The Positives For The 2015 Detroit Lions


In our three-step series we’ve looked at the concerns of the Lions, now we move on to the positives. There’s very obvious positives about the Detroit Lions going into the upcoming season. As well as some positives that might come as a surprise.

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Don’t expect the Defense to drop off like most think.

The mantra is Detroit last year was saved by their defense and without that and the comeback victories they’d be terrible, and I don’t agree with that.

With that being said, many believe Suh leaving Detroit makes the Lions defense a lot worse. I disagree with that as well.

It’s among my belief that  Ndamukong Suh wasn’t the Lions best player I believe it’s DeAndre Levy and before you go “Are you serious?!?”

Let me give you some numbers.

Win Probability Added:

Suh: 1.27 WPA

Levy: 1.49 WPA

Positive Expected Points per game: 

Suh: 2.51

Levy: 3.56

Tackle Factor:

Suh: 0.94

Levy: 1.66


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Detroit Lions

As I highlighted above the Lions defense was a complete team effort, but Levy was basically better in every category except QB rushes which I don’t anticipate a linebacker like Levy to rush the passer that much.

Digging more into the numbers when looking at the percentages of LB blitz’s, Levy was not blitzed as much as he was in the Schwartz regime.

Numbers say Levy was a more influential part in the Lions defense, of course Suh was an impact on the defensive line however when the Lions traded for Haloti Ngata that was likely their best move of the off-season.

Ngata Problem. 

There’s very little doubt that Ngata is getting a bit older, but stats prove what made Suh so good last season was demanding double teams and in that particular category Suh was #1, however his replacement Haloti Ngata was #3  and when we dive back into the numbers analytically the numbers aren’t far apart.

Win Probability Added: 

Suh: 1.27

Ngata: 1.51

Positive Expected Points Per Game:

Suh: 2.51

Ngata: 3.52

Tackle Factor: 

Suh: 0.94

Ngata: 0.70


Ngata is better in two of the three categories mentioned, It should be mentioned that Ngata missed four games last year and Suh didn’t miss any.

However the notion that Suh was the lifeblood of the Lions defense and the reason the defense was as successful as it was, is a little bit out of touch.

Do I expect the Lions defense to still be top 5, I don’t.

However I can totally see the Lions being a top 10 defense with no problem.

Darius Slay Development: 

Darius Slay developed better than I thought he would, and quicker then I thought he would in his rookie year he was dreadful then as the season continued on, he became leaps and bounds better than most would’ve thought.

Compared to other CB’s in Richard Sherman and Revis both at the elite levels of their profession, Slay stacked up quite well.


Sherman: 0.90

Revis: 0.71

Slay: 0.84

EPA (Expected Points Added Per Game)

Sherman: 1.90

Revis: 2.05

Slay: 2.29

Passes Defended:

Sherman: 8

Revis: 14

Slay: 17


As you can see above Darius Slay stacked up extremely well with other CB talent, by no means am I saying Slay is an elite CB yet.

However each game, Slay has gotten better there’s very few weeks where he hasn’t been good.

His development is getting better by each games, that’s huge for the Lions.

Get Ziggy With It, Breakout Season?

Ziggy Ansah is primed to have a breakout season, last year he hit the QB 23 times that led the Lions and while his analytics numbers weren’t as high as some hoped, he made strides from his rookie year.

Vikings OT Matt Kalil said “He’s a really big guy, obviously,” Kalil said of Ansah. “He’s got really long arms. He kind of reminds me of Aldon Smith from San Francisco. They’re pretty similar. And (Ansah is) still pretty raw. He’s got a lot of potential, so I’ll be playing against him for a while. … I definitely got my hands full.”

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Ziggy Ansah in my opinion hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can be, he’s so skilled in many aspects. When the Lions drafted him, he was described as “Raw” and the Lions took a risk drafting him because sometimes they don’t always work out, but in this case the Lions hit the nail on the head.

And Lions HC Jim Caldwell agrees with me.

“I don’t think he’s scratched the surface on just how good he’s going to be,” Caldwell said. “He’s some kind of player and he’s developing by leaps and bounds. Every week he does something that will vault him to a different level when you evaluate him.”


Positives are sometimes ounces of hope, you hope can remain the same. However when looking at this years Lions team, I think they can be better than last year all around the football.

I expect Matt Stafford to be better, I expect the run game and Eric Ebron to be better and I think the Lions will have some key breakout players this year, but you’ll have to wait for my breakout list which will come out Sunday.