A Look At The 2013 Detroit Lions Stats Offense and Defense




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During the 2014 NFL draft, Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew made a comment that struck me as odd.  He informed us that the Eric Ebron pick was made because the offense and defense were pretty even in terms of production and that there was no major need to pass on what he described as an elite player for a defensive player such as Aaron Donald or Calvin Pryor.  While I agree with taking the best player available and after the draft i justified the Ebron choice, I still have a hard time with him stating that the offense and defense were equal.  So I looked into the statistics from the past season to verify those comments.

While looking at the 2013 Detroit Lions stats, I see that some of what Mayhew was saying actually makes sense.  In looking strictly at the points against total for 2013, the Lions had the second to last scoring offense in the NFC North and best defense in terms of points against in the NFC North.  While those numbers alone justify selecting an offensive playmaker over a defensive player, they do not tell the whole story.  Lets look at more of the 2013 Detroit Lions offensive stats.
OFFENSE (Scoring)

Team Points Per Game
Chicago 27.8
Green Bay 26.1
Detroit 24.7
Minnesota 24.4

As you can see above, the 2013 Detroit Lions offense was a mess.  A team with an almost 5,000 yard passer, the best wide receiver in the game, and a 1,000 yard rusher should not rank that low in scoring offense.  To make matters worse, they were barely above the Minnesota Vikings who went through countless quarterbacks last season, and proceeded in drafting one this offseason.  To make it worse, the Detroit Lions offense ranked 6th overall and 3rd in passing.  The common thought is that the rushing game had to be the issue.  It was not.  They were 17th in rushing, but mainly because the offense was designed around the passing attack.  The problem was that the Lions offense would simply turn the ball over after driving down the field racking up all of those pretty statistics.  Cleaning up the turnovers itself will turn the team around, but adding a playmaker like Eric Ebron helps.  What about that atrocious defense that we keep hearing about?

The 2013 Detroit Lions defense was pretty average.  They ranked 16th overall, 6th against the run and 23rd against the pass.  While fixing the secondary would have helped the defense carry the team, it simply was not the major source of the team’s problems.  They were in the middle of the NFL in terms of points against, and most importantly, best in the NFC North.  The chart below illustrates exactly why Mayhew chose the way he did.
DEFENSE (Scoring Against)

Team Points Per Game
Detroit 23.5
Green Bay 26.8
Chicago 29.9
Minnesota 30.0

While those numbers make the defense look great, it is worth mentioning that the Vikings were last in the NFL and the Bears were third to last in the NFL.  So the NFC North as a whole was poor in defense while the Lions were in the middle of the pack in the NFL.  While its still easy to say, upgrade the defense because the secondary is weak.  It is also important to realize that in order to win the NFC North, the offense has to get better and Martin Mayhew did what he needed to do to fix it.


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