Don’t look now, but the Detroit Lions may actually be a playoff team. After a 1-6 start to the season, the Lions have turned things around winning six out of their last seven games and climbing into contention in the NFC.
While their offense remains one of the best units in the NFL, it has been their improvement on the defensive side that has helped them turn things around. Detroit was always able to score points, but they couldn’t keep their opponents from doing the same, giving up at least 24 points in each of the first seven games of the season and suffering three one-score defeats.
Aaron Glenn has gotten his unit turned around the last seven weeks as they have held opponents under that 24-point mark in five out of seven games. A big reason for that has been the pass rush coming alive with the addition of James Houston.
Houston, a sixth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, did not make his debut with the team until Thanksgiving against the Buffalo Bills. He has made an immediate impact, as he has a chance to make history on Saturday against the Carolina Panthers.
The Jackson State product has picked up at least one sack in all four games to start his career, with five total. If he picks up another sack against the Panthers, he will become the first player in NFL history to record at least one sack in each of his first five career games.
Only two other players have accomplished that feat in the first four games of a career as Houston has; Santana Dotson in 1992 and Terrell Suggs in 2003. What makes Houston’s production even more impressive is that he is doing it as a part-time player.
Houston has seen his playing time increase each week, but he has been on the field for less than a quarter of the Lions’ defensive snaps in the four games he has played in. Despite that, he has provided the Lions with a bookend for fellow standout rookie Aidan Hutchinson, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Hutchinson leads the team with 7.0 sacks on the season and Houston isn’t far behind. They could form the foundation of the Lions’ defense going into the future as stud pass rushers constantly make plays in the opponent’s backfield.