LB Alex Anzalone Is Third-Worst PFF-Graded Linebacker in NFL

Is it time for more playing time for rookie Derrick Barnes?

Linebacker Alex Anzalone has struggled mightily in the two games he has played in the Detroit Lions' defense. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Anzalone is the third-worst linebacker in the NFL, as he earned a lowly 43.6 grade against the Packers on Monday Night Football. 

When asked following the game, Lions head coach Dan Campbell noted that he wants his linebackers to play more downhill, instead of playing laterally. 

“Let me watch the tape," Campbell said. "Certainly, there’s some plays in there where we want those guys to come downhill. We need to see them come downhill. Instead of playing laterally, play more downhill than laterally."

Rookie Derrick Barnes may be next in line to fill in for Anzalone or Jamie Collins, as both have not made enough of an impact to justify keeping their snap counts at the same rate. 

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Against the Packers, the rookie linebacker only appeared on special teams, as he did not record a single snap on defense.

"Derrick Barnes has been on our mind, because he showed in the preseason that he will run and hit," Campbell said. "We’re going to be looking at everything. We’re going to be looking at receivers. We’re going to be looking at our backers. We’re going to be looking at everybody. Anybody we think can help us and needs to get a look at, we’re going to give a look at.”

In a film study session with The Athletic, Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn explained a "stack and fall back" strategy that he would ideally like to see his linebackers employ on defense. 

“Don’t run into darkness,” Glenn shared. “You don’t want to take yourself out of the play. That make sense? We want to take all these gaps with our four bigs. And then, these linebackers can stack and fall back.”