The Detroit Lions Offense crumbled under pressure in 2021.
The 2021 Detroit Lions offense under-performed expectations in year one under Dan Campbell and now fired Offensive Coordinator Anthony Lynn.
While there were a number of reasons for this collapse from an offense that was expected to be ranked around league average last season, the team’s performance under pressure from quarterbacks Jared Goff and Tim Boyle were key to their issues. Boyle in particular struggled mightily last season in all circumstances, but when the offensive line allowed pressure to get to them, they were significantly worse.
According to SIS (Sports Info Solutions) Estimated Points Added metric (EPA), the Lions finished last in the league, 32nd, in EPA when the QB was pressured on a passing play. The Lions allowed pressure to get to the quarterback on a whopping 31% of snaps last year. On those snaps, the Lions averaged -0.69 EPA per play. In other words, every time a quarterback was pressured, not even necessarily sacked, the Lions were giving away almost a point just for snapping the ball and calling a pass play.
The good news for the Lions, is that despite Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker amongst other offensive linemen being hurt last season, they actually finished 24th in pressure allowed, 8th worst. With last year’s first round draft pick Penei Sewell no longer a rookie next season, Decker and Ragnow returning back healthy, and stability at the guard spots with pro bowler Jonah Jackson joined by Halapoulivaati Vaitai along the line, this unit should improve greatly next season.
Sewell has already shown he can be a top ten right tackle, Decker as well can be a top five to ten left tackle, Ragnow is commonly considered a top five center, and Jackson is coming off a season where he was chosen to be in the pro bowl despite playing for the second worst team in the league in Detroit last year.
If the Lions can figure out how to reduce their pressure rates this coming season, the passing offense could fare much better. Adding some talent at wide receiver that will allow the ball to come out faster will also help. While the Lions finished last when pressured, they actually finished in the top half of offenses when they faced a blitz call. This indicates that the receiving play definitely deserves at least a share of the blame for the struggles under pressure, and were likely unable to get separation vs defenders to allow for hot passes.
The Detroit Lions offense crumbled under pressure in 2021, but with a few simple changes, the team could greatly improve their entire offense quickly in 2022.