On Monday, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as asked about the struggles of defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. “I don’t know if he’s struggled mightily,” Caldwell said. “Often times you don’t see it stat wise, you guys look for sacks and those kind of things, we look for disruptions and assists.”
Caldwell obviously protects his players and wouldn’t ever throw Ziggy under the bus. But even the most novice observer could tell you that Ansah has not lived up to his expectations through six games. Indeed, his sack numbers are low—four in the first six games, three of which came in one game—but Ansah has gone long periods of time when he’s not getting any pressure, or even any assists, as Caldwell puts it.
Injuries may be to blame, yet again, as Ansah has literally appeared on the injury report every week with a lingering knee issue.
But this is the final year in Ansah’s rookie contract, and if he’s making a play for a second contract in Detroit, he still has some work to do in the final 10 games. As Caldwell said on Monday, “Let’s talk about that at the end of the year and see where he is.”
So today’s Question of the Day is:
What does Ezekiel Ansah need to do by the end of the season to earn a second contract in Detroit?
My answer: First and foremost, I think Ansah needs to prove he can reach a certain amount of health. Throughout his past two years, Ansah has struggled to clear himself from the injury report, and his recovery time always seems longer than expected. If Detroit can’t trust Ansah to be healthy for the majority of the season, he may not be worth the investment of a second contract.
But he needs to prove more than that. He needs to tally some sacks consistently. The best edge rushers in the league get to the quarterback, whether they’re receiving double teams or even if they aren’t getting much help from their teammates. Ziggy is currently at just 4.0 sacks. If he doesn’t have at least 10.0 sacks by the end of the year, I’m don’t think he’s worth a long-term investment.
Even if Ansah’s struggles continue, it may be best for Detroit to place the franchise tag on the veteran defensive end. The Lions remain extremely thin at the position, and Ansah is likely the best they’ve got. It would be a costly one-year deal (this year, it would’ve cost $16.9 million), but at least they would have the body and wouldn’t have to commit long-term.
So to conclude, I think Ansah needs to hit at least double-digit sacks on the year to consider a multi-year extension, but Detroit should probably place the franchise tag on him regardless of what happens over the next 10 games (unless he suffers a major injury).
What does Ezekiel Ansah need to do to earn a second contract in Detroit?
This poll is closed
Get 0-4 sacks in the final 10 games
Get 5-6 sacks in the final 10 games
Get 7-9 sacks in the final 10 games
Get 10+ sacks in the final 10 games
Extend him no matter what
Give him the franchise tag no matter what