How Much Does Ziggy Ansah Really Mean To The Lions?
Is Ziggy Ansah Overrated? It’s a simple question. Controversy in regard to opinions on players is nothing new to sports, but there is usually a general consensus that can be reached if you look hard enough. That’s not quite the case for Ansah. The 5th year defensive end has gone from being labeled the next big thing to a perplexing question mark on a week to week basis. After a breakout season in 2015 Ansah has been too quiet to ignore. With his contract negotiations looming it’s safe to question whether his performance warrants the type of money he’s expected to get paid. (Spoiler Alert: It’s a lot)
Ziggy broke onto the scene with a promising rookie year that ended with a total of eight sacks in a 14 games season. An argument can be made that he was robbed of the Defensive Rookie of the Year award that season. Nonetheless, this was exactly the type of rookie campaign the Lions wanted to see. He followed it up with 7.5 sacks the following season before truly breaking out in his third year. In 2015 he was credited with 14.5 sacks and played in all 16 games for the second season in a row. This was what the Lions were waiting for, and it appeared they had found it. Ansah looked like the real deal, and it was hard for anyone to say otherwise.
Anyone besides Pro Football Focus that is. PFF failed to include Ansah in their annual top 100 list, drawing plenty of criticism from fans. When confronted with the seemingly obvious neglect, PFF sited Ansah’s play against the run as a flaw as well as the less realized fact that several of his sacks came on plays where he wasn’t blocked or was simply cleaning up after a teammate applied the true pressure on the play. Many fans scoffed at the explanation, but what PFF said wasn’t false. Ziggy had benefited from opportunistic moments, but who doesn’t? Eyes were still bright looking forward into Ansah’s future despite the “haters” as they say.
After playing in consecutive full season in 2014 and 2015 it was believed that Ansah’s injury concerns from his rookie year were behind him. 2016 brought that theory to a crashing hault. After suffering an ankle injury in week two against the Titans he would go on to miss the next three games. Quite honestly, he hasn’t been the same since. He played in 11 games before getting his first sack of the season in week 15. He would get one more and finish the season with two. The majority of fans gave him a pass and assumed he would be back to himself after an off season to heal. Unfortunately, Ansah suffered a knee injury before being placed on the PUP list this past off season. He was able to play to start the year, but still routinely has days off of practice.
Lack of Production
Missing practice wouldn’t be a worrisome pattern if it was coming attached to results that meet Ansah’s expectations. This season Ansah has four sacks in six games, which doesn’t sound bad on the surface. However, three of his sacks came in the game against the Giants. He was lined up against left tackle Ereck Flowers, who currently is outside of PFF’s top 50 graded tackles. Ansah himself ranks outside to top 40 defensive ends. Ansah’s QB hurries have declined since his third season as well. Stopping the run is still something he struggles with. The optimism is questonable at best.
So… Is Ziggy Ansah Overrated?
Yes. It appears that he is. His contract will demand top dollar when the season is over, and it doesn’t seem likely that general manager Bob Quinn is going to be the one to pay him. He’ll likely fetch a number that far exceeds what he has actually produced in hopes of a revitalized run on a new team. That’s just how free agency goes. Of course, the franchise tag is an option, but it’s hard to justify the designation if he doesn’t dramatically improve his production by season’s end. Injuries stop becoming an excuse if he is playing on a weekly basis. Every player in the league is going through some sort of aches and pains. If he’s healthy enough to be on the field he has to start getting the results expected of him. It’s a tough pill to swallow but maybe, just maybe, he’s simply not that good.