While the Detroit Lions 2018 season was a step backward under a new coaching staff, the defense was trending in the right direction to end the season.
Winning six games and finishing last in the division wasn’t exactly what people expected from the Detroit Lions in 2018. In fact, 2012 was the last time the team finished a season with less than seven victories.
Despite this setback, there’s reason to believe good things are coming in 2019. Over the final games of 2018, Detroit’s defense was playing very well.
According to Tim Twentyman, senior writer for the team’s official website, the Lions showed what they are capable of in the final eight games.
"“Detroit allowed 18.8 points per game, which ranked eighth in the league over that span. Also, during that stretch, Detroit gave up only 77.6 rushing yards per game, the fourth fewest in the NFL.”"
For a little perspective, the Lions averaged 20.2 points per game last year. That comes it at 25th in the league. Thanks to this defense, the Lions would still be able to win games if they put up 20 points on a weekly basis.
Where this team really needs to see some improvement is on the offensive side of the ball. With injuries at both skill positions, quarterback Matthew Stafford not performing up to expectations and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter being let go, there is a lot that can change before the 2019 season kicks off.
Back to defense, that 77.6 rushing yards per game gets plenty of attention thanks to defensive tackle Damon Harrison. He stuffs holes at the line of scrimmage and has a major impact on opponents’ ability to run the ball against this defense. If he and the other defensive lineman keep winning the battle there, this defense can really take off.
There will surely be some additions before next season. Away from the defensive line, depth and future starter at safety and cornerback opposite Darius Slay could certainly be on the Lions radar. While Slay continues to play at an elite level, opposing quarterbacks attack in the other direction and underneath. Adding another linebacker with coverage skills would also be beneficial.
One thing’s for certain, head coach Matt Patricia has this unit trending in the right direction. It was a bumpy road to start the season, but things are coming together. Players are buying in and the stats above are proof. This defense will be tough in 2019.