INDIANAPOLIS – The Detroit Lions ranked 28th in the NFL last year with just 33 sacks.
That's not a good total for as much talent as the Lions have along their front four. It’s not a surprising number, however, watching how teams attacked the Lions defense this past season.
There were a lot of short drops and quick throws as teams took the strategy to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands faster and get into the Lions’ less-talented secondary.
The Lions like the talent they have upfront and aren’t actively seeking another pass rusher high in May’s NFL Draft. Instead, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew wants to upgrade the backend of his defense in hopes that will help the front seven finish at the quarterback.
“I don’t know that it’s going to be a situation where we’re adding players to get more sacks,” Mayhew said. “I thought we had good pressure. We got quite a few, you know, pressures and hits on the quarterbacks. Didn’t’ always get there to close the deal.
“I think if we can do a better job in the coverage area, we’ll get more sacks. Blitzing may be a factor there to get more sacks, but I don’t see it being a situation where we need to desperately add a pass rusher to our defensive line group.”
The Lions have some players who can get after the quarterback in Ziggy Ansah (8),
“I’m very confident in Chris,” Mayhew said of Houston’s struggles in 2013. “He’s a veteran player. He knows how to play the game. As you know, he had some injury issues and some off-field issues last season, so we’re confident in Chris' game.”
The Lions will also hope another offseason under their belt and the experience that comes with that will raise the game of young cornerbacks like
“I think all those guys are still improving,” Mayhew said of his crop of young cornerbacks. “I think if you look at, you know, how they played as rookies or how they performed as rookies and how they played last year, that was improvement there. We want to see continued improvement from that group.
"I thought Bill Bentley played some solid football for us at times. He also dealt with some injury issues. (Chris) Greenwood finally got an opportunity to get on the field, played some good football for us. Jonte Green didn’t play early, but came on late due to injuries and played solid for us at times. Obviously, Darius Slay has a bright future and he finished up strong in the Vikings game.”
It’s a young group, however, and still developing.
Don’t be surprised if a mix of veteran free agents and rookie draft picks join the roster at both cornerback and safety to help bolster that unit.
The Lions still view their defensive line as one of the strengths on this football team, but they also realize they can’t do it alone, and will give them much needed help this offseason.