Detroit Lions need to sign free agent DT Timmy Jernigan

The Detroit Lions should pounce on the opportunity to sign free agent Timmy Jernigan.

The accomplished interior defensive lineman, Timmy Jernigan, lasted just 54 snaps before being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars who are looking to get younger.  He’s a veteran lineman that can help the Detroit Lions defensive line woes in a rotational method.

The Detroit Lions yielded 149 rushing yards against in Week One to the Chicago Bears.  In Week Two, things got a lot worse, as Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers shredded the Lions defense totaling 168 rushing yards on 18 carries, suitable for a 9.3 yards per carry average.  Jones also scored a pair of rushing touchdowns.  As a team, Detroit allowed 259 rushing yards to Green Bay.

That tremendous success on the ground took the ball out of Aaron Rodgers‘ hands; the future Hall Of Famer only completed 18 passes totaling 240 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Detroit Lions rushing defense did get a lot better in their Week Three upset victory in Arizona.  The defense only allowed 109 yards rushing, limiting Cardinals lead back Kenyan Drake to 4.1 yards per carry on 18 attempts.  Better yet, Detroit contained the dynamic dual-threat quarterback, Kyler Murray restricting him to just 29 yards rushing despite allowing the quarterback to gallop for a touchdown.

Although the Detroit Lions defense did an excellent job slowing the Cardinals rushing attack, it continues to be a concern moving forward this season.

Detroit failed to improve in this aspect of their defense as Danny Shelton continues to work out the kinks of joining a below-average Lions defense coming from the league’s top unit in New England a year ago.

The Lions allowed nearly 116 rushing yards per game last season, which ranked them 21st in the NFL.  This season it’s far worse, Detroit is allowing a whopping 172 rushing yards per game, and that places them third last, 30th overall through the first three games of the season.  In comparison, the leagues’ top defense defending the run is the Pittsburgh Steelers are allowing just 54 yards per game.

In 2018, Detroit allowed just 110 rushing yards per game behind a galactic effort from Damon Harrison.  The organization has struggled to find the same success since.

The Jacksonville Jaguars recently released Timmy Jernigan, and he’s a player Bob Quinn needs to target immediately.  Jernigan, just 28-years old, plays at a stout 300-pounds and can create leverage inside with his 6-foot-2 frame.

Jernigan has a history with current Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin.  After playing his first three seasons in Baltimore, before 2020, Jernigan spent the previous three in Philadelphia.  According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Jernigan’s overall numbers declined last season, playing just 274 snaps.  He posted an overall mark of 65.9 in 2019, but his run defense grade was ok at 67.5.

PFF did award Jernigan with above-average marks in that category in 2016, 2017, and 2018, all hovering around 80, stellar, with his high watermark coming in 2017 at nearly 83.

He’s a player that will be gobbled up by a team looking for depth, and when you play in a division with Jones and Dalvin Cook, this is a position to exhaust all options.

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Currently, Da’Shawn Hand leads Detroit with a 72.2 grade defending the run, Shelton comes in at 52.4, and Nick Williams 60.8.  Detroit urgently needs to improve in this phase of the game.