The Lions defense splits since firing Aubrey Pleasant reveal a very different defense in Detroit

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The Detroit Lions defense was truly scared by Halloween. The team had just lost a winnable game to the Miami Dolphins By allowing four touchdowns on five Miami possessions.

The Lions found themselves in the dead last position in nearly every defensive statistic metric. They decided to end this horror by firing DBs coach and passing game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant. Many people wanted Aaron Glenn, the coordinator, to send Pleasant out.

The Lions, with a record of just 1-6, were the worst team within the league. The defense was good:

35 points per match (32nd of 32).

25 first downs per game (32nd)

154.8 rushing yards per game (30th)

5.14 yards per carry (30th)

8.24 yards per pass attempt allowed (32nd)

73.1 red zone TD% (32nd)

50.6 percent conversion percentage (332nd)

266.4 passing yards per game (30th)

6 takeaways in seven games (.85 per game ranks 30th)

A few events followed that led to a dramatic turnaround. Pleasant’s firing is the headliner, but the Lions also added starting CB Jerry Jacobs Josh Paschal, a rookie DE, was added to the lineup. Both provided significant improvements to their positions on depth charts, and added depth overall. John Cominsky, Valuable DE, finally became healthy. Rookie DE Aidan Hutchinson began playing more exclusively from a 2-pt. stance Instead of digging in the dirt, Glenn also uses his hand to help. Glenn figured out how to better use linebackers Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes, and S DeShon Elliott and DT Isaiah Buggs — two newcomers to the Lions in 2022 — also started playing better in their roles.

It’s a confluence of events that has helped improve the Detroit defense. Here are the Lions defense stats, not just from the six games that ended on Halloween but how they would rank over the whole season.

PPG: 20.3 (11th)

1st downs: 21.3 (24th)

YPC: 3.8 (t-3rd)

AYA: 6.9 (t-21st)

Passing ypg 259.8 (30th).

Rushing ypg : 122.3 (19th).

Conversion to third down: 45.2 (29th).

That’s pretty solid improvement, notably in the run defense. But it’s not necessarily the corner-turning improvement we’ve seen in Detroit. These two metrics are the real key to the edge.

Red zone TD percentage: 55 percent (16th)

Takeaways: 11 out of six games, a 1.84-average that would tie the 1st

The Lions have made significant improvements in their ability to take the ball away from opposing offenses and stop foes scoring touchdowns in red zone. It has been a big improvement to be even slightly above average in red-zone defense, from near-historical levels. That some of those takeaways have come in the red zone is an even bigger accomplishment for Aaron Glenn’s defense.

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire

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