Detroit Lions’ Defense Could Be As Good As Stephen Tulloch Allows in 2015


As the Detroit Lions pushed through the 2014 season, their defense somewhat unexpectedly evolved into one of the best in football.

Led by the contributions of Ndamukong Suh, Ziggy Ansah, Darius Slay and DeAndre Levy, Detroit won plenty of games because of defense alone, and utilized many big plays down the stretch to push into the playoffs.

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Lost in that, however, was the fact that their vocal and spiritual leader Stephen Tulloch was missing for the majority of the season. Tulloch had shredded his ACL against the Green Bay Packers early after celebrating a sack, leading many to forget he was even in the fold near the end.

In some respects, what the Lions were able to accomplish without Tulloch was astounding. Their run defense remained the best in football, allowing 69.3 yards a game. Though he doesn’t jump off many stat sheets, the linebacker is as steady as they come as a team leader and a tackler in the middle of the field.

Now, as Tulloch is continuing his recovery and getting back involved, he thinks the Lions defense can be just as good this season despite the great deal of offseason turnover they’ve sustained.

How good?’s Kyle Meinke got the fiery quotes.

"“Speaking for our defense,” the middle linebacker said, “I know we’ll be damn good.”Better, he says, than even last year’s defense.“I think so,” he said."

Tulloch is right, but it will take his leadership and play to keep Detroit near that mountain top. With the departure of Suh, the Lions will depend on both Tulloch’s production and voice to carry them through. What Tahir Whitehead and company were able to do in a pinch was impressive, but there’s no doubting who’s still the boss of the defense.

With the departure of Suh, the Lions will depend on both Tulloch’s production and voice to carry them through.

The team needs another consistent veteran stabilizer to pair with Levy at linebacker, and Tulloch is that player. He has to show that he’s ready to contribute and come back off an injury that can be devastating for an aging player, regardless of how motivated or healthy they might be.

He’ll also be fighting off players like Whitehead and Kyle Van Noy, who are hungry to stick in the lineup following their taste of the action in 2014. That competition could keep Tulloch young, accelerate his recovery further and allow him to be the difference-maker Detroit needs.

Over his career, Tulloch has long been one of the more inspirational members of the team. If Tulloch pushes the Lions’ defense hard to be even better than they were last season, his own past production leaves little doubt the feat can be duplicated again or bettered.

There’s still a long way to go, but Tulloch’s return and boisterous confidence is speaking volumes early on.

Don’t be surprised if the success of Detroit’s defense hinges greatly on him in 2015.

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