Every week during the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."
20man: Trading Quandre Diggs and a 2021 seventh-round pick for a fifth-round pick next year, in my opinion, was more about Diggs' declining play statistically, and wanting to give more of an opportunity to a younger player in Will Harris, more than anything.
Diggs was very good last year, and he's been a good player throughout his career in Detroit, but his play was down this year. He's currently graded the 56th best safety in football by Pro Football Focus and is second worst among at the position in tackling efficiency.
Harris replaced Diggs vs. Kansas City and played pretty well against quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Co. He did the same two weeks later against quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, when Diggs was out with a hamstring injury. Detroit's also seen some things in practice where head coach Matt Patricia said there might be an opportunity to tap into a skill set that was being underutilized because of the distribution of snaps.
Diggs was a captain and a locker room favorite, so Detroit had to navigate that aspect of the trade this week, but most players I talked to understood the business aspect of the game and chalked the trade up to that. I think this trade was about giving more opportunities to younger players.
20man: ESPN's analytics department has come up with an stat they call "pass rush win rate" which tells us how often a pass rusher is able to beat his block within 2.5 seconds. As a team, Detroit's pass rush win rate is 24 percent, which is last in the NFL. The winless Dolphins are next worse at 31 percent.
That statistic tells me that individual players upfront have to be better and start winning more of their individual rushes. Getting Da'Shawn Hand and Mike Daniels back should help, but players like Trey Flowers, Devon Kennard and Romeo Okwara have to be better.
When it comes to the blitz, and I've gotten a lot of questions about why the Lions don't just blitz more, consider this: A good reason why Detroit ranks last in the NFL in blitzes per drop back at 10.7 percent, according to NFL Matchup statistics, is that opponent passer rating when the Lions do blitz is 119.7, the fifth highest in the NFL.
We saw a much higher blitz percentage for the Lions last week against Minnesota with limited success. Detroit got two pressures each from linebackers Jarrad Davis and Christian Jones. A couple of those resulted in throwaways, but ultimately, Minnesota scored six touchdowns and Detroit didn't record a sack, had just nine hurries all game, and hit quarterback Kirk Cousins just three times.
I'm not sure blitzing more is the answer. I just think there needs to be a lot more individual improvement upfront.
20man: That is important, no doubt, as we talked about above. Only four teams have fewer sacks than the Lions through Week 7, and Detroit's 76 quarterback hurries ranks near the bottom third, per PFF statistics. It's definitely hard to play man coverage, which the Lions like to do, for extended periods of time with the lack of a pass rush.
But I'd say even more important for Detroit is to get a handle on their run defense. The Lions rank 28th in the NFL in run defense allowing almost 140 yards per game on the ground. When opponents can run the football consistently, it allows them to control the game and limit Detroit's offensive possessions. It also makes play action a difficult weapon to defend, which we saw last week in the 42-30 loss to Minnesota.
Creating more of a pass rush is important, but being better stopping the run has to be priority No. 1 heading into Sunday.
20man: I think it's a good observation by you that there could be a correlation and impact there.
I think Detroit's really missed Hand and his ability to impact the passer from all four positions upfront.
Hand was second on the team last year with 22 hurries, despite missing three games and playing just 56.7 percent of the defensive snaps. He was menacing when he got rolling, and that impacted everyone around him.
Right now, Damon Harrison Sr. and A'Shawn Robinson get the majority of reps inside, and those two are run-stuffing players from the interior, not so much pass rushers.
Hand and Daniels play more in the opposing backfield and can impact the guys like Flowers on the edge because they don't allow the quarterback to step up in the pocket. Any quarterback will say the worst pressure to face is up the middle. Daniels (foot) has played just two and a half games this year, and Hand hasn't played yet due to the elbow injury suffered in camp.
Hand is getting close to returning, and that should have an impact upfront, but it also might take some time for him to get back into the swing of things having missed so much time. He will have fresh legs though. The Lions will be hopeful he can help upfront when he returns.
20man: I think Sunday's game will be important in determining that.
If the Lions beat the Giants, look good doing so, and improve to 3-3-1, they keep themselves in striking distance in the NFC. They could look for a deal to help improve the team at the deadline at that point. General manager Bob Quinn is always looking for ways to improve the roster, like the Harrison trade last year at the deadline.
If the Lions look to add, the two likely positions to bolster would be their pass rush and potentially running back, depending on how that portion of the offense plays Sunday vs. the Giants.
20man: That last line is the important one, Chad. I think what happens Sunday will impact what they do at the position going forward.
If the Lions struggle to run the ball against a Giants' team that enters the game 26th in rushing defense, allowing on average 131.4 yards per game, then I think the front office has to maybe look for another option.
If Ty Johnson, J.D. McKissic and Co. are able to be efficient and force New York to respect them and the offense is efficient overall, maybe a major move doesn't have to happen, and the Lions can piece their run game together via this committee.
20man: My guess is this becomes a running back by committee tailoring to the strengths of each back. I can see Johnson getting early-down work and McKissic being a third-down specialist. Down and distance could be a factor in the rotation as well.
Depending on the health of fullback Nick Bawden, who's missed some practice time this week with a foot injury, all four backs could be active Sunday. If Bawden plays, it's likely either Perkins or Carson will be inactive.
20man: A loss Sunday would definitely fall under the bad loss category. Detroit is already four back in the win column from Green Bay in the division. They have to defend Ford Field after losing two straight at home, and the Giants come in at 2-5 having lost their last three.
Detroit needs to get back on track Sunday.
20man: His philosophy is in line with Patricia's in that he believes in building from the ball out. He's spent considerable resources trying to do that.
The beat writers got a chance to talk to Quinn late in the preseason. At that point, he was feeling pretty good about what they'd built upfront on defense.
"We feel really good about our defensive front," he said. "I think when you look at the overall roster, the way it stands today ... it's hopefully one of the strengths of our team.
"We want to be strong up the middle and I think with the additions of Mike Daniels and other guys that we put in the front, (Jahlani) Tavai and some of the other guys coming back, I think there's a lot of depth there and I'd say versatility."
Injuries are playing a factor, but that hasn't probably been the case as much as Quinn would have hoped so far this year. However, there's still time to get healthy, correct some of the issues they're having, and be better upfront.
20man: I don't do win/loss predictions, but looking at the schedule, myself and most people who either cover or follow the Lions thought the first two games against Cardinals and Chargers were winnable and the next four against Philadelphia, Kansas City, Green Bay and Minnesota were going to be the key to the start. I thought if they split the first two and split the next four they were in good shape after a tough schedule to start.
The tie to Arizona Week 1 put them behind, though the Chargers game was a good win. They failed to split the next four, going 1-3 instead. At 2-3-1, they're off the pace of where I thought they could be. The good thing for them is there's a lot of football left to play, but they've dug themselves in a hole in the division early on, and now have to start stacking wins.