Detroit Lions: Despite appearances, defense is not dead yet
By Robert Jones
This leads us to the current state of the Detroit Lions. They are led by a defensive coach in Matt Patricia, who obviously has a defensive agenda. Yet has the offensive evolution of the NFL made such agenda’s obsolete?
This season six of the top 10 teams in total offense made the playoffs. The lowest ranked team on the list to make the playoffs was the Dallas Cowboys who ranked in at number 22. Which was only two positions ahead of the Lions.
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Meanwhile only four of the top 10 teams in total defense made the playoffs with the lowest ranked being Kansas City who finished at number 31 overall.
The Lions finished at number 10.
All of which means that the evidence seems to favor teams with an offensive approach rather than the old school ‘defense wins championships’ types.
That is until we get down to the nitty-gritty. Despite what the final stats had to say about the contestants in this years playoffs, the teams that advanced each week made plays defensively that contributed every bit as much as the offenses to victory.
If we just look at last weekends conference championships, the Patriots with the top remaining scoring defense advanced to the Super Bowl, while the Rams held the Saints to field goals early in their contest when touchdowns would have most likely ended the game before halftime.
And for anyone who wants to argue about that egregious non-call against the Rams late which would have pretty much sealed a trip to the Super Bowl for the Saints, if the proper call had been made it only would have meant that the top two defenses remaining would be facing each other for the world championship.
The NFL has changed over the course of time and while it has skewed the rules in favor of the offenses, that doesn’t mean that defense doesn’t matter. Most games come down to a handful of plays that decide their outcome and as often as not many of those deciding plays were made by the defense.
So while many want to call the cry of ‘defense wins championships’ a fossilized idea from times gone by, it still rings true today. Even the best defenses will be hampered by today’s rules, but if they hit hard and within the rules of the game while playing their scheme at an above average level, then they will always be in position to win games.
There is no doubt that the Lions offense needs to improve from scheme to talent level to individual play, but for these Motor City cats to become true contenders they will need the defense to take a big step forward also.