Predicting who will lead the Detroit Lions in tackles this year
The Detroit Lions’ defense should be better across the board this year, so who will lead the team in tackles?
As much as the Detroit Lions pass rush can only get better this year, the run defense is the same boat. Some especially bad games skew the numbers some, but the league’s 28th-ranked run defense last year (135.1 yards allowed per game) is still the league’s 28th-ranked run defense as they faced the fourth-most rush attempts in the league (518).
With a move to more four-man fronts, the Lions are also preaching a shift to more aggression on defense this year. Instead of “read and react”, per se, being more aggressive and putting the offensive on its heels more is a wide-ranging order for the front seven.
It’s not perfect rationale, but it’s usually not a great sign for a defense when a safety is the leading tackler and he’s not an “in the box” player. That’s what the Lions had last year, which isn’t meant to discount the rebound season Tracy Walker had (108 total tackles).
But the Lions’ second-leading tackler in 2021 was also a member of the secondary. Safety and eventually cornerback Will Harris, who played the most snaps on the defense, had 93 tackles.
Who will lead the Detroit Lions in tackles this season?
Among Lions’ linebackers, the departed Jalen Reeves-Maybin (82) led the way in tackles last year, followed by Alex Anzalone (78) and Derrick Barnes (67).
If Anzalone hadn’t missed the final three games, with a couple others he left early due to injury, he might have been the team’s leading tackler by a good margin. And that’d been with a litany of missed tackles we won’t mention any further.
Barnes has been given props by the coaching staff a lot this offseason. Rookie sixth-round pick linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez has done all he can to win a starting job right out of the gate, and it should be Anzalone’s he takes if so.
Practically by default, if he maintains what should be a flimsy hold on a starting job all season, Anzalone can be predicted as the Lions’ leading tackler for 2022. But….
My prediction for the Lions’ leading tackler in 2022, perhaps with no one getting to or very far over 100 total tackles but a balanced bunch of people in the 60-90 range, is…