Anzalone was one of the steadiest players the team had in in 2021, even with as inconsistent as he was at times on the field. That inconsistency has been a target of the team this offseason.
According to Dan Campbell, the team still has faith in Anzalone, but they do know what has to be done for improvement, and it centers on better tackling. On Wednesday, August 3, Campbell discussed this with the media including Justin Rogers of the Detroit News.
“Campbell remains very high on Anzalone, but also acknowledges the missed tackle issues from last year and said it’s being addressed and a point of emphasis for the veteran,” Rogers tweeted.
Last year, Anzalone did struggle with the missed tackles. He was one of the worst in the NFL with regards to the metric, and as a result, his reputation on the field took quite a hit.
At this point of his career, can Anzalone improve? It will be interesting to see if he can get it done, because the way Detroit’s roster is improving, the veteran may be set to get quite a push from younger players.
Anzalone Focused on Improving Technique
For his part, Anzalone isn’t shying away from any of the criticism. In fact, he is in agreement with his head coach about needing to improve his craft on the field.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, August 3, in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, Anzalone discussed why he believed he struggled a bit, and hinted at what he thinks he needs to become sharper at in order to improve.
“When you go through a season and you get tired and you’re playing a lot, you have to cue into the technique, the fundamentals of everything,” Anzalone said. “Your pad level, your drops, your tackling, your hands. I think that’s something definitely I want to improve on and that’s something that can take me to the next level.”
What does that next level look like? For Anzalone, it involves being a bit more stout across the board and being just a little better on the field.
“Making tackles three yards or less, just in the run game, playing down hill, playing fast, doing all those things will take my game to the next step,” he said.
At the very least, Anzalone seems to grasp what has to happen to aid in a turnaround. The biggest variable now is seeing if he can get it done.
Anzalone’s Career Stats & Highlights
Coming into the NFL as a third-round pick out of Florida in 2017, it didn’t take Anzalone long to make his presence felt with the Saints.
With his flowing locks and toughness, Anzalone put up solid stats with the New Orleans and had 123 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception and 3 passes defended. If there’s been one red flag about Anzalone’s career, it’s been injuries. He suffered a shoulder injury in 2017 and then was placed on the IR in 2019 with a knee injury. Unfortunately, that happened again late in Anzalone’s 2021 campaign. With the Lions, Anzalone put up 78 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception, high water marks in his career.
Here’s a look at what he has done so far:
The Lions hope that Anzalone can play more consistent football than he did in 2021 while also helping the team win more games.
For Anzalone, getting this done might be as simple as tackling better.