The Lions’ defense has been a sort of revisiting of the infamous “bend, don’t break” paradigm from years past. They give up a lot of yards (381 per game, 25th in the NFL), but are not nearly as bad in scoring (24.1 points per game, 18th in the NFL).
Really, the entire defense is an exercise in “yeah, but…” responses.
“The defense gives up a lots of yards.”
Yeah, but they’re one of the league’s best in the red zone and on third downs.
“They give up a lot of big plays.”
Yeah, but they also force a lot of turnovers.
“They haven’t gotten a lot of sacks.”
Yeah, but they bring pressure, forcing mistakes and incompletions.
See, the Lions have a strange unit that is both good and bad. Or maybe they’re mostly bad, but make enough timely plays to get away with it.
There is plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball, with Ndamukong Suh, DeAndre Levy, and Louis Delmas leading their respective units. The problem is that they’re also depending on young players like Ziggy Ansah, Darius Slay, and even Devin Taylor to play big minutes, which means that the unit is also rife with inconsistency.
It also means that the defense has a lot of growth potential to get a lot better over the last eight weeks. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will, it’s just something to watch for.