In the mid-1960s the Detroit Lions had some talent on the defensive line. The pairing of Alex Karras and Roger Brown was as good as any in the NFL, if not the best. Darris McCord at end and the eventual arrival Larry Hand on the other side made the defensive line fierce until they traded Roger Brown to the Rams.
Later in the early 80s Al ‘Bubba’ Baker, Doug English, William Gay, and Dave Purifory formed the ‘Silver Rush’. They terrorized opposing quarterbacks, but the defense overall wasn’t airtight and they only received minimal help from the offense. Which is why those teams never found playoff glory.
Since then the defense has spotlighted some talented players like Jerry Ball, Robert Porcher, and even Ezekiel Ansah in recent years, but there hasn’t been a collective group that this franchise could hang their hats on. But maybe, just maybe, that will change this year.
With Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison, Da’Shawn Hand, A-Shawn Robinson and Romeo Okwara returning from last year to go with additions Trey Flowers, recently signed Mike Daniels, and rookies Austin Bryant and the very talented, but raw P.J. Johnson, they might just have some building blocks to work with.
While this group looks pretty good on paper and has excited the fan base early on, it’s still a little too early to expect them to be the next ‘Silver Rush’. Daniels is coming off an injury, Robinson needs to catch up after a late start to camp and Bryant and Johnson are inexperienced.
But the talent level and depth are there to make this a very good unit. As a matter of fact, a very tough unit to run the ball on. They will still have to prove they can consistently get to the quarterback, but let’s be honest, we’d rather have a situation like this where the upside is very big than to just be hoping they can be competitive like so many times in the past.
In year two of the Matt Patricia regime, this defense should hit the ground running. Sure they have some new parts that will be learning on the fly, but there are many returning players that should only be getting better.
The potential is there for the Lions to field a very good defense that will give this franchise opportunities to win games. A defense that should, barring a collapse, keep them in games.
Anything is possible for the 2019 Detroit Lions. The season is a blank canvas at the moment. While the offense will need to pick up Darrell Bevell’s system quickly and play it proficiently, defense still wins championships. If the Lions are going to have a big turnaround this season, then my guess would be that it will have to start with the defense.
And if this defensive line can become the modern-day ‘Silver Rush’, then those possibilities could turn into a very positive season.