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Areas Where Lions' Defense Must Improve in 2022

Read more on the areas the Detroit Lions' defense must improve in headed into the 2022 season.
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The Detroit Lions enter the 2022 season with the hopes of having an improved defense, led by second-year coordinator Aaron Glenn

However, they must improve in a variety of areas in order for that to happen.

Namely, Detroit must become both a better pass-rushing unit and red-zone defense.

For starters, the Lions ranked just 31st in sacks per game in 2021, with a dismal average of 1.8 sacks per contest.

As a whole, Detroit totaled 30 sacks, better than only the Philadelphia Eagles (29) and the Atlanta Falcons (18).

In stark contrast, the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams amassed the third-most sacks in the NFL a season ago with 50.

There's also this: Outside linebackers Charles Harris and Julian Okwara were the lone two Detroit defenders to record five or more sacks last year. Okwara accounted for five sacks, while Harris amassed a team-leading 7.5.

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If all the above stats don't scream to you that the Lions had a major problem getting after the quarterback in 2021, I don't know what will.

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It's why Detroit general manager Brad Holmes went out and acquired two EDGE rushers with his first three picks in this past April's NFL Draft: Standout Michigan pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson (No. 2 overall) and former three-time Kentucky captain Josh Paschal (No. 46 overall).

The expectation from fans and pundits alike is that Hutchinson will be an impact defender immediately. Meanwhile, it might take a little time for Paschal, who recently signed his rookie contract, to get up to speed. 

Glenn and the Lions' coaching staff have been impressed with the skillset and work ethic that Hutchinson has displayed thus far at Detroit's Allen Park practice facility.

“He (Hutchinson) has this quickness that is unbelievable,” Glenn expressed to reporters last month. “He has the ability to bend and use his hands that is outstanding. Just watching, he’s always working, and that’s the relentless attitude that you’ve seen at Michigan that made him so successful.”

Now, the hope is that Hutchinson and Paschal, along with improved play from fellow defensive linemen Michael Brockers, Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike, provide a much-needed boost to Detroit's pass-rushing department in 2022. 

Along with getting after the passer at a more efficient clip, Glenn & Co. must improve upon their red-zone defensive efficiency headed into the upcoming season.

The Lions' defense allowed opponents to score touchdowns a staggering 42 times out of 60 red-zone opportunities a season ago. 

It means that Detroit permitted the opposition to march into the red zone and score a TD on 70 percent of its chances. That's simply not acceptable, and unsurprisingly, it ranked No. 31 in red-zone defensive efficiency in 2021.  

If the Lions' defense wants to take the next step and become a more respectable unit this upcoming season, those above sack numbers and the team's red-zone efficiency must improve.