Cris Collinsworth reveals his key to Lions defense reaching a higher level

The Detroit Lions have reshaped their defense in many ways this offseason, but NBC Sports analyst Cris Collinsworth sees one player as the biggest factor.
Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The Detroit Lions have re-shaped their roster this offseason looking to take the leap toward becoming a Super Bowl winner, and many folks have been impressed with the work of Brad Holmes.

Not only has Holmes built one of the NFL's most elite offenses, but he has reshaped the defense to help the Lions take their next step as contenders. His work has not been unnoticed by analysts who understand where the Lions had to improve and what got done.

NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth is another person impressed with what Detroit has done this offseason. Looking toward the matchups he'll be the game analyst for in Week 1 of the regular season (Ravens-Chiefs, and of course Rams-Lions), Collinsworth took to Twitter to try to spur some conversation (a slippery slope, to be sure). He went right into lauding the Lions re-shaped defense, starting with the secondary.

McNeill and Reader have already been cited as a potential dominant duo for the Lions this season. As Collinsworth points out, Reader's health is important, coming off a quad tendon tear that ended his 2023 season with the Bengals early. He also missed time with a torn quad tendon, in the opposite leg from last year's, in 2020, and a knee issue cost him games in 2022.

DJReader could be biggest key for Detroit Lions' 2024 defensive resurgence

For Collinsworth, it seems the biggest factor for the Lions becoming an elite defense is the health of Reader. He is a force against the run and the pass, and McNeill is in line to benefit the most from that presence. He could even become "unstoppable", as Collinsworth hinted. If Reader is healthy, of course, which is worth reiterating.

Having Reader and McNeill locking down the middle of the defensive line should help the Lions' defensive ends operate. If they don't make an extra addition at edge rusher, the interior duo will be all the more important to the effectiveness of the pass rush in particular.

Any any case, Collinsworth sees a lot of dominoes for the Lions' defense this year falling from the healthy presence of Reader.


5 edge rusher options for Detroit Lions as Marcus Davenport insurance. 5 edge rusher options for Detroit Lions as Marcus Davenport insurance. dark. Next