Detroit Lions: The biggest absence no one talks about

The Detroit Lions’ second half of the season fell flat aided by another major absence

In 2019, the Detroit Lions had a built-in excuse as to why they failed to post a winning record in then-head coach Matt Patricia’s second year in the Motor City. And that was due to a season-ending injury suffered by quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Stafford played only eight games that season and the Lions didn’t win a single game without him under center. Detroit ended the year with a 3-12-1 record and both Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn were granted another season in Detroit seemingly because of Stafford’s unexpected and impactful absence.

Fast forward a year later, and both Patricia and Quinn were shown the door over a month ago. The Lions finished the season with a 5-11 record, this time with Stafford starting in all 16 games. Yet there was another midseason absence due to injury that certainly negatively impacted the season that no one seems to talk about.

Defensive end Trey Flowers played only seven games this past year. Flowers suffered a season-ending hairline fracture to his forearm against the Indianapolis Colts in Week Eight. Yet, his absence isn’t viewed in the same light as Stafford’s in 2019, although the results were nearly identical.

One reason for that could be the fact the Lions defense was struggling even when Flowers was on the field. But following his injury, things only got worse.

Detroit allowed a whopping 29.4 points per game to opposing offenses when Flowers was in the lineup. That average jumped to a whopping 34.7 allowed points per contest without him.

This past week, the football analytics website Pro Football Focus named Flowers the Lions’ top defensive player for the second year in a row with an overall grade of 83.3. Yet, many seem to discount his loss and how it negatively impacted the team with Detroit losing seven of their nine games without him.

The Detroit Lions defense finished the 2020 NFL regular season ranked dead last in most offensive yards allowed (6,716), 30th in passing yards allowed (4,558), and 28th in rushing yards allowed (2,158).