We’re four games into the 2018 season, and some of the Detroit Lions’ biggest problems are coming into focus. Offensively, the team is doing okay, but there are certainly some consistency issues across the board—even at quarterback.
Defensively, it’s an entirely different story. Detroit can’t stop the run, the secondary is giving up too many big plays. Pass rush is inconsistent at best, and there are just way too many penalties.
When problems are so multifaceted, it’s hard to fix. I’m not trying to scapegoat here, because, again, there are plenty things going on right now, but today’s Question of the Day is:
Who is the one player on the Lions that needs to improve the most?
My answer: Christian Jones.
We’ve been hammering Jarrad Davis pretty hard from training camp all the way through the first month of the regular season, and there’s a pretty good reason for that. He’s the Lions’ 2017 first-round pick, and his struggles have been apparent.
However, he hasn’t even been the worst linebacker on the team. Those honors belong to Jones, who was added this offseason in free agency in hope to improve the linebacking corps after letting Tahir Whitehead, Brandon Copeland and Paul Worrilow sign elsewhere.
Jones hasn’t done much of anything, despite getting plenty of snaps on defense. He has just 16 total tackles, 1.0 sack and a 40.6 Pro Football Focus grade, good for 76 out of 85 linebackers. Just look at where he was during Ezekiel Elliott’s touchdown grab on the screen:
That’s him on the 33-yard line heading in the complete wrong direction while only now realizing that the ball is going to Elliott.
This play is a pretty good representation of his performance through four games, and it’s why the Lions have been giving up chunk yards both in the running game and in the passing game. The Lions’ linebacker play has been god awful, and that’s a reason why this team is 1-3 right now with the worst run defense in the league. If Matt Patricia can’t get this unit in order soon, it’s going to be far too late in the season to get anything meaningful out of this team in 2018.