In 2023, there are many things to expect from the Lions. Throughout the year, there are multiple aspects to watch closely. We should expect to see more electric moments from Dan Campbell and the rest of the coaching staff.
One position to pay close attention to is the running backs. Swift has a lot to prove if he wants the contract he desires. Williams may not even be back on the team, and if he is, he has to live up to the record-breaking season he had last year. Additionally, there is the possibility of drafting a new rookie running back.
Goff will be looking to build off his successful 2022 campaign, and there is even a chance a rookie QB will be in the picture. St. Brown leads a WR core with high expectations. He should continue to improve after making the pro-bowl last year. With D.J. Chark likely leaving, second-year WR Jameson Williams will have all the opportunities to break out and prove his worth as a first-round pick. He has shown flashes of his potential, and now that he is fully healed, he should be ready and expected to produce in his new role. The offense should continue to be electric and fun to watch, and hopefully, the playbook will expand with another year of experience between the team.
Another position group to watch hopefully improve is the edge rushers. Hutchinson could take the leap becoming one of the best pass rushers in the entire league, while the other rushers showed that they can really hold their own as well. Hutchinson looks to me like he is about two years away from being put into the conversation regarding the best at his position and possibly even the defensive player of the year talk.
One player, in my opinion, has the most improvement to do on the team. Former fourth-overall pick Cornerback Jeff Okudah needs to step up next year. He has all the tools to be a high-end CB and just needs to put it together this year to help build a secondary for the future next to safety Kerby Joseph, who decimated Rodgers and the Packers late in the season.
I expect the Lions to make the playoffs next year in a weak NFC conference and a weak NFC North division. The chance to make the playoffs is clearly there, and they just missed out a season ago when they didn’t find an identity until the second half of the year. This team could do some big things in the NFC this year and should have some relatively high expectations according to the usual Lion standards.
The downside here is the very real possibility that Goff doesn’t play as well as he did this year. There’s a reason that everyone expects so little of him each year. If the offensive line plays worse in a similar way that the Colts’ did last year, then Goff could be in some serious trouble. The latter scenario is one that leaves the Lions in a prime position to take their QB of the future in the 2024 loaded class, which isn’t all that bad of an option.
The Lions are in a good spot, and either way they tip, things are looking up.