Smash Lions LB Alex Anzalone in win over Bears

This week’s Detroit Lions player movie review focuses on someone who doesn’t normally get much credit for his game. Linebacker Alex Anzalone has generally been the butt of fan scorn, not praise.

But in the Week 10 win over the Chicago Bears, Anzalone quietly played a pretty solid game. It was the second week in a row that Anzalone has put together a good performance. Against the Bears and lone QB Justin Fields, Anzalone did a lot of impressive dirty work away from Fields.

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The methodology for rating the movie here is quite simple. Games where the player wins their individual match or correctly performs the role on play earn a plus; plays where he loses his match or does the wrong thing gets a minus. Not all games earn a grade.

Participating in almost every defensive snap (60 out of 61), Anzalone was very busy.

It’s a good example of Anzalone at his best in the running game, since the Bears’ second practice. It doesn’t over-commit, stays clean, and finishes with control and power.

Alas, Anzalone got a minus in the very next play for being late to come out on the tight end of coverage. Fortunately, it didn’t cost the Lions; Fields didn’t see it and kept the ball on the run.

The mixed bag continued on the third drive. Anzalone saved a touchdown by cutting under a block and pushing Fields out of bounds at the 1-yard line. He even forced a fumble with his shot. But three plays later, it was the front containment that Fields bypassed after missing three potential tacklers on the Bears QB’s legitimately spectacular touchdown.

Later in the game, Anzalone went too far downfield and lost back containment on Fields TD’s long run in the fourth quarter. In general, Anzalone played the responsible role. But it was glaring when he didn’t. Asking a player of his caliber to throw a perfect game is far too demanding.

I noted that Pro Football Focus credited Anzalone with five missed tackles in the game. I don’t want to say that, but I only saw three. I don’t fault the No.34 for being inadvertently whipped by a team-mate as he was about to play, which is the only other even questionable misfire attributable to Anzalone. A Bears penalty wiped out another potentially missed tackle. His smell on the Bears drive that ended in Cole Kmet TD’s long reception was really bad, though.

The final tally

Anzalone racked up 19 ups and 15 downs, a very meaty tally for 60 snaps in defence.

Most :

  • 9 came on cover, including a PD
  • 4 came on runs between tackles
  • Got a plus on his only engineered pass rush attempt, the Bears’ last offensive play, but he also got a minus for a missed tackle on the same play

The lessers :

  • 11 were on run defense, including five on runs from Khalil Herbert (10 runs in total)
  • 2 came in coverage situations where he was late to recognize his brand
  • Two negatives were negated by Bears penalties

It ended up being one of Anzalone’s best games in a Lions uniform and continues a steady upward trend in his game since the Week 6 break. because the Lions are asking him to be an integral part of the defense.

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