As receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown walked off the field at Levi’s Stadium following the Detroit Lions’ NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers, he experienced a feeling he didn’t want to feel again: defeat.
Despite the Lions winning two playoff games in a single postseason for the first time since 1957, while collecting their first division title in more than three decades, St. Brown wasn’t satisfied.
“I don’t think any one of us want to feel that again if we can,” St. Brown said after the loss on Jan. 28. “I think the feeling that we have is enough to motivate us for next year.
We had a good year as a whole, but it is all for nothing if you don’t win the whole thing.
“Everyone’s goal to start the year is to win the Super Bowl and if you don’t, you kind of fail that season.
Whether you lose here in the NFC championship or don’t make the playoffs, it is all the same. We will be ready.”
One of the main areas for improvement this offseason will be on defense.
The Lions need an upgrade to the secondary, with more talent at cornerback, while also finding a difference-maker to pair with Pro Bowl edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson.
Detroit’s defense allowed 23.2 points per game, ranked 23rd in the league, while allowing 7.8 yards per pass attempt, which ranked 31st.
As the team tries to take that next step of reaching the Super Bowl, Lions general manager Brad Holmes knows he can’t overlook that area, but he also has faith in the players on the roster and their ability to improve.
“We have a lot of young players on defense. And look, we play an aggressive style. I think there’s no question on our identity.
But I don’t really see there’s a big discrepancy of talent,” Holmes said during his end-of-the-season news conference on Monday.
“We’re just kind of working together. But it’s a total team effort.
We don’t look at defense different than we look at offense. We don’t look at special teams different.
We’re trying to build a team, and I know everybody wants everything to be paired.
“You have a Pro Bowl pass-rusher with double-digit sacks and 100 pressures.
Everybody wants to pair the pass-rusher with somebody.
You have a D-tackle that was on his way before he got hurt to, potentially, a Pro Bowl season and sacks, you want to pair him with that guy.
You have a promising young safety; you want to pair him.
Everybody wants to and trust me, that’s what we want, too.
We want the same thing. We want, not only the frontline depth of all 11 starters, but we want all the depth to be really, really quality, and that’s what we strive to do.”
The Lions also could also benefit with adding depth to the offensive line, with the possibility of losing guards Graham Glasgow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Jonah Jackson through free agency.
With strong protection, Lions quarterback Jared Goff was able to enjoy a career renaissance where he passed for 4,575 yards and 30 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.