Skip to main content

Anzalone thinks 2024 could be his best season yet

Veteran linebacker Alex Anzalone is coming off arguably the finest season of his NFL career with a career-high 129 tackles (85 solo), seven tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and 12 quarterback hits.

With all the additions the Lions have made on defense this offseason, both in front of Anzalone along the defensive line and behind him in the secondary, the eight-year pro thinks 2024 has the potential to be his best season yet.

"I know playbook-wise it's changed a little bit. In the backend were able to do a few different things as far as relying on them to cover their guy and that obviously affects linebackers," Anzalone said this week of the changes to the defense this offseason. "We can play a little bit more aggressive and not have to help out zone drop, and you can match a little bit more, which is when you make more plays in the pass game. As a linebacker, it helps."

The Lions made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game last season with a defense that ranked 19th in yards allowed per game (336.1), 22nd in points allowed (22.1) and 27th against the pass (247.4). Detroit was No. 2 in the NFL defending the run, however. If they can be similarly effective stopping the run, but see a significant improvement against the pass, the defense can take a big leap in 2024.

"Obviously, it was an area of need," Anzalone said of upgrades the Lions made to the secondary this offseason with the additions of cornerbacks Carlton Davis III, Amik Robertson, Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. "They addressed it quickly in free agency, through trade and even through the draft. Pass defense is one of the most important defensive stats in football, so that's obviously going to help us moving forward."

Lions head coach Dan Campbell said this week he has no idea at this point in early June who his starting secondary will be for their Sept. 8 season opener at Ford Field against the Los Angeles Rams, and he loves that.

"It's a great place to be in," Campbell said. "We have so many options right now, so much competitiveness. (Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) AG and I were talking about it again, Brad (Holmes) and I are talking about it every evening. The talent level, the competitiveness, the versatility.

"Honestly, we have no idea who our starting lineup is going to be right now and it's exciting. This thing is wide open across the board. It's going to be great to let these guys compete and just go after it and see who goes and is going to be the most reliable guys for us, most dependable. It's exciting."

View photos from Day 2 of Detroit Lions minicamp on Wednesday, June 5, 2024 in Allen Park, Mich.

Anzalone, Jack Campbell, Derrick Barnes and the team's other linebackers are the bridge between the defensive line and the secondary and the position group that stands to benefit the most from improved play from both of those units. Anzalone is excited to lead what he thinks will be a much-improved defense in Detroit that will allow him to be even more a playmaker.

Related Content