Allen Park – While still behind the curve of what might be reasonably expected from a first-round draft pick in his second season, it’s safe say Detroit Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis made some positive strides in 2018.
He cleaned up many of the coverage issues that plagued him throughout his rookie year and he’s also been able to have a surprising impact as a situational pass-rusher, netting five sacks this season. But there’s only one number Davis cares about: 10.
That’s Detroit's tally in the loss column heading into this week's season finale with Green Bay, which means Davis will be sitting at home watching the playoffs again, instead of making his postseason debut.
Davis is a football junkie. Even though he’s not playing -- and is angry about it -- he’s still compelled to watch. He’s hoping to use the experience to fuel his fire heading into next season.
“It’s a huge motivating factor just because you go out this whole season, you put the work in that we put in this offseason, and now you come back and you have this bad taste in your mouth,” Davis said. “You have to go home, have to sit down and watch playoff football.
“I don’t want to want to watch anybody play because I know we have a team that’s good enough to play against anybody this year. But we didn’t do enough to win the games that we needed to, to put ourselves in the playoffs. I’ve got to go home, suck it up and watch those games. I love the game."
That’s a glass-half-full outlook. While the Lions lost a handful of close games, they’ve also dropped six contests by double-digits, suggesting they weren’t exactly on the cusp contending this season.
In addition to using it for motivation, Davis believes watching football and going through the mental reps of guessing what an offense is trying to accomplish based on formations, personnel and game situation helps keep his mind sharp.
Like Davis, the Lions' defense appears to be trending in a positive direction down the stretch of the year. What needs to be better, according to the young linebacker and team captain, is the rate of improvement.
“I think we definitely got better as the season went on,” Davis said. “But at the same time, you have to look at the rate at which you got better. Did we get better at the same rate as the teams we were playing, as our opponents? That’s the variable that changes everything.”
Despite concerns outside the building that the Lions are far away from being competitive, Davis remains optimistic the team will perform better in coach Matt Patricia’s second season.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Davis said. “The Detroit Lions, we got a new coach, he isn’t just going to come in, in the first year – some coaches do. People are blessed different. Some are able. There are certain things we have to get right around here to not be a one-hitter quitter, to be a staple, what we want to be in the league, we have to work and get through things to get to that.”