Detroit Lions: A nonexistent pass-rush the clear problem on defense

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

It was once again a horrific performance by the Detroit Lions, this time in Green Bay.

The Detroit Lions are off to a less than ideal 0-2 start to the 2020 season with back-to-back NFC North divisional losses.  Detroit gave up a three-score fourth-quarter lead at home in week one to the Chicago Bears and after leading 14-3 early in Green Bay, finished by being blown out 42-21.

Here is the problem; things are not about to get any more comfortable over the next two weeks.  Detroit will play the Arizona Cardinals in a week three matchup and will have no answer for DeAndre Hopkins or the mobility of Kyler Murray.  After that, it’s Drew Brees and company.

Let’s face it, the Detroit Lions, similar to last season, continue to fail at generating any-type of consistent pass-rush through the first two weeks of the season.  When a team allows an NFL quarterback upwards of five-seconds to find an open receiver, things won’t bode well for any secondary.  Not just the secondary but the defense in general.

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The Detroit Lions can roll out Deion Sanders and Darrelle Revis in their prime and won’t have success allowing Aaron Rodgers the time to have a cup of coffee before being pressured as he’s surveying the field waiting for a pass-catcher to flash open.

Many fans are piling on Lions rookie Jeff Okudah after his terrible NFL debut allowing seven receptions on ten targets totaling 121 yards.  Okudah yielded 51 yards after the catch and a whopping 17.3 yards per reception.  It’s not a debut to remember, but when you consider it was Okudah’s first real-time NFL action after unable to appear in any preseason contests, it may be a bit of a flawed performance.

Here is the thing, when general manager Bob Quinn used the third overall choice on Okudah, it was expected he’d step in and be a shutdown corner early in his career. Still, the talented Packers receivers and lack of Lions pass-rush made for a tough debut.  According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Okudah’s abysmal 28.6 overall grade was the worst of any NFL cornerback in week two.

When you look at this struggling defense, I can’t help but continue to go back to the team’s pass-rush or lack thereof.  Trey Flowers leads all Detroit Lions with a 76.4 overall defensive rating that includes a 65.7 pass-rush mark.  It’s not good enough for a player earning an $18-million annual salary.  We also need to realize that Flowers is being double-teamed on nearly every play, but Detroit has failed to generate a threat opposite of Flowers over the last two years.

In fact, head coach Matt Patricia made Julian Okwara a healthy scratch Sunday in Green Bay.  Okwara had been drafted to aid the pass-rush.  It’s a roster decision that is unjustifiable.

When you look at this Detroit Lions defensive line, no one has been able to create havoc through the first two weeks.  Da’Shawn Hand has compiled a 67.3 overall rating, but that’s due to his ability to defend the run.  As a pass rusher, he’s produced a 59.1 rating.  Romeo Okwara comes in at 49.9 overall according to PFF, similar to his brother Julian at 49.7.

Things are not any better when you look at the interior defensive linemen.  Danny Shelton sits at 52.6 with no real interior push.  Nick Williams didn’t play in Green Bay but was signed to be an interior pass-rushing specialist, produced a 49.5 pass-rush grade in week one along with an awful overall mark of 45.7.

The Detroit Lions allowed 363 total yards to Mitchell Trubisky’s Bears in week one and followed that up by yielding a whopping 488 yards to Green Bay in week two.  The Lions have yet to create a single takeaway and have only collectedtwo sacks through the first two ballgames of 2020.

Next. Week 2 loss at Green Bay goes exactly as expected. dark

Any way you look at it, this defensive line isn’t getting the job done, and that is where Detroit needs to improve immediately if they have any hope of salvaging this season.  It’s disheartening when you consider the head coach is supposed to be a defensive guru.