Ansah to benefit from Haloti Ngata's presence

Posted Mar 27, 2015

DE Ziggy Ansah, along with his defensive linemantes, will benefit from playing beside DT Haloti Ngata.

Everyone who played along the defensive line with Ndamukong Suh was a better player for it. He was a dominant presence who commanded the kind of constant double teams that allows other players to make plays around him.

Suh is now gone after signing with Miami, but the Lions made the trade with Baltimore for Haloti Ngata at the start of free agency because they believe he’s the same kind of dominant player who will command the same kind of double teams that should free up players like Ziggy Ansah, Jason Jones and Tyrunn Walker to make plays.

Haloti NgataDT Haloti Ngata (Photo: AP Images)

“That’s big when you have the ends on the outside who can rush,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said of Ngata’s ability to push the pocket at 340 pounds. “Don’t minimize that. Oftentimes you’ll see that it’s like an assist that you’ll see with guys coming off the edge.”

Caldwell used Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil as examples of edge rushers who've had a lot of opportunities to hit the quarterback playing alongside Ngata in Baltimore.

Suggs has been a double-digit sacker in each of his last four full seasons playing with Ngata. In the nine seasons he played with Ngata, Suggs has recorded 76 sacks.

Dumervil recorded 9.5 sacks in his first season playing with Ngata in 2013 after coming over from Denver and he had 17 this past season.

It should be noted that both Suggs and Dumervil were also very productive edge rushers on teams they were on without Ngata. Caldwell was making the point that the one-on-ones they saw, and the inability for a quarterback to step up in the pocket because of the push from the middle by Ngata, helped them to continue to be productive rushers.

“I think you’re going to find some of the same things happen (in Detroit) because (Ngata) does create so much push up the middle,” Caldwell said.

If that happens, the Lions should expect big things from Ansah in particular after he’s recorded 16 sacks his first two seasons in the league.

Ansah started all 16 regular-season games last year and finished second on the Lions with 7.5 sacks and also forced three fumbles. He added a sack and four quarterback hits in the Lions’ playoff loss in Dallas.

"I think he can be even better," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. "I think he's a good, solid player right now. I think this guy can be a phenomenal player, a great player, if he keeps coming the way he's coming."

If Ngata and Walker come in and are as disruptive in the middle as Caldwell and others think they’ll be, then there’s no reason why Ansah’s sack totals shouldn’t take a significant increase in 2015.