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Notes: Detroit Lions sending 3-man rushes more than any other team

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It’s an unpopular strategy, but it’s working fine thus far.

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Kansas City Chiefs v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Ask any NFL fan what their least favorite defensive call is and you’ll likely hear one of two responses: prevent defense or a three-man rush. Oftentimes, those terms are interchangeable, but regardless, people hate it when their defense fails to send pass rushers.

But for the Detroit Lions, the three-man pass rush has been an essential part of their defense this year. According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, no team has run more three-man rush plays than the Lions, and it’s not particularly close.

“The Lions use three-man rushes more than any other NFL team, a total of 55 dropbacks this season, more than twice the next-highest team,” Seifert wrote on Monday.

Of course, with the Lions’ talented secondary, they can afford to utilize that strategy more often. The Lions like to put six defensive backs on the field, and the results speak for themselves. They currently rank eighth in pass defense DVOA, sixth in passer rating allowed (80.3) and are allowing just 55.4 percent of passes to be completed (second best).

That being said, there are some obvious drawbacks, and we saw it in the final drive against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

“But on the winning drive, [Patrick Mahomes] completed 3-of-5 attempts for 33 yards against [three-man rushes] while also scrambling twice for a total of 16 yards,” Seifert wrote.

Will the Lions stick with this strategy as their defensive line gets healthier and (hopefully) more productive? Time will tell.

  • Sticking with the Lions’ pass defense, they’ve been outstanding on third down:

  • We’ve repeated it week after week, but the Lions’ long ball offense is definitely back:

  • Justin Rogers of the Detroit News has a nice film breakdown of the Lions’ resurgent run game, Detroit’s red zone woes, and the infamous fourth-and-8 play.

  • Speaking of film breakdowns, the incorrigible Chris Spielman broke down three of Sunday’s biggest plays with DetroitLions.com’s Mike O’Hara: