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Opponent preview: Detroit Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara

Looking to close the season focused on Josh Allen’s development, the Bills will need to keep him safe. We take a look at Detroit’s most successful pass rusher this season.

Carolina Panthers v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills officially have nothing left to play for aside from pride. That means roster evaluation is in full swing along with the development of one Josh Allen. A major goal should be keeping Allen upright and able to throw a ball. Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah has been an impact player for the Detroit Lions since entering the league in 2013, registering twelve sacks last year. Lucky for Allen, Ansah is on injured reserve after re-aggravating a shoulder injury.

So we’ll look at the Lions’ next best pass rusher, Romeo Okwara. Spending the last two seasons with the New York Giants, he failed to make an impact and was sent packing earlier this year. Okwara has worked himself up to a starting role in Detroit and has 6.5 sacks this season. That’s easily a career year, having logged only one in his two years with the Giants.

Play 1

The first major positive to note regarding Romeo Okwara is his motor. He does a decent job getting around the edge, although he was shoved away far enough to buy Aaron Rodgers some time. Romeo keeps on trucking, though, and gets a strip-sack on a future Hall of Famer. That’s not a bad day at the shop already.

Play 2

The Lions ask Okwara to jam receivers and tight ends quite frequently, and he’s usually pretty effective at making them take a least a half step or more off the route. With a head of steam he gets good push on David Bakhtiari.

Play 3

Romeo Okwara shows inconsistencies in his play with power moves. Here, Bakhtiari makes sure Okwara isn’t really impacting the play. Okwara attempts a chop, which has no shot at dislodging Bakhtiari’s arm. When it fails, Okwara is out of answers and new solutions to try.

Play 4

Here’s another look at one of his better snaps. Okwara gets low and starts pushing Bakhtiari. Eventually the left tackle anchors and even gets Okwara to back off a little. This time the chop is more effective but still looks like a swim move gone wrong. One thing that Okwara did that helped him disengage is set up Bakhtiari by moving right initially and then quickly cutting back. Okwara’s lateral agility is superior to Bakhtiari’s and the little move to set him off balance is huge. It gives him sack number two on the day.

Play 5

Okwara is in run support for this play and is getting a poor push. Like above, a quick kick to the side gets him back in the play. By the time he turns and reacts the play is over, but this is a good reiteration of who Okwara is as a player.

Play 6

There’s not much more to show for Okwara. The half chop/half swim move from earlier is about it. Sometimes he gets great push, other times he’s washed out by the line. This play shows why he leads the Lions in sacks this year. He’s not shy about making contact and he goes full speed no matter what’s in front of him.


Romeo Okwara may never become a household name, but his career revival in Detroit isn’t an accident either. He’s good enough to make your quarterback uncomfortable if you let him, winning enough one-on-ones to warrant one eye open. Likely squaring up against Dion Dawkins, Okwara may not get consistent push. Without a variety of finesse moves, his sidestep will be the weapon to look out for on Sunday.