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STATS PACK: Zettel in good company

Pro Football Focus' list of the top five graded 4-3 defensive ends through four games leads with New Orleans' Cameron Jordan, followed by DeMarcus Lawrence (Dallas), Everson Griffen (Minnesota) and Calais Campbell (Jacksonville). Those are some of the elites this league has to offer at the position.

Fifth on that list is a name many outside Detroit might not be familiar with – Anthony Zettel.

The former sixth-round pick notched sacks three and four in Sunday's 14-7 win over Minnesota. He also chipped in three tackles, four quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery for good measure.

The second-year defensive end has been one of the terrific surprises in Detroit's defense so far this year. He's been just as good against the run as he's been getting after the passer.

Zettel is second in Pro Football Focus' "pass rush productivity" rating, which measures pressure created on a per snap basis with weighting toward sacks. He's got the fifth most quarterback hurries (13) in the NFL, and his four sacks rank sixth. 

"If you note or look at how he came back, how he worked during the winter, one thing you do know is that he was vastly improved, and I think it's because of the work that he put in," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said of Zettel on Monday.

"But he's always had the kind of attitude that tells you that this guy is going to make something happen, he's going to be somewhere around the ball because he just never quits. That's just his overall attitude, it's how he plays, how he thinks, and he's reckless. So, that's four games, let's see what happens here next week."

Zettel's been good opposite Ziggy Ansah (three sacks), and he's continuing the tradition of lesser-known edge rushers stepping up under defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.

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

  • We mentioned Zettel above, but what other Lions players rank in the top 10 at their position by Pro Football Focus?
    • Tahir Whitehead first among 4-3 outside linebackers. He's third among all linebackers.
    • Glover Quin second among safeties.
    • Jamal Agnew fourth among kick returners.
    • Golden Tate sixth among receivers. Jim Caldwell reached 30 career wins as the Lions head coach. By reaching 30 with the club in 52 games, Caldwell became the fastest Lions head coach to reach 30 career wins since Buddy Parker, who recorded 30 wins in 41 games (1951-54).
  • When opponents are throwing the ball down the field on the Lions' defense (more than 21 yards in air), they have just a 39.6 passer rating. Teams have completed just one pass (38 yards) on 13 of those attempts with no touchdowns.
  • Detroit has recorded 11 takeaways in the first four games of the season for the first time since 2013.
  • Ameer Abdullah gained 100-plus scrimmage yards for the second time in his career. His 109 scrimmage yards were the most since the 120 he had at Indianapolis the first week of the 2016 season.
  • Detroit's offense is converting on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 just 25 percent of the time. That's the lowest percentage in the NFL. The league average is 70.1 percent.
  • The Lions rank fifth in time of possession at 32:30 per game.
  • Detroit's defense ranks in the top 10 in the league in third-down defense (37 percent).
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