What is the right answer to fix the Detroit Lions defense or is that the wrong question? Time to dig in just a little deeper.
Just about every fan and pundit will tell you that the Detroit Lions had a very bad defense in 2019 and they would be correct. Most will also tell you a myriad of ways in which to address those needs, usually in the first round of the 2020 draft. However, to fix it, you need to identify what exactly it was that went wrong in the first place.
Those that see the lack of pass rush assume that an edge player opposite defensive end Trey Flowers is needed the most. Others see Damon Harrison‘s pending release along with the possibility of losing Mike Daniels and A’Shawn Robinson to free agency and pound the table for a top defensive tackle.
Then there’s the reported potential trade of cornerback Darius Slay. Combined with defensive backs Rashaan Melvin (UFA), Michael Ford (ERFA), and Dee Virgin (ERFA) all potentially seeing free agency in March and the fact the Lions allowed to most passing yards per game in the NFL last year (284.4) and some believe that cornerback is the answer.
The truth of the matter is, they’re all right. The Lions do need all those things. The simple truth is though, you can not obtain all of those things in the first round of the draft. Even if you could, it’s not wise to address powerful needs with rookies. The Lions need to find answers in free agency and then enhance the roster in every round of the draft.
I even left out those that attribute a lot of the issues to the linebackers not being to tackle runners or defend the pass against the tight ends in the league. Those fans may not be all that wrong either. You see, the defense needs to be balanced and it needs to be more consistent.
The defensive line does need to generate pressure so a quarterback can’t have all day to wait for their receivers to get open. The defensive backs do need to cover the receivers long enough for the D-line to get pressure. The linebackers also need to do their jobs, whether it’s by adding pressure, in cover, or generally mucking up the quarterbacks thinking.
The right question is: What’s the best combination of free agents, draft picks, and existing players to field a consistent, balanced defense? The answer? I’m not sure. But I know you can’t address it all with a single selection in the first-round of the draft.
So pound that table for your favorite draft pick. But remember that one player is not the be all end all that will make the Detroit Lions’ defense work in 2020. It’s going to take an entire roster with solid additions from both the draft and free agency this offseason.