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Ndamukong Suh's Sack List
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Lions Review 2010 - Defensive Line

The Detroit Defensive Line was expected to be much improved going into the 2010 season and it did not disappoint. In fact it was arguably the best Defensive Line in the NFL.

Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz had enough foresight to find two veterans who were playing out of their comfort zone in previous years in DT-Corey Williams and DE-Kyle Vanden Bosch, and bring them to Detroit where they would play how they were meant to play. Then they went out and drafted Ndamukong Suh.

Corey Williams was a Defensive Tackle who had seven sacks in consecutive years for the Packers before being traded to the Browns, where he was moved to a 3-4 defensive scheme. Being used as more of a run stopper while the linebackers got the glory of sacks, Williams numbers dropped considerably. The Lions believed he would return to form in their 4-3 scheme and brought him to Detroit.

If you look solely at his numbers, Williams did not do so great as a Lion in 2010. However, he was still a very important key to the Lions defensive line improvements. Opposing offensive lines were sort of forced to double up against Williams rather than Suh much of the time. To double team Suh, it would leave a powerful DT and Vanden Bosch in single combat on the same side of the line. Then to make things even more difficult, the Lions moved Suh around so the offensive lines could not double him up so easily and were forced to double up on Williams even more.

Having only 2 sacks on the year, Williams also had 4 passes defended and an interception as well as one of his better years for tackles. This was because even though he had many double teams, he often still pushed the middle of the line of scrimmage back towards the quarterbacks.

Kyle Vanden Bosch was an even more impressive move by the Detroit Lions brass. Coach Jim Schwartz parked his car in the drive-way of Kyles home and just sat there waiting; counting the minutes as the clock ticked them away. As soon as free agency opened up, he was at the door to make sure he got to the defensive end first. It was a great move.

In 2005 and 2007 Vanden Bosch had 12 sacks. After that he was plagued by injury and then the loss of Albert Haynesworth as a teammate. A teammate leaving to go to another team is usually not a very good excuse for ones stats to drop, but in this case it was. With no true powerhouse at defensive tackle, opposing defenses were free to double up on Vanden Bosch, and that can seriously hamper a defensive ends performance.

As a Detroit Lion in 2010, Kyles numbers did not improve considerably. He only had one more tackle, and one more sack than the previous year in Tennessee. Then again, he also missed 5 games in Detroit due to an injury. Not to mention that sometimes he simply just did not get to the quarterback quite as quickly as Suh and others did.

In watching the games, when he was healthy, Vanden Bosch seemed to be everywhere. If the quarterback was hit, Kyle was the one hitting him or chasing him towards the player who did hit him. When the running back was tackled, Kyle was in the pile somewhere, even if it was ten yards down field. The man had a motor that did not stop until the drive shaft came loose when his season ended with a bulging disc in his neck.

Cliff Avril was a player the Lions kept believing would step it up soon. Fans weren't so sure but the coaches saw something in practices the fans did not. With the likes of Suh, Williams and Vanden Bosch on the line, Avril finally showed what he can do as he had 8.5 sacks of his own in 13 games.

Avril's tackles actually dropped a bit in 2010, leading me to believe he has more upside as a pass rusher but may not be too good in run support. If he continues to improve, he may yet become a complete defensive end, but until that happens he is a specialist. But if you are going to have a specialist on the defensive line, a good pass rusher is something that is good to have.

The Rest of the Best were the likes of Lawrence Jackson, Turk McBride and Sammie Lee Hill who all played well in limited duty.

2011 Outlook:
If the Lions did nothing to this unit, they would enter 2011 with a good unit still. Of course that would be counting on injuries clearing up. The Detroit Lions defensive line is not a unit that needs immediate attention, but if the opportunity arises to add a top defensive end, it would only make them that much more dangerous. At the 13th spot in the draft, if all of the players they want (and need) are taken and the top defensive end on their boards is still there, they will take him, but other than that scenario, don't expect one to be taken until after the third round.

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