LIONS INSIDER

TWENTYMAN: 5 numbers to keep up

Posted May 23, 2018

Tim Twentyman takes a look at five numbers to keep up in 2018.

Tuesday, we looked at five numbers that need to change for the Lions to be better in 2018.

Sticking with the same theme, let’s look at five numbers from last year the Lions would certainly like to stay the same or get even better.

Number: 32

What it means: Total number of takeaways recorded by the defense in 2017

NFL rank: 3rd

Twentyman: The great thing about this total was that a lot of players got in on the action.

Eight players recorded an interception, led by Darius Slay’s eight. There were 13 players that forced a fumble, led by Glover Quin’s four. Nine players recovered a fumble, led by Tahir Whitehead's four.  

The 32 total takeaways ranked fourth all-time in Lions single-season history (34 in 2011, 35 in 2007 and 42 in 2000).

Detroit returned five of those turnovers back for scores, and scored a total of 106 points off turnovers, which was fourth most in the NFL last year.

Number: 99.3

What it means: The passer rating for quarterback Matthew Stafford last season

NFL rank: 7th (among players with at least 200 attempts)

Twentyman: Stafford set a new career high and franchise record with this mark. It was even higher than his 97.2 rating in 2011, when he threw for 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns.

Stafford completed 66 percent of his passes for 29 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions last season. He's had back-to-back seasons with his lowest interception totals of his career. At the same time, he continues to be one of the league leaders in passing yards, recording his seventh straight season of passing for at least 4,000 yards.

Stafford has worked his way into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks, and could be poised to have his best season yet.

Number: 14.0

What it means: Detroit’s punt return average last year

NFL rank: 1st

Twentyman: Jamal Agnew led the way in this department for the Lions, topping all punt returners with a 15.4 average. Agnew’s two punt return touchdowns also led the NFL. It earned the rookie a spot on the the NFL's All-Pro team.

Agnew’s speed and open-field running ability became a huge weapon for the Lions on special teams. It also earned Agnew some snaps on offense.

Number: 3.4

What it means: Detroit’s drop percentage on catchable passes

NFL rank: 2nd

Twentyman: Only New Orleans had a lower percentage (3.0) of drops on catchable passes last season.

This was an area the Lions struggled with the year prior, ranking 29th in the league with a drop percentage of 6.7.

Give Detroit’s pass catchers a lot of credit for zeroing in and working to make this a strength and not a weakness.

Number: 61

What it means: Number of 20-plus-yard passes completed last season

NFL rank: 3rd

Twentyman: Detroit proved in 2017 that Jim Bob Cooter's offense isn't just a dink and dunk passing attack.

Stafford and Marvin Jones Jr. were one of the best down-the-field tandems in the NFL last season. Jones’ 15 receptions of 25-plus yards ranked third in the NFL, and his 20 catches of 20-plus yards were the fifth most.

The Lions were the only team in the NFL to record at least 1,000 yards (1,048) to receivers on balls that traveled at least 20 yards in the air.

If the Lions can establish a consistent rushing attack to go along with their deep threats – include second-year receiver Kenny Golladay among them – with what they already do well in their short and intermediate passing attack with Golden Tate and Theo Riddick, this offense could be scary good.