The slightly too early Detroit Lions All-Decade defense
Lions All-Decade Linebackers
Linebackers: Stephen Tulloch (2011-15), DeAndre Levy (2010-16), Tahir Whitehead (2012-17)
In recent history, the linebacker position hasn’t been kind to the Lions. It’s been nearly two decades since their last Pro Bowl linebacker (Stephen Boyd, 2000), and nearly three since they’ve had an All-Pro at the position (Chris Spielman, 1991).
For the current decade, this leaves three dependable players who all stayed at least five years, but few accolades between them. DeAndre Levy, the longest tenured of the three, had his best year in 2014, leading the NFL in solo tackles. Unfortunately, knee injuries wiped him out for the majority of the next two years, effectively ending his career after eight total seasons in Detroit.
Another tackling machine, Tulloch joined Detroit as a free agent midway through his career. He was a key piece to the defense on the 2011 playoff team, but missed out on most of the 2014 joyride through the regular season, tearing his ACL in only the third game.
Tahir Whitehead played a bit part in his first few years with the team, forced into action by injuries later, and then emerging to a full-time starter by his 5th season. In his six years as a Lion, Whitehead only missed a total of three games.
Defensive Player of the Decade: Ndamukong Suh
Suh had his many flaws, but there’s no denying the impact the guy had as a Detroit Lion. By 2014, it was hardly even worth it to try and run against the Lions, and Suh was the major piece of that. He was the very definition of the old cliché of ‘making your teammates better’.
Ziggy Ansah, Nick Fairley, DeAndre Levy, and even Glover Quin all owe a large part of their success in Detroit due to Suh’s dominant presence on the line. As a fan, it was hard to defend some of Suh’s actions. For a player though, it was exponentially harder to defend Suh, period.
Next week, I’ll wrap up my Lions All-Decade team by including special teams players, as well as coaches and coordinators.