Jim Schwartz Building Solid Foundation for Lions to Improve


The Lions are faced with a long and difficult resurrection process, but head coach Jim Schwartz looks like the right guy to man that job. After Schwartz's busy offseason, let's take a look at the Lions on the ninth stop of NESN.com's 32-day NFL extravaganza.

2009 Record: 2-14 (missed playoffs)

2010 Schedule Difficulty: Their opponents went a combined 130-126 (.508 winning percentage) in 2009, which is tied for the 12th most difficult schedule in the NFL.

Key Additions: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (draft), defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, tight end Tony Scheffler, running back Jahvid Best (draft), wide receiver Nate Burleson, cornerback Amari Spievey (draft), cornerback Chris Houston

Key Losses: Linebacker Ernie Sims, linebacker Larry Foote, cornerback Philip Buchanon

Burning Question: Will the Lions regret passing on Eric Berry? Ndamukong Suh was a monster at Nebraska, and it's clear that Schwartz has adopted the proven strategy of building a team from the line on out. There was a considerable amount of public pressure in Detroit for the team to select Tennessee safety Berry with the second pick in April's draft, citing Berry's certain stardom and the high bust rate of defensive linemen.

Suh's body of work suggests his collegiate prowess will translate to the NFL, and if that's the case, he'll be the type of player around whom the Lions can build their defense. If not, the Detroit fan base will be eager to point out another of the team's draft blunders.

2010 Outlook: You've got to like the Lions' offseason, with Schwartz fighting hard to land Kyle Vanden Bosch and taking a gamble on Tony Scheffler. They had a good draft, too, adding to the young core of quarterback Matthew Stafford, safety Louis Delmas, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Sure, the Lions overpaid for Vanden Bosch and Nate Burleson, but teams stuck in the doldrums are forced to shell out extra cash for average-to-above-average talent.

Detroit won't make any big leaps in 2010 — five or six wins is likely the ceiling — but Schwartz has put a really good foundation in place for the future.

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