Aaron Glenn highlights obvious way Lions pass rush needs to improve this year

The Lions' pass rush had an obvious gap in production last year, and Aaron Glenn believes that gap will be closed this year.
Nic Antaya/GettyImages

Look at a collection of advanced pass rush metrics from last season, and here's what you'll see for the Detroit Lions.

Blitz rate: 28.7 percent (11th in the league)
Hurries: 74 (1st)
Hurry rate: 11.2 percent (1st)
Quarterback knockdowns: 72 (tied for 1st)
Knockdown rate: 12.2 percent (2nd)
Pressures: 187 (1st)
Pressure rate: 28.2 percent (1st)

There is probably some way out there to project what those kind of numbers should yield for a team's sack total. What is far more certain is that projected total would be more than 41 sacks, like the Lions had last season (tied for 23rd in the league). No one besides Aidan Hutchinson (11.5) and Alim McNeill (five) had more than three sacks, and no edge rusher besides Hutchinson had more than two sacks.

As much as the Lions' pass defense had big issues last season, the pass rush getting home at a better rate would have been helpful. Things were better on that front late in the regular season and into the playoffs, lending hope for things to really improve this year.

Aaron Glenn points out obvious way for Lions' sack total to improve

This offseason, the Lions notably added one of the most highly-regarded defensive line coaches in the league in Terrell Williams. The pieces that have been added to the defensive front (Marcus Davenport, DJ Reader, Mekhi Wingo) can only be better than who was in their spots last year. The healthy return of James Houston can only help the pass rush this year too.

At OTAs this past week, via John Maakaron of SI.com, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn lauded Aidan Hutchinson and the addition of Williams before pointing out the obvious.

"So listen, we all want sacks. And you’re right, the sacks don’t really state exactly how good you are as a defense. You look at Hutch (Aidan Hutchinson), he was up there as far as pressures," Glenn said. "The thing is, we want to make sure those pressures turn into sacks. We want to do that across the board with everybody we have. So there’s gonna be some guys that step up in that area.”

Finishing better at the quarterback is the most obvious way to turn pressures into sacks more effectively, so Glenn is not breaking any news there. It would also be helpful to have more than one or two guys who are consistently able to compress the pocket, and draw attention from blocking schemes.

Williams' coaching and the additions that have been made can only help bring better balance to the Detroit pass rush. Even though sacks are not a full reflection of a pass rush's effectiveness, it will be important for the Lions to close the gap between the deeper pressure metrics and the team's sheer sack total this year.

Next. 6 most intriguing position battles for Detroit Lions in 2024 OTAs and camp. 6 most intriguing position battles for Detroit Lions in 2024 OTAs and camp. dark