Analysis of 2023 Detroit Lions defense may blow your mind

This 2023 Detroit Lions Stat May Surprise You

In an article recently published by FTN Fantasy, Cale Clinton took a deep dive into NFL defensive performances tied to pressure on the quarterback. In the article, Clinton reveals that though the Detroit Lions had the top-ranked pass rush in 2023 (based on pressure rate), it did not translate into a solid pass defense.

The Detroit Lions led the NFL in pressure rate during the 2023 season, but their aggressive approach did not translate into a top-tier passing defense. Despite a 36.6% pressure rate, Detroit’s defensive performance by DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) was lackluster, ranking them 16th in the league against the pass. This outcome positions Detroit’s strategy among the least effective for teams with a high-pressure rate over the past decade, highlighting a disparity not seen since the 2014 Philadelphia Eagles.

2023 Detroit Lions Mini-Movie Pro Football Focus Top 101 Players 2024 Detroit Lions Season Win Total Aidan Hutchinson Mural

Detroit Lions Defense: A Statistical Breakdown

In 2023, despite being No. 1 in pass pressure, the Detroit Lions’ defensive effectiveness was unremarkable:

  • Pressure Rate: 36.6%
  • Defensive Passing DVOA: -3.2% (13th)
  • Pass Defense Efficiency: 6.5% (16th)

This contrasts starkly with the league’s most successful teams at converting pressure into defensive efficiency. For example, teams like the 2019 New England Patriots and 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers not only led in pressure rate but also dominated in pass defense, showing a more direct correlation between the two metrics.

All-or-Nothing Defense Strategy

Detroit’s strategy was heavily reliant on its pass rush to compensate for a deficient secondary. The offseason acquisitions of Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who combined played fewer than 200 snaps due to injuries, left the Lions’ defensive backfield vulnerable. This forced Detroit to adopt a high-risk, high-reward tactic of frequently sending additional rushers—resulting in the Lions having one of the highest rates of blitzing safeties and corners in the NFL.

However, this approach had its downsides:

  • Yards Per Game Allowed: Detroit struggled significantly against No. 1 wide receivers and was particularly weak against slot receivers.
  • Deep Pass Vulnerability: The Lions faced a high volume of deep passes, ranking poorly in deep ball defensive efficiency.
Detroit Lions Assistant Detroit Lions Preseason Schedule

Individual Performances and Team Outcomes

While Aidan Hutchinson excelled personally, leading the league in pressures and quarterback knockdowns, the team as a whole did not fare as well:

  • Total Sacks: Tied for 23rd in the NFL.
  • Adjusted Sack Rate: 20th in the league.
  • Yards Per Play Allowed When Pressuring: Despite high pressure rates, Detroit allowed considerable yardage on pressure plays.

TL;DR (too long didn’t read)

  1. High Pressure, Low Efficacy: Despite leading the league in pressure rate at 36.6%, the Detroit Lions’ defensive passing efficiency ranked only 16th in the NFL, illustrating a disconnect between their aggressive pass rush and actual defensive performance.
  2. Secondary Struggles: The Detroit Lions’ secondary faced significant challenges, exacerbated by injuries to key offseason acquisitions. This vulnerability forced an all-or-nothing defensive strategy that ultimately did not yield the desired results.
  3. Individual Success vs. Team Outcomes: While Aidan Hutchinson showed individual brilliance, leading the league in quarterback pressures and knockdowns, the team overall struggled with a low number of total sacks and poor defensive efficiency against deep passes.

Bottom Line: More Did Not Equal Better

The 2023 season was a testament to the limitations of relying heavily on a pass rush without a solid secondary. While individual efforts like Hutchinson’s were notable, the overall strategy did not elevate the Lions’ defense to expected levels. Moving forward, Detroit may need to rethink their approach, possibly balancing their aggressive rush with a more robust coverage scheme to truly harness their defensive potential. This season serves as a crucial lesson that in the realm of NFL defenses, more pressure does not always equate to better results.

Research by Cale Clinton of FTNFantasy further emphasizes the disconnect between high pressure rates and defensive efficacy in the NFL. For a more detailed analysis, you can read the full article here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Written by W.G. Brady

W.G. Brady is a Detroit-based journalist who has been covering the Detroit sports scene for Detroit Sports Nation for several years. He is in his early 30s and has a wealth of experience in the industry. Throughout his career, W.G. has established himself as a respected and knowledgeable journalist known for his in-depth coverage of the teams and athletes in Detroit. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for sports, W.G. has become a go-to source for fans and readers looking for the latest news and analysis on the Detroit sports scene. He has a good reputation in the sports community and is respected for his unbiased coverage of sports events. W.G. is known for his ability to uncover hidden stories and provide unique perspectives on the teams and athletes he covers. He has a good understanding of the city of Detroit and its sports culture, which he uses to inform his reporting and analysis. He continues to be a respected journalist in the Detroit sports industry.

Dan Campbell explains what it took for Sam LaPorta Dan Campbell explains why Detroit Lions Dan Campbell reveals why Detroit Lions signed Zach Ertz Dan Campbell is Not Worried About C.J. Gardner-Johnson Dan Campbell makes BOLD prediction Detroit Lions Goals

Where Does Dan Campbell Rank Among NFL Head Coaches?

Detroit Lions Assistant Detroit Lions Preseason Schedule Jake Bates

17 Detroit Lions Players OUT or limited at OTAs