Open thread: What has been the most impressive part of the Lions’ turnaround?

Pride of Detroit

The Detroit Lions’ midseason turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable. After starting 1-6 to the season, many were questioning whether the team was in the right hands. In fact, owner Sheila Hamp felt the need to come down and talk to the media during that stretch—which is never a good sign of a franchise’s health.

Yet since that meeting with the media, the Lions have gone 4-2, find themselves on the outskirts of a playoff race, and are playing some of the best football we’ve seen this team play in nearly a decade.

There are a lot of impressive developments from the past five weeks of Lions football. Amon-Ra St. Brown has returned to full health and is dominating week-in and week-out. The Lions defense suddenly has life, and is not only keeping the team in games, but even making game-winning plays.

And don’t sleep on Jared Goff, who has put together this impressive statline over the past five weeks:

104-of-156 (66.7% completions), 1,118 yards (7.2 Y/A), 7 TDs, 1 INT, 99.8 passer rating

There are a lot of things that have caused Detroit to suddenly look like one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL. Today’s Question of the Day is:

What has been the most impressive part to the Lions’ second-half turnaround?

My answer: It has to be, without a doubt, the drastic improvement in the Lions’ pass defense. It’s easy connect the dots and suggest that defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant was holding the unit back, and maybe there is some truth to that. However, there’s a lot else going on, too. Jeff Okudah has settled in. Jerry Jacobs has returned and now assumed a full-time role. Detroit’s defensive line has, too, gotten healthier.

But just look at the stats from opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks:

105-of-183 (57.4%), 1,223 yards (6.7 Y/A), 7 TDs, 7 INTs, 74.9 passer rating

Here’s where those stats rank in the NFL from Weeks 9 to Week 13:

  • 57.4% completions — 1st
  • 74.9 passer rating — 2nd
  • 7 INTs – 1st

They’ve also tallied exactly half (11) of their season total sacks (22) in just these five games.

Put it all together, and according to Football Outsiders’ the Lions pass defense has been the third best in the NFL since Week 9. Yes, you read that right: the Lions have the third-best pass defense in the NFL over the past five games.

And let’s not forget that they’ve faced some good quarterbacks over that time. Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen may not be playing their best ball right now, but they’re always dangerous. Daniel Jones went into the Lions game with just two interceptions on the season, and Detroit doubled it. Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence are just starting to explode onto the scene.

Yet the Lions held nearly all of them in check enough to pull out a 4-1 record over the past five weeks. That’s been the difference.

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