In preparation for the 2016 Detroit Lions season, we polled the Pride Of Detroit staff on their predictions for the Lions season. Next up, who will be the team’s defensive MVP
Who will be the Detroit Lions' defensive MVP in 2016?
Kent Lee Platte
With the added focus up front, I think it ends up being a healthy DeAndre Levy as the defensive MVP who will show just how missed he was in 2015.
DeAndre Levy will be the Lions’ defensive MVP. Returning to the lineup after missing 2015 is huge for the Lions. If he can return to the form he was in before injury, you'll see just how much this defense needed him last season.
14.5 sacks will be hard to beat, but he still could have a great year without reaching his mark from 2015. I expect the defensive tackles to be improved, which should help Ansah be even more impactful.
Last year, I went with Darius Slay since I figured DeAndre Levy would be the overwhelming choice and figured I'd mix it up. Well, I wasn't right but at least I escaped the guilt of having cursed Levy. This year, I'm going with the odds-on favorite. Ansah has ascended quickly and should continue to build on his impressive 2015 performance. I'm not even sure this race will be close.
Ziggy! It's going to be hard for him to top what he did last season, but he's a guy who has continually improved throughout his career and only looks to be getting better. I expect Teryl Austin to continue to put Ansah in a position to succeed with creative plays and stunts.
Just like last year, I'll say again that Quin's presence does not show up in the stats because his smart play removes options for opposing quarterbacks. For the most part, opponents do not stupidly throw gift interceptions to Quin; instead he forces them to take poorer alternatives. None of that shows up on the stat sheet, but he makes the defense more effective overall. When Quin left the field against the Saints last year with a concussion, the difference was obvious and immediate.
That’s an easy one: Stephen Tulloch.
Okay, but really, I think this year is going to see Ezekiel Ansah finally put the entire league — and especially those who cover it — on notice. Last year, Ansah finished third in sacks (14) and fourth in quarterback hits (23) according to Football Outsiders. I think with the return of a healthy Haloti Ngata, the addition of rookie A’Shawn Robinson and the rest of the depth the Lions can rotate along the defensive line, Ansah is primed for another productive season.
This line is the strongest part of the defense and Ansah will eat for days.
I promised myself that I would go with a safe pick this year after swinging and missing on my Stephen Tulloch pick in 2015.
We saw it in 2014. The Lions are at their best on the defensive side of the ball when they dominate the trenches and stuff the run. Ezekiel Ansah is arguably one of the best run stuffing ends in the NFL, and his pass rushing numbers are improving every year. Everyone benefits when Ansah is at his best and if you ask me, he is the most important piece to the puzzle. Sure, the defense looked putrid last year with the loss of DeAndre Levy, but trust me, it'd look even worse without Ziggy.
Despite my jersey curse, DeAndre Levy will beat the odds and finally get the Pro Bowl nod he so clearly deserves. The stage is set for Levy to have a career year. He has a decent defensive line to open up gaps to shoot through and stop the run. He’s got to be hungry after missing a year of football. And he only seems to be getting smarter and smarter. There may be some rust to shake off at the beginning of the season, but by the end of September, I expect Levy to be dominating fools.