Feeling the need to make their already stacked defensive line even better, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Haloti Ngata to a one-year contract this week.
In order to better get to know the Eagles’ new veteran defender, I thought it’d benefit BGN readers to get a Detroit Lions perspective on Ngata. In order to do that, I reached out to Jeremy Reisman of Pride Of Detroit. Here’s what he had to say.
1 - Can you sum up Ngata’s career in Detroit?
Ngata’s career in Detroit was essentially underwhelming, but important to Detroit, if that makes sense. The Lions traded him in the immediate aftermath of losing Ndamukong Suh to free agency, so I think expectations were pretty high for him. He was never the flashy player that Suh was, but he was always lingering behind the scenes, eating up double teams or clogging running lanes. His stats have progressively gotten worse, and while that doesn’t give you the entire story regarding his value, it is a real sign that he’s well on the decline at this point in his career.
2 - How did Lions fans react to him leaving in free agency? Did they want him back?
Most Lions fans are fairly upset that Ngata is leaving. He expressed a desire to come back, and the Lions reportedly had some mutual interest there. The most common statline people like to use to prove Ngata’s worth is how the Lions’ run defense performed prior to his bicep tear vs. how they defended the run when he was on IR:
Pre Ngata injury: 74.6 rushing yards per game
Post Ngata injury: 129.7 rushing yards per game
I’m not entirely sure the correlation equals causation here, seeing as the Lions’ extremely poor depth has just as much to do with it, but there is certainly some truth to it.
3 - What are Ngata’s strengths?
Ngata strengths are literally his strength. He can still hold his position against double teams, leaving lanes for linebackers to shoot through, and his veteran presence will be welcome for any young linemen on the team.
4 - What are Ngata’s weaknesses?
Ngata isn’t--and has never really been--much of a pass rusher. His career is littered with sacks here and there, but he hasn’t had more than 2.5 in a season since 2012. Obviously, his age is a factor, too. He’s no longer capable of receiving a true starter’s bundle of snaps. Though he started every game he played in Detroit, he was averaging just around 50 percent of snaps in his final year with the Lions.
5 - Anything to know about Ngata off the field?
Ngata is an exceptional person off the field. He was the Lions’ 2017 Walter Payton Man of the nominee (and won the online challenge). He has his own foundation, inspired by his late mother, that helps inspire young children to attend college.
He’s also a great player in the locker room. Despite tearing his bicep in Week 5, he traveled with the team to every home and away game to be there on the sidelines encouraging and mentoring his teammates. Of all things, I think that’s what the Lions may miss the most.