Detroit Lions' Secondary: Getting By With a Little Help From Our Friends

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Detroit Lions' Secondary: Getting By With a Little Help From Our Friends
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Stop me if you have heard this one before.

The Lions secondary will be better because of the improved defensive line.

Makes sense, right. Less time to throw means less time the defensive backs have to cover opposing receivers. And a QB under duress will be less accurate.

We might even see a couple of INTs by the cornerbacks this year.

But how do you quantify that analysis?

If you frequently read my articles, you know I like to find the stats to back up what I say. I realize that's not exactly a requirement on Bleacher Report, but it's my style. And I hope you guys, and hopefully gals, appreciate the effort.

Besides, my mama said never take anything at face value. Just because it sounds right doesn't make it right.

Well, that whole defensive line helps the secondary theory sounds right to me. But can I find anything to back it up?

If it's true a great pass rush helps a secondary, shouldn't the proof show up in the stats?

You know, like higher sack totals should lead to lower opposing passing numbers.

Amazingly enough, no, not really.

That's right. I am telling you that I cannot find a correlation between QB pressure and better passing against stats.

Believe me, I've looked.

If some of you wondered where I went for the past few days, I spent a lot of that time finding research for this article.

I spent hours downloading stats from ProFootballFocus and ProFootballReference , two of my favorite research websites, along with reading anything I could find on the Internet.

Well that plus an article about "staying on schedule " that wasn't tagged for the Lions page. Though every Lion fan should read it because I am putting Stafford in that category within the next three years. Might as well find out how the big boys play now.

Most importantly, I still fit in a two day state championship for youth track & field, where I watched my granddaughter win three gold medals.

Just wanted to brag a minute. Going to do a little article on that too.

Anyways, back to this article. I spent at least 20 hours researching this because I simply could not believe what I was seeing.

Let's see if I can sum it up in a little less than 20 hours for you. We'll just pretend you have something more important to do with your time. ;-)

At first, I just went straight to comparing the top 10 sack teams to yards given up. I was a little surprised that half of the top 10 sack teams were above average and half fell below average when it came to passing yardage given up.

Remember, yards lost on sacks come off the total passing yardage.

Okay, maybe that was a one year thing. But after looking back on the last 10 years, I found those stats were pretty much the norm. There seemed to be no relationship between sacks and passing yardage.

Hmmm...

Maybe it shows up in a different way, like say completion percentage or passer rating. Nope, it was about 50-50 again.

Hmmmmmm...

Well, we know sacks aren't the only indication of pressure. I'll take some good ole fashioned hurries and hits, and even throw in batted passes.

The only place I know where to find that is ProFootballFocus. But they don't have a spreadsheet that compare teams, so this was going to take a minute.

That's okay, because it was prep work for some other articles I needed to get done anyways.

I wanted to compare the top 10 pressure teams, sacks + hits + hurries + batted passes divided by opponent's drop back to passes, to the passing stats we all recognize as good indicators of a good pass defense.

This is what I got.

 

 

 

% of snaps with Pr

Comp %

NFL rank

Passing Yds 

NFL rank

Int 

Int %

NFL rank

NY/A 

NFL rank

1

Minn Total

45.1%

63.7%

25

3494

19

11

2.1%

27

6

14

2

Dallas Total

43.9%

60.1%

15

3606

20

11

1.9%

28

5.9

10

3

Phil Total

42.6%

61.0%

17

3462

17

25

4.3%

5

5.5

4

4

NYG Total

42.6%

63.1%

24

3425

15

13

2.6%

21

6.5

21

5

Cleveland Total

41.8%

59.5%

14

3915

29

10

1.9%

29

6.9

25

6

Atlanta Total

41.0%

62.5%

22

3871

28

15

2.8%

18

6.9

26

7

Pitts Total

40.7%

58.2%

7

3447

16

12

2.2%

25

5.8

8

8

Miami Total

40.2%

57.5%

4

3754

24

15

3.1%

15

7

27

9

Green Bay Total

39.7%

54.4%

2

3218

5

30

5.6%

1

5.6

6

10

SF Total

38.6%

65.8%

29

3927

30

13

2.3%

24

6.6

24

 

Gee, I hope that was readable.

You can see that being a top 10 team in QB pressure does not mean anything when it comes to passing yards, completion percentage, interception percentage, and average yards per attempt.

What else is there?

I know it goes against everything we believe.

I know it makes no sense.

And most of all, I know Lions fans don't want to see this. Yet there it is.

Maybe I'm crazy. Okay I know I'm crazy because the voices tell me that.

Maybe I missed something, and I'm sure someone will point it out for me. Please do, I'll be glad to check it out if it makes sense.

But at this point, I cannot see why the pass defense will be better just because the defensive line is better.

Sorry if I just did something very wrong to your Kool-Aid.

Mine doesn't taste too good right now, either.

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