We've spent some time discussing the frequency with which the New York Jets blitz opponents as they move through the NFC North portion of their schedule. Through Week 8, in fact, the Jets have blitzed on more than half of their defensive snaps.
But some figures from ESPN Stats & Information give us insight into how the Detroit Lions organize their own blitzes, and how it might explain their better-than-expected pass defense this season.
The Lions have blitzed on 73 pass plays this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. On just over half of them, 37 to be exact, the extra rusher has been a defensive back (as opposed to linebackers).
Importantly, the Lions defense has forced the lowest opponent's passer rating in the NFL when blitzing at least one defensive back. Safety Louis Delmas already has two sacks, and the resulting confusion has also helped open opportunities for the Lions' defensive line.
On those 73 plays, opponents have completed 16 passes for 143 yards and no touchdowns. The Lions have an interception and three sacks in that grouping, good for a 47.8 passer rating. Overall, the Lions are ranked No. 19 in pass defense this season after spending most of the past three years near the bottom of the NFL rankings.
I know everyone is talking about the matchup of the Lions' high-scoring offense and the Jets' aggressive defense. But I'm just as interested to see how far the Lions' defense has come. I realize the Jets were shut out last week at home, but at least some credit goes to the Green Bay Packers defense for that. Can the Lions rise up as well?