Anthony Zettel is the player the Chicago Bears must target on the Detroit Lions defensive line
When you think of the Detroit Lions, the first thought usually goes to Matthew Stafford and the high flying offense with a defense that cannot quite get the job done. However, what is worth noting about the Lions this season is that the defense has been more efficient than the offense.
Even more, the Lions enter week 11 with one of the ten best defenses in overall efficiency. They do have an underrated secondary, led by Glover Quin and Darius Slay. However, this also can be attributed to the pressure that the Lions bring up front.
The Lions have 20 sacks this season. 10 are from two players, both edge rushers. Everyone knows Ezekiel Ansah. He has four sacks this season and was having a great season until a back injury held him out against the Browns. He is out again this week, leaving a lot of the heavy lifting on Anthony Zettel.
Zettel has already been doing some big lifting this season and has flown under the radar with six sacks, including one last week in the absence of Ansah. Zettel is a second-year breakout from Penn State. This season has he those six sacks to go with five tackles for loss, 29 tackles, and a recovered fumble.
He does not wow you with size and athleticism, but he has strong technique and power and it finds him in the backfield enough to make plays.
Zettel uses great hand usage to establish a swim move helping him breeze by defenders. He is able to get his hand on the shoulder and swim clean, creating pressures and sacks. The play below, he breezes by the left tackle and takes out the right guard in his path, freeing up Christian Ringo for a pressure.
A tight end is no match for this move as he breezes by for an easy sack.
He is good at being the first to get his hands high, and the first to strike with his hands as well. It keeps him clean gives him the ability to keep his momentum towards the quarterback.
Zettel also has great strength. Zettel has caught a running back from behind with speed, but it was Jonathan Stewart. He also has a sack where he went in unblocked and collected the big play with speed. Still, turning that speed into power is how he wins.
He turns his momentum into power and combines that with being able to make the first contact with the guard to free himself and quickly stuff the run for just two yards.
What can Bears do?
How the Lions use Zettel and how the Bears combat it will be an interesting ,match. Zettel and Ansah do switch sides at times, but Zettel typically lines up on right tackles when Ansah is healthy. However, in the one game that Ansah missed, he played the majority of his game on the right side taking on the left tackle.
The Bears will have to identify him and slide protections his way because both Charles Leno and Bobby Massie could struggle with his precision. First, the Bears will have to identify where Zettel is. Then, they will have to adjust the script based on where he plays. Whether or not they can do that remains to be seen.