The Detroit Lions defense was one of the worst in the league in 2018. They ranked 27th by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, they allowed the third-highest passer rating in the NFL, and they created the second fewest turnovers.
But as the year came to an end, Lions fans were left with at least a little optimism. The savvy move to trade for Damon Harrison Sr. almost immediately made Detroit’s run defense one of the best in the league, and solid play from youngsters like Tracy Walker and Da’Shawn Hand left the Lions trending upwards.
Then the Lions went out in free agency and got themselves two bonafide starters (and playmakers) in edge defender Trey Flowers and nickel cornerback Justin Coleman.
Lions fans are noticeably excited about the team’s defense now, but how excited should they be? Where is this team’s ceiling on defense?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Where does this Lions defense now rank after free agency?
My answer: I legitimately think this defense could rank in the top 10 right now. Granted, Detroit is a little thin in depth right now. Both at the linebacker position and in the secondary, the Lions can ill afford to lose a starter right now. Maybe that changes after the draft and more free agency signings, but right now things could go from very good to very bad in an instant.
That being said, the addition of Flowers to a defensive line that is hitting its stride in their new defensive scheme makes Detroit a top-five defensive front. And in the secondary, the Lions purged two players whose playmaking abilities either never came to fruition (Nevin Lawson) or were clearly on the decline (Glover Quin). Add in Coleman (19 pass breakups in past two years) and the burgeoning Walker, and it looks like the back end could very well be much better in 2019.
However, I would be hesitant to go much further than to declare this anything more than a top 10 defense. There are still a lot of questions to be answered. Will Jarrad Davis finally take his next step? Will Coleman live up to his big contract? Who will step up when an injury inevitably takes out a starter?
I think there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Detroit’s 2019 defense, but until we actually see some serious progress, I’m not putting their ceiling beyond a top-10 unit.
Where does the Lions’ defense rank for 2019?
This poll is closed
Top 5 defense