Our 2017 roster review will reexamine the Lions’ roster and how it played out last season. We’ll take a look at expectations, performance and potential role in the future.
Today, we continue our discussion with Detroit Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata
Expectations before 2017
Everyone knew that the Lions had a serious pass rush issue going into the 2017 season. But it’s safe to say that most felt marginally comfortable that the Lions could be successful against the run with Ngata in the lineup.
Ngata veteran presence was also expected to play a big role in getting players like Anthony Zettel and A’Shawn Robinson ready to take over starting roles in 2017 and in the future.
During the preseason, the Lions defense looked like it was going to be better than expected and Ngata helped the pass rush look like a successful unit. Unfortunately, that wound up being a mirage.
Actual role in 2017
2017 stats: 5 games (5 starts): 7 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 pass defended
PFF Grade: 79.7 (not enough games to qualify, but would’ve ranked 51st of 123)
Early on, Ngata looked like he was going to have a bigger year than expected. He was getting into the backfield and to the quarterback with efficiency that surprised just about everyone.
Additionally, the Lions run defense was hard at work and keeping the opposing running backs from tearing them apart—with the exception of Devonta Freeman, who destroyed the Lions in Week 3. He was pretty unstoppable.
Everything looked good for Ngata until Week 5 when he went down with a season-ending torn bicep against Carolina.
The Lions ability to stop the run went with Ngata. They went from allowing just 74.6 rushing yards per game to 129.7 rushing yards per game. It’s clear that Ngata’s absence was truly a big deal for the Lions in 2017.
Outlook for 2017
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Here’s the thing: Despite what we know about the big dropoff in Detroit’s ability to stop the run after Ngata’s injury, does that mean the Lions have to re-sign him? I’m leaning towards yes, but I’m not so sure.
Ngata has already said that he wants to come back to Detroit in 2018, which is a bit surprising. Many thought the 33 year old would call it a career, but this doesn’t appear to be the way he wants to go out. I can’t blame him.
If the Lions do decide to go with a defensive lineman in the first round of the draft, like so many believe they will, will Ngata have a place on the line with the rookie, Robinson and a possible free agent pick up?
If the Lions do bring Ngata back, look for this be a short-term deal for a low amount money. Ngata’s veteran presence is worth bringing back, especially with a more youthful line.
Should the Lions bring back Haloti Ngata?
This poll is closed
Previously: DE Dwight Freeney, LB Tahir Whitehead , DE Ezekiel Ansah, S Tavon Wilson, CB Nevin Lawson, LS Don Muhlbach, LB Paul Worrilow, WR TJ Jones, TE Darren Fells, OT Greg Robinson, DT Jordan Hill, CB DJ Hayden, S Don Carey, LB Nick Bellore, G Don Barclay, RB Mike James, C Travis Swanson