The Detroit Lions will open the regular season on Sunday, September 11 with a home matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, in what should be a challenging opening game for Dan Campbell’s team.
The final episode of ‘Hard Knocks,’ a popular reality show chronicling the Lions’ 2022 training camp, aired Tuesday night, giving Lions fans a few clues on the state of the team heading in the 2022 season.
Here are five things we learned from the final episode:
5. Dan Campbell Seems Cautiously Optimistic About the Season — Emphasis on ‘Cautiously’
The fifth and final episode of the show concluded with Lions coaches sharing their final thoughts on how they believe the team will do this season.
The question was a tough one for Head Coach Dan Campbell to field, as shown in the video below.
He took quite a bit of time answering, which has led to a lot of speculation among Twitter users as to what may have been going on in his brain at the time.
We almost lost Dan Campbell there for a second. I think he just played the entire 2022 schedule out in his mind pic.twitter.com/CZaNvdB9sT
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) September 7, 2022
4. Campbell and Brad Holmes Had a Really Hard Time Cutting Players
Scenes from episode five showed Campbell and General Manager Brad Holmes cutting players including wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton and backup quarterback David Blough.
Both of the cuts were exceedingly difficult for the Lions brass as you could tell during the episode that they believe it’s the hardest part of the job.
Campbell seemed particularly frustrated that the Vikings picked up Blough off waivers, although it almost seemed as if it was a smokescreen for the cameras, especially considering the Lions’ signing of veteran QB Nate Sudfeld.
3. Linebackers Coach Kelvin Shepphard Sounded Most Confident in the Team
Shepphard played linebacker for the Lions in 2018, recording five tackles, three seasons after recording 75 for the New York Giants.
The former LSU Tiger and third round pick of the Buffalo Bills sounded as confident as any coach when asked about the 2022 Detroit Lions.
The team’s current linebacker coach, Shepphard will head into battle with a linebacking corps that includes rookie sensation Malcolm Rodriguez, Alex Anzalone and others.
Shepphard has said that he enjoys coming to work every day, and the hours fly by. Whether or not that translates to a successful team on the field is anyone’s guess, but it’s an intriguing insight from the longtime NFL linebacker.
— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) August 25, 2022
2. The Coaching Staff Really Likes Craig Reynolds
Reynolds is a former Kutztown University running back who went undrafted in 2019.
He had 230 yards for the Lions in the final five games of last season, although he did not score a touchdown.
Reynolds not only made the 2022-2023 Detroit Lions’ roster, he also has the support of his offensive line, Campbell and Holmes.
Campbell said that the young running back is so ‘gritty,’ his picture should be added to the team displays showcasing its new slogan (‘Grit’) in Allen Park.
Whether or not that translates to sustained success on the field is anyone’s guess, but Reynolds is a team favorite.
hard works pays off!..with my man Craig Reynolds..welcome to the 53 bro! pic.twitter.com/Riwr93GlJP
— Detroit Lion Eyes (@Alionssuperfan) September 7, 2022
1. The Lions Have a Lot of Heart. The Big Question is Whether or Not They’ll Win a Lot of Games.
Throughout the entirety of ‘Hard Knocks,’ we saw that these Detroit Lions care a lot about each other, and the fans care a lot about them as well.
In the final episode, Campbell is surprised to hear that the jersey of Rodriguez, a relatively unknown sixth round draft pick before the airing of the show, has the Lions’ second best selling jersey behind Aidan Hutchinson.
His jersey, shown above, has been flying off the shelves at places like Fanatics.com, where it has earned the title of ‘Most Popular’ among NFL and Detroit Lions jerseys.
Campbell said that the jersey sales of Rodriguez and Hutchinson say a lot about Detroit Lions fans, considering the two rising stars on the defensive side of the ball are among the grittiest and hardest working players the Lions have, along with Reynolds and others.
Rodriguez also was an unknown before the show, but has quickly become one of the team’s most popular players.
Now that the show is over and the real season begins, the question is whether the heart, grit, and excitement we saw will translate to wins on the football field.
The Lions succeeded in the past with a similarly effusive, passionate, and relatively green coach named Wayne Fontes in the early 90s, and Campbell stirs the same types of emotions in both the fans and players.
This roster lacks the talent of those early 90s teams, however, suggesting that it may take another year or more for Campbell’s team to become a true contender in a talented NFC North division that also includes the Packers and Vikings.
Time will tell, but one thing’s for sure — the Lions are riding high after their performance on this year’s show, and that should make for an incredible atmosphere at Ford Field when the Eagles come calling in week one.