A Real Lion, Jared Goff, and Some Underrated Defensive Talent: An Interview with Jeremy Reisman

We began this NFC North interview series with Mr. Bretl of Dairyland Express. We then received some insight from Mr. Wiltfong of Windy City Gridiron. We finish things off with Jeremy Reisman (who is on Twitter!) from Pride of Detroit, who provides us with a really excellent perspective on the Lions. My questions are in bold; Mr. Reisman’s insight is contained below. Enjoy!

1) I’d like to say that I could start at QB or your defense, but I really need to start with the whole lion thing. Campbell was joking, right? What does the Detroit media think of him saying these outlandish things?

As of right now, everyone in Detroit loves the Dan Campbell antics. His passion and authenticity are a welcome change after the dry and reserved Matt Patricia for the past three years. He’s also been very open and honest with the media, which will go a long way into earning their trust. It may look silly and dumb from the outside, but this team had all the fun sucked out of it by the previous regime, and it made covering them a big bummer. Campbell has, at the very least, made things interesting again. 

2) The impression I have is that most Packers, Bears, and Vikings fans don’t take Dan Campbell seriously. Heck, I’ve been referring to the Lions as the Detroit Knee Biters. Are Lions fans confident in Campbell? Should they be?

Lions fans love Campbell more than anyone I’ve seen in at least a couple decades. Yes, there’s hype around every new coach around this time of year, but this well of support is different. Campbell has done an excellent job endearing himself to fans, and I think this one moment–not picked up by the national media–was very telling. When he stepped onto Detroit’s indoor practice field for the first time since he stood in the same building as a player, he broke down in tears. Plenty of coaches have come here and told us how special Detroit is and what a great sports city it is. Campbell is the only one who didn’t feel like he was pandering when he said something similar.

More than anything else, Dan Campbell is being himself–and unapologetically so. That’s a huge leadership trait, and it’s one that is really resonating both with the media and fans. Yes, he looks goofy, and yeah, people nationally are going to make fun of him, but he’s already Detroit’s goofball.

As for whether they should be confident in Campbell, it’s hard to tell. His time as interim head coach with the Dolphins went pretty well, and many believed he deserved a shot to keep the job there. The main concern has been can Campbell be the genius Xs and Os guy? I think the answer there is probably no, but he built himself one hell of a coaching staff (on paper), and that seems to have put many fans’ minds at ease.

3) Jared Goff. How much can we really expect out of him? He was in a near ideal scenario in LA and was lackluster. Can he succeed in Detroit?

I think it could work in Detroit, but a lot of things have to go right. The Lions have put him in a decent situation, as they have a solid offensive line that could help develop a good running game to accommodate Goff. Also, their coaching staff has been very supportive working on building his confidence back up. If Goff’s relationship with Sean McVay had gotten so toxic that it was affecting his play, I think he’s in a better spot now.

That all being said, Detroit’s wide receiving corps leaves a lot to be desired. Outside of maybe tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back D’Andre Swift, I don’t think he’ll have a ton of reliable options.

It’s also easy to forget that Goff is just 26 years old. A change of scenery could always spring some development.

4) To my mind, Detroit’s defensive talent is underrated. What do you expect from them in the upcoming season? Any reasons for Okudah optimism?

The Lions certainly put a lot of investment into their defense this offseason, specifically on the defensive line. They re-signed Romeo Okwara to a huge deal, drafted DT Levi Onwuzurike and NT Alim McNeill in the second and third rounds, respectively, and they traded for DT Michael Brockers. I think that talent-wise, that’s a pretty decent defensive front that can create some actual disruption.

The big question is with Detroit’s back seven. Their linebacking corps is in transition from a big and bulky group to one the new staff wants to be smaller and quicker. They’re just not there yet. And their secondary is still very young and unproven. The hope here is that the Lions’ new coaching staff–specifically, former NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Aaron Glenn (now the Lions defensive coordinator)–will help these young guys, including Jeff Okudah, progress.

I would say there’s legitimate reason for optimism, as these players are already singing the praises of this coaching staff, and it sounds genuine, rather than some repetitive offseason hype. Take Lions safety Tracy Walker:

“I feel like those guys have coached some of the best corners and safeties in the NFL and I feel like they’re going to help transform my game and I’m listening to them and I’m bought in, all the way”

And Jeff Okudah:

“Within the first couple of meetings, I was just picking up so much things that I thought to myself, ‘It just would have been nice to have these tools in my toolbox in my rookie year.’”

It’s not going to happen overnight, but I do think this defense could surprise some people in 2021.

5) Finally, I need an NFC North prediction. Who wins the division and why?

Obviously, the status of Aaron Rodgers has the chance to change everything, but I’m still going with the Packers. They’re the most well-rounded team with stars all over their roster. They’ve got a top-five wide receiver, top-10 running back, borderline Pro Bowl tight end, a player that finished in the top five in sacks last year, and one of the best young corners in the game. Simply said, they’ve got the most talent on both sides of the ball, with or without Rodgers.

Editor’s Note: TVG would like to extend a sincere thanks to Mr. Reisman for offering us some excellent insight on the Lions. Interested readers can find him on Twitter and they can read his writing at Pride of Detroit.