The Detroit Lions' pass rush has been inconsistent this season, to put it mildly. They have tallied 18 of their sacks in three games, with five total sacks in the other eight. Aidan Hutchinson is pulling his weight, among the league leaders in quarterback pressures with 63 (per Pro Football Focus), even if he hasn't translated it to a big sack total (5.5).
Next on the team in pressures is defensive tackle Alim McNeill, with 30. Narrowing to edge rushers besides Hutchinson, only Julian Okwara (two sacks) has more than 1.5 sacks this season and he has played just six games. Charles Harris has 1.5 sacks, John Cominsky has one and Romeo Okwara has none.
Second-year man Josh Paschal missed five games earlier this season with a knee injury. On Thanksgiving Day, he topped a 50 percent snap share for the second time in the last three games and PFF credited him with two quarterback pressures and two run stops. He has been a good run defender, but defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn called on (not called out) Paschal as someone who needs to step up as a pass rusher.
Aaron Glenn expects Josh Paschal to turn a corner moving forward
"The thing now is, man, he (Paschal) has to take it to another level. I mean, we drafted this player in the second round and he’s had glimpses of what you saw that last game," said Glenn. "Now we have to unlock the pass rush part of it to be able to transition from run to pass. And he's busting his butt to be able to do that."
"Because besides Hutch, Mac, I mean, Paschal has to be that guy," said Glenn. "Because he has that ability."
No other Lions' edge rusher has shown they can take advantage of the favorable situations the attention Hutchinson gets on the opposite edge and put heat on the quarterback. It might be nice to see Julian Okwara get more opportunity to make a difference, but Paschal responded to Glenn's comments.
"I feel like I’ve always played the run well," Paschal said. "Now it’s time to take that next step and become the all-around pass-rushing player that I know I can be."
Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints will be Paschal's 17th NFL game, as he also missed time as a rookie last year due to a sports hernia he suffered during his final college season. But he is healthy and getting more reps, so the next step is ideally coming as the Lions look for an edge rusher who can step up to help Hutchinson down the stretch this season.