With their main pass rusher coming off an injury-plagued down season, where will the pressure come from along the Detroit Lions’ defensive line in 2017?
By all accounts, 2016 was a successful one for the Detroit Lions. Finishing the year with a 9-7 regular season record, the Lions were able to earn a playoff berth for the second time in three years.
But undoubtedly things could have been better in Detroit. Specifically on the defensive side of the ball. And most especially when it came to their pass rush.
Hurting the Lions last season was the fact their premier pass rusher, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, was plagued by injuries all season. After posting 14.5 sacks in 2016, Ziggy was limited to a career-low 2.0 sacks in 13 games last year.
The lack of pressure caused the entire defense to struggle at times. The Lions finished 30th (T) in the NFL in total sacks with 26.0 and 23rd in team interceptions with only 10 picks on the year. According to sportingcharts.com, Detroit also posted the second lowest amount of team defensive hurries in the NFL last season with 71.
This offseason, the Lions failed to draft or sign any significant players who you can say will dramatically improve the team’s pass rush this season. So what is Detroit’s plan to become more successful at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2017?
"“I mean you’d love to just have your front four be able to do it, but as always we’ll see if we can get there with them. If we can’t, then we’ll have to do something different,’’ answered Lions’ defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to the Oakland Press when asked about his pass rush scheme this upcoming season. “So, it’s all going to play out as we go. We think we have some good, young pieces, some good guys. But again, you never know until they get against the NFL competition, so we’ll see.”"
Obviously, the Detroit Lions are hoping for a bounce back year from Ansah. They also have third-year defensive end Kerry Hyder returning, who surprisingly led the team in sacks last season with 8.0. But it looks like the Lions’ coaching staff is content to wait and see if any of their young defenders bloom in the next couple months to aid their ailing pass rush.