Former Patriots Living Up to Expectations in Detroit

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Everyone has heard the phrase the “Patriot Way” or the “New England Lions” since Bob Quinn took over as general manager in 2016, even more so once head coach Matt Patricia came into town. 

It didn’t help the stereotype that the staff acquired three more Patriots players on defense this offseason in linebacker Jamie Collins, safety Duron Harmon and nose tackle Danny Shelton -- all of whom were on the Patriots' roster in 2019 and have been leading the Lions' defense in 2020. 

Even Trey Flowers, one of the Lions' biggest free-agent acquisitions in recent memory, started his career in New England.

There are so many examples of when former Patriots haven't been able to replicate the same level of success on their new teams. So far, that hasn’t been the case under Patricia.

Now, the defense has had its fair share of struggles throughout the season, but it has started to turn the corner over the past couple of games -- largely due to the aforementioned players.

On an individual level, Flowers, Collins, Harmon and Shelton are all performing well at their respective positions.

According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers is currently the sixth-highest-graded EDGE defender for players with at least 20 percent of defensive snaps played. 

Not that the sack numbers are there -- they were never very high before signing his big contract, either -- but he remains one of the best all-around defensive ends in the NFL. 

Collins has earned the ninth-best grade for 87 qualified off-ball linebackers.

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Even better, Harmon has graded out as the third-best safety out of 89 qualified players at the position.

Shelton’s grades aren’t nearly as impressive. But, considering his price tag, it might be unfair to expect greatness. 

He's ranked No. 69 of 129 interior defensive linemen in the NFL.

For as much flack as the Lions have received by going after former Bill Belichick personnel, the Lions' best players on the defensive side of the ball have all spent time in New England.

Maybe it hasn’t worked out all too well as a whole on defense. 

But, relative to the rest of the NFL, the ex-Patriots are among the best at their respective positions.

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