The Detroit Lions had a takeaway problem in 2018. Will the team’s newest additions and a happy Darius Slay be the solution this upcoming season?
In 2017, the Detroit Lions were one of the best in the NFL when it came to recording takeaways. They recorded 19 interceptions and 13 takeaway fumbles. The combined 32 takeaways was the third highest amount in the league that season.
Flash forward to 2018, and suddenly the takeaway well has dried up in Motown. Detroit posted the second lowest takeaway total in the league last season. Recording just seven interceptions and seven takeaway fumble left the Lions with a combined 14 takeaways on the year. A whopping 18 takeaway difference from the previous season.
So why the drastic change? One must take into account the fact there was a coaching change in 2018, with first-time head coach Matt Patricia taking the reins. And surely the fact premier pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah played just seven games last season due to a shoulder injury didn’t help either. Now, Ziggy is a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
Possibly the biggest difference in the Lions’ matching their outstanding turnover production from 2017 was the play of Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay. That season was the best of Slay’s career so far as he recorded a career-high eight interceptions, which was the most by any cornerback in the NFL that year. Last season, Slay recorded just three picks but was still nominated to the Pro Bowl.
Currently looking for a pay raise in Detroit, perhaps Slay returns this season much happier with a new deal in place. And perhaps that happiness could translate to more takeaways. But the Lions also brought in some defensive heavy-hitters this offseason via free agency. The addition of players like defensive end Trey Flowers and cornerbacks Justin Coleman and Rashaan Melvin should help solve the takeaway problem as well.
The Detroit Lions have to hope that a second season learning the complicated defensive scheme Matt Patricia brought over from his championship days with the New England Patriots combined with their new additions to the roster will be enough to impact the standings in a positive way in 2019. Certainly increasing the number of defensive takeaways will aid in that effort.