About the Author
Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
The Lions are on pace to surrender 200 fewer points than they did in head coach Jim Schwartz's first season in 2009, when they allowed an NFL-worst 494 in a 2-14 campaign. That's one way to measure the Lions' defensive progress in recent seasons, but the eyeball test is illustrative, too, and Detroit's defense now has playmakers at every level. In addition, the pass rush, imposing a season ago, is again stout. DE Cliff Avril, whose strip-sack and fumble-return TD vs. Denver in Week Eight highlighted a seven-sack game for Detroit, shares the team lead in sacks with fellow end Kyle Vanden Bosch (five). In addition, reserve DEs Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young have combined for 5½ sacks, proof of the consistent heat Detroit can bring off the edges. Avril, 25, who had 8½ sacks a season ago, is slated to be an unrestricted free agent after 2011 campaign, but the sentiment is the Lions will do what it takes to keep him around next season, including using the franchise tag. He's on pace for 10 sacks, a career-high.