Aidan Hutchinson was a Godsend for the Detroit Lions defense in the 2022 season. The hometown kid came into the scene and had an amazing rookie season, racking up an impressive 9.5 sacks, an unexpected 3 interceptions, and a well-deserved nod for Pepsi rookie of the year. Hutchinson was apart of a defense that was overall not very good for most of the 2022 season, but turned it around later in the season. With the additions made in the offseason, the Lions defense stands to make improvements, and hopefully, so will Hutchinson. It stands to reason that Hutchinson could make an even bigger impact for the Lions in 2023, but how can that happen?
The Lions overhauled their secondary in the offseason, with the departures of starting cornerbacks Amani Oruwariye and Jeff Okudah being the bigger headlines of the offseason. Both had major struggles in their tenure in Detroit, so it was time to move on for both sides.
In their place comes Free Agent additions Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley. Both are talented players who bring veteran presence to the locker room. They are expected to start on the boundary, while another free agent addition takes the nickel role. C.J. Gardner-Johnson comes into Detroit having led the league in interceptions last season, and is expected to bring a consistent presence to the slot corner role, and possibly be a leader for that secondary.
The starting safeties will likely be the Returning Tracy Walker and the standout second year Kerby Joseph, but rotating in will also be the most intriguing rookie of the draft class, Brian Branch.
With all of these additions, Aidan Hutchinson stands to benefit from opposing quarterbacks having to hold onto the ball for longer in the pocket, as Hutch had multiple reps where he reached the backfield as the qb was already releasing the ball. This will generate more opportunities for sacks for the second year edge rusher.
Opposite Edge Presence
In 2022, Hutchinson was among the most double teamed edge rushers in the league, and it’s because the Lions didn’t have any other premier edge rushers that teams knew to worry about. Enter James Houston, the standout rookie from last season. Houston racked up 8 sacks in his first 8 games in the NFL, and became a huge problem for opposing offenses who decided to double team Hutchinson. Now that they are aware of the threat that Houston poses off of the edge, opposing offensive lines have to respect him, and that could create more one on one matchups for Hutchinson on the other side.
With the Lions defense improving all around, and Aidan Hutchinson getting another full offseason of improvements, he’s set up to have a massive second season in Detroit, and hopefully that can lead to more wins for Detroit in 2023 and beyond.