Ranking the offenses the Detroit Lions will face in 2022

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The Detroit Lions defense is changing its base scheme and promises to be a more aggressive, attacking unit in the second year under coordinator Aaron Glenn.

They’re in for quite a few challenges in the 2022 season. The Lions have several potent offenses on the 17-game docket. Which ones are the best, and which ones figure to be easier for the new-look Lions defense to handle?

Here’s how the 14 offenses on Detroit’s 2022 schedule stack up, from worst to best.

Chicago Bears

2021 ranks

Points: 18.3 ppg (27th)

Passer rating: 75.5

Yards per carry: 4.2

Key additions: WR Equanimeous St. Brown, WR Velus Jones, OL Lucas Patrick, OT Braxton Jones, RB Darrynton Evans

Key losses: QB Andy Dalton, WR Allen Robinson, OT Jason Peters, OT Germaine Ifedi, WR Jakeem Grant, WR Marquise Goodwin, TE Jesse James, OT Alex Bars, RB Ryan Nall

Outlook

The Bears offense struggled in 2021, and it’s easy to argue that last year’s squad had more overall talent than the offense Chicago will trot out in 2022. They’re at least younger as they attempt to cobble together a better supporting cast for second-year QB Justin Fields.

Fields did not play very well as a rookie, but he also got precious little help from a middling group of weapons and a coaching staff that didn’t trust him. Now the Bears have a defensive-oriented rookie head coach in Matt Eberflus and a rookie coordinator in Luke Getsy. Their WR corps is almost inarguably the league’s weakest, and their line–while holding more promise–isn’t far from the bottom either.

For Fields’ outlook, I’ll paraphrase my friend Dwayne, a Bears lifer who is a big-time Fields fan as well:

Picture the first two Lions offenses of the Matthew Stafford era, except take Calvin Johnson off those teams. That’s the Bears offense around Fields, an analogy I really like. If this isn’t the worst offense in the league, it’s because Fields is superhuman and the run game with a solid stable of RBs clicks early and often.

Carolina Panthers

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2021 ranks

Points: 17.9 ppg (29th)

Passer rating: 68.5

Yards per carry: 4.0

Key additions: OT Ikem Ekwonu, QB Matt Corral, WR Rashard Higgins, WR Andre Roberts, OG Austin Corbett, OL Bradley Bozeman

Key losses: QB Cam Newton, OG John Miller, OL Matt Paradis, OL Trenton Scott, RB Ameer Abdullah

Outlook

Much hinges on the man pictured above, RB Christian McCaffrey. He’s one of the best playmakers in the league, but McCaffrey has played in just 10 games in the last two years due to mounting injuries. Carolina is a vastly different and easier team to face without the speedy, do-it-all McCaffrey in the lineup.

Without McCaffrey, the Panthers are heavily reliant on Sam Darnold, or perhaps rookie Matt Corral, to make positive things happen. Darnold had some moments in his first year in Charlotte, but not nearly enough of them. Carolina had the lowest passer rating in the league between Darnold and the now-departed Newton. Both threw more INTs than TDs, and some of that is a function of not having any good protection or a run game that kept defenses honest.

D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson are limited in what they do at WR but do those things well. Moore can be a very good weapon in a better offense. An upgraded line would help everything too, and Carolina seems to have a lot of spaghetti to throw at the wall and hope something sticks together better than a year ago up front. It’s not a deep offense at any position and outside of McCaffrey and Moore lacks players who stress defenses.

New York Giants

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

2021 ranks

Points: 15.2 (31st)

Passer rating: 70.1

Yards per carry: 4.0

Key additions: OT Evan Neal, WR WanDale Robinson, RB Matt Breida, OG Joshua Ezeudu, TE Daniel Bellinger, WR Richie James, TE Jordan Akins. OL Jon Feliciano

Key losses: OT Nate Solder, OL Billy Price, TE Evan Engram, OL Matt Skura, TE Kyle Rudolph, WR Darius Slayton

Outlook

New York finished at or near the bottom in almost every offensive metric in 2021. It’s hard to point a finger at any one thing, either. A healthy Saquan Barkley can only help, though the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year has missed 21 games in the last three seasons and was one of the least-efficient weapons in the league in 2021. 

Two rookies project to start immediately on the offensve line, and it’s difficult to imagine Neal at RT or Ezeudu at guard not being big upgrades even as first-year players. Even if Neal and Ezeudu are both instant hits, it’s still an average OL at best unless enigmatic Andrew Thomas can live up to his No. 4 overall draft pick status from 2020. 

A new coaching staff led by former Bills OC Brian Daboll and Chiefs QB coach Mike Kafka should make the Giants less predictable. They’ll be as good as Jones can take them with a receiving corps that has a lot more name recognition than actual positive results–led by ex-Lions WR Kenny Golladay, who was a high-priced flop (37 receptions, 0 TDs) in his first year in New York.

Seattle Seahawks

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2021 ranks

Points: 23.2 ppg (16th)

Passer rating: 103.1

Yards per carry: 5.0

Key additions: OT Charles Cross, QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, C Austin Blythe, BR Kenneth Walker, OT Abraham Lucas

Key losses: QB Russell Wilson, OT Duane Brown, TE Gerald Everett, OT Brandon Shell, C Ethan Pocic

Outlook

The overriding temptation to just use the word “bad” is not necessarily wrong, but it’s an oversimplification. No offense with D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and new TE Noah Fant catching passes can be overlooked. The Rashaad Penny that finished 2021 at RB is an impressive threat, and adding Walker in the draft gives Seattle a difficult-to-defend combination in the backfield.

But yeah, the rest of the Seahawks offense sure looks bad. Maybe Drew Lock or Geno Smith can prove capable, but that’s more than either has ever shown more than in occasional flashes thus far. The depth at receiver and TE falls off a cliff after the aforementioned top tier, though second-year WR Dee Eskridge has potential to help a lot more.

The offensive line is replacing both tackles and the center. I like first-round rookie Charles Cross in the long-term at LT, but the other replacements are not inspiring. Aside from the significant loss of talent with the Russell Wilson trade, the psychological toll of losing the most important player the franchise has had in the Super Bowl era figures to be massive. See: Detroit, 2021.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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2021 ranks

Points: 14.9 ppg (32nd)

Passer rating: 72.1

Yards per carry: 4.5

Key additions: OG Brandon Scherff, WR Christian Kirk, TE Evan Engram, OL Luke Fortner

Key losses: WR DJ Chark, RB Carlos Hyde

Outlook

Year 2 of the Trevor Lawrence era should be better than the first. It’s difficult to envision things going any worse for Jacksonville and the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft. The Jaguars languished under the dysfunction of now-deposed head coach Urban Meyer and a weird mishmash of talent that never gelled.

There is still a decent core of talent, led by Lawrence. RB James Robinson is strong between the tackles and a good receiver. Adding speedy Travis Etienne, who missed his rookie season in 2021, gives the Jaguars a nice 1-2 punch. Led by newcomer and perennial Pro Bowler Scherff, the line is capable of opening up a lot of room too. It’s a better run-blocking unit than pass protecting and has real questions at RT and C, however.

Ex-Lion Marvin Jones is joined by high-priced free agent Christian Kirk as the primary receiving weapon. Laviska Shenault is the Jacksonville version of Amon-Ra St. Brown, though less prolific. Adding Engram as a receiving TE to join underappreciated Dan Arnold gives Lawrence better targets than advertised. Don’t forget about versatile ex-Lion Jamal Agnew.

How good the Jaguars offense performs relies heavily on how Lawrence progresses from his mistake-filled rookie year. New OC Press Taylor is a complete greenhorn, but head coach Doug Pederson is one of the better offensive minds in the league and got the job (in part) for his ability to coax the generational talent out of Lawrence.

Miami Dolphins

2021 ranks

Points: 20.1 ppg (22nd)

Passer rating: 92.2

Yards per carry: 3.5

Key additions: WR Tyreke Hill, LT Terron Armstead, RB Chase Edmonds, RB Sony Michel, RB Raheem Mostert, WR Cedrick Wilson, WR Erik Ezukanma, QB Teddy Bridgewater

Key losses: WR DeVante Parker, QB Jacoby Brissett, OT Jesse Davis, RB Malcolm Brown, WR Albert Wilson, WR Mack Hollins, WR Will Fuller

Outlook

The Dolphins brought in new head coach Mike McDaniel and a cadre of new pieces to try and make it work with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. If nothing else, the Dolphins might have the best track team in the NFL.

Adding Hill and, to a lesser extent, Cedrick Wilson, dramatically improves the big-play potential in the passing game. Simply staying healthy at WR will help the Dolphins, who finally tired of Parker and Fuller being either unavailable or limited. With franchise-tagged TE Mike Gesicki continuing to rise, the Dolphins look quite a bit more dangerous after the catch.

The run game is a mystery. They swapped in three new RBs to try and overhaul the league’s 2nd-worst (ahead of only Houston) rushing attack. The name value with Edmonds and Michel is higher, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to instant success. It’s not a good run-blocking OL, though adding savvy vet LT Armstead will pay some dividends there.

The hope is the increased speed and better spacing for the offense will translate to Tagovailoa, whose stat line most closely compares to the bad Jared Goff in the first half of last season. Tua has been risk-averse to a fault, especially for a guy who gives the ball away too readily. Now entering his third season, Tagovailoa has proven to be accurate and smart on shorter throws; McDaniel can work with that. If his arm strength and decision-making both improve, the Dolphins offense could rise up quickly. That’s tough to accomplish with so many moving pieces and changing schemes.

New York Jets

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

2021 ranks

Points: 18.2 ppg (28th)

Passer rating: 98.1

Yards per carry: 4.4

Key additions: WR Garrett Wilson, RB Breece Hall, OG Laken Tomlinson, TE Tyler Conklin, TE C.J. Uzomah, OT Max Mitchell

Key losses: WR Jamison Crowder, WR Keelan Cole, TE Ryan Griffin, TE Tyler Kroft

Outlook

The Jets are counting on continuity and a couple of high-profile rookies to make the offense better in 2022. And with the roster they’ve got, it has some potential to work.

Everything centers on second-year QB Zach Wilson. He wasn’t good as a rookie, throwing more INTs than TDs and missing way too many open throws. In his second season, he needs to handle pressure better–both from the defense and from the team depending on him. The arm talent is readily evident with Wilson, and his willingness to try and make plays is something the Jets can (hopefully) work with.

Garrett Wilson joins Corey Davis and Elijah Moore at receiver. That’s a well-conceived young trio that has some real upside together. The overhauled TE room got better and tougher with Conklin and Uzomah, and third-round rookie Jeremy Ruckert has a high ceiling. Breece Hall and Michael Carter are a promising young combo at RB.

The line is a huge question. Mekhi Becton’s motivation is a huge key at right tackle. To that end, the Jets drafted Max Mitchell as insurance. The interior trio is strong, led by last year’s first-rounder, Alijah Vera-Tucker, with ex-Lions first-rounder Tomlinson bouncing in to provide some veteran stability.

For all that potential to come together would take quite a bit of good luck and good health, neither of which are easy to expect. Don’t be surprised if this Jets offense hangs 40 on a couple of teams but gets held to 20 combined points in two games in between either. If Wilson steps up at QB, these Jets could be more dangerous than expected. He’s got a very long way to go.

Washington Commanders

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2021 ranks

Points: 19.7 ppg (t-23rd)

Passer rating: 85.8

Yards per carry: 4.3

Key additions: QB Carson Wentz, WR Jahan Dotson, OG Andrew Norwell, RB Brian Robinson, OT Willie Beavers, OL Trai Turner

Key losses: OG Brandon Scherff, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR DeAndre Carter, OL Ereck Flowers, TE Ricky Seals-Jones, WR Adam Humphries

Outlook

Washington scored the exact same amount of points (335) in each of the last two seasons, though the 2021 edition took an extra game to get there. In hopes of jumpstarting the stagnation, the newly christened Commanders opted to roll the dice by acquiring Carson Wentz at quarterback.

How Wentz fares will determine a lot of Washington’s offensive success. The good Wentz from his Eagles heyday can make this an effective, even dangerous balanced offense.

With a capable run game centered around underappreciated Antonio Gibson and nifty former Lions weapon J.D. McKissic–both excellent receivers out of the backfield, Washington has weapons in the ground game. Terry McLaurin is a Pro Bowl-caliber downfield receiver, and first-round wideout Jahan Dotson could make an excellent counterbalance in the slot. A full season of speedy Curtis Samuel, who caught just six passes before getting hurt in 2021, gives Wentz a lot of appealing options and that’s not even mentioning ex-Lions TE Logan Thomas.

The line lost perennial Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff and he will be sorely missed in the run game. Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner are replacement bandages that could hold together an average overall line, but it’s more likely Washington’s OL slots in the low 20s in rankings. Which leaves Wentz and his overdeveloped panic gene vulnerable to a repeat of the mistake-plagued seasons that got him run from Philadelphia and Indianapolis…

Don’t sleep on the Washington offense–especially with a Lions defense that really struggled to tackle in 2021. However, they’re limited by a faded former Pro Bowl QB who has to adapt to a very different style of offense right away for the Commanders to be more than an average offensive unit. Sounds familiar, eh?

New England Patriots

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

2021 ranks

Points: 26.6 ppg (7th)

Passer rating: 95.5

Yards per carry: 4.4

Key additions: WR DeVante Parker, OG Cole Strange, WR Tyquan Thornton, RB Pierre Strong

Key losses: OL Ted Karras, RB Brandon Bolden, WR Gunner Olszewski, FB Jakob Johnson

Outlook

There is a lot of continuity for a Patriots offense that pumped out points thanks to the efficient, effective play of rookie QB Mac Jones. The first-rounder from Alabama performed admirably, handling the pressure and complexity of the NFL nicely. He was especially good on third downs and in the red zone, two areas where rookies often struggle.

Jones’ continued progress is the key to everything New England is trying to do. Adding WR Parker is an aggressive stroke for a franchise that has struggled mightily to develop receiving talent. Second-round rookie Thornton offers ridiculous speed to help Jones and new OC Matt Patricia push the ball down the field.

Yeah, that Matt Patricia…

The one who stifled Matthew Stafford. The one who drove the Lions off a cliff with his “scheme over talent” rigidity. The defensive mastermind who quickly morphed the Lions into the league’s weakest defense. The man who literally did not watch his offense during games while he was the head coach.

It’s essentially impossible for anyone with a Lions background to be objective about Patricia. I accept that. But he’s got huge shoes to fill with Josh McDaniels leaving. The Patriots do have a solid run game to work with in a stable of quality RBs that includes promising youngsters Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris. Jones can flat-out play and the receiving corps is as good as it’s been in years in New England. The line is sketchy but not without ability.

This is why Patricia’s coaching influence is so important in evaluating the Patriots. They should be pretty good and difficult to play against, capable of winning in a variety of ways. If they’re not, the pencil points at Patricia.

Minnesota Vikings

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

2021 ranks

Points: 25.0 ppg (13th)

Passer rating: 101.6

Yards per carry: 4.3

Key additions: TE Johnny Mundt, OG Jesse Davis, OG Ed Ingram

Key losses: TE Tyler Conklin, RB Ameer Abdullah

Outlook

Minnesota has changed head coaches with offensive-minded Kevin O’Connell taking over from defensive-oriented Mike Zimmer. That’s the biggest change to an otherwise cohesive unit that lost only top TE Tyler Conklin. A healthy Irv Smith, who missed 2021, needs to fill that hole.

Kirk Cousins is who he is at quarterback–better than his myriad critics will ever acknowledge but also one even his biggest fans have a hard time trusting in big moments. The Vikings receiving corps is outstanding and deep, led by Justin Jefferson. Even with Adam Theilen falling back a little, it’s still a great group of WRs with speed and precision.

Dalvin Cook is a top-5 overall RB when he’s on the field. Lions fans know too well how good Alexander Mattison is as his backup, too. Fullback C.J. Ham is a great one. The primary question is the young and talented OL, which is relying heavily on quick progress from Christian Darrisaw and Ezra Cleveland on the left side.

Philadelphia Eagles

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

2021 ranks

Points: 25.5 (12th)

Passer rating: 89.2

Yards per carry: 4.9

Key additions: WR A.J. Brown, WR Zach Paschal, IOL Cam Jurgens

Key losses: RB Jordan Howard, WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Outlook

The Eagles padded their points per game and rushing totals in a 44-6 romp over the Lions last year. While the points were out of character for Nick Sirianni’s offense, the 236 rushing yards were not. This is a fantastic running team keyed by a very good offensive line and the duo of RB Miles Sanders and QB Jalen Hurts. 

The young QB still makes too many mistakes, notably in the red zone and in ball security, but the arrow is pointing up for Hurts into his third season. Increased trust in a revamped receiving corps should help. Trading for Brown, one of the most difficult receivers in the league to defend, was a brilliant move to aid Hurts and the entire offense. He and last year’s first-round pick, Devonta Smith, make a very nice 1-2 punch at WR. 

Green Bay Packers

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

2021 ranks

Points: 25.6 ppg (10th)

Passer rating: 107.4

Yards per carry: 4.3

Key additions: WR Sammy Watkins, WR Christian Watson, OL Sean Rhyan, OL Zach Tom, WR Romeo Doubs

Key losses: WR Davante Adams, WR Marques Valdes-Scantling, WR Equanimeous St. Brown, OT Billy Turner, OL Dennis Kelly, OL Ben Braden

Outlook

Any team led by future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers at quarterback is going to be dangerous. Even with a radical turnover at the receiver position, Green Bay still has some punch for Rodgers to work with, especially if the youngsters (Watson, Amari Rodgers, Romeo Doubs) develop quickly.

The run game looks sharp with Aaron Jones, one of the league’s better all-purpose backs. Tight end will be fine if Robert Tonyan returns at full speed, though the depth at both RB and TE is thinner than it has been in years in Green Bay.

A healthy starting five on the OL should be a good one, better outside than inside. As is the case all over the offense, the depth is unproven and not necessarily inspiring in confidence. Without Rodgers at the helm, this looks like a below-average offense but one capable of fun and prolific hiccups. With Rodgers on top of his game, they’re a top-10 unit.

Dallas Cowboys

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

2021 ranks

Points: 30.4 ppg (1st)

Passer rating: 104.8

Yards per carry: 4.5

Key additions: OL Tyler Smith, WR Jalen Tolbert, TE Jake Ferguson, WR James Washington

Key losses: WR Amari Cooper, TE Blake Jarwin, OG Connor McGovern, WR Malik Turner

Outlook

The NFL’s most prolific scoring offense remains largely intact. Trading reliable playmaking vet Cooper to Cleveland weakens the receiving corps, but Dallas still has ample weaponry around QB Dak Prescott. Now entering his seventh season, Prescott has cemented himself as a smart passer who isn’t afraid of trusting his receivers or attacking down the field. 

For years the strength of the Cowboys was their offensive line. They still have LT Tyron Smith and RT Zack Martin, but neither is elite anymore. It’s a pretty good line if Tyler Smith, their first-round pick from Tulsa, can adapt quickly to a new position. With a versatile combo at RB in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, Dallas can win on the ground, too. 

Buffalo Bills

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

2021 ranks

Points: 29.8 ppg (3rd)

Passer rating: 91.3

Yards per carry: 4.8

Key additions: OG Rodger Saffold, WR Jamison Crowder, RB James Cook, TE O.J. Howard, QB Case Keenum, WR Khalil Shakir

Key losses: WR Cole Beasley, WR Emmanuel Sanders, OL Jon Feliciano, RB Matt Breida, QB Mitchell Trubisky, TE Reggie Gilliam

Outlook

Perhaps the NFL’s most fun offense to watch with QB Josh Allen running the show, Buffalo should once again be among the most prolific in both yards and points.

Allen has emerged as a viable MVP candidate. He’s still not blessed with great accuracy, but his touch and discretion have both improved from his wild early days. It’s his fearless approach and outstanding athletic ability that are the catalysts for one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses. But Allen has some impressive weaponry at his disposal too.

Stefon Diggs remains an elite-level playmaking WR. Gabriel Davis and his four TDs in the playoff matchup with Kansas City show his high-end potential. Smartly adding Jamison Crowder should ease the loss of Cole Beasley in the slot, and rookie Khalil Shakir could contribute a lot too.

The TE and RB groups are both better than the name recognition for general fans. Dawson Knox is one of the best young TEs in the league. Devin Singletary is very similar to Detroit’s D’Andre Swift in both style and outcomes. The depth at both spots got better this offseason, too.

Impressive LT Dion Dawkins anchors a solid line, though it’s one that has some questions on the inside and precious little depth. Allen is not always easy to block for with his improvisational style, but the Bills line helps facilitate him.

The biggest question is the loss of OC Brian Daboll, now the head coach of the Giants. Daboll was instrumental in Allen’s development and the organizational confidence in his ability. New OC Ken Dorsey is well-respected though unproven.

 

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