ESPN projects Detroit Lions defense to not really improve in 2022

SideLion Report

The Detroit Lions’ defense almost has to be better this year, but ESPN is clearly not ready to buy into that even a little bit.

By a lot of measures, the Detroit Lions’ defense was at or within close range of the bottom last season. Improvement will almost be automatic and natural this year, at least that’s what it seems.

ESPN’s preseason work in regard to projecting the Lions this year has been questionable at times. Given the results the defense has had in recent years, no one would be blamed for wanting to see some improvement before buying in.

The Lions allowed 467 points in 2021 (second-most in the league). ESPN’s Mike Clay (subscription required) has projected them to allow a league-worst 445 points in 2022. Credit to MLive.com for Clay’s words.

Detroit was in this same spot last season and proceeded to allow 467 points (463 projected),” Clay writes in the projections. “That was second-most in the league after allowing a league-high 519 in 2020. Things may not be much better this season, as the defense has weak spots all over the lineup, exacerbated by injuries to Romeo Okwara, Jerry Jacobs and rookie Josh Paschal.”

Will the Detroit Lions defense notably improve in 2022?

Ranking unit-by-unit, Clay projects the Lions to have the worst set of linebackers, the second-worst set of cornerbacks and the fourth-worst interior defensive line in the league. That Malcolm Rodriguez has made such a push for a starting job is first and primarily a credit to him, but it’s also a discredit to the rest of the Lions’ linebackers and highlights a spot where better moves should have been made.

As for the dismal cornerback ranking, time will tell as Jeff Okudah hopefully gets his career on the right track.

It’s easy to see promise in training camp and preseason showings, then see things from a rosier than realistic perspective going into a season. But this year’s Lions defense has better depth, if nothing else. If they do finish the season having allowed the most points in the league, it will mean a lot of things didn’t go well.

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