10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Where do Lions stand at LB after trade?

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: Detroit's identity so far this season is that it's a fourth quarter team. As head coach Jim Caldwell would say, they seem comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

Matthew Stafford is one of the best fourth-quarter quarterbacks in the league this season. He's guided the Lions to comebacks in all four of their victories, completing 70 percent of his passes with four touchdowns, two interceptions and a 102.0 passer rating in the final 15 minutes of games. His one big hiccup was the interception thrown on the last series of the Tennessee game.

While the defense has been leaky for most of the season, they've stepped up late in a couple games, and made huge plays to preserve wins.

20man: The knee should not be an issue, Glenn. He would have had to pass a thorough physical at the time of his signing.

I always thought the Lions released him from IR back in August with the plan of re-signing him when league rules allowed them to do so. I wouldn't worry about that.

20man: Serviceable? Having serviceable players doesn't get a team into the playoffs, which is what this team has its eye on.

Van Noy was drafted in the second round a few years back, in part, because he was believed to be a playmaker at the linebacker position. He recorded 25 sacks, eight interceptions, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 11 defended passes at BYU. Those are impact plays.

Injuries, obviously, limited him some in his first season in Detroit, but the last two seasons combined he played in 22 games, which is a good sample size. Over that stretch, he recorded 31 tackles, one sack, 0 forced fumbles, 0 fumble recoveries and just one defended pass. He simply wasn't making an impact.

Bynes, on the other hand, played in 29 games for the Lions the last two seasons (11 starts). He had 104 tackles, one sack, an interception, a forced fumble and six defended passes. He had much more of an impact.

20man: Not necessarily. Just me speculating here, but I think it means he's getting closer. I've said from the beginning that Levy's working hard to get back. The team must believe he has a chance to come back. Why else would they have kept him on the active roster?

I'm guessing we'll see Levy back on the field sometime next month.

20man: Decker has been good at left tackle, and Riley Reiff moving to the right side has made that side better, but I believe the biggest difference has been Travis Swanson's improved play at center. He's been very steady in the middle of the offensive line, and that's made a big difference.

Swanson is currently the fifth-highest graded center by Pro Football Focus, and has been just as good a run blocker as he's been a pass blocker. He's given up just one sack and one quarterback hit in seven games.

Quarterbacks can't enjoy pressure coming at them right in their face, and I've seen far less of that this season. Swanson is one of the reasons for that.

@ttwentyman can we already say this draft class from bob quinn is a win? I feel like these rookies has improved the lions immensely — Matthew Lawrance (@matt3lawrance) October 26, 2016

20man: I typically hold off judgment on a draft class until after its third year. I've seen it too many times when a rookie has a spectacular year and then regresses in year two. I've also witnessed it go the other way, when it takes some time for a rookie to adjust to the league, but after he does, he takes off.

I would say the potential of this class being very good is evident:

  • Taylor Decker looks to be the real deal at left tackle.
  • A'Shawn Robinson has started to make plays after an adjustment period to the scheme and technique.
  • It's taken less than half a season for third-round pick Graham Glasgow to assume a starting role along the offensive line.
  • Miles Killebrew has seen his role increase steadily in sub packages on defense.
  • Antwione Williams has been a steady contributor on defense. He played 28 snaps at linebacker last week and was in on the Matt Jones fumble.
  • Anthony Zettel has been pressed into duty because of injury. He made a huge play to knock a fumble that was headed out of bounds back into play late in the fourth quarter of the Philadelphia game that helped the Lions win.
  • Dwayne Washington has carved out a role in Detroit's backfield with his unique blend of size and speed.

It's been a good start, but let's wait and see.

20man: I would agree with that.

When cornerback Nevin Lawson and guard Laken Tomlinson were struggling earlier this month, Johnson Bademosi and Graham Glasgow were worked into games.

After struggling with consistency through the team's first six games, Tomlinson was replaced in the starting lineup last week.

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said earlier this season that one of his biggest takeaways from last season's 1-7 start was that he was too slow to make changes when needed.

I think it's safe to say Austin wasn't the only one who learned that lesson.

20man: It's not like the Lions haven't faced formidable pass-rushing defenses this season.

Philadelphia (20), Tennessee (20), Washington (19) and Green Bay (17) all rank in the top nine in the NFL in sacks. The Lions are 2-2 against those teams. All four of those teams have recorded more sacks than Houston's 16. The Lions, who've been very inconsistent this year rushing the passer, have 15 sacks.

Those pass rushers in Houston are good, but without J.J. Watt (IR), it's a lot different facing the Texans.

20man: Not in my opinion.

We talked a few years ago about Brandon Pettigrew being a really good security blanket for Stafford. I believe Boldin is now that player. He's savvy and strong, and always seems to be in the right spots. He's a tough cover.

This is what Stafford had to say about Boldin on Wednesday:

"I think he's doing a really nice job wherever we ask him to be. Over the middle, on the outside, doesn't matter. Obviously, he's an intelligent player, he's played a long time in this league. A good, physical guy inside and has great hands. He's been a big plus for us."

20man: If I had a farm, I would not bet the farm on it.

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