Frustrating Stat Proves How Bad Lions Defense Has Become Lately

Matt Patricia

Getty Matt Patricia looks on during a Lions game.

The Detroit Lions have struggled on defense for the last few years, and things were bad under former boss Matt Patricia.

Just how bad did they get? Dan Campbell, Aaron Glenn and his new staff have admitted that the players look as if they are confused on the field. Statistically, the numbers paint the picture of that playing out as well. Detroit’s defense hasn’t made a habit of collecting many interceptions lately. That has only been proven more thanks to a horrible stat.

Interestingly, cornerback J.C. Jackson of the New England Patriots has almost out-intercepted the Lions on his own. While the team has 14 interceptions since 2019 as a unit, Jackson has just that many himself on the field as a tweet from CBS Sports pointed out.

The Lions not generating enough interceptions is merely the beginning of the trouble they have had lately on defense. Additionally, the team doesn’t collect sacks well enough, nor do they get off the field on third down. To see one player nearly matching their output in terms of picks is significantly frustrating, though, given how they change the game.

Matt Patricia was no defensive guru, and for anyone still on the fence about that fact, this stat offers some additional hard proof.

Dan Campbell Wants Lions Defense Improving

During his colorful introduction presser a month ago, Campbell was asked about the pieces the team currently has. He said that he was more excited about the offensive pieces than the defense, which is a shock to nobody because the Lions have been miserable on that side of the ball. Still, though, Campbell offered a bit of hope and a potential light at the end of the tunnel within his statement.

Campbell said:

“Let’s call a spade a spade, there’s probably more pieces offensively than defensively that super fire me up. That’s tentatively kind of how I feel. But I’m going to go through it. I also know this, there’s also an ability to hit on a good draft and sign a few free agents that you feel like believe the same way that you do as a program that come from winning programs and they fit a role, fit a piece and some things can happen. You can kind of make things a little more positive than the perception is in the spring.”

A quick turnaround could be possible with enough upgrades, which is where Campbell as well as Brad Holmes will have to get to work on scouting and pondering what style of defense the team needs to run. Adding a few bigger pieces could help fill in the gaps and make the group better for the long run.

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Detroit’s Defense Needs Major Overhaul

As this stat presented shows, Campbell is smart to call out the defense as a spot that needs the biggest changes. In 2020, Detroit’s defense was very bad, and amongst the worst units in the entire league on the field. New defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has his hands full with a major reclamation project and cleanup job.

This season, Detroit’s defense has been plagued with inconsistency in every single way on the field, no matter who the opponent ended up being. Their pass rush struggled constantly, and the team has been up and down on the back end while battling injuries. Detroit also hasn’t forced enough turnovers and is generally unable to get off the field against good teams and good offenses. As a whole, the Lions placed 32nd in the NFL in total defense during 2020, which was dead last. They gave up too many points (519) and constantly looked underprepared. Give Campbell credit for realizing the situation he was walking into and calling it out on day one. The fact it may have been scheme-related is no surprise, either.

It’s possible that Campbell could change the team’s fortunes by shifting the group to a 4-3 look, something which he could already be hinting to. Given his comments about the draft and free agency, the expectation is an overhaul will be coming on that side of the ball this offseason.

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