The Detroit Lions Have Had Some Major Bright Spots Despite Their 2-3 Start. Here Are The Stats That Stand Out From The First Five Weeks.
Though many Detroit Lions fans were more optimistic, 2-3 is exactly where I thought the Lions would be five games into the year. To be fair, I didn’t expect to beat the Packers or the Patriots. I figured the wins would come against the New York Jets and the San Francisco 49ers. With two big wins (and four real competitive games) over the last four weeks, the Lions have proven to me that they are a team that can stick with the best in games. Now, whether or not they do this consistently will be the big question as the season matures.
Below are some statistics that I believe demonstrate the best reasons to be optimistic about the season ahead of us.
Detroit Lions Offensive Numbers
This number represents the current QB Rating of Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford. This marks his fourth straight year of breaking the 90.0 threshold. Keep in mind this includes his absolutely abysmal performance against the Jets in week one (47.9 rating). Outside of this game and some issues throwing downfield, Stafford has been everything we’ve needed him to be. He hasn’t done this however without great protection (I’ll get to that shortly) and a great group of receivers (also coming up). With Stafford playing at a high level, it’s very difficult to feel anything but confident on any given Sunday.
Nine represents the number of times Stafford has been sacked this year. That would put him on pace for roughly 29 sacks on the year, which is far better than the 47 times he was sacked last year. This protection has come despite TJ Lang’s head injury and rookie growing pains from rookie Frank Ragnow. Part of it is that Stafford is getting rid of the ball quicker. Part of it is the improved pass blocking from the running backs. Any way you look at it, protecting the quarterback with this efficiency is a recipe for success.
These are the combined receiving numbers of Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay: 60 receptions, 859 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Prorated over an entire season the numbers for Tate (106 receptions for 1,379 yards and 9 touchdowns) and Golladay (86 receptions for 1,370 yards and 9 touchdowns) are incredible. The emergence of Golladay, in particular, has been an absolute joy to see. He has this absurd catch radius that makes you feel like he’s capable of making every catch. Lions’ Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has done a fantastic job getting both of them involved in the offense and designing plays to manufacture success.
This is the yards per carry average for rookie running back Kerryon Johnson. Johnson is one of my favorite Lions’ rookies in quite some time. He runs with a great balance of patience and decisiveness that we haven’t seen in quite a while. Johnson has great vision, which has made him effective in short yardage situations. He has great hands, which makes him the most multi-dimensional of the Lions’ running backs. As the year progresses, his yards per carry will no doubt decline, but barring injury, I don’t see his effectiveness doing the same. He is the running back of the future (knock on wood), and he can bring balance to the Lions’ offense.
Detroit Lions Defensive Numbers
17 represents the number of times Lions’ defenders have sacked opposing quarterbacks. While many of these are coverage sacks, this is already almost half of the Lions’ sack total from last year (35). If the Lions continue on this pace, they will dish out 54 total sacks, which is amazing.
Even more impressive is the fact that 14 of these 17 sacks have come from new Lions players. Devon Kennard (five), Romeo Okwara (three), Eli Harold (three), Da’Shawn Hand (two), and Christian Jones have all come up big in moments this year. Hand, in particular, has really shown up. Even with high opinions of Ragnow and Johnson, it’s hard to argue with Hand being the best value pick (fourth-rounder) in this past draft. He has played a disciplined but effective brand of football that the Lions need from their front seven. This group is still meshing, and I am really excited to see what head coach Matt Patricia can get out of these players as the season progresses.
This is the 3rd down conversion rate for Lions opponents this year. This is 10th best in the league so far. Most importantly however, this is a massive improvement over the 38.1% conversion rate from last year. Combine this with the 41.8% conversion rate of the Lions offense (9th best) and you’ll see the efficiency the Lions are working toward.
Though the Lions have struggled in other facets of the game, these numbers paint the picture of a team that is still doing some very crucial things effectively. Protecting an effective Stafford when he has superior weapons is huge. Covering well enough to get sacks, while playing disciplined defense on 3rd down is also great. If the Lions can keep this up while shoring up the run defense, I will be very optimistic about the rest of the season.
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