The Lions' defense has been the source of much criticism for several years.
They made little improvement this year.
At least there was some.
They were known for inconsistency, much like the entire team. They would make a brilliant play on of down then give up something big the next.
They would tackle like pros one minute and then were seen falling off ball carriers like eggs from a Teflon pan.
The defensive line was the main part of that inconsistency.
They had trouble tackling a lot of players. Many times they would look like they had a guy stopped several yards in the backfield only to have him running twenty yards downfield a second later.
The team was hurt by the early loss of Jared DeVries.
He was not the strongest part of the team, but he was experienced. Instead of having him they had to rely on Sammie Hill, a rookie who the jury is still out on.
They tried to get some experience in there, but Grady Jackson turned out to be a bust in the Honolulu blue. Cliff Avril had one of the better seasons of the team.
Hill could turn out to be a strong lineman, but I am not counting on it.
I really hope that Ndomakung Suh is drafted to add to the line. I am positive the only way he doesn't get picked is if the Rams take him first.
The line backers were the best part of the defense.
If the entire unit had been healthy for the whole season, we could have had a better looking defense on the final stat sheet.
Ernie Sims is a strong middle linebacker and his play backed that up.
Too bad he spent a lot of time on the sidelines hurt.
DeAndre Levy was a very pleasant surprise that I am looking forward to watching over the next couple years.
Larry Foote is a good fit in Detroit and I really hope we can get him back to stay until he retires.
Julian Peterson probably won't return for financial reasons.
The Lions can run a successful 3-4 scheme if they can bring both Foote and Peterson back. If not, I am still happy with the linebackers they will trot out in 2010.
The secondary was a mess all year long. Not only were they not that good, but they kept getting hurt.
The final injured reserve list had six defensive backs on it.
The massive amount of injuries forced the Lions to sign a new defensive back seemingly every week.
We settled on having guys like Phillip Buchanon, Anthoney Henry, and Marvin White out there.
The lone bright spot was, of course, Lois Delmas.
The guy has shown the ability to turn into a prime play maker in the NFL.
He can hit hard, come up to stop the run, pick off passes, and turn defense into points. He scored two defensive touchdowns this year and netted a safety.
The Lions haven't had that kind of production from a single member of their defense since the early days of Dre' Bly.
And Delmas comes without the negative attitude.
The Lions' defense will probably see a lot of turnover, particularly in the backfield.
Anyone back there that isn't named Delmas is expendable.
They will also look to improve the line in the draft. The defense will look very different next year, and there is no reason that it shouldn't.
You need to make changes when you have had the worst defense in the league two years in a row.