The Detroit Lions Then and Now: Linebackers


Then and Now is a SideLion Report mini-series in which we look at each position group from the 0-16 season of 2008 and compare it to the current roster.

Our look back at the historically bad defense of ’08 concludes with the linebackers. Remember when Ernie Sims was supposed to be a playmaker? How did that work out? If you don’t remember, go ask a Philadelphia Eagles fan. He isn’t working out for them either. Sims was the closest thing the 2008 Lions had to a linebacker that the team could build with and the fact that Paris Lenon had his most productive years while playing in Detroit speaks for itself. Here are the linebacker stats from 2008:

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
G Sk Int Yds TD PD FF Fmb FR TD Tkl Ast
Paris Lenon 16 1.5 0 0 0 3 2 0 2 0 81 40
Ernie Sims 16 1.0 0 0 0 1 72 41
Ryan Nece 16 1.5 1 18 0 4 38 23
Alex Lewis 11 1 0 1 0 15 9
Jordon Dizon 12 0 0 1 0 12 12
Anthony Cannon 9 0 0 1 0 1 3
Team Total 16 28.0 4 16 0 46 22 31 33 1 714 299
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/29/2011.

Flash Forward to 2010 and the Lions linebackers are better but definitely not a team strength. Julian Peterson probably wouldn’t have been part of the team had it not been for an otherwise paper thin roster and the Zack Follett experiment wasn’t going too well prior to his season ending surgery. Ashlee Palmer and Bobby Carpenter played well in spots but not well enough where they should be counted on to cover both outside linebacker spots going forward. The individual tackle numbers are lower than we’d like to see but some of that may be explained by the distribution of playing time – particularly as it relates to DeAndre Levy and the time he missed due to injury. Here are the full stats for Lions linebackers in 2010:

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
G Sk Int Yds TD PD FF Fmb FR TD Tkl Ast
Julian Peterson 15 1.0 0 0 0 5 0 0 2 0 57 27
DeAndre Levy 11 2 41 1 4 0 0 2 0 50 22
Ashlee Palmer 16 1.0 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 33 10
Landon Johnson 12 2 0 1 0 32 8
Bobby Carpenter 10 0 0 0 2 14 9
Zack Follett 5 0 0 0 1 8 9
Vinny Ciurciu 10 1 4
Isaiah Ekejiuba 9 1 0 0 0 1 2
Caleb Campbell 2 0 1
Team Total 16 43.0 14 194 2 66 21 19 25 1 691 272
Opp Total 16 27 31 16
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/29/2011.

Like the situation at cornerback the “now” is a little bit like a more recent “then” as it is a position that could see some changes before the start of the 2011 season. Even if two of the three linebacker spots are manned by returning players, as expected, it still remains to be seen whether DeAndre Levy continues as the team’s middle linebacker or slides outside due to a free agent acquisition. For more on the possibilities in free agency I refer you to The Lions in Winter for a well put-together and well-timed piece on this very subject.

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Tags: Ashlee Palmer Bobby Carpenter DeAndre Levy Detroit Lions Julian Peterson Linebackers