Detroit Lions secondary is undermining the team’s new attitude

The Detroit Lions secondary is full of question marks

By: Jake Rajala

The Detroit Lions suffer yet another heartbreaking loss in Week 3. The final seconds of the contest ended with Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker successfully completing an NFL record 66-yard field goal, which handed the Ravens an unbelievable 19-17 victory. After the game ended, the sports world largely reacted to two sequences: the successful field goal by Tucker and the “missed penalty on a delay of game” by the Ravens just prior to their field goal attempt. I don’t believe either of those actions should be seen as the reason why the Lions lost this game, or the main focus looking ahead. 

I firmly believe the reason why the spirited Lions lost their third straight game is none other than their achilles heel. Their biggest weakness has to be none other than their secondary and their inability to slow down an opposing team’s top weapon. I believe the biggest play of the game was when DET allowed a non-elite passing QB in Lamar Jackson to connect with Sammy Watkins on an unthinkable 4th and 18th with 24 seconds left. 

The Lions didn’t get gashed by Lamar overall, but they did break when it mattered and they continued to struggle with locking down Jackson’s main target in Mark Andrews. The Ravens TE logged 5 catches for 109 yards after notching just eight receptions and 77 yards in the first two weeks combined. Week 3 wasn’t the only contest where the Lions got steamrolled by the top opposing weapon. In Week 1, The 49ers delivered 41 points on the Lions, which was largely sent by their WR1 Deebo Samuel, who had a career day with nine catches, 189 yards, and one receiving touchdown. After the Lions got gushed by Jimmy G and Samuel, the Lions didn’t have an answer for Davante Adams in Week 2. The Packers WR1 captured eight catches for 121 yards, which helped his team unleash 35 pts in a huge divisional victory.

 

It’s been all too common for Aaron Glenn’s secondary to fold in each week this season. The Lions have been excellent in stopping the run and it’s safe to say Jared Goff has exceeded expectations in the rebuilt offense thus far. On the flip side, Glenn needs to develop a more robust plan to slow down passing attacks or acquire a talent that can match an elite skill talent. The Lions 2020 high draft pick in CB Jeffery Okudah is out for the season and their secondary also carries numerous average rookie profiles. 


It’s easy to yell at the refs (as always), but the missed call on the delay of game “by a second” is very common — it’s just uncommon to happen on a play before the game-winning field goal. As for Tucker’s record-setting field goal, it was NOT a miracle by any means. It’s a record and it’s very rare, but the elements were perfect for the Ravens elite kicker. He is unequivocally a slim amount of kickers in the league that actually could complete such an attempt & and in the very thin pool, he’s fortunate to be given an attempt of that magnitude, from the “middle of the field”, with the game on the line. It was certain that Tucker is one of the few kickers in the league that had a realistic chance of completing that field goal if he had the chance. Unfortunately, the Lions secondary crumbled when it mattered most and they allowed the historically great Tucker to have the attempt. With that being said, I believe the appropriate response from the game and looking forward has to be how they can fix their lagging secondary and prevent lapses in the first, second, third, and fourth quarter.

3 things to know about Lions defense under Aaron Glenn

Aaron Glenn will help the Lions defense

By: Jake Rajala

The Detroit Lions didn’t just have an aching defense in 2020. Last season, the Lions had their worst defense in franchise history. Matt Patricia, who specialized in orchestrating the defense, was axed from the Lions in the middle of the season. The new head coach Dan Campbell brought over his former co-coach Aaron Glenn from the New Orleans Saints to build a new defensive unit.

Lions nation begs to ask: what exactly are they getting from Glenn? Well, I believe Glenn is the picture perfect DC for Detroit. The former Saints DB coach can bring the right intensity and improve the personnel in the building. Here is what to know about the new look Lions defense.

  • Jeffery Okudah taking the next step

It’s safe to say that Jeffery Okudah was a major disappointment for being the third overall pick in last year’s draft. The former Buckeye was benched numerous times and he couldn’t keep pace with opposing stud wideouts. 

Glenn’s specialty lies in coaching defensive backs. In New Orleans, Glenn helped another OSU CB in Marshon Lattimore rise to be one of the league’s top CBs. Lattimore won Defensive Rookie of The Year, routinely locked down Mike Evans, and Julio Jones, plus helped him foster a ferocious mentality. 

Okudah wasn’t just a high draft pick, but he assumed the CB1 role in numerous moments of his rookie season. It will vastly help the defense if their true no. one CB isn’t a liability, but a star. 

  • Speed is the name of the game

The New Orleans Saints defense was one of the most aggressive, athletic units in the NFL. Glenn has made it clear that he wants to transfer the same aggressive approach used in NO over to DET. The Saints MLB Demario Davis had the top season for a LB in 2019. The Saints were very creative with the blitzes from the secondary. Janoris Jenkins occasionally came off the edges on blitzes, as did S/LB Malcolm Jenkins. 

Expect to see Jamie Collins being in various, good positions to harass QBs and a real career reboot out of the high paid LB. Glenn will also use the Lions safeties (Will Harris, Tracy Walker) on safety blitzes, as he did with his safeties in the Big Easy.

  • Aggressive defense in 2 minute drill

Unquestionably, Glenn will bring lots of philosophy over from New Orleans. One of the notorious tactics that the Saints defense did was blitz-heavy in 2-minute situations.

The Saints DC Dennis Allen liked to apply pressure when offenses had to drive the length of the field to score. Instead of letting the QB sit back and read the field, Allen would send the house and hopefully force the QB to make a quick throw. Allen learned this idea under former Saints DC Gregg Williams (who had a historically bad play with it) and expect Glenn to bring the same strategy learned under Allen to Detroit.

3 reasons why the Lions will have a better defense in 2021

Detroit Lions defensive outlook

By: Reese Nasser

The Detroit Lions sent out a defense that was more than lackluster last season. The defense was ranked 26th in the NFL. They also ranked in the bottom five of almost every defensive statistical category.  They ranked last in every defensive touchdown category. 32nd in points, yards, and both rushing and passing touchdowns. They also ranked last in red zone touchdowns given up. The defense also gave up 6,700 yards. 
After an off-season full of changes, the Lions defense is slowly starting to look up. They have made changes for the better and while it may take time to develop, this unit should eventually be a force to be reckoned with. Through both free agency and the draft, the unit on the field this season will look vastly different. Here are three reasons why the Lions defense will be better in 2021 than it was in 2020. 

Revamped Defense

Through both the draft and free agency, the Lions added strong defense players. Detroit traded for defensive tackle Michael Brockers, who will be a focal point on this side of the ball. They also re-signed star defensive end Romeo Okawara. Romeo had nearly half of the teams total sacks with 10 last season. The Lions also selected Romeo’s younger brother Julian Okwara in the 2020 draft. They will hope to see more of a breakout performance in Julian’s second year. He only appeared in six games during his rookie season and was plagued by injury. 

The duo of Brockers and Okawara will not only be the faces of the defense but will also be expected to be the leaders of the defensive line. 

The Lions also chose to go heavy on defense in this year’s draft, using four of their seven selections on defensive players. Most notably, in an effort to solidify the defensive line even more, Detroit went back to back with defensive tackle selections, Levi Onwuzurike at pick #41 and Alim Mcneill with pick #67. Onwuzurike opted out of the 2020 season but in his three seasons at the University of Washington, accounted for 16 tackles for losses and 7 sacks. Mcneill played three seasons at NC State where he was an anchor on the defensive line. In only 32 games, Mcneill was a disruptive player with 77 tackles and 17.5 tackles for loss. He also added 10 sacks. Both of these rookies will be expected to perform day one and one of them will have a starting job come the start of the season.

The Lions clearly saw the defensive line as maybe their biggest weakness so they did what they deemed necessary to fix it. They are also taking an approach of building with the line and then up.

Coaching Changes

Lions new head coach Dan Campbell is said to be a defensive minded coach. Campbell also brought longtime defensive coach Aaron Glenn in to be the Lions new defensive coordinator. Glenn spent the last five seasons as the secondary coach for the New Orleans Saints. There is hope that with both Campbell and Glenn working on this defensive unit, they will see drastic improvements from last season. 

Nearly the entire set of defensive coaches will be new from last season. Each member will attempt to implement their way of defending and if done correctly, this group could be very dangerous. The Lions have made it clear that they want to be a gritty team that wins in the trenches and with these new hires, they are headed in that direction. 

New Scheme

With Aaron Glenn being brought in as the new defensive coordinator, there is potential that a new defensive scheme will be implemented. Coach Campbell has noted that the team will play a variation of a 3-4 defense. The scheme that they use should be based around the players that they are using. In order to have a successful defense, players must be in a scheme that they are best utilized for. In the Lions projected scheme, both outside linebackers will be used more as extra rushers. They will be going around the defensive ends and going to the backfield. This change may result in some extra sacks, which the Lions desperately need after only having 24 throughout the entirety of last season. 

This new defense, while being freshly incorporated, could be exactly what this unit needs. A change in how they approach the defensive side of the ball could prove to be extremely beneficial. 

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