Week 1 is always full of surprises for all 32 teams. Sometimes a rookie will come out of the gates firing and blast himself into the national conversation (Kareem Hunt). Sometimes a perceived strength will shockingly falter in the season opener (Lions special teams).
On Tuesday, we focused on the negative side of surprises from the Week 1 Detroit Lions. Among our biggest disappointments were anything related to the Lions’ running game and special team units.
But Sunday’s game provided even more pleasant surprises. After all, the Detroit Lions beat a team they were favored to lose to. So today’s Question of the Day is:
What was the most pleasant surprise from the Detroit Lions in Week 1?
My answer: Anthony Zettel.
Every year it seems the Lions have a pass rusher that breaks out and garners 8-10 sacks in a season. Last season it was Kerry Hyder. The year before that it was Devin Taylor. The year before that, it was both George Johnson and Jason Jones.
After Hyder went down this preseason, Zettel was the main candidate to be that breakout end—if the Lions were going to have one at all. Zettel had a pretty impressive preseason, but I promised to withhold my optimism until I saw him do it during a real game.
And the Lions’ sixth-round pick from 2016 went out against the Cardinals and had himself a game. He finished with the Detroit’s only sack of the game, added an additional four hurries and nearly had an interception.
Anthony Zettel had more pressures against the Cardinals Sunday (7) than he had in 112 pass rushing snaps as a rookie (6)— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) September 12, 2017
A few caveats here: The Cardinals offensive line isn’t very good, and it got a lot worse when left tackle DJ Humphries left early in the game.
Still, I had little-to-no expectations for Zettel coming into the 2017 offseason and he’s already exceeded those. If he can continue to show growth and production like this, the Lions defensive line may be a little better than we all thought.