Lions looking for a fix for the team’s defensive woes

October 3, 2022 GMT
Detroit Lions running back Justin Jackson (42), defended by Seattle Seahawks safety Ryan Neal (26), catches a 2-yard pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Detroit Lions running back Justin Jackson (42), defended by Seattle Seahawks safety Ryan Neal (26), catches a 2-yard pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Detroit Lions running back Justin Jackson (42), defended by Seattle Seahawks safety Ryan Neal (26), catches a 2-yard pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Detroit Lions running back Justin Jackson (42), defended by Seattle Seahawks safety Ryan Neal (26), catches a 2-yard pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Detroit Lions running back Justin Jackson (42), defended by Seattle Seahawks safety Ryan Neal (26), catches a 2-yard pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell says there’s a recurring theme for his team’s defensive struggles this season.

“We have a guy that doesn’t do the right thing and then the guy who knows what to do is trying to overcompensate for it, then that’s costing him a step on his job and then this guy’s trying to cover for him,” Campbell said Monday. “Then the next play, they don’t trust that their teammates are going to be there.

“We’re in this vicious cycle right now.”

In Sunday’s 48-45 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Lions allowed 555 yards to a team that had scored a total of 47 points in its first three games.

Campbell said he and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, along with all the defensive assistant coaches, are still working through their options, but are planning to move some personnel around and simplify some things schematically.

Wide receiver Josh Reynolds said he had been through a similar situation when he was with the Los Angeles Rams and knows it can turn around.

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“You got a long season, as the year goes on, they start finding their groove, they start figuring out how to play together,” Reynolds said.

“That’s exactly what it is, patience and continuing to execute play calls, being in spots that you need to be at, not trying to do more than your job is designed. I think that’s a big part of it right now, guys trying to overcompensate. Just do your job and everything falls into place.”

WHAT’S WORKING

If there’s a player who knows what a successful offense looks like, it’s Reynolds, who played on a high-powered offense along with quarterback Jared Goff on the Rams. The Lions have the highest-scoring offense in the league this season.

“It’s up there,” Reynolds said. “It’s feeling real Ramsy for sure. It’s awesome to be a part of it on offense and being able to contribute.”

Despite playing with what he called a low-grade ankle sprain, Reynolds was second on the team with seven receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

While the entire defense is clearly a work in progress, a lot of people expected more from first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson.

Outside of the three sacks in the win against the Washington Commanders, Hutchinson hasn’t had a huge impact.

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Against the Seahawks, Hutchinson did not have a sack, but had five tackles.

“I think he’s come a long way,” Campbell said. “I think every week he’s getting a little bit better. He’s one of the players I think we need to look long and hard about, do we need to move him in some different spots? Do we need to see if we can give him an opportunity to have more success? He did a lot of good things in the run game yesterday. I’m certainly not disappointed in him.”

STOCK UP

With wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark out with injuries, Goff turned to tight end T.J. Hockenson to shoulder the load and Hockenson was up to the task.

Hockenson finished with eight catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-best 81-yard catch.

The 179 receiving yards set a new franchise record for a tight end, breaking Jim Gibbons’ 1964 record of 161 yards.

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STOCK DOWN

Despite the struggles of the defense, Campbell continues to voice his support for Glenn.

“I’ve had to do this before and I’m not afraid to make a hard decision,” Campbell said. “If I really believed that was the cause of it and I don’t believe it is. I believe that Aaron Glenn was the right man for the job and he gives us our best hope, our best option, to run this defense. I just do.”

INJURIES

WR Quintez Cephus left Sunday’s game with a foot injury and CB Amani Oruwariye went out late with a neck injury. OL Evan Brown also has an ankle injury.

“Amani I think is going to be OK,” Campbell said. “And Evan, he’s got an ankle. I don’t think it’s long term but it’s a day to day.”

Campbell said the news on Cephus was not as optimistic and was undergoing an MRI.

Kicker Austin Seibert missed the game and his replacement, Dominik Eberle, missed two extra points. Campbell said the team was bringing in some guys to kick and they were also hoping that Seibert would try to kick Wednesday.

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The news did not seem promising at all on DL Levi Onwuzurike, who has a back injury.

“It’s not moving,” Campbell said. “The meter’s not moving.”

KEY NUMBER

30 — The Lions are the 30th team in the Super Bowl era to score at least 140 points in their first four games. The first 29 went 109-7 (.940). Detroit is 1-3. The only other team to do it without a winning record was the 2002 Chiefs, who were 2-2 and scored 142 points.

NEXT STEPS

Whether it is moving players around, simplifying the scheme or bringing in some new players, something has to change with the defense.

Certainly forcing the opponent to punt would be a good start as the Seahawks did not punt once on Sunday. Seattle was 9 for 12 on third downs.

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