After an abysmal start to the year, the Detroit Lions defense jumped from 30th to 23rd in DVOA following a dominant performance against the Jaguars. It’s easy to disregard a week like that and say the Jaguars aren’t very good football team, but this was a top-10 ranked offense that the Lions were up against. It was undoubtedly everything we’ve been asking for from this defense, but the real question is whether they can prove that this wasn’t just a one-time thing.
Today, the Lions are put to the test against an up-and-down Falcons team that somehow only has one win on the season despite having a lead in five of their six games. Sound familiar?
As previously mentioned by our fearless leader, Jeremy Reisman, the Falcons are much, much better offensively when star receiver Julio Jones is on the pitch for them. Unfortunately, that will be the case today against the Lions. They will have to find some way to create pressure on Matt Ryan to force the ball out of his hands early, or it will likely be feasting time for Jones, Calvin Ridley and others.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Will the Lions perform well on defense in back-to-back weeks?
My answer: Yes.
I hate to make this so black and white, because it’s difficult to put into words exactly what “performing well” defensively means. Is it giving up less than 20-25 points? No more than 300 total yards? A couple forced turnovers? What are we expecting from the Lions when we ask for the defense to do their job?
In my mind, creating relatively consistent pressure on the QB, keeping the game close without giving up too many points, and coming up clutch in late-game situations is really what they’ve been lacking. That is what I want to see from the defense, and that is likely how I would measure success. This team cannot win football games with the offense completely carrying them. They need stops on defense, and they need to get to the opposing team’s QB to do so.
With that being said, I think the coaching staff is finally starting to realize what works for them. Last week, they did a wonderful job of stopping the run early, mixing up coverages and creating blitzing situations to force the ball out of the QB’s hands early. Can we rely on them to keep this up all season long? Probably not. But I do think the Falcons are one of the teams they can expose like they did with the Jaguars just a week ago.