The Lions defense is 25th in yards allowed and 20th in points given up. Those stats might actually paint Detroit in a better light than what they really are. In short, the Lions defense has been swiss cheese. Opponents have been able to move the ball up and down the field in whatever manner they prefer. To be fair, there are two significant injuries that also just happen to be our best defensive players, but our offense has kept us in games and the defense has yet to show up.
Without Ziggy Ansah, the line has struggled to consistently get any sort of pressure on the quarterback. Despite Kerry Hyder racking up 5.0-sacks, they have been mostly of the clean-up variety. As a team, the Lions have only taken down the QB a total of nine times. Devin Taylor has not been able to take that next step and still looks to be just a rotational defensive end. The defensive tackles have not generated any type of inside pressure allowing a nice comfortable pocket for opposing QBs to pick apart our back-seven. Haloti Ngata has been steady but not nearly enough of a difference maker. No other DT has separated themselves in any regards.
Detroit ranks dead last in pass rush according to Pro Football focus. So you would think that the defense could possibly make up for an anemic pass rush with a decent run D? Nope, they also rank dead last in that category as well. Recipe for disaster. If the D-line continues this terrible trend, there will not be too many happy Sundays for Lions fans.
POSITION GRADE: D-
— Detroit Lions News (@D_LionsNews) September 16, 2016
Much like the defensive line, a DeAndre Levy-less group has struggled mightily in all facets of the game. Injuries have completely decimated the Lions LB roster. Starting before the season even began, the LB core lost top reserves Josh Bynes and Jon Bostic. After a whopping one game, Levy also found himself back on the shelf with no imminent return in sight. That leaves Tahir Whitehead and Kyle Van Noy as the top two options. The third backer has been a revolving door.
Both Whitehead and Van Noy might be decent role players but have not proven to be anything more. Neither has made an impact against the run or in coverage. Whitehead was an athletic clean-up backer when surrounded by talent, but he has constantly been out of position and a liability in the passing game. On a positive note, Van Noy has improved this year from awful to NFL roster-worthy.
POSITION GRADE: D
Things I never thought I would ever say- "Kyle Van Noy is our best LB." Still softer than a pillow, but been disruptive and good in pursuit. pic.twitter.com/6ZxEKtipar
— Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier) September 27, 2016
Let me preface with this, playing in this secondary is no easy task given the state of the floundering D-line. Guarding NFL receivers for more than a few seconds is terribly difficult, yet alone an eternity. The diminutive duo of Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs have played equal to their size. Both have been outmuscled and have allowed their opponents to run wide open on multiple occasions per game. Without the strong pass rush of years past, these two have looked below average.
One young corner has been dominant despite his inauspicious surroundings. Darius Slay has continued his lockdown ways and is once again demonstrating why he deserved that $48M extension. Don’t be fooled by his lack of interceptions, quarterbacks are rarely successful when looking his way. In terms of safety play, FS Glover Quin remains steady in coverage and a reliable tackler. His fellow running mate has been rather uninspiring no matter the name.
POSITION GRADE: C
— Doggie Pals (@mb_mclane) September 30, 2016