Lions Ripped for Bringing Back Veteran Defender as 2022 ‘Stopgap’

Alex Anzalone

Getty Alex Anzalone tries to make a tackle against the Bears in 2021.

Thus far, the Detroit Lions have not had a splashy offseason. The team has made only a few moves outside bringing back a lot of their own free agents, and that approach has not left lots of folks pleased about the progress of their rebuild.

Some believe the Lions should have made going outside the family a bigger priority for new players instead of bringing back guys who failed on a 3-13-1 team in 2021. One such player that people have been calling out is linebacker Alex Anzalone.

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Anzalone didn’t have an overwhelming start to his career in Detroit by playing up and down football for a team that was mostly down, and as a result, Bleacher Report has named him the team’s worst free agent signing for the 2022 year.

Writer Alex Kay was in charge of picking out the winner for the award in Detroit, and he singled out Anzalone thanks to some spotty play last season. As he explained, Anzalone struggled in between the lines which should have made him expendable for a team that Kay believed should have been looking for upgrades rather than stopgaps on the field.

“While the veteran does add some value as a leader, he does not exactly do so by example,” Kay wrote, citing how Anzalone collected 15 missed tackles in 2021, a number which was extremely high for Pro Football Focus metrics.

Regardless of this, the Lions seem to like Anzalone’s potential and it’s why they kept him around for another year. There is no doubt he does add leadership, but his play will have to drastically improve for 2022 which is a fact most people can agree on.

Why Lions Brought Anzalone Back

Regardless of what people on the outside think, the Lions have seen some solid play out of Anzalone last season. Though he did not get a shot to finish strong thanks to injury, his statistics were already on a solid footing this year with the team pushing toward the end of the season. Before injury, Anzalone had put up 78 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception with the Lions in 2021 and was a veteran leader for the team’s defense under Aaron Glenn. More than that, he’s been a quality addition to the community and the locker room as this interview with showed from earlier this year:

Linebacker Alex Anzalone on Lacrosse, Family, and FootballLions LB Alex Anzalone chats with Dannie Rogers about his life and journey to the NFL. Subscribe to the Lions YT Channel: More Lions NFL Action: #DetroitLions #Lions #NFL Keep up-to-date on all things Lions: Visit Follow: Follow: Like:

Anzalone might have found his perfect fit in Detroit, and as a result, it was long clear his play and his attitude earned him another year with the team if they wanted him back. As it turned out, the team did want to see him one more time in 2022.

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 and become one of the team’s fan favorites. With his flowing locks and tough style, Anzalone managed to put up decent stats with the Saints and has 123 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception and 3 passes defended to his credit while in the league. If there’s been one red flag about Anzalone’s career at this point in time, 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.

A look at the highlights from his first few seasons in the NFL shows an athlete who can move:

Alex Anzalone 2017 & 2018 Highlights | "Thor" ᵂᴰ⁴ᴸStats: 2017 – 16 Tackles | One Sack 2018 – 59 Tackles | 2 Sacks | 3 Forced Fumbles | One Interception ♫ Instrumental: "Cataclasm" – Gothic Storm Music "Injustice for All" – Xtortion Audio "Planinski Briz" – Sybrid Music "Until The Last Breath" – Really Slow Motion & Giant Apes RSM's Channel: "Copyright…2019-05-19T17:36:40Z

The Lions hope that Anzalone can play better and more consistent football than he did in 2022 while also helping the team win more games. If this plays out, there isn’t any reason to think the signing won’t work. Not everyone is convinced that will be the case, however.

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