While the Lions offense has to have a big bounce-back season in order to make that run to the playoffs, the defense simply needs to pick up where it left off and continue to develop with the new personnel that has been added to the equation on that side of the ball.
The irony of last season was that the secondary was considered the strength of this unit and the hope was that Patricia’s scheme could somehow generate enough of a pass-rush to combine with some disciplined play against the run to give the Lions a chance to get some stops.
Instead, as the year wore on it became evident that the scheme, with the addition of Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison, was capable of making the Lions front seven competitive and that the secondary simply didn’t have enough players that could do the job.
The most notable albatross in the secondary was second-year pro, Teez Tabor.
One of the most controversial draft picks in the Bob Quinn era, Tabor was absolutely combustible because every receiver he tried to cover torched him. In two seasons opposing quarterbacks have targeted Tabor’s man 44 times. 32 of those passes have been completed and five of them resulted in touchdowns.
The worst part of those stats is that he played very little his rookie season, so the bulk of those scalding numbers came last year. Opponents were looking for him and when he was on the field, they lit him up left and right.
Now many young players have struggled for a year or two before finding their groove in the NFL. After all, these are the best players in the world. Yet sooner rather than later, players either need to prove they can play or find a new profession.
I like stats, but unlike many of my friends and colleagues, I don’t subscribe to the theory that they tell the whole story. If a receiver just barely gets his fingertip on an overthrown pass, he’s charged with a drop. If an offensive lineman lets a defender go because the scheme dictates a running back will pick up that player, then suddenly the back messes up their assignment and runs out into the flat to make themselves available as an outlet receiver, the lineman gets charged with the sack.
Numbers tell a lot, but not the whole story. At some point, we need to also be willing to accept what we see as vital information too.