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TWENTYMAN: 5 biggest offseason moves

This has been a busy offseason for the Detroit Lions and general manager Bob Quinn. The decisions made this offseason will not only impact the organization in 2018, but for years to come.

With training camp fast approaching and the regular season soon after that, let's take a quick look back at the biggest offseason moves this year for the Detroit Lions:


Jim Caldwell was relieved of head coaching duties Jan. 1 after holding the position the last four seasons.

"Last year we went 9-7 and lost a playoff game, and this year we went 9-7 and didn't get the playoffs," Quinn said at the press conference announcing his decision to change head coaches. "So, that's ultimately my record, and I take full ownership of that.

"Really the standards that I have, and the Ford family has for this team are greater than that, and my goal is to go out and find the best head coach to bring us that championship."

Quinn and team president Rod Wood conducted a thorough coaching search over the next month, and on Feb. 7 introduced former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as the team's new head coach.

"This is a blue collar grind it out community that thrives on hard work and achieving success through commitment, teamwork and never give up attitude," Patricia said at his introductory press conference. "We strive to replicate that on the field. I'm truly excited for the Lions fanbase."

Patricia's first order of business was creating a coaching staff. He retained Jim Bob Cooter as offensive coordinator and replaced defensive coordinator Teryl Austin with Paul Pasqualoni.

Patricia has brought over his multiple scheme defense from New England, and that side of the ball is expected to look very different from years past.


Ansah was one of the NFL's best edge rushers last season, finishing with 12.0 sacks, 44 tackles (39 solo), one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. No player had more sacks than Ansah in the second half of last season (8), and he finished the year with back-to-back three-sack games vs. Cincinnati and Green Bay.

Ansah, 28, did struggle with injuries last season (missed two games in 2017). He battled injury in 2016 as well (missed three games), and had just two sacks that season. The last time he played in all 16 games was 2015, when he was a Pro Bowler and led the NFC with 14.5 sacks.

The Lions last used the franchise tag in 2012 on Cliff Avril. The team and Ansah have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal, or he'll play the 2018 season on the tag and reach free agency again next offseason.

Ansah is expected to be a key component of the Lions pass rush in 2018. He told reporters during the offseason training program he likes the new scheme, and expects to "float around" and be very active within it.

View the best photos of the defensive linemen from offseason workouts.


Patricia was a linebackers coach in New England from 2006-10. The linebacker position is vitally important in his multiple scheme, and it's a position group he admits he gravitates toward from a coaching perspective.

The Lions have a good young linebacker in Jarrad Davis, who the team drafted in the first round last year. Davis led all rookies and first-year players with 96 tackles in 14 games last season.

But the turnover around him has been rather extensive. Tahir Whitehead and Paul Worrilow started next to Davis last year. Both are playing for new teams this season.

Detroit wanted to get bigger and more physical at linebacker, so they went out and signed Devon Kennard (6-4, 256), Christian Jones (6-0, 244) and Jonathan Freeny (6-2, 245) in free agency. The Lions are expected to rush the quarterback a lot more using linebackers, and all three of these players have experience doing it.

Davis will man the middle and call the defense, but the look and responsibilities of the linebacker position could be quite different than what Lions fans are used to seeing.


Quinn admitted earlier this offseason that not being able to run the ball effectively in short-yardage situations really bothered him last season. The Lions ranked last in the NFL converting 3rd & 1 and 4th & 1 situations.

In Blount, who Quinn signed as an unrestricted free agent, the Lions have a 247-pound battering ram to throw at defenses. The nice thing about Blount's game, is that he's not just a short-yardage back. While he excels in that area, he's only two years removed from a 1,161-yard season in New England in 2016 that saw him lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 18.

While Blount's resume on the field is impressive (three Super Bowl rings), he's also a terrific veteran voice in the running backs room. He knows exactly what it takes to play championship-caliber football.


This was further commitment by Quinn through the NFL Draft to improve Detroit's rushing attack.

The Lions bolstered their offensive line by taking Ragnow 20th overall. He brings a physical presence and a technical skillset to the offensive line. He's stepped right in with the first-team unit at left guard during OTAs and minicamp, and has the ability to play both guard and center.

Detroit took Johnson in the second round. Johnson teams with Blount in what has the potential to be a nice new running back tandem in the Lions' backfield. Johnson was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year last season, and brings a patient and physical running style to Detroit's offense.

Make no mistake, the signing of Blount and the drafting of Ragnow and Johnson, means the Lions are set on being more balanced on offense with the ability to run the ball when they need to, especially in short-yardage situations.

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