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5 reasons the Detroit Lions expect a massive improvement in defense

last year , Detroit Lions“Defence was among the worst in the league by almost every measure. They allowed the second-most points, fifth-most dash yards, fourth-most yards, and third-highest passer rating—all while producing the fewest sacks and ninth-lowest spins. .

But during last Sunday’s pre-season final against the Lions Pittsburgh Steelersstrong blowsI caught coach Dan Campbell saying the following over his radio.

“I think we have a defense, gentlemen.”

The Lions’ first-team defense grabbed the Steelers three times on three of four possessions that afternoon, but could the Lions’ defense really see such a big shift when the season begins?

On Thursday, general manager Brad Holmes and assistant general manager Ray Agnew spoke at length about the defense. While they stop by to make any predictions or make any specific predictions, they also seem very optimistic about this unit.

Here are five reasons they cited.

High School already answers some questions

Holmes admitted that getting into this season, High School Lions had the biggest questions surrounding him. In a safe place, the Lions were not guaranteed to have any starters from 2021. Tracy Walker was a free agent, and the Lions didn’t have any promising depth behind that.

But the Lions were able to bring Walker back, sign with DeShon Elliott on free agency and forge a development option at Kerby Joseph. Despite this, Holmes referred to JuJu Hughes’ January waiver demand as another big step. they made.

“Making a late claim like this during the post-season, you have to wait, it’s coming, and so I don’t think a lot of hype has been made about that,” Holmes said. “But this step was a big one for us going forward.”

In Buck’s corner, the biggest question was the status of former 3rd overall pick Jeff Okuda. After suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in the first week of last year, no one knew what he would look like physically at this point in the year. Not only was Okudah physically cleansed at the start of bootcamp, but he improved enough during rehearsals to win the first job.

“He was challenged, and he deserved it,” Holmes said. “And we were honest and upfront with him and he didn’t hold back or hold back or anything, he took it and deserved it. So, a lot of these questions were answered and were greatly appreciated.”

Pass Impulse Improvement

Of all the defensive positions, the Lions have invested the most in the rush this year. They re-signed Charles Harris to a two-year deal, spent a second overall pick on Aidan Hutchinson, and spent a few more picks on edge-backs in Josh Paschal (second round) and James Huston (sixth round).

Agnew is elated at what Hutchinson has already accomplished at camp, and is optimistic about his future.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Agnew said. “The relentless, effortless, athletic kid is so much better than you thought he was in the recruiting process. Oh man, the things he can do He rushes passersby, on the inside, off the edge, using his hands. He is very creative as an impulsive. I’d just say this, we’ve got it right.”

Holmes was more focused on Harris, who had 7.5 sacks. It looks like the general manager of Lions is expecting that A year older than this year.

“In the right environment and all there was, Charles took another step,” Holmes said. You go out into the grass, you look, and you say, ‘It looks a lot more explosive than it did last year. ”

Holmes also provided a reminder that if the Lions could recover some of their injured players, that would be a very competitive unit.

“You deal with that when Josh Pascal comes back, and he can provide some rush,” Holmes said. “(Romeo) Okwara, he will be able to rush. So, there are a lot of plots about our rush in traffic.”

Midfielders rise to the challenge

As spring came, the Legion quarterback looked like one of the weakest teams in the NFL, and certainly the weakest unit on the team. Detroit’s only notable additions to the group were sixth-round picks Malcolm Rodriguez and special team Chris Burd. It looks like the primary duo will once again be Alex Anzalone and Derek Barnes, two players who finished eighth of all NFL players in the PFF scores last season.

But full-back coach Kelvin Sheppard assures us that tough competition will bring out the best in the group. Fast forward to September and that’s exactly what we saw.

“I thought that group responded,” Agnew said. “I thought there was a lot of competition in that group. We brought in some new players, and we actually had a few players who played last year, we brought in some new players and we created a competition. And I think that group responded very well.”

Of course, the main story outside the linebacker was Rodriguez. The rising full-back exploded onto the scene and only took two weeks to go from third-team defense to first-team defense. His ability to instantly diagnose plays raised expectations from a first-year four-stage special team player to someone capable of contributing to defense immediately, even if the Lions were still trying to temper expectations.

“Being a quarterback in high school, you know what I mean, he just got a level of basic diagnosis that translated,” Holmes said. “But then again, you don’t know quickly he’s coming but he comes quickly. But I can’t say enough he’s a rookie. He hasn’t played an NFL game yet, so let’s just see where she’s going.”

Rodriguez isn’t the only player in the group who has shown promise, though…

Young people take the next step

Barnes is one of many young players in this defense that the Lions expect to make a jump in in year two – and the team has already seen signs of that.

“There were some guys with us last year who will help (our defense), whether some guys like Derek Barnes are going to take the next step,” Holmes said. “I think it all comes together.”

There is also a second-year defensive intervention, Alem McNeill, who gets him Some buzz for the 2022 hack candidates2021 in the second round, choosing Levi Onozuriki, and Jerry Jacobs, who appears close to returning from his injury.

Aaron Glenn

Holmes and Agnew couldn’t help but rush over defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn as reason to be optimistic about the defense this year.

“The only thing I’m curious about is AG,” Agnew said. “As Brad said, he’s very talented, and when you have an aggressive guy, and then you have very athletic guys and some guys that I think are aggressive footballers that they can use, they have the ability to use those tools. I think it’s going to be a recipe for success. So, I Excited about our defense this year, how we’re going this year.”

Holmes was particularly impressed with the way Glenn has adjusted the defense this season to match the talents of the players at his disposal.

“We are very fortunate to be in a position to lead our defence,” Holmes said. “So, (he) made some changes – not everything – but an adjustment here and there in our scheme, but what I love about our coaching staff is that everything is done for the benefit of the players. That’s why these adjustments were made”

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