As pass rush struggles, Lions reportedly take a look at Jabaal Sheard
Offseason concerns about the Detroit Lions' pass rush have manifested into a regular-season issue, which has the team taking a closer look at bringing in some help. According to multiple reports, the team is working out free agent defensive end Jabaal Sheard.
Lions coach Matt Patricia was asked about the player on Thursday.
“Jabaal, obviously I coached him and loved working with him," Patricia said. "I thought he was outstanding. A really dynamic guy at the time and (I) just really enjoyed being around him. He’s a great guy, he works really hard, is disruptive in the pass rush and all that stuff too. Not really going to comment on any workouts or anything like that, obviously. I can just speak on when I had him before.”
Sheard, 31, played for Patricia in New England in 2015 and 2016. He's spent the past three years with Indianapolis. The veteran defensive end is coming off a season where he appeared in 13 games, tallying 25 tackles and 4.5 sacks. And he was more productive as a pass-rusher than the sack total might suggest.
According to Pro Football Focus, he hurried, hit or sacked the quarterback on 42 of his 359 rushes. ESPN adds additional context with their analytical metrics, showing that despite facing a double-team nearly a quarter of the time, Sheard actually won his pass-rush reps above the league-average rate.
The Lions continue to be in need plenty of help in that department. Through two games, only two teams have recorded fewer sacks, and the team's 16.7% pressure rate is 26th in the league.
"Obviously, we’re not good enough right now in the pass rush, and we need to do a better job of getting pressure on the quarterback," Patricia said. "Certainly, trying to manufacture pass rush is something that we know we need to do, and mixing in different schemes and alignments and pressures and blitz packages and all that stuff. We’re certainly trying to do that and we’re trying to do it in a way that is smart, too.