About that Lions’ defensive line …
You know, the position group that most everyone thought would be the ruination of these 2017 Lions?
Uhhh, you can rest easy.
The Lions are not perfect but they have bust out of the gate with a 3-1 record.
The coaching staff, who had confidence in the line all along, obviously was right.
The defense has played well in all four games, but in the 14-7 win at the Vikings on Sunday they were something special. They won the game on a day that the offense struggled.
It might be the best Lions’ defense we’re seen in a few years.
And, of course it all starts with the defensive line.
Remember this is a defensive line missing three key players.
Kerry Hyder, the sack leader in 2016, is out for the season with a torn Achilles.
Defensive end Armonty Bryant and defensive tackle Khyri Thornton are both serving NFL suspensions. Thornton will be able to return after six games.
After serving a four-game suspension, Bryant is eligible to return to practice today (Monday). Bryant had three sacks in five games in 2016.
In his absence, second-year defensive end Anthony Zettel has been huge.
Zettel finished on Sunday with his first career two-sack game. That brings his total to four sacks in four games to lead the defense. He also had three tackles, four quarterback hits and a fumble recovery.
“He’s been outstanding to this point. He’s a high-motor guy that just never stops, he battles through sometimes single and double blocks if he has to. He’s always coming, I love the way he plays,’’ coach Jim Caldwell said after Sunday’s game. “Because of that kind of effort he gives play after play after play, he’s always around the ball.’’
While Ziggy Ansah didn’t own any flashy stats on Sunday, he was a force on the opposite side from Zettel as he routinely was double-covered
It wasn’t just those two guys.
A’Shawn Robinson played well inside, Haloti Ngata too.
It’s early in the season, things could go wrong and probably will.
But the defensive line play is not an issue.
BONUS: In the post-game locker room, Haloti Ngata presented a game ball to linebacker Steve Longa who lost his dad on Thursday in a pedestrian accident in Pennsylvania. Longa had the option to go home and miss the game. Instead he played and was to fly back to Pennsylvania after the game. In his presentation, Ngata said he had lost his parents at a young age.