The Detroit Lions defense is broken. There’s little denying it at this point. They can’t stop the run, they can’t defend the pass, and they can’t help out their quarterback, who is playing at a borderline MVP level right now.
While the problem is multi-faceted, and there is clearly not a single clear fix that would turn this unit around, there is one glaring disappointment that can explain much of their failures: the lack of a pass rush.
To give you an idea of just how bad the Lions pass rush is, ESPN’s Seth Walder put together a graph that is visually striking:
Blitz rate (x) by pass rush win rate (y). Top left (low blitz, high win rate) is best so...the Cowboys.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) November 6, 2019
(ESPN stat, NGS data) pic.twitter.com/YPMiJR7QaK
On the y-axis (up and down) is each team’s pass rush win rate. As you can see, the Lions are easily the last in the league—about five percent lower than the next closest team. To make matters worse, on the x-axis (left and right) is each team’s blitz per dropback rate. The Lions are also last in that category, blitzing around 17 percent of the time.
So in other words, not only are the Lions not successful at rushing the passer, but they aren’t doing much about it. They’ve tried to disguise their rushers a little more in the past couple of weeks, but they refuse to simply send more players.
Sure, the pass rushers need to be doing a better job, but this represents a certain level of stubbornness in the coaching staff, who appear disinterested in breaking protocol and being a little more aggressive with their pass rush.
- On the positive side, two Lions players made PFF’s Team of the Week, and both were on the offensive line. Taylor Decker (PFF grade 78.8) and Frank Ragnow (74.7) put in solid games against the Oakland Raiders.
- Matt Patricia has been named a nominee for the Salute to Service Award, given to a league member who “demonstrates an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community.” Here’s Patricia talking about why that means so much to him:
- Why did the Lions give Christian Jones a two-year extension over the weekend? Matt Patricia explained on Tuesday what he likes about the veteran linebacker.
- Today in: “At Least Matthew Stafford And The Offense Is Pretty Good”
So far this season, these teams have been the best at keeping their offensive drives alive without going 3 and out. #WeAreTexans #Saints #DallasCowboys #OnePride #Colts #BoltUp #InBrotherhood #ChiefsKingdom #RavensFlock #GoNiners #LARams @gregcosell | @MattBowen41 pic.twitter.com/CB4Pr45Uxl— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) November 6, 2019
- Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press looked at the Lions’ goal-line plays throughout this season to see if it made Detroit’s final play vs. Oakland look any better. (Spoiler: not really)
- By some statistics, the 2019 Lions feature the worst defense in franchise history. Kyle Meinke goes down a depressing rabbit hole.