The Detroit Lions only won five games last year, and that led to wholesale changes to both their front office with the hiring of new general manager Brad Holmes and to their coaching staff with the hiring of head coach Dan Campbell.
Holmes and Campbell got right to work remaking the front office, building a new coaching staff, and revamping the roster. Holmes told detroitlions.com in a recent interview there was a lot of work to be done changing the culture and making significant changes to the roster when he and Campbell first got their jobs.
Just how much the coaching staff and roster changes will impact wins and losses on the field is yet to be determined, but improving on these five numbers from last year will go a long way to getting more notches in the win column.
Here are 5 numbers that need to change in 2021:
1. Number: 499
What it means: Offensive points allowed in 2020
NFL rank: 32nd
Twentyman: When it's all said and done, this is the most important statistic in football. How often can you force your opponent to turn the football over, make them punt it or have to settle for field goals. Detroit's defense didn't do enough of all three last year as they set a franchise record for the most points allowed in a season. To put this number in a little bit of perspective, the league average last year was 380 points allowed.
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2. Number: 419.8
What it means: Yards allowed per game
NFL rank: 32nd
Twentyman: Like the points allowed total, this was also a franchise record. This number and the points allowed number go hand in hand. Detroit allowed 266 total plays of 10-plus yards last season, which ranked 32nd in the league. Opposing quarterbacks had a 112.4 passer rating against the Lions in 2020. That rating jumped to 125.2 on passes thrown at least 21-plus yards in the air. Opponents also averaged 134.9 rushing yards per game, which ranked 28th.
3. Number: 28.6
What it means: Offensive red zone third-down conversion percentage
NFL rank: 31st
Twentyman: The difference between scoring touchdowns in the red zone and settling for field goals is usually one of the bigger determining factors in wins and losses in the NFL. Being able to convert that critical third down in the red zone to keep a drive alive or punch it into the end zone is critical. The league average was 44.7 percent in the red zone on third down last year and the average among playoff teams was right around 50 percent.
4. Number: 93.7
What it means: Average rushing yards per game
NFL rank: 30th
Twentyman: Detroit rushed for 17 touchdowns last season, which was pretty good considering they ranked 30th in total rushing, but this is a number new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn is going to want to see improve considerably in 2021 if his offense is going to run the way he wants it to. Lynn has a track record of being able to adapt his offenses to the strength of his personnel, and here in Detroit the strength appears to be upfront along the offensive line and in the backfield. Quarterback Jared Goff has been one of the better play-action passers in the league over his career, and having a consistent rushing attack that defenses have to respect will go a long way to playing to that strength.
5. Number: 24
What it means: Sacks by the defense
NFL rank: 26th
Twentyman: The teams that usually finish in the top of the league in pass defense do a terrific job with the marriage between rush and cover. It doesn't matter the talent level a team has in the secondary if they can't get pressure on the quarterback. These quarterbacks, tight ends and receivers are too good in the league right now. New defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has to find a way to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and better help his young, but talented secondary.