Thu, 09 Jul 2020

TWENTYMAN: 5 numbers that need to change

Detroit Lions
02 Jun 2020, 20:25 GMT+10

The Detroit Lions won just three games last year and missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season under head coach Matt Patricia.

Heading into general manager Bob Quinn's fifth season and Patricia's third, the expectations are for the Lions to make significant improvements across the board and play meaningful games late in the season.

There's always room for improvement, so here's a look at five numbers that need to change for the Lions to be better in 2020:

1. Number: 423

What it means: Total points allowed by the Lions in 2019

NFL rank: 26th

Twentyman: We talk about total defense statistics a lot, but the real number that matters on defense is points allowed. Detroit's defense didn't do a good enough job keeping opponents off the scoreboard.

Of those 423 points allowed, 149 came in the fourth quarter, which was the second most points allowed in the fourth quarter among the league's 32 teams. Opponents averaged 26.4 points per game. That puts a lot of pressure on the offense week to week.

Consider this, the six teams that allowed more points than the Lions last season were Washington (435), Arizona (442), Tampa Bay (449), New York Giants (451), Carolina (470) and Miami (494). Including the Lions, the Redskins, Cardinals, Giants, Panthers and Dolphins all finished in the bottom third in the league in terms of their record and drafted in the top 10 this year.

2. Number: 58.3

What it means: Detroit's goal-to-go efficiency percentage last season

NFL rank: 29th

Twentyman: This was an interesting statistic to me because I always feel like one of the more important stats that separates winning from losing, outside of turnovers, is a team's ability to convert in the red zone.

Detroit had 24 opportunities last season where they had a first and goal situation. They converted those into touchdowns a little over half the time (14). They kicked seven field goals and didn't score any points on three occasions. Only Miami (55.0), Pittsburgh (52.2) and Jacksonville (45.5) had lower conversion percentages in these situations.

Detroit was 16th in overall red zone scoring efficiency, which isn't bad, but too many times they let those goal-to-go situations slip through their grasp.

Where are they now: Kevin Glover Decker getting to know new linemates during virtual meetings Jones: There's a role in Detroit's multiple defense for whoever proves themselves

3. Number: 18

What it means: Total takeaways for Detroit in 2019

NFL rank: 24th

Twentyman: The No. 1 statistic that decides winning and losing in most cases is the turnover battle. Detroit's negative-five turnover differential ranked 24th in the NFL last year. Just as a point of reference, nine of the top ten teams in turnover differential made the playoffs. That just goes to show how important turnover differential is.

Detroit's seven interceptions were tied for the fewest in the league. Their 11 fumble recoveries ranked in the top 10, however, which was a real positive for Detroit's defense, but overall the 18 takeaways ranked in the bottom third of the league.

4. Number: 70

What it means: Total number of negative plays for Detroit's opponents last season

NFL rank: 31st

Twentyman: Sacks, negative runs and screens that get blown up in the backfield are all plays that put opposing offenses in tough down-and-distance situations and help the defense get off the field quicker.

As the ranking indicates, Detroit's defense didn't make enough of these drive-altering plays a year ago. In fact, only Miami (64) made fewer. Detroit's 27 sacks resulting in negative yardage were the second fewest in the league. They forced 38 negative rushes, which ranked 25th. Overall, Detroit's opponents lost 260 yards on those 70 negative plays. Just for comparisons sake, Buffalo's defense generated 124 negative plays for their opponents for a league-leading 495 negative yards.

5. Number: 284.4

What it means: Total net passing yards allowed per game

NFL rank: 32nd

Twentyman: Detroit didn't affect the quarterback upfront enough last season and didn't get their hands on enough passes in the back end to effectively limit opponent passing games last season.

A good comparison here is the average net passing yards allowed per game by the 12 teams that made the playoffs, which was 225.9. Detroit filled needs at every level of the defense this offseason, both in free agency and the draft, in hopes of helping address this need.

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