Lions Position-by-Position Preview: the Front 7 Need Matt Patricia

  • 2020 NFL Season
  • Detroit Lions
  • New England Patriots
  • NFL
By Sammy Bovitz July 29, 2020 0 Comment

The Detroit Lions offense is multidimensional and bursting with potential, that much is clear. The real questions lie with this strange defense and its leader in Matt Patricia. The secondary has been spotlighted plenty this offseason, and that will be addressed later. For now, let’s focus on the defensive line.

The linebacker crew

Patricia’s desire to add his old Patriots players shines throughout this defense. The linebacker group is led by Jamie Collins, who had a solid 2019 but is getting older, turning 31 this October. Jarrad Davis was the Lions’ first-round pick in 2017, and he has been fairly solid if not a game-changer. Adding former Chief Reggie Ragland could help, but again, he’s not much more than solid.

This is a shaky crew that will be average at best. This linebacking crew is full of concerns. Again, Collins will turn 31 soon, so it’s possible he can’t really play a major role on the team. Davis seems to be better suited to a secondary role. They did not pick up the fifth-year option on his contract, so he’ll be a free agent following this season. Signing Ragland on top of this certainly shows that Matt Patricia is unhappy with this current crew, Davis in particular. No one should blame him.

The pass rush

While the pass rush is better than the linebacking group, that’s not saying much. The group is led, unsurprisingly, by two former Patriots. Trey Flowers is a solid end who had a pretty good first year in Detroit, recording seven sacks along with two forced fumbles in 2019, and he’ll lead this line. Danny Shelton joins him as the third Patriot rep on this defensive line, and he seems to bring a more complementary role to the table. If he can equal or top his 2019 production (three sacks, 30 total tackles), the Lions have a solid foundation for this pass rush.

However, this is where the pass rush crumbles. Romeo Okwara and his brother, third-round pick Julian, have some potential but won’t in any way come close to Shelton’s production. Nick Williams isn’t any better, and so most of the responsibility in this group falls on Flowers and Shelton. Luckily, they both have experience working with the leader of this defense in Matt Patricia.

This group needs Matt Patricia

This is really where Patricia needs to shine. Sure, he was hired to bring the Patriot Way to Detroit, but the Lions’ defense has problems. Their defense is being doubted by tons of media outlets, and it’s not hard to see why. While the secondary is booming with potential, this defensive line is pretty weak beyond Trey Flowers. While the former Patriots are among the best players on this defense, the Lions have to set themselves apart from all the other failed Patriots copycats.

The Lions aren’t the Patriots, and it might be in Patricia’s best interests to stop worrying about the players and focus on the system. The Patriots are now, without Patricia, holders of one of the best defenses in the NFL. Matt Patricia needs to examine what makes the Patriots great while keeping in mind what his team has in order to succeed.

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