STATS PACK: Lions need improved play from defensive line

For a unit that was highly praised heading into the season for both its talent and depth, the play upfront on defense through the first quarter of the season has been rather disappointing for the Detroit Lions' defense.

Detroit currently owns the lowest graded pass rush and second-lowest run defense in the league from Pro Football Focus. Those two deficiencies are alarming, and one of the big reasons the Lions sit at 1-3 at the quarter point of the season.

Kerry Hyder has been a nice story for the Lions early on. He's second in the NFL with 5.0 sacks, but the rest of the defensive line has just four sacks between them.

Opposing quarterbacks have been way too comfortable when facing the Lions this season, which probably explains why Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota, Aaron Rodgers and Brian Hoyer have combined for a 109.4 passer rating against the Lions this season. The NFL average is 84.6 against, according to STATS, INC. That rating jumps to 124.8 when opponents get inside the Lions' 30-yard line.

On third down, a key pass rushing and coverage down in the NFL, the Lions are allowing a conversion 47.1 percent of the time. Only Washington (57.4) has a higher percentage.

"You'd like to certainly be able to get more pressure, and pressure without blitzing if you can help it," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said after getting to Chciago quarterback Brian Hoyer just twice in a loss Sunday.

"We need to get more pressure, but I think we have guys that are capable of it. We've just got to do better."

Detroit's defense is allowing 114.5 yards per contest on the ground, and 50 percent of all opposing runs have gained at least four yards, which puts the Lions 29th in that category.

Only seven times this season have the Lions dropped a rusher for negative yards, which means they're not playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage enough. Detroit had 54 such plays (ranking fifth) last season. They're on pace for just 28 in 2016.

The Lions are obviously missing Ziggy Ansah, last year's NFC sack leader, and DeAndre Levy, the leading solo tackler in the NFL in 2014.

Here's a look at some other key stats – good and bad – after four weeks of football:

  • QB Matthew Stafford threw for 213 yards at Chicago, moving his career total to 27,174 yards. Stafford has now thrown for the most yards in NFL history by a player in his first 100 career games. Stafford and Dan Marino are the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 27,000 career yards in the first 100 games of their careers.
  • WR Golden Tate played a season-low 57 percent of the offensive snaps in Chicago, just 36 of a possible 63 plays. He was on the field for just five plays in the second half.
  • The Lions have had the second-most 10-play drives in the NFL (9) behind Dallas' 14.
  • WR Marvin Jones Jr. has the most receiving yards by any player in Lions history through the first four games of a season with 482. Calvin Johnson had 423 yards in the first quarter of the 2012 season.
  • Detroit's offense has struggled this season on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 situations. They're just 2 for 5 in those situations on the year.
  • The Lions are still the only team in the NFL that has yet to start a drive in opponent territory.
  • Andre Roberts' 85-yard punt return for a touchdown in Chicago last week was the sixth-longest in team history, and longest since Reggie Swinton's 89-yard punt return at Carolina Dec. 21, 2003. Roberts currently ranks second in the NFL with a 19.7 average per punt return.
  • The 39 penalties incurred by the Lions through four games are third most in the NFL.
  • WR Anquan Boldin caught six passes at Chicago and moved into 11th place on the all-time career receptions list. Now with 1,026 career receptions, Boldin moved passed Isaac Bruce's career total of 1,024 receptions.
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