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Lions-Bears key PFF stats: Aidan Hutchinson takes big strides in run defense

Amon-Ra St. Brown is officially back, while Aidan Hutchinson takes a big step in his game.

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NFL: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Week 10 was a milestone marker for the Detroit Lions in the Dan Campbell era. Not only was this Campbell’s first road victory during his tenure, but the Lions were finally able to stack a couple of wins in a row, creating their first winning streak under this regime. Oh, and the Lions picked up their first win over the Chicago Bears since Campbell took over, finally restoring order and balance to the franchise.

In all seriousness, the Lions have not only won two games in a row, they’ve won two games in a row decided by a narrow margin—and they’ve effectively ended both games by making big stops on defense. After Detroit’s loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 8, Campbell siphoned some wisdom from Bill Parcells when talking about the Lions record in close games.

“Bill Parcells just used to say, ‘The only way to win close games is win close games,’” remarked Campbell in the aftermath of Detroit’s four-point loss to the Dolphins. Since then, Detroit’s found a way to win close games in back-to-back weeks, against division opponents nonetheless, and the Lions have matched their win total from last year before Thanksgiving. Progress, everyone. Progress.

As we do every week for this Detroit Lions team, we have some data courtesy of Pro Football Focus that can help us better understand the football the Lions have played thus far—and how they’ll continue to play from here on out. Let’s take a closer look at the Lions by the numbers after their win over the Chicago Bears in Week 10.

Pro Football Focus’ premium statistics are an invaluable data point for football fans to better understand the game. Consider subscribing to PFF to have full access to a plethora of stats and grades to keep you informed about the NFL—and college football, too.


4.10

In case you forgot, Amon-Ra St. Brown is a certified, top-tier receiver in the NFL by just about any measure. When he caught his seventh pass of the afternoon against the Bears, St. Brown entered the top-10 in NFL history for the most receptions through 25 career games. He’s tied for seventh in the NFL in yards after catch per reception (5.8) among wide receivers with at least 53 targets this season—last year, he finished tied for eighth in YAC/Rec (4.8). Despite injuries costing him almost two full games and Detroit already having their bye, St. Brown is tied for 19th in first downs among wideouts.

While St. Brown did tally an impressive 10 catches for 113 yards against Chicago, including eight first downs (tied for the Week 10 high amongst all pass-catchers), no stat is more impressive than St. Brown’s 4.10 yards per route run which led all pass-catchers with at least 12 targets in Week 10. He outpaced Justin Jefferson, Stefon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, the whole bunch when it came to making the most out of his pass patterns.

50.0

Ever since the Lions nabbed EDGE defender Julian Okwara in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, fans have been excited about his potential as a pass rusher—and they saw some of that last season when he tallied 5.0 sacks and 21 hurries over 173 pass rush snaps.

On Sunday, despite suffering a knee injury that limited his snap count, Okwara’s relentlessness as a pass rusher showed up not once...

But twice—and at the most critical juncture of the game.

Okwara played 23 snaps against the Bears, but on just six pass-rushing snaps, he tallied three quarterback pressures, including the 2.0 sacks from above for a 50.0 pass-rushing productivity mark which is a formula that combines sacks, hits, and hurries relative to how many times they rush the passer. As the Lions get healthy along the edge, using Okwara strategically as a guy strictly to get after the passer could be.

15.4

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Aidan Hutchinson has been far from perfect, but that’s the way of life for a rookie in the NFL. His success and productivity can be uneven at times throughout the game, but it’s never for a lack of revving that engine of his that never stops. But when the motor and technique align, you get a play like he made on the goal line to stop David Montgomery from crossing for six.

Something undeniable about Hutchinson’s game so far through his rookie season is his ability to just keep going snap after snap. Only ten EDGE defenders in the NFL have played at least 191 run defense snaps and Hutchinson (217) is one of them. Of those ten defenders, Hutchinson ranks sixth in defensive stops with 14 total on the season. You’d like to see him play with more efficiency, of course, but the hope is that develops as he hones his technique and Detroit’s defense—especially the interior of their line—gets a little more talent around him.

His game against the Bears saw him take a big step in the right direction, though. Hutchinson registered a 15.4 STOP%—the percentage of a player’s run defense snaps where he was responsible for a stop. That number ranked third among all defenders in Week 10 who played at least 24 run defense snaps—Hutchinson actually finished with the best STOP% among EDGE defenders.

158.3

With two interceptions, three total passes defended and ten tackles last week against the Packers, Kerby Joseph made headlines when he earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors just nine weeks into his NFL career. One week later against the Bears, Joseph allowed a perfect 158.3 passer rating in coverage with PFF charging the rookie with four catches allowed on four targets, 85 yards, and two touchdowns including this 50-yard pitch and catch to tight end Cole Kmet.

Sunday’s game was a reminder that Joseph is still learning the intricacies of the safety position after flipping back and forth between wide receiver and safety at Illinois. Since injuries have thrust him into a starting position, plays like this are bound to happen as he learns on the fly, so it’ll be interesting to see how Joseph responds against the New York Giants after experiencing the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

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