The Detroit Lions defense produced some rough totals and low rankings in several season-long categories in 2022. Perhaps the biggest negative was the team’s ability to defend quarterback runs.
No team allowed more rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks than the Lions. And it wasn’t particularly close, either.
Per Sports Info Solutions via the 33rd Team, the Lions defense allowed 700 rushing yards to opposing QBs. The next-worst team at defending QB runs, the Miami Dolphins, allowed 525.
Some of the gaudy yardage total is a simple function of the schedule. The Lions played five games total against four of the top five most productive quarterbacks on the ground: Justin Fields (twice), Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts and Daniel Jones. Only the Chicago Bears (102) faced more QB runs.
Fields was a major problem for Detroit, rushing for 279 yards on 23 carries, a 12.1 YPC average. The 279 rushing yards by Fields in two games is more than 14 other teams allowed on quarterback runs all season.
The Lions allowed 7.0 yards per carry to QBs, facing exactly 100 quarterback runs. The league average was 4.5. The best team at defending the QB run? The Cleveland Browns, who allowed 134 yards on 62 carries. The Browns fired defensive coordinator Joe Woods this week, which helps shed some perspective on the relative value of defending QB runs.
If there’s a silver lining, stripping out quarterback runs elevates the Lions overall run defense out of the bottom 10. Detroit was 21st in rushing yards to running backs and 26th in yards per carry to RBs. Still not good, but better than against quarterbacks…