After an offseason of handling their business from within first, the Detroit Lions finally get to turn their focus to the outside during the 2021 season.
The San Francisco 49ers come calling in Week 1 of the regular season, and their offense under Kyle Shanahan will test the Lions in a numerous amount of ways up front. The team won’t just be tested on the back end, though, but in the trenches as well, especially with discipline in the run game.
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This week, a big test will come in the form of the motion the 49ers will try to generate from the quarterback position to the backfield, which is designed to keep defenders off balance up front. That can create panic for a team, but no worries as it relates to Okwara, providing everyone does their homework.
Speaking to the media on Monday, September 7, Okwara was asked about the 49ers, and admitted their looks will cause a challenge. Even such, it’s not as if the Lions will be powerless to slow them down.
“I think the biggest thing is just training our eyes. Film study is going to be huge for us all week. It comes down to film study,” Okwara told the media. “The more we see in those looks and try to figure out why, because there’s a reason for all of it. The more we study their offense, the more confident we can be reacting to those looks and still being aggressive within the defense and not let it slow us down. That’s what they want, they want to slow us down and catch us on our toes. If we do a good job studying their offense, it shouldn’t slow us down.”
A big question for the Lions this week is whether or not the team will see quarterback Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo. While Okwara wasn’t sure how much Lance the team would see after being asked, he did promise that the team would be ready for him and his unique skillset.
“We’re going to be prepared if he gets out there. I think everyone knows he can really use his legs, but he can really throw the ball as well. We’re going to be ready to attack him if he gets on the field,” Okwara admitted.
No matter what comes, it seems Okwara would be a big believer in the notation that discipline could be Detroit’s friend this week. Discipline not only in the classroom pre-game, but on the field as well during the heat of battle.
Romeo Okwara Details Personal Improvements During Offseason
As it relates to his own game, Okwara seems pleased with the growth he has shown the last few seasons, and admitted his goal is to always find a way to consistently improve for the team. As he said, he believes he is conformable in the defense as well as his ability to grow into a more well-rounded defender.
“I think I’ve made a lot of growth each and every year. That’s what I try to do each and every season, make some type of progress and get more comfortable in the position,” Okwara told the media. Specifically, he admitted to wanting to continue to get better with regards to the run.
“Trying to be more stout in the run game. Just keying in on my eyes, my technique, and being stout on the run,” he said.
Evne though that’s the case, Okwara will always have the heart of a pass rusher and the desire to get after the quarterback. As it relates to the goal of more sacks, Okwara admitted that will be part of his approach, but finding a level of consistency on the field either way is a bigger goal for him.
“I’ll take as much as the game gives me, but I want to be consistent all year and try to be consistently in the backfield, that’s my goal,” he said.
Getting in the backfield on a consistent basis could be a good way for Okwara to meed his goals and remain a constant sack machine for the team.
Okwara’s Stats and Career Highlights
If there’s been one pass rusher these past few seasons for the Lions that has stepped up as a whole, it’s Okwara, who came alive at the right time for Detroit most of the 2020 season. As a whole last season, Okwara managed to collect the most sacks of any Lions player with 10, and also collected the most tackles in one season of his career with 44. Okwara thrives on creating pressure and panic in the pocket. With this in mind, it’s fair to say that Okwara figures to drive the bus for Detroit in terms of pass rush moving forward even as the team has given him some help. That could only boost his stock when all is said and done this offseason.
Here’s a look at some of his work in Detroit from last season:
As a whole, Okwara has 16 sacks to this point in his career coming into 2020 and lost a few seasons to nagging injuries. During the 2020 season, he looked all but sure to pass his high water mark of 7.5 sacks from a few years back and that happened easily. In that vein, nobody would be shocked if he could exceed 10 sacks this year. It’s clear Okwara’s career arrow remains fixed in the upward position, especially after he gained the extension from the Lions this year.
Okwara represented the entirety of the Detroit pass rush himself last season, but another new. challenge begins this week. It’s clear that Okwara believes the team will be ready to meet this challenge head on.