If there was perhaps one area of weakness that was not addressed in this year’s draft for the Detroit Lions, it was the pass rush. From the interior or the edge, GM Bob Quinn did not come away with a pure defensive disruptor.
The Lions did make a trade to grab DE/DT Da’Shawn Hand in the fourth round. Looking at Hand’s productivity getting after the quarterback while at Alabama, he shouldn’t be labeled as a pass rusher. Over the last three years combined, Hand only had a total of 10 sacks and 11 QB hits.
Despite great size and athleticism, the production never matched his hype. That’s not to say he can’t become a better NFL player.
— Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier) April 28, 2018
The new defense under HC Matt Patricia will definitely be different from Teryl Austin’s scheme as well.
When asked about the defensive changes, Quinn was generous with his answer:
“Our old defensive front was very much one gap and very much get-up-the-field,” Quinn said. “I’d say very much less in terms of gap responsibility. So, we are much more, I’d say, conscious of technique, holding our gaps, playing sound fundamentals, rather than just getting up the field. We’re not really a two-gap team right now. I’d say we’re definitely a mix depending on what front we are in, what the situation is as a pass rush. Do we expect run? But last year we were primarily a one-gap, up-the-field team.”
It was apparent that Quinn put a premium on fixing the run game this past weekend. Did he prioritize rushing the ball over the pass rush?
Not necessarily, but that’s just the way the chips fell.
“I think it’s supply and demand,” said Quinn. “You know, you look at the board, I’d say, quite honestly, there was much, much more depth along the offensive line and at running back than there was at pass rush. The pass rushers came off pretty early and it was a huge drop off. So, it’s supply and demand every year.”
Remember, the off-season is not over. There are still free agents to be had and serviceable veterans. It sounds like Quinn is far from done when shaping his roster.
“There’s a few vets that we’ve been talking to the last couple weeks, so I think we’ll revisit some of those conversations probably, you know, mid-week. We’ll kind of take tomorrow off, kind of regroup and get back in on Monday, look at the roster, kind of reset the needs a little bit. Just because the draft’s over doesn’t mean the needs are done, you know. Like I always say, there’s free agents out there, there’s street guys, we’re setting up tryouts for rookie mini-camp, so we’re always trying to churn the roster. There’s guys available.”
Quinn has a plan and considering the new defensive scheme, he picked players that are versatile fits. The Lions finished 20th in the NFL for sacks last season. Not the best, but not the worst either.
Only time will tell if the pass rush will be improved from a year ago.