ESPN gives Lions' offseason a 'D,' tied for lowest in NFL

The Detroit News

The Lions made moves this offseason to try to get their annually sluggish running game untracked.

But, did adding offensive lineman Frank Ragnow in the draft and running backs LeGarrette Blount and Kerryon Johnson in the backfield make the Lions any better?

Lions head coach Matt Patricia offers instruction during Tuesday's minicamp in Allen Park.

ESPN doesn't seem to think so.

The World Wide Leader handed out offseason grades for each NFL team (pay site) on Wednesday, and saddled the Lions with a "D," one of just two teams graded so low (the Carolina Panthers are the other).

ESPN's Mike Sando writes that "more than a dozen decision-makers around the league. We took into account coaching changes, free-agency moves, draft maneuvering and shocking revelations that rocked two franchises outside the realm of football operations."

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One of those franchises was the Lions, who learned new head coach Matt Patricia had been indicted on 1996 sexual assault allegations that were unearthed last month in a Detroit News report. The case never went to trial, and Patricia has denied any wrongdoing.

"The Lions hired Matt Patricia as their head coach without knowing he had been indicted on serious criminal charges two decades ago," Sando writes. "The case never went to trial. Patricia forcefully denied wrongdoing and said he was being targeted unfairly. The bottom line is that the public records were readily available to the Lions or anyone else researching candidates. Detroit should have been more thorough in its process. That lapse knocks down the Lions' offseason grade."

On the field, ESPN quotes an unnamed "exec" who approves of the additions of Ragnow, Johnson and Blount, but is unsure how the defense has improved.

"On the field, one piece that was a positive for them is they will have more of an emphasis on getting their running game going," Sando quotes the executive saying. "I do not know how consistent it is going to be, and then I have no idea what their defense is going to look like with the changeover and the pieces they have. This is another team in flux. (Matthew) Stafford will give them a chance every Sunday, but offseason-move-wise, I do not feel like they got better."

The Los Angeles Rams, whose offseason included the addition of former Lion Ndamukong Suh, and the New England Patriots each received an A-minus, tied for tops among ESPN's grades.