When you look deeper into the rushing numbers, they might explain why Detroit Lions General Manager Brad Holmes did not load up on defensive tackles during last week’s draft.
He passed on Georgia stand out Jalen Carter and did not select a defensive tackle until the third round when he grabbed Western Kentucky’s Brodric Martin.
“He’s got some rawness, but we’re really excited about his upside,” Holmes said of the 337-pound Martin.
Martin might not be a rotational player off the jump, but it seems as if the Lions improved their between the tackles during the 2022 season.
What many fans see is that the Lions gave up 5.2 yard per carry for the season, which tied the New York Giants for third worst in the league. However, the numbers got better as the season progressed.
Outside of the Carolina debacle in week 15 the Lions clogged the middle. During the second half of the season the Lions yielded 4.34 yards per carry to opposing running backs and wide outs. In the first half it was much uglier (5.02 yards per carry).
Where the Lions got in trouble was failure to contain opposing quarterbacks. That is not a defensive tackles issue. That is sometimes schematics. And sometimes it is defensive backs and rush ends not containing the quarterback.
The Lions improved their secondary this off-season by signing heat-seeking missiles C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley and Cam Sutton, who can close on the quarterback quicker than the 2022 secondary.
Yes, they gave up 190 yards during a blowout victory over the Chicago Bears in the next to last game of the season. But quarterback Justin Fields picked up 132 of those yards mostly on broken plays. The Bears running backs generated 68 yards on 12 carries.
The Lions held Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook to 23 yards on 15 carries and outside Carolina no team rushed for more than 86 yards the second half of the season. We all remember the Carolina game where the Panthers scorched the Lions for 320 yards and three touchdowns. It is the only game in the second half where a running back rushed for more than 100 yards against the Lions.
Donta Foreman (165 yards on 21 carries) and Chuba Hubbard (125, 12 carries) made the Lions look weak and foolish. Lions GM Brad Holmes did not overreact to one game. If you toss aside that game the Lions only gave up 414 rushing yards the second half of the season to running backs for a 3.3 yard per carry average.
For more from the author Terry Foster, check him out on Twitter here: @terryfosterdet
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