Most can agree that the defensive line of the Detroit Lions has underwhelmed. They are not even close to a “Silver Crush.”
Looking up and down the eight players that make up the defensive line group, you can see reasons as to why this team has been such a disappointment in 2012.
First, the obvious: the group as a whole has been average at best. The defensive line is the key to everything that the Lions are trying to accomplish on that side of the football. With the amount of attention they give the line through free agency and the draft, the line should be dominating upfront and that simply are not.
As a team, the Lions 28 sacks, good for a tie at 20th in the league according to NFL.com. To be honest, that’s pathetic. Again, with the investments that have been put into this group, that number is not good enough and they know it. For the defense to be successful, the line has to be getting constant pressure because of the lack of talented players in the back seven. Since pressure by the line has not been consistent, the limitations of the secondary have been exposed game in, game out.
Each week, people complain about players trotting out in the starting lineup every week. Jacob Lacey still starts at corner despite giving up big plays each week. Stefan Logan continually trots out to return kicks when he has yet do to anything worth remembering except fumbling.
Who on the defensive line does this most resemble?
There is no doubting Kyle Vanden Bosch is good for the defense in terms of leadership. That being said, he brings absolute nothing to the table in terms of production. Yet, there he is every game starting across from Avril (will get to him later).
The loyalty that Schwartz has to players like Lacey, Logan and Vanden Bosch is mind-numbingly frustrating and is just one of the contributing factors as to why the Lions are 4-10.
On the other side, Avril is among the handful of players that gets paid way more than he should. While most wanted him to be resigned in the offseason, it looks to be a blessing in disguise as he has been nowhere near as effective as he was in 2012. The number of sacks (9.5) he has thus far in the year is very deceiving. While it seems like a solid number, Avril disappears far too much throughout the game and is not capable of bringing consistent pressure if the defensive tackles aren’t having an outstanding game.
Finally, four players among the “Silver Crush” were hand-selected by Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew. While each has had their bright moments, none have been as good as we initially thought. Suh and Fairley have had their moments, but neither has lived up to their draft status. Suh, once thought of as a Hall of Fame shoe-in after his rookie season, has not made enough plays to be regarded as one of the league’s best.
Fairley has arguably been the best defensive player all season. During the Lions three-game home stand in which they lost to the Packers, Texans and Colts, Fairley was dominant. That being said, in his short two-season career, Fairley has not lived up to his status as the 13th pick in the 2011 Draft.
Mayhew’s other two selections, Sammie Lee Hill and Willie Young, have shown flashes but are rotational players that don’t have the ability to start on an NFL team.
It’s all right there. Reasons as to why this version of the Detroit Lions has been such a disappointment are evident. The team has not drafted well enough, signed enough good players in free agency, put the best players on the field or performed to the best of its ability. That’s why they are 4-10, and headed to yet another losing season.