The most important production Delmas has had this season is his presence. He has missed only three snaps this season, after questions in the offseason about whether he’d ever even be healthy enough to string together more than a few plays.
Delmas always sports a disturbingly high tackle-to-missed-tackle ratio (23-7, at the moment), because of how often he tries to square up on guys and launch himself for the big hit without wrapping up. He probably needs to stop doing that, but I doubt he ever will. His coverage skills have been trending down in the last four games, but he did have two interceptions against Chicago. His grade would be higher if he’d pulled one down before or since. Everybody picks off Jay Cutler.
It’s hard to really quantify Delmas’ impact. It seems like even when he doesn’t play especially well, the Lions’ defense plays differently when Delmas is flying around the field. More coherent, maybe. Delmas is a vocal and emotional leader, and it seems like every so often he just flies out of nowhere to take out a running back at the line of scrimmage to fire everyone up. He’s starting to re-earn his “Missile” moniker.
Everybody already knows Delmas can play, so the expectations were less about what he did on the field and more about whether he could get there. He has exceeded any and all expectations in that regard, and Delmas’ health hasn’t even been a whisper of a concern for most of the season. Now we see if he can keep it up over the last eight (or more) games.
Seeing Delmas play consistently is as strange as it is entertaining. But many of the problems that have plagued him in the past continue to do so. He still misses tackles, and is only sporadically effective in coverage. Still, there’s no denying that Delmas is a spark plug for the defense, and for as fundamentally unsound as some aspects of his game are, he maintains explosiveness everywhere on the field.