Anthony Zettel Should Be On The Hot-Seat During Lions 2018 Training Camp

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A Look At Defensive Lineman Anthony Zettel‘s 2017 Season Performance And Future Outlook In Detroit.


Anthony Zettel is a name that may surprise people when we talk about players that may be on the hot-seat in Detroit during this off-season. However, when you go back and look at what went wrong for Zettel in 2017 and how this team has changed under the new coaching staff, it becomes clear why this may be the case for the Lions third year defensive end.

This is not to say that he had a terrible 2017 season at all. He had produced more than nearly everyone on the Detroit defensive line in terms of pass rush, with 6.5 sacks last year. Zettel has shown he can be an effective pass rusher at times, however the liability he has become against both running backs and quarterbacks running the football could spell trouble for the defensive end.

When you go back and watch how Zettel performed in 2017, one of the first things you notice is how often he lost gap discipline. You would consistently see him shooting up the field to try to bend the edge to the quarterback, only to leave a huge lane for the running game to hurt the Lions defense. These inabilites were unfortunately exposed quite a bit by the mobile quarterbacks in the NFC North. All three of Case Keenum, Brett Hundley, and Mitchell Trubisky had great games running to the holes left behind by Zettel’s over-pursuit.

Anthony Zettel On The Hot-Seat In 2018

This leads to 2018 where these liabilities may be putting Zettel on the hot-seat in Detroit. While every NFL team can always use pass rushers, the Lions new coaching staff have talked heavily this off-season about how important it is for them to get stronger in the trenches and more effective at stopping the run. His lack of strength at the point of attack was another reason he was poor at maintaining gap discipline. Even when he did try to stay home, he got sealed off consistently, even when facing tight ends.

With an emphasis on stopping the running game in 2018, his lack of strength, his poor gap discipline, Zettel could be looking at a make or break season in Detroit. The Lions new scheme is geared more towards their defensive lineman anchoring the line and eating up blocks, to leave their linebackers free to hunt opposing players.

With his liability in the running game and against mobile quarterbacks breaking the pocket, with the Lions new coaching philosophy not really meshing with his skill set or play style, 2018 could be the last season Zettel spends in Honolulu blue and silver.

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