Detroit had an end of the season resurgence that ultimately led them going to a 9-8 record. Going into the offseason, morale is great and fans are ecstatic for next season as some have playoff hopes. Some fans are extremely confident, and think the Lions can make the Super Bowl next year. This remarkable turnaround was the cause of a team effort in which players quietly worked hard in order to have the team’s overall goals achieved. Over the course of the season, the Lions had many contributors helping them reach their goals, and some of these players’ performances have been overlooked.
Here are the 3 most underrated Lions’ players of the 2022 season:
Heading into the 2022 season, many experts and fans alike thought that the Lions linebacking core was an extremely weak point of the team. These assumptions felt right as Brad Holmes and co. did very little over the offseason to improve the position group. The only notable addition was 6th round rookie Malcom Rodrqiuez. However, the linebackers seemingly all took a step in the right direction as the linebacking play was much improved compared to last season.
The leader of the linebacking core was Alex Anzalone. He was coming off a year in which many fans wanted him to be replaced. However Alex Anzalone had a career year in which he led the team in total tackles. He accumulated 125 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 6 pass deflections, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. Additionally, he also provided the defense with a much needed veteran presence.
After having a historically bad wide receiver core in 2021, that narrative flipped with the emergence of star receiver Amon Ra St. Brown and the 1st round draft addition of Jameson Williams. Not to mention, the Lions also retained Josh Reynolds, and added DJ Chark in free agency. This flipped narrative put Kalif Raymond’s job security with the Lions in question. However he prevailed and ultimately had a productive year. He also contributed on special teams which he ultimately received a 2nd team All-Pro nod, which is impressive in itself.
Kalif Raymond ended the season with 47 receptions off of 64 targets for 616 yards. His reception total ultimately was second on the team, only behind ProBowl receiver Amon Ra St. Brown.
Even though rising star James Houston is revered among fans and local sports analysts, he is still extremely underrated among people outside of the Detroit sports circle. After being waived after training camp, James Houston eventually joined the Detroit Lions as a practice squad player. Around halfway through the season, he was elevated to play in the Thanksgiving game against the Buffalo Bills where he absolutely shined and recorded 2 sacks on 4 defensive snaps.
After a spectacular performance, the Lions could not place him back on the practice squad for fear that he could be signed by another team. So, his role only grew after the Thanksgiving game. He ultimately ended the season with 7 games played, 12 total tackles, 8 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, and 1 forced fumble. In fact at one point of the season he surpassed the Lions number 2 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Aidan Hutchinson, to lead all rookies in the league with sacks. However, Aidan Hutchinson ultimately regained that title before the season ended.