4 Positives for Lions' Defense Headed into 2020
No question about it: Matt Patricia's bend-but-don't-break defense has largely failed in his first two seasons as Lions head man.
If you don't believe me, just take a look at the stats.
And sad but true, the defense regressed from 2018 to 2019.
In Patricia's first year in Motown, the defense allowed 22.5 points per game -- good for 16th out of 32 NFL franchises.
Then, a season ago, nothing went right for Patricia's D.
The unit allowed the 26th-most points per contest at 26.4.
Along with a bottom-half of the league defense in terms of points allowed, it proved to be unable to stop anyone both on the ground and through the air.
It led to the Lions allowing the 21st-most rushing yards per game at 115.9 and a league-worst 284.4 yards a game through the air.
To make matters worse, the defense blew second-half leads in seven games.
It culminated in a hugely disappointing 3-12-1 campaign for Patricia & Co.
Despite all this being said, there are a few positives on the defensive side of the ball going into 2020.
Here are four of them:
1.) Paul Pasqualoni is gone
Pasqualoni -- who oversaw the defense in '18 and '19 -- is no longer the defensive coordinator.
He needed to go, and he decided to step down at season's end in order to spend more time with his family.
The Lions are hoping that new defensive coordinator Cory Undlin will be a breath of fresh air and will help rejuvenate a Detroit defense that badly needs it.
2.) Addition of nose tackle Danny Shelton
The 6-foot-2, 345-pound man and ex-Patriots defensive tackle was added to shore up the run defense.
The University of Washington product -- who turns 27 in August -- will serve as the replacement for Damon "Snacks" Harrison along Detroit's defensive line, and should be an upgrade over the veteran tackle.
3.) "Patriot Way" is taking shape in Motor City
Along with adding Shelton this offseason, Detroit general manager Bob Quinn acquired ex-Patriots Jamie Collins and Duron Harmon.
All three former New England players are individuals that Patricia can control inside the locker room.
The same was unable to be said about former longtime Lions cornerback Darius Slay.
Subsequently, the disgruntled defensive back was shipped out of town last month via a trade with the Eagles.
The defense is starting to look a lot like the way Patricia envisioned it would when he took over as head coach in 2018.
It's a big-time positive for the Patricia regime as it attempts to turn the Lions into a successful knockoff version of the Patriots.
4.) Jeff Okudah is likely pick at No. 3 overall
The standout Ohio State cornerback will likely be Detroit's selection with the third pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
He is projected by some to be an All-Pro defensive back one day.
The organization could do far worse than that with the long-term successor to Slay as the team's No. 1 CB.