The Detroit Lions defense has taken considerable strides forward in recent weeks. After starting their first seven games as an historically bad defense, things have really turned around with the defense giving up just 19 points per game in the three weeks since. That change coincided with a few things — most notable was the departure of Aubrey Pleasant, but with it came the return of John Cominsky, Aidan Hutchinson’s clean bill of health, the return of Jerry Jacobs, and the emergence of Derrick Barnes. It has been a small sample size, but things finally look like they’re turning around for this defense. Is the progress here to stay?
Question of the day: Are you buying the hype around the Lions defense?
My answer: Yes, but I’m not expecting them to sustain this high of a level of play.
Don’t get me wrong, I think this defense is light years better than what we saw out of them in the first seven games. The emergence of the players listed above is crucial to what the vision for this defense is, and we saw that in practice through the first seven games. Since the stars aligned three weeks ago, we’ve seen a much higher level of play across all levels of the defense.
However, I think it’s important to remember who the Lions were playing in both stretches. Each of the Lions’ first seven opponents is squarely in the playoff race, and the Lions had one of the hardest schedules in the league to open the season. Their stretch since then was against Aaron Rodgers having one of the worst games of his career, the still-developing Justin Fields, and a Giants offense that was not nearly as good as their record indicated. That’s not to discredit the Lions defense for their progress, but the context is important.
I think the youth movement we’re seeing, particularly with the development of Hutchinson, Kerby Joseph, Alim McNeill, Malcolm Rodriguez, and Derrick Barnes is very promising and indicative of this defense maturing before our eyes.
Through Week 11, @Lions rookies have combined for 45 total pressures, which are the most among any team's rookie class (per @PFF).— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) November 22, 2022
Lions rookies have also combined for 5 INTs, tied for the most INTs by a team's rookie class.#OnePride pic.twitter.com/Ug01FGrZVK
However, the success they’ve had the last three weeks has been against very fortunate circumstances, and I think an offense like the Bills will remind us of that on Thursday.
What do you think? Am I being too pessimistic? Is this defense completely fixed? Vote below and let us know your thoughts.
Are you buying the hype around the Lions defense.
Yes, everything is fixed!
Yes, but they still have more work to do