Alex Anzalone was one of the leaders on a Detroit Lions defense that sustained their lumps during the 2022 season.
Statistically, the team wasn’t good, finishing 32nd overall in the league. As Anzalone officially returns to the team for 2023 and beyond as one of the leaders of the group, it isn’t a fact that he is hiding from whatsoever.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, March 15, Anzalone was asked about his message to the defense for the future. As he said as recounted by Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com, Anzalone wants to see everyone on the defense begin to take some steps forward.
“Alex Anzalone said it’s time for everyone on defense to collectively take the next step and that will help this Lions defense as a whole to take the next step,” Twentyman tweeted.
Anzalone also admitted that the team being young isn’t an excuse that can register anymore, and he himself is looking to lead with some consistency as it relates to his own play on the field. Justin Rogers of the Detroit News
“On the defense’s second half improvements carrying over to 2023, Alex Anzalone says youth can no longer be an excuse. On a personal level, after a career year, he’s looking more more consistency, eliminating the down performances within a season,” Rogers tweeted.
Last year, with a career season that included 125 tackles, 1,5 sacks and one interception, Anzalone did lead the way in terms of production, but clearly, the way the Lions struggled on that side of the ball overall left a sour taste in his mouth. Moving forward, it’s clear by his words that Anzalone wants to see things turn around on his side of the ball from here on out.
Alex Anzalone Ready to Connect With Defensive Stars
As it relates to chemistry with the new players, Anzalone probably isn’t going to have much of that to deal with at all, at least as it relates to cornerback Cameron Sutton.
Detroit’s new defender, who agreed to a deal early in the legal tampering period on Monday, March 13, is already slated to do some offseason training with Anzalone and some other Detroit defenders. Also said to be joining the group? Derrick Barnes as well as James Houston. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweeted about this during the presser.
“Alex Anzalone said he’s training with Derrick Barnes and new Lions CB Cam Sutton (who he’s trained with for a while) in Florida. James Houston will be joining the group, too,” Birkett tweeted.
Already, Detroit’s offensive weapons have gotten the offseason going, with Jared Goff and company throwing the football around last week in California. With this bit of news, it’s clear the team’s defense doesn’t want to be left in the dust in terms of their connection, either.
That’s great news for the Lions as they try to build some vital team chemistry ahead of the 2023 season.
Alex Anzalone: Lions Coming Up in NFC North
The same day Anzalone re-signed in Detroit, Aaron Rodgers revealed his intentions to move on from Green Bay and eventually take his talents to New York.
While that may have been welcome news for Lions fans and others across the NFC North, to the players, it didn’t matter. Anzalone himself was asked about the possible ripple effects during the press conference. As he said, the team was going to be on the rise regardless of Rodgers being in the division or not.
“Alex Anzalone on Aaron Rodgers’ possible GB departure and what it means for Lions in NFC North: “With or without him, I think that we are on the rise and we’re gonna be for years to come. It’s fun to see it happening in real time.” Anzalone sees “a fun year going forward,” according to Woodyard’s tweet.
Minus Rodgers, the Packers could prove to be very average. By then, the Lions could be emerging from their rebuild a team ready to contend. Even with Rodgers, the Lions were 2-0 against Green Bay in 2022, and were 5-1 against the division as a whole.
While Chicago and Minnesota might have different contention timelines in coming years, the Lions could be seen as a team with a trajectory firmly planted in the upward position from now on. Across the landscape in the division, it’s not easy to see others in the same boat.
With Anzalone back and the defense hopefully taking a jump, it will be exciting to watch and see how far the Lions can go this coming season.