary...the Lions definitely have some work to do this offseason to patch up their defense.  But the offense is by no means immaculate; a consistent running game is definitely on the agenda for this offseason with several hopeful prospects from the draft and free agency.

If you watched the New Orleans game, it looks like a no-brainer that they should look to repair their secondary, which looked abysmal with blown coverages and multiple dropped interceptions.  But exactly how should they go about attacking this problem?

Two of the most probable signings early on in the Lions offseason appear to be Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin, both have a pretty good upside to offer the Lions.  Finnegan registered 75 tackles this season playing at cornerback and managed 1 sack and 1 interception, Griffin at safety, also made a pretty good case this past year that he could bring a lot to the table for Jim Schwartz.  Griffin managed 59 solo tackles along with 1 forced fumble and 1 interception, not to mention that both of these guys played for the Titans which in many ways gives the Lions a leg up in acquiring both of them.  With Jim Schwartz's connections with the Titans, he may be able to use his relationship with former players to bring them to Detroit but this remains to be seen as Schwartz has yet to display what he wants to address this offseason.

Other possible moves, which would make sense for the Lions, contain the likes of Tracy Porter (CB, Saints), Brandon Carr (CB, Chiefs) also LaRon Landry (S, Redskins) and Tyvon Branch (S, Raiders).  Many of these players will either be up for contract renewal this offseason or entering free agency looking to go elsewhere which bodes well for Detroit. Any one of these players is worth Detroit consideration for a possible move as all of them can add to the Lions defense and help take them to that next step.  But once again it all depends on what Schwartz and Mayhew view as the most important positions to try and upgrade this offseason.

The dynamic duo of Stafford and 'Megatron' (Johnson) makes for a very effective Lions attack, but it is still incomplete...an inconsistent at best running game put the Lions behind the eight ball on multiple occasions this season so look for them to make a move somewhere to help out Jahvid Best, Mikel Leshoure and Kevin Smith who combined managed only about 740 yards and 6 touchdowns this season.  With a draft full of possible running prospects the Lions should have no problem finding someone to help breathe life into the Lions run game.  

With Trent Richardson likely being taken early, that may not be an option for the Lions.  But other possible draftees would be Lamar Miller (Miami) and David Wilson (Va. Tech), both would make excellent additions to the Lions run game and offer a 'situation based strategy' for their run game with several possible players for Schwartz to use.  It looks like the free agency pool for running backs will be fairly unoccupied this offseason so the draft may be the way to go for the Lions.

Let's not forget the defensive draft options for the Lions, at this point they will likely look at all possible avenues to get better players on the defensive side of the ball.  With the likes of Courtney Upshaw (OLB, Alabama), Alfonzo Denard (CB, Nebraska) and Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia) available the defensive options look promising for Detroit.  Any one of these guys would be able to come in and make an immediate impact on the team.

Jarvis Jones however, appears to be the best option at this point.  He would definitely bring an added element of athleticism to the defense being an incredibly powerful tackler and having the technique and instincts to be a great run-stopper and troublemaker in the backfield.  But maybe his biggest asset would be his tackling technique, coming into a defense that was known for 'shoulder hits' and not being able to wrap players up (especially against New Orleans).  Jones is what the Lions are looking for, so it is a good bet that if he is still available he may be one of their picks.

Whether you're a perennial power or a relatively new team, you are always looking to improve your team and this offseason has an infinite amount of possibilities for the Lions, but once again it depends on where Schwartz and Mayhew decide to take their money and invest it.  Also, don't rule out the possible contract renewal of Calvin Johnson as playing into the amount of funds available for new players.

We'll see where the pieces fall at this point...
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