What Do the Detroit Lions Need to Do to Lead the NFL in Sacks?

Oct 10, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young (79) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Kyle Vanden Bosch has high expectations for the Lions defensive line this season. How high? Lead the league in sacks high. That’s what he told mlive.com:

If we’re not the most dominant defensive line in the league, I feel like we’re not doing our job. I feel like we have the people, I feel like we have the weapons, so if we’re not doing it, we’re underachieving.

The goal is clear but how do the Lions actually go about leading the league in sacks? What will it take?

The Eagles and Vikings tied for the league lead with 50 sacks a year ago. The team sack leaders over the past ten seasons looks like this:

Year Team Sacks
2011 Vikings/Eagles 50
2010 Steelers 48
2009 Vikings 48
2008 Cowboys 59
2007 Giants 53
2006 Chargers 61
2005 Seahawks 50
2004 Falcons 48
2003 Ravens 47
2002 Eagles 56

That averages out to 52 sacks. It has taken at least 47 sacks as a team to lead the league each year since 2002 with a high of 61 by the Chargers in 2006. That means the Lions likely have to come away with at least six more sacks compared to last year when they recorded 41. Break it down into a per game average and the Lions are going to need between 2.94  (to get 47) and 3.81 (to get 61) sacks per game to have a chance at leading the league.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this “sack chase” is the way the Lions will go about it. They certainly really like Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch has a history of production at the NFL level but the Lions don’t have a Jared Allen-type pass rusher that can be counted on to be near the top of the league’s individual leaders for sacks. The Lions have the luxury of rotating a number of players at defensive end and defensive tackle without much drop off from player to player. Cliff Avril out, Willie Young in. Ndamukong Suh out, Nick Fairley in. It’s that kind of depth of talent that is reflected in Vanden Bosch’s quote. If Cliff Avril proves himself as a franchise defensive end, Ndamukong Suh gets closer to the ten sacks he had as a rookie as opposed to the four he registered last year, KVB holds steady and Willie Young takes the step forward that many expect the Lions just might find themselves with more sacks than any other team in the league.

Their quest starts tomorrow against the St. Louis Rams. They’ll be on their way if they can bring down Sam Bradford three or more times.

Topics: Detroit Lions

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