A knock on Lions’ safety Tracy Walker is a lack of takeaways he generates, but he seems to be looking to change that this year.
After a rough final year under Matt Patricia, no Detroit Lion benefitted more from 2021’s coaching change than safety Tracy Walker. He was used in a way that better fit his skills, and he led the team with 108 total tackles (as well as 74 solo stops). He also had three tackles for loss and five pass breakups.
If there’s a knock to put on Walker, with two 100-plus tackle seasons on his resume in four NFL seasons, it’s a lack of takeaways generated. He had just one interception last season, and it came in Week 18 against the Packers when he won NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He has three career interceptions, along with one forced fumble, over 59 career games.
It’s easy to tongue-in-cheekily say defensive backs are just wide receivers who couldn’t catch the ball in high school and were moved to defense. But let’s not put Walker there, even if we’d like to see more impact plays.
Tracy Walker eyeing more interceptions in 2022?
Speaking to the media from mandatory minicamp earlier this week, Walker talked about the better energy the Lions’ defense has compared to a year ago–rooted in familiarity. But he added some personal notes to those comments.
"I just gotta continue to capitalize on the opportunities that I have. I guess as far as me, that’s just where my growth is. I got to continue to be a better leader, continue to try to be a better man each and every day. That’s what I come out here to approach,” Walker said. “My approach is to get the ball as much as possible. I got my hands on a few of them since I’ve been here, but now I got to just continue to take them away.”"
By any metric you can find, including and beyond pure sacks, Detroit was among the worst teams in the NFL at getting after the quarterback in 2021.
With Walker’s idea of “to get the ball as much as possible”, a better Lions’ pass rush will make opposing quarterbacks far less comfortable than they were last year. That will yield more throws which aren’t on-target, and more opportunities for the secondary to get interceptions.
Walker may never be the kind of ballhawk safety Lions’ fans would love to see. But doubling his career interception total in 2022 is not out of the question.