I have looked at how the Detroit Lions' offense has performed through four games. Now, I shall turn my attention toward the defense. There was some turnover and new faces on Detroit's defense this offseason. They drafted Ziggy Ansah with the fifth overall pick. They signed Jason Jones, who is now out for the year with a knee injury. They added Glover Quin to the secondary. The Lions also drafted guys like Darius Slay and Devin Taylor. Detroit came into the year feeling fairly confident in their offense, I imagine, especially with the addition of Reggie Bush. How has the defense held up their end of the bargain thus far?
So far, personally, I am pretty happy with it. The defensive line has been strong, led by Ndamukong Suh. Suh has two sacks and three tackles for loss so far. That is only part of the picture, of course. He often gets pressure on the quarterback, and advanced statistic websites such as Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus espouse his excellence quite a lot. Ansah has 2.5 sacks to lead the team, which is nice. Nick Fairley has 1.5 sacks and has recovered a fumble for a touchdown.
Stephen Tulloch is tied with DeAndre Levy with 28 tackles, while Tulloch has two sacks of his own. Ashlee Palmer has two tackles for loss. Levy, Louis Delmas, and Quin all have two interceptions. Chris Houston only has one, but he leads the team with six passes defensed. Delmas and Quin, and Houston, have all been very good. It is the other cornerbacks that have been an issue. Slay has gotten benched. Bill Bentley hasn't done a ton. The team has needed to rely on Rashean Mathis, which isn't a good thing. If the Lions couldn't get after the quarterback, that would be an even bigger issue.
The Lions are 21st in passing yards allowed and 20th in rushing yards allowed. However, Football Outsiders likes them a little better. They have Detroit as the 15th best defense so far, although these numbers are not opponent adjusted yet. While they are 23rd against the run, and the loss of Jones hurts that, they are 10th against the pass. If they can find some stability behind Houston at cornerback, this could be a very good pass defense.
While I am talking defense, I'll just throw special teams on top of things. David Akers has been fine as a kicker so far, and Sam Martin has been a good punter and kickoff guy. It was still dumb to draft him in the fifth round, but at least he looks like he can hold onto the job for a while. Then again, the Lions are 25th in Football Outsiders rankings of special teams.
So, in total, the Lions are 3-1 and middle of the pack in offense and defense by advanced stats, and poor in special teams. However, I think the offense will improve, the defense could improve, and special teams will... maybe be in the same place? This, combined with some good breaks going their way, could lead to the Lions making the playoffs.