Detroit may have only won three games last season, but the team was playing much better football the second half of the year, and there were certainly some positives to take from those last two months of the 2021 season.
Here are five numbers the Lions need to keep up in 2022:
1. Number: 4.42
What it means: Average yards per rush for the Lions in 2021
NFL rank: 11th
Twentyman: The Lions ran the ball 427 times for 1,886 yards (4.4-yard average) and 12 touchdowns last season. It was the first time Detroit has topped 1,800 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns while maintaining a 4.4-yard average since Barry Sanders was doing his thing for the team back in 1998. The Lions also finished ninth in the NFL with 12.4 percent of their carries resulting in gains of 10-plus yards (D’Andre Swift led the way with 21).
The Lions want to be a consistent rushing football team that will set up the play-action passing game, which plays to the strengths of quarterback Jared Goff and the speed they've assembled at wide receiver.
2. Number: 3.2 percent
What it means: Percentage of catchable balls dropped by Lions pass catchers last season
NFL rank: Tied for 4th
Twentyman: Only New England (2.7 percent), Seattle (2.7) and Green Bay (2.9) had a lower percent of catchable passes dropped.
Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El told me this offseason that one of the more impressive things about newly signed veteran receiver DJ Chark is his ability to pluck the ball out of the air and never lose stride, along with his ability to make 50-50 plays. He'll fit right into this sure-handed group of receivers.
3. Number: 21
What it means: Number of trick plays ran by the Lions in 2021.
NFL rank: N/A
Twentyman: Overall, Detroit ran 21 trick plays: 13 rushes and eight passes. Detroit had 12 rushes from non-running backs, six end arounds, five pass attempts from non-quarterbacks, one flea flicker, one reverse, one lateral, and one instance where a non-quarterback lined up at the position.
When performing trick plays (including quarterbacks), the Lions accrued 150 passing yards, the most in the NFL.
I think that's the one thing to really love about head coach Dan Campbell's influence on the offense. The Lions led the league in fourth-down attempts last year, and these trick plays show off his aggressiveness and creativity. He's not afraid to take a chance on a play if he spots something on film.
The Lions are expected to be a lot better offensively, but here's hoping Campbell doesn't lose that aggressiveness and creativity when it comes to attacking a defense with a little bit of trickery.
4. Number: 1.6 percent
What it means: Goff threw just eight interceptions on 494 attempts last season for an interception percentage of just 1.6 percent.
NFL rank: Tied for 5th
Twentyman: Goff is in his second season at the helm of Detroit's offense and is really feeling at home with Ben Johnson as offensive coordinator. The two have built this offense together, and Goff is in a good spot heading into camp.
Goff was 3-2-1 with 11 touchdowns vs. just two interceptions with a passer rating north of 100.0 in his last six starts. He's expecting to pick up right where he left off last season. Taking care of the football and limiting mistakes, while also taking advantage of the improved skill weapons and vertical threats, will go a long way in determining how good this offense can be in 2022.
View photos from Day 9 of Detroit Lions OTA practices on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 in Allen Park, Mich.
5. Number: 23-for-26
NFL rank: 10th
Twentyman: Their combined field goal percentage of 88.5 percent would have been the 10th best percentage in the NFL last year. One of these two will ultimately win the kicking duties out of camp, and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp has to feel pretty good about both options.
Patterson was 13-of-14 kicking field goals last season after taking over for Seibert when he injured his hip. Patterson was a perfect 16-for-16 kicking extra points. Seibert was 10-of-12 on field goals and 5-for-5 on extra point tries before his season ended early due to injury.
It should be a really good competition throughout camp and the preseason. Here's hoping they are as consistent as they were last year.