After 2016 struggles at nickel, Lions hope for change – Detroit Lions News

After 2016 struggles at nickel, Lions hope for change – Detroit Lions News

Over the next several days leading up to the start of Lions training camp, Justin Rogers of The Detroit News will highlight the key position battles. Today: Nickelback.

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions’ pass coverage was historically awful in 2016, allowing quarterbacks to complete a ridiculous 72.7 percent of their passes, resulting in a league-worst 106.5 passer rating against.

For context, only Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, the league MVP, and New England’s Tom Brady, arguably the greatest to ever play the position, had better individual passer ratings.

In Detroit, the problem wasn’t so much the outside corners — Darius Slay allowed 35 of the 62 passes thrown his way to be completed, while Nevin Lawson was respectable on the opposite side, allowing 46 grabs on 70 targets.

The bigger issue was the gooey center of the defense, which opponents abused week in and week out. A good chunk of the blame belongs to the linebackers, a position group the Lions addressed in both free agency and the draft, namely using a first-round selection on Florida’s Jarrad Davis. But the team also struggled to get sufficient performance from the nickelback spot.

In his second season, Quandre Diggs didn’t do enough to slow opposing pass attacks from the slot corner position. He allowed a staggering 34 completions on 38 targets (89.5 percent) before suffering a season-ending pectoral injury in Week 13.

Diggs’ effort can’t…

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