How far does the D have to go to be on par with the 2014 team?

I really appreciated the comments from everyone on my comparison of the whole 2014 team to the 2022 version. The area we all agree needs to really step up is defense. I can't help but wonder however if we're not closer than what most people thought we are.

I got some conviction that the edge might be not only better but deeper than in 2014, especially since Ansah didn't have a great year. With about 5 players vying for time in 2022 on the edge the quality and depth is exciting. Harris, Hutchinson, R Okwara, J Okwara, Paschal, and perhaps Bryant, Houston, and Berry give the 2022 team a lot to look to for success from this unit.

Suh obviously was one of the greatest DTs we've ever had. Paired with Nick Fairly and supported by Andre Fluellen and a suprising Caruan Reid, this was a very solid piece of the defense in 2014. McNeill, Brockers, Onwuzurike, Penisini, and possibly Hector, Paschal, and or UDFA Davis definitely have their work cut out for themselves to match the production and run stopping ability of their predecessors. McNeill seems to have a great deal of potential. Onwuzurike might take a huge step forward after playing injured last year. Brockers too might prove to be better if the nagging injuries that plagued him are behind him. Penisini too also had shoulder surgery that probably slowed his development in 2021. Paschal might be a wild card as well as Davis given their excellent college backgrounds.

Stopping the opposition's running game would go a long way to improving the team's defensive results. I think more than anywhere else the interior defensive line is where play has to improve to achieve this. The linebacker corp might be an aspect of solidifying this part of the defense too, if the interior lineman can hold back the opponent's offensive linemen. I'm hoping that Barnes and Rodriguez become a young tandem that proves to be just what the Lions need to come closer to what Levy and Whitehead were to the team in 2014. Anzalone is a unique talent that provides good depth and versatility to the unit too, that might not have been so readily available to the team in 2014.Still the proof will be in the results that are delivered.

The backfield seemed to draw more comparisons to the 2014 across the board. Slay was just emerging as a shut down corner while Mathis was the wily old veteran outperforming expectations. In 2022 we have Oruwariye cast in the Slay role. Hughes, Okudah, Jacobs, and perhaps others such as Parker, Boswell, Lucas, Smith, or Motley might emerge as the equals of Mathis, not to mention simply how much more depth the 2022 team appears to have. Walker has a lot of work to do to match the accomplishments of Quin, in my opinion, but there is good reason to hope that he is on this trajectory. The mix of other safeties pairing with Quin and now Walker seems also relatively similar. Of course again, ultimately performance has to be delivered. I tend to like Will Harris a lot more this year than in the past given how well he played a variety of roles last season. It should make him more confident and more of a ball hawk moving forward. Kerby Joseph might be the wild card in the mix that tilts this unit back to 2014 performance levels - he's so new to the role with so much promise shown that he could prove to be a surprise performer, or end up being cast almost exclusively on special teams. I'm inclined to believe he will be more of the former than the latter, but we can only wait and see for now.

Matching players for some aspect of valuation might be interesting:

Suh -- McNeill

Fairly -- Onwuzurike

Fleullen -- Brockers

Reid -- Penisini

Ansah -- Hutchinson

J Jones -- C Harris

Taylor -- R Okwara

Johnson -- J Okwara

Levy -- Barnes / Azalone

Whitehead -- Rodriguez / Davis

Palmer -- Woods / Parker

Slay -- Oruwariye

Mathis -- Okudah / Jacobs / Hughes

Quin -- Walker

Ihedigbo -- Elliott / Joseph

Quddus -- W Harris

Suh, Quin, and Slay were the kings, but the team had great support across the board. 2014 ranked 3rd in points allowed. 2022...?

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